To interpret the Bible for the convenience of America, as apropos as that may seem to be to many Americans, represents a radical violence to both the character and content of the biblical message. It fosters a fatal vanity that America is a divinely favored nation and makes of it the credo of a civic religion which is directly threatened by, and, hence, which is anxious and hostile toward the biblical Word. It arrogantly misappropriates political images from the Bible and applies them to America, so that America is conceived of as Zion: as the righteous nation, as a people of superior political morality, as a country and society chosen and especially esteemed by God.
I’ve seen this before, Chinese people buying eggs in the supermarket and opening each carton to pick out the big ones to put in their own carton to buy. So wretched.
“I’m just sick of ego, ego, ego. My own and everybody else’s. I’m sick of everybody that wants to get somewhere, do something distinguished and all, be somebody interesting…
I’m sick of it. I’m sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody.”
J.D. Salinger, from Franny and Zooey via Richard Beck.
Malcolm Gladwell says “Homburg” a lot in his self-narrated audiobook for Outliers. He talks about The Beatles’ frequent performances there. I spent quite a bit of time wondering why I hadn’t heard of this Homburg place my whole life. It turned out he meant Hamburg.
I remember a CNN anchor talking for a while about a place called “Sri Lawnka”. People from that region like pronouncing A in a funny way when the word is foreign. Take the Russian boy’s name Sasha for instance. President Obama stupidly nicknamed his daughter this and pronounces it “Sosha”.
The British have this problem too but not with the letter A, just every other letter. For example, the BBC’s incessant coverage of the “Boo-toes”. The name’s Bhutto and it’s pronounced how it looks. And then there’s the “chicken teeker masarler”. It’s tikka and it’s pronounced how it looks.
“I’m so relaxed in my life, and I can just take any interest I want, and care about whatever I want, because I know as a Jewish man, that as soon as I turn 50, all I’m going to care about is Israel.”
Thinking about myself as having an identical twin except she’s really productive and my master. The imaginary twin sees me watching True Blood and goes, “What are you doing? This is why you’re inferior to me and I’m in charge of you. Go finish your work! Maybe afterwards you can watch 30 Rock for 30 minutes. I’ve been doing air squats and kettle bell swings while you’ve been sitting there.”
There is something noble about being an expatriate – and I’m not just saying that because I’ve been one since birth. I recently read one of Vice’s better articles, White People with No Skills Wanted in China, and it reminded me of the many gaijin forum members and bloggers who I’ve come across over the years while researching Japan.
These manga-loving fatties are usually American graduates of obscure colleges. They have little to no training in the English language or education, but they’re all in ESL education somehow. They get paid very little and live the lifestyles of people who get paid very little. They’ve hardly travelled – they’re American after all, and so living in Japan is A Big Deal for these people. That’s why they need to make blogs about it. These blogs are written in English and interspersed with whatever Japanese words they know. “Isn’t this cookie packaging so kawaii, mom?”
After their stint in Japan, which they leave after claiming everyone’s racist and complaining that they can’t get the foods they like, they end up teaching in China (see above) or Seoul. Some of the more imaginative ones even go to Thailand, which must be very difficult for them as Thais are not as good at making cartoons.
They have no interest in integration and the only thing they bring to their new homeland is, of course, their knowledge of English. As pretty normal suburban Americans who have no training in either education or English, they really don’t provide very much, which is why there’s hardly any money in it. They make a mockery of emigration.