Asians love the past

and the things they have no control over, like family, DNA. Asia loves the past, and so tries to bury it under fresh concrete. The things you love are a heavy burden; they hold you back. Westerners love the future, freedom, and choice. So we preserve the past in art and architecture; otherwise we’d have none. Our families are scattered and strewn, battered and blown, by dare and design, by work and quirk. The reasons don’t always rhyme. My wife Tang doesn’t understand that we don’t have ‘homelands’, a place of birth with an extensive nuclear family radiating outward. Hell, we don’t even have a word for it. It took me ten minutes to think of ‘homeland’ and now I feel like an apartheid sympathizer. The only thing radiating outward from our nuclear families is fallout. The only part of the US that’s similar is the Deep South, with its second and third cousins twice removed. In Thailand it’s not just feudal; it’s Biblical. A few years ago before Thailand got fully off its butt and on to its computerized system, everyone had to go back ‘home’ to vote, that is, back to from where they came, like Joseph and Mary going home for Christmas, riding a donkey, carrying somebody else’s baby.