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Rhialto

Academagia and the "Exotic East"

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I posted the following comment at a blog that I read, which you may find interesting also. @Legate of Mineta, this is meant to be praise for the game.

So, in recent weeks, I have been reading, during my spare time (to some degree) fiction either written by Chinese people or set in China. I really like the fiction written by Chinese people, but the fiction set in China written by non-Chinese people makes me cringe with disgust because of how exoticizing and orientatilizing it is.

At least Jack Vance was progressive enough to use fictional cultures/locations for his stories, but the same attitudes - of "see how strange and interesting and difficult to deal with people from this culture are" - becomes deeply uncomfortable to me when applied to real people/cultures.

Barry Hughart's distortions of genuine Chinese history - whose references are numerous enough to make me think that he knew more about the subject than the average person - in order to make China seem more amusing/interesting as a setting are very unworthy of praise - to say nothing of his distortions of Buddhism.

Chinese history/culture are already interesting enough to serve as bases for interesting fiction - both realistic and fantastical - as is proven by modern and ancient Chinese writers. So there is little need to value white people's spewing out words that are stereotypically associated with China as they write exotic tales of whimsy.

There are two advantages of using the setting of Academagia as a basis for stories about "the exotic East" (not that I have, nor may I - although I have added to the setting with the developers' approval a Polynesia-equivalent and am planning a Bactria-Equivalent):

1. The entire setting is faintly whimsical and magical - so portraying strange customs of a China-Equivalent can be placed alongside the game's strange customs of its italy-Equivalent and Britain-equivalent.

2. The game's only Japanese-equivalent character is a compulsive56 liar56/storyteller who delights in making herself seem exotic/strange to others, so such exoticism, coming from her, makes sense - and may not be true. The game's major character who is hinted to be from the setting's China-equivalent is not prone to such exoticizing stories - although she (and her "brothers") are genuinely mysterious and creepy in their own ways.

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When it  comes to the supernatural then Chinese writer are quite different to the European one. 

This already start with what the traditional focus of the Alchemy was, in European history the focus was to make gold while in Chinese history it was to find a way to extend the live. 

While the European story more and more dropped the Alchemy part toward what we today understand as magic that use some kind of external energy source, rarely internal energy source, that is canalized trough words and gestures into supernatural effects.

In Chinese story alchemy still stay strong and there 2 different versions of alchemy the internal and external one. The external alchemy makes lasting changes trough using different materials together. The internal alchemy, something we see in many cultivation story of the Chinese today, is how external materials make lasting change in the body, mind or soul (for lack of better word here) of a person so that they can do supernatural effects that go beyond what a normal person can do.

Beside @Rhialto did you forget to put the link to the blog you talking about in your posting?

(The reason I talk about European and not Western story are the superhero stories that mostly came from America where the initial change that make someone superpowered is more in line with the Chinese internal alchemy)

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4 minutes ago, Schwarzbart said:

Beside @Rhialto did you forget to put the link to the blog you talking about in your posting?

The actual blog that I was writing the comment for is not relevant - it is a blog about atheism that every weekend has an open thread where readers such as I am can share our thoughts, and today I shared some thoughts about Academagia and Orientalism on the blog.

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