This week’s word for which there is no English equivalent is a pure Korean term – a word not derived from Chinese characters – known as ‘旋望’ (pronounced geul-gil). Its meaning can be summarised with the following sentence: live your life as though you were writing a book. Michael Jackson – a New Zealand anthropologist at Harvard, not the King of Pop – said life is “an endless experimentation in how the given world can be lived decisively, on one’s own terms.” In short, we come into this planet unwritten and must define for ourselves the meaning of life ab initio: existence precedes essence. There are many things that underpin and define the human condition, but like a book, there are two events that we all endure at some point: beginning and end. Whatever lies between these two bookends is for us to decide.
Writing is something we do almost everyday in our lives – poems, vignettes, essays, post-it notes to chastise your housemate for not doing the dishes – the list goes on. Written communication has changed media, but the principles underlying it remain the same: to understand others and to be understood. Writing, alongside speech, is one of the main channels of human communication. The main difference between the two is, I think, the accessibility and retention of the concepts expressed in said transmission. Can you consider having to present orally the sum of ideas equivalent to a PhD thesis? Can you imagine having to write 100,000 words on a novel idea, but then presenting it via speech?
‘旋望’ aims to capture ideas of growth and development through the ways in which we spend our time. We as human beings represent our personal stories and tribulations – in other words, our own lived-worlds. We are the sum of our experiences, perceptions and sensations, which are embedded within us concurrently as we perceive them. I am writing about writing my life at this very moment; life is an eraser, so I keep writing to make up for the void. For those suffering from Weltschmerz, reading is one solution for that inexplicable yet inevitable dissatisfaction with material reality. But instead of living vicariously, why not make yours just as interesting? Go beyond your imagination and dreams; work towards realising your aspirations.
Now I leave you with a song recommendation – the Korean indie pop band Broccoli, You Too? (브로콜리 너마저) wrote a song called ‘Graduation’ (졸업). The first lines of the second verse are as follows:
“We are like confused children waking up on a bus,
Dazed from the foreign afternoon scenery passing by.
How far should we go? Have we missed our stop?
Everyone wonders aloud but nobody really knows.”
I suggest listening to this ditty over some chestnut rice wine – if this is impossible to find in Australia, then any rice wine will do, or you could even consider making your own.
To live is to write, and to write is to live – I think that’s an appropriate point to stop.