Journal Articles

December 2014 - Vol.45/No.1
West of Eden: Carrying On
Author : Samuel Weber
Keywords : self-identity, Creator-God, image, identification, world/globe, Hamlet’s child-players
“West of Eden” attempts to rethink the forces driving “Western” history and culture as informed by what might be called a “monotheological identity paradigm,” first deployed and articulated in the Biblical narrative of the creation of the world through a single, exclusive and universal God. This God, who can tell Moses in Exodus that his name is “I am who I am” (or in other translations: “. . . who I will be”) is perhaps the projection of a wish to conceive being in general and human being in particular as self-identical and impervious to temporal and spatial (and hence bodily) alteration. If this is so, then much of what is called “secular culture” can be seen as an extension of this model, which is brought down to earth with the appearance of God in human form. The death of Christ, far from being the death of God, would then signify the deification of man through the promise of bodily resurrection and eternal life. This would be the way “back” to an Eden whose Eastern Gates are barred. In an age of “globalization,” this model suggests the need to rethink the relation of “East” and “West” in terms of this imaginary (in the Lacanian sense) and impossible attempt to “return” to a life in which the “Self” could be construed as perennial.
A Comparative Frame of Mind
Author : Ali Behdad
Keywords : comparative literature, comparison, photography, Middle East, Orientalism
In this paper, I suggest a shift of focus from the logic of expansion and extension towards a reflective reconsideration of the very notion of comparison by way of responding to the seemingly perpetual state of disciplinary crisis in comparative literature. I argue that comparative literature ought to be viewed as a practice of engaging and realizing ideas through a comparative frame of mind. My notion of comparison is an analytics as opposed to an operation on comparable or incommensurable objects. Comparison as an analytics does not entail an act of interpreting the similarities or differences between literary or cultural objects, but recognizes instead that any work is inherently comparative. A comparative frame of mind also takes seriously the arbitrariness of the object itself, and as a result does not privilege the literary object as such. What this implies is that the practice of comparison entails situating any cultural object in relation to whatever else there is. Neither invested in the intrinsic connections between cultural or literary objects, as traditional practitioners of comparative literature aimed to accomplish, nor attempting to disclose the incommensurable differences, as postcolonial comparativists have done, a comparative frame of mind looks for meaningful patterns in whatever literary object or cultural archive one happens to study.
The World According to Nishida Kitaro: A New Proposal
Author : Hitoshi Oshima
Keywords : dialectics, being, field, nothing, Nishida Kitaro
The typical way of solving conflicts in today’s world is based on Hegelian dialectics and Parmenidean logic, both based on the notion of Being and Identity. As the result of the solution is not really satisfactory, I propose another way proposed by Nishida Kitaro, a Japanese philosopher. His vision of the world as self-identical and self-contradictory at the same time seems more useful to our world. His dialectics based on the notion of Field seems more helpful to us.
An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization: A Forum
Author : Guy Beauregard
Keywords :
Problematics of Translation in Ha Jin’s Poetry: Poet, Critic, Translator
Author : Joan Chiung-huei Chang
Keywords : Ha Jin, language, translation, Wreckage, Jacques Derrida, Walter Benjamin
Ha Jin’s works bespeak an impressive linguistic creativity. Reconfigurating Chinese language through a nativized discourse of English, Ha Jin has translated, appropriated, and reconstructed Chinese linguistic norms and specifics into English-language literature in remarkable fashion. Studying Ha Jin’s Wreckage, a reader with Chinese education will be ready to identity fragments of renowned Chinese classical verse. Thus the reader is invited to ponder: To what extent does Ha Jin draw his poetic inspiration from the corpus of Chinese literature? How shall we measure accredited creativity? How do we distinguish innovation from renovation, and do those distinctions change our reading of the poems? Although Ha Jin has written exclusively of the reality of Chinese politics and society (with A Free Life the only exception so far), this material does not obviate the possibility of reading his works as belonging to a tradition of US immigrant literature. In Ha Jin’s poetry, the juxtaposition, interaction and fusion of classical Chinese verse and contemporary American sensibility can be telling. Which has been translated, the Chinese verse or the American sensibility? What has been transplanted and translated? Have the Chinese poetry texts, after being transplanted into the English verse, undergone a transformation of meaning and resurfaced with new significance corresponding to the complexity of Ha Jin’s immigrant experiences in America? This paper aims to explore how Ha Jin’s Chinese poetry texts show significance corresponding to the complexity of his immigrant experiences in America.
Translation and World Literature in Goethe’s West-East Divan
Author : Shih-Yen Huang
Keywords : world literature, translation, West-East Divan, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Walter Benjamin
Due to the emergence of the globalized world, much attention has been paid to Goethe’s concept of world literature, which can be considered an appropriate term to describe literature in the age of globalization. However, many current discussions are so dominated by the political and socialeconomic issues that the literary-aesthetic dimension, which plays an important role in Goethe’s considerations, is to some extent neglected. To describe the literary-aesthetic significance in Goethe’s concept of world literature, the present paper suggests an indirect approach by exploring his West-East Divan which consists not only of poetic cycles, but also of notes and essays discussing the literature and culture in both Orient and Occident as well as the problems of translation and poetics. In addition, with Walter Benjamin’s theory of translation, the present paper argues that translation and world literature shares the poetic concept considered in West-East Divan, which assumes that poetry or literature is essentially relational and translational.
Navigating Between Shakespeare and Jingju: Wu Hsing-Kuo’s Li Er Zaici
Author : Lia Wen-ching Liang
Keywords : intercultural theatre, Shakespeare, King Lear, Deleuze and Guattari, assemblage, Contemporary Legend Theatre
This article discusses Li Er Zaici, a performance created by Taiwanese actor Wu Hsing-Kuo, the artistic director of the Contemporary Legend Theatre. In this production Wu performs ten characters from Shakespeare’s King Lear in three acts, drawing on performing styles and techniques from the jingju (Peking Opera) tradition. This internationally touring production offers an example of the dilemmas encountered by many intercultural theatre performances that explore the possibilities of mingling different cultural elements. Several scholars have discussed the personal dimension of this production, suggesting that it can be seen as the artist’s attempt to reconcile with his mentor, who severed their relationship because of Wu’s desire to step out of the confines of the tradition. Drawing on concepts proposed by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, which raise questions about taken-forgranted assumptions about onstage performance and cultural representation, this paper calls for a reconsideration of the presumed link between jingju and Chinese cultural identity. I argue that, reflective of the affliction brought upon by the modern situation, Wu’s response was more a complication than a straightforward answer. From this perspective, Wu’s rendition produces deterritorialisations of both the traditional confines of jingju and the staging history of King Lear, and opens up new possibilities in both fields.
Reception of Du Fu in the Anglophone World and the Issue of Poetic Transparency
Author : Ji Hao
Keywords : Du Fu, traditional Chinese poetry, reception in the Anglophone world, poetic transparency, cross-cultural interpretatio
This paper examines the history of reception of Du Fu in the Anglophone world, with particular emphasis on the issue of “poetic transparency.” Along with significant improvement in both Du Fu studies and the translation of his poems in the middle of the twentieth century, scholars such as William Hung began to touch on this influential mode of reading poetry in traditional China. Since the 1980s, the issue of “poetic transparency” has become more controversial with further incorporation of comparative and theoretical approaches into Du Fu studies. Stephen Owen’s comparative reading of Du Fu and Wordsworth highlights “poetic transparency” and the non-fictionality in traditional Chinese poetry as opposed to one dominant conception of poetry as a fictional product in Western tradition. Although Owen skillfully skirts certain interpretive dangers through a mode of paradoxical and complex reading, other scholars still identify the potential threat of cultural relativism in the practice of using poetic transparency to distinguish Chinese and European poetic assumptions. This paper initiates a cross-cultural dialogue on “poetic transparency” in the case of reading Du Fu and exposes the dynamics of this approach implied by the hermeneutics of Du Fu in traditional China. It argues that we should neither confirm poetic transparency merely as a historically true phenomenon in traditional China nor dismiss it as a defective interpretive practice. Instead, in order to do full justice to the complexity of “poetic transparency,” we should situate it into the specific historical and cultural context and explore various functions of such a mode of reading poetry in traditional China.