“당신이 없는 것을 알기 때문에 전화를 겁니다”

전화

마종기

당신이 없는 것을 알기 때문에
전화를 겁니다.

신호가 가는 소리.

당신 방의 책장을 지금 잘게 흔들고 있을 전화 종소리. 수화기를 오래 귀에 대고 많은 전화 소리가 당신 방을 완전히 채울 때까지 기다립니다. 그래서 당신이 외출해서 돌아와 문을 열 때, 내가 이 구석에서 보낸 모든 전화 소리가 당신에게 쏟아져서 그 입술 근처나 가슴 근처를 비벼대고 은근한 소리의 눈으로 당신을 밤새 지켜볼 수 있도록.

다시 전화를 겁니다.

신호가 가는 소리.

책 <정희진처럼 읽기>의 저자 정희진은 위의 시를 ‘간절한 외로움’이라고 소개했다. “읽고 또 읽노라면 외로움이 몸에 가득 차서 손목이라도 그어 몸 안의 외로움을 빼내야 할 것 같은 느낌이 든다.”

하지만 이 시는 내겐 수줍은 이의 사랑표현으로 다가왔다. 상대의 ‘여보세요’ 한마디에 순간 얼어붙을 것을 알기에 그사람이 없을 때 맘 놓고 전화를 한다. 대화는 없다. 하지만 목소리가 듣고 싶은 마음, 그래서 수화기를 드는 설렘, 반복되는 신호음에 맞추어 쿵쾅거리는 심장소리가 시에 가득하다.

빈 방을 채우고도 남아 그사람이 돌아올 때 까지 쌓여 있을 전화벨 소리가 울리는 동안 수줍은 화자는 듣는이 없는 이야기를 모두 속삭였으리라. 전달되지 않아서, ‘부재중 전화 7건’ 이 찍히지 않아서, 그래서 상대가 나의 마음을 몰라준다고 해서 간절한 외로움이라고 하고 싶지 않다. 정말 외로운 사람은 누군가를 이렇게 품을 여유조차 없을 테니까.

<정희진처럼 읽기>에 소개된 참 멋진 시가 하나 더 있어 아래에 붙인다.

사랑법 첫째

고정희

그대 향한 내 기대 높으면 높을수록

그 기대보다 더 큰 돌덩이를 매달아 놓습니다

부질없는 내 기대 높이가 그대보다 높아서는 아니 되겠기에

커다란 돌덩이를 매달아 놓습니다

그대를 기대와 바꾸지 않기 위해서

기대 따라 행여 그대 잃지 않기 위해서

내 외롬 짓무른 밤일수록
제 설움 넘치는 밤일수록

크고 무거운 돌덩이 하나 가슴 한복판에 매달아 놓습니다

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반바지, 통통과 튼튼사이.

반바지가 뭐 그리 대수냐 라고 할지 모르지만 난 반바지에 대해 할 말이 있다. 최근까지 나는 운동할 때를 빼놓고는 더운 한여름에도 반바지를 입지 않았다. 이유를 물으면 “거의 매일 실험실에 가는데 실험실에서는 긴 바지를 입어야 하니까 반바지를 안사게 되더라고요”라고 둘러댔다. 어릴적부터 마른 체형과는 거리가 있었던 내 몸은 내게 컴플렉스였고, 가뜩이나 body image 에 자신 없는 나는 (“I do have a distorted body image.” 라고 인정해버려 주위사람을 당황시키기도 한다) 30도를 훌쩍 넘는 날에도 긴바지를 입고 밖을 나섰다.

올해 초, 출퇴근시 항상 듣는 팟 캐스트에서 “Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions” 라는 책을 쓴 작가 Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 와의 인터뷰가 있었다. 그녀의 15가지 제안 중 하나:

“Suggestion 10: Be deliberate about how you engage with her about her appearance. Encourage her participation in sports. Teach her to be physically active. I think this is important not only because of the obvious health benefits but because it can help with all the body-image insecurities that the world thrusts on girls.”

몸이란 누구에게 보여주는 것이 아니라 내가 움직이고 생활하는데에 필요한 도구라는 사실을 깨우치는데 운동만한게 또 있을까? 팟 캐스트를 들은 이후 테니스를 치고 돌아오는 길에 건물 유리창에 비친 내 다리에 눈길이 갔다. 어제와 별반 다름없는 통통하고 튼튼한 다리. 스키니 진을 입지는 못하지만 21km를 뛰어내는 다리이다. TV속 연예인들의 다리는 아니지만 축구, 농구, 테니스… 큰공, 작은공 구별 않고 공이란 공은 모두 쫓아가는 그런 다리이다.

쭈욱 뻗은 그녀들의 다리가 여전히 부럽다 (한국 여인들은 도대체 뭐먹고 사나요?). 돈 주고 살 수 있다면 아주 심각하게 고민도 해보겠다. “심미성: 80, 사용성: 20” 이 아닌, “심미성: 20, 사용성: 80” 이라는 평가지를 들고 나는 묻는다. 내 다리는 뭐하는 다리? 후자의 평가지가 썩 나쁘지는 않다.

책을 빌리러 도서관으로 나서는 길. 낮기온이 33도까지 치솟는다는 일기예보에 아무렇지 않게 반바지를 입는다. 여전히 민소매 티셔츠를 입으려면 몇 년은 더 기다려야 할 듯 하다. 어찌 그리 작은 양의 천을 가지고 만들었나 싶은 비키니는 평생 입을 생각을 안할 듯 하다. 그래도 반바지는 입기 시작했다.

맨다리 사이로 지나가는 바람이 꽤나 시원하다.

무궁화호

IMG_2334무궁화호는 어릴적 ‘칙칙폭폭’에 어울리는 기차이다.

참 자주도 선다. 좀 간다 싶으면 다음역이란다. “우리 기차, 이번 역은…” 하고 시작하는 안내 방송이 마치 “서울 가는 이 하나 더 있응께 쪼매 돌아 가유. 다들 안바쁘제?” 하는 것 같다.

같이 탄 사람들 중에는 할아버지, 할머니들이 많다. 이미 신발을 좌석 앞쪽에 벗어 놓고는 긴 바지를 접어 올리셨다. “응, 막내야. 기차 잘 탔어. 걱정말어.” “긍께 잊지 말고 택배 잘 받아놔유.” 몸은 기차에 실었지만 마음은 집에 놓고 오셨다.

가방 속 iPad 와 Apple pencil 은 꺼낼 생각도 안했다. 대신 수첩에 연필로 끄적인다.

난 KTX 를 타는 여유보다 무궁화호를 타는 여유가 더 좋다.

 

I’m learning in my class too!

teacher-407360_1920When people talk about the effects of active learning, it’s all about students; students are motivated to learn, their ownership increases, they retain knowledge longer, etc. One thing I noticed is that in the active learning classroom, instructors also learn and intellectually grow just as students do.

When the instructor steps aside a little bit to leave a room for students so that they could follow their interests and synthesize information on their own, the instructor acquires new information relevant to the course subject from students’ work. Moreover, while observing how students develop their interest and improve information fluency, the instructor could reassess his/her teaching philosophy and grows as an educator.

After all, active learning is happening to EVERYONE in the classroom. 

Intersection between what you know and who you are

Sanger’s point rang true to me in part because I almost never speak about my own abortion, which I had when I was an eighteen-year-old freshman at U.C.Berkley. This was strange, it occurred to me as I read Sanger’s book, because the decision was as consequential as any I’d made as a young person’ it had allowed me to claim the future I imagined for myself. But, in another way, it wasn’t so strange, because I had never regretted having an abortion, so it was not a choice I felt compelled to revisit… I never did feel that I’d killed a baby; I felt that I’d ended a pregnancy. What I remember most of all was the relief when it was over, and the kindness of the doctor and the nurses at the health center, who treated me like a person with a reasonable sense of her own mind. So why don’t I ever talk about it? … in part, it’s true, because abortion has a stigma–a stigma I don’t believe should exist but am not entirely immune to, an aura of selfishness or callousness. (Obstacle Course by Margaret Talbot in The New Yorker (April 3rd, 2017))

Margaret Talbot’s piece was just another monthly book review in The New Yorker until the paragraph above appeared. She reviewed a recent book on abortion and then toward the end of her piece, she unveiled the story of her own abortion. Her candor and willingness to stand up for and share her decision astonished me. It goes without saying that her honest personal account made her review more vital and relatable. Ms. Talbot’s article reminded me of an interview of Krista Tippett in the podcast “On Being”. When the interviewer asked Ms. Tippett about including her separation from her father in her book Becoming Wise, she said,

 … the book, it just — it didn’t come alive for a long time, and I realized, actually, I also had to do what I ask other people to do, which I know makes ideas come to life, and also makes them listenable, makes them land in the imaginations of listener with vitality, which is to really walk that line, that intersection between what you know, and who you are. And, yeah, then I had to actually — I had to be honest, even just with myself, about the hard, the sad parts of my life, and those things that I wrestle with. (https://onbeing.org/programs/krista-tippett-the-mystery-and-art-of-living/)

Perhaps, what makes someone a true intellectual who desires to bring about changes in others and communities is strength and courage that allows him/her to be able to share own struggles and vulnerability pertaining to his/her ideas. Because changes occur when the heart is touched and only a shaky but firm voice coming from the heart can touch another heart.

The coevolution of knowledge and schools?

In medieval Europe, the chief formula for knowledge was: Knowledge = Scriptures x Logic. If people wanted to know the answer to an important question, they would read scriptures and use their logic to understand the exact meaning of the text… The Scientific Revolution proposed a very different formula for knowledge: Knowledge = Empirical Data x Mathematics. If we want to know the answer to some question, we need to gather relevant empirical data, and then use mathematical tools to analyze them… As humans gained confidence in themselves, a new formula for acquiring ethical knowledge appeared: Knowledge = Experiences x Sensitivity. If we wish to know the answer to any ethical question, we need to connect to our inner experiences and observe them with the utmost sensitivity… What exactly are ‘experiences’? They are not empirical data… an experience is a subjective phenomenon made up of three main ingredients: sensations, emotions and thoughts… And what is ‘sensitivity’? It means two things. Firstly, paying attention to my sensations, emotions and thoughts. Secondly, allowing these sensations emotions, and thoughts to influence me (p239 in Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Harari).

In other words, the meaning of knowledge has evolved from what we were told to do to what we could test to what we experience and internalize.

The trajectory of this evolution is quite interesting. The realm of knowledge has moved from something concrete and tangible to abstract and intangible. The focus of knowledge was external objects (e.g., God or nature), but now it’s about what’s in me.

Then, what does this new formula for knowledge mean to us, educators? What types of experiences do we want our students to have in order to become competent, responsible and mindful adults? How can we create the environment that can cultivate the capacity for sensations, emotions and thoughts? How could we even assess students’ performances when the knowledge they acquire is about themselves?

Dr. Harari’s insightful perspective on knowledge encouraged me to imagine how the college would (or should) be changed. What would the college look like when its goal is to help students gain knowledge composed of experiences and sensitivity? Three pillars of the new school curriculum would be open-mindedness, self-consciousness and expressive mind. Experiences are qualitative. A single simple phenomenon could elicit a multitude of emotions and thoughts if the individual sees it from different perspectives. Internalization of an experience requires being mindful of oneself and expressing his/her emotions and thoughts in various forms–words, drawing, music, physical movement, etc. Namely, the new formula for knowledge would redefine the school as a safe place where students gain experiences without worrying about failure, pay attention to opposing or foreign ideas without any prejudice, get to know themselves without any pressure to fit themselves into the existing frames, and create and strengthen own channels of expression.

Book Review: Homo Deus – A Brief History of Tomorrow

IMG_2085Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow

Yuval Noah Harari

It was the title, Homo Deus, that lured me to start this book, but I think it is the subtitle, a brief history of tomorrow, that actually embodies the thesis of the book batter than Homo Deus, an “upgraded” human being with god-like capacities. History is about the past, so how could we even talk about a history of tomorrow? This contradictory subtitle makes sense once you learn the reason for studying history provided by the author. He wrote,

“If history doesn’t follow any stable rules, and if we cannot predict its future course, why study it? … historians are asked to examine the actions of our ancestors so that we can repeat their wise decisions and avoid their mistakes. But it almost never works like that because the present is just too different from the past… Though historians occasionally try their hand at prophecy (without notable success), the study of history aims above all to make us aware of possibilities we don’t normally consider. Historians study the past not in order to repeat it, but in order to be liberated from it…Studying history aims to loosen the grip of the past. It enables us to turn our head this way and that, and begin to notice possibilities that our ancestors could not imagine, or didn’t want us to imagine. By observing the accidental chain of events that led us here, we realize how our very thoughts and dreams took shape—will not tell us what to choose, but at least it gives us more options” (60).

This interesting viewpoint to look at the future makes the book unique. First of all, the author illustrates the future not as an isolated entity, but as part of human history—there is no boundary showing where the present ends and the future starts. Thus, unlike many writings about the future, the book spends considerable time describing the current transition where humanism dwindles and dataism soars. Second, the author throws out fundamental questions whose answers could change the course of our history.

“These three processes raise three key questions, which I hope will stick in your mind long after you have finished this book: Are organisms really just algorithms, and is life really just data processing? What’s more valuable — intelligence or consciousness? What will happen to society, politics and daily life when non-conscious but highly intelligent algorithms know us better than we know ourselves?” (402).

Is it a wishful thinking that human beings cannot be reduced to algorithms and that moral values can be upheld in the midst of the efficiency craze? Mulling over this question, I realized the author’s implicit message in the book—take part in making the history of tomorrow.

After all, what seems like “the accidental chain of events” is in fact a product of contemplation and deliberate decisions.