Walking Away and Giving Up Are Not the Same Thing

The start of 2020 for me began with getting a new job that I was super excited about. I thought I would finally be able to have a bit more stability and although it was a very basic job, I was ready…


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Orientalism is not just a misunderstanding

The other day I found in my mailbox an email from Tatler (yes, I am on their mailing list and I won’t unsubscribe, least I want to stop bitching about the emptiness of the luxury industry):

“Really, why?” — I thought to myself. Why a major cosmetic brand with almost half a billion dollars in annual revenue, which belongs to a luxury goods conglomerate worth more than several small countries’ GDP combined had to resort to such an egregious misuse of terminology?

Kintsugi is not a magic word of the mysterious orient, but a very clearly defined technique of mending broken pottery with precious metals. In short — if stuff is broken, the only way you can justify the reuse is by spending maximum money when fixing it. The practice has become very popular in Japan, and many people started to look at kintsugi as the actual legitimate decorative technique. Which is weird, because you have to make an item, and then break it in order to make kintsugi. The other Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, a notion of imperfection, plays a great role in the success of kintsugi. After all, you may smash your perfect teacup into something that can’t be kintsugi-ed beautifully, or at all. There is always an element of chance that at the final stage you’ll end up with trash. This makes beautiful kintsugi work even more exciting.

This brings us to Guerlain Orchidée Impériale Black Cream Kintsugi Limited Edition

what is this guy doing with the brush again? Guerlain has provided a video, describing what an amazing process these “gold leaf-embellished” bottles go though… wait. So, nothing gets broken, nothing gets mended, and the fake mending lines are painted on top of perfectly complete porcelain? This is literally the opposite of kintsugi.

I do not believe that Guerlain’s marketing department is really that shallow as to not knowing what things they say really mean. After all, kintsugi is not some kind of secret — the whole thing has been a relative hobby of many people in the west for a while. So successful in fact, that there are kintsugi kits that allow cheap quick and easy mending with the fake gold or silver colour — all you need is to sacrifice one of your kitchen plates.

Then why the deception? The answer is either: “they think we are idiots and don’t know what kintsugi is”, or “orientalism”.

The orientalism option is particularly sad, considering the mail in question came from Tatler Asia.

Orientalism is tightly connected with colonialism, in the sense that the members of the “highly developed Western culture” in Arnoldean understanding make conclusions and decisions about Asian cultures based on own understanding of the matter with a limited or no participation of the actual Asian culture carriers. Basically telling “how the orientals are”, often to the subjects themselves. Orientalism is the result of discursive power back at home, which “fills in the gaps”, from the perspective of the Western episteme, which bizarrely doesn’t come questioned. In that sense, a video from Paris to the people in Asia telling them how their amazing French craftsman are making amazing kintsugi by painting the fake gold lines on an intact piece of french porcelain is nothing short of condescending bullshit, that orientalism actually is.

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