Exercises in Futilitas

Namsanjeong Elevatoree.

For an entire schoolweek a curious spectacle might be observed in the fifth floor English classroom in Gwaebop-dong: students hunched over their gray desks scrubbing away at blue-soap-like-antifreeze with tissue paper. From roughly the hours of nine to twelve this curious spectacle might be observed, five days a week, for one week, and naturally the question is this: whatever for? Why make them clean clean desks? The frigid eminence in charge of these operations told me they needed practice cleaning up after themselves, though the classrooms are usually spotless and you can be sure that the students will not be seen cleaning their desks in that fashion again. Nonetheless the gelid gelatin is poured and the tissue paper is torn from a giant roll and the students are told to scrub thoroughly. This is akin to the depiction of the training of the assassins in an excellent documentary called How Omar Khayyam Hoodwinked The Hashish Eaters, where, in the belly of a sacred mountain, initiates to the cause are shown using pots with giant holes in their bottoms to transfer water from one giant jar to another. Naturally they do this all day: the exercise is a futile one, not meant to transfer water in the slightest, but actually intended to break their will and enslave them to a certain nefarious cause, that of following senseless orders without question.

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