Look on the Bright Side

Greetings, Earthlings.  (Make that “fellow Earthlings,” unless my knowledge of geography is so egregiously ignorant that I don’t even know which planet I’m from, which is possible, as I was born in the U. S. A., just like I’ve-got-a-new-tour-and-album-coming-out-soon Bruce Springsteen; who was it who said that the only way we Americans learn geography is by invading other countries?  There’s a great website–I’ll find the link for you later, if I’m sentient enough to remember–that gives you a blank map of the Middle East and has you drag the names of the countries into the spaces within the dotted borderlines, then tells you whether you’ve gotten them right or not.  I can’t believe how shittily I did the first time I tried it.  I’d probably bomb just as badly–no pun intended–if I did the same quiz with any other region of the world, except possibly the United States itself; please don’t ask me about other parts of Korea beyond Seoul; I can barely remember how to get to the bathroom.)

After I wrote the post last night about light pollution, it occurred to me that I seem to be suffering from S. A. D., or “seasonal affective disorder,” this winter more than usual, paradoxically enough.  It might just be that I don’t get out enough, that my wife doesn’t respect my differing spiritual perspective and refusal to adopt her overzealous evangelical Christian belief package, my social life is mainly limited to people with whom I don’t share a common language (which means I do a lot of nodding and smiling; my only chance to be garrulous, outside one class that meets twice a week consisting of three middle-school students who’d probably prefer to be sending text messages instead of trying to follow my interminable drivel, is here on the glass page), and I’m suffering from homesickness and an existential loss of purpose.

In other words, nothing a real man can’t shrug off and push aside with a slug of whiskey taken from a goatskin he carries attached to his saddle as he rides his rhinoceros intrepidly down the aisle of the supermarket.

But it’s true that the dearth of light provided by the winter can be a downer; I was even thinking of investing in one of those light boxes mentioned in an article at the New York Times website, or else one of those fluorescent doodads you strap on to your head to cheer you up instead of resorting to a Prozac salt-lick.

Then again, even though I know it’s better for the environment, I’m not crazy about fluorescent light.  When I go to the supermarket or a restaurant in Seoul that’s lit up like the operating theater of a hospital’s surgical ward, I have to shield my eyes like Dracula waking up in a nightmare that takes place on Miami Beach (not that I have anything against Miami Beach in reality; I went there once and my only gripe about the place was it was hard to walk along the beach without tripping over a beautiful young female sunbather every time you took a step; come to think of it, that’s not a complaint at all but something to thank God and be immensely grateful for).

Jinsoo (my wife), of course, loves these brightly-lit places that mimic the feeling of being gratuitously X-rayed during a nuclear blast.  Maybe she’s like Peter Pan and wants to nail down her shadow permanently.  Despite my winter gloom, I find darkness much more womblike and soothing, especially at night, when it’s supposed to be dark, unless I’m reading or using a computer, when illumination comes in handy.

Now that the earth we’ve colonized and covered with concrete is mutating, just as the weather and seasons are shifting with schizophrenic zest, and our relationship with nature is becoming more and more vicarious, since greater and greater numbers of people are living in cities and leaving the rural areas, and so many alligators, fish, salamanders, and frogs are getting involuntary sex change operations from all the pharmaceutical wastes we’re discharging into the water, yin is becoming yang, and yang yin.

Stay tuned to turn into a robot.  At least that way we’ll all get to live forever–woo-hoo!  Living on the sequel to Venus.  Hot enough to melt steel.  Nothing but molten robots lying in puddles on the ground everywhere you look, their plastic eyeballs staring up at the green sky like flying saucer-shaped fried eggs, sunny-side up.  No way to escape the sunny side of the street.

“Can it be daytime when it’s night?”  The Kinks, “Underneath the Neon Sign”

“For unless they see the sky, but they can’t and that is why/They know not if it’s dark outside or light.”

Elton John, “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters”

(I hope the quotes at the end inject just the right note of pretentiousness to this entry.  Sorry to preach.  I’ll turn it down a notch next time.)

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