08 September 2008

Odds and Ends

The reader may notice that I've been throwing some Chinese characters around in some of my recent posts. As I keep posting from Seoul, this will only continue.

Some nationalistic Koreans will hate me for using Chinese characters instead of the outstanding Korean alphabet. But it bears remembering that very few Koreans, if at all, ever read this blog, so despite the shallow learning curve of the Korean alphabet, it won't have much appeal. Chinese characters are easily understood by most East Asians (and many non-East Asians), and since they are iconographs, they are great at disambiguating concepts. However, I will use the Korean script for concepts that cannot be written down in Chinese (such as "Seoul" (서울), a purely Korean word), or for concepts that are better explained in Korean phonetics (such as 기독교 (gidokkyo - Christianity) being re-written as 개독교 (gaedokkyo - "dog's religion," which I consider an insult to Korea's canine population)).

My Chinese characters will be traditional, as South Korea's Chinese character set (hanja 漢字, which is the same word as Japanese kanji) is based on them and have never really been modernized/reformed. Most South Koreans learn about 1,800 characters in middle and high school, though with the exception of the elderly, the vast majority are lucky to recognize only a few hundred. A modern trend is to learn simplified characters instead, along with spoken Mandarin Chinese.

Windows Vista and Mac OS X will display Chinese and Korean scripts without further modifications. Windows XP will require installation of East Asian character sets through the Control Panel.

On a different subject, my last post was about creation legends, and this was inspired by an exercise I had done in Orlando, Florida, in which I had to write a creation legend of my own. (A public thanks to my writing mentor, Gayle Brandeis of CODEPINK, is in order, for the concept, as outlined in her book Fruitflesh.) In it, I described my birth as an event planned by Goddess, in consultation with Her priestesses, who wanted to send a number of modern-day Kwan Yins to the world to combat the prevailing patriarchy and sexism. These people, like Kwan Yin herself, would be transwomen, in order to understand both the male and the female, and to better hear the cries for help from both men and women. Right now, the blatant Christian disregard for democracy and human rights has left me seething mad; I really need to embrace the spirit of Kwan Yin, hear the cries of the Christians' victims, and strive to become a force to change things for the better. (And back to South Korea, I named the popular transwoman entertainer Harisu, who is only a few months older than me, as part of this wave of modern-day Kwan Yins as well.)

Someday, I want to see a miniskirt suit-clad (or leggings-clad) Kwan Yin statue, complete with a double-female-symbol necklace!