Amanda Kovattana

Middle-aged musings in interesting times

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Bicultural Perspectives

Over a year ago someone sent me a PowerPoint presentation posted to the energy bulletin (a clearing house for peak oil news), that outlined a comparison between the collapse of the Soviet Union and the imminent collapse of the United States, I was absolutely riveted. Commentators have briefly speculated on a possible currency collapse in the US and then said, nah, it won't happen because of blah, blah. But Dmitry Orlov was, not only serious about it, he was speculating on how the US would do compared to his homeland of Russia. His ballsy premise came across as a huge exercise in black humor, one I could completely relate to. His childhood spent in the Soviet Union (pre-collapse) served as his point of reference. As I tried on his speculations and learned more about the Russian collapse, I realized that his scenario of the US collapsing was completely possible. I just couldn't get any of my circle to take the topic seriously. Luckily a small Canadian publisher did and his book Reinventing Collapse will be coming out next month. Lucky me, my editor at the bulletin (who posts a great many of my environmentally related articles on EB) invited me to preview it. My review is now posted and referenced on Mr. Orlov's site as well, along with mention of my upcoming book.

Listing my book was a bit of a red herring in the arena of peak oil, being largely about a journey of exploration of a biracial and tricultural identity, but in the context of coming from a different perspective perhaps it isn't. That simpler world of my home country does bear some relationship to what could be a forced return to a pre-industrialized life as petroleum supplies diminish. It is a life I longed to return to and in the yearning created by this longing, I had written my story. Along with revealing the usual family skeletons and following the internal dramas of a wealthy family gone awry, my story also chronicles the transformation of the city of Bangkok from a sleepy pre-industrialized town to a full blown, badly managed, crucial trading city in the globalization of South East Asia. And just before the opening of my book, the country would pause momentarily for an economic collapse.

The economic collapse of the Asian Tigers, which included the devaluation of currency, was largely due to financial deregulation, which allowed investment capital to move out of a country with hardly a moment's notice. This it did on rumor alone, as the community of speculators are apt to do. This event and the collapse of the boom a few years later (which had a huge impact on me as I was participating in it here in Silicon Valley) were to motivate my interest in societal collapse in general i.e.: the Fall of Rome (went there had a look at the ruins and studied with interest a city that refused to disappear). Thus I am a big fan of Mr. Orlov whose own bicultural view is now serving as a bridge for American readers.

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