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Opinion: Some Merits of Being Disliked

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Several insightful things have been said on the benefits of being liked, yet not so much on the merits of being disliked. Seneca who offered some very profound thoughts on friendship also said “what difference does it make, after all, what your position in life is if you dislike it yourself?” (Letters from a Stoic. Trans. Robin Campbell. London: Penguin, 2004, (Letter IX) p. 53). And in my view, this ought to be the standard for all relationships. For the sentiment that is most worrisome doesn’t come to us from external sources, but from within. It can be put simply as: do you like yourself? To answer affirmatively is wonderful but it also takes courage to answer in the negative. Knowing the answer to this question helps us understand how we relate to others and helps us judge the weight of their feelings for us. For instance, if you don’t like yourself you may establish a habit of befriending others through whom you can punish yourself.  Or if you like yourself, you might have the h…

Translating Prévert: Le bouquet

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Le bouquet
par Jacques Prévert

Pour toi pour moi
loin de moi près de toi
avec toi contre moi
chaque battement de mon cœur
est une fleur arrosée par ton sang
Chaque battement c’est le tien
chaque battement c’est le mien
par tous les temps tout le temps
La vie est une fleuriste
la mort un jardinier
Mais la fleuriste n’est pas triste
le jardinier n’est pas méchant
le bouquet est trop rouge
et le sang trop vivant
la fleuriste sourit
le jardinier attend
et dit Vous avez le temps!
Chaque battement de nos cœurs
est une fleur arrosée par le sang
par le tien par le mien
par le même en même temps.


The bouquet
(trans. by J. A. Odartey)

For you for me
far from me near you
with you against me
my every heartbeat
is a flower watered by your blood
Each beat of my heart yours
each beat of your heart mine
in all seasons at all times
Life is a florist
death a gardener
the florist isn't unhappy
the gardener isn't unkind
the bouquet too red
and blood too vibrant
florist smiles
gardener waits
and…

Steeping: Spicy Chocolate Matcha Tea Recipe

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Two thoughts have taken over my mind. Here’s the first: If one grows up cheering for Cinderella and booing the awful step-mother and her daughters, then later in life one comes to recognize in their own reflection the calculating spitefulness that they had loathed in the three ridiculous characters that made another’s life unnecessarily difficult, what does one do? Does one pretend to be blind to their own meanness or make up logical excuses to justify their cruelty or even put on a fake mask of benevolence? Or does one seek the courage to sort out their fears and remember that it is far easier to loath the evil that others do, but extremely difficult to admit to our own wickedness, and even more challenging to practice a better way of living.
The second thought is as such: Just because one can see the potential of another, if the other  continues to act lowlier than their capability, must one continue to suffer them? And if one continues to suffer them is that not enabling their mea…

Poetry: Song of a Madman by Yi Saek

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Song of a Madman º
by Yi Saek (1328 - 1396)

I am the quite type; turmoil is not my thing;
only a cloud on the wind is in constant motion.
I'm the open type; I don't have hidden agendas;
water in a well cannot flow.
Water, in reflecting an object, shows the beautiful and the ugly;
clouds are insensible; they gather and scatter at will.
When I see heaven's will in nature,
how can I let time pass idly by?
When I have money, I buy wine. No need for second thoughts.
When I have wine, I want flowers. Why hesitate?
I look at the flowers, drink the wine, let my white hair stream free;
I climb East Mountain, enjoy the moon and breeze.

ºTranslated by Kevin O'Rourke
From The Book of Korean Poetry