[KS] FW: Korean Tea Ceremony and other wonders

Frank Hoffmann hoffmann at koreaweb.ws
Thu Aug 16 08:00:09 EDT 2012

Apologies to everyone! I looked around at the mentioned source website 
Prof. Kim had given (http://db.itkc.or.kr/), located the right poem, 
later wrote my reply, and then again went back to that website (using 
the link) to copy/paste the Hanja lines …. and obviously forgot the 
link was the one to the other poem (and didn't even notice after 
reworking the whole posting later).
S o r r y  about the confusion.

The Korean version of the "wrong" poem posted by accident, on the same 
pavilion, is otherwise gives as below in the Han'gŭl version--at least 
that much:

백리에 뻗어내린 산맥 평야를 끌어안아 
시냇가 모옥이 이제막 지어졌네. 
이 몸은 창생의 원망 매이지않아 
백구와 더불어 좋은 친구 되리로다.

I am still doing my homework on Soswaewŏn, to get to a more concrete 
level -- going through a bulk of publications (and also photos, have 
been there last 12 years ago), so Werner does not slice me up so easily 
when I reply in more depth ))::: Some serious stuff, and some, well ….
Really, this is much fun -- learning all kinds of new garden esoteric 
words every hour.

1….2…3…4…5…6…7…8…9… materialize!
Cosma Shiva! Galaxina!

We'll get there.


On Thu, 16 Aug 2012 10:36:15 +0000, Werner Sasse wrote:
> From: werner_sasse at hotmail.com
> To: hoffmann at koreaweb.ws
> Subject: RE: [KS] Korean Tea Ceremony and other wonders
> Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2012 10:58:32 +0000
> Dear all in this wonderful thread
> I am sorry, I should have sent this earlier, although it does not 
> refer to Frank's main arguments ...
> Rutt gives Song Sun (1493-1583), and the Hanja version starting  百里
> 群山擁野平 is by him .
> However, my books give somebody else for the sijo 十年을 經營하야 ... 
> (can't find the arae-a) , namely 김장생 金長生 1548-1631, 호 沙溪...
> By the way, the MyOnang-jeong ground plan is like many pavillions in 
> Damyang a board of 3 by 2 identically sized areas, the middle one in 
> the back row is an ondol room 
> For more I am waiting until I see Franks reply to my last postiong..
> Best,
> Werner
>> Date: Tue, 14 Aug 2012 23:40:19 -0700
>> From: hoffmann at koreaweb.ws
>> To: koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
>> Subject: Re: [KS] Korean Tea Ceremony and other wonders
>> ------------------------------
>> In this re-written version, I am trying to summarize some minor issues, 
>> but also get to the essential issues later in this posting. For 
>> whatever reason the first version did not get posted. / FH
>> ------------------------------
>> Quick question:
>> Professor Kim, the link you provide to the "original" of the poem shows 
>> it is written in Hanja, not mixed script?
>> 百里群山擁野平。臨溪茅屋幸初成。此身不繫蒼生望。宜與沙鷗結好盟。
>> That changes the grammar (no -porira ending), makes even Richard Rutt's 
>> translation with the more 'passive' last line also more appropriate. I 
>> thought that sijo were always composed in mixed script. Not? 
>> Second quick question to Professor Sun Joo Kim. You wrote:
>> > The thached roof building is none other than the MyOnang-jong, 
>> > MyOnang Pavilion in Tamyang, where Song Sun resided.
>> Okay, a "pavilion" then -- Myŏnang-jŏng -- but that seems a bit 
>> strange, as a pavilion, by definition, is a place to meet, to drink 
>> wine, sing, recite poetry, etc. That was such an intriguing concept 
>> that Prussian kings even imported that to Dresden 
>> (http://www.panoramio.com/photo/68305971 ), and others that really look 
>> like East Asian ones). You do not build a pavilion to then say, sorry 
>> it is too small, stay outside my friends, I am enjoying just myself, 
>> the moon and the mountains. For a photo of the rebuild pavilion, 
>> Myŏnang-jŏng, see the last pictures on this page: 
>> http://jungar.tistory.com/115 It makes much more sense if indeed the 
>> object referred to would be a small house (in a similar setting). When 
>> we read such "information" about allocations of places in literature 
>> and poetry to specific, existing buildings and places we should be 
>> suspicious. That pavilion may not have been a pavilion in the 15th 
>> century, and/or the writer may just have had some very generalized 
>> situational setting in mind when writing the poem. The reason I am 
>> pointing into this direction is again the already mentioned 
>> context--interpreting archaeological findings the way they seem 
>> appropriate to make up a good story (but what I saw and mentioned 
>> earlier did relate to tea ceremony). All this is, let me also note 
>> this, NOT at all a Korean-only phenomena. The famous Dresden Cathedral 
>> (Frauenkirche), for example, destroyed during WWII and finally rebuild 
>> and reopened in 2005, never existed. It never existed the way you now 
>> see it rebuild, not for a single day. (I just use this as an example 
>> because I am very familiar with the details of the reconstruction 
>> process, but this is a global scenario.) What you see when you visit 
>> the impressive building are (often idealized and beautified) 
>> projections of how various art historians and archaeologists imagined 
>> how various parts of the building and its interior looked during 
>> *different* historic periods. In many cases the rebuild version of each 
>> room or part of the room (and other details) is a clear reflection of 
>> current (1990s and 2000s) tastes, of what "looks best" and "most 
>> impressive" or most "perfect" to the visitor. You will often see the 
>> very same room at four different periods, each wall in the state of a 
>> different period, and with walls that did not even exist at the time 
>> the opposite wall existed. It is not a reconstruction of the 
>> Frauenkirche during a particular period in time. Nobody did cut the 
>> time, say in 1820, and said, well, that is the state of the building we 
>> now reconstruct. Doesn't matter where to you go … in Japan temples, 
>> for example, are being rebuild (please, Prof. Best help me out here), 
>> was it every 80 years? Or every 200, I forgot. But they ARE being 
>> rebuild on a regular basis, and they do change their looks with every 
>> rebuild, most certainly so, as the "taste" changes, the needs change, 
>> building construction techniques and economics change, and so on and so 
>> forth. In Japan that is perfectly in line with Buddhist concepts of 
>> life, of course (everything is always perfect in Japan). Maybe that's 
>> why today's centuries old Japanese temples get us the feel of black 
>> concrete castles modeled after construction plans from The Cabinet of 
>> Dr. Caligari and German Autobahn bridges.
>> Prof. Kim wrote:
>> > [I] do not want to (...) make any comment whether there was any 
>> > unique garden culture in Choson
>> What kind of question would such a comment have to precede, a 
>> whether-or-not question? All that points into a strange direction then. 
>> That should not be the issue. The EMPHASIS should really not be on 
>> "unique" (yes, of course were Korean gardens unique!) One of the main 
>> questions is rather how important or how marginal gardens were in 
>> Chosŏn Korea for cultural production (and that can only be answered in 
>> relationship to whatever else was going on in Korea and what "garden 
>> culture" meant in neighboring China, Japan, and also in the West. 
>> "Garden culture" as we talk about it for these other cultures is not 
>> about just gardens! Garden culture is, as pointed out before, as a huge 
>> package of cultural production, in the arts, literature, and political 
>> and social life. In Europe and Japan and in early China it could have 
>> that role because it constituted 'high culture' and not 'low culture,' 
>> came from the top of the power base or, in the Japanese case, was 
>> instrumentalized to represent a new upwards moving merchant class. Now, 
>> in Korea (this is a question, not the final answer), if indeed as 
>> stated by Professor Sasse, garden design and architecture was informed 
>> by ('low culture') geomancy and not by (as in old China or in early 
>> modern Japan) Buddhist philosophy and related culture, and also not by 
>> neo-Confucian ideas, then we would already have a very major difference 
>> there to the neighboring settings. That is also expected, of course. 
>> But my doubts are that in a neo-Confucian state low culture geomantic 
>> practices can lead to a whole culture. See, again, this is not just 
>> about gardens … you would then see literature, philosophical 
>> discourses, you would see lots of ceramic wares and other handicraft 
>> production, changes of social life etc. all circling around the garden, 
>> and being reflected in garden designs. I have NOT seen that in Korea. 
>> And it makes NO sense to me, would not expect that with any low culture 
>> anywhere, not until the 20th century (or maybe the French Revolution, 
>> if we talk about Europe). In that context it then also makes sense that 
>> the few treatises by Korean scholars we do have come from early 
>> Chosŏn--still close to the Koryŏ period, a time where gardens were 
>> bound into philosophical concepts and were they still represented 
>> aristocratic culture, both in China and Korea. So, my second set of 
>> doubts is with all these over and over emphasized "geomantic" 
>> principles etc. when it comes to later period gardens in Korea. What 
>> that indicates that to me is that, all over, representatives of the 
>> upper class, scholars, etc., did not anymore care much about gardens, 
>> and that there was not much of a related culture left. Gardens could 
>> NOT s easily be bind into neo-Confucian concepts of thought (quite 
>> opposite to Buddhist societies, and also opposite to the European case 
>> where power structures and resulting aesthetics were represented in 
>> very direct ways … as e.g. in North Korea today). Bamboo and the 
>> flowers mentioned before … yes, scholars may have discussed those, BUT 
>> NOT within the context of garden, garden planning, garden architecture, 
>> etc., just the way that they do play symbolic roles and the way they 
>> appear e.g. in painting. Gardens themselves where, as compared to other 
>> periods and other countries, at a low burner all through the Chosŏn 
>> period, and if today you interpret their layout as geomantically 
>> influenced than that is an indication of exactly -- we do see no 
>> reflection of the ideologies of the state there, nor (!) was whatever 
>> was done in gardens handed down from the aristocracy to a wider 
>> population to again (a) propagate state ideology or ideologies of 
>> important power brokers, (b) and there was no imitation of upper-class 
>> culture either. The way I read Werner's description then rather means 
>> lower and upper class culture were the same when it comes to gardens 
>> (geomantic principles). That is an overly clear indication there there 
>> was no importance put to gardens whatsoever. I would, however, further 
>> extend my doubts to the "geomantic influences" part--it sounds too 
>> 20the century Western 'esoteric.' Aren't geomantic practices always (a) 
>> very concrete? And (b) this is never an entire philosophy either, but 
>> the grand master plan such as Buddhist or Confucian models, but rather 
>> limited in that sense. That again means, when it comes to gardens, then 
>> there is no such "concept" of how to construct a garden, is there? 
>> Rules may have been applied, mostly rules of what NOT to do. But 
>> geomancy, although we use that term, was never anything like ONE school 
>> (or religion) that would provide a whole toolset (like Buddhism, 
>> Christianity) of symbolism; there are no grand master narratives that 
>> someone could have taken up, it cannot be utilized for the grand 
>> planning of gardens (for scholars and the upper class). 
>> A last note--let me come back to the issue of the "uniqueness" of 
>> gardens (or garden culture, which I would not use). Uniqueness is out! 
>> And right so, we should really stop talking about and thinking in terms 
>> of uniqueness when we discuss, describe, talk about national or local 
>> culture, even when we talk about individual cultural production. I know 
>> that there are still people out there at anthropology museums and 
>> museums that have East Asian art collections, and other such places, 
>> where efforts are put into providing proof of national uniqueness of 
>> this or that, but well, I think it has been at least two decades that 
>> adjectives such as 'unique' started to get disqualified and to be 
>> ignored at international contemporary art exhibitions. Although these 
>> mummy terms in wheelchairs were never declared dead and replaced by 
>> something else (but that's seldom the case with any cultural models and 
>> belief systems, they do not get replaced, they co-exist until everyone 
>> has forgotten), they were just disregarded and left alone in their 
>> isolated chambers to dream of the olden days when they had received so 
>> much attention. I see no reason why there should be any difference in 
>> how we discuss traditional art and how modern and contemporary art and 
>> art objects. Objects may have been produced under very different 
>> circumstances, but we do evaluate them and their meaning to us today. 
>> OUR concept of uniqueness and the still mainstream understanding that 
>> 'good art' has to be 'unique,' that is basically a left-over from the 
>> early and mid-20th century art scene and the way modern art, and more 
>> specifically abstract painting and Informal, took care of propagating 
>> themselves through pamphlets and declarations, and how it was later 
>> advertised as the final and last stage of human art development by 
>> entire governments, as the final (or at least strongest) legitimate 
>> expression of individualism in the arts. All of that is yesterday's 
>> talk now, all that has been dropped. Uniqueness and originality, as 
>> concepts, are not even meaningful anymore for designers, as was still 
>> the case in the 1980s and maybe up until into the 1990s. Then we had a 
>> new emphasis coming in on "authenticity" and "the local" as a result of 
>> and parallel to postmodern movements. But now that's gone also, and not 
>> even corporate advertisement companies work with such concepts anymore. 
>> When we see Apple vs. Samsung in court over a cell phone design, then 
>> that is an expression of how far behind the court system is, not an 
>> expression where our society and artists are. Neither designers nor 
>> artists would care about "originality" and "uniqueness" much anymore, 
>> and if they are soon out. The very obscure part comes in when we remind 
>> ourselves that those engaged in East Asian art and culture have for 
>> decades tried so hard to explain that "uniqueness" and "originality" 
>> are modern Western concepts that traditional cultures in Asia did not 
>> go by. Look e.g. through all the literature from or about Japanese art 
>> of the 1970s, no matter if traditional or modern art. It's full of 
>> originality discourses, that is the main focus. Korea, a few decades 
>> years later, has these now, at least the official organizations 
>> (National Museums, ARKO, etc.) all reproduce them, is at the hight of 
>> it. So you see all these explanations on how and why "originality" 
>> concepts had not been enacted in traditional Korean art, and a few 
>> lines later it is explained to us how and why Korean national culture 
>> is the most "unique" and "original" one (AND that is not even wrong in 
>> the sense of factually incorrect). Be-au-ti-ful! So, while in 
>> traditional art almost everything relies on models, patterns, and 
>> repetition, all the modern national institutions in Korea never get 
>> tired to advertise nothing but national-level uniqueness and 
>> originality (Bauhaus and European modernism ideologies send their 
>> greetings!); all the while the international art scene has moved on 
>> into other directions. Try to explain that logic to your students, 
>> please. That will likely take you a full semester of intense 
>> brain-washing to communicate. But museum folks and other institutional 
>> representatives are usually really skilled at turning all these 
>> left-over approaches into a tasty pindaettŏk. And who knows, if you buy 
>> their coffee table book for your art and culture class, they might get 
>> you a free Samsung Galaxy S3 in unique Korean design right on top of 
>> it. 
>> I come to the modern Tamyang gardens later (maybe tomorrow) … and to 
>> the various very interesting points Werner made. But seriously, I thing 
>> the main disagreements are not about the actual gardens but about how 
>> and where to situate the discourse.
>> Best,
>> Frank
>> --------------------------------------
>> Frank Hoffmann
>> http://koreaweb.ws

Frank Hoffmann

More information about the Koreanstudies mailing list