The Perversity of Expatriation

by Carson Reynolds

There is a perversity in expatriating yourself.

In a conversation with Marshall (who studies these things) he once made mention of the eroticization of the “other.” Since it invokes the brow-beating constitutive other, it sounds a bit abstract or at least humorously po-mo. But I have come to think the following as I stagger around Tokyo full of post-limerance.

Obviously before someone moves to a place there is a period of fantasizing and eroticization of it. The place is the the not-here and the not-routine. So inside yourself you think “when I arrive there I will be a different person.”

And indeed you are. Well, that is if you survive for long enough to see past the cliched moments of shock and alienation. For me at least the process has taken more concentration than I thought possible. Unless you just go into a sort of denial, you are instead confronted with the perversity of which I want to speak.

Basically, following upon the romanticization of the place one could be left a sense of disgust upon realizing that it is a place like every other. But if one is instead “wayward” or “willfully erring” then a different relationship with the place comes about.

One finds a pleasure in doing not what you are supposed to. You are not having 2.5 children and watching TVs on average 4 hours a day. You are not deciding that Iran’s invasion is becoming inevitable. You are not worrying about the national problem of obesity. And one day perhaps you are not defining yourself in opposition to what you take the stereotypical to be.