Korean book 황홀한 글감옥

I read a book titled ‘황홀한 글감옥’ by author 조정래. I barely knew about the author and didn’t read any of his books before I read 황홀한 글감옥 which is his biography. It was a very interesting experience because as I read his biography I could vividly see his philosophies being reflected on the books he wrote (he has written multiple chronicles and novels for 40 years) even though I didn’t read his books.

Instead of looking at him as an author, I want to look at his views as a sage who experienced poverty, defamation, fame, popularity, sick/old, failure and success in life.

  • One of his characteristics that made him a successful author is the way he observes things very curiously and closely. He created hundreds of unique characters in his chronicles and instead of looking at things indifferently he accepts that everything, however similar they might seem, is differentiated and is not identical to one another. I think this is something that can be taught. I have a tendency to observe the way people react and handle things which helps me understand the root of the behaviors somewhat and at the same time start to notice differences. It is a lot of fun, but people being observed may not appreciate it. ☺
  • He quit drinking for 20 years to not lose time for writing. He meticuously calculated how much time and energy he would save if he didn’t drink and kept the promise to himself for 20 long years. Being a Korean man in Korea, it must have taken not just strict discipline, but also social isolation. A lot of artists rely on some type of inspiration whether it be drinking, traveling, or love. It is rare to see a writer to refrain from social drinking which can cut his ties to his sources. And he has very rigorous schedule and routines: his wakes up at 6 a.m, writing starts at 8:30 a.m, eats lunch at 12:30 p.m, exercise, etc. I presumed that writers would have very unpredictable routines and be randomized, but he proved otherwise. I can see that it takes training to have both strong mind and body.
  • He made his son and daughter-in-law copy every single page of his chronicale books by handwriting which technically would take 4 years if he/she copied 10 pages everyday. I was horrified even at the thought of my parents making me copy some book. The reason he made them do so is following. Life doesn’t give us an overnight success, but rather every step accumulated throughout course of life will lead us to see the outcome. It can take years for him to write one great book. If we expect to achieve our dreams without doing the work for it, we would be faced with disappointments. It takes hard work and that is what we pay for to see our dreams come ture.
저는 [태백산맥] 베끼기를 통해서 아들과 며느리가 인생이란 스스로 한발, 한발 걸어야 하는 천리길이란 것을 깨우쳐주고 싶었습니다. 인생이란 지치지 않는 줄기찬 노력이 피워내는 꽃이라는 것을 체득시키고 싶었습니다.
  • He compared an animal made up of bones and flesh to literature, and readers and writers need to discern between bones and flesh to really enjoy the deep meanings embedded in the writing. We also need wisdom to discern between right and wrong and between what we can accept and what we should refuse. I think that it takes reading not just one book, but many books with different perspectives/views. This will help us to have broader understanding and not be narrow-minded.
  • He says that happiness is absence of unhappiness. People’s unjustified avarice blinds people and prevent them from realizing that.
불행을 느끼지 않을 때가 바로 행복한 때라고 대답합니다. 그러고 보면 인생은 불행할 때보다 행복할 때가 훨씬 더 많습니다. 그러나 우리 인간의 탐욕은 늘 저 먼 데를 보고 있어서 바로 눈앞에 있는 행복을 못 보는 것입니다.
  • He hopes that one day he would breathe his last writing since he was destined to be a writer and fated to die as a writer. I wonder how I would breathe my last. If I find out the answer, I would know that was what I was destined for.