Many books have been devoted to this subject.
Basically, I'm talking here about how "The Orient" is used, consciously and unconsciously, as a means to define ourselves. By looking at Asia and defining them as a sort of monolithic alien, we are really attempting to delineate what we are.
I was reminded of this when I saw, on another thread here, mention of a book about Japan by a person named Kerr. This person probably has a brilliant thesis about how Japan has changed drastically and is in trouble, danger of losing its cultyure, etc. etc.
I have seen this meme over and over. Another common theme (back in the 80's when Japan was an economic powerhouse) used to be that the Japanese are succesful, but not happy.

The point is, in most of these cases, we were using "Asia" to define, justify, or otherwise manipulate our own sense of ourself. In the above case from the 80's, it was our way of assuring ourself that we were not "losing to Japan" because we were happier.

Any else have any thoughts or opinions on the subject? Japan is old news now, but what about China? How do the views expressed about China in the popular media actually reflect how we wish to see ourselves as a society?