Thursday, July 31, 2014

Faculty Psychology in Paradise Lost

But Not Miltonic
Early Faculty Psychology

The Milton List scholars have been discussing what "laws" Adam and Eve might have recognized in their prelapsarian state as depicted by Milton in Paradise Lost. In my confidence that in addition to the one exceptional command not to eat from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, there were an unbound number of moral laws discoverable by reason, I quoted PL 5.100-119 for a closer look at the faculty psychology that Adam elucidates:
But know that in the Soule
Are many lesser Faculties that serve
Reason as chief; among these Fansie next
Her office holds; of all external things,
Which the five watchful Senses represent,
She forms Imaginations, Aerie shapes,
Which Reason joyning or disjoyning, frames
All what we affirm or what deny, and call
Our knowledge or opinion; then retires
Into her private Cell when Nature rests.
Oft in her absence mimic Fansie wakes
To imitate her; but misjoyning shapes,
Wilde work produces oft, and most in dreams,
Ill matching words and deeds long past or late.
Som such resemblances methinks I find
Of our last Evenings talk, in this thy dream,
But with addition strange; yet be not sad.
Evil into the mind of God or Man
May come and go, so unapprov'd, and leave
No spot or blame behind:
I added that while we might take this as Adam's description of an automatic system in which reason makes the right decision without need for deliberation, one should consider this other passage, PL 9.351-363, in which Adam elucidates faculty psychology further:
But God left free the Will, for what obeyes
Reason, is free, and Reason he made right
But bid her well beware, and still erect,
Least by some faire appeering good surpris'd
She dictate false, and misinforme the Will
To do what God expresly hath forbid,
Not then mistrust, but tender love enjoynes,
That I should mind thee oft, and mind thou me.
Firm we subsist, yet possible to swerve,
Since Reason not impossibly may meet
Some specious object by the Foe subornd,
And fall into deception unaware,
Not keeping strictest watch, as she was warnd.
Here, Adam warns Eve about the danger of temptation, and the language used prepares the reader for Eve's encounter with the serpent's temptation with the tree as provoking object, but neither Adam nor Eve suspects the tree's role yet (though they likely should, given Eve's dream).

But my point is that even though reason is addressed as though it works on its own, it can be tricked, and thus Adam and Eve have to remain firm and not allow reason to mislead. One might think they would do so through their will, which is free, but the text says the will is free when it follows reason. Milton instead implicates memory as the faculty that reminds one of what God has expressly forbidden. Adam is to remind Eve, and Eve to remind Adam. Presumably, one could also remind oneself. But only one thing in the garden is expressly forbidden - the fruit of the tree of knowledge.

I am thus less sure I understand Milton now than I was before I looked closely at these passages . . .

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Michael Schmidt on the Mystery of Reading

Michael Schmidt

Early in Michael Schmidt's new work, The Novel: A Biography, he portrays reading as a mystery:
A novel is a kind of rabbit hole. It led Gorky's Nastiah into all-absorbing emotion, the Victorian schoolboy into adventure, and a young Mexican into an imaginary, heroic Europe. Novel reading begins in a paradoxical double action of escape and engagement; reading conventional novels takes readers from where they are to realms that are shaped, with beginnings, middles, and ends. Taste changes over time: Our developing habit requires increasingly subtle stimuli and satisfactions -- a hunger for experience transformed, that transformation being the writer's aim.
Schmidt doesn't use the term "mystery," but that's what "rabbit hole" implies, for Lewis Carroll's use of a rabbit hole led Alice and her readers to a wonderland where they were trapped in an escape. As for Gorky, he is well known still, but the novelist who led the Victorian schoolboy into adventure was the now-neglected G. A. Henty, and the "young Mexican" led by some novelist "into an imaginary, heroic Europe" was none other than the author of The Novel: A Biography.

So far, so good . . .

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

William Kilpatrick on Exempting Islam from Criticism

William Kilpatrick
Crisis Magazine

My friend Bill Vallicella posted on an article by William Kilpatrick about "Islam's Religious Exemption From Criticism" (Crisis Magazine, July 23, 2014), and since the article reflects some of my own thinking, I'm excerpting it here:
[The defense of Islam by non-Muslims] comes in the form of "vouchers" for Islam's good character: assurances by world leaders that Islam is a peaceful religion, assurances by religious leaders that it is a model of interfaith tolerance, and assurances by educators that "jihad" is an interior spiritual struggle . . . . Western critics of Islam often find themselves facing fines or even jail time. In most of Europe, you can safely wave a "Behead Those Who Insult Islam" poster in the face of a policeman, but if you are a non-Muslim and you observe that Islamic law allows for beheadings, you'll be standing before a magistrate the next day on hate crime charges . . . . One of the primary arguments . . . [in defense of] Islam is that it's a stabilizing force in the Middle East and elsewhere. But if that's not the case, should we still want Islam to succeed? If Islam is a destabilizing force, wouldn't the world be better off without it? And since Muslims are the primary victims of Islamic violence, wouldn't they also be better off without it? . . . Islam is looking more and more like a world-threatening ideology, but it is . . . immune to criticism . . . because it is a recognized and long-established religion. To challenge it is to court charges of anti-religious bigotry. In addition, something in our conscience makes us . . . . conditioned to have a favorable view of religion -- especially other people's religion . . . . [T]o contemplate Islam's failure ["somehow doesn't seem right"] . . . . [S]ome critics of Islam contend that it is nothing but a political ideology and ought to be labeled as such. But this rebranding effort is a difficult sell because, by most standard definitions of the term, Islam does qualify as a religion. To most people, moreover, it certainly looks like a religion . . . . [with] centuries-old observances . . . . When people prostrate themselves in prayer five times a day, . . . [a critic can hardly] make the case that what they're doing is nothing more than a power play . . . . [In fact,] Islam is a hybrid: it's both a political ideology and a religion . . . . [T]he religious side provides considerable protection from criticism. Because of its religious nature, it seems improper to engage Islam in . . . ideological warfare . . . . Yet the threat to the West and to the rest of the world is, by all appearances, increasing . . . . Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has proclaimed the creation of a new caliphate state, declared himself caliph, and has called on Muslims worldwide to join him in waging war against infidels . . . . [T]he idea of the caliphate is that there should be only one unified Islam . . . . [T]he caliphate is intended to be a borderless community -- a trans-national and ever-expanding empire of true believers . . . . Islam aspires to be a universal belief system . . . . Islam has the advantage of conducting its proselytizing activities under the banner of religion . . . . [But] Mosques are not just places of worship; they are often centers of political activity and, not infrequently, of jihad activity. As a popular Muslim poem puts it, "The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets, and the faithful our soldiers" . . . . Of course, for a non-Muslim to even hint at the possibility that mosques might serve such purposes is to invite accusations of Islamophobia and bigotry . . . . Which goes to prove the point: Islam's religious status puts it beyond criticism. You can criticize very radical Islamic radicals and very extreme Islamic extremists -- just as long as you add that, of course, their activities have nothing to do with the religion of Islam . . . . [T]he theology/ideology of Islam has some very large weak spots. But our sense of propriety, which is nowadays governed by the rules of political correctness, won't allow us to even talk about them. In effect, the sensitive areas are protected by a large sign that reads "religion -- do not touch."
I've long recognized Islam as both religious and political. That dual nature confuses modern people, who usually expect religion to stay in the private realm as a personal piety that doesn't seek to influence politics. Even in its own founding years -- or should I say especially in its founding years -- Islam was deeply involved in politics, as well as in war -- politics by other means, as Clausewitz observed.

In fact, I would argue that Islam -- in its synthesis of religion, politics, and war within an all-encompassing legal system for the total regulation of society -- is a throwback to one of the earliest forms of organized religion: a theonomic state in which the leader combined the roles of priest and king . . . and, of course, of military general.

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Michael Schmidt: The Novel: A Biography

I'm going to read a very long work on literary criticism. I try, of course, to keep abreast of lit-crit theory, and I encounter it often in much of my editing work, but this 1200-page book by Michael Schmidt differs from that sort of literary criticism, or so says Jim Higgins in his review, "Michael Schmidt's 'The Novel: A Biography' captures life, history, connections of literature" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 18, 2014):
In the book's distinguishing feature, Schmidt taps the opinions of novelists about each other, rather than leaning on professional critics a la Harold Bloom (only cited once in this gigantic volume). The likes of Woolf, Ford Madox Ford and Jonathan Lethem offer insight and argument alongside Schmidt. "The most penetrating insights into Cervantes are those of Fielding, Smollett and Sterne, of Stendhal and Flaubert and Turgenev, Dickens and Faulkner and Hunter S. Thompson; not only what they say about 'Don Quixote,' but how they incorporate the sad knight and his sidekick into their own imagination," Schmidt writes.
This sounds like the sort of lit-crit book I've been reading for, and if it is the one, I'll keep you posted.

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

An Evening with Choi Chongko

Professor Choi Chongko

My wife and I met with Professor Emeritus Choi Chongko yesterday evening for dinner, but we first went to a traditional teahouse, where we snapped the photograph above during a break from discussing Yi Kwang-su, about whom Professor Choi is writing a book. We looked at the text in manuscript and compared two different photographs of Yi Kwang-su's grave in North Korea -- one of the original stone bearing his name in Chinese characters and the other of the new stone with Korean writing.

One of the odd facts about Yi Kwang-su is that his grave in North Korea is honored by that leftist state, whereas the left here in South Korea considers him a traitor for his shift toward support of the Japanese colonizers during the latter 1930s.

During our break from discussion, we also had the following photo taken, this time of all three discussants:

As you can see, I was more in the dark than my wife or Professor Choi! Actually, I really was mostly in the dark, for much of the conversation went forward in Korean -- from which I would catch the occasional Korean word or the odd English or German expression.

Mea culpa for not learning Korean . . .

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Ewha Womans University

My copy of Emanations arrived yesterday, and the poetry I submitted seems unaltered, but upon checking my bio, I see that some editor 'corrected' what I'd written. In place of "Ewha Womans University" was "Ewha Woman's University"!

That's an understandable 'correction' . . . but it's wrong.

I'll really have to insist that editors check with me before 'correcting' what I've written. This sort of thing happens with various publications, though usually when my name "Jeffery" gets misspelled "Jeffrey."

The Emanations anthology, anyway, is excellent, as you can see for yourself.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

EWIS Summer Class Over

EWIS Students Laughing at/with Me

Six of my ten EWIS students were able to go with me for coffee at the ECC Starbucks on Tuesday -- bringing along some contraband doughnuts supplied by the EPO -- and these acronyms have gone far enough! Spelled out:
EWIS = Ewha Writing-Intensive School

ECC = Ewha Campus Complex

EPO = English Program Office
The photo was sent to me by the woman in the far-right corner. I think she already has her doctorate, and I know she works in the Forensic Anthropological Laboratory and Department of Anatomy, where she is an expert at estimating body mass based on the wear and tear of ankle bones on skeletons. Or that's my guess judging from the article she was working on in class.

The woman in the blue dress is leaving for the US next Monday for a doctoral program in women's studies, if I recall. She was a good addition to my course because we read about Korean identity, and she had already given it a lot of thought over the years in the history classes she had attended, and she also had a lot of insightful things to say about the need for a culture of discussion in Korea, a topic we also read on in my course.

The remaining students in the photo were undergrads, with the three on the left all coming from the Division of International Studies (DIS) at Ewha, and the one on the right coming from the States, where she studies as a pre-med student. The student closest to the camera had perfect attendance, something for her to take pride in since no one else managed that! All four of the undergrads speak good English and therefore also contributed well to the discussion topics.

For that matter, so did everyone in the course, including the four who couldn't make the coffee klatch . . .


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Nihilistically Nihilistic Nihilism?

Richard Fernandez

Richard Fernandez, who used to write under the pseudonym "Wretchard the Cat," has an intriguing post on nihilism titled "The Seven Gambit" -- a post I became aware of via my maverick friend Bill Vallicella -- and Fernandez writes:
Nihilism isn't the absence of a belief. It is something subtly different: it is the belief in nothing. The most powerful weapon of terrorism is therefore the unyielding No. "No I will not give up. No I will not tell the truth. No I will not play fair. No I will not spare children. No I will not stop even if you surrender to me; I will not cease even if you give me everything you have, up to and including your children's lives. Nothing short of destroying me absolutely can make me stop. And therefore I will defeat you even if you kill me. Because I will make you pay the price in guilt for annihilating me." (italics mine)
Fernandez applies this analysis to militant Islamism, which -- I suppose he infers -- extrapolates from Allah as Absolute Will to Allah as Nihilistic Force, and perhaps that's the case, implicitly, though I doubt that even Islamists carry this point to its full nihilistic conclusion since they do have a political aim, the establishment of a Caliphate to dominate the world and enforce Islamic law.

But that nihilistic point accounts for a lot since militant Islamists seem capable of any atrocity in the name of Allah, as if Allah's hands were unbound by any moral principles . . .

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Five Theories of Korean Unification

Victor Cha
JoongAng Daily

Victor Cha finds "Five theories of unification" (JoongAng Daily, July 22,2014) in Korean history, and I'm posting them below for memory's sake:
The first theory of unification emerged after the division of Korea and throughout the Cold War. This was essentially the notion of "unification by force" . . . , or the idea that the only legitimate definition of unification was the crushing victory of one Korea over the other . . . . This "winner take all" view was held by Syngman Rhee, Park Chung Hee and Kim Il Sung . . . . [T]he second theory of unification[, formulated after German unification, was] . . . that it was too difficult and too dangerous. Unification became something that was not desired, but something to be avoided because of its staggering costs and the terrible uncertainties . . . . This second "hard landing" theory of unification predominated Korean thinking from the end of the cold war in Europe until the Asian financial crisis in 1997 . . . . [The third theory of unification came in] 1997[, when] Kim Dae-jung put forward the idea of the sunshine policy. A strategy of unconditional engagement designed to open the North to the forces of reform. This was a policy tied to DJ's more liberal political ideology, and then carried forth by his successor Roh Moo-hyun for an entire decade . . . . [and it] was motivated by hard economic realities. Korea's liquidity crisis in 1997-98 made unification impossible, so it was best to engage the North Korean regime over the long-term, and pave the way for a gradual transition or "soft landing." What was so distinct in retrospect about the Sunshine Policy was the notion that unification should be pushed generations into the distant future . . . . [The fourth theory of unification started] with the . . . election of conservative Lee Myung-bak. Lee was a businessman, not an ideologue. He was pragmatic and saw unification in pragmatic terms . . . . This fourth theory was a pragmatic one -- that is, unification may be expensive, it may be difficult and it may be dangerous. But . . . . as traumatic as unification may be, it could very well come tomorrow or next month or next year. Koreans must start to prepare now for it, not simply wish it would go away forever . . . . [The fifth theory of unification started with] President Park. In her Dresden speech, she laid out her own theory of unification as a bonanza or jackpot for Korea and her neighbors . . . . This fifth theory of unification does not see it as winner take all . . . , or something to be feared and delayed indefinitely (sunshine), or even something that we must reluctantly prepare for. . . . Rather she paints it as something bright. (bold font and underlining mine)
There are things to keep in mind, namely, "that the stability of the regime in the North is far from certain" and that "there is a direct correlation between the increased interest in unification and South Korea's outreach to China." But this rapprochement does not "mean that Seoul will be willing to cut a deal with China on North Korea that excludes the United States[, for] without the U.S. alliance, South Korea gets treated by China like a small province."

But might not the US be willing to cut such a deal? That is tempting for some American policy-makers, I suspect, the ones who argue that Korea doesn't need US forces anymore, especially since the US forces are generally unappreciated anyway. Make an offer to pull out of Korea in return for China's support on re-unification?

But wouldn't this contradict Obama's pivot to Asia . . .

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Simply in Genius?

Genius at Work
Like the Language of Delirium
Image by Jacob Magraw and Rachell Sumpter

Joshua Wolf Shenk, writing "The End of 'Genius'" (NYT, July 19, 2014), argues that genius is not individual, despite the shared view of the Enlightenment and Romanticism, whose combined effect is still felt today:
The big change began with Enlightenment thinkers, who sought to give man a dignified, central place in the world. They made man's thinking the center of their universe and created a profoundly asocial self . . . . But it was during the Romantic era that "the true cult of the natural genius emerged" . . . . Today, the Romantic genius can be seen everywhere.
But, argues Shenk, it ain't true:
[T]he real heart of creativity . . . [is] the intimate exchange of the creative pair, such as John Lennon and Paul McCartney and myriad other examples with which we've yet to fully reckon . . . . The elemental collective . . . is the pair. Two people are the root of social experience -- and of creative work . . . . -- most strikingly with Paul McCartney and John Lennon . . . . Why is this? For one thing, given that our psyches take shape through one-on-one exchanges, we're likely set up to interact with a single person more openly and deeply than with any group. The pair is also inherently fluid and flexible. Two people can make their own society. When even one more person is added, roles and power positions harden. This may be good for stability but problematic for creativity. Three legs make a table stand in place. Two legs are made for moving.
Two's company, three's a crowd. Okay, I got it. But I like to see where ideas are stretched to the breaking point, and here's the place:
The pair is the primary creative unit -- not just because pairs produce such a staggering amount of work but also because they help us to grasp the concept of dialectical exchange. At its heart, the creative process itself is about a push and pull between two entities, two cultures or traditions, or two people, or even a single person and the voice inside her head. Indeed, thinking itself is a kind of download of dialogue between ourselves and others. And when we listen to creative people describe breakthrough moments that occur when they are alone, they often mention the sensation of having a conversation in their own minds.
I have italicized and thereby emphasized the phrase "or even a single person and the voice inside her head" because we are here back to the individual genius, even if 'she' is carrying on a conversation in 'her' head. Don't get me wrong. Creativity often does emerge in collaborative pairs. That's how my wife and I work on our translations.

But that's not how I wrote my novella, The Bottomless Bottle of Beer. I worked mostly alone on that, albeit in dialogue with other writers, most dead, but some living.

I'm no genius, of course, but Shenk is basically talking about creativity.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Franklin Willis: Artist, Athlete, Fulbright Fellow

Franklin Willis
Challenges Changing Form

My wife was cleaning out our closet and found a packet with slides of artwork by an old Fulbrighter friend from 1989-90 -- the man in the photo above, Franklin Willis. The man has made his way to some degree of success, as his website shows.

When I knew him, he was just getting onto the fast track, and he's certainly outpaced me! We had some good talks about art and basketball and culture, our ABCs for living in Germany.

Here's a sample of his art:

Franklin Willis

Good job, Franklin . . . I hope you remember me . . .

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Rhie Won-bok on Christian 'Misuse' of "Allah"

Rhie Won-bok
JoongAng Ilbo

Rhie Won-bok, a cartoonist who encountered some charges of antisemitism a few years back over his depiction of the US as controlled by Jews, has recently opined on Malaysia's decision to block non-Muslims from using the Muslim word for "God," i.e., "Allah." He concludes that this is analogous to differences in the name for "God" among Catholics and Protestants in Korea:
In Korea, the Catholics and Protestants believe in different gods. Catholics believe in Haneunim while Protestant Christians believe in Hananim. While Haneunim was the general term to refer to the Christian god when the religion was first introduced in Korea, Protestant churches differentiated their god by using a different spelling. Just as Allah is not for everyone, Haneunim is not the same god for all Christians. The Malaysian case is therefore not much different from the Korean situation. (Rhie, "'Allah' is not for all," JoongAng Ilbo, July 17, Page 28)
I don't want to be rude, but Mr. Rhie is all wet. Catholics and Protestants do not worship different 'Gods'! They simply use different Korean names for "God." Furthermore, no law exists in Korea forbidding one or the other usage by anybody. The Malaysian case is therefore completely different from the Korean situation, for the Malaysian legal system outlaws the use of "Allah" by non-Christians in certain contexts.

Moreover, Mr. Rhie never thought to inquire about the term used by Arab Christians for God.

That word is "Allah."

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Deva Hupaylo: Nobel Prize 'Winner'

Deva Hupaylo and Colleagues
Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

Mr. Richard Irby, editor of my hometown's Area Wide News, has an article on my old friend Deva: "Deva Hupaylo started with a Salem diploma; worked up to the Nobel Peace Prize" (Wednesday, July 16, 2014). Although I blogged on this when the prize was awarded, Mr. Irby has more details:
From horse and buggy days and one room school houses to today's tech filled school rooms, many north central Arkansas youth have gone from humble, rural beginnings to distinguish themselves.
Good hook in that opening line, and another good hook follows:
But Salem High School graduate Deva Hupaylo is surely the first to have a Nobel Peace Prize on her resume.
Now that Mr. Irby has us doubly hooked, he reels us in:
"It's a medallion and it's real gold," Hupaylo said . . . , showing a photograph taken after the OPCW -- the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons -- was given the prestigious award on Oct. 11, 2013 . . . . "I have a chocolate one they gave us [employees]. They are preparing replicas for us . . . [but] ours will not be gold" . . . . Deva Hupaylo graduated from Salem High School in 1976, began studying engineering at the University of Arkansas because she was good in math and science and has had a long, successful career as a chemical engineer . . . . In 2010, Hupaylo, who has three grown sons, moved to The Hauge, a capitol city in the Netherlands, to work for the Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons . . . . To high school classmate, Dr. Griffin Arnold, that sounds like the Deva Hupaylo he knows. "She was always very organized and determined. She has a way of making things she wants to happen. I am happy for all she's accomplished but not surprised."
Nor am I surprised at her accomplishments. Well, okay, I was a bit surprised about the Nobel award, and I wondered what Deva's precise role was. Mr. Irby clarifies that:
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons works to eliminate existing chemical weapon supplies and make sure they do not re-emerge, by getting countries to sign a treaty and give up any chemical weapon supplies they have. Hupaylo is the head of the Industry Verification Branch. She leads a division of 120 inspectors who work, once chemical weapons are removed from a country, to make sure new supplies are not manufactured. They monitor and actually inspect chemical industries in 190 countries to make sure chemicals that can be turned into weapons are being used correctly.
And Deva has some good words for our school:
Hupaylo credits Salem schools . . . . [and] some very good teachers who encouraged them, and other teachers who motivated them through "fear and dislike," to excel.
I know those teachers, too, but no names . . .
During her visit to Arkansas, she stopped in to give some advice to Salem High School's eighth grade careers class. "I told them to get as much education as soon as possible" . . . . [And she added,] "You should not be working for money. You should be working for something that you believe in, that you enjoy doing."
Pretty good advice, generally speaking, though I think that I ought to have been a bit more fastidious about money.

For more on Deva, read the full article.

UPDATE: Deva sent me a correction of a slight inaccuracy: "'She leads a division of 120 inspectors'. I don't lead the inspectors division. I have 8 Substantive Officers. We plan the missions that the inspectors conduct, while they are actually managed in a separate division."

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Gypsy Scholar with Two Friends . . .

Though you might suspect that two beers were my "friends," based on the two photos below, I was actually having lunch with two EPO colleagues who are also teaching EWIS, but they sent only two pictures of me with one beer:

Scene 1:

I was obviously listening intently, though perhaps not to my Erdinger wheat beer, but she forgave me and soon quenched my thirst for true companionship, given that a glass of wheat beer is well-nigh bread, anyway!

Scene 2:

I would report on the conversation, but I was mostly tongue-tied -- exhausted after three hours' teaching -- and one of the two colleagues was even more tired, so we didn't linger . . .

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ozark Beer Company

Brooding Over a Brewery
Ozark Beer Company

In the beer-related "Official Size and Weight Newsletter" sent weekly by one of my Arkansas friends, John Wells, I learned about the Ozark Beer Company. Craft beer has come to the Ozarks, and John says the OCB is a good craft beer place:
[A]t Ozark Beer Co. . . . brewer Andy Coates is making some OUTSTANDING brews. Southern Living Magazine named Ozark the "Favorite Southern Craft Beer in the State of Arkansas" (June 2014 issue) and right now you'll not get an argument out of me. Their APA and Onyx Coffee Stout are just as good as they come, period, and I also had a taster of their Belgian Golden, IPA and Cream Stout and was very impressed with them all. I brought a 12-pack of the APA home with me but fear it's not going to see a very long life. Watch these guys.
The photo above dates to when the brewers were just getting started, I reckon. But before they got started, the head brewer had some training:
Andy had an apprenticeship with Goose Island Beer Co. in Chicago, and was subsequently hired as a full-time brewer. He learned the ins and outs of a large-scale production brewery, and enjoyed cellar work and the finishing process of a beer (carbonating, and filtering the beer, so that it is ready to be packaged), recipe development, barrel aging, and sensory analysis. It was an invaluable experience that gave him the skillset needed to operate a successful brewing operation.
Take some time to read their story. I wish I could visit this brewery and taste-test to see if it lives up to expectations, but maybe Cousin Bill can check it out . . .

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Graphic Artist Ganzeer

Not Yours to Touch
June 2014

I learned of this artist of the Egyptian Revolution through Barbara Pollack's article "Hieroglyphics That Won't Be Silenced" (NYT, July 10, 2014), so I Googled his pseudonym, "Ganzeer" (i.e., "bicycle chain") and found his website with this message above, "not yours to touch no matter how naked I am," a warning to the gropers among the men of Egypt, along with their supporters, concerning which, he says:
There's a sad misconception among many men (and even some women unfortunately) that if a girl dresses revealingly then she's fair game, and there for anyone to touch or worse. This here poster, featuring artist/model Maya Desnuda, is my attempt at tackling the subject matter.
Apparently, he has encountered displeasure among Egypt's new military leaders, who have accused him of being in league with the recently deposed Muslim Brotherhood, whereas he's actually a liberal secularist, so far as I can tell.

See what you think.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Inexplicable Data on Hate?

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz is an economist with a PhD from Harvard (2013), and he offers some intriguing facts on Stormfront users in his article "The Data of Hate" (NYT, July 12, 2014). What's Stormfront, you ask? This:
Stormfront was founded in 1995 by Don Black, a former Ku Klux Klan leader. Its most popular "social groups" are "Union of National Socialists" and "Fans and Supporters of Adolf Hitler" . . . . The white nationalist posters on Stormfront have issues with many different groups. They often write about crimes committed by African-Americans against whites; they complain about an "invasion" of Mexicans; and they love to mock gays and feminists. [They find Asians "repulsive," though also seem to envy them.] But their main problem appears to be with Jewish people, who are often described as super-powerful and clever -- the driving force, generally speaking, behind the societal changes they do not like.
One might therefore expect Stormfront users to be uneducated. Not so:
The top reported interest of Stormfront members is "reading." Most notably, Stormfront users are news and political junkies. One interesting data point here is the popularity of The New York Times among Stormfront users. According to the economists Matthew Gentzkow and Jesse M. Shapiro, when you compare Stormfront users to people who go to the Yahoo News site, it turns out that the Stormfront crowd is twice as likely to visit
Dr. Stephens-Davidowitz admits to being baffled:
Perhaps it was my own naïveté, but I would have imagined white nationalists' inhabiting a different universe from that of my friends and me . . . . Why do some people feel . . . [hatred toward African-Americans, Mexicans, gays, feminists, Asians, and Jews, among other groups?] I have pored over data of an unprecedented breadth and depth, thanks to our new digital era. And I can honestly offer the following answer: I have no idea.
Maybe he should ask them. They seem to have given some reasons. Concerns about the crime rate among African-Americans. Concerns about illegal immigration from Latin America being out of control. Those are two genuine issues, whatever one's stance might be. But what about gays and feminists? Dr. Stephens-Davidowitz writes only that Stormfront users "mock" these two groups. He might consider these points: gay rights are a topical issue, as the debate over homosexual marriage shows, and feminism is widely perceived by many men as being an anti-male ideology. As for beliefs about Asians and Jews, the view that they are "super-powerful and clever" -- a belief Dr. Stephens-Davidowitz cites about Jews, but it also tends to be a belief about East Asians -- might stem from the fact that both Asians and Jews are statistically over-represented in positions of power and prestige.

But why the hatred expressed toward these groups? From the points just noted, we might hypothesize that each of these hated groups represents ways in which white nationalists feel that they have lost control over their country. But why the hatred? Dr. Stephens-Davidowitz seems to assume that hatred is an unnatural emotion, one that requires an explanation. But what if that's incorrect? What if it's people's default position when confronted by difference?

What if hatred is easy?

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Shakespeare vs. Milton?

Ms. Erica Wagner

I did something I very seldom do -- and if you have two hours, eleven minutes, and fifty-eight seconds to spare, so can you -- I watched a video. I rarely watch videos due to the time involved, particularly long videos, but this one came recommended by the Milton List and was presented by Intelligence Squared. It featured a 'debate,' Shakespeare vs Milton: The Kings of English Literature, chaired on June 22nd by Erica Wagner (depicted above), between Professor James Shapiro (Columbia University) and Professor Nigel Smith (Princeton University), extolling Shakespeare and Milton, respectively (but shouldn't that be The King of English Literature?).

Two actresses and one actor -- Pippa Nixon, Harriet Walter, and Sam West, each renowned on the stage -- performed scenes from Shakespeare and Milton. To show Shakespeare's superiority, Professor Shapiro had Ms. Walter and Mr. West play Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in the same scene twice, once with Lady Macbeth portrayed as masculine in her aggressiveness and once with her portrayed as feminine in her seductiveness, the point being that Shakespeare allows for multiple interpretations.

But why should multiple interpretations imply superiority? Milton can be variously interpreted. Indeed, he is so daily among scholars! I expected Professor Smith to have a single scene from Paradise Lost performed more than once, each time differently interpreted. Perhaps Satan's soliloquy occasioned by the radiant beams of sunlight? Once with greater defiance, once with considerable remorse? That could have been a coup!

Professor Shapiro probably 'won' the debate. Shakespeare did get the most votes from the audience. But I think Professor Smith could be the 'winner' in a rematch by showing that Shakespeare's strengths are also found in Milton.

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Genghis Khan: Bloodthirsty Tyrant or Progressive Leader? Answer: Yes.

Genghis Khan
"If I only had a heart . . ."
Photo in Spectator

Justin Marozzi informs us that John Man, author of The Mongol Empire: Genghis Khan, His Heirs and the Founding of Modern China, offers the view that "Genghis Khan was tolerant, kind to women – and a record-breaking mass-murderer" (The Spectator, July 12 2014).

Well, as Stalin reputedly said, you've got to break a few eggs if you want to make an omelette:
If you had the misfortune to live in Central Asia during Genghis's rampages in the 1220s, you ran the very real risk of being cut in two, beheaded, disemboweled, perhaps even forced to swallow molten metal by his ferocious soldiers. Cities were razed and depopulated, prisoners slain or ordered to march as a shield before the army, in full battle formation. Mongol bloodlust was such that even cats and dogs were killed. (Marozzi, para. 2)
Big omelette . . . but the Khan was progressive:
Yet the same man who is said to be responsible for the deaths of a world record 40 million is also noted -- admittedly less widely -- for his religious tolerance, enlightened diplomacy and championing of women's rights. (Marozzi, para. 3)
Patriarchal warrior, politically correct on women's issues . . .

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Completely Disrobed Hominid?

Andong Mummy
Plos One

One of my EWIS students is an expert in forensic anatomy, and she inadvertently provided sufficient information for me to track down a paper that she co-wrote with other anatomical experts:
"Radiological Diagnosis of Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia in 17th Century Korean Mummy"
I looked for a thesis statement, of course, which is usually placed at the end of the introduction, and found this penultimate sentence:
Most recently, in the course of a routine computed tomography (CT) and associated autopsy on a 17th century Korean mummy, we found evidence suggesting that the man might have suffered from CDH.
As I commented to my student in an email:
If only you had gotten to him 400 years earlier, you could have saved his life!
I suggested some Korean ppali-ppali:
Work faster!
And in my ignorance, I asked:
PS What's CDH, anyway -- Completely Dead Human?
My student replied:
Ha-ha-ha That was funny. K-k-k-k . . .

I will let my professor know: "Completely Dead Human"

Actually it is Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia -- the keyword of the paper!
Ah, there it is, in the article's title. Hmmm . . . though it looks like three key words to my eyes, but my eyesight is faulty now that I'm old and approaching my more serious sort of CDH . . .

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Etymology of "Trafika"

I learned yesterday what "trafika" means in Czech (a sort of corner-store kiosk), but I still wondered about its etymology, and I managed to find those roots in time for today's blog entry!

Helmut Satzinger and Danijela Stefanović trace "trafika" from Serbian back to the Bavarian feminine noun "Trafik." Since Trafik is a word used in Bavarian German, it probably entered the Czech language directly from Austro-German (and its meaning is consistently a sort of corner-store kiosk).

But the Germans themselves got the term from the Italian word "traffico," which is a masculine word meaning "traffic," "trade," or "activity" and "rush."

As things turn out, my guess that the word was related to the English word "traffic" -- as in "trafficking" (i.e., "trade") -- was not so far off, after all.

And since the Italian word also means "rush," Kevin Kim's guess of "a 'drive-by' convenience store" was also not so far off the mark!

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Trafika Identified!

I wondered yesterday what "trafika" means, and have since learned by writing to the Trafika Europe website:
My query will seem rather silly . . . but could you tell me what the word "Trafika" means? I blogged on Trafika Europe today:

And I openly speculated on the word because I found no definition anywhere.

Sorry to be a bother!


I received this answer from a Mr. Andrew Singer in reply:
Greetings Jeffery and thanks for the post on Trafika Europe on your blog. Regarding your question:

The previous project, the print quarterly Trafika, began in Prague. A "trafika" in Czech language is a little kiosk or the like where you can get a little of everything -- daily paper, cigarettes, chewing gum -- part newspaper stand, part corner shop. This is where the name of the project comes from.

Again thanks. Have a nice day!

A very friendly reply! I now know the full meaning of the word . . . though I still wonder about its etymology.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Trafika Europe?

There's always something new, and I suppose that this one is part of the European project, albeit not part of the EU's top-heavy bureaucracy, I gather -- and, no, it's not some organization concerned about human trafficking in Europe, though I'm guessing (since I didn't find a definition) that the word "Trafika" means "traffic," as in trafficking in literature.

In fact, my literary friend Carter Kaplan introduced me to this site, Trafika Europe, which informs us that it is an "online literary site for great new writing from across Europe in fresh English translation" and that it is intended "to maintain a literate, creative space where writers, publishers, translators and readers can meet, share their work and interact, free of borders in the shared medium of English," but that its larger aim is "to help renew the role of literature in nudging along the European conversation in culture, introduce new voices, foster collaborations and create a kind of 'community of communities,'" with the "hope that a vision of greater cooperation, mutual regard and community in European letters will continue to grow of its own accord."

How serious is this? Well, they started as a printed literary journal and have published some big names:
Czeslaw Milosz, Tomaz Salamun, Natasza Goerke, Don DeLillo, Mohammed Choukri, Ales Debeljak, Anna Swir, Gyorgy Konrad, Peter Nadas, Denis Johnson, Uche Nduka, Eleni Sikelianos, Yusef Komunyakaa, Martin M. Simecka, Hanoch Levin, Tor Ulven, Ilona Lackova, and Javiar Marias.
Among others. I'll try to look into this further . . .

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Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Acting Crazy?

Emanations: Foray into Forever

Various contributors to Emanations: Foray into Forever contributed further to literary eminence through a dialogue of crazed characters, i.e., ourselves, beginning with praise for Carter Kaplan as the mind behind the Emanations series, and I therefore post a particular sequence from a longer list:
Elkie Riches: Congratulations Carter, you made it through another anthology without regaining your sanity.

Terrance Lindall: RIGHT ON ELKIE! Peter Dizozza and I had a contest recently: "Who's Craziest?"

Elkie Riches: That surely is a contest worth viewing. Unfortunately our general election is not until next year.

Terrance Lindall: Well Carter! We are all up to it next year! "CRAZY EMANATIONS!" Even Bien if he is not in the mental ward along with Dizozza. Maybe a theme 4+4=5??????

Vitasta Raina Shrinagesh: (2.236) Squared.

Horace Jeffery Hodges: Crazy Math? Hah! Just follow my reasoning:

1/0 = infinity.
1 = 0(infinity)
2/0 = infinity.
2 = 0(infinity)

Who says I can't divide by zero or multiply by infinity? Mr. Euclid said parallel lines never meet, but they do meet -- at infinity! As Mr. Noneuclid has shown! He was called crazy, too, but look how important Noneuclidean geometry is now! And if infinity worked for Mr. Noneuclid, it can work for me. And as for zero, why it's nothing, and how can anyone object to nothing?

Jeffery Hodges

PS One implication of my approach is that 2 + 2 = 5 .

Vitasta Raina Shrinagesh: Limits :)

Horace Jeffery Hodges: A calculated reply . . .

Vitasta Raina Shrinagesh: Yes sir, it was :)

Horace Jeffery Hodges: Still . . . what I said would be true if it weren't so funny!

Vitasta Raina Shrinagesh: It is true. It's the basis of string theory I think.

Horace Jeffery Hodges: Oops, I just realized I've been talking to you alone -- and all that time I was playing for the audience!

Well, string theory is beyond my ken. I can't even make decent jokes about it!

Vitasta Raina Shrinagesh: Oh. And I thought you were talking to me :(

Horace Jeffery Hodges: Fate decided that I was! One cannot evade the fortunes of fate!

Vitasta Raina Shrinagesh: Indeed.
My mistake was when I neglected to click "Reply All" -- clicking "Reply" only in response to Vitasta's response "Limits :)"! But given that fate brought us to converse, I asked Vitasta about her writing . . . but that topic would not fit today's theme: "Acting Crazy!" So, I'll stop here.

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Monday, July 07, 2014

Absinthe makes the heart go founder?

Apparently not, rumors to the contrary notwithstanding. Absinthe does not drive its drinkers mad.

Or so implies an article, "On the Absinthe Trail," by Evan Rail for The New York Times (July 4, 2014). Rail belies his surname and instead praises the disreputable drink, and he ought to know, for he's a booze writer, author of In Praise of Hangovers and Beer Trails: The Brewery in the Bohemian Forest.

And even if he -- counterfactually -- know not, an expert he met near the 'Valley of Absinthe' would: American writer Scott MacDonald, author of Absinthe Antiques: A Collection From la Belle Époque. The two met in the French town of Pontarlier and compared notes, though MacDonald obviously knew more -- and treated Rail to a special drink:
Mr. MacDonald approached with a glass. "Try this," he said.

The drink seemed thicker, perhaps just in terms of the density of its aromas, with a long-lasting bitterness hiding behind a slightly oxidized, licorice-like anise nose. It was an absinthe verte, but the taste was more gentle than the others I'd tried, with an alcoholic warmth that seemed to expand into infinity.

I felt a strange sense of disappointment when Mr. MacDonald told me what I had just tried: one of the distillery's own pre-ban absinthes, made just before the drink was outlawed in France in 1914, and poured from one of the last remaining bottles as a gift for Mr. MacDonald by the distillery's owner. Until then, I thought that I had found what I was seeking on the route de l'absinthe, and that was Swiss absinthe bleue. But this had been one of the best sips of my life, and unfortunately I would almost certainly never taste anything like it again. Not even in the Val-de-Travers, beside a mountain spring, just a few steps ahead of the Green Fairy herself.
A mite overwritten, and the disappointment is not entirely clear -- one has to think about the meaning -- but I infer that the disappointment was over having sought the special Swiss absinthe bleue, only to discover a sip of absinthe verte exceeded in taste any other absinthe he might imbibe for the rest of his life . . .

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Sunday, July 06, 2014

Emanations: Foray into Forever

Emanations: Foray into Forever
Editor - Carter Kaplan

Carter Kaplan's Emanations Four anthology is now in print, and I see the title makes two puns on "Four"! Kaplan announced its publication in several ways, first by contacting the authors:
On behalf of the International Authors Board of Editorial Advisors, I am happy to announce that Emanations: Foray into Forever is now available on Amazon. Please pass the word . . .
Consider it passed! Kaplan also posted an announcement on the Milton List:
On behalf of the International Authors Board of Editorial Advisors, I am happy to announce that Emanations: Foray into Forever is now available.

There are several Milton connections. Foremost is the book's epigraph, which is taken from PL Book 2. The poetry selections include a dialogue between Adam and Satan from the libretto to the opera Paradise Found by Peter Dizozza, as well as a re-telling of a story from the Divine Comedy by frequent Milton List participant Dario Rivarossa. Jeffery Hodges also brings to bear a Miltonic perspective in many of the poems he has published in the anthology.
Miltonic? Me? Well, maybe in some poems I've written over the years, but the selection in this anthology? Not so much. Here's a sample of the sort to expect:
Crater Lake Blues

A blue, blue, blue Olympian eye;
The blue of arctic ice, refracted sky;
The blue of coolly burning distant love;
The blue in which all lonesome blues dissolve.
Long-time readers will likely recall this poem, which is with a selection of my poems linked to on my sidebar under "Poetry Breaks: Some of My Poems." For something Miltonic, the interested reader will need to check out my novella The Bottomless Bottle of Beer. Now back to Kaplan's Emanations announcement:
Elkie Riches has a story about people who carry their souls on their backs in wicker baskets, but when the baskets are opened . . . well. Again, it is something that Miltonists will especially appreciate. Otherwise, the descriptions in the volume of ancient gardens, chaos, cosmic space, the afterlife, psychological confusion, alienation, and other expressions of the human condition will certainly seem familiar to people who know Milton.

Please pass the word . . .
It's passed again! He also announced the anthology on his blog:
Emanations: Foray into Forever is now available . . .
And word passed . . .

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Saturday, July 05, 2014

Original Art for The Bottomless Bottle of Beer to be Exhibited During "Over the Edge - Paperworks Unbound"

"Old Peculiar"
Partaking of the Devil's Brew
Illustration by Terrance Lindall

My friend Terrance Lindall, who illustrated my novella The Bottomless Bottle of Beer, informs me that original art from among the various works he developed while considering appropriate illustrations for my novella will appear from Saturday, October 25 through Sunday, November 23, 2014 in the exhibition "Over the Edge - Paperworks Unbound," the Opening Reception being on Saturday, October 25, 4-6 p.m.

Artists interested in having their own works included in "a group art exhibition exploring the many artistic usages of paper and how paper has the ability to connect people of all different backgrounds" should consider applying at the WAH Center.

Such an exhibition - so broadly construed as to be "Over the Edge" - might prove provocative indeed!

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Friday, July 04, 2014

Happy with Utilitarianism? Most Folks Aren't!

Bill Vallicella
Probably on the Right
Google Images

Yesterday, as I was looking at Dr. Boli's blog, I saw a joke about "Utilitarianists," to which I added my own joke:
Opinion polls reveal that most people are unhappy with utilitarianism.
The humor hinges upon knowing Jeremy Bentham's "fundamental axiom [of utilitarianism, namely], . . . the greatest happiness of the greatest number . . . is the measure of right and wrong" (A Fragment on Government, London, Preface, 1776, 2nd para.). I was so proud of my joke that I sent notice to my philosophical friend, Bill Vallicella:
Here's a philosophical joke I came up with just this morning:
"Opinion polls reveal that most people are unhappy with utilitarianism."
But some wag must already have coined this piece of witty wisdom . . .
Bill replied:
That's good, Jeff. Variants:
a. Opinion polls reveal that most people are unhappy with eudaimonism.

b. Opinion polls reveal that most people are displeased by hedonism.
Greetings from Arizona . . .
I replied:
Those are good, too.
You see? Philosophy is useful, after all . . .

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Thursday, July 03, 2014

A Love Most Rare

My older brother's wife, Ann "Smith" Hodges, passed away yesterday after many years' struggle with cancer. She was a fine, generous, courageous woman.

When I first took Sun-Ae to the States, in the autumn of 1993, we visited Pat and Ann in Kansas. The two of them really liked Sun-Ae, and Pat later wrote me a letter to say that Ann had remarked on how much Sun-Ae and I enjoyed each other's presence. He advised me to marry Sun-Ae because, he added, "a love like that is rare."

That's what Pat and Ann also had in their nearly 35 years together, mutual enjoyment of each other's presence and a love most rare.


Wednesday, July 02, 2014

True Message of All Religions is 'Peace'?

You Don't
Need Me
To Tell You!

Damian Thompson has an interesting article, "Religion is the new politics - but Britain's secular politicians just don't get it" (The Spectator, 28 June 2014), which he opens by noting Buddhist attacks on Muslims in Myanmar and the 'analysis' of this Buddhist violence in Time:
Here's the verdict of Time magazine: 'Every religion can be twisted into a destructive force poisoned by ideas that are antithetical to its foundations. Now it's Buddhism's turn.' There speaks the sorrowful voice of liberalism - still piously attached to the notion that the true message of all religions is 'peace'.
Clearly, any human institution can be distorted, and even turned toward violence - including such a peaceful religious institution as Buddhism - but to assume that the true message of every religion is peace entails an unacceptable ignorance on the part of journalists (as Thompson seems to imply), who are not adequately performing their role of informing us about religious beliefs.

An honest reading of the central texts of various religions shows that some religions are more susceptible to violence than others, though Mr. Thompson doesn't clearly make this point in this particular article.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Yi Kwang-su on Milton's Satan - Of the Devil's Party, but Knowing it?

Choi Chongko
Photo from Center for Korean Studies
University of Hawaii at Manoa

In his book The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1793), William Blake wrote that Milton was "of the Devil's party without knowing it." Perhaps a youthful Yi Kwang-su was similar - except for the "without knowing" part - for I've recently read of Yi Kwang-su's love for Milton's Paradise Lost and his admiration for the 'heroic' figure of Satan there. I posted a bit about this on the Milton List:
[H]ere's something on Yi Kwang-su's appreciation of Milton:
Yi also felt drawn, however, to the poetry of Byron and Milton because he thought it expressed a Satanic passion that contrasted with the morality of Tolstoy. Yi had been awestruck by the defiant pride of Cain in Byron’s poetry. He admired, moreover, the image of Satan in Milton’s “Paradise Lost”: “I found his Satan heroic, falling to Hell after failing in his effort to lead a rebellion to dethrone God, and standing in the midst of the eternal flames of Hell, arms crossed, refusing to abandon his defiant will. I myself wanted to become a disciple of Satan and follow him.” (page 252)
Ann Sung-hi Lee, "The Early Writings of Yi Gwang-su," Korea Journal, Vol. 42, No. 2, 2002 (pp. 241-278).
I then realized that most scholars on the list would have no idea who Yi Kwang-su was, so I added a follow-up post:
I might add that Yi Kwang-su's interest in Milton is perhaps more than a curiosity.

Yi was more than a novelist, though he is considered to have written the first modern Korean novel (Heartless). He was a poet and a man of letters, a translator and a thinker, a Korean nationalist who ultimately worked with the Japanese colonialists, and possibly the central literary figure during the interwar years, a man who was abducted by the North Korean army during the Korean War (he died in captivity) and whose legacy continues to be disputed by the left and the right.

The passage . . . [above in my first post to the Milton List] was written by Yi's grandaughter, and since she gives no citation, I conclude that the quote on Satan comes from Yi's unpublished journals (which she refers to in the context). I suspect there's more there on Milton. Perhaps a Korean scholar on Milton could look into this.
I then decided to ask an expert, Professor Choi Chong-ko:
You might be interested to know that I posted . . . [about Yi Kwang-su] on the Milton List . . . [because Yi cited Satan in Paradise Lost, as I learned in a journal article by] Prof. [Ann Sung-hi] Lee, [who,] however, did not provide a citation. I'm inferring that she's quoting an unpublished journal.
Professor Choi replied, referring to Yi Kwang-su by his pen name, Chunwon:
[T]hanks for your inspiring message. I guess, Prof. Ann Lee's "Early Writing" means Chunwon's diary of 1909/10. Sure, Chunwon fell in [with] Byron and Satanism shortly as a young writer and intellect, but it was just an experience and temptation. The Korean text of the diary is to be contained in my coming book "My Life: Chunwon's Autobiography" published soon.
That should prove interesting, if my wife can take a look at the passage, which is in Korean. I wonder if Yi's identification with Milton's Satan was motivated by Korean nationalist feelings directed against the Japanese imperial domination over Korea since Japan had held sway over Korea since 1905 (though colonization began in 1910). Professor Choi considers Yi's admiration of Satan to be a folly of his youth, but even youthful follies have their reasons . . .

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