Tuesday, August 24, 2004

My review of Global Soul

My book review of Pico Iyer's GLOBAL SOUL

Monday, August 23, 2004

Rising mental illness due to global capitalism

"The substance abuse epidemic, the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases, suicide, depression, and anxiety disorders, and violence are problems that are increasing all over the world and have something to do with our political economy and the way culture is changing worldwide," according to Arthur Kleinman, M.D., chair of the department of social medicine at Harvard University and professor of psychiatry at Cambridge Hospital. Kleinman connects the dramatic changes in China's society with their rise of mental illness. The adoption of global capitalism and its peculiar mixture with traditional patriarchy and a totalitarian regime has led to the world's highest rate of suicide, especially among young women in rural areas. (for more see Psychiatric Times January 1999 Vol. XVI Issue 1 link above).
During my 2 month visit to America this summer, I noticed a similar rise of drug use (both doctor prescribed and illegal), depression, anxiety, and general irrationality. Either there is something toxic in the water supply, or Americans are not dealing well with the macro-problems of job losses, the increasing costs of our military misadventures overseas, silent epidemics of breast cancers and other environmental diseases, and the mass media's obsession with rudeness and barbarity. People are turning for salvation from all that to dubious religious prophets and to a fatal strategy of overeating, supersizing themselves on junk food. Americans have quickly become caricatures of themselves. It is impolite to say this, but Reality Therapy is probably what we need more of. This would allow us to observe the obvious open secret that we are long overdue for deep reforms in our economic structure, governance, educational system, and media. Otherwise we're slowing being cooked to death like the proverbial frog in a pan of water. The rest of the world laughs nervously at us, since of course we have the best cruise missiles and we're all too willing to use them. Is it finally time for us to stop hanging out, chillin', wasting time, waiting for Godot, watching the boobtube, and instead get out into the real world with something to offer?

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Postcolonial Trash

Some people ask me what I think about Taiwan. It has taken a long time for me to get used to living there.
But the city of Taipei is cosmopolitan (code: westernized) and you can find your daily paths to the things that make you happy.
You carve out a niche, and evolve into the local system. Also being an expat is to have a real social role: you are the foreigner, kind of exotic no matter what. If you are alienated already, like me, then this role is an objective correlative -- or, a comfortable recognition.
The people of Taiwan are very polite in general, unless they're on a motorscooter, which is quite often, and then they're not. The women are petite and bossy, the men are hardworking and responsible, and the children are all above average.

For a much longer and more critical take on the pollution and sprawl in Taiwan, see my essay in Taipei's weekly paper POTS -->

Postcolonial Trash

Friday, August 20, 2004

Real News you won't see in the daily paper


Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Meatless Mondays

New Scientist: "Meatless Monday"

By Anon Posted by Hello

Fearless Speech

James Joyce famously wrote that his plan was to refuse servitude to false idols -- nationalism, the church, authoritarianism, etc., everything people use to avoid thinking for themselves. Instead, Joyce's strategy was "silence, cunning, exile". In the age of blogs and imperialism, of cell phones and the destruction of oceans, I doubt that we can still afford the luxury of silence. Speak truth to power.