L.A. is a very stimulating city.  One way that L.A. is stimulating is that it has a lot of art galleries and exhibitions. Last weekend I went back to the Mike Kelley exhibit at MOCA and I noticed some things that I didn’t see the first time.  One of the pictures was about spelunking and a friend, Richard, pointed out that it was about Plato’s allegory of the cave.

Exploring from Plato's Cave, Rothko's Chapel, Lincoln's Profile

Exploring from Plato’s Cave, Rothko’s Chapel, Lincoln’s Profile

So Plato’s cave was in the back of my mind recently.

Another way L.A. is stimulating is the mix of cultures, languages, and food.  I was at the Hong Kong Market mall in West Covina and I saw a Korean restaurant with the Chinese characters  明洞, so that sparked my curiosity.  It turns out that it’s a town in Korea, Myeong-dong, written in Chinese characters. When I looked it up in the Chinese dictionary it appeared to be the character for  “Bright”  and the character for “Cave”

 http://www.mdbg.net/chindict/chindict.php?page=worddict&wdrst=0&wdqb=ming
 http://www.mdbg.net/chindict/chindict.php?wdqb=c%3A%2A%E6%B4%9E%2A&wdrst=0

In the last link, you can see that the character for cave is used in words like “see clearly” and “insight”.  This seemed somewhat related to Plato’s allegory of the cave.  However,  in Plato’s allegory of the cave  the insight (seeing how things are rather than just shadows) came from leaving the darkness of the cave, but in Chinese, it seems like insight comes from the meaning of piercing, like a how a cave pierces the mountain (the same character is used in the word for pierced ear, tunnel, etc.).

A lot of times it doesn’t make sense to take Chinese characters too literally (this applies to words and expressions in other languages in general), so I’m probably reading into it to much. But it can make the characters more interesting and aid in remembering them.

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