October 8, 2011

An Ode to Individualism

Solitary Man - Neil Diamond

An ode to individualism.

Walking can be one of those meditations that you do to contemplate. Yes it does help after a few laps around the block, people who get their heartbeat up tend to think clearer due to the rush of adrenaline.....
*kick the can
*hauch a loogy
*shoot the shit

Walking or running in Seoul is a huge eye opener. There are many different ways to look at things in this city. The tourist perspective, the cave of an office worker perspective, the athlete perspective, and the stressed out dodger/runner/speed walker perspective. As a tourist you see things for the first time, its foreign you are detached. As a cooped up office worker, you see a room, a computer (maybe) and a few other people who look like you, as you think about what it is like to walk. As the athlete, you take on the Han river and master each mountain view with the rest of Seoul's old man population, through fun runs, climbs, or river walks. And the dodger perspective only sees the butt of the person in front of him/her because you can never get around the unlimited amount of people packed into this city.

This goes back to a couple of other posts about communal living, doing something for one's neighbor, etc. With so many people in one place, how could anybody be alone?!

So why am I ode-ing to individualism? Individualism doesn't necessary make you independent from others or able to take on everything alone. Napoleon's great quote, "If you don't like the way something is done, do it yourself", I don't think was meant to do everything all at once.
Individualism is to distinguish yourself from others in the process of working with them. For me this isn't through better or worse, sicker or poorer, black or white, not even a woman or a man.

When a person's character has been tested, maybe even multiple times, those who are older and wiser see this. Her/His individualism shines, the shinier the more interesting. Experience, bravery/stupidity/insanity, attitude, and connections all add to the shininess.


Connections; who you know, and how you know them will matter for the rest of your life. Connections can be deeper than an acquaintance, a job, a shared interest. Interactions between people help everyone to understand how or why a person behaves in a certain way and this understanding can lead to less unhappiness and more compassion. "Compassion can only come from understanding" DearJason

Attitude; always thinking positively really does help, dreaming and never waking up is probably not a great idea, but always getting back up after that horse threw you could help you do something like idk...- Stronger by Kelly Clarkson (will embed when can) aka smile when your down.

Experience; comes in all different shapes and sizes. For me it isn't about making the perfect resume anymore. Of course I need to keep up with promoting myself to whoever pays me a decent salary.  Money is a limitation. You can only overcome it if you are smart enough. But what will matter for you and everyone else in the long run is what you contributed to society other than money. Seeing what is important to that other person is as important as seeing what is truly important to yourself.

 "Contribute more than you consume" - Ray Bachard KU Volleyball Coach. This is not said in an Asian setting where everyone should work for less and sacrifice their weekends to earn a ton of money. But to volunteer, spend those weekends improving society's environment, schools, people. Seoul is on the brink but there is not nearly enough effort put forth by its own people. American cities are also taking the fast track to money mind set, where they need to think what things can help those have-nots. "Giving the time is just as important as giving the money"  Ex-NBA star returns to inner city, brings hoop dreams. 

Just like most limitations they can be overcome. Here is just one example a media limitation enforced by government, being overcome by a perfectly legitimate media producer and entrepreneur. Yang Lan a media mind attempts to challenge the Chinese censorship of media. As China overwhelms the West, its media needs to be a little more savvy. And of course like any other - brainwashing. 

Another individual initiative that contributed more is Steve Jobs' thinking about schools as market for change, educational innovation, and provided a sustained presence in power politics. Instead of just relying on 22 year olds making babies! OR the "Git R Dun" technique which I don't see, with an education system in the crapper would be such a good idea?

Why does individualism matter?  For the obvious reason that one person can make a bigger change than an angry mob.

August 27, 2011

Opportunities and Rock n Roll

Gotta grab those opportunities when they come up. However Malcolm Gladwell says in his book Outliers that opportunities find the person and not the other way around. You are who you are and you are either born in the right decade of success or not. You either experience smooth sailing or run into a few bumps either preventing or leading to your success.

"In Outliers, he hopes to show that there are a lot more variables involved in an individual's success than society cares to admit, and he wants people to "move away from the notion that everything that happens to a person is up to that person"

Outside forces obviously have an impact. Knowing where you stand (or fall) in a particular generation should help you determine what you are....supposed to be. Or does this sound too pessimistic -

Maybe this will help~

"When asked what message he wanted people to take away after reading Outliers, Gladwell responded, "What we do as a community, as a society, for each other, matters as much as what we do for ourselves. It sounds a little trite, but there's a powerful amount of truth in that, I think."

Shout out to the individual to build his/her society.

What to build in South Korea? Can Rock n Roll do to Korea what it did for America? Maybe a little bit more "freedom" might do it some good, or not.

So far their culture and community are so demanding of the individual which in my perspective can be respected. Or maybe the active role of women in the economic history of the continent has helped it tremendously long term. Experts remark on how women are better with money due to their long term outlook, such as kids, household, and grandchildren. These perspectives prove to provide the whole community with more, because of its long term effects.

Seems to be the wave of the financial world these days with Christine Lagarde at the helm.

However, America has its opinions on how much time working as an impact on the economy...but certain things like working late every night are not considered. Americans may have their nights while Asians have their vacations.....Fareed Zakaria on Americans working

Apprenticeships, opportunities, private businesses give us this start. I do not know it all. "profit on the one hand, and wages on the other" is how capitalism works and that only works if you are giving and taking. Failure is not a bad option but consistently making the same mistake is.

I preferred it when people had the time, ....no, MADE the time to think before they act.

If you think about how your business can help the community as a whole either in the long term or every, month, year, etc. The actual term used when Old Choson was founded by Tangun Wanggum in 2333 BC was Hongik Ingan meaning "to live and work for the benefit of all mankind". This old traditional mindset and culture leads to what superpowers we will see in the near future. Even old stories about famous historical figures such as Yi Yulgok praise this virtue to work for the whole and give away what you have rather than hoard it for yourself. Was there self interest in Yi Yulgok's actions?
American ideals have changed as well. We are not in the economy to compete - ultimately we are here to cooperate and negotiate. So Why should everything be a game of winning? Adam Smith at first write The Theory of Moral Sentiments where he emphasizes the importance of relationships:
In the work, Smith critically examines the moral thinking of his time, and suggests that conscience arises from social relationships.[56] His goal in writing the work was to explain the source of mankind's ability to form moral judgements, in spite of man's natural inclinations towards self-interest. Smith proposes a theory of sympathy, in which the act of observing others makes people aware of themselves and the morality of their own behavior

but in his Wealth of Nations he emphasizes the dangers of the invisible hand contradicting a the sympathy expressed in TOMS, the invisible hand is the gluttony of humanity and how it takes over:

"As every individual, therefore, endeavours as much as he can both to employ his capital in the support of domestick industry, and so to direct that industry that its produce may be of the greatest value; every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestiek to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other eases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the publick good. [emphasis added]."

The One Minute Entrepreneur - by Ken Blanchard and Don Hutson gives a great example of how a business can help everyone - their community and their family. "When you give to others, it comes back to you in spades".

When you give you are still thinking of yourself. There is a balance to maintain. Overall personal relationships should be highest priority. BUT I am getting ahead of myself.

Maybe Fareed Zakaria's opinion on an economic platform as a government outline should be considered.

Korean culture demands a lot from its citizens but then again it offers a lot too. Things may be getting more expensive only because we are not in a fixed market, but they tend to come around here in bigger quantities and the people seem to appreciate the award at the end of a long run. Yearly, monthly, etc. Rather than weekly, bi-weekly. Again another example of the West's shortsightedness. BUT weekly paychecks are not bad either - people save in different ways. However take into consideration what has actually happened in reality - about how Americans did not save while Asians, Koreans saved quite a bit in recent years. The interest rate here is astonishing, ....while you may have some limitations - I guess I will find out if the wait is worth it. It limits temptation for sure but also that freedom that comes with the choice of temptation.

Now back to Rock n Roll. I just came from RENT(I know not specifically rock n roll, but influential music nonetheless), and it was in Korean. Overall I think this western influence is needed, through the arts. It does not need to be shut out or slept with just shown a seperate room perhaps~ Does this open mindedness make it better? Does the West hold a higher standard of art than Asia?

ART is the freedom to feel comfortable or sick from what you see or hear, not to restrict it. Do the older paintings do this, yes in a very respectful and subtle way, which can be and is appreciated. But RENT is an outlet for the many emotional limitations that Korea's culture subtly imposes. Do I feel suffocated? No. it is a city where there is a basic difference between running free in a field and being surrounded by people at all times. The difference needs to be embraced as well and understood - maybe not adopted but observed.

However with so many people it IS harder to meet others on the level in which I would prefer to meet them. It seems I know my neighbors who live a mile away from me back home better than those who live 2 feet from me here, it would be the same in New York or Los Angelos (I hear). Going back to Freshman year, I feel this is a natural way of city life from what was talked about in "freshman studies" and those art history classes I thought I was going to major in - help me pull the painting Paris Street, Rainy Day - by Gustave Caillebotte out of memory:

This may be Paris but it still reflects that loneliness of even an Asian city life. Coming from the country, I feel I need to insert something into this painting. For one it bores me, makes me feel like crap, and there is no focus point - typical for city life. There needs to be a Scream, or a smile :-)
So do I become unfocused while in the city? No. I try and work harder to carve those smile or scream niches of my own for myself.

Turn inward.

Below: This picture I feel represents what I want the city to be like for me, probably not as familiar here in Korea as it was meant to be in the picture but I should become THIS comfortable with Korea, not the other way around~Richard Feynman demonstrates this when he writes about his frequent trips to Japan and how he wanted the Japanese style stay rather than the customary western style - made to make westerners feel more comfortable. This is ridiculous but totally respectful in the sense that "hey the Japanese are thinking about our comfort"

this could be within that niche:

I think this shows maybe a little loneliness, but it only appears that way and you can fill it with observation, of the couple or the open windows, or conversation with the bartender. In Korea I was prone to people watching just because I do it back home, and tend to be more aware of people since they were not always around me.
But when I talked to locals here, "people watching, what's this?" A lot of Koreans seem to not notice the person as much as the people (great big moving bodies walking around). I am distracted and curious about the PERSON rather than the people.
"Edward Hopper’s painting Nighthawks (1942) expresses the comfortable, familiar feeling of being in “A Clean Well-Lighted Place” in the midst of a dark and lonely city. " The clean well lighted place might as well be a friend as it is a place.

The root of a complaint usually comes from observing a person as people instead of seeing, or trying to see something else like the light in an unfamiliar place. Of course not all Koreans, and definitely not all Foreigners, do see the light but it becomes habit when people watching begins to hurt your eyes, because you are trying to look at everything instead of focusing on one thing.

April 25, 2011

When You're Young, You Get Distracted

Ryan Adams had some thoughts with a couple of his first albums which I prefer. But youth has to be analyzed, why after its gone why not take your time right now....

Four blond haired fizzy drink loving brits from the 80s will never allow you to go wrong on the ridiculous side of things. When you are young silly dance moves like skirt ripping and a Capella voices seem to fit and have a lightness to it that adds relief to everyday distractions. What do I mean by everyday distractions is probably exactly what Bucks Fizz provides - note: youtube adventures deem plausible cause for such procrastination - but then again is procrastination our distraction or is it the return to self-observation?

"CHAIRMAN: ...Which brings us once again to the urgent realisation of just how much there is still left to own. Item six on the agenda: the meaning of life. Now, uh, Harry, you've had some thoughts on this.

HARRY: That's right. Yeah, I've had a team working on this over the past few weeks, and, uh, what we've come up with can be reduced to two fundamental concepts. One: people are not wearing enough hats. Two: matter is energy. In the universe, there are many energy fields which we cannot normally perceive. Some energies have a spiritual source which act upon a person's soul. However, this soul does not exist ab initio, as orthodox Christianity teaches. It has to be brought into existence by a process of guided self-observation. However, this is rarely achieved, owing to man's unique ability to be distracted from spiritual matters by everyday trivia." - Monty Python, The Meaning of Life

Do distractions make us lighter or heavier? Is it the thought of a distraction BEING a distraction that gives it its weight and therefore adds onto the trivial things, or is it actually what is distracting us that gives us more to think about therefore distracting us EVEN more from that thing called self-observation?

Unbearable lightness usually comes with the territory of being young and curious about the other sex, and about the whole idea of relationships. The book is okay, it explains the opposite sex at least to those who overreact when they are young and caught up in the emotion. The book explains human mistakes to those who think that being perfect makes you pure and therefore the foundation of a relationship must be completely rid of all mistakes or masked with unwanted desires. The book also explores the individual within a relationship. A lot of young people (I myself i guess) did not or do not realize that the individual in the relationship needs to be developed before any sort of true relationship can be attained.

Relationships or the opposite sex are the ULTIMATE distraction from self-observation.

Go do what you wanna do:
1. Build a dream house
2. Trek the South Pole
3. Get Distracted

bucks fizz - when we were young

April 23, 2011

Youtube Adventures


160 Arnold Schwarzenegger Quotes


"From the Heart of Afghanistan"


Till the World Ends

16: Moments

Every year on our birthday my friend and I would receive a balloon from the school secretary at lunchtime. After lunch we would have time before class, and my friend and I spent that time on the soccer field, with the balloon. Let it go.  So an intentional moment?  no i do not think it is the same thing.....

Sometimes I think I never really did say goodbye, I just left for a little while.

Listen to Your Heart


Gangnam Style Gone Viral!!!


March 4, 2011

What to do. What to do.

So far,.....I <3 the bizarre fashion, the ridiculous obsessions, and the absolutely incognito facial expressions. Korean is easy - it just takes time for a foreigner like me.
See anything familiar? ~

South Korea is known for its nationalism and pride. Don't ever offend a Korean by having an opinion opposite that of Korean culture without being ready to put up with an irrational reason for why their food, their women, and maybe even their soccer players are better (although I think I am ready for that argument).

The LOVE <3 around here is... not contagious, but rather obsessed over. "Couples Korea", everyone seems to have a significant other especially anyone who is remotely good-looking. Forget about independence. People rarely do things alone - however I have to run alone, there is no one within 500kilometers of me that will run (who is my age, and not some creepys old guy).

Seoul's Fashion Week, featuring a designer I found to like, ChoiBoko, was this week. Of course when I was doing the research for it all I could find were walking male models, which for me is a huge turnOFF because it is a bunch of guys prancing around in very awkward looking, feminine outfits. It isn't what you expect which makes Seoul fashion very good for fashion internationally. A lot of things I liked, but still it is almost surreal, that these people are in the same town I am in and there are hundreds of these people walking around like this everyday (not like runway but fashion). No wonder Koreans are so very aware of their appearance. Image is everything here - good thing I am importing my Kansas jean jacket which will be my license plate and excuse for not keeping up with the Korean Times. :-P

Work has kept me busy most of the time. 나 는 한 국 을 공 부 에 요. Since my keyboard does not have Hangeul on it this takes forever, so I will occasionally write it.

Weekends are open. I discovered hiking, an old people's sport, nonetheless still a beautiful mountain with a beautiful view and the most delicious cappuccino on the way down~ Want to meet people, this has proved the most difficult, but I guess good things just take time.
What to do. So far internet without Hangeul in Korea is hopeless all the more reason to improve the fluency.

And play da Kpop - which always cheers anybody up :-D