The Korean word for “communication” is 소통 [so-tong].
So the first character is redundant to the meaning of the whole word itself, but the second is more interesting. It’s a character that can mean lots of different things, depending on its context, including:”to communicate,” “to allow,” “to pass,” “to pass through.”
To pass through. You have to imagine some force that comes at you, but doesn’t stop at your face. It roars and enters your chest, goes clean through you and leaves a hole of itself behind; viscerally, and potentially painfully, changes you. Like a good book, a soul-drenching song, a good conversation that accomplishes true communion, touching each other’s fingertips through the complicated and goopy membranes of our selves – all of these things are forms of communication, and all of these things have the potential to blow a hole through you, changing you in an indelible, yet sometimes very delicate, way.
In this construct, the world takes on a sheen of exhilaration in all its mundanity. Every book you pick up could punch you in the gut. Every trip to the theater could leave you in tears, every conversation could slice right through and leave a hole you didn’t have before you got all involved. Literally any experience changes you to be a little less intact, a little more interesting. Having lived – truly lived – would mean to have all the scars and tattery bullet hole reminders of the experiences that went through you and changed you for the ever.
This makes me wonder if this Jewish-American writer knows Korean:
“When at last I came upon the right book, the feeling was violent: it blew open a hole in me that made life more dangerous because I couldn’t control what came through it.”
― Nicole Krauss, Great House
Sounds terrifying, but that’s actually what we’re all looking for, all our lives. To meet people, to hold conversations, to connect in ways that explode a little bit of our integrity as whole human beings, so that the same things may flow through the community of a new “us,” brought together by our collection of common blood and bone. A gory aftermath of a skeleton structure that builds – that melds – us together in new joints of true communion. Through our similar-shaped holes, the same winds, the same salty currents, the same jolts of electricity, with all our tears and our laughters, will rush through us in the same ways, connecting us in this crazy web of constantly moving bits flowing through from the world outside. Understand me! we cry out. Connect with me, know me, come close to me, pass through me.
The more I think about this, the more it makes sense. That life’s true fruit lies hidden in its struggles; the growth is in the grit; it is the rain that will strengthen your soul… all of that.