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West Until We're East
Arguably the fundamental insight about languages, of course, is that translation is a last resort. You can't understand Japanese in English, you have to understand it in Japanese. The Japanese have an entire industry devoted to the modeling of fake food for restaurant windows, but as we stagger incredulously around a store full of it it slowly dawns on me that these are not cheap novelty items, they are meticulous ideals. I'm trying to understand them as spoil-proof recreations of the work of specific human chefs, but that's backwards. The models come first, as the representation and expression of cultural expectation, and it is then the cook's job to try to faithfully reiterate them in food. This is a culture in which commerce not only isn't based on the shoddy commoditization of uniqueness, but isn't based on uniqueness at all.
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