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Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Lost Generation

One thing I must do soon. And that is tell you about the other foreign teachers at my school, that is the other tenants of the apartment where we all sort of live together teaching in South Korea while our homes are stretched far off in the distance . I must do this before I become facebook friends with all of them, not because I have any dirt to report about them. But mainly because, for the fact that I just met them, and it would be awkward for them to find out that they have become sort of characters in some new guys novel or play. I mean just the other day my neighbor Bill sat over cards and Soju and said something along the lines to the other poker players. "You know that, Brian, he's a writer...and what does he write about? He probably writes about all of us jackass fools." I only answered, "No. Not yet." Which was true...until now. But I should thank Bill for the tip.

I have worthy material right in front of me. On all 5 floors..in all of Suji City...in all of South Korea, in fact. But before I get into any of that. It should be noted that there is such a strong expatriate presence in South Korea, in fact, it seems almost cliche how so many teachers come over from the States, Canada, Great Britain, South Africa, and who knows where else...and expect to have some "out of home-culture" experience, only to ironically be immersed in a sort of "western-travellers" culture that is a bubble inside the Asian culture here. One has only to google "Korea blog" and a surprising quantity of blogs will pop up about So and So's One of a Kind Adventure Teaching in Korea. And then you'll be given quite the mundane details of them eating the food here, teaching, complaints about the school and the kids, and most probably going out with the other expats and getting hammered every other weekend. That's about the gist of it. Probably, it is a part of my pride, but I feel like I'm being cliche by writing about my life here. For I am merely doing what so many have done before me, it will not be unique, and after all there is nothing new under the sun. -But you see, I cave in. Perhaps really my pride, tells me that I'll spin it differently. That it will be broader, and yet deeper. So I write.

Now, before anyone takes the title of this post the wrong way, I should probably explain it. In my literary nerd, English majoring imagination, and in my present circumstances, I tend to remember, very often, the novel by Ernest Hemingway, "The Sun Also Rises". You must understand that Hemingway and Fitzgerald, as well as a good number of others from America and England, those guys, would write about an entire lifestyle in a foreign land. In "The Sun Also Rises" you have a mixed group of expats...all between their upper twenties to upper thirties living in Paris. Mostly going from cafe to cafe, drinking themselves silly, occassionally all going on a trip somewhere. In that novel, its Spain. What do they do for a living?...lots of them are aspiring artists of some brand or another. Though, all of them seem to be just escaping from the ordinary life back home, living an exciting life in a major world city. Flitting from city scene to city scene, No real purpose. - in and out of relationships, and perhaps, out of a sense of identity. -no stable ground. I guess you can see the correlation and where I am going. But some car mechanic, out of agitation, and noting the rootlessness and shiftlessness of these semi-young people during that time told Gertrude Stein, one of that generation's prominent authors, "You guys are all just a lost generation." And the term stuck.

Hemingway's generation had a better excuse. I mean, they had witnessed the most horrible war in the world up to that point. The pillars of the Old Western World had crumbled and what was left? Only the present. But now, I find a generation here, as well, as much of the backpacker hostels I've been to around the world, that is likewise very uprooted. And I, of course, include myself here. I could be something of a posterchild for it. -A prevalence of experience over effort or any kind of ties to tradition and perhaps, goals, really. The only ideals left standing are diversity, openness, and maybe a desire to see something new. Oh, and for the uber-idealistic, recycling and herbal gardening and medicines, there are those too.

But perhaps, I shouldn't be so negative or critical. I am merely stating the decorum around such circles. There is a lot of good in one's willingness to explore. Sometimes, when we are honest with ourselves, (quite the opposite of how we think it would be), it is easy to be so critical when it is a trait so prevalent in ourselves. Needless to say, there are alot of folks over here from various countries. Many have been over here for years and years, and I do not know yet, if its because they feel so rooted and grounded here, or for the fact that they feel so uprooted and disconnected back home, and here is a good place to just kick it around and enjoy life in the meantime.


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