Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What sin a name!

Fearless Bikings

My family and I took an extended bike trip on Saturday, lasting about six hours in the finest weather for biking -- a cool, cloudless but somewhat hazy day that reduced the glare. We had such a fine time cycling up the riverside path that I decided to share the joy with the denizens over at the Marmot's Hole, a Korea blog peopled by expats and Koreans who sometimes bicker over differences small and large. Saturday evening when I visited, I found a somewhat foul mood there on an "Open Thread" -- and some themes under discussion that a few of you might want to avoid. That sometimes happens at the Marmot's Hole. Anything can come under discussion. Anyway, I joined the others in the burrow and posted a cheerful comment:
Meanwhile, I passed an innocent Saturday cycling with my family -- my wife Sun-Ae, my 13-year-old-daughter Sa-Rah, and my ten-year-old-son En-Uk -- along one of the Han River's tributaries.

We biked several miles upstream to our favorite hole-in-the-wall . . . actually a tent-on-the-upper-bank that used to be a tables-and-chairs-under-the-subway-bridge, but it's all the same.

Good food. Maek-chu. San-nak-gee. Dubu-kimchee. Jae-yook-bok-um. So-ra-moo-chim. Hong-hap. We ate so much that we elected to bike several miles further upstream to burn off all the calories. Our entire outing lasted from around 10:30 in the morning till about 4:30 in the afternoon.

I feel great . . . today. Tomorrow might be another story . . .
People seemed to like the comment, for it garnered several thumbs-up in the evaluation scheme used over at the Hole, but someone eventually found a bone of contention, and posting under the name "Craash" wrote:
I am sorry -- but I feel sorry for your young son being named "En-Uk."

I asked my students also -- and they said that is a very strangey boys name.
If there's one thing that blogging has taught me, it's to remain unfazed and unoffended, so I replied with a whimsical observation:
Craash (#66) wrote: "they said that [En-Uk] is a very strangey boys name."

They must be very 'strangey' people to say that.
After posting that lighthearted response, I thought that I should do more to gladden the hearts of others on the open thread, so I added:
And for those who would like to see my 'strangey' boy's 'strangey' blogs, go to either of the two blogs that 인욱 [En-Uk] writes.

I extend sympathy to Craash (#66) for having to teach private students either late on Saturday evening or early on Sunday morning. Life can be hard.

But life can also be a dream, and I wish for everyone family happiness at least as full as mine . . .
One of the Korean-American regulars at the Hole who goes by the handle "Pawikirogii" wrote:
i liked your son’s art, jeffery. thanks for sharing it w us.
Folks often use abbreviations online, but that's clear enough, and I was heartened by his response . . . yet Craash proved unmoved:
As I said, myself and my students feel sorry for your son being named [En-Uk].

Just as I feel sorry for my sisters son -- because she named him "Emmett".

How much better his drawings would be, if only he had a cool name like HyunShik or JuHwan or JaeYeun.
I channeled Jane Austen and replied in the manner of a character out of Pride and Prejudice:
Craash, your concern is vastly appreciated . . . but nevertheless superfluous. En-Uk is a very happy boy who has never suffered even the least ridicule for his 'strangey' name.
I then responded to Pawi for his kind words:
You're welcome, Pawi. I'll let En-Uk know.
In his turn, Pawi informed Craash:
craash, it's never ok to talk sh*t about other people's children. perhaps you should stay away from the boon's farm and ripple.
Pawi was joined in this opinion by by a fellow calling himself "Iceberg":
I've got to agree with Pawi on this one. This fixation on the kid's name is pretty bad form. It's the name his parents gave him, so obviously they like it. Who really gives a sh*t what your students think of it?
Right, especially students forced to attend an English lesson on a Saturday night or a Sunday morning! Would they offer a positive opinion of anything at such a time? Anyway, another fellow, going by "Hoju-Saram" (i.e., "Australian"), wrote in response to En-Uk's art:
Your son should open up a gallery. I'd pay good money for "Kim Jong-il Smell," and "Wow."
Let's take a look at those images. First, that limber, smelly feller, Kim Jong-il:

For some reason, I think of Limburger. Now for "Wow":

These are nice. I'd accept good money for them! I suspect, however, that many people interested in En-Uk's art will simply download what they like and print it out for free. C'est la vie.

Anyway, at this point, Iceberg briefly returned to put in that he likes En-Uk's characteristic manner of closing a blog entry with "Bye":
In addition to his art, I like his efficiently quirky way of signing off. Bye.
Hoju-Saram concurred:
I was going to mention that too. Bye.
Another regular, calling himself "Dogbertt," added:
인욱's a great name. He's a lucky boy, having you as his father.
He was followed in agreement by a Korean woman who goes by the name "Yuna":
Yes, 인욱 is a perfectly normal sounding & quite a nice Korean name. Both my boy cousins have "인"자 앞돌림. I don't understand the orignal comment by craash, unless he meant it sounds strange in English but then it doesn't sound strange in English either. Quite close to Enoch I think.
Of course, I needed to respond to all these kind people, and I started with Iceberg:
Iceberg (83), that is a quirky quirk of his. I'll tell him that you like it. I like it, too. Bye.
I then addressed Hoju-Saram:
Hoju-Saram (82), if you liked "Kim Junk-ill," you'll love his masterpiece of political art: Kim Jong-il.
Long-time visitors to Gypsy Scholar will recall this one:

It bears an astonishing resemblance to an official photo of the manster:

Well . . . I suppose the official Kim Jong-il is a bit less skeletal, but En-Uk knows that the 'Dear Leader' is starving his people and is thus best depicted as a death's head figure -- and that makes En-Uk's caricature genuine political art.

Anyway, I then thanked Dogbertt:
Thanks Dogbertt (88), but I'm really the lucky one.
And I am, so very fortunate indeed to have such a good wife and kids, all three better than I deserve. And then came my turn to thank the perceptive Yuna:
Thanks, Yuna (89). I also like the name "인욱." In fact, you are right about "Enoch." We tried to choose a name that would work in Korean as well as in English, and my father-in-law approved of the Chinese meaning, something like "Shining Person," I think.

En-Uk is more likely to get ribbed about his middle name, "Sequoya," since people might associate it more with the enormous Sequoia tree than with the man who developed a syllabary for the Cherokee to write their language with. But I wanted to recall my maternal grandmother's Cherokee heritage, whatever others might think.
At this point, my old friend "Sonagi" added her linguistic analysis:
인, meaning "person," = 人. A related character is 仁, meaning "benevolence or kindness." 욱 is probably 煜, meaning "shining."
My wife Sun-Ae confirmed Sonagi's analysis. Sometime after Sonagi's contribution came a great comment by Lollabrats, who took upon himself an extended analysis of En-Uk's artwork. Lollabrats began his comment by first quoting a remark -- one posted prior to the controversy over En-Uk's name -- by some individual who had found the earlier bickering on the open thread a less-than-satisfying experience:
"So I had a thought that I would chime in and comment about how this is one of the worst open threads in memory."
Lollabrats then began his own remarks:
It was [one of the worst] -- until En-Uk's art gallery redeemed it. I want to suggest to his father to consider buying his son a stylus and tablet interface device. But, the crazy outlines, spare details, interesting "framing," and the use of the fill-in color function with colors from the default pallete make these images unexpectedly compelling to me.

"Kim Jong-Il" is interesting to me because it is contrary to the way professionals caricature the dictator. For instance, En-Uk draws sharp-angled "shadows" into his cheeks. I am blindly guessing that he learned to do that from reading American comic books. Superheroes get their cheeks shaded because the artist wants to show that his hero works out. But other artists draw the shadows to create an emaciated appearance -- to make a face look more like a skull with skin. En-Uk achieves the latter in a pretty interesting way -- by setting the triangular shadows in a block-shaped head, using the rectangle function. The result is that the straight lines and sharp angles of the head and cheek shadows make him look more like a fat-less head, or a skull.

But anyone familiar with KJI-caricature knows that it is not unusual to give him a circular or oval head. More importantly, En-Uk eschews some of KJI's trademark features, including the pair of jowled cheeks of a sated pig, which droop from the sides of his head. If En-Uk had drawn the head with the oval function and kept the trangular shadows, then the effect of the skull might have been lost and the result might have been incongruous. Although there is nothing wrong with being portrayed as being emaciated -- as with Gandhi or the Buddha -- giving the figure the name, Kim Jong-Il, lends the image a cartoonishly sinister effect.

There are some other interesting features, I think. Which is to say that I like it, too. A nice gallery indeed!

I hope you didn't mind this feedback.
Mind? How could I possibly mind such a complimentary comment? I thanked him, of course:
Lollabrats (114), thanks for the extended analysis of En-Uk's art.

To respond to your musing on American comic books . . . I doubt that they've had much influence. He reads mostly East Asian comics. However, he did watch a lot of Cartoon Network for a while, then Disney Channel cartoons, so he might have gotten something from those.

I might ask him about this . . .
That is how things stood by the time that I composed this blog entry, but I wouldn't be surprised if a few more comments are appended to the Hole's "Open Thread."

But I'll leave those for interested readers to seek out and perhaps find . . .

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At 5:37 AM, Blogger Robert said...

I like his art and think he shows great talent....love the colors
Robert Neff

At 7:07 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Mr. Neff. Coming from you, that's high praise indeed.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:43 AM, OpenID sonagi92 said...

Your old friend Sonagi hopes that your children do not acquire your fondness of puns. :)

At 8:46 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Too late, Sonagi. I've already infected them.

Jeffery Hodges

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