Wednesday, August 10, 2005

danger + opportunity ≠ crisis

Fascinating. I personally believed this one too, I suppose I should have known better.

There are two basic reactions to the poorly understood. One is to assume equivalence (examples include popular misinterpretation of animal facial characteristics as representing human emotions. (a bad idea with chimpanzees, for whom baring teeth is a threat, not smiling.)).

The other is a mix of xenophobia and exotic idealization. The Foreigner is a character that both has strange knowledge and powers, yet does not qualify for many of the protective social dynamics. Chinamen were exploited for manual labor in america at the same time that novelists and newspapermen were making money hand over fist on sketchy stories of the Mysterious East.

It's easy to see eastern Martial Arts, and Sun Tzu, and their grand history of warrior culture, and imagine that the Chinese have some special lock on fighting, whether with hands, or with armies, or in schlocky manager-ese self help books with names like the Tao of CEOs, with the idioms like Business is War.

Antonio Banderas will sell many movies, now and in the future, to people who would vote for a President proposing to halt all immigration from Mexico.

It's hard for me to consider China with anything but a kind of reserved trepidation, with parallel intellectual historical awe. China is so obviously a country whose modernization threatens not only to change the order of the world, but also to force someone who wants to follow the thread of things in the most interesting places on the internet to learn chinese. I'm so used to an english internet, I don't really know what to think of that.

It's hard to remember that we are simply people, and the differences that divide us are miniscule, both when I'm wondering what it would be like to live in the second most important country in the world, and when I'm watching Hong Kong cinema, and decrying Hollywood as stupid and boring and old.

I suppose I'm not as comfortable with change of all kinds as I would like to be. Being a novelty seeking human isn't saying much, in the end. We are too used to exploiting the natural order of things to be steady on our feet when that order isn't reliable.

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