Nietzsche

In this episode, Teague and I discuss the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. We cover a ton of issues: from morality and epistemology to language, consciousness, and shyness. Hopefully, we clarified many common misrepresentations and helped discover the depth and greatness of his philosophy.

Language

I feel very lucky to speak three languages. I didn’t choose any of them. I grew up speaking both Korean and English. I learned French because of my uncle; and I ended up majoring in French due to a series of unfortunate events. However, thanks to these involuntary choices I can now listen to the music of Serge Gainsbourg and savor his wordplay. I can relish the dry wit of Jang Ki Ha, the sensuous poetry of Baudelaire, and the violent sonnet of Yeats. 

Not only do I appreciate such disparate works of art, but I also consume all kinds of food, media, and culture. Language is a meme that is unique. It exposes one to cultures and ideas in ways that are unimaginable for other memes. For instance, I am treated as an insider by Koreans because I can speak Korean; I can speak to artists on the Pontes des artes, basking in the Sein’s reflection of the Sun; and my English prevents me from being treated as a hopeless foreigner which entails certain advantages in the United States. 

Bilingualism seemingly makes one brighter. It certainly is the case that it provides me a colorful palette of words and phrases. I would not be surprised if such colors make my mind sharp and bright. The world I see is not of iron and grey, blunt and dull. My world is comprised of manifold hues, flavors, and textures. Language enriches my life. 

Dear British Lady

Dear British Lady –whose name I refuse to acknowledge

Please do some research before you go on another country’s comedy show. Please don’t blabber your mouth and judge another country’s comedy without having the relevant background to do so properly. A) How do you expect to criticize a highly contextual comedy skit without the context? B) If you don’t have the context, don’t create a documentary that makes value judgments on Korean media. There is surely much to criticize in Korean comedy like any culture, and foreigners can criticize another culture’s comedy. But, comedy and humor, as anyone who has learned or speaks multiple languages knows, is often one of the most difficult parts of the language to convey to foreigners. You have to be constantly surrounded by the references, the cultural idiosyncrasies, and so on to seamlessly spot the thing the comedian is poking fun at. Comedians also play with language the way a jazz pianist improvises, so if you are not perfectly attuned to 1) the culture of country X and 2) the language of country X, then how do you expect your documentary to make any substantial criticisms of country X?

Now, here are some things you should’ve researched before going to Korea: 1) Koreans find mispronunciations funny. Why? Well, because Koreans receive intensive English education, and the vast difference between the two languages makes American or British pronunciation difficult –which means everyone struggles with this. Therefore, speaking English with a perfect American or British or Australian accent is usually seen as a sign of status –the opposite is obviously seen as familiar and relatable. 2) Korean comedy is much about satire and self-deprecation. However, Koreans do not self-deprecate themselves the way the British do. The British use their words to self-deprecate; Koreans expect to see one’s ego, pride, dignity, and sanity destroyed. Korean comedians, musicians, and artists have historically been the lowest of the castes –clowns who were lower than slaves. Therefore, the lengths to which they go to embarrass themselves are remnants of such a history. This is also the reason why they make fun of the Korean school system’s obsession with learning English while embarrassing the hell out of themselves in your documentary. 3) Koreans find humor from juxtaposition and chaos. Therefore, Korean improvisational comedy relies heavily on random situations that have nothing to do with what is currently going on. For instance, suppose my phone fell out of my pocket and let’s say that my phone resembles a dog. A Korean comedian would immediately spot that my phone looks like a dog and create a situation where he would pet the phone or call out a common name Koreans give to their dogs to give the situation more reality –and absurdity. This is why one of the comedians, when he saw a kettle, suddenly created a situation where you two are having a tea party. It has nothing to do with the current situation and Koreans love that. 4) Koreans obviously love slapstick comedy.

Below is a link to the awful interaction between the Korean comedians and the British lady. Please check it out after reading this post, because I think it would help you understand the cause behind the gulf between the two – and perhaps even some of the causes behind the rift between the East and the West

Documentary