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Rabbit urine

Posted November. 30, 2022 07:58,   

Updated November. 30, 2022 07:58


Some say art is a product of experience. Following their logic, Dostoevsky’s great novels were born out of the author’s years of exile in Siberia. Is it true, though? Yun I-sang, a great Korean-born composer, strongly attests to the insensibility of such a rash generalization.

Asked whether Yun regards his experience of having been kidnapped and tortured helped extend his art to a broader dimension, Yun said, “Art is independent, whether you have such an experience or not.” It was Luise Rinser, a German writer, who asked Yun the question. Rinser herself had been imprisoned because of her resistance against Nazi Germany. Life in prison opened her eyes to an aspect of the world that Rinser would otherwise have been completely oblivious to and, in some way, enriched her novel. It was a painful but valuable experience. That was why Rinser asked the question to Yun. Given that Yun I-sang composed the opera “Butterfly Widow” in prison and later composed a cello concerto, what Rinser asked was indeed an expected question.

However, Yun said no. He cited a folk remedy made out of rabbit urine. “To get rabbit urine, people put a rabbit in a tin-roofed box and drum the box from above. Then the rabbit pisses off, being frightened. Am I a rabbit, locked up to be used to extract music?”

It was an unexpected answer. Rinser refuted this by saying that Yun would not have been able to write the cello concerto if it were not for his experience of facing death in prison. But Yun was adamant: “Then I would have written different music.” It meant that he thought he would have been better off not having undergone such a painful experience and that he is not a “rabbit in a rabbit hutch.” Yun’s reply was the moan from his deep wound. The sound of the wound made him dreamt about “being interrogated, tortured, and watched.” A generalized saying that art is a product of experience may be very cruel to someone, even if it were every bit the truth.