Art and Living

Art and Living

Hyo-shin Na – written for the Korea Times SF – 10/5/2012

Years ago, early one morning inside a nearly dark church I came upon a woman weeping loudly, swaying and wailing. I could have sworn I was seeing Kang-choeng-daek from Kyung-ni Park’s great 16-volume novel “The Land”. A few years later I met a woman who seemed to be always battling her adult children over money, just like she’d fought her husband for that reason – here was the greedy Yim-yi-neh from “The Land”. I’ve read the novel many times since buying it in 1994 and by the time I was on my third traversal of the book I was noticing the appearance of its characters in real life! Park’s mastery of the art of writing was such that the individual thread of each character’s story could be pulled free of the novel’s monumental tapestry and could then suddenly appear in the world around me. Park spent 25 years writing the novel, most of those years at her secluded retreat near the town of Wonju.

Something similar happens when I listen to Franz Schubert’s song “The Organ Grinder” from his song cycle “Winter’s Journey” I feel like I’m standing barefoot in the snow, hands freezing, trying to ignore the yapping dog biting at my ankles. And, above all, sinking into the hopelessness of the scene. Schubert died, relatively unknown at the age of 31. Art and living are not unrelated…

The American composer Morton Feldman once said that the composer must be lonely. What part of the composer’s creativity stems from solitude? And how much has been lost through our instantaneous interconnectedness in today’s world of the internet? What if artists have never experienced the world and life except through the internet’s filter? More questions about art and living…