Friday, August 19, 2011

The Tropic of Canker

“As China has shed its chaste Communist mores for the wealth and indulgences of a market-oriented economy, the boom has bred a generation of nouveau-riche lotharios yearning to rival the sexual conquests of their imperial ancestors” (“China’s New Wealth Spurs a Market for Mistresses,” NYT, 8/9/11). So begins an article by Times reporter Dan Levin on the epidemic of adultery among Chinese parvenus. We choose the word parvenu in the spirit of avoiding redundancy, but what we are referring to are the same nouveau riche fat cats who since time immemorial, long before anyone ever contemplated owning a Porsche and wearing a gold neck chain as a way of attracting women, have spread like STD’s from continent to continent. It would be fun to pile on the Chinese, but adultery is as American as apple pie, Ben Franklin, John F.Kennedy, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Bill Clinton, John Edwards and Mark Sanford, as French as the madeleine, the croissant, Napoleon, Madame Bovary, François Mitterand, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Les Liaisons Dangereux, as Russian as Anna Karenina and Pushkin, as English as Lord Byron, as Italian as Silvio Berlusconi and spaghetti, and as Latin American as Gabriel García Márquez getting a black eye from his one-time friend and rival Mario Vargas Llosa. China is a juggernaut and its titans treat their sexual peccadilloes the way its government deals with the non-floating Renminbi. Bribery has apparently become the foreplay of choice in the Chinese plutocracy, with the romantic sensibility of the culture remaining inversely proportionate to its productivity. Even the paramours practice realpolitik when it comes to their benefactors. The Times quotes one Li, a child of poverty who, armed with a university education, climbed to the top of the food chain by having an affair with her boss, who lavished her with luxuries like a Posrche and finally divorced his wife to marry her. “You can’t feed yourself with love,” says Li, with no apparent irony.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.