The cultural scene here in Seoul is always rich, but between December and January it is especially varied. The city has dance and theatre festivals, renowned opera productions, cultural workshops, art exhibitions, and readings by writers, and all this is not necessarily in Korean, since most of the artists involved come from all over the world.
What really caught my attention during these months, though, was not necessarily the high quality of these productions and exhibits, but the character of their realities – call it craziness, in the good meaning of the word.
It’s not news that today’s general public has become more demanding, expecting some kind of philosophical depth in their entertainments, even from cheap farces staged in pubs. This same audience wants something to discuss and not just to leave the theatre saying no more than, “Yeah, it was cool.”
It has become clear that the cultural tendency nowadays is to shock. It’s not new to want to make the public talk about of what they’ve just seen for days to come, be it bad or good, as Shakespeare’s plays testify.
Anyway, since talking about sex is no longer taboo, the hot topic today really seems to be madness itself: our beings’ subconscious, our desperate desire to be free of our bodies, minds, and souls, to do what we want without truly caring about what other people say or think.
Madness in general does have its ramifications, though, both culturally and spiritually. For instance, take a century-old play which happens to have an acclaimed new production by a visionary director. Whichever turns and twists he gives it will probably be considered crazy, since it wasn’t in the original stage directions the original author provided.
Maybe mentioning the word madness in this context is politically incorrect, but unlike what Oxford dictionaries or Freudians might tell us about this word – this concept – for me madness is not a disease but a way of experiencing freedom. Even lay people agree that all those who swim against the current are crazy in some way, daring to dare and daring to feel.
Therefore, I propose a toast to the new crazed cultural wave with the hope of having many shocking topics to talk about in the years to come.
Luciana B. Veit