So I was reading this secondary reading on Manichean Asthetics for my South Asian Literature course. If you are not sure what the term means, Manichean dichotomy is basically a theory that views the world in binaries, possibly without grey areas. Like for instance: light versus dark, good versus bad.
The article applies the notion to colonialism, pointing out the series of double binds that the colonized are placed in due to the effect of colonization. One of the most crucial ones is probably the “savage” versus “vacant imitator” dichotomy. Basically, if the colonized chooses to stay by their own indigenous culture and reject colonial ideas, they are considered backward and savage. If they choose to accept and assimilate into colonial culture, they are considered “vacant imitators” who blindly follow others. Oh boy, is there nothing right a person can do.
Reading it I feel like like this form of unpleasant double bind is everywhere. Let me give you some examples:
- A girl who is very picky is considered choosy and hard to please.
- A girl who is easy going is considered “too easy a game”.
(I am not making the above up, I heard it from adult males, like seriously.)
Then more stuff comes along.
- If you tell your partner something he did to upset you, you run the risk of offending him – especially if he thinks it is something unimportant therefore trivial – and he may in turn be upset by how “petty” you are.
- If you don’t tell your partner about the annoying little thing he once did, chances are he may do it again and you will be upset again and it is not gonna sit well in the long run.
Being a human is really tough.
I have more examples:
- If your angry mom scolds you and you try to justify and explain yourself, (some, mainly Asian) moms will see it as you being “disrespectful” and talking back to the authority.
- If your angry mom scolds you and you stay silent – no that’s not a sign of your docility – it means you are being silently rebellious and “do you think being silent means you are not in hot soup?”
Bah. Double binds everywhere. More double binds:
- If you tell your friends everything about you, it makes you very vulnerable if the day comes that you should fall out.
- If you don’t tell your friends everything about you, it can come across as being not as sincere making it hard for you all to bond.
This one is easy, just tell them things you are comfortable with sharing. A quick survey with my classmates and friends all agree that everyone has a different threshold for sharing and need for privacy. Meaning, if they don’t want to tell you something, it is PERFECTLY normal. Really, it doesn’t mean they treasure you any less or place less importance on you.
I really like reading this article on Manichean Aesthetics. It is really thought provoking and though I think I am applying stuff all wrongly, it is still fun.
I need to stop with South Asian Literature and move on to Psychoanalysis. My Psycho-A is so dead.