I’ve compiled a short list of some very common and sometimes embarrassing mistakes made by non-native speakers of Spanish that are almost always a clue that the person doing this is not fluent or wholly proficient in Spanish.
This isn’t a complete list, it’s things that I’ve thought of as very common. So if I’ve missed any of your most embarrassing mistakes or you have some other examples, send them in!
1. Overusing a personal pronoun
In some cases, the use of a personal pronoun (yo, tú, nosotros) is not necessary. In Spanish, most verbs have a specific conjugation that applies to a certain subject that are unique… so there’s less of a reason to add a pronoun. When you do, you sound overly emphatic.
hablo = I speak
yo hablo = the one who is speaking is me
This can be a useful thing to know if you’re answering questions like “Who did ___?” but in everyday speech if you go through a routine like: yo hago la cama, yo me ducho, yo como el desayuno and so on sounds incredibly tiresome to a native speaker because you’re putting unneeded emphasis on it.
Where emphasis is better served is when the subject is doubtful - 3rd person singular and plural.
Because if “he” is conjugated like “she”, and “they” could be anyone, it’s sometimes useful to write the pronoun él or ella or name them to avoid confusion.
This is especially useful in the subjunctive where 3rd person singular looks like yo.
2. Capitalizing nationalities
In English, we write English. We write American as American, and Chinese as Chinese.
In Spanish, it’s not like that.
inglés / inglesa = English
español / española = Spanish
francés / francesa = French
griego/a = Greek
ruso/a = Russian
italiano/a = Italian
japonés / japonesa = Japanese
chino/a = Chinese
The only reason you would capitalize someone’s nationality or ethnicity would be if it were a tribe like los Iroquois or if it was their nickname/title like la Chinita [a historical woman]
3. Ser and Estar
Always a problem.
Ser is used with description, qualities, telling time, passive voice, what something is made of, what something is used for, set personality traits, and a few others.
Estar is used for location, temporary conditions (sick, tired, cloudy etc.), a person’s mood and NOT their personality, the progressive, and a few others.
The difference is best learned by practice and repeated example.
4. Ser and Haber
While ser is used for “to be”, one of the main functions of haber is “to be present/existing” which is typically hay but may be hubo/había/habrá etc. depending on the tense.
Son sillas = They are chairs
Hay sillas = There are chairs
When it’s a question of, “What is it?” you use ser.
When it’s a question of, “Does it exist?” use haber.
5. Addressing all letters with Querido/a for “dear”
In English, we just have “dear”. In Spanish there are two ways to say it.
Querido/a comes from querer which means “to love”. So querido/a means “dear” as in “person I care about” or sometimes “beloved”.
Generally, estimado/a is what you want to use when it’s someone above your station like a boss or a teacher, because “esteemed” is giving them respect and is more formal.
The real difference is if you’re on a first name basis, querido/a is fine.
If you’re not, or if you’re being formal, or it’s a stranger, estimado/a is what you want to use.
If you’re comfortable enough to begin a letter with, “Hey!” or “Yo!” then you can use querido/a but it can be seen as disrespectful or extremely buddy-buddy friendly to use querido/a instead of estimado/a in some contexts.
6. The use of americano/a
While americano/a is very commonly used for “American”, there are places where it’s frowned upon when you mean “from the United States”.
Because, while americano/a means “American” it refers to North AND/OR South America. Canada is “American”, Brazil is “American”, Haiti is “American”, Argentina is “American”.
So you might see: España tuvo colonias americanas / “Spain had American colonies”.
When you mean “from/pertaining to the U.S.”, it’s better to use estadounidense which means “from Los Estados Unidos” just to avoid accidentally being ethnocentric.
Estoy frío/a. = I am distant, not friendly, frigid, or a cold fish.
[Note: estoy frío/a can also be used in the sense of “my body is colder than average”; generally the estar kind of implies “a body” and not a person… so you could say el muerto está frío which would mean “the dead man is cold” which is “to the touch”. Worse than this would be soy frío/a which is more obviously “I am frigid and dislike people”.]
10. Position and Directionality - debajo vs. abajo, atrás vs. detrás, ante vs. antes etc.
Generally, de- implies that something is in a particular position. And generally, a- implies that there is motion.
The trick to these words is if you are describing something’s static position, versus a state of movement.
debajo = underneath
abajo = downward
detrás = behind
atrás = moving behind [<<¡Atrás!>> as an interjection is, “Stand back!”]
tras = after / pursuing / chasing / following
ante = (to stand) before [e.g. ante la Corte "before the Court"; ante la Corona “before the Crown”]
antes = before (something happens) / just in front
11. Use of excitado/a
excitado/a = aroused sexually
emocionado/a = excited / filled with emotions of anticipation and maybe nervousness
12. Use of capable
capar = to neuter / to castrate
capable = able to be castrated
capaz = capable / having ability
13. Darse cuenta vs. Realizar
Both translate as “to realize” but in different senses.
Using darse cuenta is saying “to realize” as in “to have a revelation” or “to come to understand something” and is usually what you want.
Using realizar is saying “to make a reality” or “to finalize”. This is used primarily with projects or when making dreams a reality. It’s better translated as “to carry out” or “to finish”.
14. Preguntar vs. Pedir
Both mean “to ask” but not in the same way.
To ask a question is usually hacer una pregunta or preguntar. When you use preguntar you’re saying “to question (someone)” or “to ask about something of which you don’t know”. Hacer una pregunta is more often “to ask (someone) a question”.
Pedir on the other hand is “to ask for (something)”. It may be easier to think of it as “to request”. It’s most often associated with asking forgiveness [pedir disculpas], making demands, and especially in the sense of “ordering” at a restaurant.
15. Capitalizing everything in a sequence/title
Spanish typically capitalizes only the first letter of a sentence or sequence or title. English takes after German in the way of capitalizing every noun but not the prepositions or particle. Just be aware that this does not apply for proper names within the title.
So for instance…
Cien años de soledad = One Hundred Years of Solitude
Alicia en el país de las maravillas = Alice in Wonderland
Lo que el viento se llevó = Gone with the Wind
La vuelta al mundo en ochenta días = Around the World in 80 Days
El mago de Oz = The Wizard of Oz
16. Overuse of para with various verbs
Most commonly, this mistake happens with esperar "to wait for" and buscar “to look for”.
People commonly write buscar para or esperar para, but because the “for” is already implied, there’s no need to add para.
Busco mi libro. = I’m looking for my book.
Busco novio. = I’m looking for a boyfriend.
Busco a ella. - I’m looking for her.
Estoy esperando el autobús. = I’m waiting for the bus.
Estoy esperando a ella. - I’m waiting for her.
17. Moverse vs. Mudarse
moverse = to move physically
mudarse = to move places of residence
*Note: mudar by itself means “to mutate” or “to molt” which is different from both of these meanings
18. Older/Younger vs. Elder/Younger
This is a problem that exists because English, but in Spanish there’s a clear distinction between both sets of words.
viejo/a / joven = old / young as in age
mayor / menor = elder / younger as in sequence of age
Mi hermana es mucho más mayor que yo. - My sister is much older than me. [“My sister is my senior in age because she was born first”]
Mi hermana es mucho más vieja que yo. - My sister is more of an old woman than me. [“My sister is a senior citizen”]
*Note: There’s a bit more leeway with joven and menor… the general distinction is that joven implies “youth”, but menor means “younger than” which implies a sequence.
19. Using en with days of the week / months of the year
Generally, with days of the week or months of the year, people are more likely to say: “On Tuesday” and write en martes
In Spanish, that’s not how it’s done. It’s more common to use el to imply a due date or when something occurs.
La tarea es para el lunes. - The homework is due Monday.
Hagan la tarea para el viernes. - Do the homework by Friday
Mi cumpleaños es en febrero. = My birthday is in February.
Mi cumpleaños es el diez de febrero. = My birthday is February 10th.
20. Historia vs. Cuento
la historia = a long story / history (the subject)
el cuento = a short story [related to contar “to tell”]
21. Words that end in -a that are masculine, words that end in -o that are feminine
This is mastered by repetition. Sometimes it’s because they’re loanwords (especially from Greek)
el día [Indo-European and not Greek] = day
el poema [Greek] = poem
el clima [Greek] = climate
el aroma [Greek] = smell / aroma
el programa [Greek] = program
Other times they’re abbreviations
la radio(grafía) = radio / radiography
la moto(cicleta) = motorcycle
la bici(cleta) = bicycle
la tele(visión) = television
You just have to do your best to learn them as you go.
la radio = radio [the machine or a radio program]
el radio = radius [geometry]
22. Reflexives with me, te and nos
When a reflexive is listed, it’s often in the “unconjugated” infinitive + reflexive se.
So for instance, irse “to leave” is listed as irse in the dictionary. When it’s conjugated however, the reflexive must adhere to the subject.
So when it's yo it turns to me and so on:
Tengo que irme. = I have to leave.
Tienes que irte. = You need to leave.
Ella tiene que irse. = She needs to leave.
Ellos tienen que irse. = They need to leave.
Tenemos que irnos. = We need to leave.
*Note: This applies to all reflexives and in all tenses; me fui, te fuiste, se fue; me iba, te ibas, se iba;me vaya, te vayas, se vaya and so on.
The se is only used for 3rd person, singular or plural.
No matter how in love with your partner you are at the beginning of your relationship and how perfect they seem to be for you, how compatible, how enchanting. Even with all that good stuff, you have got to stay engaged with them, or it won’t last.
If you start to treat your partner like they’re just furniture in your life, you are going to fall out of love. Y'all gotta keep talking to each other, being honest, being affectionate, being loving and respectful, and real with each other. Or you’ll drift apart. True love isn’t a finish line; it’s a beginning. Harmony is never a static state.
Birthday - EF - Sigali Siman Tov Sat, June 17 …. it is birthday time and we wish Sigali a very happy one .. love from all of us ..Ef
Many are the arts in their finality that have been designed for me .. and they are truly most artistic .. but really some of the photographs that keep appearing on the platforms are truly amazing .. I wonder where it is obtained from .. and they rightly deserve a mention on record of its occurrence ..
An afternoon in Tashkent, Russia .. during the festival of films .. Raj Kapoor ji, Shashi ji were also there .. as were the family .. Shweta and Abhishek barely seen along with Jaya ..Abhishek actually signed his first autograph at this event .. quite confident he was asked by one of the Russian hosts to do so and he did .. we all laughed ..
Raj ji Shashji and I were placed before a mike and asked to sing a song .. any song .. and Raj ji took the lead and we sang ‘Saare Jahaan se achcha, Hindustan hamara ..’
‘The Great Gatsby’ premiere at Cannes .. and with the star Leonardo di Caprio at the red carpet and then on stage .. me giving introduction speech in Hindi .. 100 years of Indian Cinema .. he a most humble and down to earth co star .. caring and considerate through out the making of the film ..
Visiting Jaya on the sets of ‘Hazaar Chaurasi ki Ma’ ..Govind Nihalani the director .. and the eating and feeding continues .. !! this at Raj Kamal Studios ..
Oh … i could just go on and on and on .. but thank you Ef for these inputs ..
and there be many more .. and I am unsure how these are made .. would someone enlighten me ..
Lamenting deficiencies may take away the pain of it for an instant .. but the long run remains with them ; the deficiencies .. if some is deformed and ugly .. there shall be some that is formed and beautiful .. the balance of nature is beyond all doubt .. having and being in possession of the best, the worth, the biggest and the largest are mere adjectives to describe them .. in practical terms they are just alphabets .. thoughts of the mind and the physical presence of the material - and deficiencies are often valued against deficiencies - shall ever remain .. and shall remain with them that are in possession of the deficient .. no other will or shall have the capacity to give the feel of it .. it never can .. for they are not the sufferer .. the sufferer is the one that holds it .. holds it day and night, lives breathes with it .. suffers its inadequate performance or demands of it .. other than him there are perhaps sympathisers .. and we know all about them from one of Babuji’s poems described earlier ..
Deficiency needs bearing and will .. the will to still be in its strength, even though all else crumbles about .. others will refer to it as that .. you will never .. for admitting it is a failure .. a retirement .. a death ..
As someone once said : ‘To retire is to die’ !!
Kill not thyself by the limitations of what could not happen, or was not what was required .. not of standard .. of lesser quality ..
That lesser, has the capacity to be the best example of more .. for when the less does normal, it becomes the more ..
Having more and stating its presence as more .. is boring .. static ..
Having less and stating its more or building up to more is revolution and reigning the crown ..
I shall have the lesser than most other .. but the will to make it seem or look more is the battle that shall be won .. and win we shall .. everyone is not perfect ..
And should never be ..
The perfect have no place on Earth .. on life .. on with us .. on with us in humanity .. for if thou art perfect, then why wait here in the world of Mother Earth .. your place is not required here .. you would be better off ‘upstairs’ .. leave us mortals to work out our imperfections, until ..
you know I expect a certain amount of age discourse these days but I have to say seeing folks freak out over “sexualization of minors” is really harkening back to that Puritan Morality post
like, you can even side-skip the entire question! because first we have to ask who determines a minor? it’s not even static in all 50 states! let alone what “sexualizing” means and how it’s been deployed in the past to accuse REAL queer adults of pedophilia
(this accusation never seems to manifest with het ships for Some Unknown Reason, and I have absolutely and positively ZERO idea Why that could POSSIBLY be, of course)
almost like there’s a history to this accusation and people need to sit the fuck down and read a book before they start mouthing off with the latest bullshit batch of performative SJW tumblr rhetoric
Hi! I've been thinking about the episode Barn Mates after the loud criticism and/or hatred directed towards it. The main critique is usually that Lapis forgiving Peridot was "forced", "rushed" and what have you. I admit I did find it a bit weird in spite of being a long time Lapidot shipper... but going through everything I realised there's an often overlooked detail. Namely, no one forced Lapis to stay anyway near the barn, but she kept hovering in the near vincinity. (1/4)
She knows where Steven lives; it’s not like she could never find
him again if she left. If Peridots presence caused her such grief,
there’s no reason she would stay around; Steven already made it clear
that the barn was given to Peridot first. Personally, I think she held
something akin to a grudge against Peridot for bringing her back to
Earth and just didn’t want to accept the fact that she had changed so
It fits into the theme of Same Old World when Steven shows that Earth is
constantly changing - something she never realised out of the spite she
held for the planet she was trapped on. In Barn Mates, Steven tried to
show her that people change, too. How does her character evolve in Alone
at Sea? She allows herself to start working on her past trauma, being
forced into a state of staticity, when she lets herself change with her
new experiences and apologizes to Jasper for mistreating her. (¾)
You can’t have any of these episodes without the others. Seeing it from
this perspective has made Barn Mates one of my favourite episodes
because of the underlying theme of allowing to let go and look ahead
(and, well, I’d lie if I said that I didn’t enjoy the Lapis/Peridot
interactions). What are your thoughts? Maybe I’m way off, haha. Anon
love from Sweden! (Sorry for spamming your inbox by the way!) (4/4)
Hi Anon, and thanks so much for sending this through!
I honestly think you might be onto something there.
No-one was forcing Lapis to stay at the barn, you’re right. I think that, at first, she might have wanted to keep the place for herself; of course, in the end her and Peridot decided to share it instead.
I do wonder if this might have been the first time that Lapis ever actually forgave someone, thanks to Steven.
We know that Lapis has a tendency to lash out at people when she feels wronged (such as when she attacks the Crystal Gems in Mirror Gem and then, of course, trapping Jasper in a toxic fusion). She really doesn’t forgive very easily - and she certainly has a lot of resentment towards Peridot at the start of Barn Mates. I think the turning point was when she broke the tape recorder and Peridot said:
“Look, I get it, you know? You’re confused! You can never go
back to Homeworld. This place doesn’t exactly feel like home yet.
You’re alone, no one could possibly know what that feels like! Oh wait, Ido! We’re the same, except… you don’t have to be alone!”
I think, at this point, Lapis may have began to “get” Peridot’s true intentions. She still lashes out at Peridot and tells her to leave, but I get the impression that she felt bad for that (as well as breaking the tape recorder) - especially after Steven called her out for it. She certainly looks like she’s contemplating something, and almost looks to be feeling a bit guilty judging from her body language in that scene.
And I think that is why she saved Peridot from the Roaming Eye. She even specifically stopped to ask Peridot if she was okay afterwards (and we all know what happened next, don’t we~)
After she forgave Peridot, I wonder if she did some soul-searching and began to wonder if she herself could also be forgiven for her past actions - hence the apology to Jasper. She sought the forgiveness of someone who she mistreated, just how Peridot did in Barn Mates. She even refers to herself as a “monster” - a far cry from the Lapis who’s always been the victim in the past. Although, of course, Alone At Sea didn’t end as well as Barn Mates - which is probably deliberate, actually, to directly contrast a toxic “relationship” with a healthy one.
As for Lapidot being “rushed”. I’ve said this before, but it’s literally because Lapis and Peridot don’t live with Steven. We see everything from his perspective; so if he doesn’t see what’s happening, then neither do we. It’s unfortunate, but it’s to be expected. As important as Lapidot (as well as Lapis and Peridot themselves) is to us though, we must remember that they’re minor characters. They live on their own, away from the main cast, and of course we’re not going to see anywhere near as much of them as we do the main Crystal Gems.
If they’re happy together, them I’m happy. The ship is basically canon at this point anyway ;)
It’s interesting, this song coming immediately after Good News, a song about caring what
people think, about shouldn’ts,
because it’s a love song, and so often, especially in pop music, love songs are
defiant statements against every single shouldn’t.
Except, more accurately, this is a break-up song, a heartbreak song, about
all of the shoulds she never finds.
She bends herself around this new absence in her life, becoming a facsimile of
that very absence in an attempt to refind it: whenever I close my eyes/I’m chasing your tail lights and I know you left hours ago/I still haven’t
moved yet, her static state highlighting the lack of any other movement in
the house, the only movement the flicker behind her eyes as she dreams.
Once again, she is trapped inside herself: the walls of my skull bend backwards/and in
like a labyrinth, I can’t think of anyone else: a labyrinth containing only
her and the memories of her ex, trapped, lost. The song is a synaesthetic
explosion of heartbreak (ringing in my
ears tastes like blood), other senses taking over in the utter failure of
language. Something initially feels
like it could be replaced by ‘anything’ – if only I had spoken, if only there
had been words – but both something and
nothing perform more than one
function in this song.
Something is a
presence, yes, but it also implies substance. In the chorus she sings:
I should have said
something, something, something
But I couldn’t find
something to say
So I just said
nothing, nothing, nothing
Sat and watched you
The repetition and the verb ‘find’ gives language a slippy
materiality, and she is unable to form it into anything meaningful, echoing the
bland platitudes in Sprained Ankle (isn’t the weather nice, are you okay?).
The same thing happens with ‘nothing’, it’s repetition means, here, it no
longer feels like simple absence, but a shoving, pushing thing, the insistence on speaking aloud the nonsensical, the
meaningless. However, in the second chorus, the additional line and I know I meant nothing, nothing to you
is added, and here it is absence,
albeit an active one, a gaping chasm, notable because of its wrongness. She is
passive here, in her watching, and her lack of solid speech, and I was going to
write about the final line, about I won’t
think of anyone else, and the tinge of self-indulgence of that. It reminds
me of that line in Pride and Prejudice:
“a girl likes to be crossed in love now and then…it gives her a certain
distinction among her peers”. Nobody wants to be heartbroken, but there is a
temptation to wrap yourself in that sort of emotion, to wallow in it a little.
Won’t only appears
in the final line of the song: the rest of the time she is stuck in can’t, and so perhaps that admission of
will, which might otherwise feel like defeat, is a kind of progress. She is
giving herself the power to move on, admitting it is in her control. She’s not
there yet, she’s not doing it yet, but it’s a possibility. And that, after all,
I absolutely love your blog. I'll keep my question brief. I was wondering if you had any techniques to increase sensitivity to spirits ? When I was younger it was a bit easier, usually "feeling" them in terms of emotions and the rare image in my head of how they look (mileage varied with this, sometimes they were in great detail, other times a general idea). The reason I am asking is that I'd really love to cultivate friendships with the spirits in my area for help with rituals etc. Thank in adv
Practice evocation to physical manifestation. The presence of the spirits in proper evocation is undoubtable, and quite unique. With time, as you proceed through necromancy, their presence outside of the ritual chamber will easily be detectable. Magic relies on the available media it can manifest in, if you do not posses the ability to see, hear or feel spirits, or the skill required for physical manifestation, then you should employ the use of Scrying tools, Static noise and “Altered states”.
As for how one may aquire “the sight”, there are many rites one can find to gain it, varying from year long rituals or training the eyes to Flagellation and spirit pacting. Consider your options and see what works for you.
Either Jin or Hobi + folding paper cranes prompt pretty please :D <3
[A/N] I hope you don’t mind but I put my own spin on this prompt!
The first one is sloppy. Nothing more than a crinkled ball of I tried and Christ, what a mess you are. The paper, once a smooth six-by-six sheet of pastel pink elegance, now sits on the table as a disaster of ragged lines and questionable folds. When you poke at its wings the clumsy crane only fidgets once, sighing in dejection before falling back into its state of staticity.
(That one is banished in a spot behind the napkin dispenser, where it stays all but forgotten until you finish the last bird and gather them into a neat little pile.)
The second one is mildly better. It’s still gawky and resembles more closely a paper leaf than it does a bird, but you think that you’re beginning to get the hang of it. It’s not that you have butter fingers, oh no. It’s just that, folding origami is somewhat new to you and you can only count on youtube tutorials for guidance (thank God for the internet), so you think that you’re somewhat entitled to a degree of beginner’s ineptitude.
It’s hard work, slow, but one by one, you’re getting closer to your goal.
If you had only one wish in this world, what would it be?
Spock is a successor to Surak in every sense of the word.
The parallels between them are uncanny. While Surak brought intellectual enlightenment to advance Vulcan society beyond its primitive instincts, Spock brought forth intellectual enlightenment that would reunify the severed ties between Vulcans and Romulans, and reunite them in an attempt to finish what Surak began. In other words, Spock broke the barriers between logic and emotion, in hopes of improving the lives of more than just the two species themselves.
When Surak’s teachings influenced the initial split, it sent a powerful message to the universe-–you are not biologically bound to the constraints of your species. If you devote your life to one of peace, understanding, and logical thought, you may overcome your species’s irrationally paranoid, violent past. This was what the new order of Vulcans needed to see at the Time of the Awakening, in order to move forward and progress as a civilization. They needed this new direction, or they were sure to destroy themselves within the next hundred years.
Fast forward about two thousand years into the future, and Vulcans have done quite well for themselves. They are technologically advanced, maintain a deep sense of culture and history to be preserved, and are existentially curious and intelligent. They are still intolerant of emotionally-driven creatures (due to their history and innate fear of what lies outside Surak’s teachings), as demonstrated by how Spock was treated for having a human mother. What was seen as a disadvantage in his abilities to be a Vulcan became an advantage to him for how holistically he saw the universe. When Spock began his attempts to reunify Vulcans and Romulans, he was creating a new order–one in which logic and emotion could live together, fused and bonded in a way that was not only functional, but advantageous for their philosophical and intellectual advancement. He was able to do this because he possessed such strong components of each, and spending his time in Starfleet around humans for all those years taught him more than anything else could about being a compassionate individual. The message that Spock was sending to the universe, while similar to Surak’s in terms of striving to be something beyond your biological nature, was that logic and emotion do not exist in opposition–but rather a fusion of the two could be the cornerstone of peaceful, wise, unified civilizations. This was the necessary message of the time in order to stop Vulcans and Romulans from destroying each other, and make progress in a way that would lead by example and inspire the rest of the universe to become more unified.
What this demonstrates is that civilizations change, and with that change requires new priorities and new goals to strive for. The static state of Vulcan and Romulan societies had to be broken at some point, and Spock was just the one to do it. What was even more uncanny about the parallels between Spock and Surak was that they both died of radiation poisoning–-Spock at the hands of his closest friends and loved ones, and Surak, alone in Mount Seleya, where his katra would never fully be revived. Spock’s katra was able to survive because of his friends, butSurak had no one, and lived on through the myths and memories of Vulcans throughout thousands of years.
Both Spock and Surak made these sacrifices so that future generations could have better lives than they did. For Surak, this meant allowing Vulcans a chance at a better tomorrow–-one free of war and violence among themselves-–while for Spock, this meant allowing the entire Federation of Planets a brighter future of peace and acceptance across all planets. Each of them deeply believed that the needs of the many outweighed the needs of the few, and in their most critical points of existence, they simply did what was necessary in order for their ideas to survive–-even if their physical bodies could not. One can begin to reshape the landscape with a single flower, but a flower that will remain unwatered will not survive long enough to reshape that landscape. When each of them made their final sacrifices, they knew that they were leaving the worlds they came from in good hands–-for Surak in his followers, and for Spock in James T. Kirk.
Unofficial MBTI tests can be inaccurate and the accompanying
descriptions are sometimes written by people who may or may not know
very much about type theory. Some people understand the 16 types through
memorizing labels or stereotypes and this might make them blind to the
diversity and subtleties of each type. If you want to understand typology and yourself beyond oversimplified
labels or generic descriptions, it is necessary to learn about cognitive function theory. Cognitive function theory tells us many things:
Type describes your cognitive motivations and the process through which you make sense of the world. To understand personality, it is important to properly distinguish between cognition and behavior. Cognition refers to your mental processes whereas behavior refers to the things you do
that can be easily observed/measured by other people. Type is not
merely about describing how people behave, rather, it goes deeper to
examine the cognitive processes that produce patterns of thinking and
behavior. Each type has a unique cognitive signature but humans are not
programmed machines, in other words, thinking something does not automatically lead to doing
something. Type outlines your cognitive preferences but humans
presumably have free will, so you can choose to override those
preferences whenever necessary. Personality is only one of many, many
factors that can influence what beliefs people adopt, what values they
cherish, and what decisions they make. Personality does not predict
everything you do but it is one important factor that can help explain
why you ended up making the choices you made.
Stereotypes erase individual differences and render type useless for understanding real people.
Many generic descriptions assign certain behavioral traits to each type
which easily morph into stereotypes that people rely on to understand
others. Stereotypes can be harmful if they prey on your insecurities, or
if they offer you a false sense of validation, or if you use them to
pigeonhole others unfairly. On the surface, labels might seem positive
because people want to feel understood and labels are an easy device for
communicating about yourself to other people, however, simplistic
labels and stereotypes can lock you into seeing yourself and others in a
rigid way, cutting off the potential for growth or deeper
understanding. Everyone has their own unique history and life
circumstances to deal with, so every individual is a unique example of
their type. Let’s say that you often observe someone to be reserved, it
is all too easy to jump to the conclusion that they are introverted.
However, there are many possible non-type-related reasons why a person
might behave that way, such as: depression, some recent tragedy, past
learning, cultural influences, and so on. Therefore, when trying to type
yourself or other people, you are likely to make the wrong inferences
if you rely on stereotypes or simply take behaviors at face value; you
should instead try to grasp the cognitive processes that produced those
behaviors, which is a much more difficult task.
Type does not predict or determine what you will be skilled at (it
only tells you what aspects of reality you tend to pay more attention
to). No type is inherently more talented in a particular skill,
field, job, or career. Certain kinds of skills or subjects might appeal
to you more because of your type but there is no guarantee that you will
end up being GOOD AT learning or studying them. In fact, frequently
referenced concepts like intelligence or talent fall outside of the
cognitive type system (though they interact in complex ways). In other
words, personality and skill are two different issues.
To become good at something requires more than just personality, e.g.,
it requires aptitude, hard work, dedication, passion, education,
resources, and so on.
4. Type describes growth and development, so it should not be understood as a fixed or static psychological state.
In cognitive function theory, personality is conceptualized as a
dynamic process. Types grow and evolve over the course of a lifetime and
each type is prone to certain developmental pitfalls.
When you understand the principles of type development, you can exercise
more control over your developmental process, consciously steering your
self-development in a more positive direction.
Type should be used as a tool to increase self-awareness rather than
used as an excuse for problematic thoughts, emotions, or behaviors. Learning about cognitive functions will help you gradually know yourself better. When you understand your strengths and weaknesses
in greater depth, you have a chance to make the necessary corrections
and/or practice the necessary skills to bring better balance to your
personality. This allows you to master your outlook on life and improve
your ability to adapt to changes and challenges. You will be able to see
yourself and the world more realistically and then make better
Hello! Warning my blog is very explicit. But I don't care to ever use the anon switch. I'm an infj plagued with this horrible need to replay events 300x and either feel guilty, imagine a different/better scenario, or mentally slap myself for insignificant things. HOW can I practice to stop this?? By the way your blog is amazing. I have your ego development post written out on giant post it notes hanging on my wall.
I’m glad you find the blog helpful. As for your question, I will take this opportunity to discuss the phenomenon of rumination or mentally replaying past events because INFJs are not the only types who are prone to this frustrating behavior. People tend to ruminate because it is an important part of the process of trying to make sense of their experiences. Introverts are more likely to do this because they already process information inwardly. But extraverts will engage in this behavior when they are stressed, depressed, or feeling lost in life, and they will utilize their introverted functions to withdraw inside themselves to reflect. Depending on which function you are using for rumination:
Introverted Sensing (Si)
Si types are perhaps the best known for this kind of behavior because they naturally have a past-oriented focus. They consider past experiences as an integral part of who they are and they use personally meaningful knowledge and memories to construct their sense of self. They will tend to revisit past events, positive or negative, in order to maintain their internal sense of stability and identity. This is how they find existential meaning in life.
To stop ruminating, it would be important to realize that the past does not necessarily have to define who you are. You have free will which means that, in any moment, you can choose to do something different than what you have done before, that is, there are always new possibilities to explore. Sometimes, it is absolutely necessary to let go of a past version of yourself in order to evolve into a better version of yourself, but this cannot happen if you are too fearful of risk, change, or uncertainty, or afraid of losing yourself by letting go of a memory. Sometimes, holding on to the past is even a convenient excuse people use to avoid confronting the scary unknowns of the future.
While it is important to learn from past mistakes, dwelling in them is not a useful exercise because, no matter how many times you replay the same event over and over again, it will never change anything. Drawing illogical relationships between past, present, and future can keep you stuck in one place, unable to move forward. The past does not always determine the future, for example, it would be a mistake to think that the more you flip a coin, the more you can change the next outcome.
Sometimes past and future have no connection and sometimes they do, however, the most important thing is: What you do right now in the present is what actually affects the future, so choosing to waste the now to focus on the past keeps you living in a static state where progress becomes impossible.
You should understand that what you have experienced up until now is just an infinitesimal fraction of the whole of human experience, thus, it is extremely self-limiting to base one’s entire identity on only a few fleeting moments. If you only pay attention to the things that are familiar or comfortable or known or already defined, you will have difficulty growing and fulfilling your potential because your movements will be too slow and hesitant, even stagnant in the most extreme cases because you are always turning away from the possibility of doing something different to get a new result. Try to expand your vision of yourself in different outward directions in order to keep moving forward, then you will realize that there is more to life than what you have already done or seen or been.
Introverted Intuition (Ni)
Ni types replay negative past events as a way to search for some meaning behind what happened in terms of finding a sense of closure as well as learning something that can help one make sense of the future. Therefore, until they can fully process an event, they have difficulty letting go of it. They can get stuck on only one negative way of seeing the situation and this can get very frustrating, almost like listening to a broken record that is replaying the same two seconds over and over. Ni is idealistic in wanting to have a clear plan for the future, which means that it can form high expectations about what reality should be like, making a person very frustrated when reality falls short, and this can lead to self-blame or wanting a chance to set things “right” when things are perceived to have gone “wrong”.
To stop ruminating, it would be important to realize that: 1) past events don’t necessary have any deep meaning, 2) past events don’t necessarily predict future outcomes, 3) unrealistic ideals or expectations are your own mental constructions that make you too emotionally invested in situations, causing you to be chronically dissatisfied with the present, and 4) sometimes the facts are just the simple and plain facts, and no amount of interpretation or re-interpretation is going to change them. To put it crudely: shit happens. Sometimes bad things happen and there is really no satisfying rhyme or reason for it except that sometimes people do shitty things and get shitty results. Secondly, just because something bad happened or you did something bad, it doesn’t mean that you or the event is doomed to repeat in the future. You have free will, so you can learn from past mistakes and choose to do things differently at any point. Just because you failed in the past, doesn’t mean you will fail again. And, even if you do fail again, refer to the first point: shit happens.
For example, just because you screwed up a previous relationship doesn’t mean that your present relationship will suffer the same fate. Actually, the more you focus on the past failure, the more you are setting up a self-fulfilling prophecy because you cannot appreciate the new situation for what it really is, that is, you keep viewing the present through the lens of the past mistake and this will actually make you more prone to repeating it. In essence, you keep seeing the old version of yourself and being that version instead of consciously creating a new and better version of yourself. Therefore, do not punish yourself for the past or indulge sad feelings about what went wrong, rather, learn from it and try to be better. Focus on what you can do in the present to make up for the past and create a new and better future for yourself. That is how progress is made.
You should understand that how you choose to interpret a situation is how it will have meaning but there are often many ways of looking at something. Readjust your perspective to fit reality. Life is not always predictable so it is important to be adaptable and realistic. There is randomness and chaos that cannot always be understood, so sometimes you have to be content with things being “good enough” or accept that things are so-called “imperfect” or simply leave it at
“agreeing to disagree”. Life is messy so deal with it. Be more patient to look at things from different perspectives. The ultimate truth is never just one way of seeing something, rather, it is actually being able to see something from every angle. The 360 view will bring you closer to the truth but you can’t get that broader view if you stay stuck in your own head and avoid/ignore what the facts are telling you.
Introverted Feeling (Fi)
Fi types replay past events because they are looking for a sense of internal harmony, that is, they want to reconcile how they feel on the inside with the reality of the outside world but it can be hard to do when the two sides are at odds. Replaying past events over and over inadvertently widens your separation from the outside world because you end up overindulging your feelings and taking everything that happens too personally, making you feel completely entangled in a problem with no way out. The more you unconsciously view yourself as separate
with your own unique pain and experiences, the harder it will be for you
to escape your own perspective and see the world accurately, and the
harder it will be for others to reach you with the outside support that
you need. In other words, you are much more than just how you feel at
any given moment, so learn to see things in a broader and more objective way.
Open up your mind to other perspectives to get a better view of the
facts and explore other ways of interpreting situations so that you can
avoid being too personally biased in how you see things. If it is a
relationship problem, try to understand the situation from the other
person’s point of view as accurately as possible because their experience might be
very different from yours but equally valid from their standpoint.
To stop ruminating, realize that sitting around wishing that things
could be different will ultimately lead you nowhere because it doesn’t
solve anything or change anything for the better. Feeling separate from
the world by dwelling in your own pain means that you do not see
yourself as an active player but as a passive experiencer, a victim
even. Getting stuck on the past is essentially getting stuck in your own
personal perspective of a situation (your own private hell, as it were), which means
that you are not approaching the problem objectively nor are you doing anything
to solve the problem.
Think about how you make decisions moment to moment and whether those
decisions really produce good outcomes for you, according to
standards other than your own.
For example, just because it feels right
for you in the moment to avoid a problem, it will not produce good
outcomes for you in the long run.
Personal expectations, preferences, and feelings are very important and
should be given appropriate attention when necessary but they should
not be the only factors that you use for making decisions.
There are bigger
things that need attention and you must learn how to put your feelings aside when necessary and attend to problems with
more determination to solve them, especially if it will help you reach
an important goal. Therefore, try to become more systematic in how you analyze problems and make decisions.
Readjust your values, ideals, or expectations to fit the reality around you. It is very
important to do this or you will feel perpetually unhappy and
unfulfilled, unable to achieve a sense of progress or inner peace.
Do not expect that the world can fully conform itself to you and
accommodate your needs, you must also do something to actively conform
yourself to the world - finding the right balance is the key.
Reflect on what is good for you, what will help you to move forward, and what actions you can take to pursue positive development. Instead of passively brooding or waiting for things to happen or writing off people/situations or trying to avoid/escape from things, create a concrete plan of action to move your life forward in a way that can make up for past mistakes or negative events, learning from them and building upon them so that you can put them behind you, and then you can loosen your grip on past experiences rather than using them as a crutch or an excuse to linger in your comfort zone and avoid the demands of life. Focus on the changes that can be made right now to improve things rather than wasting your time thinking about the things that cannot be changed.
Introverted Thinking (Ti)
Ti types replay past events because they are looking for a formulaic or causal understanding of what happened and how they arrived at their current (bad) situation. Systematically analyzing past events can provide lessons or clues about how to proceed, however, sometimes it can be quite impossible to find the true cause of what happened, especially because the human world is so complex, with so many moving parts and variables that it is simply too difficult to grasp how they all work together. The drive to overanalyze and figure out exactly what happened is often emotionally motivated. Bad outcomes often produce hurt, fear, or anger, and obsessing about figuring out every detail of what happened and how and why actually deflects attention away from resolving those negative emotions.
To stop ruminating, get to the root of the problem. The past cannot be changed no matter how many times you think it through or how many ways you try to analyze it. Thus, instead of running through scenarios over and over in your mind, analyze how you are reacting emotionally to the situation, whether you contributed to the problem, how you can take responsibility, learn from it, and move forward.
Resolving negative emotions will help you to see a situation more
accurately because you will feel less personally invested
Do not resist your emotions but allow yourself to feel them and process them appropriately.
Ti has a tendency to confuse facts and values, sometimes failing to see that making value judgments is not the same as making factual statements. For example, a
relationship can break up for many different reasons, so do not assume
that it was one particular thing that caused the outcome. Look
more closely at what the other person was thinking or how they were
feeling all throughout the relationship. Did you really understand their feelings and motivations accurately enough? Perhaps you will try to look for flaws or shortcomings in yourself or the other person and use them to analyze the relationship, even trying to assign fault or blame. However, sometimes there really is nothing “wrong”. Rightness and wrongness are value judgments and value judgments are not objective statements of fact because they are open to interpretation based on subjective vantage point. Sometimes two people simply do not share the same worldview and, therefore, they are unable to maintain a strong connection for a long period of time. Sometimes, no one is in the right or in the wrong and there is genuinely no solution that can keep the relationship going in a healthy manner. Being determined to mentally calculate the “truth” about reasons, fault, blame, responsibility in retrospect is a fool’s errand that distracts you from dealing with your own issues, thereby impeding positive growth and development.
Ti has a tendency to draw a direct relationship between a person’s behavior and their motivation, assuming that everyone always acts with rational intention, but there can be a lot of internal and external factors that lead people to behave a certain way unconsciously or unpredictably, that is, you cannot always know the complexities of another person’s experience - you can only really know yourself and what part you played. Therefore, it is important to avoid jumping to conclusions or developing an overly simplistic or judgmental view of other people or relationships. Try to understand the other person’s point of view and how it differs from yours and why their view may be equally valid from their standpoint. Admit that a mistake was made, admit that you feel bad about it, admit your part in the error, learn the lesson and move on.
I love reading all your meta! I'm curious: why is Namatame considered 'Despair' and Adachi 'Emptiness'? When I played the game I thought it was the other way around, so I'm curious to hear your analysis.
It has to do with what drives the characters.
Yu was driven by the “Hope” that the case can be solved, despite the fact that reality is subjective and truths can be wrapped. This was how Izanami tested the potential of “hope”.
Namatame was driven by the “Despair” of his situation, having lost everything he loved, and being put into a situation where he could only watch more people die like his love did. He acted simply because he knew no other way out and panicked, but also because he was desperately trying to give his life a meaning again. This was how Izanami tested the potential of people driven to “despair”.
Then, we have Adachi. Adachi is a mess of a person: He feels life has given up on him, so he’s given up on himself. He lives day in and day out without caring about improving his situation or doing anything, his fridge is filled with beer and cheap cabbage because whatever, he barely even tries doing a good job at work because whatever, he doesn’t try to forge relationships with people because, whatever. Adachi’s given up on life, yet he’s not so desperate he’d be suicidal. He’s in a static state, unchanging, and just numb to whatever is going on around him, because he’s detached himself entirely from his own ambitions out of frustration. This is why he’s “Emptiness”: Nothing drives him. He doesn’t allow his ambitions, or connections, or anything to drive him… Which is why he actually *does* get a kick out of being so terrified when the case is happening: The terribleness of what he’s doing and the fear of being caught *force* him to care. It makes him feel extreme emotions. To someone who’s been cutting himself off from all caring like he did, that must have been one hell of an adrenaline kick, which was probably a big reason why he acted like he enjoyed the whole thing when the IT confronted him: He was terrified of being caught, but that fear itself actually filled the “void” he had created to cut himself off from his own frustration with life. It’s like how some people laugh like mad when they’re on a roller coaster, despite being actually afraid of heights: Being terrified is thrilling.
Izanami used Adachi to test what the basic desires of a person with seemingly no ambitions would be, and if these desires would win out against those of people with hope or people in despair. Adachi was “Emptiness” because he’d emptied out his *entire* life by giving up on having any and all ambitions. Honestly, if the case hadn’t happened, he’d probably just have continued to deteriorate for lack of taking care of himself. Eventually he’d either have caved in to Dojima’s attempts to be his pal, or he’d just have snapped some other way. No person can stand living in the emotional void for that long.
Maitreya said, “In the state where there is no coming, the state of bodhisattvas is the state of neither motion nor stasis, the state of no support or abode, the state of no passing away or rebirth, the state neither static nor transient, the state of no stirring or arising, the state of no concern or attachment, the state of no deeds or fruition, the state of no origination or destruction, the state of no annihilation or eternity. Furthermore, great compassion is the state of bodhisattvas, as they attend to sentient beings who can be guided; great kindness is the state of bodhisattvas, as they rescue suffering beings; discipline is the state of bodhisattvas, as they become reconstituted according to will; commitment is the state of bodhisattvas, based on past vows; spiritual power is the state of bodhisattvas, as they manifest all that is pleasant; nondoing is the state of bodhisattvas, as they do not leave the presence of all buddhas; neither grasping nor rejecting is the state of bodhisattvas, as they are not obsessed with body or mind; wisdom and means is the state of bodhisattvas, as they adapt to sentient beings; manifesting emanations is the state of bodhisattvas, their bodies being equivalent to reflected images.
Being envious of everyone else. – Don’t let envy (or jealously) get the best of you. Envy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own. There is nothing attractive or admirable about this behavior. So stop comparing your journey with everyone else’s. Your journey is YOUR journey, NOT a competition. You are in competition with one person and one person only – yourself. You are competing to be the best you can be. If you want to measure your progress, compare yourself to who you were yesterday.
Taking everything too personally. – People are toxic to be around when they believe that everything happening around them is a direct assault on them or is in some way all about them. The truth is that what people say and do to you is much more about them, than you. People’s reactions to you are about their perspectives, wounds and experiences. Whether people think you’re amazing, or believe you’re the worst, again, is more about them. I’m not suggesting we should be narcissists and ignore all feedback. I am saying that so much hurt, disappointment and sadness in our lives comes from our taking things personally. In most cases it’s far more productive and healthy to let go of other people’s good or bad opinion of you, and to operate with your own intuition and wisdom as your guide. (Read The Four Agreements.)
Acting like you’re always a victim. – Another toxic behavior is persistent complaining that fuels your sense of victimization. Believing you’re a victim, that you have no power to exert and no power over the direction of your life, is a toxic stance that keeps you stuck. Working as a life coach with people who have suffered major trauma in their lives but found the courage to turn it all around, I know we all have access to far more power, authority, and influence over our lives than we initially believe. When you stop complaining, and refuse to see yourself as a helpless victim, you’ll find that you are more powerful than you realized, but only if you choose to accept this reality.
Hoarding pain and loss. – One of the hardest lessons in life is letting go – whether it’s guilt, anger, love or loss. Change is never easy – you fight to hold on and you fight to let go. But oftentimes letting go is the healthiest path forward. It clears out toxic thoughts from the past. You’ve got to emotionally free yourself from the things that once meant a lot to you, so you can move beyond the past and the pain it brings you. Again, it takes hard work to let go and refocus your thoughts, but it’s worth every bit of effort you can muster.
Obsessive negative thinking. – It’s very hard to be around people who refuse to let go of negativity – when they ruminate and speak incessantly about the terrible things that could happen and have happened, the scorns they’ve suffered, and the unfairness of life. These people stubbornly refuse to see the positive side of life and the positive lessons from what’s happening. Pessimism is one thing – but remaining perpetually locked in a negative mindset is another. Only seeing the negative, and operating from a view that everything is negative and against you, is a twisted way of thinking and living, and you can change that.
Lack of emotional self-control. – An inability to manage your emotions is toxic to everyone around you. We all know these people – those who explode in anger and tears over the smallest hiccup or problem. Yelling at the grocery store clerk for the long line, screaming at an employee for a small error she made, or losing it with your daughter for spilling juice on the floor. If you find that you’re overly emotional, losing your cool at every turn, you may need some outside assistance to help you gain control over your emotions and understand what’s at the root of your inner angst. There’s more to it than what appears on the surface. An independent perspective – and a new kind of support – can work wonders. (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Happiness” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
Making superficial judgments about others. – Don’t always judge a person by what they show you. Remember, what you’ve seen is oftentimes only what that person has chosen to show you, or what they were driven to show based on their inner stress and pain. Alas, when another person tries to make you suffer in some small way, it is usually because they suffer deep within themselves. Their suffering is simply spilling over. They do not need punishment or ridicule, they need help. If you can’t help them, let them be.
Cruelty (or lacking empathy and compassion). – One of the most toxic behaviors – cruelty – stems from a total lack of empathy, concern or compassion for others. We see it every day online and in the media – people being devastatingly unkind and hurtful to others just because they can. They tear people down online in a cowardly way, using their anonymity as a shield. Cruelty, backstabbing, and hurting others for any reason is toxic, and it hurts you as well. If you find yourself backstabbing and tearing someone else down, stop in your tracks. Dig deep and find compassion in your heart, and realize that we’re all in this together.
Cheating and cutting moral corners simply because you can. – Cheating is a choice, not a mistake, and not an excuse! If you decide to cheat, and you succeed in cheating someone out of something, don’t think that this person is a fool. Realize that this person trusted you much more than you ever deserved. Be bigger than that. Don’t do immoral things simply because you can. Don’t cheat. Be honest with yourself and everyone else. Do the right thing. Integrity is the essence of everything successful.
Hiding your truth. – People cannot connect with you if you’re constantly trying to hide from yourself. And this becomes a truly toxic situation the minute they become attached to your false persona. So remember, no matter what age, race, sex, or sexuality you are, underneath all your external decorations you are a pure, beautiful being – each and every one of us are. We each have light to shine, and missions to accomplish. Celebrate being different, off the beaten path, a little on the weird side, your own special creation. If you find yourself feeling like a fish out of water, by all means find a new river to swim in. But DO NOT change who you are; BE who you are. Don’t deny yourself, improve yourself. (Read The Untethered Soul.)
Needing constant validation. – People who constantly strive for validation by others are exhausting to be around. Those men and women who get caught up in the need to prove their worth over and over and over, and constantly want to win over everyone around them, are unintentionally toxic and draining. Know this. Over-attaching to how things have to look to others can wear you out and bring everyone else around you down. There is a bigger picture to your life, and it’s not about what you achieve in the eyes of the masses. It’s about the journey, the process, the path – what you’re learning, how you’re helping others learn too, and the growing process you allow yourself to participate in.
Being a stubborn perfectionist. – As human beings, we often chase hypothetical, static states of perfection. We do so when we are searching for the perfect house, job, friend or lover. The problem, of course, is that perfection doesn’t exist in a static state. Because life is a continual journey, constantly evolving and changing. What is here today is not exactly the same tomorrow – that perfect house, job, friend or lover will eventually fade to a state of imperfection. But with a little patience and an open mind, over time, that imperfect house evolves into a comfortable home. That imperfect job evolves into a rewarding career. That imperfect friend evolves into a steady shoulder to lean on. And that imperfect lover evolves into a reliable lifelong companion. It’s just a matter of letting perfectionism GO.
A Culture of Binary Opposition: Quentin Shih’s work with Christian Dior Haute Couture F/W 2010
The individualistic Western agent, posited against the homogenous Asian subject. An age old dichotomy that has persisted in an age of supposed cultural liberation and hybridization. Shih’s work for Dior, especially this particular campaign for F/W 2010 - a collection in which Galliano was inspired by Dior’s love for flowers but was criticised as overly ostentatious and lacking the subtle multi-layered dimensions of meaningful depth of a great couture collection - may be intentionally problematic, but it is eye-catching and undoubtedly memorable. Before exploring the implications of this depiction, perhaps we should take discuss our own reactions to a familiar symbol of what linguists call binary opposition.
The idea of ‘binary opposition’ was formalised by Earnest Renan’s philological structure that sought to decode the Orient by portraying it in relation to the west, making the mystique of the Orient ‘knowable’ to the Western coloniser by relating the 'other-ness’ of the Orient in relation to the familiarity of the West. In some ways, the constriction of this system of binary opposition meant that knowledge about the Orient had to be reinterpreted and recreated to fit in with the categories dictated by existing knowledge about the West. But in other ways, it was perhaps the easiest method of making something completely foreign accessible to those removed from the context of this knowledge. This acontextual approach to creating knowledge has been recycled in the use of contemporary Asian archetypes in Western media, to make the East relatable to the West. The fact that these images are so eye-catching to us may not be because they are controversial, but because we have been trained, since the days of the Bible’s good/bad angel/devil dichotomy, to 'know’ in this way - images and media depicting more clearly demarcated dichotomies remaining more popular because they make sure we can place knowledge rigidly in a pre-created structure such that we can make sense of things completely based on our own experience.
The age of post-modernism began to question the structure of dichotomy, but only within intellectuals: even today, movies like The Hobbit very clearly create the human-like characters as the good in direct opposition to the alien-like savage Orcs. Perhaps this approach is unavoidable, as it would be difficult to otherwise form opinions within an age of increasingly decreasing attention spans. It’s negative implications are obvious (touched upon in my earlier Alexander McQueen post), but perhaps the most grievous, subtle implication that few explore is the statification of culture.
By creating an opposite to fit this dichotomy, as the West often does with Asia (and the archetype of the communitarian, same-faced, choiceless subject) there is not only an obvious license being taken by attributing characteristics to cultures acontextually, but to even take this license there is an implicit assumption that the Asian culture is static hence why it can be used as the backdrop for Western action. The problem is not just the depiction of a culture of subjects, but of viewing the culture itself as a subject - static and immutable, defying the very nature of progress. This is perhaps the root of the problem of binary opposition: the view that North Korean fashion is always the military homogeneity it was 10 years ago despite the fact that Russian fashion has changed remarkably, the fact that only traditional Korean dramas depicting the era of imperial rule and Chinese Kung-Fu movies can be popular on the mainstream market when most popular Western movies are centred on the very present. Asian filmmakers trying to create modern-day films are seen as imitators of the great Western art, or “avant-garde”, “daring”. What is so daring, so strange about Asia trying to make a statement that it has a living, malleable culture?
Asia is made completely into a fantasy, simply because it was once used as the opposite of the West, and to substantiate this ideal of Western progress has been relegated to state of static Asian-ness, and forgotten. Paradoxically, there is perhaps nothing more anti-progress and outdated than the continued use, globally, of this system of binary opposition.