A little information about this site and me for the especially curious readers...
- About this site
- About the color schemes
- About the RSS feed
- About the Workshop
- About the Imagery galleries
- About the author
About this site
This is really just a place for me to share my life, post some pictures from my travels around the world, and just rant and rave about the world in general. I’ve thought long and hard about how often I should update, and I originally had the idea that I would update once a week. This pretty much came from the desire to be regular, and I knew that I could write at least once a week. Then I realized that a weekly post would lack immediacy, and I would probably lose interest in events and thoughts if I didn’t write about them that day. So I’m left with two choices: I could take the plunge and decide to write daily, in which case I would invariably miss a few here and there, and would also invariably be faced with days when I just didn’t feel like writing; or I could just post when I have something to say, with no regular schedule. This appeals to me because it doesn’t force me to write something each day, but it also bothers me because, well, it doesn’t force me to write something each day.
After months of consideration (that’s how long it took me to get from first writing this to actually launching the site), I have decided to go with the second option—basically posting when I have something to say. I may end up posting updates on consecutive days, or I may end up going for a few days without a post, but my basic goal is at least two posts a week (I’ll leave this here as evidence of my hubris, but I have since discovered that one journal entry a week is more likely). We’ll see how it goes.
Another thing I have decided is that I will not be posting one- or two-line entries linking to something that’s already been linked to a million times before. There are tons of blogs out there that do just this (it’s really amazing to see how quickly the latest Flash gag makes its way around the Internet), but, while I respect them for what they do, that’s just not my cup of tea. When I post, it is going to be because I have something real to say, and in one way or another it’s going to be a piece of me. I just hope there’s enough to go around.
There are seven items in the menu (located at the top and bottom of every page), with the first three being what I consider the meat of the site, and the remainder playing supplemental roles. The first is, of course, my Journal, where I share my thoughts and experiences, hopes and dreams, joys and frustrations. The Writings section is reserved for pieces of a more permanent nature: translations, poetry, etc. In Imagery I offer glimpses of my life and travels. Then there is this page, which (as you’ve probably gathered by now) goes into a bit more detail about this site, and the Archives, where my journal entries will make their permanent home. The Updates page chronicles in detail changes and additions to the content, presentation, and technical aspects of the site. Finally, the Contact page contains a form you can use to send me a message.
As for the name of the site, the word liminality comes from the Latin word “limen,” which means “threshold.” It was used by Arnold Van Gennep (1908) in his treatise on rites of passage to describe that place in between one social state and the next (for example, being single and being married). Victor Turner later expanded on this in his work on the Ndembu of Zambia, explaining that those in the liminal state (during a rite of passage) were neither here nor there, and in fact in between the structure of society.
This concept has since been defined in various ways to suit various fields of study, but I came across it while doing my MA thesis, a comparative study of the North American Indian trickster and the protagonist of the Korean “Tale of the Rabbit.” The trickster has a unique position in society, never staying in one place, always moving here or there, never really belonging to any one class or group—yet he is always able to penetrate the social structure at will, although he cannot remain there. The concept fascinated me, and I argued that it was one of the most important things Rabbit and the trickster had in common.
I chose “liminality” as the title of this site because, first of all, I like the way the word sounds. It really just glides off the tongue. More importantly, though, I feel that the idea of liminality applies to my life. As a Westerner in Asia, I am between two cultures, never fully belonging to one or the other, but belonging to both at the same time. As a translator, I occupy the place between languages, engaging in a simultaneous act of deconstruction and creation. And in terms of my faith, I struggle to be in the world but not of it—a citizen of a land I will never see in this lifetime, a wanderer for whom home is wherever I happen to be at the moment. Maybe this is why I was so fascinated with the concept of liminality, why it spoke so directly to me. And this is why I chose it as a symbol of my personal site. For a longer (5,000+ words) and more detailed discussion of liminality, you can read my essay entitled What is Liminality?
About the color schemes
The color schemes use CSS style switching to allow you to read Liminality content in the setting of your choice. The default color scheme for Liminality is the one that appears last, “Retro.” This may appeal to old-schoolers who want something simpler, but I have provided other (currently nine other) schemes for those who may prefer a bit more color. You can access these through the “color scheme” drop-down menus at the top and bottom of each page. The style-switching mechanism should work in most of the latest browsers.
It was at this point that I used to announce my current favorite color scheme, but I don’t think I have a favorite any more. I usually view the site locally using the latest scheme (when proofreading I use Retro), but I also like to switch the schemes around depending on my mood. For those of you who may be curious as to where the background pics for each color scheme came from, here is a brief description of each:
Lanterns: In preparation for the celebration of Buddha's birthday (the 8th day of the fourth month by the lunar calendar), lotus lanterns are hung around the city and in the temples. They are called “lotus lanterns” (yeondeung in Korean) because they are shaped to resemble lotus flowers—the lanterns in the photo, though, are very simplified. The photo was taken at Jogyesa Temple in Seoul, and a more detailed description for this and other photos can be found in the Lotus Lanterns gallery.
Coastal: My wife took this picture of me on the California coast as I was staring out into the Pacific ocean. I’ve always liked this picture, but I’ve also always been amused by the fact that I stood there for so long my feet sank into the sand. If you look closely at the picture you’ll see that the sand is up to my ankles.
Buddha: This is a picture of the head of a Buddha statue that has become entwined in the roots of a banyan tree in Wat (Temple) Phra Mahatat in Ayuthaya, Thailand. The head has naturally taken on religious significance, but it is also a very beautiful image in and of itself. The Ayuthaya gallery has a slightly larger version of the Buddha head.
Osan–ri: This scheme is based on this picture in the Osan–ri: Autumn gallery. It shows the ripening rice plants in early September in the paddies at the entrance to our village. I think the current photo is the third different photo I’ve used for this color scheme. Chances are I’ll change it again next year.
Orchid: With the arrival of spring and my new digital camera, I wanted a new scheme that would be both pleasant to look at and also convey a happy, springy feeling. This scheme is dedicated to Lacuna of Zeloutis.com (sadly, this site appears to be defunct at the moment), a lover of orchids and a good friend. The original photo (plus the larger version) resides in the Flowers gallery.
Sunflower: Another flower-based color scheme, but with a completely different feel than Orchid. Sunflower (based on this photo) is shiny, happy, and wholesome. It makes me feel better about the world, even if for only a moment. Maybe it’s just the psychological connotations of blue sky and warm sun.
Dragon: During a visit to Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon, I took a picture of the ceiling of Hwaseomun Gate. It depicts a Korean dragon, which is very different from a Western dragon— Korean dragons are the kings of the seas and are not evil creatures, for starters. This photograph and the resulting color scheme capture some of the primary colors used in Korean palace and fortress paintings.
Frost: I braved frostbite and hypothermia one freezing January morning to take some photographs, and I’m glad I did. I’ve wanted to do a pure white scheme for quite some time, but this photo (and the deep blues in the background) allow me to evoke the some of the wintry connotations of white, hopefully raising the color scheme above the level of “just plain white.” In a way, I suppose this scheme is the psychological negative of Sunflower.
Cherry: We were fortunate enough to visit the Ho-Am Art Museum’s Hee Won Garden just as the cherry blossoms reached their peak. I have long wanted to do a cherry blossom scheme, and this trip allowed me to get this beautiful photo. Purple is my favorite color, so it’s nice to finally have a scheme dominated by a color in that range.
Carp: During our trip to Jeju Island, we spent a good deal of time at the Shilla Hotel in the Jungmun Tourist Complex. In the garden there is a stream with a bridge over it, and when we walked over the bridge the water started roiling with colorful carp. The photo I took was so colorful and orange that I just had to make a color scheme from it, and the result is probably the brighest color scheme to date.
About the RSS feed
Depending on who you talk to, RSS stands for either “Rich Site Summary” or “Really Simple Syndication.” Both of these do a fairly good job of describing RSS, although I think I prefer the latter for semantic reasons. Put simply, RSS is a way for people to find out what’s new on your site without having to stop by every day (or week) to check. It’s kind of like putting out a flyer every time you update your site.
In order to take advantage of my RSS feed (my “updates flyer”), you need to have an RSS reader or news aggregator—Haiko Hebig’s very extensive list of RSS readers is a good place to start. The Firefox browser has a feature called Live Bookmarks that will allow you to keep track of Liminality, or you can use one of the many news reader extensions. I use Sage. Whatever you decide, just point your reader to my RSS feed to get the latest news on updates to the site, as well as handy links directly to that content. Isn’t modern technology great?
About the Workshop
(Note: the Workshop is still online, but I haven’t posted anything there in ages, and don’t foresee myself doing so any time soon. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I never will again, but if I do return to a more or less regular creative writing schedule, I will most likely write in private. So, for all intents and purposes, the Workshop is now defunct. I will leave the following paragraphs here for posterity, but there is no longer any direct link to the Workshop, and the DOWN is... down.)
The Workshop is a subdomain of Liminality—not exactly an official part of Liminality, but not entirely unrelated either. Technically speaking, it is an area subordinate to Writings, but it’s a weird relationship—the Workshop is that wacky cousin who is good for a laugh at family gatherings, but with whom you'd rather not be seen in public. This from the information box at the Workshop: “The Workshop is a place for me to put in-progress writing. It was inspired by NaNoWriMo, a yearly event that encourages writers to turn off their internal editors and simply write—no matter how heinously bad the ensuing flood of creativity may be. I enjoyed the experience so much that I decided to continue writing in this way even after the NaNoWriMo month of November was over.” Visit the Workshop and click on the question mark in the upper right to read the rest. Updates to the Workshop are sporadic at best, but you can stay current with the DOWN (Dynamic Online Workshop Notifier), that little blue “W” icon at the top and bottom of each page—just hover over it to see how pathetically lazy I am. If you are so inclined, you may even read an entire entry devoted to the DOWN.
About the Imagery galleries
There are three types of galleries in the Imagery section: dynamic, theme, and event galleries. There is only one dynamic gallery, Experimental, and this gallery is always at the top of the list. It acts as a temporary holding place for new photos that I want to put up on Liminality but for which I have not yet found a permanent home. As such, photos will shuffle in and out of this gallery, sometimes changing order, sometimes being moved to newly created theme galleries, and sometimes just disappearing completely. For this reason, it would be advisable not to bookmark or link to specific photos within this gallery.
Theme galleries are based on a certain subject or theme, and are not tied to any particular place or time. For this reason, these galleries are “open”—the pictures here are permanent and will not change locations, but new pictures will be continuously added to the galleries. The event galleries are limited by time and place—for example, our trip to Thailand. These are one-time events, and so these galleries are “closed”—no new pictures will be added.
About the author
I am an American living in Seoul, Korea since 1995 (and with my wife since 1997). I studied classical Korean literature at Seoul National University, getting my MA and later my PhD in this field. After a stint of six years teaching Korean-English translation in the Graduate School of Interpretation and Translation at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, I returned to SNU in the spring semester of 2014 to join the faculty of the Korean Language and Literature Department, where I now work with some of my former professors. I continue to work as a translator from Korean to English, doing both technical and literary translation. My interests in Korean culture, translation, language, literature, travel, and other subjects are the motivation behind many of the posts here. For a more in-depth look at how I got to be where (and who) I am, see my background story. If you want to drop me a line, feel free to use my contact form.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I really like working on my site, and though I may have graduated university as an English major, I started out in Computer Science—there’s a code geek hiding within this writer. Just as I take great care in crafting my journal entries and other content, so I take great care in crafting the site itself. As part of that, I always make sure my code validates. If you’re interested in that sort of thing, you can see for yourself:
And if you ever happen to click on one of those links and find out that my code does not validate, don’t let me get away with it!