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Not Ornamental

When I order fried chicken wings from my neighborhood Chinese take-out, am I falling under the spell of colonialism? Or am I just falling under the spell of fried things that taste delicious? Perhaps it is a question of my taste buds and tastes, in general, having been co-opted by the West.

Tangent: I am going to conjecture that the phenomenon of fried wings in NYC Chinese take-outs is a by-product of location, location, location. Many of these take-out places can be found in neighborhoods where working class/lower income families reside and perhaps the menus began to reflect these demographically-specific tastes.

A study in Philly, some years back, focusing on black neighborhoods where Chinese take-outs were popular revealed higher rates of high blood pressure among the inhabitants ,due to the high sodium levels in the food. The point was to raise awareness with the restaurant owners so they could start substituting salt with other spices in order to make their fare healthier for their customers.

The idea that my afternoon meal could be political did not cross my mind as I walked to Hester to street to pick up an order of hot and sour soup and chive pancakes, but then what did I expect as I am reading a book titled Orientalism ?

“My hope is to illustrate the formidable structure of cultural domination, and specifically for formerly colonized peoples , the dangers and temptations of employing this structure upon themselves or upon others.” ––Edward Said

In reading Edward Said's Orientalism, I find out where I stand. I realize that I may very well be someone's representation of the Orient, and not a fully cogent entity in their presence. As in, they may have already created a narrative and script for me and my existence, which will have nothing to do with my true self/life. That I may be even less potent than an avatar.

An avatar will be a creation with some coordinating qualities of the original. My avatar would be climbing mountains, expertly editing my third manuscript and sipping on dry gin martinis predicated on some of my desires.

A re-presence, controlled by external imaginings, stereotyping and caricaturizing, might have me wearing a long flowing robe while playing a flute near a lake.

Now, what was that about cultural domination?


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