Thursday, October 26, 2006

So glad to be a slab.

It's my third month in Korea.

The BBC hordes have been nipping at my heels this year. I was in Krakow for The Pope, I was in Berlin for the World Cup, and now I'm in Korea for the apocalypse. Call me Forrest Gump. And yet I've scarcely written a word about any of it. I'm not sure why, exactly. When I'm not at work getting ddong chimmed by Korean 4th graders, I'm brooding on how I will recount my travels to my cybernetic great-grandchildren of the future, whether I will narrate each episode in past or present tense, which digressions I will make, the length of said digressions, whether to omit sordid details for posterity ... but my misadventures, like this afternoon's kimchi, need time (probably several years) to be digested.

I will say - in highly general and mostly vague terms - that my travels have been rendered surreal by the sheer ubiquity of western shit. I feel very much like ... what's his name? ... Tartuffe? Voltaire? ... ah! - Candide! ... what with all the zany coincidences, the recurring themes, the lopping-off-of-ass-cheeks and all. Certain corporate logos have a way of running to your aid when you are at your most defeated, when a Berliner has jacked your luggage and an unprecedented late-May blizzard descends upon you; when your posh British roommates have locked you out of the flat and spending the night on a Krakowian park bench becomes a real (although not splendidly enticing) possibility; when you've just missed your connecting flight home and pause briefly to consider whether you (as a man) could sell yourself for a profit. But when all seems utterly and unrefundably lost, cutting through the frenzied squall of binge-shopping Asians, you spy those doughy electric letters - "DUNKIN DONUTS" - and rising above the consonant cacophony of a Polish Catholic anti-gay march, those glistening, golden buns - "BURGER KING" - and at the train station at the end of the earth, where there is nothing but a slab of rusty concrete and the tombstone-colored sky, where the wolves stand to come before the train ever does, just over your shoulder is a Starbucks, selling grande frappucino latés for half the gross domestic product of wherever it is you've ended up.

I climbed my first non-metaphorical mountain not too long ago. Here is a picture.

Nothing is impossible, just prohibitively time-consuming.


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