10 November 2008

Obama-mania and more

I am relishing these moments. Not only am I enjoying what I love a lot - travel - but I am also feeling big changes coming. The upcoming Obama Presidency in the US may not add to much in the end, but its symbolism is nevertheless huge; not only did a black man rise from the ashes of slavery and segregation to capture the White House, but the past generation's worth of neoliberal economics and extremist social conservatism is drawing to a close. This will be something that even 2MB and his cronies here in Seoul will not be able to ignore.

I stopped at Seoul's largest bookstore, where I saw all these books, about or by Barack Obama, translated into Korean. The sign on top says: "Meet Obama, the 44th President of the United States." After W's cowboy diplomacy, which had left the vast majority of South Koreans feeling more like a cut-rate US colony than a sovereign nation, the Obama victory couldn't be more welcome.

Of course, there were a couple of books on John McCain nearby as well, but it seemed unlikely that they would sell well. Moreover, those McCain books were joined by a book, written by a Japanese reporter with decades of US experience, exposing the rampant damage done to the US society by three decades of neoliberalism, which has reduced the average American from a real human being to a disposable commodity; Obama certainly has a lot of work cut out for him in making corrections to these recent trends, especially since the neocons and the neoliberals, while down, are certainly not out. After all, 2MB continues to pump tons of money into the Moonies, and managed to get California to ban gay marriages. (And the largest electronics company in the world remains Samsung.)

I had stopped at this bookstore for a quick mini-meal at the fast food joint in the back. The real reason for stopping in the area, however, was to visit Asiana Airlines' main city ticket office, so that I could confirm and pay for my Hong Kong trip. I now have air and hotel reservations for four nights in Hong Kong. I want it to be as inspiring as my past several weeks here in Seoul. In the meantime, I will continue to devote myself to my meditation, which currently is taking a bit of a toll on me as my body starts to purge toxins from itself. I can't forget about this weekend's road trip either, itself a big deal for me as the first of its kind.

In the meantime, more and more people, both here in Seoul and back in the US, are hearing about my decision to retire my BMW and get a Hyundai. Feedback is very positive. I will not inform my family members, however, until the swap is actually done, as it does cost money and will be seen as an "emotional" knee-jerk thing, which is clearly isn't.