This is a curious phenomenon. There are two particular groups of people on this site:
Asians with a European mindset. Are they easterners?
americans with an Asian mindset. Are they westerners?
so myself as a chinese, I am Asian identified, but my mindset is heavily oriented towards Europe: i learn French, German polish Portuguese and Russian.
certain Americans, especially female, with their native language as English, decide to learn Japanese and Korean simultaneously, (sometimes including or excluding Mandarin Chinese).
So how is it to define myself as an easterner and such American female as westerners?
Why do some Americans pretend that they are well versed in western culture without knowing any European language besides English? With the added interest in Japanese and Korean, how can they still define themselves as westerners? How am I still a easterner with five European languages in mind? Of course not American culture is not equivalent to western culture. it is unreasonable to ignore such an abundance of western culture represented by much of Europe.
You pose some very interesting questions. I personally believe that too often we get caught up in "labels" and oversimplifying different types of people. Generalizations are important when discussing broad ideas, but when addressing the complexities of individual identity I believe they can do more harm than good.
Alan, the importan thing is that I read more 'foreign' books than Russian ones. And I think, the same story with many Russians.
Most of them were from the west, but: what is "West"? Finland is very different from Italy (and even was a part of Russian empire before the revolution). I also read some Japanese literature.
Not much of Chinese:( I don't know why, but Chinese books are rarely translated to Russian. (To learn somethign about modern Chinese literature, I must learn Chinese and read net novels, I'm afraid:))
Alan, most of books I liked as a child are Western (in translation). Most of books I read now are in foreign lanaguges.
But Russian culture itself was influenced by German and French cultures a lot since 1700s. I think, initially it was not 'Western' pr "Eastern'. It had Vikings to the West, steppe nomads to the South East, Byzantine empire to the South, something t the North too.
There are still things to my mindset that are very local.
They largely isolated themselves (or their rulers tried to isolate them) from foriegn influences after first contact with Europe. By early 19th century technologically Japan as at medieval level. But then within some 50 years they became a colonial superpower with railroads and modern fleet and weapons - they won a war with Russia and with China.
Then throughout 20th century their intellectuals were obsessed with foreign culture and literature (including Russian writers: Russian was popular there.They read Dostoyevsky and sometimes in Russian). After WWII there was much more Western culture about there, affecting all the people and even the language.
And Japanese (at least their art) appear "extra-terrestrial" to me! I mean, their books, or imagery in their animated films - I can't imagine how a person should think, which thinking process could invent these images! It is fascinating.
When I read Western books and watch their films, I mosttly understnad it. When I'm imressed, I think "I should have thought about this myself!!!" But I understand, 'how' Western art is made. An electronics engineer can't and doesn't design computers maybe, but he/she knows what should he do to design a computer. He/she doesn't know how to 'create' an animal, though:)
With Japanese art I know that I don't know how to think to come to this. This is why 'extra-terrestrial'.