Saturday, July 25, 2009

Over Analyse This

I often over hear my flatmate and her pals talking about men.

They dissect every detail when it comes to men they are interested in. Every word, every inflection is examined in minute detail.

Does this increase their understanding of menkind?

No. Cos we men are a bit thick, so we say stuff that we do not think over, stuff just comes out.

I saw the first ten minutes of 'He's Just not that into You' coming back from Germany on the plane last weekend. Awful movie, but from what I could make out, the central idea is pretty sound: no need to over analyse, men are pretty bloody straight forward beings.

Thing is, I think it's the same thing when it comes to foreigners thinking about Indonesians. Sure Indonesians have foibles, but the basics are the same. Foreigners try to over analyse, in an effort to make up for their lack of language skills and lack of experience. They take small samples of behaviour and extrapolate using all of their considerable cognitive powers.

Do long term expat analysers of Indonesia have much greater insight than your average open minded back packer off the boat from Singapore? I doubt it.

While Indonesians are of course Indonesian, they are also people first and foremost (i.e. not some strain of alien life form). It strikes me that not only do many expats bark up the wrong tree when it comes to understanding Indonesians, their analysis smells like Edward Said's Orientalism.

6 comments:

triesti said...

well perhaps u should told ur flatmate & friends to see that movie:P

I guess it happens everywhere, in every culture about others. Be it Europe v. Moslem migrants. Indonesia v. West.

cici said...

I think it all because we just don't know each other

johnorford said...

yeh i think it's lack of a mind reading ability which makes us imagien all sortsa weird stuff...

oigal said...

At the risk of being tagged as one of those you are slagging

"While Indonesians are of course Indonesian, they are also people first and foremost (i.e. not some strain of alien life form)."

I would disagree...in fact they are some form of Alien life form (as are we to them). Problem is we try to apply our perspectives on life and issues to them and it doesn't fit.

Case in point, my orginal Indonesian Language Instructor was a pretty smart guy..but where he grew up there were only two directions in their native tongue..towards the sea..towards the mountain...Now He could translate North South East West etc..but the concept meant nothing and no matter what we did..he could not lock down the concept as it was already hard wired that there are only two directions...(bit like me trying to grasp once you reach the end of the universe whats there?)

The protestant ethic work n save..vs the Islamic "Gods Will"?
etc etc

johnorford said...

u fell right into that one oigal, my pal! : P

tikno said...

Hi John, by reading your posts, seems you are more knowing Indonesian