Subtle Influences of Asian Culture

Posted by – August 17, 2009

Hi Folks,

I’ve recently become enamored with the ancient Asian game Go, and it got me thinking to how Chinese culture may influence western culture, now that they dominate us economically. How could we background these influences by showing instead of saying. For example, perhaps Anton and Toth could be playing Go in their make-shift home at night, or when they go to trade in the webbing they caught for water, Harry might initially be sitting down with a friend playing Go before he gets up and does the water trade with them. Maybe there’s a Go club or Go games at the bar the business folks play in Serena’s scenes. That said, I’d like to offer my services as a Go consultant to the movie. (I just watched A Beautiful Mind, because I knew it had Go scenes, and I found it disenchanting to see how they got some elements about it wrong). Go’s influence on western culture today, limited as it is, is mainly from Japan and Korea, but it was invented in China and is still immensely popular there (as evidenced by the included image). In Korea, they have TV channels dedicated to Go (the way here we have Golf TV channels).

About ten years ago I spent some time in India volunteering, and one piece of clothing I brought back that has stayed with me since is a “lungi”. It’s a sarong that either middle and upper class men wore in place of pajamas, or as very casual house clothes, or that lower class men could wear at any time. Indian locals would get a kick of seeing me, a wealthy westerner, ignorantly wearing a lungi around the town. I still wear one today (and in fact, only recently bought a pair of regular pajama pants at the urging of my son, who I guess wanted me to be more “normal”, or at least more like himself). They’re very comfortable (and cheap and simple to make). Perhaps Oscar could wear one when hanging casually around his home (i.e. drinking beer in the evening). I thought I had a good image of me wearing a lungi, but I can’t find it. Included is an Indian man wearing a lungi down, and a westerner wearing a lungi up (a common way to wear it, especially in hot weather).


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