Journal Articles

June 2022 - Vol.52 / No.2
Socrates’ Metaphysical Olympiad in Plato’s Phaedrus
Author : Jen-chieh Tsai
Keywords : Phaedrus, chariot allegory, sport, agon, charioteering, Olympiad
In Plato’s Phaedrus, Socrates leaves Athens for the locus amoenus beneath a plane tree. As if possessed, the philosopher then articulates the renowned chariot allegory in a frenzy. However, to understand the myth as a medium of philosophical instruction dumbs down the Greeks’ exuberant imagination revolving around sport whether in mythology or in actuality. Namely, competitive events in numerous Hellenic games feature a diversity of instrumental sociocultural views more than what a philosophical allegory can contain. For instance, sport serves as the fundamental apparatus of distinguishing Greeks from non-Greeks and furthermore, of fashioning an epitomical Greek identity underlined by gender and class differences. Therefore, this paper aims to employ the sociocultural connotations of Greek sport to re-interpret the Phaedrus and the chariot myth therein. It turns out that Socrates’ journey out of town transforms the idyllic nature of the space outside Athens into a space informed by athleticism. More remarkably, with the multiple correlation points between the chariot races in Hellenic games and those in the allegory, Socrates finally mounts a de facto Olympiad—a metaphysical Olympiad that extols in like manner power and aristocracy.
Pathological Performance in Charles Lamb’s Prose Writing
Author : Bo-yuan Huang
Keywords : Charles Lamb, disability aesthetics, non-normative embodiment, prose, Elia essays, pathological performance
The English familiar essayist Charles Lamb’s attachment to memories, triviality, and metropolitan London has long been regarded as a settled matter, but not until recently have the discussions about his disabilities received proper scholarly attention. In an effort to address Lamb’s disabilities more holistically, this essay contributes to the Lamb scholarship through close analyses of his physical and psychological discomfort as presented in his literary works. Reading Lamb’s writings about disabilities in the broader sociomedical context at the turn of the nineteenth century, however, suggests that Lamb’s pathological performance of his non-normative embodiment under the persona of Elia allows him to better connect with the changing metropolis. This article persistently attends to Lamb’s own paradox to approach and recognise his various disabilities. Lamb’s pathological performance can be better understood and appreciated, as this article will elucidate and conclude, when his disabilities are better contained through prose writing.
Parallactic History: On Peter Carey’s “Lies,” “Writing Back,” and “Archivation” in Illywhacker, Jack Maggs, and True History of the Kelly Gang
Author : Kai-su Wu
Keywords : Australian literature, parallactic history, lying, writing back, archivation
Having helped push Australian literature onto the international stage, Peter Carey is recognized as a critically acclaimed author for his keen observation on the national naiveté of his country and the identity predicament of his people. While most scholarship derives mainly from these observations in their varied ramifications, this article focuses on Carey’s suggestion of the ways in which Australian history is to be viewed by delving into Illywhacker, Jack Maggs, and True History of the Kelly Gang. In Illywhacker, Carey dismantles the ontological demarcation between the gazing and the gazed upon by tackling the issue of deception in both its personal and national scale. In Jack Maggs, his reconfiguration of an otherwise marginalized character serves as a contrapuntal register that counterbalances the crescendo of imperial discourse in the nineteenth century. In True History of the Kelly Gang, the apparently objective archive perceived as problematizing authoritativeness and sharing intimate secrecy with the public renders possible a contingent sense of (non)belonging in the face of the hasted national mythologization of a historical figure. With the three novels in question, we are able to catch a glimpse of the way Carey lays stress on reading, seeing, and interpreting parallactically, wherein a revisionist history is allowed room to mature.
Redefining Taiwan New Cinema as Borderless Transcultural Cinema from Taiwan
Author : Theodoor A. M. Richard
Keywords : Taiwan Culture, Taiwan New Cinema, Transculturality, Borderlessness, Borderless, Transcultural Cinema
When one is looking to understand a people’s culture, researching its cinema is a very good place to start. Ever since I came to live in Taiwan almost ten years ago, I have been trying to understand culture in Taiwan and especially to find a vocabulary for my experience as a Dutchman living in Taiwan. It was only when I stumbled upon the concept of transculturality that I realized I had been mistakenly taking culture as something homogeneous and typical for a specific nation or group. In this paper, I will explore a better way to understand culture in Taiwan by arguing that society in Taiwan is a community that evidences a sense of non-nation-ness through the workings of the process of transculturality, and that this can be shown foremost in its New Cinema, first and second waves, from the 1980s through the early 2000s. By taking examples from Taiwanese New Cinema feature films, I will examine the major cultural element of language and analyze the development over some time in Taiwan. To build my argument in this, I will first introduce the concept of transculturality as described by Wolfgang Welsch. Subsequently, I will discuss the phenomena of language in Taiwanese society and elaborate on how the Taiwan cultural outlook as presented in Taiwan New Cinema can be explained by the concept of Taiwan New Cinema waves from which I will draw examples that support my argument. With this paper, I will suggest redefining Taiwan New Cinema as Transcultural Cinema marked by borderlessness and made in Taiwan. And as such this paper contributes to the discussion on how to define Taiwan New Cinema, as well as the study of Taiwanese culture and society, through the research on its cinema and through the lens of transculturality.
How to Live Together with Rats
Author : Michael Lundblad
Keywords : multispecies studies, ecocriticism, biopolitics, idiorrhythmy, rats, T. Coraghessan Boyle
As Donna Haraway suggests in When Species Meet, there can be many forms of "becoming with" nonhuman animals; some include killing them. The idea of trying to live together with species such as rats challenges our imaginations when compared with charismatic megafauna more likely to be the subjects of conservation campaigns. This article focuses on rats in relation to both a personal narrative about them invading the author's cabin and examples from literature, particularly T. Coraghessan Boyle's "Thirteen Hundred Rats" (2008). What is central for the author is the question of how to live together with rats: how can we translate theories and concepts from fields such as multispecies studies and ecocriticism into everyday life? While various forms of life must die to sustain us, whether they are mammals or fish or plants, we can also try to imagine other ways of being in the world, animal ways of being in the world, aiming to make our relationships with animals and environments more sustainable and grounded in symbiotic flourishing. But what about rats running across the living-room floor and destroying insulation inside the walls? Building upon recent work in biopolitics and multispecies studies, this article brings particular attention to the concept of idiorrhythmy as it was developed by Roland Barthes in a series of late lectures at the Collège de France. Idiorrhythmy can be seen as an ideal model for living together, a form of community in which individuals are not constrained by others because the rhythm of their interactions allows them to keep enough distance. Literary texts can illustrate not only this kind of ideal, but also what makes it fall apart. In the end, the author asks, how can this concept help us to think differently about various ways of living together with rats?