And right here at that. Excerpt? Word.
BE: In Bald New World democracies like
Europe and the U.S. aren't doing very well, dictatorships like China and
North Korea seem to be doing much better, and market forces control
everything. Do you see this hyper-consumerism as a bad or a good thing?
PTL: First off, North Korea is pretty horrible in Bald New World.
The NK spies that hide in Beijing have it better just because their job
is to kidnap people for enslavement to North Korea by luring them with
the promise of beauty and bliss. But, without delving into plot
spoilers, what happens to one of the spies later in the book makes it
clear they live under brutally savage conditions. On a deeper level
though, this is a fascinating question because it gets back to a
question of identity. While I’m ethnically Asian, I view myself as an
American. I grew up here, am indebted for all the opportunities I
received, and I love the culture of e pluribus unum (I might
also point out that in Asia, they all viewed me as a Westerner). In that
sense, it may seem like I’m more critical of aspects of America I don’t
like, but it’s only because I want to see change for the better (in Bald New World’s
case, rampant gun violence and obesity being two issues I specifically
target). Because I’m a foreigner in Asian countries and I’m mainly there
as a tourist, I don’t feel as comfortable making broader judgments,
especially without being aware of the full social and cultural context
(why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your neighbor’s eye?).
That’s why I often cringe when I read non-Asian accounts of Asia
because, even if well-intentioned, they’re so full of broad
generalizations aimed at caricaturing and mocking things they don’t
understand, they feed a stereotype that, unfortunately, has
ramifications for Asians living in America who are globbed together. In
terms of hyper-consumerism, I don’t think I’ve ever met one person who
thinks it’s a good thing, not even marketing people I know. Consumerism
itself isn’t bad, but when it becomes the end-all of anyone’s existence,
the dehumanizing cycle that ensues makes life one dreary hell. To quote
Fight Club, “The things you own end up owning you.”