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Life philosophy of a 20-year-old: `I write, therefore I am`

Life philosophy of a 20-year-old: `I write, therefore I am`

Posted December. 07, 2013 06:32,   


Kim Hae-wan, the writer of “Rhyzome, My Life and My Writing” published by Bookdramang, was a surprise to many people from the beginning. It was hard to imagine that a jobless high school dropout wrote a book of criticism in liberal arts. Besides, the book deals with “A Thousand Plateaus” written by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, the philosophers who are known for their abstruseness. When I met her for an interview on Wednesday, it was another jaw-dropping moment. She was only a 20-year-old girl born in 1993. Because her 20th birthday was still a few days away, she was technically only 19.

“Frankly speaking, there’s much regret. I should have written in a more comfortable way, but the writing is bumpy. It is because I am not matured yet (as a writer). I wanted to put in messages to people in my age, but I put them in too difficult terms.”

This came as a shock. The philosophical book was a challenge even for a forty-something journalist like me, let alone readers in her age. And she is regretting the writing became difficult due to her lack of ability. I have never expected that I would hear such remorse from a 20-year-old “kid,” not from an old veteran writer. In addition, the way she speaks was very matured.

“I ran a blog for some time when I was a third year student in middle school. As an adolescent girl, my postings were mostly about personal relations. I found (the writings) were limited within a certain range, limited in vocabulary and… I realized that I was lacking an ability to deliver something. I wanted to write right and that desire motivated me to focus on studying.”

However, what she chose to study was different from others. She quit an alternative high school that had “another type of confinement” in a year, and entered ‘Suyunomo,’ a joint research community, in 2008. Now, she is a member of ‘Namsanganghakwon,’ a research group divided from Suyunomo. She said that she read, wrote and discussed so enormously that she “didn’t even have time to think of college entrance.”

“Rhyzome, My Life and My Writing” is a work wrapping up her ambitious efforts for the last five years. Because “A Thousand Plateaus” was the best guidance for and had the biggest impact on her. Deleuze and Guattari asked readers to “use philosophy as a tool.” Kim looked for ways to connect life and the world by using concepts of liberal arts.

“All teenagers are worried about the future. But ‘A Thousand Plateaus’ suggests that we should not define ourselves based on the outer look but recognize routines in depth. Most of all, it says “living is writing.” I think writing is a process of making one’s life. In my case, this book alleviated vague anxieties and helped me take a step forward.”

It was a mistake to ask a young scholar who fell in love with reading to recommend books. She said “The History of Sexuality” by French Philosopher Michel Foucault gave her the belief that a strong proposition can change one’s identity. Books by Nietzsche and Lu Hsun helped her not indulge in self-pity. “Records of the Great Historian” by Sima Qian advised her how to view times and people. She was also excited about “Montaillou,” a microhistory book on the Middle Age by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, and “La guerra del fin del mundo (war of the end of the world)” by Peruvian Novelist Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa. Anything a bit easier?

“How about “The Stranger” by Albert Camus? I sank into the roar of Meursault at the end. ‘I have a confidence in my life and this upcoming death. Yes, I have only this.” Agony over existence makes one realize that judgments and standards of others do not guarantee one’s life. Because a human being is not a fixed name but a journey itself…”

I lost. I also read the book, but became not so sure if that was the same book. It was a bit embarrassing. What I should do now is to read “Rhyzome, My Life and My Writing” again. Expectations are rising. Nevertheless, young people, please do not speed up, and you will get exhausted soon.