Posted in Psychology & Medicine


There is a German word called weltschmerz, which translates into “world pain” or “weariness against the world”. This word describes sad emotions felt after realising that the material world cannot satisfy the mind and that the ideal, hypothetic utopia in your mind cannot exist. It also describes the sadness felt after realising that your weaknesses arose from physical and social conditions of the world. Weltschmerz was widely used by poets such as Lord Byron, mainly as a way of viewing the world. It is a very pessimistic view of the world that often leads to or associated with depression, resignation and escapism. In severe cases it may lead to mental disorders such as hikikomori (a social disorder where the person does not and cannot leave their room due to fear and disgust of the world, also known as agoraphobia).

Posted in History & Literature


독소(獨笑) (To Laugh Alone)

有粟無人食 (유속무인식) 
A household with great wealth lacks children, 

多男必患飢 (다남필환기) 
A household with many children is poor, 

達官必準愚 (달관필준우) 
Those who are at high positions are idiots, 

才者無所施 (재자무소시) 
Those with talent have no way to develop them.

家室少完福 (가실소완복) 
A house with complete luck is rare to find, 

至道常陵遲 (지도상릉지) 
Great morality is bound to fade away, 

翁嗇子每蕩 (옹색자매탕) 
If the father is thrift then the son is prodigal, 

婦慧郞必癡 (부혜랑필치) 
If the wife is wise then the husband is foolish.

月滿頻値雲 (월만빈치운) 
When the full moon is out the weather is cloudy, 

花開風誤之 (화개풍오지) 
When the flowers are at full bloom the weather is windy. 

物物盡如此 (물물진여차) 
Such is how everything works. 

獨笑無人知 (독소무인지) 
There is no one who knows the reason why I am laughing.

~ Dasan Jeung Yak Yong (a Korean academic from the late 18th century)

Posted in History & Literature

The Lamb And The Tyger

The creator made the Lamb, but he also made the Tyger.
In this world, there is no light without darkness. No good without evil. No life without death. The Lamb represents innocence, Christ and aesthetic beauty, while the Tyger represents evil, the Devil and primal ferocity.
An all-powerful deity that created the world; if he exists, then all rules of this universe were devised by his design. So why did he – the supposedly loving, benevolent maker – create these dualities? What god would make such a monstrosity, as beautiful as it is, that is the Tyger?
And how is it that we are both a Lamb and a Tyger at the same time?

(Both The Lamb and The Tyger by William Blake after the break)

The Lamb

Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Gave thee life, and bid thee feed
By the stream and o’er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, woolly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?

Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee,
Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee:
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb.
He is meek, and he is mild;
He became a little child.
I a child, and thou a lamb.
We are called by his name.
Little Lamb, God bless thee!
Little Lamb, God bless thee!

~ William Blake

The Tyger

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies,
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare sieze the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

When the stars threw down their spears
And water’d heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

~ William Blake

Posted in History & Literature

The Raven

Edgar Allan Poe is quite possibly the father of horror literature, well-known for his macabre works such as mystery novels, poetry and critiques. His stories are uncanny and gripping at the same time, and it can only be described as “mad genius”. Among his most famous works is a poem called The Raven.

It is a story about a young scholar whose lover has passed on, and his eerie, dream-like conversation with a raven on a winter night. The poem repeats the word nevermore extensively, creating a powerful effect as its meaning varies for every stanza. The narrator constantly cries out to the raven, expressing pain and torment, to which the raven replies – cold and succinctly – “Nevermore”, depriving him of hope.

Here, the raven is a metaphor of the man’s anguish and his eternal devotion and love. Furthermore, as a raven is often a symbol of logical thought and darkness, it sets the atmosphere of the poem very nicely. Lastly, as the reader is left pondering whether the bird actually converses with the narrator, or simply repeating the same word meaninglessly, it brings upon a chill down the reader’s spine, as the man is placed in a perverse conflict between desire to forget and desire to remember. The raven leads him through his descent from weakness and frailty to confusion, and from confusion to madness.

However, the reason The Raven is so famous is not just because of its sinister mood, the metaphor of the young man’s sorrow and anguish or the powerful repetition of the word nevermore, but also because of the actual structure. Poe wrote the poem in the meter of trochaic octameter, where stressed syllables and unstressed syllables alternate to produce beautiful fluidity. The meter together with the rhyming scheme (including internal rhymes and alliterations) allows the poem to be read in a dreamy way, reinforcing the question of whether the raven comes to the man in reality or in his dream.

(Original poem after the break)

Continue reading “The Raven”