In the Oxymoronic World
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In the Oxymoronic World1
Translated by Don Mee Choi (bio)

The ether of a poem, the emptiness, the poesy exists inside the movement of language. The trace of the movement can only be drawn as a formless form, like the way our brain activities reveal themselves as waves, the way electric currents flow between you and me. I'll call such wave motion the "moving dot."

The moving dot can be extinguished in an instant, yet it contains all information, even eternity. Try placing a dot on the undulating waves. The moment I extend my arm, the dot is already gone.

The moving dot is infinitely small because it moves, yet at the same time it is infinitely large. Inside the infinite smallness the self becomes infinitely tiny and dies. Inside the infinite largeness the self becomes infinitely huge and dies. The extremes of the infinitely small and infinitely large are the non-self. The non-self is required by the speaker and the listener of a poem. Poetry is a modality that follows the path of the discourse and through that path is able to conceive an empty space. To say that the dot does not have form or even a size because it is infinitely small is no different from saying that the dot is infinitely large and therefore is the universe. The moving dot is the slowest, yet the fastest. It is as big as Chuang Tzu's [End Page 251] bird and as small as Chuang Tzu's fish. The moving dot is a whale's body and the egg of an anchovy.

The moving dot is the "now, here, and I" that appear in poetry. All the images in poetry become instantly compressed inside the "now, here, and I"-the moving dot. The chaotic, the marginalized, the "now, here, and I" flutter about in the fringes-the "now, here, and I" pulls the moving dot with its breath. The tiny moving dot breathes in the swirls of the Milky Way and pulls the fringes of the city of Seoul. The images of poetry are the trace of the moving dot; they point to the place in which the eternity that can be extinguished in an instant is caught by the text. The images extend the days they'll exist inside the moment of absence. Conversely, they extend the days of the absence inside the moment of existence. The trace of the moving dot is an infinite world-a world beyond time, a world rediscovered, a world of poetry. It is a sketch of something sublime beyond existence, beyond the grave. In spite of that, poetry exists inside a single woven text. Poetry exists inside the text that I experience, inside the expanded, multiple space that I the object must overcome. Poetry exists inside prose's maze of suffering, the neglect, the fringe, the repetition. A woman goes, passing along the windy road of language, a woman without a mother tongue, a woman who labors in no-action-she goes.

The inside of the maze is a path of to and fro, a spiral path and a dead end, a path that is far yet near, a sky path, a water path. Like the inside of a conch shell, like being swept by a whirlwind, a typhoon. What stories does the maze tell? Does it speak to future generations about life's journey, the roaming, the difficulty of finding an exit, or perhaps the recollection of a struggle at the crossroad? The maze is the diagram of the trace that is both present and absent. In the lines of the maze, life and the world intersect. The lines form a crack that crosses the two worlds. The maze is either a map of the nomads who roamed the desert looking for a path, or a drawing of the trace of my footsteps on magnificent Seoul. [End Page 252]

The maze is a passage through which life's secret is delivered. The passage looks like the moments of my rites of passage. Therefore, my maze is a record of my endless escape, my running away. In order to escape from the maze, I...


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