Journal Articles

Spring 2007 - Vol.37/No.3
Engaged Buddhism and Literature: The Art for Peace in Michael Ondaatje's Anil's Ghost
Author : Shounan Hsu
Keywords : Sarvodaya, self-awakening, all-awakening, forgiveness, indterdependence
Little attention has been paid to the significant connection of engaged Buddhism to Michael Ondaatje's Anil's Ghost (2000). This author argues that Ondaatje takes advantage of A. T. Ariyaratne's Sarvodaya Movement to ground his solution to the Sri Lankan ethnic war. The solution starts with self-awakening and ends in all-awakening. Self-awakening involves the ability to go beyond representation, to recognize the interdependence of living beings, and to forgive the enemy. Ondaatje thereby aims to deal with war at its source: the hierarchical demarcation and the accumulation of mutual hatred. Because capitalism and central government, an inheritance from the Western colonization, contribute to the war, all-awakening begins a social reform that has power not on the top in the social hierarchy, but at the bottom, and that works from the bottom up to create an anti-capitalist society of traditional value system. This progress from self-awakening to all-awakening and the reform of society from the bottom up form the Sarvodaya Movement's political agenda, too. Ondaatje's special contribution lies in making Buddhist understanding artistically accessible at a time when the traditional Buddhism in Sri Lanka has become a slogan for collective identity. Also, by turning all the main characters into artificers, by compressing in Anil's ghost individuals' sufferings and sacrifices that stem from a national past, Ondaatje demonstrates how literature can effectively supplement an earthly peace movement with imaginary creation.
Transnational Mobility: Reading Sofia Coppola's Lost Translation as a Tourist Romance
Author : Chen-hsiang Chiu
Keywords : tourist romance, home-versus-tracel motid, transational mobility, contact zone
Sofia Coppola' Lost in Translation (2003) is often interpreted as a ”romantic comedy” which explores the unlikely encounter between the two married Americans in Japan: the two feel so dislocated and disoriented that they develop a nearly adulterous relationship. Such an interpretation, however, simplifies the film, seeing it merely as an ”existential” drama in which the characters try to overcome their alienation in an Other-ized environment. This essay aims to reread the film as a ”tourist romance” within a global context, where the travel-versus-home motif and the issue of transnational mobility must be addressed. Only in this way can we avoid categorizing the film only as an orientalizing Western text which falsely represents Japan's Otherness in order to highlight the Western protagonists' sameness. Thus here I will analyze the main characters' ”tourist experience” within Tokyo's cityscape, and show how Tokyo serves as the ”contact zone” where they shape their own perspectives on Japan by way of limited communication with a select group of (partly) bilingual Japanese.
Contestiong Space in Hanif Kureishi's Sammy and Rosie Get Laid
Author : Kao-chen Liao
Keywords : space, Henri Lefebvre, triad, modernity, nationalism, oppression, David Harvey, Hanif Kureishi, subculture
Drawing on Henri Lefebvre's triad of conceptualized spaces and David Harvey's analysis of modernity, this paper delves into the spatial contestations of modern subjects represented by characters in Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, Hanif Kureishi's screenplay and a film of the same name. Harvey insightfully centralizes the experiences of modernity that tend to orient the ephemeral while securing the immutable at the same time. Juxtaposing this insight with Lefebvre's dissection of the space into spatial practices, the representations of space, and representational spaces, I find each is saturated by the double edge of modernity. Based upon this, this essay anatomizes how individuals in this screenplay, whether as oppressive governors, the economic-political powerless or the defiant middle class, contest spaces to ensure a demarcated identity against all the mutability and uncertainty in the post/modern condition. This essay also renders the dichotomization of the officials and citizens as the spatial oppressors and oppressed dubious. Lumping together two nationalistic regimes, the unjustifiable violence of the oppressed rioters, and the exclusive desire of the leftist bourgeois together in terms of their usage of space, this study argues that governmental figures can be the oppressed in the private spaces, and the oppressed or excluded, such as rioters and radical bourgeoisie in this case, turn to be oppressors contesting spaces for their personal benefits. In this sense, a utopian solution for space usage has to negotiate the shifting and fixing dimension of modernity, as Kureishi has incarnated it by his nomadic subculturalists.
Three Kinds of Neighbor, Three Kinds of Violence: Woman and/as the Other in Kathy Acker
Author : Jun-nan Chou
Keywords : neighbors, the Other, violence, woman, modernity, Benjamin, Baudelaire
The main concern of this paper is the relationship between the neighbors (the Other) and violence in Kathy Acker's novels. The recurrent theme of Acker's novels is the relationship between woman and violence. Yet, to render woman's relationship with violence, Acker not only represents woman through sexual relationship, but also explores woman as the “Other” of society through various discourses of the Other or the minorities, including the prostitute, the third world people, the poor, lesbians, gays, punks, pirates, etc. The power or rival relationship between the West and the minorities is mediated by the figure of the prostitute: the figure of the prostitute (woman) and the discourses of the Other or minorities reinforce each other in Acker’s novels. Almost all of the heroines in Acker's novels are prostitutes or like prostitutes. The figure of the prostitute serves as the female flaneur who roams around and witnesses repressive violence on the minorities and the latter's revolutionary violence on society. Revolutionary violence can be further divided into two kinds: nihilistic revolution or real revolution. We will single out the figure of the third world, the figure of the punk boys, and the figure of the female motorcyclists or the pirate girls as the three groups of neighbors of the prostitute, who stand for these three kinds of violence: the figure of the third world stands for repressive violence, the figure of the punk boys for nihilistic violence, and the figure of the female motorcyclists or the pirate girls for real revolutionary violence. These three kinds of violence-repressive, nihilistic, and real violence-roughly correspond to the three different kinds of violence posited by Walter Benjamin in his ”Critique of Violence”: law-preserving violence, law-making violence, and pure violence. The figure of the prostitute standing for the paradox of (post)modernity or (post)modern subjectivity is the connection between these three kinds of violence: (post)modern subjectivity, at least for Marx, Baudelaire, Benjamin, and Acker, has to take on the form of violence, a double violence or even triple violence.
Death as the Other in Don DeLillo's White Noise: From the Sensibly Immediate to the Technologically Mediated
Author : Chi-ming Chang
Keywords : death, the Other, the body, ethics Don DeLillo, Levinas
This paper aims to explore how DeLillo in White Noise (1984) foregrounds death as the ethical relation with the Other in the postmodern age. With his observation of the technologized postmodern society, DeLillo depicts the daily confrontations and obsessions with death as the inevitable encounter with the non-in-different and incommensurable ethical Other. In light of Levinas and Baudrillard, this paper argues that death under DeLillo's formulations is no longer a remote actuality or an impossible possibility in life but is imminent and embodied; it heralds new insights into the technological intrusion into human existence and points to the vulnerability of the postmodern age.
Women and Boundary Crossing: Foreign Brides in Shakespeare's History Plays
Author : Cheang Wai Fong
Keywords : Shakespeare, history plays, women, boundary crossing, foreign bride
The conflicting international relations, as depicted in Shakespeare's history plays, make national-boundary crossing a necessary act not only for men who engage themselves in battles overseas, but also for women who marry into foreign countries. These women have not simply crossed boundaries delineated in space. Their marriages involve complicated identity issues. Shakespeare’s history plays assign plenty of textual spaces to English queens of foreign origin for them to voice out their difficult alien status. These foreign brides are seldom conceptualized by Englishmen as completely naturalized, and can be easily attacked for their foreign origin and questioned for their loyalty to England. Margaret of Anjou in Henry VI, labeled by Englishmen as ”she-wolf of France,” is a typical example of how such a foreign bride can be readily attacked for being a national alien, despite the fact that she is the mother of an English prince. This paper attempts to delineate the in-betweenness of these foreign brides, and it also discusses how Shakespeare employs them to enhance the dramatic tension of his history plays.