Feb 2 2004:
While at Karaoke last night with Nok and her-tom girl friend I had the impression that Thailand is soaked in estrogen. There is not enough testosterone here. Thai pop music is all pink clouds and teenage heartbreak and cutesy baby boop titties. Male Thai pop stars have estrogen bloated faces and huge baby doe eyes. They aren’t manly men – they don’t stink of manliness. They are safe and cute little boys with pretty puffy faces, and their music is as soft and unthreatening as their features. Arrrggghhhhh twenty minutes of Thai pop and I blew a fuse and screamed that I had had enough and that it was time to go. Phew, more than any man can be expected to bear.
Feb 26 2004:
I like being in Asia and living out some long standing fantasies. It is a huge contrast to my married life at age 24, living out some restricted social role. I love my simple life. A one room apartment, no grass to cut, no child to raise. I love being an outsider to this culture. I don’t have to worry about the gossip in the building at the number of different women who have accompanied me in the elevator and sang out their love screams in my room. I love no longer struggling day after night after day to build some grand edifice of security. A simple, easy life, with no burdensome commitments – not even the burdensome commitments of many possessions. Many girls and girlfriends and loves coming into and out of my life. This is what many people struggle to get, and then get lost in the struggle and forget. I’m already retired. Pan is home, because Pan is a gypsy. The loneliness of the wind is music on my flute. Heartbreak and loneliness the required dark contrasts to the bright visages in a life not shunned. I am drunk on samsara. It is good. – isn’t it?
March 6 2004:
It’s been an irritating and disconsoling evening of alienation and frustration. One of those nights where I wonder if I should leave Thailand as quickly as possible. One of those nights when I wonder if testosterone is a blessing or a poison. People here are borderline. It’s spooky, and it can drag a person down. At minimum finding inspiration is difficult.
Two weeks ago I had been helping a “woman” with some of her university coursework. After about an hour of trying to guide her through the process of writing a one page essay on the theme of a movie, I gave up and wrote her an example. To my surprise she handed it in to her teacher. Today I asked her if she received a grade or any feedback on the paper. What is so disconsollng is that 1) it took about 5 minutes of stating and restating my question in order to get anything near a direct answer from her. I had to just give up and accept that she was not prepared to answer any question in a way that would allow for any perceived criticism. 2) she does not receive either feedback or even grades on the essays she hands in unless she specifically requests it, which she (and I assume most students) never does. Her teacher for this class is a falang. I guess even some falangs have given up on trying to offer constructive criticism here. Lord knows I have.
It’s just painful. I’m living on the planet of the apes. Sometimes it seems better if the people I’m with can’t even talk English. Many here speak English well but they don’t understand it. Trying to talk about any subject is like trying to fly a kite without the benefit of string. People talk around and around in spirals of vaguely related subjects, with no main point or purpose other than distracting you from making any point that can be critical. Trying to keep any step by step direction in a conversation is often fruitless or worse. Better to just give up. And this is when talking to a grad student who considers herself a nearly westernised bookworm.
The best things I can say about my life here is that I am getting laid and that my stress level is generally low. I have a lot of freedom. But I don’t even really like the girls I’m having sex with. That’s bad, isn’t it? That must be a bad thing.
Ever get the feeling that humans are so striated in ability as to be a grouping of different species?
March 11 2004:
Ya, I know what you mean about the problem with speed in the US. That is one reason I list for liking Asia – the slower pace. There is a tension between too much and too little ambition. My health seems to have much improved due to the lessening of stress that living in Asia allows.
March 26 2004:
When living in the US I found myself getting crankier and crankier. At the time I had thought it my responsibility to try to become at least a bit educated about the machineries of politics that are not readily visible in mainstream press. I wanted to know a bit about environmental issues. I was curious about the ongoing culture wars. One thing I noticed after moving to the east is that I no longer identify so closely with US troubles, and so my crankiness level has gone down a lot. I was terribly irked by US policies when I lived there.
April 24 2004:
Personally, I like to date Thai girls. I usually date at least two at a time – usually much younger than me, college educated or in college, from good family. I can’t imagine ever marrying one. They can’t think. They are trapped in a child’s brain. They don’t read. It’s great, as far as it goes, but I am not likely to find a peer here.
Sept 15 2004:
“living well is the best revenge.”
It is sweet to throw off the yoke, and dangle it tauntingly at western women.
Occasionally I’ll come across a western girl and say hello, and she’ll put on airs. She musters up the great force of rejection, and her effort is pitiable. All I did was smile and say hello, and I get looked up and down like who the fuck am I to deign to introduce myself? Tourist girl doesn’t know the value of her coin. That moment is sweet.
Seeing her dwelling in her hom nam (girls primping toilet) of importance, without a clue that her supply is not important to my demand. I love that revenge.
I hate Thai people. That is a statement stupidly lacking in humor. I don’t yet hate women or western women.
Denial is fundamental. Death is not to beat in my heart this day. My girl is not to be a lying bitch this day. The phrase that ignorance is bliss is pessimistic until you do a stint in Thailand.
Dec 21 2004:
Insincerity due to stupidity?
I’ve said it before but it bears repeating. Many Thai girls don’t act with integrity because there is no integrity. As westerners we take for granted that anybody who can say the word “I” has a self. But the ego in this culture doesn’t get a chance to develop. What gets developed is the public exterior persona, but there is no corresponding interior persona. There is no there there.
We take for granted that a person has some sort of unified interiority. A self. It is so hard to get it that in many cases, there is no there there. No single interior unifying process who exists from day to day body capable of keeping a promise. It is a very momentary, immediate self, not capable of what in the west we term integrity. That is a higher level of cognition that this culture does not emphasize or develop. This is very foreign to westerners, and we think that our girl is lying or foolish or a cheat etc. Ya, she is, but she couldn’t change if she wanted to. There is no “she” to change. All she has is her immediate experience, with no unifying person behind the mask to follow through on any promise to change.
An ego is not a form of disease, but one level of cognition that integrates our experiences and our actions. The reason we complain that Thais act without integrity is not because of differing cultural values, it is because in many cases, the Thai person doesn’t have integrity. Doesn’t even have a developed ego.
Sure, not all Thais are incapable of planning for the future and of knowing and expressing their emotions and of talking from a cohesive honest center instead of from a public persona that is just a mask. Not all. But much more so than in the west. I’ve never met a western adult woman who had as much an underdeveloped ego as is so common here.
Children tend to be different people depending on which peers they associate with. Peer pressure changes their attitudes and beliefs, and it’s me too, me too, me too. Sound familiar of Thais? It takes a strong sense of self to disagree with a crowd. In the same way as it takes a strong sense of self to have moral character and integrity.
Even with the greatest of intimate relationships, with a Thai it often seems as if the guard is always up. The guard is all there is. There is nothing but guard. I dated one woman for 6 months. After things fell apart I asked her if there was anyone in the world for whom her guard was not up – anyone at all she confided in. Not one. Not even her sister. That’s just the way it is here – you never – NEVER – let any one person know all of you. Of the 4 Thai women I dated for nearly a year, only one was consistently open and direct. Of 9 other Thai women I’ve dated, only one was.
Many Thais MUST do what parents say, or at least appear to. The sense of self isn’t fully differentiated from the communal family. Part of growing up is learning independence, that is an actual recognized stage of development; learning to think and act for oneself. Identifying with a group is not a sign of ego, in the sense of a sense of independent self. It’s fine to identify with family, but in the west we also eventually grow up. We become more than merely a part of a family. We also have an identity, an independent self.
It’s really difficult to be in love with someone you can’t trust. And someone with little integrity can’t be trusted. Integrity is dependent on the cognitive capacity to organize ones perceptions and thoughts and feelings cohesively around a lasting sense of self. It takes a strong self to make and keep promises, to tell the truth about feelings regardless of negative consequences. It is very difficult and frustrating to be consistently lied to, especially when you know that such lying is not just poor character, it is a lack of character, and will never change.
Dec 24 2004: Canada
You are right that most people are average, and that average is uninspiring. At least the average Canadian is about 10 IQ points higher than in Thailand, and people are more practiced in communicating emotions and explaining ideas. The bigger difference is that here the cream is more able to rise to the top. People form social clubs. That’s how I was so fortunate to make friends such as John and Sue, and to study with Pema Chodron, Dorje Loppon, and Demeris Jarbeaux. I read some interesting statistic in Wilber’s Boomeritis book about research showing that less than 2% of Joe and Joette public are at a post-formal “turquoise” level of being able to organize ideas and levels of cognition into a coherent, ranked, big picture, while for meditators it can be higher than 30%. At least here one can seek out groups within which one might find not only peers, but teachers. I need that and miss that. Must have that.