Forward toward affluent cultural life
Forward toward affluent cultural life
  • SangJoon Park
  • 승인 2013.06.05 19:07
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When requested to write an essay about SF, I was glad indeed. Making SF a little more familiar to people is, in my viewpoint, a kind of effort to make our culture more affluent, and insofar as we believe that the more complex and diverse the better in the field of culture, I can’t find any reason to hesitate in accepting that request.
The essence of culture lies in variety. Cultural diversity is the cause and effect of the development of culture. Of course, we shouldn’t leave out our attitude toward the differences among various cultural products; the differences themselves should be admitted and, making things better, regarded as something important. For only in that case can complete cultural development be expected.
Though this preamble is getting too long, I’d like to add one more thing: the manner in which culture exists. It is of no use and makes no sense to call cultural resources recorded in devices of one kind or another, a culture. Being performed, cultural resources or contents become a part of culture. In other words, culture doesn’t exist in material devices or an abstract instance of our mind. When a cultural activity is done by us, only then, can the significant existence of culture be realized. This is the reason for us to read SF as well as other works.
As we know, SF is an acronym for Science Fiction. Scientific imagination, which can be achieved only through the fusion of scientific knowledge and fictional creativity, is a necessity for SF. Since it certainly is not easy to make the convergence, something fantastic has sometimes been added to the narrative. Pointing out these cases, some people combine SF and fantasy and use the name of Fantastic Scientific Fiction, which is literally banned in SF fandom.
This shows a gap or conflict between common people and SF maniacs that has caused a vicious circle. The negative effects of this vicious circle are literary researchers’ disregard and SF fandom’s exclusionism. These extreme (but not rare) attitudes should be overcome for the sake of the development of culture. I wish Postechians could lead this movement.
The fact that knowing begets enjoying is true in the field of SF too. Let’s display interesting SF motifs such as time travel, space trips, exploring other worlds, encounters with aliens, space wars, robots or androids, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, etc. These make it possible to be absorbed in reading SF on one hand and to think a matter deeply free from complex limitations deriving from the real world on the other hand.
The former enables us to pass time joyfully and as all of us know this is one of the main functions of literature. The latter introduces us to the consideration of and reflection on such issues as the utopia/distopia characteristics of the future world, which will be made by highly developed science and technology, and some people who prefer to emphasize this feature maintain that SF is an acronym of Speculative Fiction. Besides, we can find deep, significant and sophisticated insights and considerations about the identity of human beings, consciousness, artificial intelligence, the realities of the world, etc.
We can meet SF narratives dealing with such topics not only in SF novels or short stories but also movies produced mainly by Hollywood. Any one is fine, and I would like to add or stress one more case: SF written by Korean writers. There are more Korean writers than most would guess. Some of them such as Bok, GuhIl (복거일), Djuna (듀나), Lee, YoungDo (이영도), and Bae, MyungHun (배명훈) are famous even in the present literary world, not to mention SF fandom. Besides them, many young budding writers are working actively and some of their SF short stories can be found in many internet sites, one of which is the webzine Crossroads run by some theoretical physicists.
Unfortunately, we can’t deny that our current culture is divided into two categories: refined high culture and a somewhat vulgar popular one. This phenomenon is widespread in every art genre or culture field. This duality is a barrier to the development of culture. The admission of differences among cultural works, which is the driving force of culture development, can be realized only if that barrier is removed and we can enjoy refined and popular works altogether. Reading SF can be the first step. The best one for Postechians, the future leaders in science and technology, I believe.