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How much of self-loathing is healthy?

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Kimi
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How much of self-loathing is healthy?

Postby Kimi » Mon, 05 Sep 2005 10:36 pm

I was reading a novel called, "Mammon Inc." by a Singaporean author who spent parts of her childhood in Holland, got her degree at Oxford and her graduate degree in the US and now lives in New York.
Unfortunately I couldn't finish it as I got pissed off a little in the middle...:(

In the book, I was appalled at her descriptions of the protagonist's (who is also a Singaporean student at Oxford) Singaporean sister and parents, as well as just about all things Singaporean. She depicts them as rude, miserly, unsophisticated, embarrassingly ignorant, uneducated (funny because Singapore has probably the most educated people in the world), ridiculously superstitious, and not to mention blatantly racist (in a scene, her parents call her white British flatmate a "white devil" and that all foreigners are "white devils" or "demons" and that no country is as civilized as the Chinese are).

The protagonist is basically embarrassed to be Chinese/Singaporean and seems to loathe everything there is about Singapore (even the "good" things, such as their educational system which made her so bright she got a scholarship to go to Oxford in the first place) as well as her family. Even her sister who she supposedly "loves" and considers her "best friend," she is constantly deriding in the novel as being about as smart as a 5-year-old.

When discussing it with my friend who is from a multi-cultural country, he mentioned that "all cultures tend to have a self-loathing mentality, just to varying degrees" and pointed out that minorities seem to have it to stronger degrees.

I personally prefer people who can be a bit self-effacing about their own cultures to those who think their culture is superior to others, but upon reading that book, I am beginning to wonder what the balance is.

So, how much self-loathing is actually healthy?
Or conversely, how much pride (or self-denial or blind acceptance/tolerance) is healthy for one to have in their native country (or ethnic group)?

Honest Author?

Postby Honest Author? » Mon, 05 Sep 2005 11:40 pm

self-loathing mentality?

Just sounds brutally honest to me.

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Postby banana » Tue, 06 Sep 2005 1:06 am

There's a fine line between self-loathing mentality and self-deprecatory humour. More often than not, the line is drawn by the audience rather than the auteur. There is a very interesting German word that comes to mind. Schadenfreude which means to derive pleasure from the misery of others. Sometimes we project ourselves as being losers to make light of a situation. Then dumbasses who don't get it think we hate ourselves, not realising this actually shows their own inherent superiority complex.
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Wind In My Hair
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Re: How much of self-loathing is healthy?

Postby Wind In My Hair » Tue, 06 Sep 2005 2:30 pm

Kimi wrote:I was reading a novel called, "Mammon Inc." by a Singaporean author who spent parts of her childhood in Holland, got her degree at Oxford and her graduate degree in the US and now lives in New York.
Unfortunately I couldn't finish it as I got pissed off a little in the middle...:(


i read that book a few years ago, and agree with you that it's a bit over the top. i had the impression that the author is just trying to impress the western reader thus being deliberately provocative and over-simplifying local culture. i like some of the other local authors much better, who examine the real issues about being singaporean, both good and bad. that book is rather one-dimensional.


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