15. The Woman Warrior at 30

This post refers to the article from the Slate.

Young Kingston

Young Kingston

The novel Woman Warrior embeds different writing styles. Some identify the novel’s genre as memoir, some as autobiography, and some as a bridge between fiction and non-fiction. I, however, want to recognize this book as pleasantly unorthodox.

Kingston has a unique, talented voice. She knows how to show and express the events with delicate words. Her tasteful choices of dictions can be found from the very first chapter. When she describes Fa Mu Lan’s life in the mountains, her language is mesmerizing. She uses rich imagery and metaphors that connect the beauty of nature, characters of animals, and sensitivities of human senses. One example of the comparison is the dragon and the mountain. Kingston gives animalistic characteristics to the mountain, like the cloud represents the smoke from dragon’s mouth, earth as dragon’s skin, and trees as dragon’s hairs. 

Another unique aspect of Woman Warrior  is the spontaneously altering narrator’s perspectives. The narrative voice changes from Kingston to Fa Mu Lan in the first chapter. I was initially very confounded by this alteration, but now that I understand, I think this aspect added to her uniqueness and unorthodox behavior.

 

Old Kingston

Old Kingston

Just like the quote from the article:

The Woman Warrior stubbornly refuses to be either entirely fictive or entirely real.

Whether young or old, she will always remain as an enigma, an anomaly, and an exemplary writer.

14. Korean students in Ivy League

This post is referring to the article in Korea Times.

Forty-four percent of Korean students at top American universities give up their studies halfway through.

Why?

Korean students’ drop rate is much higher than the other ethniticies’. 44%. That is a huge number for a drop out rate. What makes them different?

To investigate the main cause of the drop-out, we have to look back into their high school lives. How were they not ready for American college lives?

Korean high school students have the “prejudice” (yes, continuing from the bottom post) of being quintessential nerds, also known as eat-sleep-study people. Nothing else. As a boy who spent his whole life in Korean society, I dare say that the prejudice is semi-correct. My friends who still go to Korean highschools suffer immensely. They go home at midnight, barely sleep, seldom come out for dinner or basketball games, and even “pause” their cell phones during their exam weeks. They rarely participate in those “extracurricular activities” that are non-academic.

As the article states, the main reason why Korean students don’t fit is their lack of extracurricular experience during high school life. However, I believe the main reason comes from our system of English education. Korean teachers make students memorize. Memorize vocabs, grammar rules, idioms. Students rarely have chances to speak or share what they have learned out-loud. This is why they cannot fit into the American culture. They can’t express their intentions!

The Korean education system must change in order for students to experience more variegated opportunities to succeed in America. More activities, more interactions, more sharing ideas, more actions, more conversations, more liveliness!

13. Prejudices and Archetypes

Since our class is currently discussing archetypes, prototypes, and prejudices, I wanted to quickly review some of the prejudices and archetypes that exist.

  • Archetype is a Greek word meaning “original pattern, or model.”

Some colors have very strong archetypes.

  • Red: blood, sacrifice, passion; disorder.
  • Green: growth, hope, fertility.
  • Blue: highly positive; secure; tranquil; spiritual purity.
  • Black: darkness, chaos, mystery, the unknown, death, wisdom, evil, melancholy.
  • White: light, purity, innocence, timelessness; [negative: death, terror, supernatural]
  • Yellow: enlightenment, wisdom.

Considering that RED is my favorite color, I must be a passionate person, indeed.

Some symbols have archetypes, too.

  • Wise old Man: savior, redeemer, guru, representing knowledge, reflection, insight, wisdom, intuition, and morality.
  • Garden: paradise, innocence, unspoiled beauty.
  • Tree: denotes life of the cosmos; growth; proliferation; symbol of immortality; phallic symbol.
  • Desert: spiritual aridity; death; hopelessness.
  • Creation: All cultures believe the Cosmos was brought into existence by some Supernatural Being (or Beings).
  • Seasons:
  • Spring – rebirth; genre/comedy.
  • Summer – life; genre/romance.
  • Fall – death/dying; genre/tragedy.
  • Winter – without life/death; genre/irony.
  • The great fish: divine creation/life.

How about PREJUDICES?

The word prejudice refers to prejudgment: making a decision before becoming aware of the relevant facts of a case or event.

1. ALL Asians are good at math.

2. Indians are amazing at computers.

3. All Chinese people are good at Kung-Fu. 

4. Irish people drink a lot.

5. Koreans are stubborn.

6. Black people have big _____……….

7. Latinos are good at ___……………..

Okay I’ll stop here.

But as one might’ve realized, all of the prejudices I’ve enlisted are related to races. Where do these prejudices come from? I honestly believe that these prejudices are partially correct, or even VERY correct. These come from over-generalization and anecdotal-biases that embark from individuals. Are they good? Maybe. Are they bad? Maybe. But it is important that one realizes that it is a prejudice, not a given fact.

12. Diaspora

What is “Diaspora?”

The definition of the term Diaspora that I am interested in is:

A dispersion of an originally homogeneous entity, such as a laughage or culture.

The theme of diaspora is everywhere; in the novel Things Fall Apart, in Korea, and in America. In the novel, the main wave of diaspora comes with religion. More specifically, they originate from the Christian missionaries who visit the Ibo village where Okonkwo lives. They teach English, accept anyone to their church, including the outcasts, and bring goods to trade. Their culture exponentially spreads among the natives, through minor branches of cultural exchange, such as schools, markets, and courts.

How about in Korea? Since when were females allowed to wear mini-skirts and expose half of their bare skin? Since when did Korean daily diet become McDonalds and Burger King? Where is the change coming from?

I say the main source of Korea’s Western diaspora comes from education. Korean society has a quintessential obligation for academic achievements. Parents send students to Hakwon, or out-of-school academies, and load them with tutors. Especially after the economical hardships from Korean War and Japanese Colonization, education became the sole way of improving our lives. Ergo, for the past couple decades, myriads of students were sent to United States, Canada, Australia, or even Singapore to receive “better” educations. The original Korean culture is breaking down.

More recently, the Western educational institutions are increasingly blossoming in Korea. The so-called “International Schools” are growing in population.

What does diaspora lead to? I personally believe they destroy cultures. Maybe a little more nicely and neutrally, they blend cultures. Like the title Things Fall Apart, the original culture and traditions of Ibo is breaking down; it’s splitting up, losing its color. The changes might’ve been good for the people, especially for the ones who were powerless and deficient of opportunities, including Okonkwo’s son and the outcasts. However, I believe the overall result was negative to the Ibo people.

11. The Second Coming; Things Fall Apart

The Second Coming William Yeats

William Butler Yeats: “The Second Coming” (1921)

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand;
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out When a vast image out of Spiritus
Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries
of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

What is Yeats trying to say? The phrase “Second Coming” commonly refers to the second time Jesus will visit Earth and give the “final judgment.” On his coming, Jesus will differentiate those with faith and those who don’t believe in Christianity. The second coming in Yeats poem, however, representsa slightly different theme. He is drawing an overall imagery of the twentieth century, how every chain of historical event is simply a “cycle” (like a gyre). He is explaining that the Europe’s “end” for the cycle is imminent with the rise of Christianity.

The reader’s of the novel Things Fall Apart might realize that a section of the poem is written on the earlier pages, with the specific phrase, things fall apart, in it. Why? We can perceive this inclusion from several perspectives. First, it might represent the Ibo cultures’ scattering, due to the European and Christian influences. The African natives are losing their faith in their own cultures and traditions, and are becoming “Westernized.” The culture is splitting up. We can also infer to the individual’s break-down. Okonkwo, the main character of the novel, is losing his position and importance in the changing village system, and facing myriads of tribulations. He eventually hangs himself because of his hatred towards the “weak cowards” in his villages. The village isn’t like the past; no one is willing to fight like a real man.

In this sense, we can attribute that the “beast” in the last line of the poem to be the Europeans. They are the source of pandemonium, diaspora, and change. From their arrival, the village lost its color, and Okonkwo lost his pride.

10. Got Food?

Cultures vary from places to places, time to time. One interesting aspect of the variegated cultures is the food. People have different tasting buds that prefer different esters and smells. What food is considered weird and abnormal?

Here is a video of some of the most “exotic” food that people actually eat. Cockroaches, scorpions, snails, cow brains, testicles, and the list goes on. One of my weirdest food experiences occurred to me in Nanjing, China.

As our soccer team walked into the Yadong Hotel in Nanjing, we were already soaked with exhaustion after the tournament. We ran to the dining tables, and glanced through the menu… Potato Chips… Popcorn… Peanuts… Watermelon Seeds… … wait… what??? As we went down the list, the more exotic food came up: duck gizzard, preserved duck head, salted cow tongue, etc.

nanjing

We just decided to eat popcorns.

I do not want to state that these food were disturbing, but they were clearly different from our culture. I still want to respect their culture and perspectives. However, one video shocked me.

This is a clip of Chinese people slaughtering dogs for meat. If this is the true case for most of the “exotic” food, then I would definitely go against them.

9. Drumsticks

This is a brief entry about the different types of drumsticks and their uses. Drumsticks are the artist’s brushes, sprinter’s shoes, and mathematician’s calculators. It is one of the most essential supplementary and complementary drummer’s items.

Drumsticks vary in colors, material, types of tips, and most importantly, size and length.

The three most commonly used materials for making drumsticks are maple, oak, and hickory. Hickory is the most commonly used stick, for it is the hardest.

There are also two types of drumstick tips, including wood tips and nylon tips. Wood tips usually give softer sounds while nylon tips provide clearer and louder sounds. There are also different shapes of tips, which include “waterdrop” and “round.” Round ones are usually used for powerful rock musics.

Drumsticks also differ in sizes. 5A, the most commonly used drumstick, is useful for orchestra percussions and regular drumming. 7A, a slightly thinner and shorter one, is good for jazz. 3A, the thickest one, is used for metal.

There are other types of drumsticks, too, including the mallet (used for timpani or smooth jazz) and brushes (for blues and jazz). (Some are shown in the photo. It’s quite fun to collect them!)