Response to Xhesika

Hey Xhesika, I am writing a response to your post because I am really encouraged by it. Without looking at your post I have written mine on how I am conflicted between two identities: Korean or American. But as you have mentioned maybe both of those identities build up to who I am. And maybe I do not have to discard one of them to have the other. Also, I really liked how you ended your post, “People change, but one thing remains true and that is that every phase, every attitude, every laugh, and even every bad hair cut has been the real you.” This really spoke to me saying that not one memory or experience that I have is put to waste.

*** I really hope that I spelled your name correctly haha.


All my life, I thought I was Korean, not American and not even Korean-American. But everything changed after I visited Korea over the last summer. After living in America for 8 years, I planned to visit Korea after graduating high school thinking that I will be returning to home at last. But when I arrived everything was different. First, I did not have a physical house that I was able to call home. Secondly, all the “homes” (my relatives’ house, friends’ house, and rooms that I rented through airbnb) that I have been to did not give me the comfort that I was expecting for 8 years of my as an immigrant plus 13 hours that I spend on the air plane. I would be lying if I said that I did not have fun during my visit in Korea, but ironically I got homesick as I was dwelling in the place where I thought was my home for my entire life. As I got on the plane to return to America, the only thought that came into my head was going under my soft blanket and taking a nice nap. This trip proved to me that my home was now Oakland Gardens, NY. However, this trip was not enough to prove to me that I was American. I still struggle to figure out my own identity. I know that I am not fully Korean anymore. But this does not mean that I am American. My passport still proudly proclaims that I am proud and royal citizen of Republic of Korea, but I am confusedly and maybe even shamefully going through the process of becoming “proud and royal” citizen of United States.

I believe that everyone is wired to worship something in their life. In case of the Youth, he was worshipping art with the purpose of finding security, identity, and the Real self. In the midst of my identity crisis (Korean or American), I was, and still am, wired to worship the reputation and recognition that I can get from other people to find my security, identity, and the Real me. But from the advice from others and experience of my own I know that the reputation and recognition will only bring me temporary security, identity, and the sense of Real me. Knowing what I am wired to worship will only provide me delusional real self, I realized that I wanted to worship something that will provide me a permanent, if not eternal, security, identity, and sense of Real me. And for me, only one who was, and is, able to or even have power to fulfill my deepest dissatisfaction was, and is, God. I still have a long way to go because as I have mentioned earlier, I am wired to worship my reputation and recognition. But now, I have chosen to wire myself to God. And “Thus far the Lord has helped” me to find the Real self.

1 Samuel 7:12 (NIV)

“Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.’”

Music vs. Performance

Although Bowie’s original version of “Sound and Vision” and Beck’s interpreted version of “Sound and Vision” had similar elements such as lyrics, melodies, and guitar riffs, it is not hard to perceive these two songs as two completely different songs. Bowie’s original version is extremely simple: Standard rock beat that runs throughout the song, bass line that is easy to follow, and one simple guitar riff to complete it all. On the other hand, Beck’s version was extremely hard to follow and overwhelming.

What Beck did with 160 other musicians was a great performance. But it was not “music” for me. If Beck’s intention was to deliver music, I think he got his priority mixed up. A performance or show-case should be used as a tool to deliver music. But I felt as if Beck used music as a mere tool to produce his grandiose performance. I reached this conclusion because I thought the harmony was missing in his performance. It sounded to me as if each session, or each group of his ensembles was yelling: “Listen to how good I am!”  instead of “This is the music that WE present to you.”

I do not think Beck’s rendition owes much to jazz. I believe that key element in jazz is freedom, a liberation from all constraints and rules through the mediator called improvisation. But Beck’ interpretation sounded too constraint and it is not hard to imagine the reason behind it. It is almost impossible to match the sound of 160 musicians with different background of music without setting up detailed and meticulous guidelines. And with detailed and meticulous guidelines, there are not that much room left for jazz.

Let Hope Rise

Part I: The Bronx is Burning

Crimes after crimes, they are devouring the city. Each of these crimes are contributing to the total destruction of the city. The Bronx is literally and metaphorically burning; in the midst of this chaos, the hope is rising.

Part II: The Puzzle is Completed

Meeting the judge, Tillie, Jazzlyn, and tightrope guy in the court on the same day holds great significance. All the scenes and all the characters that seemed autonomous to each other finally got together. When I just started reading Let the Great World Spin, I thoughts this book was encompassed of independent short stories that did not affect each other. However, after reading this scene in the court room, I realized that Colum Macann has been continuously throwing puzzle pieces at the readers. As the judge, Claire’s husband, is handling the case of Tille and Jazzlyn, along with the case of the tightrope guy, all these puzzle pieces that seemed irrelevant to each other fall into piece together. After uniting the city, Phillipe Petit once again unites this book together. The puzzle is completed.

Part III: The Hope is Rising

In the prologue “Those Who Saw Him Hushed,” the readers are witnessing the historical tightrope stunt from the pedestrian point of view. The readers are uncertain of what is really happening and what the the true purpose behind this prologue is. On the other hand, the book ends with Jaslyn proclaiming that “the world is spinning.” By the end of the book the readers are taken to the birds’ eye view, where we know every aspect and purpose of this story. Also book initially takes place in one of the worst neighborhoods of the city. But by the end of the book, the author takes the readers to the upper east side apartment of the city. Gradual improvement is the bridge that connects and runs throughout the story.

One bridge that shocked me the most was the one between Corrigan and the homeless in the beginning of the story. I was shocked at the compassion that Corrigan had for those people who he thought were less fortunate than him. Although the end result was not too great, he was able to humble himself and immerge himself into their culture with the intention of helping them.

The bridge that I really enjoyed was the one that the tightrope walker had with Jazzlyn. The idea of concurrency (Death of Jazzlyn and the tightrope stunt) made me particularly enjoy this bridge.  At the end of someone’s life which I thought was comparable to the destruction of the city, the hope to unite the city yet once again rose.

Sunday Candy

Sunday Candy – Chance the Rapper

This song is funky and jazzy hip-hop which has gospel elements to it, and I love this song in all four of these aspects. A lot has changed since I first listened to this song. I first heard this song in my friend’s car and I fell in love with it ever since. This was my first exposure to an artist called Chance the Rapper and I did not know not much about him and his music. But now having all of his album in my iTunes and memorizing couple of songs by heart, I can say that I know little bit more about him and his song.

The song starts with Chance rapping, “she can say in her voice, in her way that she love me.” From listening to this I automatically assumed that this song is yet another song about love and realationship. However, as the song went on I realized that this is not just another ordinary song about love between two lovers, but it’s a song about love between grandma and her grandson. But even still I did not quite get the lyrics of the song that well. It was 2-3 months later when I read an article about his childhood when every part of the song started to make sense.

If I were to describe this song in terms of color, orange will be my first choice. One reason for this choice is that my grandma loves the color orange. Also, I think I’m led to picture a bright color like orange because of the gospel-like feeling that the chorus of the song gives. On top of the warm chord progression that runs throughout the song, chorus of the song is sang by a choir which brings additional warm and comforting atmosphere. When I listen to this song, I can’t stop but to bob my head and feel the music. This song brings me comfort and joy.

“Music Is What You Make of It”

I am not a huge fan of classical music. Despite my inattentiveness to classical music, I was actively exposed to it from a young age because of my mom’s persistent push on raising musically “cultured” sons. Along with that desire, my mom always said that “music is what you make of it,” and enforced an interesting idea to both my brother and me. She repeatedly encouraged both of us to make a story out of the music that we heard. Some of the stories that we made were pretty bizarre. Once we listened to Vivaldi’s Winter and said that the composer must have fought with his wife when he wrote this piece. I did not appreciate my mom’s persistence when I was young but now I am extremely grateful that she has taught me well. I agree with Copland that “all music has an expressive power, some more and some less” (12). However, I would like to take a radical turn and say that music is what you make of it.

I am not particularly sure of what Beethoven intended to say through Beethoven’s 9th Symphony First Movement. And in that sense, I guess it is hard to pin down what it “means.” But I think that is the case for most classical music for most of listeners. Unless you have extensive knowledge on the composer and the context of which the song was written on, it is almost impossible to analyze the meaning of the song to its full potential. So, if I were to return to my seven years old self, I will say that I can picture a man with extremely frequent mood change walking through a park.

Although I was exposed to classical music from a young age, I do not know what to predict from a piece of music. I think this is one advantage that I have as a non-classical musician. Just because I do not know what to predict from a piece of classical music, I can listen to a piece solely focusing on the part that is playing at the moment. For me Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake was just as unpredictable as Beethoven’s 9th Symphony which made both pieces interesting.



Miró and Mirror


Miró, Miró, on the wall, who’s the deadest of them all(McCann 112).

When I read this phrase, I could not help myself but to switch the word Miró with mirror. I do not believe that the author used the name of the surrealist sculptor, Joan Miró, just to make a bad pun. In effort to make some theory of my own, I did some research on Miró and found a connection between artist Miró and an object mirror other than those two words making a pun.

The website, The Art Story: Modern Art Insight, summarizes Miró’s works as following: “Miró’s art never became fully non-objective” This caught my attention because I thought Miró’s philosophy of not being fully unrealistic can be represented through a mirror. I believe that, we, as imperfect human beings, are very capable of deceiving ourselves. As we fall into our own deception, we need mirror to come into our lives and play its role: stop us from being fully non-objective about the reality and bring us back to our actual reality. When I am talking about a mirror, however, I am not talking about a simple reflecting surface set into a frame or a handle. I am talking about a mirror which is a tool that reflect, reveal, and even expose the reality whether we like it or not.


I identified following 12 characters to be the primary characters of Let the Great World Spin: 

  1. The Tightrope Walker
  2. Corrigan
  3. Ciaran
  4. Tillie
  5. Jazzlyn
  6. Adelita
  7. Claire
  8. Gloria
  9. Lara
  10. Blaine
  11. Solomon
  12. Fernando

On top of these 12 main characters there are more characters that play a minor role. I was not able to accurately count all the character intersections in LTGWS, but I estimate it to be around 50 intersections.

Out of these 50 or so intersections, one that stood out to me the most was Bereaved Mothers’ intersection with the Tightrope Walker. I was able to sense a lot of anxiousness from the mothers as they were talking about the Tightrope Walker. I suspect that, this uneasiness came from their bitterness towards Tightrope Walker’s recklessness. With all the news at the time questioning the purpose of Vietnam War, the mothers might have associated the Tightrope Walker’s possible meaningless death to their sons’ death in Vietnam.


Warmth in the Cold Reality

Over the course of first seventy-two pages of Let the Great World Spin, we are led to travel over 5,000 miles alongside the characters. From Manhattan to Dublin, and from Dublin to Bronx and Queens. As we travel across the ocean with the author, we are introduced to distinct characteristics of each location: loud and lawless urban aspect of New York, and quiet yet unsettling suburban aspect of Dublin. Lawless part of New York is depicted through heroin and prostitution while unsettling part of Dublin is presented through homelessness and Northern Ireland conflict. I really love how the author does not sugar-coat these areas but exposes the harsh reality of each area.

As I read through the first chapter, my heart was weirdly comforted. I used the word weirdly because as I mentioned before, the problems and circumstances presented in this book is not that cheerful. But I was comforted by Corrigan. In the midst of this cold reality, he was able to project him warmth. Of course he had his internal problems as we witnessed throughout the chapter, but I think that is what makes him more humane. Just like any one of us, he struggled. But he was able to keep his willingness to help others in his own struggles.

I am reminded, reality is cold. Through Corrigan I am also reminded, the fact that reality is cold does not mean that we have to give up our warmth.