Journal Articles

Spring 2006 - Vol.36/No.3
Envisioning a New Cultural Topography: Linking Chinese Global Cities
Author : Lingchei Letty Chen
Keywords : “Greater China,” “Cultural China,” “global city,” Hong Kong, l'objet petit a, Taipei, cultural identity, locality, Shanghai, market economy, global aspirations, Chinese cultural topography
Situating in the theoretical framework of “Greater China,” this article discusses the possibilities of conceiving a new cultural geography that will allow us to view the world in a new kind of global Spatial order, instead of looking at the world as composed of a body of nations. This new inter-and cross-cultural map will show that a global urban culture has been in the making within the proposed Chinese global cities, namely, Shanghai, Taipei, and Hong Kong, and that in fact they share more in common with each other than with the cultures of the state where these cities exist.
Looking at the (W)Hole Picture: Imagining Taipei as a Global City
Author : Kevin Lawrence
Keywords : cybercity,de- and reterritorialization, globalization, Taipei, TRTS (Taipei Rapid Transit System), Tsai Ming-liang The Hole
This paper explores various claims that are made aboutglobalization as a paradigm shift and how it is being registered in thesocial imaginary of one city, Taipei. Specifically, it seeks to look atways in which imagining Taipei as a global city is a source of anxiety,both in representations of city government projects designed toalleviate traffic congestion and then in the 1998 dystopic film by Tsai Ming-liang,The Hole. The paper strategically starts in an abstracted discursive realm,turns to physical representations of how Taipei relates to other (global) cities, then to city governmental efforts to reapportioncitizens? experience of space from physical navigation to virtualinteraction in a cyber-space, and finally tries to get a picture of howby-passed citizens in this emergent topography might berepresented and imagine themselves magine themselves not only asvictims of the effects of infrastructural bypass, but also as a viable,resistant communitywith an identifiable politics, however rudimentary.
Revisiting a Postcolonial Global City: Hong Kong and Fruit Chan’s Little Cheung
Author : Tsung-yi Michelle Huang
Keywords : global city, postcoloniality, critical geography, Hong Kong, Fruit Chan
This paper explores the production of contemporary urban space of the global city from the interactions between capital globalization and (post)colonialism. I use Hong Kong director Fruit Chan’s city film Little Cheung as a case study in order to tease out specific aspects of the postcolonial narrative of the global city and to examine how globalization and post-colonialism affect the production of urban space and urbanites’ daily life in contemporary East Asian global cities. The central argument of the paper is that in the global city, the “localness” in the postcolonial discourse can never be taken for granted, but must be realized as a kind of “construction.” As seen in the film, one of the formulative logics of the postcolonial discourse is the naturalization of the global: when urban space replaces rural landscape as the site to anchor one’s local consciousness, the spatial geographies of global cities have to be erased or rendered unseen. Therefore, in the film the population flow in the global city becomes naturalized, and another salient sign of .the global city, the monumental buildings, is represented as local landmarks rather than a symbol of global capital. My analysis of Little Cheung intends to foreground the dilemma that East Asian cities face. On the one hand, to represent the subalterns, postcolonial narratives have to be written and only in that way can the “local” be recognized. Chan’s representation of back streets and alleyways as the central setting of the film is clear evidence of this point. Without such narratives, the subalterns of East Asian cities will remain the invisible other, marginalized in the as seen in Hong Kong's case, to construct an “authentic” local, the first task to tackle in the postcolonial writing is the spatial characteristics of global cities. If the postcolonial writing of the “local” erases the global to such an extent that the representation of the local turns to be a deterritorialized myth, the postcolonial narrative, which originally intends to speak for the local, might at the same time unconsciously facilitate the operation of global metropolises, and hence become an ideological instrument undetected by city-users.
Opening Ecocriticism’s Sino-American Dialogue: An Interview with Lawrence Buell
Author : Wei Qingqi
Keywords : Ecocriticism, Nature Writing, Environmental Issues
Ecocriticism, a critical tide rapidly spreading worldwide from North America since the last decade, brings a breath of fresh air to the otherwise rigid world of criticism. Ecocriticism’s focus--the relation between humankind and the environment—causes literary critics to move beyond the socio-historical discourse of the text, extending the examination of structures of traditional literary classics and the strengths and weaknesses of current literary theory to the vantage point of earth’s biosphere, thus regaining Nature’s place long held in absentia in the literary and cultural subtext. In May, 2002, I met Lawrence Buell, Chair of Harvard University’s Department of English, in Beijing. Professor Buell’s earlier specialization was in American Literary Transcendentalism; his deep and penetrating studies of Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, and other writers provided a solid foundation for his shift to ecocriticism in recent years. Buell currently stands as one of the representative figures in American ecocriticism at a time of a burgeoning Chinese eco-literature. To facilitate an exchange, Professor Wang Ning of Tsing Hua University made some arrangements. The following article synthesizes an interview-discussion conducted over electronic mail between Buell and me.
Frankenstein, Ontology, Sexual Difference
Author : Kien Ket Lim
Keywords : Jacques Derrida, deconstruction, Frankenstein, Geschlecht, gender, Martin Heidegger, metaphysics, ontology, Mary Shelley, sexual difference, teratogeny
The project of monstrosity depicted in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein brings a vital clue to resolving the ontological inquiry of sexual difference first brought up by Jacques Derrida. The novel, seeking to define the monster’s parenthood, involves in it a father and a mother, and hence sexual difference. Yet it is parthenogenesis as dominated by the scientist-father conceit that actually holds sway, leaving the family romance of monstrosity devoid of the role of woman. When he is later demanded a female companion from his monster, Frankenstein must turn into a monster himself through his monstrous imagination of gender: he proceeds by reenacting the imago of the dead mother, without questioning the metaphysical binarism involved (such as form and matter, a derivative of mater, “mother’). We consider the difference in creating a he-monster and a she-monster—who alone is molded after the dead mother—as sexual difference. That Frankenstein chooses to abort his creation of a she-monster later may hint at the metaphysical failure to incarnate the dead mother’s imago in his teratogeny. Such an abortion hastens the death of his Elizabeth however, creating an aporia for Frankenstein that hints at the monstrosity of metaphysics. When Derrida questions why the number of gender must stop at “two,” at metaphysics, he may not be aware that two is a monstrous number, an insight which Mary Shelley's Frankenstein alone can provide.
The Fantastic/Exotic Uncanny: Kafka’s and Borges’s Labyrinthine Narrative of China
Author : Jiayan Mi
Keywords : Orientalism, labyrinthinization, postcoloniasm, Franz Kafka, the fantastic, Jorge Luis Borges, the exotic, the uncanny
High modernism always proclaims the absolute sovereignty of aesthetic purity for its artistic experimentalism. However, Western modernism, when looked at historically, is deeply rooted in its deathly enchantment with the “Orient” as a non-Western cultural Other. This article seeks to problematize a modernist fetishized literary genre—“the fantastic’—by situating modernist writers’ uncanny gaze of China in a post-colonial discursive context. To take up two modernist texts, Franz Kafka’s “The Great Wall of China” and Jorge Luis Borges’s “The Garden of Forking Paths,” this study is threefold: it first discusses Jackson’s theoretical revision of the fantastic; it then demonstrates the fantastic narrativity of an exotic Other; and finally it reveals the fictive/deceptive ethics embedded in Kafka’s and Borges’s imagining of China and probes their ideological slippages. Through analysis of how China was configured as an uncanny spectacle in these two short stories, I argue that the geopolitical spectacularization of an exotic China can not be said to legitimate the ideological sanctity of fantasy literature, but more often than not reflects a disturbing discourse of hegemony, dominance, and Orientalism. The reification of a cultural Other, through the process of narrative strategies of allegorization, mythologization, and labyrinthinization, insidiously reveals the authors’ own cultural identity crisis and obsessive mentality.
Beyond the Unconscious: “Gaze” in Peter Shaffer’s Equus
Author : Shaowen Emily Su
Keywords : the unconscious, repression, Freud’s psychotherapy, Lacanian “Gaze,” psychoanalysis, theatricalism
This paper looks into Peter Shaffer’s famous play, Equus, from a psychological point of view. The mysteriously unconscious human minds of the characters in the play and those of the audience are anatomized by an application of Lacanian “Gaze” and, where necessary, the theories of Freudian psychoanalysis. The main task of this study is to explore Lacan’s algorithmic mechanism of signifier-signified/conscious-unconscious systems, examine the recursive shifting of the identities between subject and object of the “Gaze” as well as unveil the bar in between the conscious and the unconscious or the mask of the unconscious, so as to probe into the unconscious of the protagonists, Alan and Dysart, and the audience, and thereby to retrieve the whole textual unconscious. In the retrieving process, the author ultimately renders the play in a fashion of productive creativity, adding subtexts to the play alongside facilitating demystifying the seemingly unexplainable mystery and unraveling the repressed and unconscious state of minds of the characters.