Asian Cultures are Autistic
Have you ever wondered if there is any cultural characteristic which spans diverse Asian cultures? Let me talk about one that is obvious, but almost never mentioned- Autism.
Yes, that is correct. I believe that Asian cultures from Japan and China to India are autistic. Some of you might wonder if I am implying that these cultures have a higher than usual number of individuals with autism. No.. I am not implying that- though that might also be the case.
I have come to believe that entire cultures can be functionally autistic.
The question which set me on the path leading to this hypothesis began with my innate dislike of Bollywood movies. Even as a child, I simply could not understand why Bollywood movies were popular even though they were so incredibly formulaic and repetitive. While many Hollywood movies are also formulaic, there are a significant number of outliers and even the formulaic ones try to appear less formulaic. In contrast Bollywood movies TRY to be as formulaic as possible. Hongkong movies are not different and with the exception of a few Kurosawa-type figures, all forms of Asian film-making and popular entertainment (TV, books sitcoms, video games) are very rigid and formulaic.
So why are they so popular in those countries?
Think about it- What kind of person would willingly watch the exact same stuff again and again. Normal people will get tired and bored of anything- even if they really like it. However those of an autistic mind love repetition and spend more time obsessing over details than overall meaning.
Cultural autism can also explain many other peculiar Asian behaviors.
Ever wonder why Asians obsess over money even if they have more than enough of it? Money is useful only if you spend it to buy what you desire while you are still alive and able to enjoy it. After a certain point making more money does not improve your lifestyle, yet most Asians (from Indians and Chinese to Koreans) are unable to stop obsessing about making more of it. But to what end? Very few people of any group will make enough to be filthy rich, therefore most of those who sacrifice their youth and happiness to make more money are “clever” morons.
But what if obsessing about money is a manifestation of autism (stereotyped behavior), similar to flapping your arms and rocking back and forth?
Consider food.. Indians are infamous for their obsession with vegetarianism and equating it with social status- inspite of its obviously negative effects on their health. But why would people keep on trying hard to do something that is obviously deleterious to them? Could it be that the urge to maintain a familiar, but dysfunctional, pattern supersedes any desire to act in your best interests? Asians will often reject or indigenize otherwise perfectly acceptable and tasty cuisine. Let me be clear- using a few drops of Tabasco on your side of french fries is very different from altering the fundamental taste of any food.
What if the Asian obsession with familiar tastes in food is linked to maintaining continuity rather than enjoying a better product?
The inflexibility of roles and behaviors in interpersonal relationships which are far more pronounced in Asians might also be seen as a form of cultural autism. Any person with more than half a brain innately understands that one size does not fit all- especially when it comes to relating with people around you. However Asian culture and philosophies are based on people fulfilling inflexible roles which may have been optimum in some previous era. Don’t you think that the rapidly falling birth rate in east-Asian countries and individuals is linked to their unwillingness to change many aspects of their traditional beliefs of how other people should live and behave? Similarly a lot of Asian uncreativity and deference to authority can be explained by the desire to keep things “as they were”, even if doing that is creating major problems and better ways are both accessible and being used by others.
What do you think? Comments?