Category Archives: Asia

The prodigal expat returns to Asia

Realizes the inviting bosom of the motherland is in fact a graveyard of all hope

He had had enough. It was time. Time to flee the hell-matrix of the West, the spiritual tundra of America. Time to reboot, course-correct, go back to square one. To admit utter, crushing defeat and failure in regard to the past six months of his life, a blur of suffering, signifying nothing. To shrug off said humiliating defeat and the colossal waste of time and life it represented, accept that he had gained literally nothing from it, not even a “learning experience” that would somehow enable him to make better decisions in future, not even a new relationship that he valued – it had really been completely pointless from start to finish – and just charge it to the game and move on.

Yep, it was time to go the fuck back to Asia.

ASIA. It was funny, because during his whole ordeal in Indianapolis, whenever he thought about moving back to Asia his pulse would quicken and he felt as if he were waking up from a deep, cold slumber. Almost as if the true orientation of his life were towards the East. As if, by LARPing as a working stiff in corporate America, he was fooling himself and others and doing violence to his true nature.

Was it possible that he belonged in Asia, that his destiny was to remain an expat forever? Because he would never, ever belong to any Asian nation – as long as he lived out there, he would always be a stranger in a strange land.

Mike pondered this, but the answer eluded him. How much of his hideous experience in America could be blamed on his job, versus the nature of the country itself? He had to admit that life in the US hadn’t really been that bad – quite the opposite, in fact, from a material standpoint. He had lived in a large, comfortable dwelling. He had enjoyed healthy, palatable food every day. He had never had an appetite or want that he could not rapidly satiate.

And it wasn’t like America was lacking in arts and culture, or people who shared Mike’s interests and priorities. There was always the internet for whatever conversation and community he couldn’t get in real life – and unlike in China, you didn’t need a VPN because the good stuff was hidden behind a great firewall erected by tyrants. Not yet.

Mike’s social and romantic life had hit a nadir during his agonized months in Indianapolis, but that was his fault, it stemmed from the anarchic state of his personality. There was no shortage of people he could have met, women he could have dated and/or fucked. He had just never tried. His few lame efforts in that direction had promptly smashed against the rocks of his massive indifference.

“I don’t believe that one should devote his life to morbid self-attention,” said Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver. No, neither did Mike. But between believing and doing, a great gulf was fixed. The truth was that Mike had achieved, during his wintry exile in Indianapolis, levels of morbid introversion that shouldn’t even be possible.

Could he have learned to love the motherland? Perhaps. And there would be more chances for that in the future. But what most bothered him about America, he suspected, what really made it impossible for him to settle down and get with the program, was boredom – that most underestimated of human emotions.

Life in America in the current year was just indescribably dull. It was hard to explain, but he felt that the absence of real hardship or large-scale adventure had reduced human life to a series of pointless chores, a mindless rearrangement of matter on the surface of the earth, followed by death. You didn’t get that sense in Asia. There was something different in the air. History was moving there, titanic forces had been unleashed. Asia was a continent-wide adrenaline rush. Life was interesting. And maybe that was just an illusion produced by his borderline mental illness, but it felt real, and that was all that mattered.

“These people have got something that we’ve lost. … There’s a velocity and density of life there that you don’t get in the West, and that I found oxygenating.” -David Mitchell

And then there was his job, that florescent-lit hell. That chain gang of Excel and performance reviews. Every second a micro-death.

Did he exaggerate? No, he did not. It really was that bad. And when he realized it would only get worse – that the climb would only get steeper from here on out, that working his ass off would only bring more responsibility, which meant the torture would be increased, intensified – they would bring in the real professionals for this, oh yes, the instruments were being readied in Uday Hussein’s private dungeon – then he understood it was time. He had to go back.

No more feminized corporate cuckspeak. No more pretending to be “excited” by bullshit. No more fake joviality with people he would pay money to avoid. No more shuffling to his cube in the eunuch uniform of a wageserf.

It was over. He was going to Asia.

His first serious attempt at repatriation had ended in total disaster, and now he would become an ex-ex-expat. A re-expat, perhaps. Whatever. He had bought his ticket. Fuck this place, he was going back.

Passing the torch?

Maybe we should just sit this one out

Via Nick Land, a powerful post from the blogger Donovan Greene:

Western Civilization is in decline, and Eastern Civilization is going to become the pinnacle of orderly civilization in the world as the West continues to decay.

Western Civilization was incredibly successful while it lasted, of course, and the East is standing on the shoulders of giants in its quest to reach further upward. Still, the apogee of Western Civilization has passed. The last great triumph of West over East was the collapse of the Soviet Union, and I do not foresee another big win for the West on the horizon anytime soon. The future offers nothing but decline. In the far future, it is very possible that a civilization (civilizations?) based in Europe or North America will rise to global prominence and superpower status, but that is something to be expected no less than hundreds or even thousands of years from now.

The rising societies of East Asia could prove magnetic to an increasing number of denizens of the decaying West:

As the East rises in stature relative to the West, we will begin to see a low-level brain drain, as the intelligent, ambitious, and adventurous make their way to lands near the Pacific. We see this happening today in very small numbers, and I predict this trend will pick up. Once the mainstream media notices this, the success of these people (and they will succeed, for they will be among the most elite of the Natural Aristocracy) will be broadcast across the West, and many more will join them. These numbers will be curtailed by controls from both sides, as the West tries to keep people in and the East tries to keep all but the best out, but the migration will still be significant.

I tend to agree. The West will rise again, but in a radically altered, almost unimaginable form. Someday.

The incredible shrinking expat

Every white guy in Asia who is not hideously disfigured or too clueless to live has had the Charisma Man experience. Charisma Man was a comic strip that debuted in 1998 in The Alien, a magazine for expats in Japan. (Story of The Alien here.) It chronicles the adventures of an expat English teacher in Japan – a nebbishy Canadian guy of overwhelming mediocrity in his home country, who is magically transformed into a swaggering hero and debonair sex god by virtue of his fascinating foreignness in the eyes of admiring locals.

Confused for a modern-day Clark Gable, Charisma Man is mobbed by pretty Japanese women trying to get to know him (“Are you speak French?”). Lacking any discernible qualifications and virtually unemployable at home, Charisma Man interviews for a cushy job teaching salarymen at a major Japanese company – and receives an immediate offer. Charisma Man’s great superpower is his white maleness, which enables him to perform a kind of cultural arbitrage, trading on the gap between the value he actually possesses (zilch) and his perceived value in the minds of locals who have strongly positive stereotypes of Western men. His kryptonite is Western Woman – the expat white girls in Japan who see right through his act with the merciless clarity afforded by a shared culture. Whenever he is unfortunate enough to cross paths with Western Woman, Charisma Man’s heroic bubble is burst – he instantly deflates to his dorky, slump-shouldered Canadian self.

Source: charismaman.com

Source: charismaman.com

This is, of course, a comedic exaggeration of reality – even more so now than 20 years ago, when furriners were still a novelty outside (and even inside) the major metropolises. Nowadays the closed societies of Japan, Korea and China have largely gotten used to the presence of significant numbers of white dudes, to the point of disillusionment and weariness with their unfathomable (but mostly predictable) ways.

Having said that, foreigners and in particular Caucasian men still enjoy a significant edge in most parts of Asia:

  • Mere possession of a college degree and a pulse qualifies even the most hapless expat for a basic English teaching job, which can be fun (for about a year) and usually pays more than enough to live on. The more ambitious expats can leverage their native English skills and knowledge of “global business etiquette” and “international communication” (as well as hyperbolic accounts of their work experience back home) to land a more prestigious corporate gig, where they might be managing a team of locals, mediating communication between locals and foreigners, proofreading/editing documents, or something along those lines. Nice work, if you can get it – which is almost certainly going to be a lot harder in your home country. Furthermore, foreigners are often given a pass for a certain degree of incompetence and cluelessness, on the grounds that a) something is probably getting lost in translation and/or b) foreigners should not be made to lose face, as they need to be kept happy and compliant.
  • Socially, too, your foreignness will open doors and help you carve out a niche that you probably hadn’t even thought of. If you find yourself being interviewed on TV, giving talks to large audiences, or hobnobbing with government officials, you’re probably a foreigner in Asia. To be clear, most of these brushes with celebrity lead absolutely nowhere. But they’re fun and they make for good stories. Also, if you combine your built-in advantage as a foreigner with actual talent and hard work – and you learn the local language – you can make yourself a valued resource and even a respected guru. Start a small business, host an event series, write a book about your experiences, or become the world’s leading foreign expert on, say, Chinese economic data. In some cases, this can be the basis or the accelerant for a very successful career abroad (see point #1).
  • Foreigners also have a huge leg up in the dating realm – this is still very much true despite the growing number and visibility of white people in every corner of Asia. The effect is wearing off in major cities such as Shanghai, but it still exists. Just being a white guy, period, is a conversation starter in most places. You don’t need much “game” to chat with a cute girl who finds you exotic and interesting before you even open your mouth. From there it’s usually not that hard to escalate things. In this arena, the foreigner must be wary to avoid being taken advantage of by predatory local women who may see him primarily as a meal ticket or green card sponsor, but frankly, that’s a highly avoidable danger in the modern Asian megacities. Just be smart and hang out with educated, well-to-do women. Also, use a burner phone.

Here’s the big caveat, though. The fine print you glossed over before you booked your ticket on Kayak. Success “over there” may be entirely meaningless back at home. The sheer alienness (I say it with love) of most of Asia means that your achievements may not be valued or even understood by your compatriots; the skills and experience you labored to acquire in the distant kingdoms of the East may as useless in your home country as your wallet full of Japanese yen at the local Walgreens.

As an extreme example of this, consider the Canadian performer Mark Henry Rowswell, who goes by the name Da Shan in China. Known for his comedic performances delivered in flawless Mandarin, Da Shan is one of the most famous foreigners in China, instantly recognizable to several hundred million people – putting him in the same fame-league as the president of the United States. He first achieved stardom in 1988 by appearing on a TV special during Chinese New Year that was watched by an estimated 550 million people.

Da Shan has clearly built a successful career for himself and, while I have no idea how much money he makes, he probably does well. Nevertheless, his incredible fame comes with a severe qualification: Da Shan is completely unknown outside of China.

So there’s a warning for you. Some skills are transferable if you move back to the motherland; others are not. The confidence you gain abroad, however, is likely to stick no matter where you go.

See also: The bell curve of expat opportunity

And: Loser Back Home (LBH)X-twat