I want to go home to the animals

A Most Ambiguous Sunday and Other Stories
Forfatter: Jung Young-moon
Forlag: Dalkey Archive Press (USA)
Suicide plays no small role in Chinese Young-moon.


Towards the end of Jung Young Moon's novel Vaseline Buddha is it: «… perhaps the problem with my life was that for some time now my life has been a full-fledged fight against realism». It is the narrator who says this, and although it never becomes clear whether the author and the narrator in the book are one and the same person (or whether Young-moon sees them as such), this short quote gives a pretty good impression of what Young- moon is included in his books. At the same time, the books lack almost everything reminiscent of conflict, struggle, drama, confrontation, crisis, climax and anticlimax – the narrator (and the author) almost always avoids the kind of situations if he can.

The suicide. This may also explain why he scares people, especially crowds, even when he is in metropolitan areas such as San Francisco or Berlin, where he often seems totally out of place, almost like another planet. Not in a strange way à la Obstfelder – rather kjeder he is in the metropolises and mentions only in passing landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge. And the only thing about the bridge that really interests him is that people come there to commit suicide.

Suicide as such plays no small role in the author, both the thoughts of his own possible such and of others who take his life. The author Richard Brautigan, who ended his life in this way and who clearly has meant a lot to Young-moon, gets a lot of room. There is little romance around the suicide theme – you could say that Young-moon treats it with an extreme degree of realism, especially in describing his own suicide plans. These are cleansed of anything reminiscent of external drama and are miles away, for example, Kirilov's famous (and extremely captivating) suicide in Dostoevsky's They occupied.

The problem of realism. Is Young-moon's death drive an expression of an existential struggle, to escape his own oppressive sense of meaninglessness? Is it so hard for him to live that he would rather wipe himself out, or is it his own struggle against realism? It is believed that he means literary realism, and not everyday, all-inclusive. But maybe he has both in mind, maybe they are just as big a problem for him, maybe both of these forms of realism are constantly causing new difficulties for him – both existentially and artistically.

You know this battle in the novel A Contrived World. The title points to an artfully devised, yes, an artistically accomplished, but hardly credible, world – unrealistic, or rather antirealistic. It may not be a coincidence that Young-moon has added the action to California, a state and place that has produced large, elaborate and unreliable fictions for the masses across the globe for over 100 years.

At one point in the story, Young-moon is in Hollywood – not in the movie city, though downtown, in the half-slum, the ghetto, where he observes with a fascinated gaze the exhibitionists who straddle the street, all engrossed in their own little world, their own fiction. These hopefuls who came to the movie city, but never turned up. Young Moon's admiration for their transgressions is unknown; these people go too far, too far – they exaggerate their own meaning, love too openly their own mask, make-up, wild clothing style, their desire to give Hollywood glamor a big fuckin 'finger and just live themselves out while being seen. It is the victory of anti-realism for the lost, once young, promising world.

Make time to go. Young-moon has also been out in the desert east of Los Angeles with her ex-boyfriend from Korea and her new guy, a petty Mexican macho. At her country house, they spend time sleeping, eating, drinking, talking and taking walks in the desolate, desolate landscape. After a few days, it seems pointless: They just kill for the time being, fill up the emptiness by drinking liquor and become so drunk that they forget the vast, desolate and fiery landscape right outside the door, on all sides. And yet it is this prehistoric and human-voiced phrase – and not California's modern, fashionable and turbo-capitalist consumer society – that captivates the author. It is believed that he wants to get away from people, that he dreams of getting away from civilized and urban. At the same time, he knows that he is throughout civilized and urban himself. In San Fransisco, he spends a lot of time studying outcasts, homeless people, originals, madmen, madmen, blacks, impoverished people – those who stand outside all the wealth and well-being around them, who have fallen outside or choose their own exterior. They walk along the street, they mumble, talk loudly, smell bad, scare people, sleep on sidewalks under newspapers and plastic, in bushes in parks. It is these, and not the million town of San Francisco's many fashionable and legendary facets that suck his gaze.

The metamorphosis takes place through tearing and fighting and (so) tearing itself apart from both existential and literary hell – that is, the all-encompassing realism.

Young-moon is somehow blind to the city's surface, it makes little or no impression on him. He is constantly longing for the tangible realities of the city; the only thing that really strikes him is the mist that daily seeps in from the north and transforms the urban landscape into clouds. To him, this is a sign of madness, a healthy madness, a huge, irresistible phenomenon of nature that changes the harsh reality of something that is constantly operating.

Eelreite animals. After all, it sounds like a classic modernist mantra: transformation for the sake of transformation. And Young-moon also has its modernist heroes: Kafka and Beckett are mentioned often, and for good reason. French surrealist poet Paul Eluard is another hero and inspirer – in the collection A Most Ambiguous Sunday there is a larger three-part short story, "Animal Songs of Boredom and Fury". Under the title is an Eluard quote: "The sight of singing animals and their songs of boredom and fury have forbidden me to leave this bed. I will spend my life here. ”

In contrast to both the novels and the other short stories in the collection, the death drive is far less marked: the gloomy, morbid and often slightly stated undertone that is often found in his books is toned down sharply. The narrator (still reminiscent of Young-moon) speculates and thinks freely and freely about the things and people, animals and phenomena he encounters along the way in the three stories.

Animals – birds, cats, rabbits and dogs – play a big role. They are on par with people who show up along the way; they are almost given the same weight / ease as us two-legged. The narrator is constantly trying to get into an animal's way of thinking, but without drawing conclusions: He only takes for granted that animals, just like us, survive and carry their big and small existential dramas.

Hesitant rebel. "I felt as if I were growing distant from anything human and gradually becoming something closer to an ape, an animal," says the main character. He also lives in a cave, but does not make a big deal of it; from the story it seems as if he has come to the conclusion that a stone age life is what suits him best. Why is it not clear – Young-moon explains at all what drives his main characters. They almost grow up from the ground like plants, which become humans, who gradually feel like animals. This can be interpreted as a great existential leap away from the reality Young-moon writes about, an attempt to transcend his life, not through suicide, but via a total metamorphosis of his own being, a kind of voluntary regression where one sacrifices everything that characterizes a human being, not least language.

The transformation from human to animal can be interpreted as an attempt to transcend one's life, not through suicide, but by sacrificing everything that characterizes a human.

Young-moon goes up some very old trails here, all the way back to Ovid. The Roman poet wrote about Greek and Roman mythology, but was primarily concerned with the radical transformation, as a result of divine intervention. At Young-moon, on the other hand, the metamorphosis takes place through tearing and fighting and (supposedly) tearing itself apart from both existential and literary hell – the all-encompassing realism. Young-moon is a rebel who hates the idea of ​​rebel, but who still does, perhaps because he so badly likes the idea of ​​the all-knowing, dominant aesthetic that realism represents: dominated by logic and psychological causality that Young-moon in its refusing way enough would characterize as boring – because it is predictable.

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