Friday, September 11, 2020

Coming back, and concerns about recent literature

Haven't been here as much this year, or last year, though I still keep trying. Which is probably what I can say for every other part of my life.

This is an evergreen issue for every blogger who hasn't monetized their blog, I know. (Looking at my blogroll right now and seeing at least three blogs that haven't been updated in months.) My excuse is that I've been dealing with the fallout from addiction for a while. No, I don't mean my own. I don't think I want to get into too much right now, but suffice to say that being around people who have ceased to be people is wearing on soul, psyche, and body. As much as a recovered addict will feel remorse for the damage they've done, that goes only so far in helping the people they've damaged.

I've been reading, of course, but at a slower pace than before. I'm re-reading some books, which is why I've been quiet about my observations, but finally getting into some new material, including The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty and The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang. Looking forward to reading The Dragon Republic by Kuang, but I have some concerns.

I watch K-dramas, although less so as I've been trying to get through a backlog of books, and it's impossible not to notice the hostility against the Japanese. To the point where I'm beginning to be alarmed. Yes, I've been following the news, so I know that Japan and South Korea's relations are at a nadir, but the glee involved in taking the Japanese on and winning doesn't seem constructive. And, yes, I know the history very well. 

I noticed this particularly in The King a few months ago; there was a minor arc in which the very strong and wealthy Kingdom of Korea fended off an attack against the Japanese in uncontested waters. I had conflicting feelings watching the scene. On the one hand, I'm Korean too, and watching US take on a powerful enemy and win felt thrilling. On the other hand...what was the point of that scene in the overall story? It's come up in little and not-so-little ways all over the place for the last few years, including Crash Landing on You, Bad Guys, the Movie, Drug King, and Nameless Gangster, and that's just off the top of my head. 

I bring this up in conjunction with Kuang's series because it comes up there, too, and in disturbing, graphic detail. And it's interesting to me, because the author is American. I noticed this, also, in Ellen Oh's Dragon King series a few years ago, in which the primary villain was an evil Japanese ruler who had give himself over to an even more evil spirit.

I guess what disturbs me most is that these books are directed at younger readers. It worries me because while there are very good reasons to make sure we know our history, at this moment in time, when people are a hair-trigger away from nationalism and xenophobia, reviewing that history needs to be done such that those worst instincts aren't encouraged, but tempered. 

To be continued, I'm sure.

Deb in the City


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