Archive for October, 2008

In Perfume: A Story of a Murderer, the main character perceives the world through scents. He identifies objects by the essense of what he smells from them; that was why he was driven to kill young women in order to collect and create a scent of his own.

I also remember places and people with smells. Sometimes. When I travel to England ever year, the first thing that hits me is its familiar smell. I used to catch fleeting whiffs of it in SIS–maybe on one rainy day I would smell it on the staircase–and be struck by excitement and nostalgia. I have a friend who smells very distinctly like something, and I remember being overwhelmed by this “identity” of hers when I first stepped into her apartment in fourth grade.  

But I’ve never tried smelling myself…

What I do want is to establish a scent identity, though. In summer school, one of my friends brought a huge bottle of Calvin Klein In2U, claiming that ever since the first time she smelled it she knew it was hers. I had been thinking about what she said for a while, and concluded that people choose scents that they WANT to smell like. But what if people are attracted to scents that they already are? What if everyone is destined to match with one and only one scent?

Some of my top choices these days:


And I just cannot choose one single scent to wear forever. How can anyone be sure about what he/she is, anyway? If I settle on just one, then I would be turning my back away from the millions of other scents that people have come up with–ones with a certain texture or tart trim that my nose might have never experienced before even after 18 years of constantly inhaling the world.

But it does feel nice to think that when someone smells a certain scent, it reminds him/her of me. Just like I miss my particular friend and our summer memories whenever I spritz myself with the Calvin Klein that she wore every day at summer school.


Read Full Post »

Responding to Mr. Jones’ blogpost about diaspora…

The Ibo people’s traditional center of life was disturbed by the intrusion of white culture. This is the African diaspora: the conflicts made by changes, by cultural expansion and reception of different customs. The way certain Ibo people responded to these changes are pretty understandable.

Even if life was “always the way it was” and people accepted it because they had no choice, not everybody wants to maintain their traditional lives. Of course, the lords and respected men want to keep their culture, and with that their stable superiority. But for those who are exiled, those who are considered the lower members of the caste, would want something different. They would want a chance to have a better life, and they would readily abandon their “way of life” because the Christian acceptance of everyone as brother and sister would give them more respect than they would earn in a lifetime as a pagan. The positive impact that the diaspora gave would be the uplifting of these people, giving new opportunities, and making changes to the somewhat unfair institutions that have been traditionally set up.

In Korea, diaspora has definitely occurred. Let’s look at how Western society influenced us:

– example 1: beauty

this was the 18th century Korean definition of beauty:

Wide hips, small breasts, and a wide face were just some of the Korean standards.

Now, with the influence of the Western standard of beauty:

the Korean standard became like this:

 big eyes, sharp features such as the nose and chinlines

and body wise:

 tall, skinny, with big breasts. NOT the Korean body type…

Because of the differences between expectations and the actual body type of Koreans, there is A LOT of plastic surgery and diffidence in one’s looks, and Koreans cannot capture the essence of their culture and heritage in their looks anymore.

– example 2: consumerism

Traditional Korean products, such as rice cake, are still being sold today. Hanboks are being sold too, because they’re used at the few traditional events we celebrate.

But if you look around the streets of Seoul….


Western clothes, western food are dominating youth culture.

Of course, every diaspora brings diversity and expansion of horizons for any culture. However, it does cut back on the identity of the country, the traditional customs that had remained for thousands of years. That is why America doesn’t seem to have an identity–it is such a melting pot of different cultures that you don’t see any distinctive qualities that no other country seems to have. Or has the American identity spread everywhere, and is that why I can’t see any difference?

– example 3: language

English is one of the universal languages now. One cannot function in such a global society with just a mastery of the Korean tongue. I see a lot of tension in public about the two language use.

At public places like subways, Korean english-speakers are told off by the Korean elders about not speaking their own language in their own country. As an English-speaker, I am a bit indignant about this attempt to force the traditional language on people like this. When I sometimes speak in Korean in public, students glare in my direction because they consider me a show-off–showing some competitive aspect of Korean culture that responds negatively to foreignness or a mastery of something that everyone needs to.


So going back to Things Fall Apart ! Even though diaspora had brought opportunity and growth, it also made the traditional core fall apart. Following this concept illustrated in “The Second Coming,” the title illustrates the loss of a cycle that had always existed.

Read Full Post »

Responding to Mr. Jones’ blogpost questions about The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats…

So the Christians predict an end of the World, when they would be saved by Jesus and be able to laugh in the faces of the poor unfortunate souls left behind who had chosen not to follow God.

“So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many. And unto them that look for him, shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Heb.9:28.

 “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him.” Rev.1:7.

“This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into Heaven.” Acts 1:2.

The Bible, according to the quotes, affirm that Christ will appear yet again. The Christians will go to heaven with him, and Satan will be born onto the Earth to torture those who had chosen not to believe. In Yeat’s poem, this specific example is linked to the cycle of stability and anarachy.

The author of the poem is clearly not interested in the Christian salvation aspect, but the unleashing of terror and destruction upon the world where life has been sustained stably thus far. Thus comes the phrase, “Things Fall Apart,” a rather simple and matter-of-fact illustration of the utter chaos that could be caused by the loss of a core control, further specified by the Second Coming as an example.

The novel Things Fall Apart also paints the picture of a lost center, due to which the lives that revolved around tribal traditions crumbled as the revolution of Christianity and the white man’s government “slouches towards Bethlehem to be born” and to disturb the old, ancient orbit.

Read Full Post »