Journal Articles

Autumn 2002 - Vol.33/No.1
The Praxis of World-ordering in Native American Creation Myth
Author : Frank W. Stevenson
Keywords : Native American, difference-at-the-origin, creation myth, experimental praxis, Taoist metaphysics, world-ordering, pervasive immanence, ecological thinking, world-series, recycling
Here I want to explore a hypothesis which, if correct, would have clear implications for the field of “Asian-American Studies'': Native American thinking, as expressed in traditional narratives and particularly in creation myths, shares with chinese Taoism a metaphysical worldview embodying pervasive immanence rather than the Western (Greek and Hebrew) immanent-transcendent duality. My starting point is the native American model of an extended series of wars or ontological levels separated by indefinite or permeable boundaries:the narratives often depict a jewelry or flight between levels. I then set this model in relation to the Pima picture of a Creator-figure and ambivalently inside and outside the world he creates—suggesting of marginality or indeterminacy "at the origin" as well as at the limits of the conceivable world—and in relation to this Creators "experimental" praxis of world-making, in which (as for the bricoleur) use is made of whatever materials lie at hand. This notion of creation as a tentative and ongoing process fits again the pervasive immanence of an (indefinitely) extended world-series. It also suggests looking at this as an open-and-closed economy, a projection of the actual lived economy (survival economy) of native American peoples: closed because driving by the necessity of choosing among elements actually at hand, but open in time (thus allowing repetition or "recycling" of elements). I conclude therefore by comparing the economy or ecology of an an Inuit narrative, in which a dead man's body becomes a boat for his brother with that of Chuang-tzu's narrative of the gourd that is unexpectedly "used" as a body-boat for pure world-floating, and thus set in the context of the Taoist "empirical praxis" of spiritual flight.
Narrating the Wounds, Recreating the Self: Trauma and Recovery in Eileen Chang’s Affinity of Health a Lifetime
Author : Ying-chiao Lin
Keywords : abjection, Affinity of Half a Lifetime, father-daughter relationship, female rage, Julia Kristeva, Heinz Kohut, Oedipal daughter, self-object, trauma theory
This paper explores Eileen Chang’s relationship with her father and its influence on her later work, Affinity of Half a Lifetime. Focusing on Chang’s traumatic experience of being locked up by her father at an early age, I will argue that the tragic scene of the female protagonist’s imprisonment in Affinity is a retelling of the author's own painful past. By adopting the trauma theories of Heinz Kohut, Judith Herman, and Jonathan Shay, and referring also to Kristeva’s theory of objection, I point out that the traumatized subject, Chang, may have suffered an irrecoverable internal wound, and show how this injury became a powerful force in shaping her later writing. By examining Chang’s own familia background, her male and female protagonists and the imprisonment episode in Affinity, I will try to show that the authors retelling of her own traumatic experience in her narrative writing was a way of releasing or liberating her from her long confinement, indeed, that is therapeutic retelling was necessary to the trauma victim’s very survival.
The Cost of Living Up to the Demand of Autobiographical Fiction: An Analysis of the Interaction between Yu Dafu’s Fiction and His Life
Author : Yunzhong Shu
Keywords : scholar-beauty (caizi-jiaren), effeminacy,Yu Dafu, autobiographcal fiction, sincerity, self-exposure
Yu Dafu’s subscription to the notion that “all literary work is nothing but the author's autobiography” is well known, but the impact of this conviction of his fiction and, more importantly, his personal life has not been adequately researched. By analyzing the influence of the self-image Yu Dafu came to adopt through his exposure to the Japanese “I-novel” and the Russian works about the “superfluous man”, a self-image that emphasizes social alienation, mental crisis and exhibitionist behavior, the present essay studies how the dictates of self-exposure and Yu Dafu’s attempts, as a professional writer depending on his pen for a living, to satisfy his reader’s interest in scandals, shaped the course of his private life.
Jasper-like Face and Rosy Lips: An Intertextual Reading of the Effeminate Male Body in Pre-Modern Chinese Romances
Author : Geng Song
Keywords : scholar-beauty (caizi-jiaren), effeminacy, homoeroticism, intellectuality, homophobia, the male body, yin/yang, the male fashion,Song Yu, Pan An, traditional Chinese theater
This paper attempts an intertextual reading of the effeminacy in pre-modern Chinese romances within the context of homosexuality, bisexuality and homosociality. Cultural icons like Song Yu and Pan An have been constantly referred to in the heterosexual scholar-beauty discourse as exemplars of male beauty. However, the “true” stories of these historical figures reveal the homoerotic origin of this bodily rhetoric. The effeminate male body exemplified by the student Zhang in The Story of the Western Wing is therefore a product of male culture; in other words, the ideal male body in men's eyes, instead of women's. The popularization of the image of the fragile scholar-lover was attributable to the largely absence of homophobia and the heterosexual/homosexual dichotomy in pre-modern Chinese culture.
Kunisexuality (Incest) in Hong Kong Literature
Author : Chapman Chen
Keywords : kunisexuality, incest taboo, Hong Kong literature, Freud, regression, exogamy
Incest which has always enthralled, confounded and horrified human beings occurs as a major and common theme in Western literary tradition. In Hong Kong literature, it is usually deeply disguised and rarely treated in explicit terms. This paper first renames incest and then redefines it. The major theories about the origin and use of the incest taboo and prohibition are summarized and discussed and then tested against Hong Kong literary works with incest themes. Efforts will then be made to analyze, with reference to Hong Kong literary works, whether or not the social advantages of incest taboo and prohibition are enough to outweight the disadvantages. This paper concludes with the claim that universal fraternity should be reasserted.
The Experience of the Limit: Approaching the Unknown in Maurice Blanchot’s The Madness of the Day in Light of Kristeva’s Chora
Author : Shuling Stephanie Tsai
Keywords : Kristeva, chora, Chaos, Blanchot, subjectivity, postmodern ethics, transgressiom, transferential, alterity, madness
This study will inquire into Kristeva’s notion of alterity and attempt to examine the “dialectic” relationship that Kristeva refers to between the semiotic and symbolic in language. I bring into play Maurice Blanchot’s notions of “Absence” based on the analysis of La folie du jour (The Madness of the Day) and try to approach Blanchot’s “impossible” (l’impossible) in light of Kristeva’s semiotic chora. I suggest to find a point of intersection, which distinguishes two different but not necessarily opposing approaches to speak the unspeakable. Kristeva’s chora helps to illustrate the alterity within the subject, but the effort to work the semiotic chora into the symbolic would be doomed to failure from Blanchot’s standpoint. The failure of the subject’s intention will constantly call into play the limit of the subjective power. For Kristeva, the subject is what he has successfully materialized in language. For Blanchot, what interests him is the frequency and the rhymes of failure or silence which fashion what the subject “is not.” The common ground that links while separating the two discourse would be the concept of “the third term” which opens up the space of literature by calling into the notion of communication.