These Days…

  • I’ve been sleeping poorly and eating less than usual, but still basically in a good mood and feeling better-rested than before. (Could this have to do with much-reduced net access?)
  • I’ve been very busy writing on one of my other blogs, which I’ll once more plug here: New Sophist’s Almanac, a blog run by my friend Marvin and I, for the purposes of egghead philosophical discussions. Current topics include religious language, cross-cultural and cross-belief-system communication, the strengths and weaknesses of postmodernist theory, and aspects of Korean culture in connection with marriage and with barbershops.
  • I’ve been listening to Beck, George Harrison, and Bill Laswell’s remixes of Bob Marley unceasingly. The best of the three, to my mind, is George Harrison, though the most lyrically sophisticated and beautiful is Beck. I’ll post some samples soon.
  • I’ve enjoyed some very nice phone calls, the most stellar of which came this morning. My friend John Wendel has returned to Iksan from his holidays in California and we had a chat before I went in to the office today. It was like this sudden bright window opened and in poured all this intelligence, thoughts on books (which he recommended and described) and movies (which he insisted I must see) and just all this wonderful cool John. I feel the space in my life that he used to fill, during out daily chatter and our occasional lunches and dinners togther, very keenly. Which means I shall have to make an effort to keep in touch with him.
  • I feel very very keenly how much I miss Charlie. I think I have done a lot of what I set out to do when I went noncom with him, and I shall have to try calling him tonight, if possible. I do miss him keenly, and I think I now can make my relationship with him about more than complaining about my women problems.
  • I have been unable to read fiction. so I’ve been slowly plodding through nonfiction, the most recent of which was Pascal Boyer’s Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought. This book was, quite rightly, called by John Tooby and Leda Cosmides, “The first classic of 21st-century anthropology.” I go into great detail about it over in New Sophist’s Almanac, if you’re curious you should look over there. Or better yet, pick up the book and read it yourself! Next on my book list are two histories: the first, a work about Chinese history, is Diana Preston’s The Boxer Rebellion: The Dramatic Story of China’s War on Foreigners That Shook the World in the Summer of 1900; the second is Albert Hourani’s A History of the Arab Peoples. We’ll see after that whether I’ll be able to get into some fiction, or whether I’ll go read another book on cosmology.
  • I’ve been enjoying teaching… though, you know, it’s still very early in the term. But I have some very sweet, friendly students who, despite knowing somewhat less English than your average Kazakh truck driver, are friendly and polite and and do give it a bit of a try, at least in class. But I do feel old, now, among all these college freshmen and sophomores.
  • I’ve been formulating a kind of model of mythologized self-awareness, agency, linguistic obeisance, and rationalization of inferential processes in the mind to explain what I think is a major problem with postmodernist thought. For as much as I respect and even enjoy the ouevre of Foucault, I think this is precisely what he was missing out on and needed to make a workable theory that could allow for agency and action, possibly even some form of active work upon the kinds of systems which he showed us pretty clearly to be at work in our world.
  • I’ve been enjoying some pretty satisfying electronic correspondences with a few people, especially Sun Hwa and Kyu Jin (the former via email, including email I’ve written to her in Korean, and the latter mainly via SMS, ie. the text messages that people send on cell phones… we also correspond in Korean sometimes, maybe half of the time).
  • I’ve been happy to go in to work in an office where all the nastiness and pettiness and weirdness of my old office is not only lacking, but seems to be replaced with a kind of surprising and salutary tolerance for difference. I’m sure if I openly expressed some of my views on some subjects some people might take offense, but then I suppose the reverse is true. But I am adjusting to this environment, not feeling the need to mention things I know challenge the fundaments of the worldviews of others around me. It’s also nice not to have to resort to mockery as a kind of pressure valve, the way we used to have to do in Office 2 in my old job. Ah, which reminds me…
  • I am finding living alone to be very much to my liking. I’m adjusting to the new neighborhood, which means mainly cooking at home a lot more, because unlike my old neighborhood in Iksan (ShinDong), my part of JungHwaSanDong is not noted for a plenitude of inviting restuarants. But my cooking is still good, so I am in the main happy.
  • I am slowly trying to write new songs for the band. It’s difficult without anything to test my chord progressions on but I think I have come up with some good stuff, including a work song about Bodhi-Dharma (or, as Koreans call him, simply Dharma), the Indian monk who (at least mythically) spread Buddhism (and tea) all over East Asia.
  • I am spending too much time in the PC-Bang where I am currently writing this. So I am going to end this here and head out for a bite to eat, and then watch a movie on my PC while I do some ironing, and then sleep.

3 thoughts on “These Days…

  1. You’re not going to believe this, but last weekend I ordered from Amazon Boyer’s book (on your recommendation), Pinker’s _How the Mind Works_ (for a book club that my wife and I are thinking of attending, which just mysteriously happens to jibe with our conversation on NSA), and Preston’s book about the Boxer Rebellion. The last only in part because it jibes with all the East-West cross-consciousness analysis we’ve (well, mostly you’ve) been doing, but mainly because it seems a necessary subject of study if one wants to fully appreciate the work of Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Gordon Liu, et al. And Bruce. Broooooooooce!

  2. PS – I’ve also owned a copy of Hourani’s _History_ for years. I’ve never finished it, though…it struck me as being a fairly dry litany of facts and not very engaging. Maybe your experience will be different.

  3. Well, I read a good chunk of it when I was very very ill, and it didn’t seem so bad… but then, it was a crucial part of how I passed the time while deathly ill, sitting upon the throne and waiting for the next attack. Maybe as a result I have a positive view of the book, since it did distract me from something rather awful.

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