Some primal termite knocked on wood
And tasted it, and found it good!
And that is why your Cousin May
Fell through the parlor floor today. ̶ Ogden Nash
Some primal termite knocked on wood
And tasted it, and found it good!
And that is why your Cousin May
Fell through the parlor floor today. ̶ Ogden Nash
Mainstream medicine necessarily objectifies the body and its processes. This is called medicalization,[i] a necessary tool for the medical arts unfortunately appropriated by a triumvirate of progressive intellectuals, mainstream media, and Hollywood acolytes to objectify vice itself. This is opportunism at its most crass.[ii] This is today’s Democrat Party, a party that Harry Truman and Jack Kennedy would not recognize as their own. It is, today, the party of the absurd.[iii]
[i] “Mainstream medicine objectifies the body and its processes, and what I called medicalization extends this objectification to vice.” ― from A Secular Age, Copyright © 2007 by Charles Taylor, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England, 2007, Page 507.
[ii] “Opportunism is something for which intellectuals have especial talents because of their aptitude for managing vocabulary at the expense of thought….” Confessions of An Original Sinner, Copyright ©1990 by John Lukacs, St. Augustine’s Press ♦ South Bend, Indiana 2000, Page 27.
[iii] “To paraphrase Orwell, some theories are so absurd that only intellectuals can believe them.” ─ The End of the Experiment, The Rise of Cultural Elites and the Decline of America’s Civic Culture, Stanley Rothman, Copyright © 2016 by Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, New Jersey, Page viii.
The Girl in the White Hat
It has been almost a half-century since my winter arrival in Uijeongbu-si, South Korea; a palpably distant past; susurration calmly reserved and comfortably relaxing: arctic air outside contrasting sharply with warm, aromatically-laced air inside, universally infused with the mildly acidulous aromas of Kimchee, rice, fish, and Korean wine. It was wondrously exotic.
Mornings were quiet. No, that’s not quite right; mornings were hushed, like those of a snow blanketed forest, hence the sobriquet: Land of the Morning Calm. There wasn’t a peep until sunrise; everyone delighting in their ondol enriched slumbers awakening only when an old man, pulling a two-wheeled cart, plodding along the back alleys between walled houses, huge scissors in hand―a device from time immemorial―summoned one and all with his slow, methodical appeal, clanging those big scissors antiphonally with each step taken, “Cong Namul, Cong Namul Yo, Cong Namul, Sodi-oat!” Bean Sprouts; Bean Sprouts, hey; Bean Sprouts, for sale!
That ageless refrain, soothingly pleasant, heard in villages’ country-wide, summoned one and all to the new day. Slowly then from Cheju-do to the DMZ, from east to west, the Land of the Morning Calm began to stir. Soon there was an effervescent industriousness so pervasively remarkable that it had to be seen to be believed: explosive activity, relentless, bearing the promise of unimaginable prosperity to come. I was on hand to witness it, and recognized, too, that this was then Korea incarnate.
I also remember the feeble lighting of the single 40-watt bulb dangling from the ceiling in each room of our four-room house. There were no other electrical outlets except for a lone transformer box that was used intermittently to power a steady light when the ceiling lights flickered, which was not an uncommon occurrence. There was no hot and cold running water, no flushing toilet, no telephone, no clothes washer, no drying machine, no dish washer, no oven, no electric or gas stove, no toaster, no food processor, no other table or floor lamp, no vacuum cleaner, no power tool, no iron, and none of those other conveniences taken for granted today. Clothing to be washed? Yes, but only undergarments and socks, and these on a wash board lying in a galvanized steel tub, scrubbed by hand and hung out to dry on a clothes line.
Yes, Chun Cha and her neighbors had fresh water, but only at the home’s hand-pump located outside the main house. Again, No flushing toilets.
Water had to be heated in a large pot manually via ondol, the coal-fired home heating and cooking source, the only source, situated in the home’s kitchen, generally a tiny dirt floor room abutting the sleeping quarters (coal had to be stoked and rotated nightly). Ondol warms the home by transferring heat via under-floor flues, or passages from a central fire source. This made the floors warm, sometimes too warm to lay on, so quilting was used, not western style bedding. Ondol was also the main cooking source, one that has been used for almost 3,000 years. Houses were not heated throughout unless, of course, you were among the few fortunate enough (rich enough) to own an auxiliary kerosene stove. There were no residential telephones because there were few central telephone office exchanges in Korea, and those that existed were still well beyond the fiscal reach of most citizens. There were no showers; no inside bathtubs or indoor plumbing whatsoever, not even sinks with drains: pots and pans were the only recourse. Residents used the unheated outhouse; one with a hole in the floor over the ubiquitous ‘honeypot,’ which was pumped out only when filled to capacity. Refrigerators, even very compact models, were rarely seen. In short, almost every modern convenience we have all come to expect as a matter of fact was absent. Comfort and cooking depended wholly on the ubiquitous single ondol coal source (carbon monoxide was guarded against): coal dust from the countless ondol stoves laced the winter skies with visibly blackish smog layers of varying hues. It was a world few people would wish to revisit no matter their provenance.
But… Chun Cha never complained. She was content with the world as she found it.
This essay, The Girl in the White Hat, traces Kim Chun Cha’s life from her birth in Japanese occupied Korea through the savageness of the Korean War; her father’s death six months after the that war’s cease fire; her abandonment by the pitiless father of her first child; her subsequent marriage and life with the author, and the Christian faith that carried her through it all.
She was born at 429 Kalsan-dong, Inchon-bu, Korea on the tenth of February. Her birth was reported by her father on January 5, 1948. Her Korean Family Register, akin to the western birth certificate, fixed her year of birth as 1941. She passed away nearly seventy years later in Hawaii. Under normal circumstances, her birth date and all those calculations related to it would be considered accurate and reliable. They are not.
The rampaging Imperial Japanese Army annexed the Korean peninsula (today’s North and South Korea) decades prior to her birth, disrupting everything. That didn’t change until August 15, 1945, the end of World War II. Reliably accurate civil record keeping in a country occupied by an unfriendly force is deferred, delayed, or simply left undone. In fact, according to her mother, Chun Cha was born in 1940, not 1941, and she was born on the twenty-third of May, not the tenth of February, so she was older at the time of her death than recorded. Like so many Koreans of her generation, her records proved unreliable.
In summary, Imperial Japan gained control of Formosa and the Ryukyu Islands following an 1874 dispute with China. The Sino-Japanese War followed, ending in mid-April, 1895. Japan won. In 1898, America arrived in the Western Pacific, took control of the Philippines, and rapidly made her presence known—a result of the Spanish-American War. The Japanese viewed America’s arrival with distrust because their national interests were diametrically opposed. She made plans accordingly. Then, serendipitously for Japan, an Anglo-Japanese alliance was signed by which England recognized Japan’s special relationship with Korea, forcing the Russians to remove troops previously stationed in Manchuria, grudgingly giving up their earlier declared “sphere of influence.” The year was 1902. Regional tensions continued apace until the assassination of Japanese prince Hirobumi Ito in Manchuria by a Korean national. This led to Japan’s formal annexation of Korea in August of 1910—Korea having been a Japanese protectorate since 1905. World War I soon followed. Germany’s loss was Japan’s gain. The Kaiser’s former Far Eastern colonies were given to Japan (whetting her appetite for more). Then, in 1931 Japan seized Manchuria and subsequently annexed China’s northern Jehol province, halting just short of Peking, incorporating it into their puppet state of Manchukuo, and so on and so forth until their 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and the savage, Pacific-wide fighting that continued until Japan’s ultimate defeat at the end of World War II. This was the world in which Chun Cha was born and raised.
For further reading, please read, The Girl in the White Hat.
“A redhead in a knit cap, slender as a thread at 100 pounds and given to drink and melancholy, showed up with a typewriter to educate America. Ernest Taylor Pyle had recently become a war correspondent after writing more than 2 million words as a roving reporter during the Depression. From Tunisia he wrote:
There are none of the little things that make life normal back home. There are no chairs, lights, floors, or tables. There isn’t any place to set anything, or any store to buy things. There are no newspapers, milk, beds, sheets, radiators, beer, ice cream, or hot water. A man just sort of exists . . . The velvet is all gone from living.”
― An Army at Dawn, The War in North Africa, 1942-1943, Copyright © 2002 by Rick Atkinson, Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY, Page 238.
“Know then thyself, presume not God to scan
The proper study of mankind is man.
Placed on this isthmus of a middle state,
A being darkly wise, and rudely great:
With too much knowledge for the sceptic side,
With too much weakness for the stoic’s pride,
He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest;
In doubt to deem himself a God, or beast;
In doubt his mind and body to prefer;
Born but to die, and reas’ning but to err;
Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
Whether he thinks too little, or too much;
Chaos of thought and passion, all confus’d;
Still by himself, abus’d or disabus’d;
Created half to rise and half to fall;
Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all,
Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl’d;
The glory, jest and riddle of the world.” ― Alexander Pope
“As Lukacs points out, during this so-called Age of Information no one reads much anymore because few share the inclination to read. “We have now entire slews of professional experts who read little while they write much, for the sake of firming up their professional status,” he observes. “In this respect too, we may see the devolution of democracy into bureaucracy. . . .” Malice is not the source of this appalling ignorance. It emerges instead from the inability, and perhaps the growing unwillingness, to contemplate ideas that do not correspond with established, institutionalized, and accepted norms and systems. Little professional advantage or reputation accrues to scholars who dare criticize approved methods, impugn cherished theories, and question authorized conclusions. Those who adopt unpopular values and assumptions become immediately suspect, their work regarded as illegitimate, and worst of all, insignificant.” ― Remembered Past; On History, Historians, and Historical Knowledge, by John Lukacs, Page xxi, Preface, edited by Mark G. Malvasi and Jeffrey O. Nelson, ISI Books, Wilmington, Delaware, © 2005 ISI Books.
“Beware of the professors, and cleave to the lovers of wisdom!” ― Xenophon, Scripta Minora, Pseudo-Xenophon, Constitution of the Athenians, The Loeb Classical Library (LCL183), Edited by Jeffrey Henderson, Page xxxix, year 2000.
Simon Winchester observed that Korea is “…a society of almost total ethnic purity…. [which] … can at times be a frightening phenomenon and is one of the reasons for the power and energy of the miraculous economic performance the nation has displayed…. The whole country, on certain topics, thinks perfectly alike; the whole country, when urged in certain directions, can be an unstoppable giant, everyone working in concert, no disagreement, all with the same degree of comprehension and sympathy.”[i] This, I believe, is the core reason for Korea’s success, not just one of the reasons, but the reason.
In America, by contrast, there is only increasing division. For example, any discussion of “total ethnic purity” here tends to draw the ire of intellectuals: university professors, politicians, journalists, and other self-styled thinkers-of-great-moment. When breaching such a topic, one must be prepared for their breathlessly malevolent charges of racism, which will surely follow. Tolerance and listening are not among their strong points, for while I was away; they were busy dumbing down, without any effective resistance, many an upcoming, eager, young mind. Their vehicles for doing this were primarily two: the American Academy, and the so called mainstream media. Yet most,”… disheartening was the reaction of many historians to New Left revisionists of the 1960s, when the scholarship of [their] books was wanting. As Maddox [Robert James] wrote, “Reviewers who had been known to pounce with scarcely disguised glee on some poor wretch who incorrectly transcribed a middle initial or date of birth have shown a most extraordinary reluctance to expose even the most obvious New Left fictions,” including false statements of fact to which tens of thousands of students were subsequently exposed in American colleges and universities.”[ii]
“As the proverb tells us that a single drop from the largest vessel suffices to tell us the nature of the whole contents, so we should regard the subject now under discussion. When we find one or two false statements in a book and they prove to be deliberate ones, it is evident that not a word written by such an author is any longer certain and reliable.”[iii] This ancient lesson is forsaken in today’s American Academy; else political correctness would never have taken such firm hold. Its misrepresentations, deceits, deceptions, distortions, slanting, falsehoods, and out and out lies, daily presented to countless classrooms in print and speech, are legion.
And so, tragically, while I was learning firsthand how the real world worked, masses of my countrymen were being led astray; increasingly succumbing to the nonsense spewed forth via the media and the American Academy: Diversity is strength, and other such politically-correct gibberish… patently untrue. This dichotomy, living in two different civilizations, made it all the clearer to me. America was heading down the wrong road, and it hasn’t stopped yet. Consider, the Oxford English Dictionary defines diverse as, “Different in character or quality; not of the same kind; not alike in nature or qualities.” It defines diversity as, “The condition or quality of being diverse, different, or varied; difference, unlikeness.” Korea, by this definition, which is the most accurate available, is not diverse. Wow! Then how did they manage to succeed? According to the American Academy, diversity is strength, but that flies in the face of reality, clearly.
Yet here at home, wrongheaded belief in diversity as strength is widely, and regrettably, gospel. It is an article of faith, and yes, such New Left fictions, pumped mercilessly into innocent, unwashed, and gullible minds, are the only possible explanation. Else wise it remains mystifying, for when has diversity led America in any direction whatever? When has it made America an unstoppable giant? How can diversity work in concert, one for all, with no disagreement, and corresponding comprehension and sympathy? What rubbish! Americans have not worked closely together in any direction since August of 1968, not even after infamous 911, when only the briefest of brief reprieves brought us momentarily together to denounce radical Islam, the mad agent of that attack. Diversity, in every sense of the word, has taken United out of United States, and that is not a good thing. It is not progress. It is not even moral, for uniting―not dividing―to a common purpose won the Second World War. Diversity and divisiveness tend otherwise, and lead only to a fall.
Thus it is that the guardrails fell; political correctness took root; Americans lost their way, which is most aptly summarized in the following excerpt from Daniel Henninger’s Wall Street Journal editorial, No Guardrails, which first appeared on March 18, 1993:
“We think it is possible to identify the date when the U.S., or more precisely when many people within it, began to tip off the emotional tracks. A lot of people won’t like this date, because it makes their political culture culpable for what has happened. The date is August 1968, when the Democratic National Convention found itself sharing Chicago with the street fighters of the anti-Vietnam War movement.
The real blame here does not lie with the mobs who fought bloody battles with the hysterical Chicago police. The larger responsibility falls on the intellectuals–university professors, politicians and journalistic commentators–who said then that the acts committed by the protesters were justified or explainable. That was the beginning. After Chicago, the justifications never really stopped. America had a new culture, for political action and personal living.
With great rhetorical firepower, books, magazines, opinion columns and editorials defended each succeeding act of defiance–against the war, against university presidents, against corporate practices, against behavior codes, against dress codes, against virtually all agents of established authority.”
So much for diversity, part and parcel of political correctness: Just do it; go your own way; do your own thing. Too bad. It’s better to come together sometimes, but we Americans no longer do that, so I remind you: when I was born, there were 140 million Americans. By my 65th year that number had more than doubled to 312 million, so very many more, in a very different country, made up of very different people. I was, of course, an American citizen by birthright; part and parcel of American civilization. I was fortunate, yes. No matter. Things change. I understand, but change is not always for the better, which is confirmed, too, by another germane observation made by Dr. John Lukacs:
“When in 1969 nearly half a million young Americans streamed to and crowded into a “festival” near Woodstock, New York, slews of disquisitions and articles declared this, breathlessly, as a revolution without precedent, with tremendous unforeseeable social and political consequences. In reality it resulted in nothing. What endured after the sixties were the mutations of behaviour, ranging from clothes to habits, of manners as much as morals. I am not writing this out of nostalgia for the America of the 1940s or 1950s: for the germinating symptoms of these changes had already been there. Then, latest in the 1960s, the bourgeois and urban chapter in the history of the United States of America came to its very end.
As in so many instances this was (and still is) obscured by the falseness of the words categorizing it―with the result of problems wrongly stated. The enduring changes involved not “culture” but civilization. Civilization is a word that appears in English only in 1601, with its definition: “an emergence from barbarism.” The intellectualization of the word culture, mostly of German origin, came much later. The elevation of its prestige over civilization has caused enormous harm, especially in the history of Germany. When civilization is strong and widespread enough, “culture” will appear and take care of itself.”[iv]
I agree with Dr. Lukacs, and think, too, that as a nation, we might be devolving to a new Dark Age, of course; it is still too early to tell for sure, but the danger is real.
Such musings come to me ever more frequently with the passage of time, especially concerning America as once I knew her. Things change, of course, but again, not necessarily for the better. Why do I say this? Because I have been paying rapt attention, and note with some trepidation that our country no longer encourages her young men to military service. This, it has been widely recognized for millennia, tends to weakness:
“…young men began their early training with military service, so that they might grow accustomed to command by obeying, and learn how to lead by following others….” [v]
“In the purer ages of the commonwealth, the use of arms was reserved for those ranks of citizens who had a country to love, a property to defend, and some share in enacting those laws, which it was their interest, as well as duty, to maintain.” [vi]
Today, however, military service is out; self is in, yet in spite of this, at least in the short run, our military remains the best in the world by any measure, yet that will not last because the military spirit of the people has all but evaporated. Mere cheering, “Rah, Rah, Rah, Sis-boom Bah,” cannot compensate for such a loss.
Yes, younger people today, programmed by political correctness, hold “…in their lifeless hands the riches of their fathers, without inheriting the spirit which had created and improved that sacred patrimony….”[vii] No good can come of this, at least if dire times to come, and they surely will, for “Which way shall we turn to save our lives and the future of the world? It does not matter so much to old people [like me]; they are going soon anyway; but I find it poignant to look at youth in all its activity and ardour… and wonder what would lie before them if God wearied of mankind?”[viii] That too, ought to give us pause…
But still, I remember a better time, and for this reason, even now, especially in the mornings when I slowly come to, I hear that old Korean man with his two-wheeled cart, clanging that past-world to life, and what a world it was. – Chapter Four-Here and There, Then and Now, Punchy Company, Copyright 2012, Peter Michael Solstad, Mare Pacificum, Ewa Beach, Hawaii.
[i] Korea, A Walk through the Land of Miracles, Copyright © 1988 by Simon Winchester, Prentice Hall Press, Page 194.
[ii] “…more disheartening was the reaction of many historians to the New Left revisionists of the 1960s, when the scholarship of those books was wanting. As Maddox [Robert] wrote, “Reviewers who had been known to pounce with scarcely disguised glee on some poor wretch who incorrectly transcribed a middle initial or date of birth have shown a most extraordinary reluctance to expose even the most obvious New Left fictions,” including false statements of fact to which tens of thousands of students were subsequently exposed in American colleges and universities.” ― Remembered Past; On History, Historians, and Historical Knowledge, by John Lukacs, Chapter I, Page 150, edited by Mark G. Malvasi and Jeffrey O. Nelson, ISI Books, Wilmington, Delaware, © 2005 ISI Books.
[iii] — Polybius, The Histories, Volume IV, The Loeb Classical Library (LCL 138), Book XII, Page369, year 2000.
[iv] Last Rites, Copyright ©2009 by John Lukacs, Yale University Press, New Haven & London, Page 58.
[v] — Pliny, Letters, Books VIII-X, Panegyricus, The Loeb Classical Library (LCL 59), Edited by Jeffrey Henderson, Page 35, year 2004.
[vi] “In the purer ages of the commonwealth, the use of arms was reserved for those ranks of citizens who had a country to love, a property to defend, and some share in enacting those laws, which it was their interest, as well as duty, to maintain. But in proportion as the public freedom was lost in extent of conquest, war was gradually improved into an art, and degraded into a trade.” ― The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon, Volume I, 180 A. D. ― 395 A. D., Page 9, The Modern Library, New York, Random House.
[vii] “They held in their lifeless hands the riches of their fathers, without inheriting the spirit which had created and improved that sacred patrimony: they read, they praised, they compiled, but their languid souls seemed alike incapable of thought and action.” ― The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon, Volume III, 1185 A. D. ― 1453 A. D., Page 299, The Modern Library, New York, Random House.
[viii] “There is, finally, a splendid and moving proof of Jenkins’s ear, a quotation from Churchill’s last speech in the House of Commons, 1955: .…notable for at least one unforgettable phrase which illuminated the dreadful prospect like a sheet of lightning on a desolate landscape: “Which way shall we turn to save our lives and the future of the world? It does not matter so much to old people; they are going soon anyway; but I find it poignant to look at youth in all its activity and ardour… and wonder what would lie before them if God wearied of mankind?” ― Remembered Past; On History, Historians, and Historical Knowledge, by John Lukacs, Chapter 29, Roy Jenkins, Page 282, edited by Mark G. Malvasi and Jeffrey O. Nelson, ISI Books, Wilmington, Delaware, © 2005 ISI Books.