Thursday, May 19, 2011

Amy Chua And Book VIII Revisited

Amber and MSI already commented on this article, but if you strip aside the frustration of not getting laid part, FLG thinks there's still something to his theory that problem (or not-problem, depending on your perspective) of the Asian child-rearing strategy is that it is about "creating an artificial micro-polis of intense necessity to pass on the virtues of Oligarchy amidst a Democracy."

Those Oligarchic virtues work well within the household and formal academic environment. They might even work well within the lower ranks of the corporate environment, but eventually the strategy fails because we don't live in a Oligarchy or Timocracy*. We live in a Democracy.

The key passage in the article for FLG was this one:
For the intonation exercise, students repeat the phrase “I do what I want” with a variety of different moods.

“Say it like you’re happy!” Jones shouts. (“I do what I want.”) Say it like you’re sad! (“I do what I want.” The intonation utterly unchanged.) Like you’re sad! (“I … do what I want.”) Say it like you’ve just won $5 million! (“I do what I want.”)

If that's not somebody trying to train people in being Democrats*, then FLG doesn't know what is.

More fascinating, perhaps, is this passage:
Rather than strive to make himself acceptable to the world, Huang has chosen to buy his way back in, on his own terms. “What I’ve learned is that America is about money, and if you can make your culture commodifiable, then you’re relevant,” he says. “I don’t believe anybody agrees with what I say or supports what I do because they truly want to love Asian people. They like my fucking pork buns, and I don’t get it twisted.”

Here, you'd think that Huang is arguing that America is a Oligarchy, what with the comment that "American is about money." But the answer here is a bit more complicated than that. Huang quit being a lawyer to open a restaurant, "precisely the fate his parents wanted their son to avoid." So, he rejected the expectations of those whom FLG would assume matter to Huang most, his parents. Consequently, this is more Democratic than Oligarchic. But then he also, in some sense, is trying to conform to what he perceives as society's expectations of him and is focusing on money. So, there's still that lingering Timocratic/Oligarchic soul. Very interesting.

Finally, here's the author of the article:
Unlike Mao, I was not a poor, first-­generation immigrant. I finished school alienated both from Asian culture (which, in my hometown, was barely visible) and the manners and mores of my white peers. But like Mao, I wanted to be an individual. I had refused both cultures as an act of self-­assertion.

Say it with me, DEMOCRATIC.

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Again, in the Platonic sense.

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