The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2019

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JUNE 2019 Issue

Dalloway’s Window

The window is an opportunity to glimpse truth. Without it, how could you save the truth trapped inside the rectangular wall?

—Dalloway (Photographer)

It was through the man who moved into the second floor that I learned about Dalloway. My darkroom and studio had been there, until I’d grown bothered by the fact that I was using space large enough to fit a household for a hobby. To improve my finances, I decided to rent it out. I moved everything to the basement, repapered the floor and walls, and submitted an ad to the classifieds. ‘ONE LARGE ROOM’: it was there that a man with very few belongings moved in.

My apartment stood alone on a hill above the new city. I rarely went out, maybe because of this distance. When the man moved in, towards the end of an enormous monsoon, he said the mountaintop would make for great views at night. He had found my neighborhood while lost on a trip to Seoul. The overlook had so mesmerized him that, instead of finding his way, he sat staring until daybreak. From then on, he told me, he’d come to the area often, especially on days when his heart felt heavy. This was how he saw my ad.

On the day the man signed the interim lease, I took another look at the night view. I couldn’t see what had stirred such marvel in him. Though neon signs flashed sharply through the dark like knife blades, they appeared not free but monotonous. The streetlamps glowed blankly, like bulbs hanging from cuttlefish boats at sea. Many people were walking around, admiring the luminescence. With their faces washed white by the bleached darkness, they seemed more like ghosts than people. Floating in clothes crudely cut like the flyers off the neighborhood bulletin board, they seemed nothing more than reflected matter.

I helped the man move his belongings from his four-wheel drive. Aside from a small fridge-freezer, nothing required exertion. As I put down the travel bag probably filled with his clothes, I said that a moving load without television was a first. The man replied with an exaggerated laugh and pulled something out of a slender cylindrical case. What unfurled like a map was a large white screen.

“This is a type of screen. See the thing that looks like a projector? That’s an LCD. Playing cable of course, as well as DVD. It’s the latest model—just off the market.”

The man tried to continue with a detailed explanation, but I waved my hand. I grew up in the abacus generation, I said: I was good at quick guesses. He laughed and brought his palm to his forehead, as though to say, Forgive my ignorance.

Even with his belongings unpacked, the man’s new room looked empty. He began to open and close my old desk drawers energetically, as if checking for something unpleasant. I realized that I'd forgotten to clear them during the move. He handed me a jumble of my materials: pieces of old negatives, a sponge and clips I used to rinse and dry films, and a bottle of Fuji emulsion I used to heighten sensitivity for development. “So photography’s a hobby of yours?” he asked. Not knowing how to respond, I received my things with a detached expression. The man continued.

“I do something similar. I edit stills for advertisements with that scanner and laptop over there. On Graphic I correct colors, exposure and contrast… You must know all this, as a photographer. I guess sometimes, I’m embarrassed to talk about my work. Using the computer means I’m adding truths that don’t exist in the original image. Turning my back on truth and making up lies… that’s my work.”

That night, I worked late in my new darkroom in the basement. I made a contact print using my handmade printer, making three to four proofs. I hadn’t made a proof more than once since over ten years ago when I was an apprentice. I found the right exposure time, then slowly climbed the stairs. I felt clammy and wanted fresh air. But aside from my slow breathing, there was not even a little breeze. In the alley by my apartment, I sweat through my underwear. I waved my hand to make an artificial breeze. It was no use.

I was pacing aimlessly when the high beams of a car rapidly ascended from the bottom of the road. The bright lights burned as if from the red core of a split earth. The moment the lights hit me at the top of the hill, I fell back to the ground, without room to retreat. The car came to a stop, and someone came out.

“Oh dear, I’m so sorry. I didn’t see you because this hill is so steep.”

It was a young woman. With the powerful light thrown by the high beams, I couldn’t make out her face; all I could see were floating lights of unrecognizable shapes. As she dusted off my pants, she grazed my backside with her palms. I restrained her hands, saying I was alright, but she persisted.

“Please stay still. You can’t reach with your own hands.”

Wriggling, I pulled away from her touch, and she seemed almost sorry. Right then rang the voice of the man on the second floor, greeting his lover.

The woman and I looked up at the same time. Through the darkness I could see him wave.

I heard the engine turn off and, from the direction of the second floor, the steel door opening and closing. Reeling from the high beams, I could not differentiate light from dark. Matter sparkled then disintegrated, as if on photo paper mixed with too much acid. Yet I could hear sound perfectly. The clicks of the woman’s heels up the stairs echoed with cave-like resonance. By the time I regained my vision, she was at his door, embracing him. After kissing for a while, they disappeared into the rectangular space behind the wall.

I rubbed my eyes and gazed for a while at that wall. I felt strangely unsettled by my failure to fully trace their disappearance. I felt cut off by the amber brick into which they had disappeared, and lonely to be left on my own in the alley. I couldn’t understand why, but I felt saddened by not having truly seen the woman who had helped me up. I was the owner of this house, yet I’d not even been able to ask her who she’d come to visit. I don’t know why I felt this way. I just saw fading in and out of my vision my outdated enlarger, which could no longer could find focus, and the bottles of developing solution I’d neglected as though they were poison.

I looked for awhile at the wall of the rectangular space where the man and his lover would be. My sight sharpened at the window. The curtain I had installed for the darkroom, thick as a vampire’s cloak, was no longer there; it had probably been taken down by the workers during the move. Perhaps because of the curtain’s absence, the window looked more like a window. Before, I’d been unable to distinguish window from wall. Now when it reflected bright light, the window seemed like an open mouth, breathing out light from the amber wall. I thought then about how a window is like the viewfinder of a camera. Without a window, how could one see the truth trapped inside the rectangular wall?

Later that night, I saw the shadows of the man and his lover. One shadow touched the hair of the other, and soon after, the other shadow took off their clothes. The shadows precisely revealed the silhouettes of each figure, and I knew that the shadow undressing was the woman who had touched me.

In the following days I was unable to work. Though I tried a few prints, none of them surpassed the quality of an ID photo. I had nothing new aside from the pictures I'd taken with a filter, and some fast film pictures with a grainy texture. I tried using high-temperature developing solution to lessen the noise, using different types of paper to adjust exposure time, and synthesizing the negatives to make a montage. But it was all no use. Not only was I stuck using outdated processing techniques, but I was also unable to find any meaning in my subjects.

I need inspiration. God, I need something new, I muttered to myself, my words feeling like nothing more than muddled sounds.

Inevitably, I spent more time hanging about my alley, which led to more looking up to the second floor window. After that night, I’d developed a bad habit of looking for hours on end. I did this especially on nights the man’s lover stayed over. Sometimes I feared for what I’d do if the man burst opened the window, only to find me staring with bated breath. But the more intense my fear became, the more I felt unable to leave the darkness from which I could see that window.

On a weekend night three days after he moved in, the man came down to the basement darkroom. He wanted me to attend his housewarming party. Since his friends worked in fields related to photography, he said, we would all have lots to talk about. Then the man looked excitedly around my studio, floating here and there like a deflating balloon. His fingers trembled as he gushed exclamations of praise, and he panted with excitement.

“What in the world… it’s a total museum in here.”

The man went on like this, touching all the equipment in sight with exaggerated gestures of delight.

“This enlarger is probably over half a century old. Oh wow, look at this gel. This is how I want photos to look. To manipulate everything on the computer, just to make the sensual images everyone wants nowadays… and I call myself a photographer…”

And with that, as though he'd lost his thought, the man grasped my hand goodbye before bolting back upstairs.

Six of the man’s friends came to his housewarming party. Three were women, but his lover was not among them. The guests passed around the usual greetings and clever stories of a drinking party. When the empty bottles of alcohol had filled a trash bag, one of the guests pulled something out of his bag with a pleased smile.

“I finally got it. Dalloway’s “Unknown Window.” Byungshik said he’d even fly to the States for it, and the damn thing turns up on this amateur photography club’s website.”

The friend made a boastful show, grinning arrogantly. His listeners responded like deer being fed by the zookeeper, bulging their eyes with excitement and fluttering their lashes. They returned the photograph with the piety of disciples who have just been offered an exclusive teaching.

“Wow… it really is Dalloway. Just seeing it, it’s impossible to know. I should use a scanner to zoom-in…” said the host of the party.

As he spoke these words, he wore the withered look of grass plummeted by hard rain. Though the expression disappeared in a moment, it was quite unusual. His friends expressed excitement, but the man’s entire face was lit up as if he was anticipating his own turn. His light words would not hide his face, moist as freshly rinsed arrowroot. The friend who had passed around the photograph must have missed this, for he gave a firm smile and said: “Hey. I’ve already done it. If it was so easy to find, you think it would sell for one hundred thousand dollars?”

“True. We haven’t found it for over a year now,” started the woman beside him. She’d been wetting her smile with sips of alcohol. “How could we ever find it? You know I gave up photography because of Dalloway. I don’t even want to hear about him anymore.”

“Dalloway captured a perfection that can’t be transcended. It’ll be impossible to take a picture better than his. There’s probably a lot of photographers who quit because of Dalloway, no?”

In a moment, the alcohol and conversation that had passed so easily subsided. Now, there was only the occasional motion of chopsticks slowly grasping the appetizers. The guests gave cloudy stares to their glasses, as if they were no longer at a housewarming and instead, a house of mourning.

The day after the housewarming, I went to the man on the second floor. He was looking at the Dalloway photo from the previous night on his monitor, saying “What in the world is he saying is in that picture….” He practically flung the mouse down.

He swept back a stray strand of hair before he faced me. “Who is Dalloway?” I asked. Immediately, the man wrapped his arms around himself, as if he were crumbling. He shot me an expression of disbelief.

“Dalloway is... A photographer who recently died, and in dying became famous… you mean you really don’t know Dalloway?”

Started that way, the man’s words unsettled me.

Looking at Dalloway’s work for the first time, it’s hard to tell why he’s so famous. Photographs like the ones of a fruit plate and bottle on a table could be compared to still lifes, and those of people's faces, to portraits, but none can be called fine art photography. The composition of Dalloway's still-lifes are all ordinary, and his portraits are devoid of interesting facial expressions and figures. Indeed, they are even lower quality than ID photos pasted on the corners of resumes. During his lifetime, Dalloway had been a nameless photographer who failed to put out a single exhibit.

It was an amateur photographer who helped Dalloway’s photos become famous. Just before Dalloway died, the man examined one of his photographs with a magnifying glass to help with his poor vision. Close up, he saw the reflection of an another image. That was the first discovery of Dalloway’s photos.

Looking at a still-life like World above Table is like sitting at the dinner table of an idyllic farmhouse. With the fresh bite marks on the bread, the well-cooked gold of the potatoes and the steam still rising from the soup, one can imagine Dalloway excusing himself mid-meal to capture the scene. After a few clicks of the camera, he would have sat back down and dipped the bread in soup.

But looking more closely at the spoon on the table, one finds a hazy image of a soldier, firing a gun at a farmer. Dalloway took the photograph during the Yugoslavian civil war, and instead of capturing the civilian massacre directly, he had photographed its reflection inside an object. So the missing subject of the farmhouse fails to return to the viewer not once, but twice: first from the dinner, and second from the encounter with the soldier. In this way, the peacefulness of a farmer’s meal becomes the horror of a fatal dinner.

Most of Dalloway's photos are like this. Turning glasses lenses, glass bottles and steel spoons into eye-like reflections, they portray the subject indirectly, from the inside out. Though they appear ordinary, they are actually works of immense technical skill and consciousness of theme. When you look at a photo by Dalloway, you always have to first see the work in its entirety, and then find the concealed object’s reflection. In this way, Dalloway speaks only to those who try to find meaning.

Among Dalloway’s photographs, Unknown Window is the only one yet to be decoded. (Dalloway himself did not choose this title; it was discovered at the foot of his bed on the day he died.) As with his other works, there seems to be something in the window but it's so foggy that it's impossible to be certain. No one has determined whether the image is inside the window, or reflected in it. I learned that the film company Agpha, and the national photography association of the country in which Dalloway was active, were offering prize money to anyone who successfully deciphered the photo.

Deciphering would be easy, the man told me, if Dalloway had published a photobook. He'd hated mass reproduction, and burnt all but one of each negative he developed. That was why there wasn’t a posthumous collection, and we could only see his photos included in others’ exhibits.

After telling me this, the man handed me a copy of Unknown Window. “It's just a printer copy, but they say it's a Dalloway, so take good care,” he said. Whistling, he turned away to scan Unknown Window onto his computer, but the machine that had so reliably helped him invent truths refused to decipher the photograph. The more he zoomed in, the thicker the grain became, so that the photo seemed to have been replaced by a bulky gray monster. The man chuckled and joked that deciphering it would take hundreds of dollars’ worth of equipment.

“And oh—there’s something else Dalloway said. Since he spoke so little, it was probably one of the few quotes of his life: ‘The window is an opportunity to glimpse truth. Without it, how could you say you can save the truth trapped inside the rectangular wall.’ What do you think—isn’t that interesting?”

The man shook out his arms, then brought his attention back to the monitor.

I brought the man’s photocopy home not so much for the prize money as for its stimulation. Since his arrival, I hadn’t been able to develop a single photo properly. Staring at the developing photo paper as if it was becoming polluted, I could only question the purpose of my work. It was the same with the subject and the composition of the photos: they simply would not yield meaning. Dalloway had said the viewfinder would find truth in the window of the rectangular wall, but my photographs seemed full to be full of lies. I felt demotivated and unable to express situations I thought I’d framed the moment I decided to take each shot. The image of truth, reality—this seemed to exist only outside of my viewfinder.

I wanted to decipher Dalloway’s photos for creative inspiration. That’s how my research about him began. Strangely, everyone I called spoke of Dalloway in exactly the same way as the man on the second floor. Whether it was my colleagues at my former photo school, or the people I used to take photography trips with, everyone started: “Dalloway? Ah… an incredible person. The photographer who died recently…”. Then, they’d describe the characteristics of a Dalloway photo, and say that, because of him, there was no longer any point to taking pictures. When it was time to hang up, they would suddenly quote Dalloway’s last words, as if they had just remembered them.

Dalloway’s works turned out to be difficult to obtain. I was told I would have to go to his birthplace to see a single photograph; many fans were saving to do just that. But everyone named different locations for the exhibited photos. No one seemed sure if they were in Dalloway’s birthplace, an art center in New York, or the Tate Gallery in London. When I described this problem to the man on the second floor, he said that it was quite understandable.

“It’s all pretense, you know, all pretense. Ever since he became famous, people started playing this game, thinking that saying one more thing about Dalloway will make them sound smart. It’s ridiculous. I’ve heard it around me, too: Dalloway was this, Dalloway did that… Seeing Dalloway’s photos in some special location is probably all a lie. From what I know, Dalloway didn't have shows in any famous venues, only ordinary ones—so ordinary that you and I would be able to see them, anywhere around us. Yet people have struggled to find his photos, as if they are hidden.”

The man went on. “Apparently, the reason Dalloway exhibited his work this way is that he hated the masses’ participation in pretense. If some ad or campaign led to the exhibition, Dalloway could be recognized and admired by anyone. But I don’t think Dalloway wanted his work to become known like that. Just as he photographed only for people who search for meaning, his last message was that each person ought to discern truth from falsehood on their own. You can believe it or not, but all of this is true...”

Though the man went on, I was too engrossed by my imagination of Dalloway’s photos to pay attention.

“There’s a photo by Dalloway of a smiling young man,” he said. “He’s got this great big smile. But when you zoom in to the man’s eye and look carefully, you find an image of a woman giving birth.” It’s probably the man’s wife. Looking back at the man’s smile after seeing that reflection, it’s hard not to get goosebumps. His smile is no longer just an ordinary smile, but an expression of so much emotion you suddenly start to feel it yourself. And there’s another photo, titled Night View. That one is taken from a low hill, capturing the skyline of a city. If you look closely at the neon signs or street lamps, you can see something…”

As the man continued, I nodded like a well-trained dog, repeating “I see. I see…”

Afterwards, all I could see were Dalloway’s photos. They’d appear shakily in my vision when I was lying in bed, staring at my windowless wall, or in my dreams. Were they black and white, or color? Was his lens wide-angle or telephoto? How was he able to take such pictures, without the help of a computer's edits or further production, like montage? How brilliant Dalloway was, and how extraordinary his ideas.

The more I imagined Dalloway’s photos, the more preposterous it seemed for me to be a photographer. Although I had considered it only a hobby, I, too, stopped wanting to take photographs—I could no longer see the point. It seemed impossible to take a photo that was new, creative—not anymore.

I felt a more severe loneliness than before, especially when I was working in the windowless basement. When I told my colleagues at work about Dalloway, they’d make lukewarm remarks about how I couldn’t even make money off of the stories I was torturing myself with.

“Is there also a photo of a man smiling, a stock board with all the profits lit green in his eye?” my colleague would joke, his mouth wet with beer and soapy saliva.

I’m not sure why, but in my colleague’s rolling eyes, I suddenly saw the image of the man’s lover bloom. As with her shadow in the second floor window, I could only intuit that it was her. It occurred to me then that I didn't want the woman to know anything about Dalloway, so I might describe to her the Dalloway of my mind, and be comforted by her.

I still hadn’t met her properly. Though she visited the man often, we hadn’t crossed paths since that first evening. I’d see her car go down, its high beams glaring, as I slowly went up the hill on my way home from work. As I scurried down the hill on the way back, it would ascend, rattling, like a struggling tiller. Sometimes, when I came out of the basement, I saw her car but not her. The only way I could confirm her existence was through the second floor window.

My obsession with Dalloway continued through the summer. I watched programs and films that had been shot using Dalloway’s techniques, and when my colleagues came for drinks again with some of the women in the company, I tried to start conversations with references to his work. Eventually I went to the man on the second floor, and told him of my obsession.

“Damn… it’s a shame. I used it first…” He laughed brightly, but his expression showed sorrow. He had stopped trying to decode Unknown Window, and committed his energy to dressing up originals. For days, he chuckled about a morphing effect on Graphic he’d used to synthesize some stills.

I continued to take my camera out and used up my films on the weekends, but I felt more and more powerless. Loneliness flooded in from my windowless wall, and like other Dalloway addicts, I stared bewildered at my camera from a distance.

The man said he was sad to see me like this. And so, to console me, he laid out so many incomprehensible words.

“The world is already addicted to falsehood, to lies. Those lies are like a well-connected wheel, so when a single part wears down, the whole thing could fall apart. Anybody can recognize falsehood, but it’s become a virtue to conceal it. Now, whether falsehood is truth, or truth is falsehood, none of us can know anymore. Forget about Dalloway. Besides, didn’t the true Dalloway die as soon as he was commercialized? If you really care about Dalloway, it’s better that you forget him.”

I stared at the man with an expression of disbelief. He pointed at his laptop screen. It showed a winged monkey, laughing, as it scarfed down an apple.

“Look at this scene. Reality… that’s what it looks like, in the world we’re actually living in.”

A few days ago, I found the Hwangak neighborhood. I’d decided to forget about Dalloway as the man had told me to—or rather, I was caught up in my obsession with forgetting. Seeing people in T-shirts with Dalloway's name, seeing ads use Dalloway's photos, and even just hearing Dalloway's name somehow triggered sickness in my stomach, fury in my chest. It was then that I realized how easily adoration can change to loathing, longing to hatred.

Dalloway’s indecipherable photo eventually joined the loose paper in my recycling, and I discarded the used equipment in the basement. I’d stopped yearning for the face of the lover who had touched me, and my inexplicable loneliness disappeared like the memory of a first wet dream.

A sudden downpour days before had forced me to organize the basement. None of the stores in Hwang-ak would take my equipment, not even those that claimed to deal exclusively in used items. Just take it; I’ll give up the money, I pleaded, but it was no use. The owners would point inside the store where, in sunless darkness, were many more of the same items I had brought.

On the drive back home, I decided to donate my equipment to my old photography school and changed direction onto Togye road. Since most of the faculty and staff had changed, there was hardly anyone I knew. When I told them I wanted to donate my equipment, they brought out a chair and served me coffee. They said that the head teacher was about to finish his class, that I should stay to meet with him before I left. I asked the female employee who’d served me coffee around when that would be. Fixated on looking like someone busy enough to ask such questions, I didn’t hear her reply. Though I’d been planning on the excuse of being late to another appointment, she made a fuss of preventing me from leaving. In reality I had no other appointments, and had no desire to go anywhere in particular. But I felt shy about just sitting and drinking coffee, just to wait to say hello to the teacher. It gave me the uncomfortable thought of a politician visiting an orphanage with a bundle of school supplies and clothes.

As I brushed off my seat to head out, I was distracted by a photograph on the wall. There were several hung with equal space in between. They were probably the final works of students who had graduated, and one of them was labeled with Dalloway’s name. It was the one the man had told me about before: Night View.

Though I couldn’t confirm with a magnifying glass or reading glasses, inside the neon sign and streetlamp was a hazy image, exactly as he had explained. Even more surprising was the name below the photograph. On the label of the sixteenth graduating class, printed in Ming style type, was the name of the man who lived on the second floor, the name I had first learned when he signed our lease, the name I had used to address him for what was now almost a year.

“Hello, it’s very good to meet you. Miss Kim just told me about you. So you’d like to donate darkroom equipment to us?”

The director offered me a second coffee, but I declined. I asked him if he knew much about Dalloway. The director gave an abashed, hearty laugh, and as soon as Miss Kim brought him his coffee, he began.

“It’s been a few weeks now that I’ve been teaching a special course on Dalloway… even just now, I’m coming out of a discussion on Dalloway. Well, well… I’m truly embarrassed about this, but I also learned about Dalloway for the first time a year or two ago from a student. I’d studied abroad as far as the American Film Institute, and hadn’t heard of him before. I couldn’t admit to my ignorance, so when the student asked me what I thought about Dalloway, I asked him what he thought, to try to jog my memory. He explained to me then, and that was my first time. Afterwards I did research on Dalloway, only it wasn’t just me but also the other teachers and students who fell to the Dalloway syndrome. It’s enough to call it a syndrome, I think.

And on top of all this, with his recent death, research about him must be in full swing now, don't you think?”

The director took a moment to drink his coffee. When I asked him if he’d obtained any photos by Dalloway, he shook his head.

“You think it would be easy? I asked a colleague of mine in the States, but he had no idea either. Next month, our academy is going on a Dalloway photo trip. We’re preparing for that now, there’s too many things to work through. Nobody knows what country Dalloway is even from, he’s so shrouded in mystery: they say somewhere in Europe, Australia, the U.S.… the theories are countless. I asked people who claim to have seen Dalloway's photos in person where they are, but they never told me. It’s dirty, like they want to monopolize the knowledge… Well! The Dalloway syndrome is incredible, it really is. After I started the Dalloway lectures, there have been more students coming in to take seminars about him than for practicums. You saw the advertisement, right? Filmed using Dalloway’s technique…”

The director wasn’t able to remember the name of the student who’d first asked him about Dalloway. I asked if he might be able to give me a copy of the 16th class portfolio, and he readily pulled one out from the cabinet. I asked if any of the graduates from the past couple of years had imitated Dalloway. The director shook his head firmly.

“Since all the students are well aware of artists in the field, what would be the use of imitating the Dalloway techniques they know? Unless it’s for ads, or movies…”

That day, I sat in the darkness from which I could see the second floor window and stared at the man. I opened up the portfolio I'd brought from the photo school. I flipped rapidly, as though a bill was hidden inside, and paused at one particular photo. The man’s name was there again, with his school portrait fixed below. Above this was a photo taken by the man: the one known as Dalloway’s. It was a photo of a man laughing. Looking carefully inside his eye, I saw something being clearly reflected.

“Sometimes I’m embarrassed to talk about my work. Turning my back on truth and making up lies: that’s my job.”

Suddenly, the man’s words on his move-in day came to mind, and I realized why he had made such a withered expression as he looked at the Dalloway photo at his housewarming. The second floor window where I saw the man's shadow was like the computer he used. An object that made a nonexistent reality resemble truth.

Through the window I could see his shadow coming and going. But because the man was hidden by the amber wall, I couldn't trace him outside of these moments. Indeed, there seemed to be nothing that could confirm that the shadow in the window was in fact him, and not his lover, hiding and laughing, or crying. Perhaps the woman wasn't even there. Perhaps the shadow was not the man I knew, but a thief, or the man's friend. Perhaps the shadow was not even reflected from the inside but rather, from outside. So it might be that from the start, there had been nothing in that window: I don't know.

Though he’d said that I could glimpse truth through the window in the rectangular wall, maybe it was not truth, but shadows. Shadows made by light.

So long as truth does move towards the window on its own, we can only contemplate through the shadows that we see. But in reality, truth lurks behind the rectangular wall, and the window does not reveal it. Truth exists wholly inside the wall, and the window is but a vain longing for truth.

I felt dizzy. I felt like my body was spinning in air, like a satellite revolving around the earth. Why had the man invented the lie of Dalloway. Why had he attributed own photography skills to an imaginary figure with that peculiar name. I felt like I couldn’t know anything. But then what? The world knew falsehood as reality, and this was all we could know.

Just as he had when he moved in, the man came down with very few belongings. He said he was sorry for leaving before the one-year lease was up. I offered my hand and he shook it with a cheery expression.

After making a u-turn, his car went on down the hill. In a moment, I was no longer able to see his car, but the explosive sound of the diesel engine lingered in my alley. I regretted not asking the man if it really was true that he had made up everything about Dalloway, but the feeling of regret soon disappeared like a magician’s rabbit. I looked up at the second floor that the man had left, but with the lights off, I couldn’t even see shadows. Far below were the lights of the city the man had marveled at, bleaching the darkness with slow glimmers. And so the man disappeared coolly, toward the city still enmeshed in lies.


Park Seongwon

Park Seongwon was born in 1969 in Daegu. He earned a B.A. in public administration from Yeungnam University and a Master's in creative writing from Dongguk University. Park began his literary career in 1994 when he published his short story “Yuseo” (유서 The Will) in Literature and Society. He has served as a creative writing professor at Dongguk University, and is currently a creative writing professor at Keimyung University. Park is the author of six works: Confession (고백) (Hyundae Munhak, 2015), One Day (하루) (Moonji 2012), What is a City Made Of (도시는 무엇으로 이루어지는가) (Moonji, 2009), We Run (우리는 달려간다) (Moonji 2005), Steal Me (나를 훔쳐라) (Moonji 2000), and Roger roger roger (이상 이상 이상) (Moonji 1996). He is the winner of five honors, including the 2014 Hahn Moo-Sook Literary Prize, the 2013 Dongguk Literary Award, and the 2012 Hyundai Buddhist Literature Prize. His work has been translated into Japanese and German.

Julie Moon

Julie Moon is a writer and translator living in New York. Born in Seoul, South Korea, she grew up in the U.S. visiting her family frequently in Korea. Her work has appeared in The Rumpus, EssayDaily, and Columbia Journal, and she is the winner of The Missouri Review's Miller Audio Prize in Poetry. A former Iowa Arts Fellow, she is currently pursuing an MFA in Nonfiction Writing and Literary Translation at Columbia University. She is actively looking for Korean translation projects. More of her work and contact information can be found at


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