And what shall that be?
I’ve been thinking of words in Korean again lately. I think I do whenever I meet new people, or end up somewhere new. It’s a story that comes up often enough, and then I never say anything and no one ever asks but later on, I’m always thinking of what I always wondered when someone told me they speak another language: how do you say…?
It was always fascinating to know that the same idea could exist in so many different ways of saying it, when I was young. I don’t remember what I would ask. I suppose it was pretty formulaic. Most people, most of us, are pretty formulaic. In a more positive way, we refer to it as ‘character’, which really is just, you know, habits and scripts. But it’s beside the point.
I used to have Korean keys on my laptop, on the one I was just able to replace, as a gift from a beautiful and generous person. I never typed in Korean that often; maybe at work, on a newsletter, or in some basic transaction over the internet. I honestly was pretty conversational at one point. But even then, it exhausted me. Some people are fed this tremendous energy when they tap into a linguistic spirit,. It’s like hitting a well, and the water flowing forth, hardly with even a need to summon it forth and put effort into obtaining it. It just begins to flow.
But now when I meet people and never say anything about it I end up thinking to myself about how to say this or that in Korean. I think about someone reading this and thinking to themselves, ‘it’s called hangeul, you moron’ and me thinking well yeah, I do kinda sorta know that well enough to have decided it’s not terribly important to use that word in this context. (Hangeul is the alphabet. Korean is, well, Korean. Like rectangles and squares.) And I think, words that I cannot really type, not having ever gotten to the fluency of the fingertips, and yet can’t transliterate in English for the feeling of gross irrepresentiveness that it strikes up in me.
But like other bundled trash bags full of past things and persons and places and feelings and so forth, that gets trundled off, too. And to it I have added all these other collections that indicate an attempt of self-definition. The brewing. The biking. The bass and all its superfluous electric effects. And now, too: the books?
Thank you for joining me on this brief journey into a little loop of something that’s all of but not entirely narcissism, who, reflection, and self-examination. And perhaps other things, but it’s time to stop typing and peer deep into the book I’m into now: Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut, after having finally picked up and read through The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe.