Sunday, December 31, 2017

Release One's Winning Ways

"You winsome, you loose some."


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Religious Pluralism?

"What's god for the goose is god for the gander."


Friday, December 29, 2017

Baseball Wisdom

"You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, but cheating don't make you no Major League material."

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

In the Guise of Light?

"Better the Devil you know than the Angel of Light you don't know."


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Road to Hell is Paved: Longer Version

"The road to hell is paved with pretty good intentions, but there's about forty miles of bad road toward the end that's gone all to hell."


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Boxing Day: Who's Favored by St. Pugnacious?

Russia's Man?
Canny Boxer

America's Man?
Big Bruiser

"All's fair in loving war."

Boxing Day: A holiday for thinking outside of the box . . .


Monday, December 25, 2017

A New Christmas Cake and an Old Christmas Poem . . .

Christmas Cake
Christmas of 2017

Merry Christmas
All My Readers

I posted this pom several Christmases ago, but it's always topical this time of the year, and I deserve a day off, so here goes:
Christmas Present
A year brings now another Christmas nigh,
And were there still those twelve medieval days
To celebrate a dozen, courtly ways,
I'd greet this time without protesting sigh.

For hardly greeted is it fast foreby
And lost within that sempiternal maze,
Forever hidden from our baffled gaze,
Where every single Christmas past will lie.

And yet, one dozen Christmases to fete
Would soon be just as all forever gone
Into that same dark labyrinth of time.

Such is of every Christmas past the fate
Predictable: it ought to prompt a yawn,
But since I muse, this Christmas Present rhyme.
You can also find it on page 104 of my collected poems, Radiant Snow. If only there were eleven more days . . .


Sunday, December 24, 2017

Don't Walk the Talk . . .

Wise Old Hillbilly

As a wise old hillbilly once advised me:
"Don't walk the talk if you cain't talk the walk."
I'm still trying to figure out exactly what he meant by that!

My best guestimate is that he meant to say that you shouldn't do anything heroic unless you're able to brag about it.


Maybe because if you don't take credit, somebody else will.


Saturday, December 23, 2017

Lucifer Possesses a Plant?

Reading Paradise Lost Herbivorously

But the Devil did have some help, from scientists, as one might have expected, for knowledge through experience (and thus also through experiment?) goes all the way back to the Plant of the Knowledge of Good and Evil:
To create their glowing plants, the MIT team turned to luciferase, the enzyme that gives fireflies their glow. Luciferase acts on a molecule called luciferin, causing it to emit light. (Anne Trafton, "Engineers create plants that glow," MIT News, December 12, 2017)
We thus see that Lucifer is involved in this work of luminescent plants, as the two allusions to his name imply! But all will be for the best, as Mephistopheles tells us:
[Ich bin] Ein Teil von jener Kraft, / Die stets das Böse will und stets das Gute schafft.
[I am] Part of that power / that incessantly wills to do evil but unceasingly achieves the good. (Goethe, Faust, 1335-6)
But the Devil could be lying . . .

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Friday, December 22, 2017

Another Think Coming . . .

Another Issue to Point Out Outright, Alright?

From the folks who brought us the "I·SEOUL·U" city slogan comes this poster of Seoul utilized to attract tourists by emphasizing the city's charm, elegance, and sophistication through misspelling the last day of the week as "Saterday" (as previously noted), but even more noteworthy are those who put this celebration together, namely, those folks on the Organizing Committee of the SEOUL CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL 2017, the ones who indeed flinched not before the task of ensuring that we tourists be "subjected" to whatever that same committee has come up with as its concept of entertainment!

I showed my students this poster and got a good belly laugh out of them.


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Vampire in my dream?

Watching over us, indeed!
Rather, surveilling us!

I was thrashing about in a dream the other night, kicking out at an evil creature threatening me and my family, a ghost of some sort, a spectral vampire - and if I'm not mistaken, specifically, The Big Hominid, spiritual alter ego of Kevin Kim!

My wife shook me awake and asked, "What are you doing?"

"Well," I said, and I began to laugh, "I was fighting 'The Ghost of Kevin Kim.'"

My wife must have stared at me in the darkness, but she said nothing, and I fell back asleep, probably to again take on my heroic role as a good, glorious knight in quest of monsters to slay . . .

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Postmodern Values: Rights of Time Passages

"A broken clock is right twice a day."

"Right" about what?

Right about now.

Right you are!

But no clock is ever right because every working clock is either fast or slow, and a stopped, broken clock preserves those moments in potential. Thus is every broken clock never current, but always errant.


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Gender-Biased Wisdom

"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" may have its truth, but why does this proverb assume Jack's gender identity is male, namely, a "boy," when we can see for ourselves in the playing card above that this Jack is clearly into gender-bending, what with the pencil-thin mustache and the long, blond curls?


Monday, December 18, 2017

My Good Intentions . . .

Only recently did I learn that books shipped to South Korea don't reach their addressee unless the addressee's official ID number is included, which explains why I wasn't receiving the various books that I'd ordered or that friends had sent to me.

When I finally knew of this need for my ID, I ordered the book you see above, a book I'd promised to review, and which I will review as soon as I can see enough light beyond the end of this semester's dark tunnel . . .


Sunday, December 17, 2017

"Saterday" - A New Day of the Week?

"Saterday"? Is that from the verb "sate" or the noun "Satyr"? Little difference, I reckon. Either way, Christmas looks to be a bit too merry already, here in Seoul.

Source: Weekend Edition of the Korea Herald hard copy for December 16-17, 2017 (nine days uncorrected!).


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Postmodern Proverbs: Prey for Death

"Better a cat's paw than a cat's maw."


Friday, December 15, 2017

Postmodern Proverbs: Marriage of Convenience

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions . . . and also bad intentions."

Moral: The Cat's Paw

Hermeneutic of Dissuspicion: Know left from right, but let not your left hand know what your right hand is doing.

Conclusion: The Entirety is Incoherent.

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Postmodern Proverbs: Early Science as Moral Reckoning

"What goes up . . . goes around, and what comes around . . . must come down."


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Postmodern Proverbs: Value of Images

"A picture's worth a thousand words so shut up, and take the snapshot, already!"


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Postmodern Proverbs: Value of Money

"A penny saved is a penny yearned."


Monday, December 11, 2017

Postmodern Proverbs: Still . . .

"Still waters that run deep ain't still waters."


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Postmodern Proverbs: Moccasin Wisdom Updated

Water Moccasin

"Don't judge a man until you have walked 1.60934 kilometers in his shoes."


Saturday, December 09, 2017

Bliss-Fool Words of Encouragement

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and ends with a single step - just not the same step, unfortunately!"

(And don't walk down the middle of the road, or you'll get hit from both sides!)


Friday, December 08, 2017

Lamé Identified . . .

I always wondered what lamé meant. Now I know. Kind of heavy-metal without the heavy . . .


Thursday, December 07, 2017

Peeling Unappealing Apples Or Offering Outrageous Oranges

A Case of Apples and Oranges?

"A little bite of knowledge is a dangerous thing."


Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Contrast of Wisdoms

Korean Proverb: "We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we speak."

Jeffery's Corrective: "We have two ears and one mouth, so we should speak twice as much to catch up."


Tuesday, December 05, 2017

The Semester's End Draweth Nigh . . .


Monday, December 04, 2017

Identify This Bird, Please

Some Bird or Other
Sun-Ae Hwang

My wife drew this bird and didn't have time to look up the English name, but I said no problem, that someone online would let me know . . .

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Sunday, December 03, 2017

Robert D. Stevick on Sung-il Lee's Beowulf

Robert D. Stevick

I cited Stevick yesterday in words of high praise for Lee's Beowulf, but let me add a few more, these on how perfect Lee's translation choices have been. According to Stevick:
Nothing gets in the way [of the poem]. The commonest impediments to successful translation have been theories of this and that, High Principles to be upheld, or just romantic notions about "olde tyme" English poetry. Sometimes it is a choice to imitate the general sound of the original text -- two half-lines separated by syntax but linked by alliteration. The one successful instance came many, many years ago from Charles W. Kennedy, but even this text [by Kennedy] tends to accelerate unfittingly as the rhythm continues unrelenting. Sometimes it is a decision to imitate the blank verse of the Renaissance. Sometimes it may be choice of a verse-form such as nine-syllable lines defended by reasoning rather than readability. Sung-Il Lee's translation is not trammeled in any ways like these. The syllable-count is unpredictable: it is instead the phrasings that embody the verse rhythms. (Robert D. Stevick, "Foreward," in Sung-il Lee, Beowulf in Parallel Texts, Cascade Books, Eugene, Oregon, 2017, p. ix)
Just the other day, I was discussing with Bill Vallicella the virtue of counting syllables vs. the virtue of measuring phrases. We didn't use exactly those terms, but that's what we were getting at. Stevick clearly comes down on the side of phrasings . . .in this instance, anyway.

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Saturday, December 02, 2017

Lee Sung-il's Beowulf

Lee Sung-il

Several weeks ago, Lee Sung-il - emeritus professor of Yonsei and expert in the English language from Old English onward - sent me a copy of his translation of Beowulf. I was already aware of the greatness of his achievement, having heard him read several lines at a medievalist conference some years back.

I'm no expert on Beowulf, but I have published a couple of articles on this ancient 'Anglo-Saxon' text, so I can perhaps be allowed a point of view in claiming that Lee's is the best modern rendering of this epic poem that we have.

But don't just listen to me. Here's what the expert Robert D. Stevick wrote in his forward to the translation:
Why read this translation of Beowulf? Because there isn't a better one to be found.
This text isn't just the translation. It's Beowulf in Parallel Texts, the Old English original on the left-hand page, Lee's translation on the right-hand page. The cover looks like this:

Go forth, therefore, to purchase it, and read . . .


Friday, December 01, 2017

For the Big Hominid . . .

Bohemian Waxwing
Sun-Ae Hwang

Kevin asked for more art, so here's another bird, one I think I haven't posted here before.