It’s embarrassing to acknowledge how slowly The Familographer catches up with current technology for capturing and disseminating information using computer and Internet. Younger, smarter users, in their drive to make of humanity the most widely interconnected organism in the history of organisms, put your old Familographer to shame here. A case in point happened this past week, but some background information is needed.
A blog that is essential among expatriate and Korean-English multilingual netizens anytime of Seoul is The Marmot’s Hole. If you want to take the pulse (or read what passes for a mind) of the community of The Outsiders (easily confused with foreigners) you will peer into the “hole” betimes. This is because said Marmot, fellow alum of the Lenny Bruce School of language relations, is assiduous in his selection of posts, based on their relevance to the Korean scene. His most endearing quality is a soft spot for classic and classy architecture, recalling the admonition of Edward Dorn to a group of poetry students at Idaho State University ca. 1963, “Architects determine to a great degree what the built environment is going to look like,” he shouted. “If poets don’t care what the world looks like, then who the hell will?”
Contents include regular posts by a small but prolific cadre of commentators on politics, current events, personalities in the news, press foibles, official boondoggle and malfeasance, inter-Korean relations, travel, gender relations (bias MCP), these and more are grist for the Marmot’s mill.
Every post attracts comments, perhaps a primary criterion for selection; The blog has achieved an enviable robustness in the mystical realm of blogosphere such that, if the writing is clear and somewhat piqued, a post will attract a few dozen comments. The comments often reveal more than the posts they address. The blog itself is eclectic, but the comments are a patchwork crazy quilt, where sublime and ridiculous are early stops en route to opposite corners of the spread. That’s the background for today’s post.
Previously, TF has called attention to the backward state of crossing signals on Korea’s streets and roads. It’s no surprise to discover that many agree, from the comments replying after The Marmot highlighted my post by linking his blog to it with a blurb. Of the nearly three dozen comments it garnered, more than a couple seized upon what they apparently perceived as an opportunity to snap off a snide reference implying it’s a Sad Sack country of half-wits, or generally so. The Marmot can himself be snide, and his blog is more interesting and entertaining because of it, but he always exercises himself in a very specific way about particular issues, not allowing the sour mood that some posts wring out of the more sanguine expatriate commenters to this and other blogs one can find. The tendency is best paraphrased, “Why can’t they be more like us?”
Let’s be perfectly clear about one thing. This is not TF’s position, nor TM’s either. More than a few Korean citizens are already making the attempt to be like us, (North Americans, in this case, but the Brits and French and et.al. have their sycophants, too) There isn’t a lot of evidence that success in the effort will inevitably be accompanied by any improvement in character. Perhaps it depends on who is taken as model. Expatriates are not, ourselves, a particularly exemplary class in terms of character (forgive me). The humble Familographer finds a lot more to like about Korea, especially the Korean people, than he finds to criticize and complain about come day’s end. It isn’t a difficult place of perception to reach. Complainant need only self-address the question, “Will this world really be a better place if everyone is more like me?”
When the problem of traffic signals is eventually solved, and it will be, the chief beneficiaries will be, overwhelmingly, Korean. We have many times seen the country change condition almost overnight when the political will is joined to a campaign of mass communication on an issue. Usually, though far from always, it brings improvement. Part of the key to bringing traffic signal change is to keep the issue in the public eye. Pursuing that end, TF will take to the streets, mapping, photographing and interviewing some of those drivers, workers and residents whose lives are affected by crappy traffic signal engineering. With the help of bloggers like The Marmot, keeping attention focused on the problem, TF salutes the memory of Sam Cooke and Dr. Martin Luther King, confident that “Change gon’ come.”