Monday, April 9, 2012

Living in living color

Last week, I wrote a post that was triggered by hearing the lyric "Nothing's gonna change my world" in a cover version of John Lennon's Across the Universe. Go ahead down a couple of entries and read it if you haven't; I've got time.

Okay? Back?

Well, a day or two later, I happened to show the delightful movie Pleasantville in class, as a suggestion of the conformist 50s society Holden rebels against in Catcher in the Rye, as well as a basis for analysis of satire and the extended metaphor. And what should come up on the soundtrack but the same recording, by Fiona Apple. Hollywood is striking it rich with sequels, so here's my sequel to the previous post.

In the movie, teen siblings Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon, in a kind of Twilight Zone conceit, get visited by a mysterious TV repairman (Don Knotts!), who zaps them back into a 1950s Leave it to Father Knows Ozzie and Lucy TV show. The teen couples do nothing more than hold hands, there are no toilets or double beds, the fire department only rescues cats in trees (when you're in a rush, someone will ask, "Where's the cat?"), and the basketball team never misses a shot. And everything and everyone is in black and white.

Then Reese introduces a boy to the back seat of a car, and on the way home, he sees a rose. A red rose. Soon more things and then people are turning into color, which frightens everyone else. (At Tobey's trial for fomenting this un-American trend, the "colored" people have to sit in the balcony. Joan Allen, as the mom, puts on gray makeup to hide her shame.) It isn't sex that turns them; it's the ability to change and grow. For Reese, it's learning to enjoy reading. For Tobey, it's being brave and defending his mom. For the soda-shop guy, it's being introduced to art. And the soundtrack swells with Fiona Apple: "Nothing's gonna change my world."

And thus, finally, I get to my point. I generally do, eventually.

I have lived in black and white. I'm a very cautious guy, by upbringing and nature. I would never have dreamed of running cross country in high school, or joining the Peace Corps, or sneaking into a movie. I'm easily habituated, which is why I don't have a video-game console; I'd never leave the house. I don't like surprises. I wear the same type of clothes (if not literally the same clothes, although with some of my socks I can't be sure) that I wore 40 years ago.

When I came to Korea, it was one of the few Technicolor/widescreen moves I'd ever really made. I know nobody was more shocked than I; it was a monumental change for me.

That was living in color.

And I've had flashes of color here from time to time, such as hashing or taking the train to Busan on a whim because I missed the ocean, or sending a message to someone on a dating site. But mostly I'm still living on a 16-inch screen in grainy monotone.

I swear there will be more color! I'm never going bungee jumping (the thought makes my palms sweat), and I'm not going to take up macrame or the zither or ice climbing. But I'm going to live more.

I guess I should start by turning off the compu


Gill_Ruth said...

Hope you're well and enjoying your full-colour life - I miss your blog posts tho. I hope very much that you'll feel inspired to add more posts soon, they've been brightening up my mundane corner of the globe for a while now, and even tho I don't know you personally at all, I miss hearing how you are and reading of your life in the rok. Best wishes, Gill

Stephen J said...

Thank you, Gill! This is the most encouraging thing I've read about the blog in a long time! The whole point of the blog originally was just to keep my friends in the States updated on my life in Korea, but Korea has become routine for me after almost four years, and I've felt as if I've just been writing about my personal stuff... and don't we all have plenty of personal stuff of our own? But it's wonderful to know that somebody I've never even met (albeit somebody with exquisite taste) enjoys the blog. Okay... I'll write something. Thanks again.