“You have to admire the Japanese woman, because she does not commit suicide.
She has conspired against her ideals since she was a tender age. On the inside of her skull run sayings:
— If at the age of 25 you are not married, you have good reason to be ashamed.
— If you laugh, you will never be successful.
— If your face expresses an emotion, you are vulgar.
— If you mention the existence of a single hair on your body, you are immodest.
— If a man kisses you on the cheek in public, you are a whore.
— If you eat with pleasure, you are a pig.
— If you show any pleasure in sleeping, you are a cow.
These precepts might be told in stories, but they are taken to heart. Because, long story short, across these incongruous sayings runs the deeper feeling that you shouldn’t be hoping for anything good or beautiful. Don’t hope for pleasure, because your delight will be annihilated. Don’t hope to fall in love, because you are not worth the effort: those who might love you, would love the illusion of you, not what you are. Don’t hope that your life will bring you anything, because each year will take away something. Don’t even hope for anything as simple as peace, because you don’t have any reason to be at rest.”
— Stupeur et Tremblements by Amelie Nothomb.