Friday, February 21, 2014

K- pop And Meaning

K-pop is the abbreviation for Korean popular music. A priest studying overseas writes in his diocesan bulletin about the popularity of this mixed music genre: electronic, hip hop, pop, rock, and rhythm and blues, with its high spirits, catchy rhythm and well-done  choreography. Not only is K-pop popular in Japan, China and throughout South Asia but it has spread to Europe and the United States. 

He recalls a time last year when one of these K-pop songs caused a great sensation, becoming extremely popular. It had a lively rhythm, was easy to sing, and the choreography was comical. The vocalist, with   show-stopping attire, caught people's attention. Walking the streets of the city, you would hear the song coming from  many different places. The lyrics were easy to remember, and without  paying much attention to the song, he found himself muttering the words to himself. Later, he checked to see if the words were saying anything; there was, he said, no meaning he could make out, though the rhythm was lively and full of fun.

There is no intention, he says, to criticize the vocalists who sing such songs, but when songs have no discernible meaning but are entertaining only because of their lively rhythm and appealing choreography, it may tell us, he says, something about the culture we are making. Are we losing the desire to search for meaning? he asks. Isn't this the tendency we are seeing in our society today?

The songs we remember from the past, our best-loved songs, are the ones with meaning. Anything with meaning, not only songs, continues to remain in our memories. Nowadays, it seems that whatever is lively or interesting or entertaining is enough to grab our attention.

When teaching  students in his Sunday school program, he often hears the phrase "This is not fun; I don't like doing it." If we attempt to find meaning in what we do, without making it also entertaining, the chances are, he says,  that our students will not want to do it.

The mass media gives us many cultural ways of enjoying ourselves. The variety of entertaining possibilities are countless but if that is all we are looking for, we are missing a great deal. Before asking: Is that amusing and fun, we should ask what meaning could it have for me?  More important than looking for amusement and fun would be to look for what is long-lasting and profitable.

An objective, abiding meaning that can be discerned in life events is frequently thought not to exist; for many of us everything has merely short-term meaning. Trying to discover a more lasting meaning is considered illusion. The attempt is often made to fill the emptiness that comes with these thoughts with fun, entertainment and pleasure, only to finally realize their changing and impermanent nature, returning us once again to the emptiness.

The on-going search for meaning in our lives is essential. Those with some type of belief that enables one to continue searching will not be disappointed. A good book that has influenced many in their search for meaning is Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning. 

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