If you don't want to assimilate, should you (I) ever even go (back) to China?

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Re: If you don't want to assimilate, should you (I) ever even go (back) to China?
« Reply #15 on: September 06, 2021, 10:32:10 PM »
Obligations are as insidious as rights, bruh, and just as alienating. Like for instance, "adapt". Adapt on your own terms or someone else's?

Or... "expert". An expert in my own terms or someone else's? If someone else knows better than me what my expertise means for them, then any hiring is in their terms. But what if I know something they don't? Or more importantly, won't.


The former employer had started signalling the importance of academic output. Like, somehow foreign staff would produce research papers. That's creative work. That kind of expertise, most espeically when the employer is not currently possessed of that expertise and hires you to get it, needs to be heavily circumscribed by any number of stipulations if you want it to not run outside the bounds of whatever you can tolerate culturally. Staff presumably adjusts to that by not actually focusing too much on creation. Actually, culturally speaking, that is what I saw at the former establishment, all these "academics" who looked a whole lot more like middle class family tenders. The first priority in creation was children, making them. Second was wealth, making that. The third... I don't think it was knowledge. I think "knowledge" probably came in after comfort or security and a workable timetable.

Something weird going on there.
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Re: If you don't want to assimilate, should you (I) ever even go (back) to China?
« Reply #16 on: September 07, 2021, 03:26:23 PM »
That's it, I guess: how much lip service do you pay to the culture when in theory what you were hired for doesn't.... have a role in the culture?  Damn. I suppose it's not really possible to be hired for anything like that unless the hirer is looking for you to be a change agent. Which is not what any Chinese hirer is actually looking for even though there is (or used to be) a lot of superficial rhetoric to that effect.

I suppose my question is not really about assimilation. It's more really just a statement, again, of disappointment. They said they wanted change. They said they wanted a breath of fresh air to enliven or enlighten their educational approaches. They said I was there to introduce new ideas. Then right at the end they said I was supposed to have made friends with leaders. Bait: switch. Rug: pull.


When in Rome, make sure you interpret Roman pronouncements correctly.
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Re: If you don't want to assimilate, should you (I) ever even go (back) to China?
« Reply #17 on: September 07, 2021, 06:09:20 PM »
Bait and switch, quick pull rugs, etc. are common in nearly all employment situations.  Sometimes it's a failure in pre-hire communication and sometimes it's a deliberate thing.

I personally got terribly screwed over (robbed of significant amounts of cash, lost all paid sick and holiday time) in my first job in China.  This wasn't a Chinese cultural issue.  This was 2 former Saloon members (one Australian and one Canadian) who hired and managed FTs for a Chinese company.  Their planned luxurious life of teaching a few hours per week while directing others to do most of the labor didn't work out.  Instead of trying to cut expenses in other ways, they hired 2 more FTs and shortly thereafter unilaterally changed the contracts of all their FTs.  Since I was already past the halfway point, really enjoyed being in China (except for working for a pair of cheating scum), and didn't have another job readily available, I put up with it.  The next two FTs they hired after I left both did a runner very quickly after being subjected to even more abuse (like being forced to work 7 days per week).

My advice - read the contract carefully.  Make sure the contract you sign is exactly the same as the one that came with the offer.  If a job starts demanding more that what the contract requires, it still comes down to adapt or migrate.  Having some sort of backup plan can make that migration as simple as jumping to another company nearby.
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Re: If you don't want to assimilate, should you (I) ever even go (back) to China?
« Reply #18 on: September 07, 2021, 08:31:43 PM »
Arguably, it's a generational thing. The previous generation of work environments were marked by all sorts of Wild East phenomena and we were all, except for tru noobs who could perhaps be helped by an Internet Saloon of Experienced and Hardened Shady Characters Wielding Questionable Beverages, kind of able to see and characterise those phenomena - weird contracts, astonishing conditions, visa oddities, super dangerous managers, and running in the night. Back then it was "Do I hono(u)r this contract or wat?" These days it's not yet decided what the real question should be. Is it "Just how Chinese do I have to be?" or is it "Now that China is Ascendant, do I need to be a western apologist? Can I be foreign in Rome without being pressed into the legions?"

Does the fact we don't know the modern age's Coming to China question mean there isn't one anymore? I mean, is there still a Coming to China question? Does anyone still go, really?



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« Last Edit: September 07, 2021, 08:38:05 PM by Calach Pfeffer »
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kitano

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Re: If you don't want to assimilate, should you (I) ever even go (back) to China?
« Reply #19 on: September 08, 2021, 04:08:12 PM »
I think that what 'we' and 'the Chinese' often miss in this conversation is that whole 'you can't go back into the same river' thing

Chinese culture, like every national culture, is by definition conservative and weird, and completely unrealistic. I first went to China in 2009 and it was completely different thing to what it is now, officially and in reality. It's changed just as much as the USA or Oz or Europe. I don't know about Oz, but the UK in 2009 was the end of New Labour regime and the US was all excited or furious about Obama. Those are foreign countries to time travellers from there and it's the same in China, it would be as weird to go from Hu Jintao China to XiJingPing China as it would to go from Obama America to Biden America, and it's not even a huge amount of time.

There is an element of 'la plus c'e change', but there is also the fact that we are travelling forward in time involuntarily. I lived in China for 7 years and love the place. Got married, saw some horrific stuff, saw some beautiful stuff, became 'Sinicized' without adapting at all, I am still pretty rubbish at speaking Chinese to be honest, but I do have a handle on the way of life and the thinking. But then to a Chinese person I am totally clueless, not because they all love this idea of China, there is just no way I could get my head around what they hate about China. I hate it for such different reasons as them

Re: If you don't want to assimilate, should you (I) ever even go (back) to China?
« Reply #20 on: September 08, 2021, 05:34:06 PM »
I think that what 'we' and 'the Chinese' often miss in this conversation is that whole 'you can't go back into the same river' thing

Not to be that guy, but  yyyyyyyyyy...

The idea that history has a direction is not a Chinese idea. The world and all the stuff of the world is in a state of constant change, but cyclical change, motion between poles. Time as such is a circle. Up until barbarian science started making the material conditions of China look stupid, in principle, if you were metaphysical enough, there would come a "time" when you could step back into the same river.

I guess that's the real meaning of "5000 years". It's not a long time, it's a thoroughly complex and vastly sophisticated eternal now.

And just to be prosaic, it's probably why "development" finished biding it's Deng Xiaoping time and became "Rejuvenation".


Which is to say, a properly educated Chinese might want to say the modern concept of change, that you can't go back to yesterday, is entirely too short sighted. An enlightened ruler, for instance, might for a while tolerate the young people's notion that everything's different now, grandad, but he'd know that what's really going on is......

 bebebebebe



I wonder if modern China has a notion of entropy.
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kitano

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Re: If you don't want to assimilate, should you (I) ever even go (back) to China?
« Reply #21 on: September 10, 2021, 08:23:47 AM »
Hey man, don't apologise for intellectualising. I live for that haha.

But philosophy is one thing and politics is another. This for me is the biggest problem with Chinese politics as I see it, and politics in general. Of course people are happy to say 'twas ever thus' when they are at the top, but it is important. I think China is even worse than anyone for that, like they will invoke ancient China, and what they are evoking is awful.
They are not so into banning mobile phones or promoting footbinding, or the government being so rubbish that the British bullied them
In metphyascs China is unique, but it's still a bunch of people who eat and poo. Not long ago China was a poor country with a mad old man in charge, then it was a hyper capitslist country. Now it has a mad guy in charge again, lets put bets on how that works out lol

Re: If you don't want to assimilate, should you (I) ever even go (back) to China?
« Reply #22 on: September 10, 2021, 03:50:46 PM »
The primary pain point, I'm beginning to believe, in Chinese and "western" cultural communication is expertise vs authority. China will always put authority ahead of expertise. Like, if you have a situation where an expert has one opinion and a leader has another, leader wins. But what makes it a pain point is how authority is constituted. Because for instance if some idealist claims that, well, expertise is a kind of authority, then note, no, it's not. Authority is a moral construct and expertise doesn't give you any authority unless expertise has some moral standing already (which, as it turns out in China, typically it doesn't.) I mean, no one even wants expertise per se. Achievement in China is the product of dull, repetitive "hard working". Expertise is actually a kind of immorality, a personal claim of specialness, which by itself is just plain gauche.

The question though is how is authority constituted. It definitely is a social construct. It might I suspect be how well you believe yourself to be the people. Not "the people" in the modern socialist sense, but how much you identify yourself with the relationships you have, and what you've done to cultivate those relationships. The more you take charge of enhancing those relationships, the more authority you have.

Or something like that.


The point being though that reflection, the accumulation of knowledge, various attempts to determine how things work, even coming to know how to address given difficulties... all trumped by authority.

The key difference between this circumstance and, say, a dumb boss in a western country, is the dumb boss can identified as mistaken. In that particular contest between authority and expertise, the Hollywood outcome is expertise wins. The Beijing outcome is................... 

:wtf:


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Re: If you don't want to assimilate, should you (I) ever even go (back) to China?
« Reply #23 on: September 11, 2021, 03:21:46 PM »
What i think this means for assimilation is you always start at the bottom. Walk into any room anywhere in China and every person there is already better than you at the Path of Authority. They already know how, where, and when. They can keep you in whatever place they wish, and you won't even know it, except for the lingering sense of alienation that follows you like a cloud. And this will be especially acute if you keep on wanting to walk the Path of the Expert, which more or less amounts to refusing to assimilate.

Are there even "foreign experts" anymore? There's been some kind of expertise inflation over the last 10-15 years hasn't there? English isn't an expertise anymore. It's C-tier.


Anyway.
when ur a roamin', do as the settled do o_0

Re: If you don't want to assimilate, should you (I) ever even go (back) to China?
« Reply #24 on: September 23, 2021, 01:58:38 PM »
Thing about When in Rome that I can't quite let go of is it's a minor idiom, barely more than a quote. In context it was about changing the time of doing a thing you normally do because in a different place, they did that same thing at a different time.

But ru xiang sui su, that is something far more substantial. It's a major cultural injunction that isn't that hard for Chinese exactly because it is a major cultural injunction. They live and breathe that kind of complex identity.

The thing about how When in Rome is used in China is it more or less means learn how to be a person. That straight line between what you think, what you say, and what you do, that's very adorable, it's so cute and lovely, but after a while, it's enough. If you keep on being direct and admitting no complexity in your relationships, well, basically you're insulting us. Learn how to be a person, why don't you?


That's a whole lot heavier as a condition
when ur a roamin', do as the settled do o_0

And another thing...

"Confucian moral virtues are geared towards the cultivation of an ‘ideal’ benevolent seniority and complying inferiority, so that both of them can act appropriately according to their right positions in the hierarchical society."



When in Rome, please suppose the natives to be too dull to see a world different from their own
when ur a roamin', do as the settled do o_0

Finally realised the essential comedy of "When in Rome..."

It's a universal value.

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In any social situation. be it completely new or an existing one you prefer to avoid (country, town, job, local bowling league, visiting the in-laws) that has its own set way of doing things, short of personally starting a revolution to enlighten everyone into believing and acting only as you want them to, your choices are Adapt, Migrate, Mutate, or Die.  Most people don't kill themselves because they don't like the local behavior patters, so this leaves Adapt, Migrate, or Mutate.

Adapting is the most straightforward.  Minimize the amounts of interactions you find displeasing as much as possible and then follow the When In Rome motto for the truly unavoidable.  When your spouse laughs at her fathers lame jokes, you at least grin.  When grandma gives you a sweater so horrible that you plan to burn in the fireplace as soon as you get it home, you smile and say now nice it is.  When the new company gives everyone a "surprise" birthday party every year, you at least refrain from telling the office manager (who thinks this is the best idea he ever had, and sadly it probably was better than all his other ideas) how unsurprising it is.  Everyone does some version of this all the time.  In a fair world, people who take 25 items into the 10 item express checkout lane should be subject to massive verbal abuse, but the general social rules usually limit most such interactions to disapproving expressions or a quietly muttered snarky comment.

Migrate.  Think living somewhere else might be better?  Move.  Dislike an entire country?  Don't move there.  If there already, move away.  Hate your job, cannot adapt or mutate?  Start applying elsewhere.  Supposed to go spend a week with the in-laws you can't stand?  "I'm terribly sorry, but my work is sending me on a business trip that week and the next week two.  Then I'll be busy for a month catching up on things in the office."

Mutation isn't always a conscious thing.  You HATE the new mandatory shirts your bowling league makes you wear, but after all hints about what you think the perfect shirt should look like falls on deaf ears, you might eventually decide it's not as bad as you originally thought (alternatively, if you hate it worse each time, but wear it because you want to play, then you're just adapting).  When Uncle Jack insists that everyone join in on multi-player solitaire (yes, there really is such a thing) and you hate it, you decide to study it more closely in order to try to end his winning streak forever.  If you succeed, you might play just for the enjoyment of seeing him lose.  When you finally get frustrated enough while studying Mandarin to start using bilingual Peppa Pig CDs to help expand your vocabulary, you've just mutated into a certified Lunatic. ahahahahah
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Accept the world or change the world? One is harder than the other. Probably a real life is a balance of both. That actually might be a definition of a life well lived: changed some things, accepted some others. I dislike the "When in Rome..." approach because it appears to rule out the "changed some things" part of a life well lived.

It's bullshit anyway. It exists as a dictum for small groups of people who expect to spend a lot of time together, and that's where it makes sense. The larger the scale though, the more alienating the effect. If it ever should encompass all aspects of a given life, that life is over.


One can visit the china.
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Change it, accept it (mutate), adapt to it, move away from it (migrate).  It doesn't matter if it's only the next door neighbors or an entire continent, everything boils down to using one or more of these approaches.

Even running into the wilderness and living in a cave would fall into adapt and/or mutate.  The only remaining alternative is to die, but I'm a firm advocate of That which does not kill us makes us stranger.  ahahahahah
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