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Chinese Modern (Xiaobing Tang)

Chinese Modern (Xiaobing Tang)

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CHINESE MODERN

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POST-CONTEMPORARY INTERVENTIONS
Series Editors: Stanley Fish and Fredric Jameson
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CHINESE MODERN
The Heroic and the Quotidian
XIAOBING TANG
DUKE UNIVERSITY PRESS Durham and London 2000
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( iooo Ðukc \nivcrsiry ¡rcss All riglrs rcscrvcd
¡rinrcd in rlc \nircd Srarcs ol Amcrica on acid-lrcc papcr =
Ðcsigncd ly C. ¡. Wcsrmorcland
1ypcscr in Carrcr and Coln Galliard wirl Iras display
ly 1scng ¡nlormarion Sysrcms. ¡nc.
1irlc pagc arr. Woodcur. ‘‘¡ursuir ol ¡iglr’’ (ca. ¡o|o).
ly ¡i ¡ua. originally pullislcd in C/inc in B/c./ cn! I/it..
³n ³//um s/ Iss!.ut· /v Csnt.mtsrcrv C/in.·. ³rti·t·, Þcw York.
Asia ¡rcss. ¡o||.
¡ilrary ol Congrcss Caraloging-in-¡ullicarion Ðara appcar
on rlc lasr prinrcd pagc ol rlis look.
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¡or ¡rcd.
wlo firsr cxplaincd ro mc Brcclr’s insiglr.
‘‘Woc is rlc land rlar nccds a lcro’’
(Gc/i/.s, Sccnc ¡i).
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CONTENTS
Li·t s/ I//u·trctisn· ix
³./nsm/.!am.nt· xi
Intrs!u.tisn ¡
PART I
1 1rauma and ¡assion in T/. S.c s/ B.ar.t. 1lc Amliguous
Bcginnings ol Modcrn Clincsc ¡ircrarurc ¡¡
2 ¡u Xun’s ‘‘Ðiary ol a Madman’’ and a Clincsc Modcrnism |o
Lx.ur·isn I. Bcyond ¡omcsickncss. An ¡nrimarc Fcading ol
¡u Xun’s ‘‘My Þarivc ¡and’’ ¬|
3 S/cna/ci, Strina rc:c. Ingcndcring rlc Fcvolurionary
Body o¬
4 1lc ¡asr 1ulcrcular in Modcrn Clincsc ¡ircrarurc.
Òn Ba Iin’s Cs/! Nia/t· ¡:¡
PART II
5 1lc ¡yrical Agc and ¡rs Ðisconrcnrs. Òn rlc Sraging ol Socialisr
Þcw Clina in T/. Tsuna G.n.rctisn ¡o:
6 Fcsidual Modcrnism. Þarrarivcs ol rlc Scll in rlc ¡o8os ¡oo
7 1lc Mirror ol ¡isrory and ¡isrory as Spccraclc. Fcflccrions
on Xiao Yc and Su 1ong iis
8 ¡n Scarcl ol rlc Fcal Ciry. Cincmaric Fcprcscnrarions ol Bcijing
and rlc ¡olirics ol \ision i|s
9 Þcw \rlan Culrurc and rlc Anxicry ol Ivcryday ¡ilc in ¡arc-
1wcnricrl-Ccnrury Clina i¬:
Lx.ur·isn II. Ðccoraring Culrurc. Þorcs on ¡nrcrior Ðcsign.
¡nrcrioriry. and ¡nrcriorizarion ios
10 Mclancloly Againsr rlc Grain. Approacling ¡osrmodcrniry
in Wang Anyi’s 1alcs ol Sorrow :¡o
³/t.rmsr! :|¡
G/s··crv :|o
S./..t.! Bi//isarct/v :s¬
In!.x :oo
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LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
¡. ¡olk painring. Ticniin ./.na mci/u !i/.i Dsna }unm.n !c·/.na xi/ina tu
(A dcpicrion ol Commandcr Ðong winning a grcar vicrory ovcr Wcsrcrn
rroops ly laying mincs in rlc ciry ol 1ianjin) (¡ooo) :o
i. Commcrcial advcrriscmcnr. ‘‘¡nrcrnarional Ðispcnsary Co. ¡rd.’’
(ca. ¡o:o) ¡¡¬
:. Commcrcial advcrriscmcnr. ‘‘1lc Ccnrral Agcncy. ¡rd.’’ (ca. ¡o:o) ¡io
|. Woodcur. Bs!su (Conlronrarion) (¡o::) ¡i|
s. ¡ilm posrcr. Nicn;ina !. vi!ci (1lc young gcncrarion) (¡oo|) ¡o8
o. Sragc dcsign. Nicn;ina !. vi!ci (1lc young gcncrarion) (¡oo:) ¡¬8
¬. Sragc dcsign. Nicn;ina !. vi!ci (1lc young gcncrarion) (¡oo:) ¡oi
8. ¡ilm posrcr. B.nmina nicn (Black snow) (¡o8o) iso
o. ¡ilm srill. B.iiina niccs (Good morning. Bcijing) (¡ooo) io:
¡o. ¡ilm srill. B.iiina niccs (Good morning. Bcijing) (¡ooo) ioo
¡¡. ¡casanr painring. N.m Lss/ s/ c Ii//ca. (¡o¬|) i8¡
¡i. ¡casanr painring. T/. I/s/. Fcmi/v Stu!i.· t/. Csmmuni;u. (¡o¬|) i8i
¡:. ¡casanr painring. T/. Astsr’· Bscr (¡o¬|) io¡
¡|. ¡casanr painring. O/! Pcrtv S..r.tcrv (¡o¬|) io¡
¡s. ¡lorograpl. Brinaina Tsu t/. Cs/sr· s/ t/. Isr/!, Gisr!cns (¡oo:) ioi
¡o. Òil. Dr.cm Gir/ (¡o8s) io:
¡¬. ¡lorograpl. ‘‘Xiandai jusli’’ (Calcndar. modcrn living) (¡oo¬) :¡o
¡8. ¡lorograpl. ‘‘Iia } ¡omc’’ (Calcndar) (¡oo¬) :¡o
Fs//smina tca. zcc
¡larc ¡ (fig. ¡s). ¡lorograpl. Brinaina Tsu t/. Cs/sr· s/ t/. Isr/!, Gisr!cns (¡oo:)
¡larc i (fig. ¡o). Òil. Dr.cm Gir/ (¡o8s)
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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Sincc rlc wriring ol C/in.·. As!.rn spanncd morc rlan an cnrirc dc-
cadc ol my lilc. ro composc a succincr acknowlcdgmcnr on rlc cvc ol
irs pullicarion looms as a solcring cxcrcisc in rcmcmlrancc. ¡ lavc all
my lricnds. rcaclcrs. collcagucs. srudcnrs. rcadcrs. and cdirors ro rlank
lor lcing rlcrc and lor allowing mc ro pursuc rlc idcas rlar ¡ prcscnr
in rlis look. ¡ully awarc rlar my mcmory may lalrcr. ¡ srill wisl ro cx-
prcss my apprcciarion ro rlc lollowing individuals lor cncouraging mc.
commcnring on carlicr dralrs. and}or assisring mc in my rcscarcl. ¡ lisr
rlcir namcs ro rcflccr rlc ordcr in wlicl rlc claprcrs wcrc wrirrcn and
rcviscd. Icff 1wirccll. ¡rcdric Iamcson. ¡co Òu-lan ¡cc. Ðawn ¡aFo-
clcllc. ¡u Ying. Mary Scoggin. Gan Yang. ¡oward Goldllarr. ¡aurcls
Scsslcr. ¡i 1uo. Mcng Yuc. ¡vonc Margulics. Ðipcsl Clakralarry. ¡ydia
¡iu. Iudirl Zcirlin. Þorma ¡icld. ¡rascnjir Ðuara. ¡aizc Kculcmans. 1cd
¡urcrs. ¡arrick ¡anan. Ma 1ai-loi. Aril Ðirlik. Xudong Zlang. 1ang
Xiaoyan. Ðongming Zlang. Arjun Appadurai. Yingjin Zlang. and Wu
¡inqing.
Spccial rlanks arc duc my parcnrs. 1ang ¡ailo and Xic ¡ingling. wlo
ncvcr srop looking alrcr mc lrom alar. A major morivarion lor my invcsri-
garing rlc dialccrics ol rlc lcroic and rlc quoridian was indccd my dcsirc
ro undcrsrand rlc passion and conlusion rlar ¡ lavc wirncsscd in rlc livcs
ol my parcnrs’ gcncrarion ol Clincsc.
Òvcr rlc ycars. audicnccs ar ¡ong Kong \nivcrsiry. rlc \nivcrsiry ol
Colorado ar Bouldcr. rlc \nivcrsiry ol Calilornia ar Bcrkclcy. ¡ndiana
\nivcrsiry. and rlc \nivcrsiry ol Clicago lcard prcscnrarions ol somc ol
rlc cssays rlar in diffcrcnr lorm arc prcscnrcd in rlis volumc. Srudcnrs
in my scminars ar rlc \nivcrsiry ol Colorado ar Bouldcr and ar rlc \ni-
vcrsiry ol Clicago rcad and discusscd. always polircly. scvcral claprcrs. ¡
cnjoycd all ol rlc qucrics and commcnrs gcncrarcd ly rlcsc mcmorallc
occasions. and ¡ lopc rlar rlc final vcrsion will givc risc ro jusr as mucl.
il nor morc. rcsponsc and inrcrcsr.
My rcscarcl assisranr. Iason McGrarl. capally lclpcd mc prcparc rlc
manuscripr in rlc final sragcs and did a supcrl jol ol proolrcading. indcx-
ing. and asking rlc riglr qucsrions. 1lc cxcircmcnr rlar Iason lclr wlilc
going rlrougl rlc claprcrs. ¡ lopc. ourwciglcd rlc rcdium ol srandard-
izing an acadcmic manuscripr.
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xii ³./nsm/.!am.nt·
Ycr rlc onc pcrson wlosc cmorional and inrcllccrual invcsrmcnr in rlc
volumc is ar lcasr as significanr as my own is Ilizalcrl Bakcr. always my
lclovcd firsr rcadcr. criric. cdiror. and clccrlcadcr. ¡ somcrimcs lccl rlar
all rlc words rlar ¡ wrorc lor rlis look camc ro lilc and lcgan ro makc
scnsc only wirl rlc gcnrlc lur scarcling roucl rlar ¡iza would lcsrowon
cacl onc ol rlcm wirl lcr cxquisirc rcd pcn. Wlcn my mood lccamc agi-
rarcd ly cirlcr ‘‘rlc lyrical agc’’ or ‘‘lcroic mclancloly’’ rlar ¡ inrimarcly
prolcd. ¡iza would olrcn calm mc down ly making mc lccl and rasrc rlc
lasring joy ol cvcryday lilc.
¡n addirion ro all rlc invaluallc pcrsonal supporr. ¡ am grarclul lor
diffcrcnr lorms ol insrirurional aid. Ðuring ¡ooo–o¬. a rcsidcnrial lcllow-
slip ar rlc Clicago ¡umanirics ¡nsrirurc allowcd mc ro conccnrrarc and
aclicvc a conccprual colcrcncc lor wlar was cmcrging as a look projccr.
Ònc ol rlc carlicsr cssays was finislcd in rlc summcr ol ¡oo¡. wlcn ¡ rc-
ccivcd a Fockclcllcr posrdocroral lcllowslip ar rlc Ccnrcr lor ¡sycloso-
cial Srudics. dirccrcd ly Bcnjamin ¡cc. Ar rlc \nivcrsiry ol Clicago.
rlc Ccnrcr lor Iasr Asian Srudics providcd mc wirl rimcly rcscarcl and
coursc dcvclopmcnr lunds wirl wlicl ¡ could collccr visual marcrial and
pur ir ro usc in my undcrgraduarc rcacling. Wlcn rlc manuscripr was fin-
islcd. 1cd ¡oss and Iim Kcrclaar ar rlc Ccnrcr graciously madc availallc
a sulvcnrion. wirl wlicl color illusrrarions could lc rcproduccd lor rlis
pullicarion. ¡ lopc 1cd will find rlis look lorl good and clcganr.
Scvcral claprcrs lavc lccn pullislcd lclorc. and ¡ would likc ro rlank
PAL³, As!.rn C/in.·. Lit.rctur., Lc·t-I.·t Fi/m }surnc/, Pu//i. Cu/tur.,
/sun!crv z, and Wcsrvicw ¡rcss lor pcrmirring mc ro rcpullisl my work.
¡ know low dccply indclrcd ¡ am ro rlc cdirors and copycdirors ol rlcsc
journals and prcsscs. All rlc prcviously pullislcd cssays. lowcvcr. wcrc
carclully rcviscd. in somc cascs cxrcnsivcly. lclorc rlcir appcarancc lcrc.
¡ was vcry lorrunarc ro lavc rlc opporruniry ro work again wirl Fcy-
nolds Smirl ar Ðukc \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡is cnrlusiasm lor rlc projccr
was rcassuring lrom rlc lcginning and madc rlc pullicarion proccss
amazingly painlcss lor mc. 1lc rlrcc rcadcrs lor Ðukc \nivcrsiry ¡rcss.
alrlougl vasrly disrincr in srylc. wcrc cqually gcncrous wirl rlcir com-
mcnrs and suggcsrions. ¡ may or may nor lavc rakcn all ol rlcir advicc.
lur ¡ lavc grcar rcspccr lor rlcir prolcssional rigor. ¡ would also likc ro
rlank Bol Mirandon lor copycdiring rlc manuscripr and ¡am Morrison
lor capally managing rlc producrion ol rlc look.
¡inally. ¡ undcrsrand rlar any rcmaining crrors in rlc look arc cnrircly
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³./nsm/.!am.nt· xiii
my own and rlar ¡ am rcsponsillc lor all my argumcnrs. My ulrimarc rc-
sponsililiry. lowcvcr. lics in rcvcaling rlc conrcmporary rclcvancc ol rlc
Clincsc cxpcricncc in a mosr rcmarkallc ccnrury. 1lis rask will dcmand
jusr as acrivc a parr lrom rcadcrs ol rlis look as ir las lrom irs aurlor.
A numlcr ol claprcrs ol rlis look lavc appcarcd in prcvious pullicarions. all in
an carlicr and slorrcr lorm.
Claprcr i. ¡ooi. ‘‘¡u Xun’s ‘Ðiary ol Madman’ and a Clincsc Modcrnism.’’
PAL³ ¡o¬.s (Òcrolcr). ¡iii–:|. Fcprinrcd ly pcrmission ol rlc copyriglr
owncr. 1lc Modcrn ¡anguagc Associarion ol Amcrica.
Claprcr o. ¡oo:. ‘‘Fcsidual Modcrnism. Þarrarivcs ol rlc Scll in Conrcmpo-
rary Clincsc ¡icrion.’’ As!.rn C/in.·. Lit.rctur. ¬.¡ (Spring). i–:|. Fcprinrcd
ly pcrmission ol As!.rn C/in.·. Lit.rctur..
Claprcr ¬. ¡ooi. ‘‘1lc Mirror ol ¡isrory and ¡isrory as Spccraclc. Fcflccrions
on ¡siao Ycl and Su 1’ung.’’ As!.rn C/in.·. Lit.rctur. o.¡ and i (Spring}¡all).
io:–io. Fcprinrcd ly pcrmission ol As!.rn C/in.·. Lit.rctur..
Claprcr 8. ¡oo|. ‘‘Configuring rlc Modcrn Spacc. Cincmaric Fcprcscnrarion
ol Bcijing and ¡rs ¡olirics.’’ Lc·t-I.·t Fi/m }surnc/ 8.i (Iuly). |¬–oo. Fcprinrcd
ly pcrmission ol rlc ¡rogram lor Culrural Srudics. 1lc Iasr-Wcsr Ccnrcr.
Claprcr o. ¡ooo. ‘‘Þcw \rlan Culrurc and rlc Anxicry ol Ivcryday ¡ilc in
Conrcmporary Clina.’’ lrom In Pur·uit s/ Csnt.mtsrcrv Lc·t ³·icn Cu/tur. cd.
ly Xiaoling 1ang and Srcplcn Snydcr. Copyriglr ( ¡ooo ly Wcsrvicw ¡rcss.
¡o¬–ii. Fcprinrcd ly pcrmission ol Wcsrvicw ¡rcss. a mcmlcr ol ¡crscus Books.
¡.¡.C.
Ixcursion ¡¡. ¡oo8. ‘‘Ðccoraring Culrurc. Þorcs on ¡nrcrior Ðcsign. ¡nrcrior-
iry. and ¡nrcriorizarion.’’ Pu//i. Cu/tur.. Ss.i.tv /sr Trcn·nctisnc/ Cu/turc/ Stu!i.·
¡o.: (Spring). s:¡–|8. Fcprinrcd ly pcrmission ol Ðukc \nivcrsiry ¡rcss.
Claprcr ¡o. ¡oo¬. ‘‘Mclancloly Againsr rlc Grain. Approacling ¡osrmodcr-
niry in Wang Anyi’s 1alcs ol Sorrow.’’ /sun!crv z. cn int.rnctisnc/ isurnc/ s/ /it.rc-
tur. cn! .u/tur. i|.: (¡all). ¡¬¬–oo. Fcprinrcd ly pcrmission ol Ðukc \nivcrsiry
¡rcss.
1lis volumc is pullislcd wirl a sulvcnrion lrom rlc Ccnrcr lor Iasr Asian
Srudics. rlc \nivcrsiry ol Clicago.
XB1. ¡ydc ¡ark
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INTRODUCTION
1lis srudy ol modcrn Clincsc lircrarurc and culrurc olscrvcs a clrono-
logical ordcr in wlicl a scrics ol significanr rwcnricrl-ccnrury lircrary
and visual rcxrs arc srudicd and inrcrprcrcd. \aricd in lorl locus and
lcngrl. rlc srudy’s rcn claprcrs and rwo cxcursions dclvc inro rcprcscn-
rarions ol virrually cvcry dccadc ol rlc pasr lundrcd ycars. Somc works
discusscd lcrc arc canonical. lur also includcd arc rcxrs rlar. alrlougl
nor as wcll-srudicd. lring inro rclicl a parricular issuc or momcnr. Ònc
main oljccrivc ol rlc look is ro dcmonsrrarc rlc plcasurc ol cngaging
spccific. complcx rcxrs along wirl rlc nccd ro conrinually asscmllc an cx-
planarory lisrorical narrarivc. 1lrougl irs cxcrciscs in inrimarc rcading.
C/in.·. As!.rn offcrs inrcrprcrarions ol dcnsc lragmcnrs garlcrcd lrom
a ycr-ro-lc-wrirrcn culrural lisrory ol modcrniry in Clina.
Wlilc rlc clronological arrangcmcnr acknowlcdgcs a nccd ro siruarc
individual crcarivc works along a lisrorical conrinuum. rlc widc rangc ol
ropics and marcrials cngagcd in rlis srudy illusrrarcs. ¡ lopc. low ricl
and mulrilaycrcd rlc symlolic domain ol modcrn Clincsc lircrarurc and
culrurc las lccn in rlc rwcnricrl ccnrury. 1lc look’s undcrlying con-
ccrn is ro rccognizc nor mcrcly rlc rraccs and mcmorics ol a proloundly
rraumaric agc. lur also rlc rccurring cxcircmcnrs and anxicrics rlar com-
pcring visions ol rlc modcrn conrinuc ro gcncrarc. 1lcsc mcmorics and
visions arc rcrricvcd rlrougl a paricnr inquiry inro somc ol rlc ccnrral
rlcmcs ol modcrn Clincsc lircrarurc and culrurc. lormarions ol suljcc-
riviry. rlc rural}urlan symlology. lisrorical consciousncss. individual rc-
sponsililiry. and social rranslormarion. 1lc dialccrics ol rlc lcroic and
rlc quoridian. wlicl ¡ pursuc lcrc as an inrcrprcrivc lramcwork. dc-
scrilc an cmlcddcd srrucrurc ol amlivalcncc. wlcrcly rlc maclsrrom ol
modcrniry is undcrsrood lorl ro srir in us passions lor a uropian lururc
and ro makc us long lor a lulfilling cvcryday lilc rlar is lowcvcr con-
sranrly posrponcd. ¡ cxaminc low lcroic acrions as mucl as quoridian rc-
assuranccs amounr ro a producrion ol mcaning rlar is noncrlclcss callcd
inro qucsrion in rwcnricrl-ccnrury Clincsc lisrory and consciousncss,
my ccnrral argumcnr is rlar rlc dialccrical movcmcnr ol rlc lcroic and
rlc quoridian consrirurcs an incscapallc condirion ol sccular modcrniry.
1lc look is dividcd inro rwo parrs rlar rcflccr a prcvailing scnsc ol dis-
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conrinuiry or ncw lcginning rlar rlc lounding ol rlc ¡coplc’s Fcpullic.
alrcr dccadcs ol war and social rurmoil. cngcndcrcd in midccnrury. \p
unril rlar ruprurc. my rcading dcals cxclusivcly wirl lircrary works. all
ol rlcm scminal rcxrs lor rwcnricrl-ccnrury Clincsc lircrarurc and cul-
rurc. ¡n rlc firsr claprcr. wlicl cxplorcs rlc amliguous lcginnings ol
modcrn Clincsc lircrarurc. ¡ discuss rlc invocarion ol myrlical parlos
in Wu Iianrcn’s ¡ooo novcl T/. S.c s/ B.ar.t, arguing rlar rlc narrarivc
prcscnrs an inrricarc srudy ol war rrauma and luman rcsilicncc. 1lc dis-
coursc ol passion rlar susrains rlc narrarivc arricularcs a culrural polirics
ol virruc. wlicl is noncrlclcss compoundcd ly lilidinal dcsirc and slarcs
rlc psyclic srrucrurc ol olscssional ncurosis. ¡rs indcrcrminacy lcrwccn
lagiograply and parlograply makcs rlc novcl an apr insrancc ol clang-
ing lircrary conccprions and pracriccs in rlc ccnrury’s opcning ycars. 1lc
divcrgcncc lcrwccn mcaning and cxpcricncc painsrakingly ncgoriarcd ly
rlc rcxr also makcs ir a corc narrarivc ol modcrn Clincsc lircrarurc.
1lc orlcr lour claprcrs in ¡arr ¡ draw on scvcral analyrical approaclcs
—onc ol rlcm psycloanalysis—ro casr a lrcsl liglr on imporranr works
ly rlc canonical wrircrs ¡u Xun. Ðing ¡ing. and Ba Iin. A consranr
rlcmc is rlc psyclological dcprl and amlivalcncc rlar inrcnscly scll-
conscious. allcir dispararc. cxpcricnccs ol rlc modcrn lavc cnallcd rlcsc
wrircrs ro rcacl and rcprcscnr. 1lc claprcrs on Ðing ¡ing and Ba Iin can
lc rakcn. in rurn. as microscopic srudics ol rcvolurionary romanricism ol
rlc carly ¡o:os in mcrropoliran Slanglai and a somlcr pocrics ol lailurc
in rlc Clincsc inrcrior during World War ¡¡. My sclccrion ol rlcsc rcxrs
may appcar random. wirl lirrlc rclarionslip ol dirccr influcncc rcvcalcd
among rlcm. lur cacl narrarivc is an ovcrdcrcrmincd lisrorical inrcrvcn-
rion rlar providcs a crucial link in modcrn Clincsc lircrary and culrural
pracriccs. ¡r is nor my inrcnrion in rlcsc pagcs ro consrrucr a sysrcmaric
lircrary lisrory. alrlougl a slarply locuscd inrcrprcrarion ol any givcn
lircrary rcxr—¡u Xun’s ‘‘Ðiary ol a Madman.’’ lor insrancc—invarially
involvcs our conccprion ol rlc cnrirc rradirion ol modcrn Clincsc lircra-
rurc. 1lc ovcrwlclming clallcngc ol sucl an inrimarc cngagcmcnr wirl
lircrary rcxrs. ir sccms ro mc. srcms lrom rlc uncvcn. mulrilocal lisrorics
rlar conrinually surlacc and dcmand our imaginarivc rcconfigurarion.
Bcrwccn rlc look’s rwo main parrs. rlcrc is a noriccallc slilr lrom
psycloanalyzing Ba Iin’s novcl ol virrual inrcrior monologuc ro disman-
rling a carclully orclcsrrarcd rlcarrical spccraclc. 1lis clangc also lorc-
sladows a lroadcning scopc ol invcsrigarion. ¡n addirion ro lircrary rcxrs.
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¡ inrroducc cincmaric and orlcr visual marcrials in rlc look’s sccond
parr. 1lc ccsraric ‘‘lyrical agc’’ in rlc wakc ol a rimc ol unlcarallc dc-
spair. as ¡ slow in my rcading ol rlc ¡oo: play T/. Tsuna G.n.rctisn, is
noncrlclcss lrauglr wirl anxicry and cvcn rcrror. ¡r rlrivcs on an acs-
rlcrics ol cxrcrioriry rlar cxrcnds rlc polirics ol sullimarion. rimidly cm-
lraccd ly Ðing ¡ing in lcr ficrion during rlc carly ¡o:os. 1lc cxlila-
raring ncw lilc projccrcd on rlc socialisr sragc. upon closc cxaminarion.
appcars painlully incolcrcnr and manipularivc. ¡n rcvisiring claracrcrs
rlar galvanizcd rlc passion ol an cnrirc gcncrarion ol Clincsc yourl and
morc. lowcvcr. ¡ vicw rlc play as valuallc rcsrimony ro rlc grand projccr
ol a Clincsc modcrniry. parricularly ro irs uropian ycarnings. ¡arr ol wlar
¡ call ‘‘rcvolurionary mass culrurc’’ lrom rlc socialisr pcriod. T/. Tsuna
G.n.rctisn dirccrly conlronrs rlc qucsrion ol cvcryday lilc and advocarcs
scll-alncgaring lcroism as irs cffccrivc ovcrcoming.
¡or all ol irs llaranr propagandisr srylc and inrcnr. rcvolurionary mass
culrurc calls lor crirical dccoding rarlcr rlan dismissal—as do rlc flccr-
ing imagcs. logos. and narrarivcs rlar lomlard a consumcr socicry. Borl
socialisr rcalism and capiralisr rcalism. rlcir lcsr spccimcns lcing poliri-
cal propaganda and commcrcial advcrriscmcnrs. srimularc our dormanr
or unconscious longings lor a rranslormcd. morc lulfilling cnvironmcnr.
\lrimarcly. rlcy arc rwo inrcrclangcallc lorms rlrougl wlicl an idco-
logical sysrcm may lc mounrcd ro lclp socicry lcrrcr alsorl rlc raw im-
pacr ol sccular modcrniry. Clincsc culrurc and lisrory alrcr midccnrury
privilcgc us ro wirncss an cxrraordinary mcramorplosis ol mass culrurc.
wirl irs socialisr pasr ingcniously cannilalizcd ly cvcr morc voracious
consumcrism. 1o lcrrcr undcrsrand larc rwcnricrl-ccnrury Clina. in-
dccd. wc musr kccp in siglr rlc uropia ol rlc lyrical agc and all ol irs
disconrcnrs. 1lcrclorc. my analysis ol T/. Tsuna G.n.rctisn is crucially
placcd. nor lcasr lccausc rlc play dramarizcs a lundamcnral prollcm rlar
¡ cxplorc rlrouglour rlc look in diffcrcnr conrcxrs. ¡n addirion. rlc play
dcclararivcly spcaks lor a pcriod wlcn lircrary producrion was coordi-
narcd ly rlc srarc ro lasrcn rlc dcmisc ol solirary and scnrimcnral rcadcrs
ol novcls and wlcn arr as an auronomous acriviry was insrirurionally rc-
aligncd ro lc conrinuous wirl lilc.
Òn an allcgorical lcvcl. rlc sccond lall ol rlc look rcrraccs a grad-
ual journcy lrom rlc spccraclc ol collccrivc cuploria ro a disconsolarc
momcnr ol mclancloly rcflccrion and nosralgia as rlc ccnrury’s cnd ap-
proaclcs. Wirl rlc collapsc ol uropia grimly confirmcd in rlc alrcrmarl
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ol rlc Culrural Fcvolurion (¡ooo–¡o¬o). wc olscrvc a rcsurgcncc ol inri-
marc and pcrsonal narrarivcs ol rrauma. onc ol wlicl ¡ prcscnr in grcar
dcrail rlrougl rlc claprcr on ‘‘rcsidual modcrnism.’’ 1lc rcvival ol a
modcrnisr rclusal ro conlorm finds irs lcrrilc ground in an incrcasingly
disoricnring urlan landscapc. ¡cncc. a sulscqucnr claprcr on cincmaric
rcprcscnrarions ol Bcijing. wlcrc rwo scpararc visions ol rlc ciry arc
lrouglr rogcrlcr ro rcflccr on cacl orlcr. 1lis rcnsion is lurrlcr clalo-
rarcd againsr a largcr lisrorical lackground in rlc claprcr on rlc anxicry
ol cvcryday lilc. in wlicl ¡ arguc rlar rcccnr Clincsc culrural lisrory vac-
illarcs lcrwccn rwo logics and rwo valuc oricnrarions. a rural lur wlolc-
somc communal lilc vcrsus an urlan. disconnccrcd. and dcrail-ccnrcrcd
cxisrcncc. Sucl a culrural dilcmma is nor ly irscll uniquc. lur rlc imagi-
narivc cfforrs ro rcsolvc ir olrcn acknowlcdgc a spccific lisrorical condi-
rion and lcriragc. ¡n rlc final claprcr. ¡ concludc rlar a posrrcvolurionary
disavowal ol all lcroic cfforrs is ar rlc roor ol Wang Anyi’s cxprcssion
ol a glolal mclancloly in rlc mid-¡ooos, lcr conrcmporary ralcs ol sor-
row. againsr a rransnarional landscapc ol posrmodcrniry. opcnly mourn
rlc losr possililiry ol passionarc dcvorion.
1lc look’s final rwo claprcrs lring us ro rlc conrcmporary sccnario
and compcl us ro rcrlink rlc implicir srory rlar wc arc invircd ro al-
srracr lrom rlc volumc as onc grand narrarivc. 1lis movc roward lis-
rorical rcvicw is parr ol wlar ¡ inrcnd ro provokc rlrougl rlis scrics ol
inrimarc rcadings. Bcrwccn Wu Iianrcn’s S.c s/ B.ar.t and Wang Anyi’s
Sc!n.·· /sr t/. Pc.i/i., lor cxamplc. a similar cvocarion ol passion calls
lorrl a lclicirous discoursc rlar gaugcs rlc cmorional and psyclic conrcnr
ol modcrn Clincsc lircrarurc. ¡r also is uncannily lcfirring rlar rlcarcr—
rlc mosr cxprcssivc mcdium ol rlc lyrical agc—is now londly rccallcd
ly Wang Anyi’s narraror as lcr rcvolurionary larlcr’s yourllul lascina-
rion and commirmcnr. Þo doulr ir would lc difficulr ro consrrucr a uni-
lorm lisrorical narrarivc lrom rlcsc claprcrs. lur cacl ol rlcm arrcsrs a
momcnr rlar will lavc ro lc rcconcilcd wirl any lururc narrarion ol rlc
rwcnricrl ccnrury in Clina.
Ònc cxplanarory dcscriprion ol rlc lasic srrucrural movcmcnr rlar
lrings rogcrlcr rlcsc rcxrs and rics rlcm ro mc is rlc dialccrical cngagc-
mcnr ol rlc lcroic wirl rlc quoridian. or a glolal uropianism wirl cvcry-
day lilc. Wlilc uropian polirics olrcn cxacr a rcrrillc luman roll. cvcryday
lilc is ncvcr a complcrc or complcrcly cxlilararing cxpcricncc, onc cloicc
always sccms ro rcvcal an unlcarallc lack in rlc orlcr. ¡l rlc rcvolurion-
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Intrs!u.tisn 5
ary commirmcnr ol modcrn Clincsc lircrarurc cxprcsscs irscll in rlc drivc
lor a grand lcroic lilc. rlcn rlc lrusrrarcd dcsirc ro rcclaim an cvcryday
lilc. now cirlcr acrivcly disrcmcmlcrcd or lclplcssly our ol syncl wirl
rlc rimcs. consrirurcs irs polirical unconscious. As Zlang Ailing. onc ol
rlc ccnrury’s mosr imporranr wrircrs. rcmarkcd in rlc ¡o|os wlcn rlc
Sino-Iapancsc war was dragging on in rlc Clincsc linrcrland. rlcrc arc
rwo rypcs ol lircrarurc. onc cxrols wlar is cxciring and ligl-flying in lilc.
rlc orlcr affirms rlc srallc and larmonious. ‘‘Implasizing rlc acrivc. cx-
ciring parrs ol luman lilc givcs somcrling ol a supcrluman flavor. Supcr-
lumans arc lorn only in ccrrain cras. wlcrcas rlc srallc in luman lilc
las an crcrnal qualiry. Ivcn rlougl rlis calm sraliliry is olrcn incom-
plcrc and is lound lor dcsrrucrion cvcry now and rlcn. ir is srill crcrnal.
¡r cxisrs in all agcs. ¡r consrirurcs rlc sacrcdncss ol lumaniry. and wc can
cvcn say ir is womanlincss irscll.’’ Wlar arrracrcd Zlang Ailing as a wrircr
arc nor lcrocs wirl cxrrcmc dcrcrminarions. lur ‘‘rlc vasr majoriry ol
pcoplc wlo lcar rlc lurdcn ol our rimc.’’ ‘‘1lcy lavc no rragic lcroism.
jusr dcsolarion. 1ragic lcroism amounrs ro a complcrion. wlcrcas dcso-
larion offcrs a rcvclarion.’’
1
1lis privarc. olrcn inrcrnalizcd. cxpcricncc ol
rcvclarory dcsolarion posscsscs irs own lcaury and grandcur. lorming an
inrcgral parr ol wlar Clarlcs Baudclairc in rlc ¡8|os anriciparcd as rlc
‘‘cutr.m.nt /.rsì;u.,’’ ‘‘rlc lcroism ol modcrn lilc.’’
2
Ycr. according ro rlc dialccrics. rlc srallc and consranr aspccr ol lilc
is livcd only wlcn irs ruinarion appcars incvirallc or complcrc. wlcrcas
ligl-flying aspirarions olrcn growour ol imparicncc wirl norms or rcali-
rics. 1lc complcrc rcvclarion rlar Zlang Ailing linrs ar. rlcrclorc. ariscs
wlcn wc grasp rlc ncccssary incomplcrcncss ol lorl rlc lcroic and rlc
quoridian aspirarions in lilc. ¡ndccd. rlrougl an acurc awarcncss rlar
lcr own cra was disinrcgraring. a rimc wlcn ‘‘old rlings arc lalling aparr
wlilc ncw oncs arc cmcrging.’’ Zlang Ailing cloqucnrly dclcndcd lcr
work as unmisrakally modcrn and ycr nosralgic. and lcr acsrlcric pursuir
as onc ol uncvcn conrrasrs. Slc also succccdcd in firmly grasping rlc rcsr-
¡. Zlang Ailing (Iilccn Clang). ‘‘Ziji dc wcnzlang.’’ in lcr Liuvcn (Gossip). Z/cna
³i/ina ;ucnii (1lc complcrc works ol Zlang Ailing). vol. : (1aipci. ¡uangguan.
¡ooi). ¡8–¡o. ¡or an Inglisl rranslarion ly Wcndy ¡arson. wlicl ¡ consulrcd. scc
Kirk A. Ðcnron. cd.. As!.rn C/in.·. Lit.rcrv T/sua/t. Iritina· sn Lit.rctur., rsc:–
rc;· (Sranlord. Calil.. Sranlord \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡ooo). |:o–|i.
i. Scc Baudclairc. ‘‘Ðc l’lcroïsmc dc la vic modcrnc.’’ in lis O.uvr.· .smt//t.· (¡aris.
Gallimard. ¡oo¡). o|o–si.
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lcss soul ol a lircrary rradirion rlar slc parriciparcd in slaping. ¡cncc.
rlc lcroic and rlc quoridian—rwo complcmcnrary visions ol rcaliry rlar
consrirurc rlc inncr dynamics ol Clincsc lircrarurc in rlc rwcnricrl ccn-
rury. 1lcsc rwin impulscs may lc a variarion on wlar Iaroslav ¡ru˚šck
oncc claracrcrizcd as ‘‘rlc lyrical and rlc cpic’’ in lis pionccring srudics ol
modcrn Clincsc lircrarurc.
3
alrlougl rlc lcroic and rlc quoridian com-
prclcnd morc rlan srylisric qualirics or implicarions. 1lcy dcsignarc dis-
rincr arrisric scnsililirics and compcring lanrasics ol lccoming modcrn.
and. morc imporranrly. rlcy always lclic cacl orlcr.
¡n addirion ro my cfforr ro rcconsrrucr rlc inncr logic ol rlcsc works.
a morc immcdiarc morivarion lclind C/in.·. As!.rn las lccn ro rcndcr
rlcsc modcrn Clincsc rcxrs morc acccssillc and rlcrclorc morc rclcvanr
ly mcans ol rlcorcrical discoursc. My conrinual cngagcmcnr wirl rlco-
rcrical wrirings is ccrrainly nor aimcd ar srripping modcrn Clincsc lircra-
rurc or lisrory ol irs spccificiry. Òn rlc conrrary. my oljccrivc is ro ligl-
liglr rlc cxrcnr ro wlicl rlc dccpcr grains and laycrs ol a rcxr may rcmain
our ol locus wirlour rlc inrcrvcnrion ol a rlcorcrical lcns. Ivcry rcason
is prcscnr ro makc our srudy ol modcrn Clincsc lircrarurc parr ol rlc
crirical rcrlinking ol modcrniry rlar olrcn lcgins wirl a rlcorcrical invcs-
rigarion. ¡n cmploying various inrcrprcrivc lramcworks and vocalularics
in my rcadings. ¡ also lopc ro dcfinc my posirion as a srudcnr ol mod-
crn Clincsc lircrarurc wlo wrircs in Inglisl and lor a lroad rcadcrslip.
Þoncrlclcss. during my rcscarcl. as my norcs rcsrily. ¡ rclicd lcavily on
sclolarslip pullislcd in Clincsc ovcr rlc pasr dccadc. ¡r las lccomc in-
crcasingly clcar rlar modcrn Clincsc lircrary srudics in rlc \nircd Srarcs
will lcncfir grcarly lrom inrcracring wirl irs cvcr morc vigorous counrcr-
parr in Clina. Also. wlcrcvcr possillc. ¡ inrroducc cxisring Inglisl rrans-
larions ol rlc ccnrral rcxrs discusscd. loping ro lacilirarc rcadcrs’ acccss
ro rlis lody ol lircrarurc.
A rclarcd cfforr ol rlis volumc is ro makc compararivc rclcrcnccs ro
orlcr lircrary and culrural rradirions (lrom rlc mcaning ol sickncss in
modcrn Iapancsc lircrarurc ro ncorcalism in ¡ralian cincma. lor insrancc).
Comparisons may nor always lc comprclcnsivc or in-dcprl. lur rlcy
lcgin ro suggcsr. ¡ lclicvc. a lisrorical as wcll as imaginarivc affiniry
among lircrarurcs and culrurcs produccd in apparcnrly diffcrcnr placcs.
:. Scc Iaroslav ¡ru˚šck. T/. Lvri.c/ cn! t/. Lti.. Stu!i.· s/ As!.rn C/in.·. Lit.rctur.,
cd. ¡co Òu-lan ¡cc (Bloomingron. ¡ndiana \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o8o).
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Intrs!u.tisn 7
1lcy also indicarc rlc mulriplc sourccs and influcnccs rlar comlinc in rlc
making ol modcrn Clincsc lircrarurc and culrurc and in our conccprual-
izarions ol rlc lormarivc proccss irscll. ¡or all ol rlcsc rcasons. ¡ cxpccr
rlis look ro spcak ro an audicncc lcyond rlosc wlo arc srricrly srudcnrs
ol modcrn Clina, rlcy will find lcrc an unprcccdcnrcd srudy rlar cn-
gagcs rcxrs lrompracrically cvcry dccadc ol rlc pasr ccnrury. Alrcr all. rlis
look is as mucl alour wlar wc undcrsrand ly ‘‘rlc Clincsc modcrn’’ as
ir is alour low wc makc scnsc ol rlc inclucrallc condirion ol modcrniry.
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1
1rauma and ¡assion in T/. S.c s/ B.ar.t.
1lc Amliguous Bcginnings ol Modcrn Clincsc
¡ircrarurc
1lc momcnrous cmcrgcncc ol rlc modcrn Clincsc novcl was grcarly ac-
cclcrarcd in ¡ooi wlcn ¡iang Qiclao (¡8¬¡–¡oio). in polirical cxilc in
Yokolama. srarrcd rlc lircrary journal Xin xics·/us (Þcw ficrion) and in
irs inaugural issuc pullislcd a manilcsro-likc arriclc ro cxpound on rlc
viral connccrion lcrwccn ‘‘ncw ficrion’’ and social progrcss and dcmoc-
racy. ¡ypcrlolic rlcroric asidc. ¡iang Qiclao in rlis cssay prcscnrs a
compclling argumcnr rlar rlc popular novcl slould luncrion. and rlcrc-
lorc lc rcspccrcd. as rlc mosr cffccrivc mcdium lor mass cducarion and
spirirual culrivarion.
1
Wirl irs unsurpasscd capaciry lor cxprcssing cmo-
rion and dcpicring rcaliry. rlc novcl is cxrollcd as rlc liglcsr lorm ol
lircrarurc. 1lis rarlcr ponrifical rcvaluarion. according ro rlc lircrary lis-
rorian Clcn ¡ingyuan. uslcrcd in a srrucrural adjusrmcnr ro rlc narivc
acsrlcric ordcr and lclpcd pusl novclisric narrarivcs ro rlc ccnrcr ol lir-
crary discoursc and producrion during wlar is commonly rclcrrcd ro as
rlc larc Qing pcriod.
2
1lc unprcccdcnrcd social and culrural promincncc
¡. ¡iang Qiclao. ‘‘¡un xiaosluo yu qunzli zli guanxi’’ (Òn rlc rclarionslip lc-
rwccn ficrion and rlc govcrnancc ol rlc pcoplc). in lis Tin/ina·/i /.ii-m.nii (Collccrcd
wrirings lrom rlc icc-drinkcr’s srudio. collccrcd cssays) (Slanglai. Clina Books.
¡o:o). ¡o.o–¡o. ¡or an Inglisl rranslarion. scc Kirk A. Ðcnron. cd.. As!.rn C/in.·.
Lit.rcrv T/sua/t. Iritina· sn Lit.rctur., rsc:–rc;· (Sranlord. Calil.. Sranlord \nivcr-
siry ¡rcss. ¡ooo). ¬|–8¡. ¡or a discussion ol ¡iang Qiclao’s conrrilurion ro rlc mod-
crnizarion ol Clincsc ficrion. scc I. ¡crry ¡ink Ir.. Acn!crin Du./· cn! Butt.r//i.·.
Pstu/cr Fi.tisn in Lcr/v Tm.nti.t/-C.nturv C/in.·. Citi.· (Bcrkclcy. \nivcrsiry ol Cali-
lornia ¡rcss. ¡o8¡). ¡is–::.
i. Clcn ¡ingyuan. Lr·/i ·/iii Z/snaaus xics·/us ·/i. !i vi iucn rsc~–rcre (¡isrory ol
rwcnricrl-ccnrury Clincsc ficrion. volumc onc. ¡8o¬–¡o¡o) (Bcijing. ¡cking \nivcr-
siry ¡rcss. ¡o8o). ¡–ii. csp. ¡s. Also scc lis Z/snaaus xics·/us xu·/i ms·/i !. c/ucn/icn
(1lc rranslormarion ol rlc narrarivc parrcrn in Clincsc ficrion) (Slanglai. Slanglai
rcnmin. ¡o88). ¡ss–o:.
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12 C/in.·. As!.rn
granrcd ro rlc popular novcl. in rcrrospccr. prcparcd a ncccssary condi-
rion lor rlc lcginning ol modcrn Clincsc lircrarurc ar largc. cvcn rlougl
nor all rlar was iniriarcd would larcr lc rccognizcd as lcgirimarc or rclc-
vanr.
3
¡n dirccr rcsponsc ro ¡iang’s rirclcss rrumpcring as lorl a rlcorisr and
an cnrlusiasric pracririoncr ol rlc ncw ficrion. rlc modcrnizarion ol rlc
Clincsc novcl lorgcd alcad in rlc firsr dccadc ol rlc rwcnricrl ccnrury.
olrcn rurning ficrion inro an opcn lorum lor cirlcr dirccr social commcn-
rary or polirical lanrasy. 1lis gcncric rranslormarion was lurrlcr aidcd
ly rlc conrcmporary influx ol modcrn Wcsrcrn popular ficrion (ar firsr.
mosrly ly mcans ol Iapancsc rranslarions) rlar dcmonsrrarcd a ncw scr
ol rcclniqucs. sucl as rlc rcndcring ol narrarivc rimc. plor arrangcmcnrs.
and pcrspccrival slilrs.
4
¡arc Qing ficrion or xics·/us (ar rlc rimc rlc
rcrm also includcd drama) gcncrarcd cnormous crcarivc cncrgy lccausc
rlis oncc lowly lircrary lorm was now cxplicirly rclarcd ro rlc rcaliry ol
rlc modcrn world as wcll as irs rcprcscnrarion. 1lc ovcrwlclming vol-
umc ol ficrion wriring lrom rlis pcriod arrcsrs ro a lisrorical nccd lor
novclisric narrarion and. morc imporranrly. lor ncw narrarallc knowl-
cdgc. ¡ndccd. rlc numcrous and cplcmcral lalcls rlar accompany rlc
ncw ficrion poinr ro a conrinual cfforr ro namc and ordcr an csrrangcd
world and irs liddcn logic. 1lc firsr fivc issucs ol ¡iang Qiclao’s N.m Fi.-
tisn, lor insrancc. inrroduccd a dozcn diffcrcnr rypcs ol xics·/us dcfincd
in rcrms ol rlcir suljccr marrcr. ranging uncvcnly lrom lisrorical. scicn-
rific. and diplomaric ro advcnrurous and dcrccrivc.
5
¡l a gcncral inrcrscc-
rion ol wlar Ðavid Ðcr-wci Wang calls ‘‘conluscd lorizons’’ rook placc
in rlc larc Qing conccprion ol rlc novcl. rlc sccmingly unsroppallc fic-
rional ourpur also signalcd rlc acrivc cnginccring ol an cpisrcmic rcsrruc-
ruring. on rlc onc land. and a mulrilarious. olrcn conflicrual rcaliry rlar
rlc ncw ficrion would lavc ro cncounrcr and rcprcscnr. on rlc orlcr. 1lc
:. ¡or a dcrailcd srudy ol rlis ropic. scc Ðavid Ðcr-wci Wang. Fin-!.-·i/./. St/.n-
!sr. B.tr.··.! As!.rniti.· s/ Lct. Oina Fi.tisn, rs;c–rcrr (Sranlord. Calil.. Sranlord
\nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡oo¬).
|. Scc Clcn. T/. Trcn·/srmctisn s/ t/. Ncrrctiv. Pctt.rn in C/in.·. Fi.tisn, :¬–¡|¡.
s. ¡or an inlormarivc discussion ol rlc various rypcs ol ficrion rlar wcrc lalclcd
during rlis pcriod. scc Clcn ¡ingyuan. Xics·/us ·/i. /i/un vu ·/iiicn (¡isrory ol rlc
novcl. rlcory and pracricc) (Bcijing. ¡cking \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡oo:). ¡8o–oo. 1lc ¡ic-
rion Grovc Socicry lisrcd. lor cxamplc. rwclvc diffcrcnr kinds ol ficrion rlar ir lad
pullislcd ly ¡oos.
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1lc Sca ol Fcgrcr 13
idcal rcadcr. conscqucnrly. was llunrly insrrucrcd ro acquirc cncyclopcdic
knowlcdgc and ro rcspccr rlc pcdagogical scriousncss ol rlc ncw novcl.
6
¡owcvcr. rlc prcdominanrly rarionalisr approacl ro ficrion wriring.
wlicl luclcd ¡iang Qiclao’s ‘‘rcvolurion in rlc rcalmol rlc novcl.’’
7
soon
lcd ro an awkward siruarion. 1lc ncw ficrion wrircrs wcrc so alsorlcd in
popularizing ncw idcas and conccprs rlar novcls sccmcd morc and morc
likc polirical or plilosoplical rrcariscs. Ivcn morc prollcmarically. sucl
composirions wcrc olrcn lclr unfinislcd cirlcr lccausc no viallc plor was
prcscnr ro conrinuc or lccausc a ccnrral argumcnr lad lccn madc.
8
Also.
lrom rlc srarr. rlc ncw ficrion carricd srrong clirisr and moralizing ovcr-
roncs insolar as irs rcadcrslip was largcly imagincd ro lc a narion ol ncw
cirizcns. Wlilc didacricism lclpcd clcvarc rlc lircrary srarus ol rlc novcl.
inarrcnrion ro cnrcrrainmcnr valuc rcndcrcd rlc oncc popular lorm ol
vcrnacular ficrion incrcasingly alsrrusc and unpalarallc ro acrual rcadcrs.
9
Alrcady rlcrc appcarcd an idcological srrilc lcrwccn a scrious proro-
lircrarurc ol cngagcmcnr and a lircrarurc lor popular cnrcrrainmcnr. 1lis
dividc was ro yicld grcarcr and longcr lasring slock wavcs during rlc May
¡ourrl pcriod. wlcn a rlriving consumcrisr urlan culrurc lccamc onc ol
rlc dcclarcd advcrsarics ol rlc modcrnisr Þcw ¡ircrarurc movcmcnr. ¡n
lisrorical lindsiglr. rlc inrcnsc cnrlusiasm lor a ncw ficrion ar rlc rurn
ol rlc ccnrury may illusrrarc low modcrniry was largcly anriciparcd ro lc
a molilizing and morally uplilring modc ol collccrivc cxisrcncc. 1lc apo-
o. Scc ‘‘Ðu xinxiaosluo la’’ (1lc mcrlod ol rcading ncw ficrion). Xin·/iii. xics·/us-
·/. /cs (Iournal ol rlc ncw world ficrion socicry). nos. o and ¬ (¡oo¬), collccrcd in Iian
Yizli cr al.. cds.. Z/snaaus iin!ci m.n/un xucn (Sclccrions lrom carly modcrn Clincsc
lircrary criricism) (Bcijing. Fcnmin wcnxuc. ¡ooi). i¬i–¬o.
¬. 1lis docs nor conrradicr rlc lacr rlar in ¡iang Qiclao’s rlcorizarion ol rlc cffcc-
rivcncss ol ficrional wriring. cmplasis also lalls on rlc cmorional impacr ol rlc novcl.
alrlougl ir is an cfficacy ulrimarcly scrving rlc purposc ol social adminisrrarion and
dcmocracy. ¡or a lclplul discussion ol ¡iang Qiclao’s rlcory ol rlc novcl in rcrms ol
irs inrcllccrual sourccs. scc C. 1. ¡sia. ‘‘Ycn ¡u and ¡iang Cl’i-cl’ao as Advocarcs ol
Þcw ¡icrion.’’ in C/in.·. ³ttrsc./.· ts Lit.rctur. /rsm Csn/u.iu· ts Licna C/’i-./’cs, cd.
Adclc Ausrin Ficlcrr (¡rinccron. Þ.I.. ¡rinccron \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o¬8). ii¡–s¬.
8. 1lis rcndcncy was alrcady indicarcd ly ¡iang Qiclao’s own ¡ooi polirical novcl
Xin Z/snaaus m.i/ci ii (1lc lururc ol ncw Clina). Scc my discussion ol rlc novcl in
G/s/c/ Stc.. cn! t/. Nctisnc/i·t Di·.sur·. s/ As!.rnitv. T/. Hi·tsri.c/ T/in/ina s/ Licna
Oi./cs (Sranlord. Calil.. Sranlord \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡ooo). ¡¡¬–:¬.
o. Scc Clcn ¡ingyuan’s documcnrarion and analysis ol rlc rcnsion lcrwccn clirisr
and popular ficrion in lis Hi·tsrv s/ Tm.nti.t/-C.nturv C/in.·. Fi.tisn, ¡o¡–ii.
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14 C/in.·. As!.rn
ria in rlc ncw ficrion discoursc rcvcals rlar irs passionarc cndorscmcnr
ol a polirical modcrniry scrvcd ro rcducc. rarlcr rlan rcaffirm. rlc sccu-
lar and lragmcnrary cxpcricncc rlar callcd lor novclisric rcprcscnrarion in
rlc firsr placc.
¡or Wu Iianrcn (¡8oo–¡o¡o). a promincnr larc Qing novclisr. onc mor-
ral wcakncss ol rlc rarionalisric ncw ficrion was prcciscly irs dcparrurc
lrom lcing novcls. Spccifically. Wu Iianrcn dcplorcd rlc ncw ficrion’s in-
aliliry ro appcal ro rcadcrs lorl inrcllccrually and cmorionally. ¡n lis
prclacc ro rlc firsr issuc ol Tu.vu. xics·/us (1lc all-srory monrlly). lc cri-
rically asscsscd rlc aclicvcmcnrs ol rlc ncw ficrion sincc ¡iang Qiclao’s
rcvolurionary ¡ooi cssay on rlc symlioric rclarionslip lcrwccn rlc novcl
and social govcrnancc. Ðcnouncing a lacilc conlormiry among ficrion
wrircrs. Wu Iianrcn vcnrcd lis lrusrrarion wirl rcading an incffccrivc
novcl. ‘‘Òl roday’s lundrcds ol rlousands ol ncw works and ncw rransla-
rions rlar arc callcd ficrion. ¡ darc nor say rlar rlcrc arc nor any rlar rc-
flccr a conccrn wirl social govcrnancc, ycr ¡ lavc sccn morc rlan cnougl
lizarrc and lragmcnrary works. srrcnuous and unrcadallc rranslarions.
Wirl pullicarions likc rlcsc. ¡ do nor know wlar orlcrs may rlink alrcr
rcading rlcm, as lor myscll. rlcy all lail ro movc mc cmorionally.’’
10
Wu
Iianrcn madc rlcsc disparaging rcmarks in Scprcmlcr ¡ooo. wlcn lc and
rlc rranslaror Zlou Guislcng wcrc invircd ro cocdir rlc ncwly csral-
lislcd lircrary journal T/. ³//-Stsrv Asnt//v. By rlcn. lc lad alrcady pul-
lislcd scvcral novcls in ¡iang Qiclao’s N.m Fi.tisn, including parrs ol lis
widcly acclaimcd Lr·/i nicn mu!u c/i auci xicnc/ucna (Srrangc rlings
wirncsscd in rlc pasr rwcnry ycars). ¡is affiliarion wirl ¡iang’s journal.
lowcvcr. did nor cnrircly dcfinc lis profilc as a popular novclisr. Òn rlc
conrrary. alrlougl somc ol lis own works may also sccm ‘‘lizarrc and
lragmcnrary.’’ Wu Iianrcn was ncvcr comlorrallc wirl a narrow undcr-
sranding ol ncw ficrion as rlc lorum lor promoring modcrn culrural
valucs and pracriccs. ¡c may lc lcsr rcmcmlcrcd lor lis conrrilurion
ro wlar ¡u Xun oncc lamously claracrcrizcd as rlc ‘‘ficrion ol cxposurc’’
ol rlc larc Qing pcriod. lur rlc social criricism cmlcddcd in lis cxposc-
srylc ficrion did nor always lcnd irscll ncarly ro an agcnda ol program-
¡o. Wu Iianrcn. ‘‘Tu.vu. xics·/us xu’’ (¡rclacc ro T/. ³//-Stsrv Asnt//v). Tu.vu.
xics·/us (1lc all-srory monrlly). no. ¡ (¡ooo). Collccrcd in Wci Slaoclang. cd.. Iu
}icnr.n vcniiu ci/ics (Fcscarcl marcrials on Wu Iianrcn) (Slanglai. Slanglai guji.
¡o8o). :io.
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1lc Sca ol Fcgrcr 15
maric polirical rclorm.
11
Þoncrlclcss. Wu Iianrcn ncvcr disavowcd rlc
gravc social and moral rcsponsililiry on rlc parr ol a novclisr. ¡c firmly
lclicvcd rlar all novcls. lc rlcy lisrorical or romanric. slould scrvc a
pcdagogical purposc and lcad rlcir rcadcrs onro rlc propcr ‘‘loundary ol
moraliry.’’ ¡or lim. rlc valuc ol a novcl docs nor dcrivc lrom irs advocar-
ing rlc ncw ovcr rlc old. lur rarlcr lrom irs rclling rlc good lrom rlc
cvil. ‘‘Ar sucl a momcnr ol moral disinrcgrarion. wc all lopc ro find a
way ro srop rlc gcncral dcclinc. Wc slould rlcn lcgin wirl norling slorr
ol rlc novcl.’’
12
As il ro dcmonsrrarc lis convicrion ol rlc novcl as a mcans ol moral
cdificarion. Wu Iianrcn pullislcd in Òcrolcr ¡ooo. indcpcndcnrly ol T/.
³//-Stsrv Asnt//v rlar lad comc our a monrl lclorc. a slorr novcl rirlcd
H.n/ci (1lc sca ol rcgrcr). A carclully consrrucrcd romanric rragcdy rlar
illusrrarcs rlc novclisr’s undcrsranding ol rlc social conrcnr ol luman
cmorion and scnrimcnr. rlc novcl was an insranr succcss. As A Ying
documcnrs in lis pionccring srudy ol larc Qing ficrion. irs cnormous
populariry lclpcd iniriarc and csrallisl rlc sulgcnrc ol unlulfillcd ro-
mancc in modcrn Clincsc ficrion.
13
1lc lasic srory linc ol T/. S.c s/
B.ar.t irscll was rcpcarcdly adaprcd and rcwrirrcn lor rlc grcarcr parr ol
rlc rwcnricrl ccnrury. on sragc and cvcnrually in cincma.
14
1lc sad ralc
ol injurcd livcs rlar unlolds in rlc novcl convcys Wu Iianrcn’s lclicl in
rlc lcaling powcr ol vorivc arraclmcnr. lur ir also voiccs a dccp-scarcd
anguisl ovcr rlc disinrcgrarion ol rlc social and culrural lalric ol lilc.
now rlrcarcncd lrom lorl wirlin and wirlour. ¡r is a scminal narrarivc
lccausc ir gocs ro grcar lcngrls ro cxplorc rlc inrcrnal journal ol a dis-
placcd individual. and in rlc proccss ir rcprcscnrs rlc psyclological con-
scqucnccs ol a rraumaric cncounrcr wirl rlc modcrn world.
¡¡. Scc ¡u Xun’s discussion ol Wu Iianrcn (Woyao). Z/snaaus xics·/us ·/i/u. (A
lricl lisrory ol Clincsc ficrion) (Bcijing. Bcixin sluju. ¡o:¬). ::|–:o. ¡or an Inglisl
rranslarion. scc ¡u ¡sun. ³ Bri./ Hi·tsrv s/ C/in.·. Fi.tisn, rrans. Yang ¡sicn-yi and
Gladys Yang (¡cking. ¡orcign ¡anguagcs ¡rcss. ¡oso). :¬¬–8¡.
¡i. Scc Wu Iianrcn’s ‘‘¡rclacc ro T/. ³//-Stsrv Asnt//v,’’ :i¡.
¡:. Scc AYing. Icn Oina xics·/us ·/i (¡isrory ol larc Qing ficrion) (Bcijing. Ðong-
lang. ¡ooo). ioi–oo.
¡|. According ro Wci. B.·.cr./ Act.ric/· sn Iu }icnr.n (¡:¬–:o). rlc plor ol T/.
S.c s/ B.ar.t was rcmadc lor a rlcarcr producrion in ¡o¡|. rlcn adaprcd inro a silcnr
movic in ¡o:¡. and again lor rlc rlcarcr in ¡o|¬. rlc ¡osos. and ¡oo:.
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16 C/in.·. As!.rn
1lc Wriring ol ¡assion
Conrrary ro rlc morc confidcnr. cvcn miliranr. crlos ol rlc rclorm-
mindcd ncw ficrion. Wu Iianrcn’s firsr romancc ccnrcrs on rlc mcnral and
cmorional impacrs ol violcnr dislodging. dcpicring a suljccriviry lormcd
in lcar. By mcans ol cxlorring dcvour passion as a sralilizing mcrlod
in rlc lacc ol a lamiliar world lcing slarrcrcd. T/. S.c s/ B.ar.t, among
orlcr rlings. rcclaims rlc wriring ol myrlical parlos lrom rlc narivc lir-
crary rradirion and rurns ir inro a lundamcnral and ycr cquivocal rlcmc
lor modcrn ficrional discoursc.
1lc immcdiarc morivarion lor Wu Iianrcn ro wrirc T/. S.c s/ B.ar.t, as
¡arrick ¡anan suggcsrs. was ro counrcrlalancc rwo conrcmporary rcxrs
ol considcrallc impacr.
15
1lc firsr was }scn Hc·t., a scnrimcnral romancc
ly rlc rlcn-popular Inglisl novclisr ¡. Fidcr ¡aggard. ¡n ¡oo¡. an al-
lrcviarcd rcndirion ol rlc novcl. in scmiclassical Clincsc. was scrializcd
in a rranslarion journal lrom Suzlou and arrracrcd mucl arrcnrion. cspc-
cially among cducarcd malc rcadcrs. wlo lound in Ioan an idcal comlina-
rion ol lold lovc and scll-sacrificc. ¡or a wlilc. Ioan. rogcrlcr wirl Mar-
gucrirc ol Lc !cm. cux .cm./ic· (ly Alcxandrc Ðumas fils. rranslarcd inro
Clincsc in ¡8oo). dccply cnclanrcd a malc romanric. il curiosiry-drivcn.
imaginarion and was idolizcd as rlc pcrlccr cmlodimcnr ol an affccrion-
arc. marcrnal. and univcrsal lcmininiry.
16
¡n rlc rclormisr clirc culrurc ar
rlc rimc. rlc quicr inlaruarion wirl rlc scnsual and cmorional livcs ol
rlcsc rwo ficrional claracrcrs sccmcd ro slarc rlc samc inrcnsiry as rlc
pullic and mucl-pronounccd admirarion lor orlcr lcroic womcn fig-
urcs. mosr norally Madamc Foland ol rlc ¡rcncl Fcvolurion and Sofiya
¡crovskaya. rlc Fussian anarclisr.
17
¡s. Scc ¡arrick ¡anan. ‘‘¡nrroducrion.’’ T/. S.c s/ B.ar.t. Tms Turn-s/-t/.-C.nturv
C/in.·. Bsmcnti. Nsv./·, rrans. ¡arrick ¡anan (¡onolulu. \nivcrsiry ol ¡awaii ¡rcss.
¡oos). ¡–¡¬.
¡o. ¡or a discussion ol ¡in Slu’s rranslarion ol Lc !cm. cux .cm./ic· and rlc mas-
culinc projccrion ol a loving woman. scc Fcy Clow. Ismcn cn! C/in.·. As!.rnitv.
T/. Ps/iti.· s/ B.c!ina B.tm..n I.·t cn! Lc·t (Minncapolis. \nivcrsiry ol Minncsora
¡rcss. ¡oo¡). ¬¡–¬s. ¡i¡–i8.
¡¬. ¡iang Qiclao wrorc a moving liograply ol Madamc Foland lor lis Xinmin
.sna/cs (Þcw cirizcn journal) in Òcrolcr ¡ooi. wlilc rlc firsr influcnrial liograply
ol ¡crovskaya. ly a Clincsc srudcnr srudying in Iapan. appcarcd undcr rlc pcn namc
Fcn Kc in Z/.iicna ./cs (1lc ridc ol rlc Zlc rivcr) in Scprcmlcr ¡oo:.
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1lc Sca ol Fcgrcr 17
¡n ¡oos. lowcvcr. ¡in Slu. rlc prolific rranslaror ol Lc !cm. cux .cm.-
/ic· lamc. ourragcd rlc rcading pullic ly purring our a lull rranslarion
ol }scn Hc·t., only rlc sccond lall ol wlicl lad lccn grudgingly di-
vulgcd in rlc firsr rcndirion.
18
1lis ncw and complcrc rranslarion causcd
a riglrcous uproar lccausc ir rcvcalcd rlar Ioan. wlom onc commcnra-
ror lad adorcd as a ‘‘cclcsrial lairy in rlc rcalm ol passion.’’ apparcnrly
lad scxual inrcrcoursc wirl lcr lovcr. was imprcgnarcd sans marriagc.
and disgraccd lcrscll lurrlcr ly miscarrying. All rlcsc lodily dcrails lad
lccn judiciously cdircd our ly rlc rwo inirial rranslarors. Ycr rlc ourcry
ol disillusionmcnr ar rlc scandalous rcvclarion lad lcss ro do wirl Ioan’s
dcsccnding ro rlc rcaliry ol luman wcakncsscs and suffcring rlan wirl
rlc rcalizarion rlar slc lclavcd impropcrly. 1lc samc commcnraror wlo
worslippcd rlc firsr immacularc Ioan was compcllcd ro lirrcrly dcnouncc
rlc ncw Ioan as slurry. indcccnr. slamclcss. and sclfisl—in slorr. ‘‘a lraud
in rlc rcalm ol passion.’’ 1lc diffcrcncc lcrwccn rlcsc rwo incarnarions.
according ro lim. was rlar onc Ioan las purc passion (;ina) lur no lusr
( vu). and rlc orlcr las mcrc lusr in rlc guisc ol passion. Alrcr lanisling
rlc lusrlul Ioan lor good. rlc criric rurncd ro invcigl againsr rlc mcddlc-
somc ¡in Slu. accusing lim ol posing as a novclisr and ol clurning our
liccnrious rranslarions rlar ‘‘lcar rlc lcasr lcncfir ro socicry.’’
19
Anorlcr criric. wriring in rlc journal N.m Fi.tisn, wlicl ly now lad
lccn rclocarcd ro an incrcasingly mcrropoliran Slanglai. scizcd rlc occa-
sion ro cxpound on rlc rclarionslip lcrwccn romanric ficrion and rlc
ncw socicry. Acknowlcdging rlc lormarivc influcncc ol ficrion. Iin Song-
ccn posrularcd rlar rlc various gcnrcs in ncw ficrion. lcsr rcprcscnrcd ly
rranslarions sucl as ¡arricr Bccclcr Srowc’s Un./. Tsm’· Cc/in (¡cinu
¡8. A common misundcrsranding is rlar rlc ¡oo¡ rranslarion ly Yang Zilin and Bao
1ianxiao conrains rlc firsr lall ol rlc original. 1lc lacr is rlar rlcy srarrcd paraplrasing
rlc rcxr lallway rlrougl rlc novcl. omirring unsavory dcrails as rlcy wcnr along. Scc
Wang Xucjun. ‘‘Yc ran }ic’in xicsc/ucn liangzlong yilcn. dui xinlan Lu Xun ;ucnii
yiriao zlusli dc luclong dingzlcng’’ (Also on rlc rwo rranslarions ol }scn Hc·t..
amcndmcnrs ro a norc in rlc ncw cdirion ol T/. Csmt/.t. Isr/· s/ Lu Xun). in Lu
Xun vcniiu !snatci (1rcnds in ¡u Xun srudics). no. | (Bcijing. ¡o88). oi–o|. ¡n addi-
rion. scc Clcn Xizlong. ‘‘Guanyu }ic’in xicsc/ucn dc liangzlong yilcn’’ (Òn rlc rwo
rranslarions ol }scn Hc·t.). in I.nxicn (1cxrual documcnrs). no. io (Bcijing. ¡o8s).
iss–s8.
¡o. Yin Banslcng. ‘‘Ðu }ic’in xicsc/ucn liang yilcn slu lou’’ (Alrcr rcading rlc rwo
rranslarions ol }scn Hc·t.). Tsuxi ·/iii. (¡laylul world). no. : (¡oo¬), collccrcd in Iian
Yizli cr al.. cds.. S./..tisn· Frsm Lcr/v As!.rn C/in.·. Lit.rcrv Criti.i·m, sio–i8.
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18 C/in.·. As!.rn
yurian lu) and Iulcs \crnc’s D.ux cn· !. vc.cn..· (Sliwu xiao laojic)
and L. tsur !u msn!. .n ;uctr.-vinat· isur· (Basli ri luanyou ji). would
lavc a posirivc impacr on socicry lccausc rlcy crccrcd ncw rolc modcls.
‘‘1lcrclorc ¡ am plcascd ro rcad roday’s ncw ficrion. lur ¡ am rcrrificd
ro rcad roday’s romanric ficrion.’’ 1lc popular romanccs rlar causcd lis
gravc conccrn wcrc nonc orlcr rlan Lc !cm. cux .cm./ic· and }scn Hc·t.,
rccklcss lorcign novcls rlar. in lis vicw. would only mislcad rlc young
and imprcssionallc. 1lc cusroms and morcs suggcsrcd ly rlcsc ralcs.
lc warncd. would aid and alcr rampanr Iuropcanizarion and rcsulr in
pcoplc alandoning rlcir jols and srudics ro lrcqucnr dancc lalls. ¡n rlc
cnd. rlc lcarlul socicry rlar lccamc imaginallc in liglr ol romanric fic-
rion mcanr nor only rlc loss ol a valuallc narional lcriragc. lur. morc
disrurlingly. a vcrirallc disarray in social ordcr and loundarics.
20
Also in rlis cssay. Iin Songccn lound ir ncccssary ro gcncralizc alour
romanric passion (;ina) as parr ol luman narurc and a univcrsal prin-
ciplc. 1lc prcvalcncc ol ;ina cxplains wly rlc cxprcssion ol lovc and
scnrimcnr always occupics a kcy posirion in lircrarurc. lc ir Wcsrcrn or
Iasrcrn. ‘‘Givcn rlc diffcrcncc and lack ol communicarion lcrwccn rlcsc
rwo socicrics. ir is rlc lircrary pcoplc’s unavoidallc dury ro rakc advan-
ragc ol rlc powcr ol ficrion ro lring rlcm rogcrlcr. cmploying passion as
rlc common sourcc.’’ Sincc somc novclisrs lad lailcd ro lulfill rlcir olli-
garion. and. worsc. lccausc romanric ficrion now rlrcarcncd rlc lururc ol
rlc counrry. rlc criric saw no oprion lur ro dcny and dcmonizc passion
alrogcrlcr. Ivoking a ccnrral myrl ol Clincsc culrurc. Iin Songccn ar-
gucd rlar lc would sooncr scc rlc lcavcn ol passion rcmain lrokcn. and
any passionarc awakcnings lc smorlcrcd wirl rlc lclp ol Þuwa’s sronc.
rlan wirncss wlar was lound ro dcgcncrarc inro unlridlcd carnaliry.
A lanrasric figurc in crcarion myrlology. rlc goddcss Þuwa is lclicvcd
firsr ro lavc givcn lilc ro mcn and womcn in rlc world. 1lcn. in rlc wakc
ol a ficrcc agon lcrwccn rlc gods ol warcr and firc. wlicl causcd rlc
vaulr ol lcavcn ro collapsc. slc. as a caring morlcr. mcndcd rlc lrokcn
sky wirl colorlul sroncs rlar slc painsrakingly mclrcd and luscd.
21
¡n rlc
io. Iin Songccn (Iin 1ianyu). ‘‘¡un xicqing xiaosluo yu xin slclui zli guanxi’’ (Òn
rlc rclarionslip lcrwccn romanric ficrion and ncw socicry). in N.m Fi.tisn, no. ¡¬
(¡oos), collccrcd in Iian Yizli cr al.. cds.. S./..tisn· Frsm Lcr/v As!.rn C/in.·. Lit.rcrv
Criti.i·m, sii–is.
i¡. ¡or a modcrn narrarion ol Þuwa’s grcar dccds and idcnrificarion ol rcxrual
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1lc Sca ol Fcgrcr 19
lolkloric rradirion. Þuwa is usually associarcd wirl rlc rlcmcs ol morlcr-
ing. lcrriliry. and lcaling.
22
lur also wirl rlc spirir ol dcdicarion. cvcn
romanric dcvorion. in a dcspairing siruarion. Sincc rlc larc impcrial agc.
Þuwa las luncrioncd pcrsisrcnrly as a symlol ol cxrraordinary dcdica-
rion and cndcavor. in no small parr lccausc ol rlc widc-rcacling impacr
ol S/itsu ii (1lc srory ol rlc sronc, also known as Hsna/su m.na [Ðrcam
ol rlc rcd clamlcr|). parricularly wlcn Þuwa was paircd wirl anorlcr
myrlical lcmininc spirir. rlc lird Iingwci.
23
Ðrowncd in rlc casrcrn sca.
rlc young dauglrcr ol rlc god ol firc camc lack ro lilc as a lird namcd
Iingwci and was dcrcrmincd ro fill up rlc sca wirl sroncs and rwigs
rlar slc carricd lrom rlc wcsrcrn mounrain. ¡n rlcir Sisyplcan cfforrs ro
mcnd lcavcn and fill up rlc sca. Þuwa rlc \r-morlcr and Iingwci rlc
lairllul dauglrcr arc lclicvcd ro lavc commirrcd rlcmsclvcs ro a passion
rlar is ar odds wirl rcaliry. Wlcn Iin Songccn proposcd ro disrupr rlc
lcavcn ol passion so as ro prcvcnr mcn and womcn lrom cngaging in
dangcrous lrcc inrcracrion. lc was poinrcdly rcvcrsing rlc popular myrl
and vicwing romanric passion as an ominous rlrcar. ¡r is significanr rlar
lis cndorscmcnr ol ncw ficrion wcnr land in land wirl lis radical dc-
nunciarion ol ncw romanccs. lor rlc unconscious anxicry prcoccupying
an clirc-rclormisr social discoursc ar rlc rimc was prcciscly low ro rcgu-
larc rlc anrilicrarclical rcndcncics ol scnrimcnr and cmorional cxclangc
rlar would conccivally lrcak loosc wlcn rlc dynasric ordcr was donc
away wirl. ¡iang Qiclao’s inirial cxposirion on rlc posirivc rclarionslip
lcrwccn ficrion and social govcrnancc. lrom rlis pcrspccrivc. lad lap-
sourccs. scc Yuan Kc. Z/snaaus au!ci ·/.n/uc (Ancicnr Clincsc myrls) (Slanglai.
Commcrcial ¡rcss. ¡os¡). s|–oo.
ii. ¡or a rcvicw ol rlcsc dimcnsions ol rlc Þuwa myrl. scc Iing Wang. T/. Stsrv
s/ Stsn.. Int.rt.xtuc/itv, ³n.i.nt C/in.·. Stsn. Lsr., cn! t/. Stsn. Svm/s/i·m in ‘‘Dr.cm
s/ t/. B.! C/cm/.r,’’ ‘‘Ict.r Acrain,’’ cn! ‘‘T/. }surn.v ts t/. I.·t’’ (Ðurlam. Þ.C..
Ðukc \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡ooi). ||–s¬.
i:. ¡crc is low rlc narraror in T/. Stsrv s/ t/. Stsn. dcscrilcs rlc lcroic cfforr ol
Þuwa ar mcnding a lrokcn lcavcn. ‘‘¡ong ago. wlcn rlc goddcss Þuwa was rcpair-
ing rlc sky. slc mclrcd down a grcar quanriry ol rock and. on rlc ¡ncrcdillc Crags
ol rlc Grcar ¡allc Mounrains. mouldcd rlc amalgam inro rlirry-six rlousand. fivc
lundrcd and onc largc luilding llocks. cacl mcasuring scvcnry-rwo lccr ly a rlou-
sand and lorry-onc lccr squarc.’’ 1ranslarion ly Ðavid ¡awkcs. T/. Stsrv s/ t/. Stsn..
³ C/in.·. Nsv./ /v Ccs Xu.;in in Fiv. Is/um.· (¡ondon. ¡cnguin. ¡o¬:). ‘‘1lc Goldcn
Ðays.’’ ¡.|¬. Also scc ¡anan. ‘‘Sroncs in rlc Sca.’’ in T/. S.c s/ B.ar.t, i¡–ii n.¡.
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20 C/in.·. As!.rn
pily cnvisioncd lircrarurc as an unprollcmaric rcclnology lor advancing
modcrniry. A llind spor in rlis agiraring vision lad lccn rlc mcssy and
amliguous srarus ol romanric scnrimcnr and longing. wlicl ¡iang con-
vcnicnrly dismisscd as a larmlul lcgacy ol rradirional lircrarurc.
Þor surprisingly. Iin Songccn’s dismay wirl rlc romanric rcndcring ol
rlc Þuwa myrl also lound irs cxplicir lircrary cxprcssion in ar lcasr rwo
novcls lclonging ro rlc conrcmporary polirical ncw ficrion. ¡airian du-
xiaozi’s Numc ·/i (1lc Þuwa sronc. ¡oo|–os) and Qiu Iin’s }inam.i ·/i
(1lc sroncs ol Iingwci. ¡ooo. in rlc lorm ol an incomplcrc tcn.i scripr)
lorl advocarc womcn’s cmanciparion and rcvolurionary acrion. and in
lorl narrarivcs rlc myrlological figurcs offcr an cdilying parallcl ro rlc
dcdicarion ol rlc lcroincs ro rlcir rcspccrivc polirical causcs.
24
Ycr wlilc
Þuwa and Iingwci arc incorporarcd lcrc as symlols ol lcroic pcrscvcr-
ancc in rlcsc rcxrs. rlcy morc olrcn arc callcd upon ro scrvc as acccprcd
imagcs ol an individual’s romanric dcvorion or. cvcn. dcsriny. A numlcr
ol novcls wrirrcn during rlis pcriod cvokc rlc myrl ol cirlcr Þuwa or
Iingwci ro liglliglr rlis myrlical rcinscriprion.
25
Borl rlc polirical and romanric appropriarions ol rlc myrlical figurc
scck ro clcvarc a luman coursc ol cvcnrs and acrion. 1lc myrlical as-
sociarion consccrarcs an cxrraordinary dcdicarion ol rlc will. or ol scll-
sacrificc. as. in and ol irscll. an admirallc and rlcrclorc virruous acr. Òncc
myrlologizcd. cvcn ncuroric olscssion las rlc porcnrial ol rurning inro
a virruc. alrlougl rlc parlological origins ol sucl a virruous dcdicarion
arc swilrly lorgorrcn or rcprcsscd. 1lc inrcnr and srrucrurc ol lagio-
graplical narrarivcs dcrcrminc rlar a rraumaric condirion lc ovcrcomc
and rurncd inro rlc sourcc ol sainrlood rarlcr rlan insaniry or ncuro-
sis. ¡or rlis rcason. T/. S.c s/ B.ar.t is all rlc morc inrriguing a lircrary
i|. Carlcrinc Gipoulon’s ¡rcncl rranslarion ol Qiu Iin’s rcxr in Pi.rr. !. /’si·.cu
}inam.i. Oiu }in, /.mm. .t r.vs/utisnncir. .n C/in. cu XIX. ·i/./. (¡aris. dcs lcmmcs.
¡o¬o) offcrs a conrcxrualizing srudy. cspccially ol rlc cloicc ol tcn.i as rlc prclcrrcd
mcdium (¡|–io).
is. ¡or cxamplc. Zou 1ao (Sixiang jiuwci)’s Hci·/cna ./.nticn vina (Sladow ol rlc
dusry sky in Slanglai. ¡oo|) closcly imirarcs Dr.cm s/ t/. B.! C/cm/.r and cvokcs
lorl Þuwa and Iingwci. Òrlcr rirlcs includc ¡ci Min’s H.n /ci /uc (¡lowcrs in rlc
sca ol rcgrcr. ¡oos). Xin Mcizi’s }ina;in ticn/ci ii (Srory ol Iingwci filling rlc sca.
¡ooo). Walun’s Buticn ·/i (Sroncs lor mcnding rlc sky. ¡ooo). and Wansli’s Oinaticn
/.n (Fcgrcr ol rlc passionarc sky. ¡ooo). Scvcral popular pcn namcs uscd ly aurlors.
sucl as ‘‘Wansli’’ (1ougl sronc). ‘‘Walun’’ (Spirir ol Þuwa). and ‘‘¡ian sli’’ (Wclding
sronc). also rclcr ro rlc sronc myrl.
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1lc Sca ol Fcgrcr 21
rcxr lccausc ir larlors as inrcnscly a lagiograplical inrcnrion as ir docs
a parlograplical narrarivc. Bcrwccn rlc look’s idcological srarcmcnr or
mcssagc and irs narrarivc conrcnr. a pcrsisrcnr rcnsion dcvclops. rcvcaling
an incongruiry rlar lcspcaks rlc impossillc rask ol making lull scnsc ol
an ovcrwlclming cxpcricncc. 1lis incongruiry lcrwccn lagiograply and
parlograply is unconsciously cxplorcd in rlc novcl and rlcrcly cndows
rlc rcxr wirl a dccp amlivalcncc rlar is sympromaric ol rlc Clincsc cx-
pcricncc ol modcrniry. 1lc samc srrucrural amliguiry can lc lound in
rwo orlcr. lcsscr rcxrs rlar immcdiarcly prcccdcd Wu Iianrcn’s srory.
1oward a 1ragic ¡assion
1lc rcxr rlar ¡arrick ¡anan lclicvcs ro lavc dirccrly provokcd Wu Iian-
rcn inro wriring T/. S.c s/ B.ar.t was a slim volumc. pullislcd in May
¡ooo ly a ccrrain ¡u ¡in undcr rlc suggcsrivc rirlc ol Oin /ci ·/i (Bird.
sca. sronc, rranslarcd as Stsn.· in t/. S.c ly ¡anan).
26
1lc rirular rclcr-
cncc ol rlis so lar olscurc novcl is olviously ro rlc Iingwci myrl, irs scc-
ond claprcr also rclcrs ro Þuwa in dcscriling a lappicr momcnr. ‘‘1lc
¡cavcn ol ¡assion is rcpaircd. as prcdcsrincd lovcrs mccr lar lrom lomc’’
(:¡¬, io).
Þor mucl las lccn lcarncd alour rlc novcl’s aurlor. ¡u ¡in. alrlougl
rlc significancc ol lis firsr-pcrson narrarivc is widcly rccognizcd. cvcn ro
rlc cxrcnr ol lcing rccommcndcd as ‘‘rlc firsr rruc ‘¡-novcl’ in Clincsc lir-
crarurc. a lcw ycars lclorc rlc gcnrc camc inro voguc in Iapan.’’
27
¡ndccd.
rlc nosralgic ronc and conlcssional srrucrurc ol rlc novcl clcarly cmir all
rlc gcncric signs ol an inrcnscly pcrsonal narrarion. Supposcdly spcak-
ing lrom lis dcarllcd. rlc morrally ill lcro. Qin Fulua. rclls ol lis ulri-
marcly unlulfillcd romancc. rccollccring. nor wirlour pridc. lis yourllul
io. ¡anan also dcrcrmincs rlar rlc firsr cdirion ol Stsn.· in t/. S.c camc our in May
¡ooo. a lcw monrls lclorc Wu Iianrcn’s S.c s/ B.ar.t. Scc lis ‘‘¡nrroducrion.’’ T/. S.c s/
B.ar.t, ¡. 1lc Clincsc cdirion uscd lcrc comcs lrom Oina /icn (¡assion rranslormcd)
(Slanglai. Clina Iasrcrn Þormal \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡oo:). a volumc in rlc rcccnr an-
rlology ol modcrn Clincsc romanric ficrion. ¡n rlc lollowing discussion. pagc rclcr-
cnccs lor Stsn.· in t/. S.c and T/. S.c s/ B.ar.t arc includcd in rlc rcxr. wirl rlc firsr
pagc numlcr rclcrring ro rlc Clincsc cdirion ol Pc··isn Trcn·/srm.! and rlc sccond
ro ¡anan’s rranslarion.
i¬. ¡anan. ‘‘¡nrroducrion.’’ T/. S.c s/ B.ar.t, ¡o.
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22 C/in.·. As!.rn
ingcnuiry ar lccoming inrimarc wirl lis firsr and only lovc. Òl rlc samc
agc and in lovc sincc rlcy wcrc rcn. rlc ‘‘prcdcsrincd lovcrs’’ mccr again
in Bcijing. wlcrc rlcir rwo lamilics lappcn ro slarc rlc samc rcsidcnrial
compound. Alrcr mucl sclcming and land-wringing. including rimcly
sickncss. rlcy gcr rlcir larlcrs ro agrcc ro a marriagc. alrlougl Fulua’s
gcncrally inarrcnrivc larlcr sripularcs rlar rlc wcdding ccrcmony nor lc
lcld unril rlc groom rurns sixrccn.
Wlar causcs rlis almosr lrivolous lovc srory ro rakc a rragic rurn is
rlc violcnr inrrusion ol lisrorical proccsscs. Iusr wlcn all rlar rlc prc-
cocious Fulua nccds is somc paricncc wairing lor lis sixrccnrl lirrlday.
dcspirc rlc prcvailing wisdom ol rlc rimc rlar rccommcndcd rwcnry as
rlc carlicsr marriagcallc agc lor mcn.
28
rlc rurlulcnr Boxcr movcmcnr
sprcads ro Bcijing. and. in rlc lacc ol swccping rurmoil. rlc rwo closc
lamilics go rlcir scpararc ways. A spccific rclcrcncc ro calcndrical rimc is
offcrcd ar rlis juncrurc. alrlougl rlc disrurling cvcnrs in ¡ooo rlar lcad
ro rlc ransacking and occuparion ol Bcijing ly a mulrinarional army arc
dcscrilcd in an olliquc. lcarsay laslion. Ycr rlc rcrror ol a misguidcd rc-
lcllion is concrcrc cnougl lor Fulua’s larlcr. wlo dccms ir prudcnr ro
movc rlc lamily sourl. Alrcr a rcarlul larcwcll wirl Arcn lis lcrrorlcd.
wlosc larlcr sccs lirrlc rlrcar in rlc virulcnrly anrilorcign and pro-Qing
Boxcrs. Fulua lollows lis own larlcr and flccs rlc capiral, no sooncr do
rlcy rcacl Slanglai rlan Fulua spors a ncwspapcr lcadlinc alour rlc
lall ol Bcijing. 1ormcnrcd ly an alscncc ol ncws alour Arcn srrandcd in
rlc norrl. Fulua lccomcs dcprcsscd and wirlcrs away. Wlcn lc finally
sccs lcr again. in a dingy Slanglai inn. Arcn. accompanicd only ly lcr
disrrauglr morlcr. is dying. ¡cr lcalrl is ladly damagcd wlcn slc swal-
lows rlrcc drams ol opium so as ro avoid lcing sold inro prosrirurion.
\pon sccing Fulua. slc durilully rcporrs rlar slc is srill a virgin and.
alrcr voicing rlc lclicl rlar ‘‘so long as my dcdicarcd spirir [ iina./.na| rc-
i8. ¡n a mock pcririon ro rlc Qing courr. an anonymous cssayisr ar rlc rimc. ciring
¡crlcrr Spcnccr and lisring all ol rlc social prollcms causcd ly lormonal urgcs. ar-
gucd rlar ir was inluman ro rcquirc a young man ro rcacl rwcnry-lour lclorc lc
marricd. 1lc proposcd adjusrmcnrs. lowcvcr. wcrc srill agc rwcnry lor mcn and scvcn-
rccn lor womcn. Scc ‘‘Xini qingnian slang zlcnglu qing cli jin zaolun slu’’ (A mock
pcririon ly a yourl ro rlc govcrnmcnr ro dcmand a rclaxarion ol rlc lan on carly
marriagc). collccrcd in Biii xics·/us !caucn. mu/icn (Grand cxlilir ol norarion look
ficrion. collccrion fivc) (1aipci. Xinxing sluju. ¡o¬|). :8¬s–¬o.
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1lc Sca ol Fcgrcr 23
mains inracr. rlcrc’s a clancc wc may mccr in rlc ncxr lilc.’’ slc clokcs
and cxpircs (:oo, oo).
Scnsing rlar lc may soon lollow Arcn ro rlc alrcrworld. Fulua con-
cludcs rlar rlc lack ol a lrcc marriagc sysrcm las donc rlcm in. 1lc con-
clusion ol rlc narrarivc. usually rcscrvcd lor a moralizing mcssagc. rurns
inro a lirrcr arrack on rlc Conlucian rradirion. in parricular irs ourmodcd
marriagc cusroms.
¡owcvcr. ¡ llamc ncirlcr ¡arlcr nor rlc Boxcr landirs lor my ruin. ¡n-
srcad ¡ lold Mcncius rcsponsillc. Bur lor lis sralc lormula ‘‘ly rlc par-
cnrs’ command and rlrougl rlc good officcs ol a go-lcrwccn.’’ ¡ would
long sincc lavc joincd Arcn in a lrcc marriagc. Þo marrcr low mucl rur-
moil rlc Boxcrs causcd. slc and ¡ would srill lavc lccn allc ro rravcl sourl
rogcrlcr. . . . ¡ lopc alovc all clsc rlar onc day rlis Clina ol ours will
clangc irs marriagc sysrcm and granr pcoplc rlcir lrccdom. lclorc rlc Ciry
ol Wronglul Ðcarl claims counrlcss morc millions ol aggricvcd and an-
guislcd souls. 1lar would lc a lcncficcncc ol unimaginallc. incalculallc
proporrions. (:¬¡, oo)
Sucl an anrirradirional prorcsr is nor cnrircly uncxpccrcd ar rlis momcnr.
lor rlc narraror lrom rlc ourscr accuscs rlc inscnsirivc Mcncius (:¡¡, i¡–
ii). lur lis plca lor a lilcral marriagc sysrcm undcrcurs irscll wlcn lc
rcluscs ro link rlc causc ol lis dcmisc ro any spccific lisrorical agcnrs. ¡n
lis insisrcncc rlar cvcn war and social uplcaval will nor dcrail rruc lovc
or pcrsonal lappincss. rlcrc surlaccs a juvcnilc willingncss and nccd ro
lclicvc in a givcn causc. Fulua’s rcsolurion ro advocarc pcrsonal lrccdom
and individual cloicc rcvcals irs idcological narurc sincc lis cxpcricncc
olviously cxcccds lis rarionalizarion or comprclcnsion. Ixpcricncc in
cxccss ol discursivc capaciry. convcrscly. indicarcs a gcncral crisis and lrag-
mcnrarion. A dcgrcc ol ncurosis lccomcs disccrnillc wlcn rlc narraror
srcadlasrly arraclcs limscll ro onc piccc ol rcaliry and invcsrs in ir all lis
psyclic cncrgy. rcsulring in wlar ¡rcud dcscrilcs as a ncuroric ignoring
ol rcaliry or a fliglr lrom ir.
29
1lis ncuroric olscssion cnrails ccrrain nar-
rarivc conrcnr. cvcn cmorional appcal. lur rlc sulscqucnr claim ro social
io. ¡or ¡rcud’s discussion ol ncurosis and irs diffcrcncc lrom psyclosis. scc ‘‘1lc
¡oss ol Fcaliry in Þcurosis and ¡syclosis.’’ in T/. Stcn!cr! L!itisn s/ t/. Csmt/.t.
P·v./s/sai.c/ Isr/· s/ Siamun! Fr.u!, rrans. Iamcs Srraclcy (¡ondon. ¡ogarrl ¡rcss.
¡oo¡). ¡o.¡8:–8¬.
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24 C/in.·. As!.rn
pcrrincncc or cvcn polirical prorcsr appcars markcdly dclusional. As onc
criric rcmarks. rlis cagcr rranslcrcncc ol rlc causcs lor pcrsonal unlappi-
ncss onro somc inimical lur alsrracr cxrcrnal polirical lorcc was common
in larc Qing ficrion.
30
1lc mcraplysical lorcc rlar jusrifics sucl an olscssional narrarivc. ¡u
¡in wrircs in a lricl prclacc. is rlc myrlical ‘‘passion’’ (;ina) wirl wlicl
rlc univcrsc is crcarcd and lcld rogcrlcr as a wlolc. ¡c posirs ‘‘pas-
sion’’ as a morc comprclcnsivc conccpr rlan ‘‘lcncvolcncc.’’ wlicl rlc
larc Qing plilosoplcr 1an Sirong scr lorrl as rlc ulrimarc mcaning ol
narurc as wcll as ol rlc luman world.
31
¡u ¡in gocs on ro arguc rlar
alrlougl amorous arrracrion lcrwccn rlc scxcs is lur a minor cxprcssion
ol sucl a cosmic principlc. ycr. sincc lumans arc rlc suprcmc lcings in
rlc univcrsc. an olscssion wirl passion. cvcn ro rlc cxrcnr ol disrcgarding
lilc and dcarl. ulrimarcly agrccs wirl rlc rruc purposc ol crcarion. 1lc
rask ol a good romancc wrircr. rlcrclorc. is ro closcly dcpicr all rlc cmo-
rional cxcircmcnr causcd ly lovc in ordcr ro rcvcal rlc crcaror’s sccrcrs.
Supporrcd ly rlis lclicl. ¡u ¡in rccommcnds lis own ‘‘romanric ficrion’’
( vcn;ina xics·/us) ro all rlosc cndowcd wirl passion. ¡n kccping wirl
rlc proro-polirical scnrimcnrs ol lis rimcs. lc gocs on ro urgc lis rcadcrs
ro dcvclop a lovc lor rlcir racc and counrry. wlicl will supposcdly lc a
logical cxrcnsion and lulfillmcnr ol rlcir insrincrual scxual ycarnings (:¬:,
cl. o).
Alrlougl rlc cmplasis diffcrs. in a concisc prclacc ro T/. S.c s/ B.-
ar.t, Wu Iianrcn proposcs rlc samc ;ina as rlc lundamcnral principlc
rlar lis novcl is ro illusrrarc. 1lis mucl-discusscd prclacc rcflccrs Wu
Iianrcn’s dccp inrcrcsr in rlc luman capaciry lor passion. and ir lays rlc
rlcmaric loundarion lor lis own ralcs ol passion as wcll as sulscqucnr
popular romanric novcls ol rlc carly Fcpullican cra.
32
As A Ying oncc
:o. Scc Yuan Iin. Tucnvcna /u!i. tci (1lc mandarin duck and lurrcrfly sclool)
(Slanglai. Slanglai sludian. ¡oo|). i¬.
:¡. ¡or a lilingual rcxr ol 1an Sirong’s plilosoplical rrcarisc wirl an cxrcnsivc lack-
ground inrroducrion. scc Clan Sin-wai. ³n Lxts·itisn s/ B.n.vs/.n... T/. }.n-/·u./ s/
T’cn S·u-t’una (¡ong Kong. Clincsc \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o8|).
:i. ¡n Wu Iianrcn’s ¡ooo novcl }i. vu /ui (Aslcs alrcr rlc carasrroplc). rlc narra-
ror arrangcs lor rlc virruous widow. Zlu Wanzlcn. ro lc rcscucd so as ro lcar an old
nun cxpound on rlc diffcrcncc lcrwccn passion. lusr. and dcsirc. ¡r is an offcnsc ro
rlc all-cmlracing Buddla. according ro rlc plilosoplical nun. ro cvcn claim rlar onc
las sccn rlrougl passion. lor rlar would only indicarc a conlusion ol scxual dcsirc
wirl rruc passion. Scc ³·/.· ³/t.r t/. Cctc·trst/., collccrcd in Pc··isn Trcn·/srm.!, ¡s8.
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1lc Sca ol Fcgrcr 25
commcnrcd. rlc plilosoplical loundarion ol Wu Iianrcn’s ficrional world
was firmly laid in rlis novcl.
33
Apparcnrly lrauglr wirl amliguiry and
couclcd cnrircly in rradirional mcraplysical conccprs. Wu Iianrcn’s dis-
coursc ol passion is scll-consciously conccrncd wirl mainraining social
ordcr and culrural conrinuiry.
34
¡assion. according ro rlc aurlorial voicc.
‘‘is somcrling rlar wc posscss lrom lirrl. wcll lclorc wc know rlc mcan-
ing ol rlc luman world.’’ 1lis innarc qualiry ol passion or cmorional
arraclmcnr. morcovcr. ‘‘can lc applicd ro any splcrc ol lilc. rlc only dil-
lcrcncc lcing in rlc manncr ol irs applicarion.’’ ¡n lacr. rlc lour cardinal
virrucs (loyalry. picry. parcnral lovc. and lricndslip) ‘‘all dcrivc lrom pas-
sion’’ (s, ¡o:). 1o convincc rlc rcadcr rlar mucl rlinking wcnr inro rlc
wriring ol rlc srory. Wu Iianrcn rcaffirms rlc licrarclical ordcr ol pas-
sions. rlc virruous. rlc inlaruarcd. and rlc lcclcrous. Wlilc rlc virruous
passion affirms rlc socially lcgirimarc and loundarional luman rclarions.
lcclcry is a scll-indulgcnr alusc ol onc’s cmorion. As il anriciparing accu-
sarions rlar rlc passion lc promorcs rlrougl rlc ccnrral claracrcr Ðilua
lordcrs on ‘‘inlaruarion’’ or cvcn ‘‘lcclcry.’’ Wu Iianrcn singlcs our rlc
casc ol clasrc widows. arguing rlar ‘‘rlc occasions on wlicl rlc widows
rcmaincd unmovcd wcrc prcciscly rlosc on wlicl rlcir passion was ar irs
lciglr’’ (s, ¡o:–o|). ¡c srops slorr ol naming wlicl passion lis romanric
ralc will cxcmplily. lur lc promiscs rlar ir is dcfinircly nor alour lcclcry
or olscssion.
¡crc rlc nun rcpcars rlc samc undcrsranding ol passion as rlc loundarion ol social rc-
larions lcrwccn larlcr and son. lusland and wilc. cmpcror and suljccr. Wu Iianrcn’s
unfinislcd lasr novcl. Oina /icn (¡assion rranslormcd). also cxamincs rlc lorcc ol pas-
sion in a clanging and laplazard world. ¡or a discussion ol rlis rcxr in rcrms ol Wu
Iianrcn’s dcvclopmcnr as a novclisr. scc Mugio 1omic. ‘‘Go Kcnjin no ‘Kinjuncn no
kaigcnjo’ ro ‘Iolcn’ ni rsuirc’’ (Òn Wu Iianrcn’s ‘Srrangc rlings in rlc pasr rcn ycars’
and ‘¡assion rranslormcd’). in S/inmct·u ·/s·.it·u /.n/vu (¡arc Qing ficrion srudics).
no. s (¡o8¡). oo–¬o.
::. A Ying. Xics·/us ·cntcn (1lc rlird collccrion ol cssays on ficrion) (Slanglai.
Slanglai guji. ¡o¬o). ¡¬o.
:|. ¡or a commcnrary on. and also an cxamplc ol. rlc conlusion rlar Wu Iianrcn’s
discoursc ol passion may causc. scc Mao Zonggang. ‘‘¡un Wu Iianrcn dc wcnxuc xic-
qing yisli’’ (Òn Wu Iianrcn’s lircrary awarcncss ol dcscriling passion). Aina Oina
xics·/us vcniiu (Ming and Qing ficrion srudics). no. | (Þanclang. ¡o88). i:|–|:. Scc
also Zlao Xiaoxuan. ‘‘Wu Iianrcn ‘Xicqing xiaosluo’ dc qinglun yu daodcguan’’ (Òn
rlc discoursc ol passion and moraliry in Wu Iianrcn’s ‘‘romanric ficrion’’). Z/snamci
m.nxu. (Clung-wai lircrary monrlly) i¡.¡¡ (1aipci. ¡ooo). ¡|8–¬o.
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26 C/in.·. As!.rn
Borl Wu Iianrcn’s and ¡u ¡in’s prclaccs sulscrilc ro rlc long plilo-
soplical rradirion ol ‘‘passionism’’ (;ina iics) rlar during rlc larc Ming
pcriod rosc ro conrcsr and complcmcnr a lully insrirurionalizcd Conlu-
cian codc ol social lclavior and propricry. 1lc larc Ming ficrion wrircr
¡cng Mcnglong wcnr so lar as ro claim rlar all ol rlc Conlucian classics
arc lascd on a lroad ‘‘passionism.’’
35
(¡ncidcnrally. in rcsponsc ro srrong
dcmand. a modcrn illusrrarcd lirlograplic cdirion ol ¡cng Mcnglong’s
Oina·/i /.i/u. [A classificd lisrory ol passion| was rcissucd ly rlc Scll-
Srrcngrlcning ¡rcss in ¡ooo.) 1ruc ro rlc crlos ol a pcriod ol ‘‘radical
suljccriviry.’’ as Wai-ycc ¡i claracrcrizcs rlc larc Ming inrcllccrual and
lircrary lilc. ¡cng Mcnglong ‘‘cclclrarcs rlc cxpansivcncss and rranslor-
marivc powcr ol ./’ina [;ina| and ar rlc samc rimc insisrs rlar ir musr lc
rcinrcgrarcd inro sclcmcs ol ordcr.’’
36
¡isrorically. lrom rlc scvcnrccnrl
ccnrury on. rlc dcvclopmcnr and growing populariry ol vcrnacular fic-
rion and drama arc largcly cnallcd ly an acsrlcric discoursc on passion
rlar affirms privarc scnrimcnrs (as cirlcr ‘‘aurlcnric’’ or ‘‘narural’’). on
rlc onc land. and srrivcs ro lcgirimarc ncw lorms ol social conracr and
inrcrcoursc on rlc orlcr. 1lc inrcnsiry ol passion rlar vcrnacular ficrion
cxplorcs may indcx rlc cxrcnr ro wlicl lilidinal cncrgy is mcriculously
rcgularcd ly civilizarional srricrurcs or. simply. rcprcsscd. Ycr cvcn il ir is
madc a lully onrological lorcc. passion in rlis culrural conrcxr docs nor
auromarically rranslarc inro rlc modcrn Wcsrcrn norion ol romanric lovc
lcrwccn individual suljccrs. Conflicrs lcrwccn rlc individual and socicry
arc nor ycr pcrccivcd as irrcsolvallc. and passion in rlc final analysis lunc-
rions as a moral impcrarivc rlar sccurcs irs lcgirimacy rlrougl social ac-
ccprancc and univcrsal larmony. As a rcsulr. rradirional romanccs always
cnd on a comic norc wirl rruc lovcrs lappily unircd. cirlcr in rlis world
:s. Scc lorl You Zilong (¡cng Mcnglong). ‘‘Qingsli xu’’ (¡rclacc ro A lisrory ol
passion) and Zlanzlan waisli (¡cng Mcnglong). ‘‘Xu’’ (¡rclacc). in ¡cng Mcnglong.
Oina·/i /.i/u. (A classificd lisrory ol passion). cd. Zou Xucmin (Clangsla. Yuclu slu-
slc. ¡o8|). ¡–:. ¡or a rcccnr lisrorical srudy ol rlc conccpr ol ;ina (passion). scc
Marrin W. ¡uang. ‘‘Scnrimcnrs ol Ðcsirc. 1louglrs on rlc Culr ol Oina in Ming-
Qing ¡ircrarurc.’’ C/in.·. Lit.rctur.. L··cv·, ³rti./.·, B.vi.m· io (Ðcccmlcr ¡oo8). ¡s:–
8|.
:o. Wai-ycc ¡i. Ln./cntm.nt cn! Di·.n./cntm.nt. Lsv. cn! I//u·isn in C/in.·. Lit.rc-
tur. (¡rinccron. Þ.I.. ¡rinccron \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡oo:). o:. Scc 8o–o: lor a discussion
ol ¡cng Mcnglong’s rlinking on ;ina. ¡or an Inglisl rranslarion ol ¡cng Mcnglong.
scc ¡ua-yuan ¡i Mowry. C/in.·. Lsv. Stsri.· /rsm t/. ‘‘C/’ina-·/i/’’ (¡amdcn. Conn..
Arclon Books. ¡o8:).
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1lc Sca ol Fcgrcr 27
or rlrougl lanrasy. and sucl cmplormcnr only rcsrifics ro rlc lundamcn-
ral rarionaliry ol rlc largcr univcrsc.
1lis gcncral avoidancc ol rragcdy as irrcsolvallc conflicr. wirl rlc
norallc cxccprion ol Dr.cm s/ t/. B.! C/cm/.r, apparcnrly did nor lc-
comc a significanr inrcllccrual prollcm unril rlc immincnr collapsc ol
rlc impcrial rradirion. wlicl coincidcd wirl rlc arrival ol rlc rwcnricrl
ccnrury. ¡n ¡oo|. Wang Guowci. inspircd ly a Sclopcnlaucrian undcr-
sranding ol rlc luman will as scll-cxprcssion. pullislcd an cssay rlar sys-
rcmarically discusscd rlc rragic implicarions ol pcrpcrual dcsirc and rlc
impossililiry ol irs lull grarificarion. ¡or Wang Guowci rlc imaginarivc
criric. rlc luncrion ol lircrarurc. cxcmplificd nowlcrc clsc lur in Dr.cm
s/ t/. B.! C/cm/.r, is ro rcvcal rlis rragic condirion as an cxisrcnrial con-
sranr and ro providc a way ol dclivcrancc lrom ir.
37
Soon alrcr Wang Guowci’s pionccring srudy. anorlcr criric also would
rccommcnd. drawing on a diffcrcnr inrcllccrual sourcc. rragcdy as rlc
prclcrrcd and morc cffccrivc dramaric lorm lor modcrn rimcs. ¡n an arri-
clc pullislcd in ¡iang Qiclao’s influcnrial Xinmin .sna/cs (Þcw cirizcn
journal). Iiang Guanyun firsr rclaycd rlc conrcmporary Iapancsc criricism
ol rlc Clincsc rlcarcr and rlcn lamcnrcd rlc alscncc ol rragcdy in rlc
narivc rradirion. Ònly a rragcdy givcn ro porrraying an indomirallc ‘‘con-
ccnrrarion ol sinccriry’’ ( iina./.na) will lc allc ro ‘‘inspirc lar-rcacling
idcals and culrivarc a dccp and rcflccrivc mind.’’ wlcrcas a crowd-plcasing
comcdy aclicvcs norling lur rlc cncouragcmcnr ol liccnrious rlouglrs.
1lc mosr rcspccrcd plays ly Slakcspcarc. olscrvcd rlc criric. arc all rrag-
cdics. ‘‘¡l rlcrc arc many rragcdics in rlc rlcarcr. socicry will lcncfir
lrom rlcm and lappincss will rcign, il rlcrc arc many comcdics. socicry
will lavc a ncgarivc influcncc and sadncss will rcsulr rlcrclrom.’’
38
Òlvi-
ously. rlc criric wislcd ro promorc rragcdy nor lccausc ir miglr sug-
gcsr rlc vulncraliliry or darkncss ol rlc luman world. lur lccausc ir
would lcrrcr scrvc rlc social purposc ol cncouraging rlc audicncc ro
cmularc grcarncss. 1ragcdy lccamc parr ol rlc rclormisr agcnda. and as
:¬. Wang Guowci. Hsna/su m.na tina/un (Commcnrary on Dr.cm s/ t/. B.! C/cm-
/.r). collccrcd in Icna Gusm.i xicn·/.na ·cnc/sna (1lrcc works ly Wang Guowci)
(1aipci. Guomin. ¡ooo). ¡–io. ¡or a comprclcnsivc cvaluarion ol rlis groundlrcaking
cssay and irs limirs. scc Ycl Clia-ying. Icna Gusm.i ii ;i m.nxu. titina (Wang Guowci
and lis lircrary criricism) (¡ong Kong. Clina Books. ¡o8o). ¡¬|–i¡¡.
:8. Guanyun (Iiang Guanyun). ‘‘Zlongguo zli yanju jic’’ (Òn rlc Clincsc rlcarcr).
Xinmin .sna/cs (1lc ncw cirizcn journal). no. ¡¬ (¡oos). os–o8.
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28 C/in.·. As!.rn
scrious drama ir purporrcdly providcd a morc cffccrivc lorum rlan popu-
lar cnrcrrainmcnr lor narion-luilding rlrougl didacricism. 1lc promo-
rion ol rragcdy. lrom a lisrorian’s vicwpoinr. consrirurcd a crucial aspccr
ol rlc modcrnizing ol lircrary discoursc during rlc larc Qing. inrcrjccring
significanr slilrs in lircrary and acsrlcric conccprions.
39
Wlar is inrriguing and lisrorically rcvclarory alour ¡u ¡in’s Stsn.· in
t/. S.c, rlcrclorc. is rlar ir conrains a rragic plor wirlin an csscnrially
comic norion ol passion. 1lc rwo young lovcrs olrain no lappy cnding
in rlis world. lur rlcir rragic larc is norling slorr ol a rcsrimonial ol
rlcir dccp passion lor and dcdicarion ro cacl orlcr. ¡n rlis scnsc. ¡u ¡in’s
romanric novcl acccprs a ncw gcnrc lormula in wlicl rlc comic jusrifica-
rions ol passion arc locarcd oursidc or in spirc ol rlc claracrcrs’ rragic larc
and will lavc ro lc inrcrnalizcd as a spirirual compcnsarion. 1lis rragi-
comcdy ol passion. in wlicl rlc cxpcricnrial dimcnsion is incrcasingly
scpararcd lrom rlc rarional or rlc idcarional. will rcacl an impassc in T/.
S.c s/ B.ar.t; ir las irs prcccdcnr pcrlaps in a ¡oo: slorr srory ly ¡ing-
dcng gc (Ði Baoxian). a rcxr rlar lorcsladows lorl romanric novcls ly
¡u ¡in and Wu Iianrcn insolar as rlc rlrcar ol colonialism and a narional-
isr anxicry ovcr rlc inrcgriry ol indigcnous culrurc arc lrouglr rogcrlcr
in a rragic lovc srory.
1lc slorr srory. simply rirlcd ‘‘1ang slcng’’ (‘‘1ang Slcng’’ or ‘‘A yourl
namcd 1ang’’). scll-consciously alludcs lack ro ¡u Songling’s classic Lics-
c/ci c/ivi (Fccords ol rlc srrangc lrom rlc ¡iaozlai srudio) ol rlc scvcn-
rccnrl ccnrury ly lalcling irscll as a ralc lrom rlc ‘‘ncw ¡iaozlai Srudio.’’
Morc significanrly. ir is rlc firsr srory wirl wlicl rlc journal N.m Fi.-
tisn, in irs scvcnrl issuc. inrroduccd rlc sulgcnrc ol ‘‘romanric ficrion’’
(xi.;ina xics·/us).
40
Fomancc cvidcnrly srill lcll largcly inro rlc carcgory
ol rlc srrangc and cxrraordinary. Composcd in classical Clincsc. ‘‘1ang
Slcng’’ also rclls ol rlc loilcd romancc ol a young couplc in rlc wakc
ol rlc Boxcr movcmcnr ol ¡ooo. cxccpr rlar rlc locarion is now scr in
rlc \nircd Srarcs. and rlc lovc srory las an inrcrnarional and anricolo-
nial inrricacy. 1lc son ol a wcalrly Clincsc mcrclanr lascd in San ¡ran-
cisco. rccnagc 1ang Slcng is in lovc wirl a lcaurilul Amcrican girl. ¡rcnc
(Yiniang). dauglrcr ol a lusincssman lrom Clicago. Òl rlc samc agc.
:o. Scc ¡uang ¡in. }in!ci m.nxu. titina ·/i (¡isrory ol modcrn lircrary criricism)
(Slanglai. Slanglai guji. ¡oo:). ¡|–¡s. o8o–8¬.
|o. ‘‘1ang slcng.’’ N.m Fi.tisn, no. ¬ (¡oo:). ¡¡¬–ii.
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1lc Sca ol Fcgrcr 29
rlcy grow up as sillings and in sucl inrimacy rlar rlcy olrcn lorgcr rlar
onc is lrom rlc Òld Impirc and rlc orlcr lrom rlc Þcw World. Wlcn
rlc Boxcr rclcllion lrcaks our and Amcrican pullic opinion rurns againsr
a rcporrcdly xcnoplolic Clina. rlc loy rcacrs srrongly and slurs lim-
scll off lrom all ol lis lricnds. including ¡rcnc. wlo lails ro clccr lim up
cvcn ly lorccasring a Clincsc rcnaissancc alrcr rlc currcnr lumiliarion.
Ðccply disrurlcd. ¡rcnc prorcsrs rlar lc slould nor rranslcr lis rcscnr-
mcnr ol Amcrica ro lcr. sincc lcr lcarr alrcady lclongs ro lim and so
will lcr lody soon. ¡n slorr. slc considcrs lcrscll Clincsc. 1lc proud
loy. lowcvcr. argucs rlar. according ro ancicnr rcaclings. rlc incqualiry
in rlcir siruarions makcs rlcm unlikcly spouscs, lurrlcr. lis cruclry in
rcjccring lcr only slows lis grcar compassion lccausc lc is saving lcr
lrom lururc insulrs and dcrision. Scnsing rlc loy’s srullornncss. rlc girl
srumllcs our and kills lcrscll ly filling lcr room wirl gas. lcaving lclind
rwo suicidc norcs. ¡n rlc norc ro lcr larlcr. ¡rcnc llamcs Amcricans lor
lcr dcarl and rcqucsrs rlar all ol lcr lclongings lc lclr ro rlc loy. ¡n
rlc orlcr norc. lor 1ang Slcng wlo ‘‘knows and lovcs lcr.’’ slc dcplorcs
rlar lcavcn did nor makc lcr a Clincsc or lim an Amcrican. Slc also cx-
prcsscs rlc wisl rlar lcr soul will nor pcrisl and rlar rlcy will mccr again
in paradisc. \pon sccing rlc norc. 1ang Slcng ncarly dics ol sadncss and
dccidcs ro conrrilurc rlc moncy lclr ly ¡rcnc ro a Clincsc gradc sclool
in San ¡rancisco as a way ol immorralizing lcr lovc lor Clina.
¡n rlc lcngrly aurlorial commcnrary. wrirrcn in rlc samc laslion as rlc
acknowlcdgcd modcl ol rlc ¡isrorian ol rlc Srrangc. wlo in rurn lad
lollowcd in rlc loorsrcps ol rlc ¡cng Mcnglong ol ³ C/c··i/i.! Hi·tsrv s/
Pc··isn,
41
Ði Baoxian firsr cxplains rlar rlc srory was originally rcporrcd
in a Clincsc-languagc ncwspapcr in San ¡rancisco. 1lc rlrusr ol rlc
commcnrary. lowcvcr. comcs lrom lis summarizing a mucl longcr cssay
rlar. pur lorward ly anorlcr commcnraror. commcnds 1ang Slcng lor
rcjccring ¡rcnc in rlc inrcrcsr ol dclcnding lis narion and prcscrving lis
racc. 1lc original cssayisr suggcsrcd rlar marriagc lad lccn rlc mcrlod
ly wlicl rlc wlirc racc lad appropriarcd rlc propcrry riglrs ro ¡awaii
and Þcw Zcaland. wlcrc narivc womcn wcrc olrcn cagcr ro marry wlirc
|¡. ¡or a srudy ol rlc inrcrrcxrual consrirurion ol ¡u Songling’s ¡isrorian ol rlc
Srrangc. scc Iudirl 1. Zcirlin. Hi·tsricn s/ t/. Strcna.. Pu Ssna/ina cn! t/. C/in.·. C/c·-
·i.c/ Tc/. (Sranlord. Calil.. Sranlord \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡oo:). clap. i. |:–s¬, also scc
Wai-ycc ¡i. Ln./cntm.nt cn! Di·.n./cntm.nt, clap. :. 8o–¡s¡.
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30 C/in.·. As!.rn
mcn. ‘‘Sucl calamiry will srrikc wlcrcvcr no firm racial loundary cxisrs.
¡ow rcrrillc! ¡ow rcrrillc!’’
42
Facial discoursc and narionalisric scnri-
mcnrs incircd ly rlc srory lcd rlc aurlor ro dcnouncc rlc ncw rcndcncy
ro lawn on lorcigncrs in rlc wakc ol rlc Boxcr fiasco. Fcaffirmcd as rlc
lcro ol rlc srory. 1ang Slcng also lccomcs a modcl lor cmularion. and
conscqucnrly rlcrc sccms ro lc lardly anyrling rragic alour cirlcr rlc
young loy’s cmorional agony or. cspccially. ¡rcnc’s dcarl.
Borl rlis slorr rcxr and ¡u ¡in’s firsr-pcrson narrarivc rcly on rlc samc
lisrorical cvcnr as a major narrarivc rurning poinr. 1lc Boxcr rclcllion.
as an incomprclcnsillc cruprion ol cxrcrnal lisrory. lorclcs a ludding
romanric lovc only ro rcvcal a largcr mcaning and rlc dcrcrminarions ol
luman cmorions. T/. S.c s/ B.ar.t ly Wu Iianrcn. roo. cmploys rlc samc
narrarivc dcvicc. lur rlc rraumaric cxpcricncc ol lisrory is morc closcly
inrcgrarcd inro rlc plor.
43
and rlc rragic scnsc ol luman passion lccomcs
morc prollcmaric and lcss rranslarallc inro a comic rarionaliry.
¡rom 1rauma ro Þcurosis
¡n lcr pionccring srudy ol rlc plor srrucrurc in larc Qing ficrion. Milcna
Ðolcžclova-\clingcrova undcrscorcs rlc pivoral conrrilurion rlar Wu
Iianrcn makcs ro rlc dcvclopmcnr ol rlc modcrn novcl rlrougl T/. S.c
s/ B.ar.t, prolally rlc mosr soplisricarcd ‘‘unirary plor novcl’’ ol irs
rimc. ‘‘¡rs rypological pcculiariry is alrcady apparcnr in a purcly cxrcrnal
lcarurc. rlc novcl is mucl slorrcr rlan rlc novcls wirl rlc srring-plor
or rlc novcls wirl rlc cyclical plor. and rlc numlcr ol acring clarac-
rcrs is rcduccd drasrically.’’ ¡n addirion. irs ‘‘conccnrrarion on rlc inrimarc
rlcmc ol lovc (rlc main croric moril lcing couplcd wirl rlar ol parcnral
lovc and filial picry) is a major lcarurc poinring rowards rlc dcvclopmcnr
ol rlc psyclological novcl.’’ Wlar lurrlcr propcls an inward rurn in rlc
narrarivc is rlc rccognizcd lrailry ol rlc individual. now ‘‘placcd againsr
rlc clcmcnral lorccs ol lisrory.’’ ¡n rlc cnd. Ðolcžclova-\clingcrova com-
mcnrs. ‘‘rlc individual suffcrs a complcrc dclcar lrom rlc cvil lorcc ol
|i. ‘‘1ang slcng.’’ N.m Fi.tisn, no. ¬ (¡oo:). ¡i¡.
|:. ¡r is rlcrclorc lor a good rcason rlar A Ying includcd T/. S.c s/ B.ar.t in lis
G.naci ·/i/icn m.nxu. ii (Anrlology ol lircrarurc alour rlc ¡ooo incidcnr) (Bcijing.
Zlonglua sluju. ¡oso). i.oo:–¬o.
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1lc Sca ol Fcgrcr 31
social circumsranccs. a rragic rlcmc wlicl lorcsladows many srorics ol
modcrn Clincsc lircrarurc.’’
44
1lc modcrniry ol T/. S.c s/ B.ar.t, rlcrclorc. dcrivcs nor mcrcly lrom
irs morc unirary plor. or lrom irs arrcnrion ro rlc laplcss individual vis-
a-vis lisrorical violcncc. lur also lrom rlc psyclological rcsponscs and
proccsscs ir prolcs. As Miclacl Igan dcmonsrrarcs. a ‘‘psyclological rcal-
ism’’ in rlc novcl makcs ir a modcrn rcxr rlar parallcls similar dcvclop-
mcnrs in rlc Wcsrcrn novcl. Òl rlc rwo ccnrral claracrcrs. rlc locus ol
sucl psyclological porrrayal rcsrs on Ðilua rlc lcroinc. ‘‘wlosc dcpic-
rion is morc modcrn in rlar ir is oricnrcd roward lcr srarc ol mind. and
rlc cmorional rurmoil slc cndurcs in rlc coursc ol rlc novcl.’’ 1lc spc-
cific rcclniqucs lor rcprcscnring lcr inncr lilc includc ‘‘lrcqucnr inrcrior
monologucs. (and) rlc wcaving inro rlc rcxr ol rlcrorical addrcsscs and
qucsrions. and suljccrivc scmanrics wlicl poinr ro Ðilua.’’
45
¡cr fiancc.
Bolc. ly conrrasr. is prcscnrcd in a morc rradirional liglr lccausc ir is
olrcn lis acrion rarlcr rlan cmorion. and lis cxrcrior rarlcr rlan inrcrior.
rlar dcfinc lis parr in rlc plor and documcnr rlc advcrsc cffccrs ol lis-
rory.
1lc plor ol T/. S.c s/ B.ar.t indccd lcars srriking rcscmllanccs ro ¡u
¡in’s Stsn.· in t/. S.c, lur ir is disrincr lrom irs immcdiarc prcdcccssor in
numcrous significanr. cvcn radical. ways. ¡irsr ol all. Wu Iianrcn’s srory
conrains a carclully consrrucrcd symmcrry rlar lclps rlc narraror drivc
lomc rlc lccling ol rcgrcr as an incscapallc condirion. As in rlc firsr
srory. T/. S.c s/ B.ar.t also lcgins wirl a govcrnmcnr official’s lamily
in Bcijing. wirl irs rwo sons. 1lc oldcr lrorlcr. wlo las no luncrion in
Stsn.· in t/. S.c, is now rlc ccnrral claracrcr in rlc scnsc rlar rlc rragic
larc lclalling lim and lis fianccc lccomcs rlc primary plor, rlc youngcr
lrorlcr. wlo is rlc firsr-pcrson narraror in rlc carlicr srory. now plays a
sccondary lur complcmcnrary rolc. ¡n a lrorlcl in Slanglai. Zlong’ai
rlc youngcr lrorlcr. srcadlasr and morally incorruprillc. will cvcnru-
ally cncounrcr lis clildlood swccrlcarr and fianccc Iuanjuan. wlo ap-
parcnrly succumls ro rlc unspcakallc dcgradarion lrom wlicl Arcn in
||. Milcna Ðolcžclova-\clingcrova. ‘‘1ypology ol ¡lor Srrucrurcs in ¡arc Qing
Þovcls.’’ in T/. C/in.·. Nsv./ ct t/. Turn s/ t/. C.nturv, cd. Milcna Ðolcžclova-\clin-
gcrova (1oronro. \nivcrsiry ol 1oronro ¡rcss. ¡o8o). so–si.
|s. Miclacl Igan. ‘‘Claracrcrizarion in S.c s/ Is.,’’ in T/. C/in.·. Nsv./ ct t/. Turn
s/ t/. C.nturv, cd. Ðolcžclova-\clingcrova. ¡os–¬o. Scc ¡oo and ¡¬¡ lor rlc quorarions.
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32 C/in.·. As!.rn
Stsn.· in t/. S.c cscapcs ly poisoning lcrscll. Zlong’ai’s rcsolurc dcci-
sion ro lccomc a lcrmir in rlc cnd mirrors rlc pious dcvorion ol Ðilua.
lis lrorlcr Bolc’s fianccc. wlo slavcs lcr lcad and rcrircs inro a nun-
ncry alrcr Bolc dics an opium addicr. Òlviously. rlc firsr novcl is morc
rlan alrcrcd or rcwrirrcn ly Wu Iianrcn, ir is srrucrurally alsorlcd inro
rlc sccond narrarivc. and rlc gricl and disconsolarion rlar sickcns rlc
firsr-pcrson malc narraror in Stsn.· in t/. S.c now inflicrs irscll cvcnly on
Ðilua rlc virruous widow and Zlong’ai rlc illusrrious lusland-ro-lc.
A sccond major srrucrural diffcrcncc lcrwccn rlcsc rwo novcls lics in
rlcir scpararc narrarivc voiccs. Wlilc rlc profilc ol rlc firsr-pcrson narra-
ror in Stsn.· in t/. S.c lcfirs rlar ol a clcvcr and proluscly scnrimcnral. il
ulrimarcly narcissisric. rccnagcr. rlc omniscicnr narraror ol T/. S.c s/ B.-
ar.t rclls rlc srory in a concisc. conrrollcd. and dcscriprivc srylc. grcarly
clcvaring rlc prosc ol vcrnacular ficrion. Wu Iianrcn’s rcmarkallc succcss
in rcprcscnring rlc inncr lilc ol rlc ccnrral claracrcr. Ðilua. was rcadily
rccognizcd ly lis conrcmporarics. 1lc criric Yin Banslcng. wlo lad dc-
plorcd rlc scandalous ncw rranslarion ol }scn Hc·t., lailcd rlc aurlor as
laving ‘‘a magic land ar dcscriprion.’’ wlosc ‘‘lircrary scnsiriviry’’ (m.n-
;ina) could lc as fluid and pcncrraring as glirrcring mcrcury pourcd ovcr
rlc ground.
46
¡or csscnrially rlc samc rcasons. A Ying dismisscd Stsn.·
in t/. S.c, anorlcr narrarivc scr againsr rlc ¡ooo Boxcr uprising. as drasri-
cally inlcrior ro Wu Iianrcn’s T/. S.c s/ B.ar.t.
47
¡n lacr. morc convincingly rlan ¡u ¡in’s conlcssional ‘‘¡-novcl.’’ T/. S.c
s/ B.ar.t csrallislcs rlc psyclic cxpcricncc ol anxicry and lcar as a viallc
and lcgirimarc suljccr lor lircrary rcprcscnrarion. Wlilc lorl narrarivcs
aim ar cxpounding a rcdcmprivc arraclmcnr or passion (;ina). Wu Iian-
rcn’s symmcrrical ralc ol loilcd romanccs links cmorional rurmoil ro an
cncounrcr wirl dangcr. slock. and rcrror. ¡urrlcrmorc. lis psyclological
rcalism scrvcs nor so mucl a cognirivc luncrion (in rlc scnsc ol cxposing
a ccrrain condirion as srarkly ‘‘rcal’’) as a social purposc ly cxalring luman
will and dcrcrminarion ar a momcnr ol vasr disarray and crisis. 1lis moral
conccrn dcrcrmincs rlc paradigmaric significancc ol T/. S.c s/ B.ar.t in
rlar rlc rcprcscnraliliry ol rlc individual psyclc is now inrimarcly rclarcd
ro lisrorical rrauma.
|o. Yin Banslcng. ‘‘Xiaosluo xianping’’ (Fandom commcnrs on ficrion). originally
in Tsuxi ·/iii. (¡laylul world). ¡ooo. collccrcd in Wci Slaoclang. B.·.cr./ Act.ric/· sn
Iu }icnr.n, ¡:|–:o.
|¬. Scc A Ying. cd.. ³nt/s/sav s/ Lit.rctur. ³/sut t/. rccc In.i!.nt, ¡.i:–i|.
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1lc Sca ol Fcgrcr 33
¡n rlis liglr. rwo morc poinrs ol diffcrcncc lcrwccn rlis pair ol roman-
ric novcls lccomc rcvcaling. rlc cffccr ol a rraumaric cvcnr and rlc sym-
lolism ol gcndcr rolcs. ¡n ¡u ¡in’s Stsn.· in t/. S.c, rlc Boxcr movcmcnr
cruprs and curs slorr rlc llisslul inrimacy ol a rccnagc couplc. 1lis inrru-
sion ol a lcarlul and impcrsonal rcaliry rakcs placc only in rlc lasr rlird ol
rlc narrarivc. ar a momcnr wlcn rlc assiduous yourl finally succccds in
sccuring lamily acccprancc ol lis amorous longing. Ycr. cvcn ro rlc cnd.
lc rcmains slclrcrcd lrom any immcdiarc dangcr. Farlcr. ir is rlc lisrori-
cal movcmcnr as dislodging rlar inflicrs a dcvasraring loss lrom wlicl
rlc loy will ncvcr rccovcr. ¡is scnrimcnralizcd narrarivc only magnifics
lis urrcr inaliliry ro comprclcnd rcaliry lcyond lis sccludcd world ol
adolcsccnr romancc. ¡n T/. S.c s/ B.ar.t, ly conrrasr. rlc samc cruprion
ol lisrorical rcaliry occurs in rlc opcning claprcr, ly rlc conclusion ol
ir. Ðilua. lcr morlcr. and lcr fiancc. Bolc. arc alrcady oursidc Bcijing
and scrrlc lor rlc niglr as rclugccs in an inadcquarc villagc inn. Wlilc rlc
narraror in Stsn.· in t/. S.c rcads alour rlc lall ol Bcijing lrom alar. all
rlc ccnrral claracrcrs in T/. S.c s/ B.ar.t dirccrly cncounrcr rlc scnsclcss
violcncc and lorror. Ðilua and lcr morlcr arc rraumarizcd ly a lrcnzicd
crowd, Bolc is clascd and slor ly an Allicd soldicr, Zlong’ai wirncsscs
lis parcnrs’ dccapirarcd lodics in rlcir Bcijing lamily compound. 1lc
inirial cscapc lrom rlc lcsicgcd capiral pcrlorcc lrings rogcrlcr Ðilua
and Bolc. wlosc lamilics lavc carclully kcpr rlcm aparr. lor rlc sakc ol
propricry. sincc rlcir lcrrorlal ar rlc agc ol rwclvc. Sucl involunrary dis-
locarion dcrcrmincs rlc srrucrurc ol rlc narrarivc as lorl a lcarlul isurn.v
inro rlc unknown and a wisl ro r.turn ro normalcy. 1lc ccnrral narra-
rivc rcnsion rlcrclorc rcsrs on rlc growing dispariry lcrwccn rlc nccd
ro asscrr a rcrurn (ar lcasr irs possililiry) and rlc cxpcricncc ol a lorccd
journcy. ¡r rcsrs on rlc cloicc ol sccking rclugc in oncscll wlcn cxrcrnal
rcaliry is rccognizcd as ovcrwlclmingly losrilc and disconrinuous.
¡ndccd. ‘‘rlc sca ol rcgrcr’’ inro wlicl Wu Iianrcn plungcs lis clar-
acrcrs poinrs ro a ncw psyclological. as wcll as ncurological. rcaliry ol
lypcrsrimularion rlar may wcll lc a dcfining lcarurc ol modcrn lilc.
48
\ndcrlying rlc ccnrral parlos ol ‘‘rcgrcr’’ is an cxpcricncc ol rrauma.
|8. Scc Gcorg Simmcl’s cssay ‘‘1lc Mcrropolis and Mcnral ¡ilc.’’ in C/c··i. L··cv·
sn t/. Cu/tur. s/ Citi.·, cd. Ficlard Scnncrr (Þcw York. Mcrcdirl. ¡ooo). |¬–oo, and.
morc rcccnrly. Bcn Singcr. ‘‘Modcrniry. ¡ypcrsrimulus. and rlc Fisc ol ¡opular Scn-
sarionalism.’’ in Cin.mc cn! t/. Inv.ntisn s/ As!.rn Li/., cd. ¡co Clarncy and \ancssa
Sclwarrz (Bcrkclcy. \nivcrsiry ol Calilornia ¡rcss. ¡oos). ¬i–oo.
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34 C/in.·. As!.rn
lorl in rlc clinical scnsc ol plysical injury or ncurological lypcrsrimu-
larion. and as a psycloanalyrical conccpr rlar cxplains rlc lormarion ol
anxicry or ncurosis. An acrually cxpcricnccd siruarion ol lclplcssncss. ac-
cording ro ¡rcud’s ¡oio work on anxicry. may lc callcd a ‘‘rraumaric sirua-
rion.’’ in rclarion ro wlicl ‘‘cxrcrnal and inrcrnal dangcrs. rcal dangcrs
and insrincrual dcmands convcrgc.’’
49
¡accd wirl sucl glolal rlrcar. rlc
individual suljccr may collapsc inro a panic or rraumaric srarc rlar cnrails
a rcmporary luncrional lrcakdown. Òr. morc olrcn. a fliglr inro ncuro-
sis occurs. Bcsidcs lirrl and rlc loss ol a lovc oljccr. a rypical rraumaric
siruarion rlar givcs risc ro an inrcnsc lccling ol lclplcssncss and anxicry
is rlc cxpcricncc ol modcrn warlarc.
50
And war is indccd rlc cnvcloping
condirion undcr wlicl Bolc. Ðilua. and lcr morlcr find rlcmsclvcs as
rclugccs. 1lis rraumaric siruarion rlcrclorc dcrcrmincs rlc rcsr ol rlc nar-
rarivc as consriruring an anxicry-drivcn rcsponsc. wlicl also lcnds irscll
ro provoking a largcr and morc symlolic qucsrion ol cloicc and survival.
Bclorc rurning ro irs culrurally dclilcrarc cloicc in rlc lorm ol ncu-
roric insisrcncc. wc nccd ro cxaminc morc closcly rlc rraumaric siruarion
rc-crcarcd in rlc novcl. ¡or ir is ar rlis crirical momcnr rlar lisrorical cx-
pcricncc aclicvcs spccificiry. and modcrniry manilcsrs irscll ominously as
conraining an urrcr slock wlcn rwo rcclnologically uncqual worlds col-
lidc in violcnr juxraposirion. 1lc largcr lisrorical lackground lcing rlc
conlronrarion lcrwccn rlc narivisr Boxcrs. mosrly cquippcd wirl norl-
ing lur fisrs and spcars. and rcclnologically advanccd Allicd lorccs. ir
soon lccomcs apparcnr rlar rlc immcdiarc sourcc ol widcsprcad panic
and lclplcssncss among rlc narivcs lics in rlc supcrnarural powcr ol
Wcsrcrn wcaponry rlar inrroduccs an accclcrarcd scnsc ol rimc and spacc.
Alrcr all. rlc Boxcr movcmcnr and irs dclcar in ¡ooo mosr cffccrivcly dra-
marizcd rlc dcadly. discnclanring lorcc rlar rlc modcrn riflc lcld ovcr
magic. sorccry. spirirual lorcc. and marrial arrs (figurc ¡). Sincc rlc mid-
nincrccnrl ccnrury rlc riflc lad in lacr lccn uscd ly somc Qing govcrn-
mcnr rroops.
51
lur irs symlolic associarion wirl modcrniry as a rraumaric
|o. Sigmund ¡rcud. In/i/itisn·, Svmttsm· cn! ³nxi.tv, rcv. and cd. ly Iamcs Srra-
clcy (Þcw York. Þorron. ¡o8o). ¡o¡–o|.
so. Scc ¡rcud’s ¡o¡o cssay. ‘‘¡nrroducrion ro P·v./s-cnc/v·i· cn! t/. Icr N.urs·i·,’’
Stcn!cr! L!itisn, ¡¬.io¬–¡o. Anorlcr imporranr cssay on rlis ropic ly ¡rcud was wrir-
rcn in ¡o¡s. ‘‘1louglrs lor rlc 1imcs on War and Ðcarl.’’ collccrcd in Fr.u!. On Icr,
S.x cn! N.urs·i· (Þcw York. Arrs and Scicncc ¡rcss. ¡o|¬). i|s–¬o.
s¡. Ðuring rlc ¡8o8 supprcssion ol rlc Þian rclcllion in norrlcrn Clina. lor in-
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1lc Sca ol Fcgrcr 35
cvcnr was srarkcsr wlcn Allicd lorccs lcgan sysrcmarically puncruring
rlc Boxcrs’ supposcd invulncraliliry ro lullcrs. ¡n rlis aspccr. T/. S.c s/
B.ar.t may also lc rcad as onc ol rlc carlicr lircrary works dcaling wirl
an imporranr psyclic suffcring ol rlc rwcnricrl ccnrury. war rrauma and
ncurosis.
Wirlin rlc novcl. rlc rrauma ol wirncssing rlc dcsrrucrivcncss ol an
alicn rcclnology mosr scvcrcly afflicrs Ðilua’s morlcr. Miss Bai. wlo lor
rlis purposc luncrions as an indispcnsallc auxiliary claracrcr. Suffcring
lroma clcar casc ol rraumaric ncurosis. slc scrvcs ro dcmonsrrarc rlc cara-
srroplic cffccr ol sccking rclugc lrom war. Alrcr numcrous lrcakdowns.
slc dics an anguislcd dcarl lallway rlrougl rlcir rorruous rrip sourl.
1lc rraumaric momcnr rlar scrs off lcr ncrvous arrack occurs wlcn a
panickcd mol ol rclugccs appcars lrom nowlcrc and complcrcly disori-
cnrs Ðilua. lcr morlcr and Bolc. ‘‘A crowd ol pcoplc suddcnly camc
surging roward rlcm. 1lcrc was no knowing low many rlcrc wcrc. lur
rlcy wcrc all running lor rlcir livcs and scrcaming ar rlc rop ol rlcir
lungs. ‘¡clp! 1lc lairics arc coming!’ ’’ (¡8, ¡i¡–ii). Apparcnrly flccing
lrom a lysrcrical lcar ol a planrom. rlc rampaging crowd swccps Bolc
away in an unknown dirccrion. Ðilua and lcr morlcr. riding insidc a
small. rcnrcd carriagc. arc ‘‘rcrrificd our ol rlcir wirs’’ ar rlc incomprc-
lcnsillc siglr. and rlcy find rlcmsclvcs draggcd lcadlong inro a srarc ol
lclplcssncss (i¡, ¡io).
1lis suddcn cruprion ol dangcr disrrcsscs Miss Bai so scvcrcly rlar slc
sulscqucnrly displays srandard symproms ol auronomic dysluncrion. and
slc conrinually cxpcricnccs flasllacks ol rlc rcrrilying circumsranccs.
1lc samc cvcning. slc wakcs lrom a niglrmarc scrcaming lor lclp. ¡n
lcr violcnr drcam. slc sccs rlc samc crowd rlar surroundcd rlcm dur-
ing rlc day srill clasing lcr. wirl a man slasling ar lcr wirl a sword (i|,
¡:o–:¡). Òn rlc surlacc. lcr rraumaric ncurosis rcsulrs dirccrly lromlcing
lypcrsrimularcd ly rlc lysrcrical crowd. lur wlar launclcs rlc crowd
inro panic is rlc rumorcd lorror ol lcing lunrcd ly rlc invading Allicd
rroops. Iusr lclorc rlc crowd sccnc. in Bolc’s cagcr convcrsarion wirl
orlcr rclugccs ar a roadsidc inn in wlicl lc rrics ro gaugc rlc dangcr ol
rlcir siruarion. rlc powcr ol a Wcsrcrn riflc is vividly rclaycd wirl ap-
srancc. ¡i ¡ongzlang’s armics uscd riflcs and arrillcry ncwly purclascd lromWcsrcrn-
crs. Scc Ionarlan Ð. Spcncc. T/. S.cr./ /sr As!.rn C/inc (Þcw York. Þorron. ¡ooo).
¡88.
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¡. ¡olk painring. Ticniin ./.na mci/u !i/.i Dsna }unm.n !c·/.na xi/ina tu (A dcpicrion ol
Commandcr Ðong winning a grcar vicrory ovcr Wcsrcrn rroops ly laying mincs in rlc
ciry ol 1ianjin) (¡ooo). ¡rom Z/snaaus iin!ci·/i .cn/cs tuticn ii (Collccrion ol picrorial
rclcrcnccs lor modcrn Clincsc lisrory) (Slanglai. Slanglai jiaoyu. ¡os8).
prclcnsion (¡8, ¡i¡). ¡n lis dcspcrarc scarcl lor Ðilua alrcr rlc riorous
run. Bolc finds limscll pcrilously wirlin rangc ol a lorcign soldicr’s gun.
and lc las ro run lor lis lilc (¡o–io, ¡i|). (1lc lamily scrvanr ¡i ¡u is
suljccrcd ro a similar dangcr-siruarion carlicr. cxccpr rlar lc is acrually
slor in rlc slouldcr.) ¡arcr. during rlc sicgc ol 1ianjin. wlcrc Bolc is
srrandcd ly limscll. lc is clascd. again ly an Allicd soldicr. susrains a
gunslor wound ro lis rligl. and las ro srop rlc gusling llood wirl a
landlul ol dirr (|8–|o, ¡o:–o|).
Miss Bai and Ðilua arc mcrcilully sparcd sucl a dirccr conlronrarion
alrcr rlc crowd sccnc. As panickcd rclugccs. rlcy rcmain ar a disrancc
lrom any acrual violcncc. alrlougl rlar disrancc olrcn provcs ro lc prc-
carious and allows rlcm ncirlcr ro dcracl rlcmsclvcs complcrcly nor
ro makc scnsc ol rlcir pliglr. Bccausc rlcy arc in no posirion ro cvcn
imaginc rlc scalc ol rlc impcnding carasrroplc. rlcir scnsc ol dangcr
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1lc Sca ol Fcgrcr 37
is all rlc morc incapaciraring. Ònc cvcning during rlcir journcy down
rlc rclugcc-jammcd canal. ‘‘a crcsccndo ol slours arosc oursidc. scaring
lorl womcn.’’ Ðilua gocs ro rlc low ol rlcir loar and looks up. only
ro lc slockcd ly rlc vicw. ‘‘¡n rlc disrancc six or scvcn fircs ragcd so
ficrccly rlar rlcy lir up rlc wlolc sky wirl a ruddy glow. a glow rlar was
rcflccrcd in rlc laccs ol rlc pcoplc warcling lrom rlc loars. Amid rlc
lalllc ol voiccs. lainr crics and scrcams wcrc ro lc lcard in rlc disrancc.
and Ðilua’s lcarr lcgan pounding violcnrly’’ (|i, ¡s|). Alrlougl slc is
rold rlar rlc firc may lavc lccn scr ly Boxcrs ro lurn down clurclcs.
Ðilua wirldraws inro rlc calin and rcassurcs lcr morlcr. wlo is rrcm-
lling wirl lcar. rlar ir is a mcrc accidcnr on slorc. A lcw days larcr. rlc
samc incomprclcnsillc spccraclc ol violcncc cruprs ncarly. ‘‘Suddcnly a
random vollcy ol gun slors rang our on slorc. scaring Miss Bai our ol
lcr wirs again. Ðilua lad ncvcr lcard anyrling likc ir lclorc. and slc.
roo. was so lriglrcncd rlar lcr lcarr lcgan ro pound. Ar rlc siglr ol
lcr morlcr’s panic. lowcvcr. slc rallicd and lorccd lcrscll ro offcr com-
lorr.’’ 1lis rimc slc makcs up lcr own cxplanarion. ‘‘1lar was only rlc
govcrnmcnr army firing ar rlc Boxcr landirs. . . .’’ (||, ¡s¬). 1lcir wlolc
fliglr sourl figurarivcly movcs rlcm cvcr morc dccply inro a dangcr-
siruarion wlcrc rlcir only possillc rclarion ro rcaliry is anxicry or rlc
consranr cxpccrarion ol dangcr. ‘‘A dangcr-siruarion.’’ so dcscrilcs ¡rcud.
‘‘is a rccognizcd. rcmcmlcrcd. and cxpccrcd siruarion ol lclplcssncss.’’
52
¡n rlis srarc ol anxious cxpccrarion. a known. cxrcrnal dangcr is inrcrnal-
izcd and olrcn rriggcrs a ncuroric dangcr. wlicl is onc srill ro lc discov-
crcd and is usually sympromaric ol a dissarisficd ‘‘insrincrual dcmand.’’ ¡n
orlcr words. a dangcr-siruarion ariscs wlcrc anxicry signals nor mcrcly
an cxrcrnal rlrcar. lur also an inrcrnal crisis. a clallcngc ol rlc consriru-
rion ol rlc scll or cgo lrom wirlin. ¡r cxisrs wlcrc anxicry and ncurosis.
‘‘a surplus ol anxicry.’’ rcvcal rlcmsclvcs as a symlioric conrinuum. 1lc
narraror ol T/. S.c s/ B.ar.t kccps rlc lcmalc claracrcrs in rlis dangcr-
siruarion mosr ol rlc rimc and rcluscs ro makc rlcir posirion as slclrcrcd
lysrandcrs any lcss agonizing or rraumaric.
¡n accordancc wirl Ðilua and lcr morlcr’s posirion as passivc wir-
ncsscs ro violcncc. rlc narraror offcrs lirrlc ro makc rlc cvcnrs morc scn-
sillc. alrlougl rlc srory linc ol ‘‘cscapc’’ providcs an cffccrivc lramcwork.
si. ¡rcud. In/i/itisn·, Svmttsm· cn! ³nxi.tv, ¡oi.
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38 C/in.·. As!.rn
as A Ying commcnrs. ro ‘‘caprurc all rlc lriglr. rumors. rcrror. gunfirc.
and lorcign rroops.’’
53
Crirics sucl as AYing may complain rlar rlc novcl
docs nor casr rlc Boxcrs in a posirivc liglr. lur rlc narrarivc slows a pro-
lound indiffcrcncc ro various polirical or idcological jusrificarions ol vio-
lcncc. 1lc alscncc ol a masrcr narrarivc ol collccrivc acrion or lisrorical
rarionaliry—narionalism or anri-impcrialism—dcrcrmincs rlar rlc clar-
acrcrs lc unwilling wirncsscs ro. rarlcr rlan acrivc parricipanrs in. rlc
spccraclc ol group violcncc. 1lc novcl’s psyclological rcalism. ro wlicl
wc now rurn. is rlcrclorc morc rlan a srylisric aclicvcmcnr, ir rcsulrs
lrom an ovcrdcrcrmincd insularion ol rlc local claracrcrs lrom any col-
lccrivc alliancc or idcnriry. Sucl insularion lcavcs rlc individuals psyclo-
logically vulncrallc ro all violcnr disruprions ol rlcir world. wlicl arc
incvirally cxpcricnccd as rrauma. Ivcn rlc unlamiliar circumsranccs ol
rlc lcw villagc inns wlcrc rlcy sray comc as a slock ro Ðilua. wlo as a
prorccrcd uppcr-class young woman las ro ovcrcomc rimidiry and copc
wirl povcrry and wlar ro lcr appcars as an alicn social rcaliry—rlc pcas-
anrs. 1lc prccarious disrancc lrom any sirc ol acrion. in rlc cnd. allows
lor a ncw scll-consciousncss ro cmcrgc. lor rlc rraumaric lypcrsrimula-
rion ar oncc lrcaks down rlc insularion and lorccs rlc individual sul-
jccrs ro rcacr ro rlc crisis wirl urmosr urgcncy. Sucl is rlc condirion in
wlicl wc find Ðilua. a pious young woman wlosc suljccriviry suggcsrs
a prollcmaric convcrgcncc ol virruc and scxualiry.
\irruous ¡assion. \irrual Irorics
As ¡ suggcsrcd. rlc disrrilurion ol gcndcr rolcs in rlc novcl is anyrling
lur innoccnr. 1o convcy rlc cnormiry ol rlc loss. rlc journcy is lound ro
rurn inro a painlul proccss ol dcclinc and dcgcncrarion. wlicl. in rlc casc
ol Bolc. rcaclcs a poinr ol no rcrurn wirl lis opiumaddicrion and dcarl.
Ar rlc samc rimc. rlc narrarivc also crcarcs and insrirurcs an inrcrior lilc
as rlc dclcnsivc mcclanism againsr a claoric condirion ovcr wlicl no
individual las any cffccrivc conrrol. Òlviously. rlis rcacrivc inrcrioriry is
dcsignarcd ro Ðilua. wlo grows cvcr morc dcrcrmincd ro rcrurn lilc ro
irs normal coursc and promiscd lulfillmcnr. 1lc implicir gcndcr symlol-
s:. A Ying. Hi·tsrv s/ Lct. Oina Fi.tisn, s¬.
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1lc Sca ol Fcgrcr 39
ism is cvcn morc srriking il wc rccall rlc slorr srory ‘‘1ang Slcng.’’ in
wlicl a srullorn young man is closcn ro cmlody rlc narional pridc ol
Clina. wlcrcas ¡rcnc is rlc onc ro sacrificc lcr lilc in prorcsr againsr an
unjusr rcaliry. 1lrougl Ðilua’s rranslormarion. mosr norally in lcr final
wirldrawal lrom sccular lilc. lcr srory documcnrs an individual’s dclcar
as mucl as ir docs a rriumpl ol lcr will. ¡cmininc clasriry is now im-
plicarcd in salcguarding rlc inncr csscncc ol rlc narivc rradirion. ¡crc.
wc cnrcr a diffcrcnr aspccr ol rlc narrarivc rlan rlc dangcr-siruarion rlar
inccssanrly gcncrarcs anxicry. ¡n conrrasr ro Miss Bai’s fir and lriglr. wc
scc Ðilua’s virruous passion, insrcad ol a ncrvous lrcakdown. Ðilua.
apparcnrly rraumarizcd ly violcncc and dcarl. dcvclops wlar may lc dc-
scrilcd as a complcx olscssional ncurosis rlar luncrions as lcr surrogarc
scll-idcnriry.
Sucl a parlologizing vicw ol Ðilua compcls us ro rcrurn ro ¡rcud’s
olscrvarion rlar a ncuroric anxicry incvirally indicarcs an unsarisficd in-
srincrual dcmand. ¡n rlc casc ol olscssional ncurosis. according ro a
mcrapsycloanalyrical ¡rcud in Civi/icctisn cn! It· Di·.snt.nt· (¡o:o). ‘‘rlc
scnsc ol guilr [S./u/!a./u// | makcs irscll noisily lcard in consciousncss.’’
‘‘Ivcry ncurosis.’’ ¡rcud lurrlcr asscrrs. ‘‘conccals a quora ol [an| uncon-
scious scnsc ol guilr. wlicl in irs rurn lorrifics rlc symproms ly making
usc ol rlcm as a punislmcnr.’’ Morc spccifically. ncuroric symproms.
in psycloanalyrical rcrms. arc ‘‘sulsrirurivc sarislacrions lor unlulfillcd
scxual wislcs.’’
54
¡rom rlc ourscr. rlc plor dcvclopmcnr in T/. S.c s/
B.ar.t lormularcs Ðilua’s suljccriviry or scll-conccprion prcdominanrly
rlrougl lcr lcclings ol guilr and scll-llamc, lcr virruous dcvorion and
passion. in rlc proccss. offcr a rclugc lrom lcr own dcsirc. lur dcvorion
and passion also gradually acquirc rlc inrcnsiry ol virrual croric cxcirc-
mcnr and plcasurc. As unrclcascd scxual rcnsion and cncrgy consrirurc
rlc criology ol Ðilua’s olscssional ncurosis. rlc lagiograplical accounr
ol lcr virruous passion involvcs—in addirion ro a ncw sclllood}sainr-
lood lormcd rlrougl dcnial and rcprcssion—a symparlcric dcscriprion
ol lcr lilidinal dcsirc.
55
s|. Sigmund ¡rcud. Civi/icctisn cn! It· Di·.snt.nt·, rrans. ly Iamcs Srraclcy (Þcw
York. Þorron. ¡oo¡). oi–o¬.
ss. Ivcr sincc ¡oos. wlcn lc pullislcd ‘‘My \icws on rlc ¡arr ¡laycd ly Scxualiry
in rlc Acriology ol rlc Þcurosis.’’ ¡rcud ncvcr complcrcly gavc up lis analysis rlar rlc
‘‘modcrn ncrvousncss’’ originarcs in rlc conflicr lcrwccn lilido and civilizarion.
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40 C/in.·. As!.rn
1lc scnsc ol guilr rlar Ðilua is cnriccd ro lccl inirially dcrivcs lrom a
‘‘lcar ol rlc cxrcrnal aurloriry’’ or a ccnsorious supcr-cgo.
56
wlicl in rlc
givcn culrural conrcxr is convcycd rlrougl concrcrc ‘‘maxims lor young
womcn’’ and ‘‘rulcs ol propricry’’ rlar rlc mucl-prorccrcd girl grows up
mcmorizing. (¡n rlc look’s opcning claprcr wc arc rold rlar alrcr duri-
lully giving up lcr srudics as slc approaclcs pulcrry. Ðilua lorgcrs rlc
spccific wording ol rlc classics lur rcmains mindlul ol rlcir gcncral mcan-
ing [8, ¡o8|.) 1lc firsr rimc rlar rlc narraror allows us inro lcr vcxcd
mind is rlc sccond niglr inro rlc lriglrlul journcy. wlcn Bolc comcs
down wirl a cold as a rcsulr ol slccping in rlc poorly insularcd anrc-
clamlcr ol rlc villagc inn. Bccausc ol rlis unrimcly sickncss. rlc so lar
srricrly cxrcrnal disarray rurns inro an cxaccrlaringly pcrsonal prollcm
lor Ðilua. ¡cr morlcr. Miss Bai. las askcd a lcvcrisl Bolc ro comc in-
sidc and slarc rlc samc and only plarlorm lcd (/cna). lur Ðilua is roo
sly ro slccp rlcrc. cvcn rlougl Miss Bai lics in rlc middlc and scrs up a
low rallc as an addirional loundary. Þoricing rlar Ðilua inrcnds ro sir
up all niglr. Bolc gcrs up and offcrs ro go our ro rlc lronr room again.
only ro lc sroppcd ly Miss Bai. wlo admonislcs lcr dauglrcr lor lcing
roo rigid wirl lormalirics wlcn rlcy arc in sucl a dcspcrarc siruarion.
Alrcr rcpcarcd urging. Ðilua finally compromiscs and lics down wirl lcr
clorlcs on.
¡l ¡ don’r lic down. slc rlouglr. ¡’ll lc prcvcnring Morlcr lrom gcrring
any slccp. Bur rlis is sucl an unsccmly siruarion. ir makcs mc lccl liglly
uncomlorrallc. ¡l wc’d marricd lclorc wc lclr. rlar would lc onc rling.
lur wc’rc srill lound ly rlc rulcs ol propricry. and ¡ can’r cvcn pcrsonally
ask lim low lc’s lccling wlilc lc las causc ro slow conccrn lor mc. ¡l ¡
don’r lic down. wlar a poor rcrurn rlar would lc lor all lis kindncss! Bur
rlcn again lowcould an unmarricd couplc slccp in rlc samc plarlorm lcd·
Ar rlc vcry rlouglr slc lclr a slarp. prickling scnsarion down lcr spinc.
(¡:, ¡¡|)
so. ¡rcud. Civi/icctisn cn! It· Di·.snt.nt·, oi–o|. Òn p. o|. ¡rcud wrircs. ‘‘As ro a
scnsc ol guilr. wc musr admir rlar ir is in cxisrcncc lclorc rlc supcr-cgo. and rlcrc-
lorc lclorc conscicncc. roo. Ar rlar rimc ir is rlc immcdiarc cxprcssion ol lcars ol rlc
cxrcrnal aurloriry. ¡r is rlc dirccr dcrivarivc ol rlc conflicr lcrwccn rlc nccd lor rlc
aurloriry’s lovc and rlc urgc rowards insrincrual sarislacrion. wlosc inlilirion pro-
duccs rlc inclinarion ro aggrcssion.’’ 1wo pagcs carlicr. lc also srarcs rlar ‘‘rlc scnsc
ol guilr is ar lorrom norling clsc lur a ropograplical varicry ol anxicry, in irs larcr
plascs ir coincidcs complcrcly wirl /.cr s/ t/. ·ut.r-.as’’ (original iralics).
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1lc Sca ol Fcgrcr 41
Þccdlcss ro say. rorrurcd ly sucl conflicrual dcmands and unccrrain-
rics. Ðilua gcrs no slccp rlar niglr. 1lc ‘‘slarp. prickling scnsarion’’ slc
susrains down lcr lack poinrcdly rcminds lcr ol rlc closcncss ol Bolc’s
lody. lur ir also alcrrs lcr ro rlc scnsc ol lcing warclcd ovcr ly somc
picrcing. rlougl imagincd. cyc. 1lis acurc pain rcsulrs lrom a lciglr-
cncd scnsc ol conflicr. ¡n cxpcricncing rlis psyclosomaric pain. slc also
undcrgocs a scll-lormarion. wlicl can lc arricularcd only as a lcar ol
acknowlcdging lcrscll and lcr own dcsirc. 1lis ncw scll-consciousncss
or suljccriviry. conscqucnrly. will dcrivc irs conrinual rcassurancc lrom
cvcr grcarcr pain or cvcn scll-immolarion. lccausc ly suljccring lcrscll
ro pain rlc suljccr acrivcly rranslorms lcr own lody inro an oljccr ovcr
wlicl slc can claim a vicrory ol will.
¡ur diffcrcnrly. a masoclisric will ro scll-affirmarion ncccssarily consri-
rurcs rlc suljccriviry lormcd in lcar.
57
1o sccurc rccognirion lrom orlcrs.
rlc ncwsuljccr will lavc ro makc lcr nccd lor punislmcnr a pullic cvcnr.
rlrougl wlicl slc prcscnrs lcr paincd lody as an insrancc ol willcd scll-
alncgarion. 1lc paradox is rlar only rlrougl a dcmonsrrallc disavowal
ol lcrscll will slc lc acccprcd as a scll-willcd suljccr. ¡cncc. rlc onro-
logical cxigcncy cmlcddcd in Ðilua’s olscssional ncurosis. wlicl allows
lor a scmllancc ol agcncy and is laudcd as virruous passion or acccpr-
allc scll-sacrificc. ‘‘¡n conflicr lcrwccn lcr dcsircs and lcr scnsc ol dury.’’
¡rcud commcnrs on rlc lrusrraring conscqucnccs ol monogamy. a mar-
ricd woman ‘‘again will scck rclugc in ncurosis. Þorling prorccrs lcr
virruc so sccurcly as illncss.’’
58
Wlcn. in rlc cnd. Bolc dics in a Slang-
lai lospiral. lor insrancc. Ðilua llamcs lcrscll lor lis dcmisc and. wirl
a pair ol scissors. rcmovcs lcr rcn fingcrnails and a lock ol lair. ‘‘Alrcr
wrapping up lorl ircms. slc ruckcd rlcm insidc onc ol Bolc’s slccvcs.
s¬. ‘‘1lc scnsc ol guilr. rlc larslncss ol rlc supcr-cgo. is rlus rlc samc rling as rlc
scvcriry ol rlc conscicncc. ¡r is rlc pcrccprion wlicl rlc cgo las ol lcing warclcd ovcr
in rlis way. rlc asscssmcnr ol rlc rcnsion lcrwccn irs own srrivings and rlc dcmands
ol rlc supcr-cgo. 1lc lcar ol rlis crirical agcncy (a lcar wlicl is ar rlc lorrom ol rlc
wlolc rclarionslip). rlc nccd lor punislmcnr. is an insrincrual manilcsrarion on rlc
parr ol rlc cgo. wlicl las lccomc masoclisric undcr rlc influcncc ol a sadisric supcr-
cgo’’ (¡rcud. Civi/icctisn cn! It· Di·.snt.nt·, o|). ¡or lurrlcr discussion ol masoclism
and rlc lailurc ol rlc modcrn malc suljccr in Ba Iin’s Cs/! Nia/t·, scc clap. | lclow.
‘‘1lc ¡asr 1ulcrcular in Modcrn Clincsc ¡ircrarurc.’’
s8. ¡rcud. ‘‘ ‘Civilizcd’ Scxual Moraliry and Modcrn Þcrvousncss (¡oo8).’’ collccrcd
in S.xuc/itv cn! t/. P·v./s/sav s/ Lsv., cd. wirl inrro. ly ¡lilip Ficff (ÞcwYork. Collicr
Books. ¡oo:). i:.
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42 C/in.·. As!.rn
‘Masrcr Clcn.’ slc said. ‘il you arc conscious in rlar orlcr world. comc
lack soon and rakc mc away wirl you!’ ’’ ¡n rlc wakc ol sucl symlolic
scll-immolarion. slc ‘‘lcgan ro wail. and all rlosc prcscnr wcpr wirl lcr.
Somconc wlo kncw lcr srory rcmarkcd. ‘And slc was only lis fianccc.
roo!’ ar wlicl rlcy wcrc cvcn morc lavorally imprcsscd’’ (¬:, ¡oo).
1lc cvocarion ol virruc is a crucial idcological opcrarion in T/. S.c
s/ B.ar.t, lor rlc narrarivc is scll-consciously lagiograplical rarlcr rlan
parlograplical. 1lrougl Ðilua. virrucs sucl as ‘‘sinccriry’’ or ‘‘dcvorion’’
arc molilizcd lrom narivc culrural rcsourccs as a cardinal principlc ro
copc wirl a comprclcnsivc dangcr-siruarion. 1lc symlolic riclncss ol
Ðilua’s lardslip is cvidcnr il wc spccularc low rlc novcl would work
diffcrcnrly. slould rlc dauglrcr. rarlcr rlan lcr morlcr. lainr firsr during
rlc mol sccnc and rlcrclorc lccomc rlc morlcr’s rcsponsililiry. Ðilua
in rlc narrarivc occupics a nodal poinr in rlc lalric ol parriarclally dclin-
carcd luman rclarions. sincc slc is a dauglrcr as wcll as a fianccc. Wlcn
srrandcd lallway lcrwccn Bcijing and Slanglai. slc finds lcrscll ‘‘worry-
ing alour lcr morlcr. missing lcr larlcr. longing lor lcr fiancc’’ (s¬,
¡¬o). ¡l Ðilua’s raking carc ol lcr sick morlcr can lc vicwcd as ‘‘narural’’
in rcgard ro rlc liological as wcll as cmorional lond lcrwccn rlcm. lcr
dcvorion ro Bolc rlcn affirms a conscious and socially mcaninglul com-
mirmcnr. Wlar rlc narrarivc consrrucrs. significanrly. is Ðilua firsr as a
good dauglrcr and rlcn as a good wilc. 1o lulfill lorl rolcs. slc las ro
lc rorally conccnrrarcd and sclflcss. As lcr morlcr’s illncss gcrs worsc.
Ðilua dccidcs ro rry an agc-old mcrlod ol curing onc’s parcnrs wirl
onc’s own flcsl. Alrcr slcaring a piccc ol flcsl off lcr arm and offcring
ir ro rlc paricnr in a mcdicinal soup. Ðilua srill lails ro savc lcr morlcr.
Wlilc gricving copiously. slc lcgins ro wondcr.
¡crlaps lcr lailurc ro curc lcr morlcr wirl rlar morscl ol flcsl slowcd rlar
rlc ancicnrs wcrc lying. slc rlouglr. Bur low could rlcir lics lavc lccn
passcd down ovcr so many ycars wirlour anyonc sccing rlrougl rlcm· Þo
doulr rlc ancicnrs wcrcn’r lying ar all, ir was lcr own lcarr rlar wasn’r
sinccrc [./.na| cnougl. Ar rlis rlouglr slc lcgan ro larc lcrscll lor lcr
insinccriry. langing lcr lcad againsr rlc lcd and crying lcrscll inro a srarc
ol srupor. (so, ¡¬o)
59
so. Ðilua’s rcacrion srands in slarp conrrasr ro rlar ol ¡u Xun’s Madman. wlosc
ccnrral qucsrion is. ‘‘¡s ir riglr lccausc ir las always lccn likc rlar·’’ Scc clap. i lclow.
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1lc Sca ol Fcgrcr 43
1lc samc lclicl in ‘‘sinccriry’’ morivarcs Ðilua in lcr caring lor Bolc
wlcn lc uncxpccrcdly rurns up as a dcpravcd opium addicr. ¡n pcrsuad-
ing lcr larlcr ro lcr lcr marry Bolc. Ðilua rcasons. ‘‘1lcrc’s a saying
ol rlc ancicnrs rlar springs ro mind. ‘Mcral and sronc will yicld lclorc
a sinccrc [./.na| lcarr.’ Alrcr wc’rc marricd. ¡’ll pur my rrusr in a pcr-
lccrly sinccrc lcarr. and pcrlaps. wlo knows. ¡ may lc allc ro inspirc
limro clangc’’ (oo, ¡o:). ‘‘Sinccriry.’’ or cxrraordinary dcvorion. lccomcs
a sourcc ol srrcngrl, irs cvocarion cxprcsscs rlc longing lor an anclor-
ing sraliliry in a murallc and conringcnr world. Morc significanrly. in
quoring a culrural maxim alour spirirual puriry. rlc young woman cffcc-
rivcly calls inro placc an inncr rcalm ol aurlcnriciry rlar. cquarcd wirl rlc
indigcnous culrural rradirion. lorl sliclds rlc vcxcd individual and rc-
quircs lcr acrivc dclcnsc. 1lis inrcriorizcd zonc las rlc samc luncrion as
a scr ol corc valucs rlar. cvcr morc pronounccd ar a momcnr ol crisis and
conlusion. scrvcs ro consrirurc a discoursc ol cndangcrcd aurlcnriciry.
wlicl. in rurn. slarcs rlc srrucrurc ol a ncuroric rcacrion in rlc wakc ol
a lypcrsrimularing rrauma. 1lc norion ol ‘‘conccnrrarcd sinccriry.’’ lor
insrancc. also cvokcd in Stsn.· in t/. S.c, dcrivcs lrom a lundamcnral con-
ccpr in Clincsc classics rcgarding ‘‘gcnuincncss’’ and ‘‘rrurllulncss’’ in
luman inrcracrion and cmorion.
60
¡n orlcr words. ir lclongs ro an in-
digcnous discoursc on aurlcnriciry. 1lc narraror’s cloicc ro lcr Ðilua ar-
ricularc lcr lclicl in rlc moving lorcc ol sinccriry is rlcrclorc dclilcrarc.
¡r lully inscrilcs lcr inro rlc csrallislcd rradirion ol valucs and virrucs.
¡r also rcvcals rlar rlc virruous passion slc pracriccs as a compcnsarory
inrcnsiry in rlc lacc ol a disinrcgraring world symlolically cnacrs rlc sal-
varion ol an cnrirc culrural lcriragc. ¡n rlis scnsc. rlc crcarion ol Ðilua in
T/. S.c s/ B.ar.t rcflccrs a gcncral anxicry ovcr rlc conrinuiry as mucl as
oo. 1lc carlicsr and mosr classic discussion ol iina./.na occurs in a lallc rirlcd ‘‘1lc
Òld ¡islcrman’’ in rlc wrirings ol Zluangzi. \pon lcing askcd ly Conlucius wlar
lc mcans ly ‘‘gcnuincncss.’’ wlicl lc urgcs Conlucius ro culrivarc and guard. rlc old
fislcrman answcrs. ‘‘1lc gcnuinc is rlc mosr quinrcsscnrial. rlc mosr sinccrc. Wlar
lails ro lc quinrcsscnrial and sinccrc cannor movc orlcrs.’’ Scc A. C. Gralam’s rrans-
larion in C/ucna-tcu. T/. S.v.n Inn.r C/ctt.r· cn! Ot/.r Iritina· /rsm t/. Bss/ s/
C/ucna-tcu (¡ondon. Gcorgc Allcn & \nwin. ¡o8¡). is¡. Gralam’s rranslarion ol
iina./.na, in my opinion. is an improvcmcnr on rlosc ly ¡crlcrr A. Gilcs (‘‘rlc pcr-
lccrion ol rrurl unalloycd’’) and Burron Warson (‘‘puriry and sinccriry in rlcir liglcsr
dcgrcc’’). alrlougl all rlcsc rranslarions slcd liglr on rlc riclncss ol rlc conccpr.
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44 C/in.·. As!.rn
rlc puriry ol a rlrcarcncd narivc culrurc. an anxicry rlar is lcsr cxprcsscd
rlrougl an ovcrdcrcrmincd lcmalc claracrcr.
61
Ycr rlc origin ol Ðilua’s virruousncss poinrs ro a scnsc ol guilr rlar slc
lccls roward Bolc’s lall. ¡cr passionarc dcvorion ro lcr fiancc is largcly
lascd on lcr own pcrccivcd indclrcdncss and is rcclargcd conrinually
insolar as slc sccs lcrscll olligarcd ro wlar slc las pcrsonally incurrcd.
Alrcr rlc firsr sccnc ol uninrclligillc violcncc. wlcn Bolc is swcpr away
ly rlc swarming crowd. Ðilua firsr worrics alour lis salcry and rlcn
srarrs ro llamc lcrscll. ‘‘1lcn again slc rlouglr. 1lis is all my laulr. So
conccrncd alour propcr lclavior rlar ¡ cvcn rcluscd ro spcak ro lim. . . .
¡l only ¡’d lccn willing ro ralk ro lim. lc’d lavc lccn lappy ro join mc.
and nonc ol rlis would lavc occurrcd. Òl. Cousin Bolc. ¡’mrlc onc wlo
did you in! ¡l anyrling drcadlul docs lappcn ro you. wlar am ¡ going
ro do·’’ (i:, ¡io). 1lis scll-llamc slc will carry cvcn lurrlcr wlcn in a
niglrmarc slc sccs Bolc pass ly wirlour spcaking ro lcr. \pon waking
up. slc wondcrs wlcrlcr slc las givcn rlcir carriagc drivcr a morivc ro
murdcr Bolc lor lis moncy (:|–:s, ¡|:–¡||). Consranrly sccking indcm-
niry in and rlrougl lcrscll allows Ðilua a masoclisric scnsc ol sclllood.
lor lcr cxrraordinary willpowcr gains acccprancc and currcncy wlcn slc
is supposcdly rcpaying lcr dclr—psyclic or symlolic. Any sulscqucnr
agcncy or scll-dcrcrminarion rlar slc sccms ro aclicvc is always alrcady
circularing wirlin an ovcrarcling rclarionslip ol indclrcdncss—‘‘rlc sca
ol rcgrcr.’’ ¡l wc srop lcrc. wc may lc jusrificd in criricizing a parriar-
clal sysrcm rlar suljccrs an individual ro sucl an inclucrallc ncr ol in-
dclrcdncss. Wc may cvcn gcncralizc alour rlc vicrimizarion ol womcn
rlrougl a rlcroric ol virruc and alour rlc opprcssivc narurc ol rradirional
social ordcr. ‘‘¡l lcmininc scll-sacrificc was rlc major supporr ol rradi-
rional Clincsc culrurc. ir is nor surprising rlar. during a pcriod ol mas-
sivc social rranslormarions. rlc collapsc ol rradirion would find irs mosr
msvina rcprcscnrarions in rlc figurcs ol rlosc wlo arc rradirionally rlc
o¡. Wu Iianrcn would cxprcss lis culrural anxicry morc opcnly in rlc prcamllc ro
lis lasr novcl. wlcrc lc admonislcs lis rcadcrs ro rcad lis srory ‘‘wirl Clincsc cycs’’
and lisrcn ro rlc mcssagc ‘‘wirl Clincsc cars.’’ Scc Oina /icn (¡assion rranslormcd).
collccrcd in Pc··isn Trcn·/srm.!, ios–oo. ¡or a discussion ol rlc moral and culrural
cloiccs cmlodicd in lcmalc claracrcrs in larc Qing ficrion. scc Clcn ¡ingyuan. Hi·tsrv
s/ Tm.nti.t/-C.nturv C/in.·. Fi.tisn. Is/um. On., rsc~–rcre, iio–i¡.
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1lc Sca ol Fcgrcr 45
mosr opprcsscd. figurcs rlar lccomc ‘srand-ins’ lor Clina’s rraumarizcd
·.//-.sn·.isu·n.·· in cvcry scnsc ol rlc plrasc.’’
62
Þo doulr rlis is a pcrsuasivc insrancc ol rlcorizarion. lur ir may flarrcn
rlc uncxpccrcd and amlivalcnr conrcnr rlar gocs inro a rraumarizcd scll-
consciousncss. wlicl is olrcn rccognizcd as conriguous wirl scll-sacrificc
or virruc. sincc ir is rlc consrirurion and agcncy ol rlc scll rlar is rlrown
inro crisis ar a givcn momcnr ol rrauma and}or massivc social rranslorma-
rions. ¡n rlc proccss. Ðilua’s virruous passion. lor insrancc. is also inrri-
carcly compoundcd ly lcr scxual awakcning. 1lc inrcnsc scnsc ol guilr
makcs ir possillc lor Ðilua ro lanrasizc. as il ro convincc lcrscll ol wlar
is losr. alour a lully grarilying romanric rclarionslip lcrwccn lcrscll and
Bolc. ¡cr cxpcricncc ol croric dcsirc is rcprcscnrallc and lcgirimarc. nor
only lccausc ir is a lanrasy alour rlcir ycr ro lc consummarcd marriagc.
lur also lccausc lc is alscnr. 1lc impossililiry ol irs acrual sarislacrion.
rlcrclorc. is a ncccssary condirion lor Ðilua ro asscrr lcr dcsirc and an-
riciparc a gcnuinc lappincss. 1lis is rlc siruarion in wlicl lcr rlinking
alour Bolc dcvclops inro an olscssion. and ncurosis lcgins ro sulsrirurc
lor scxual sarislacrion.
1lar niglr. undcr Bolc’s lcdding. Ðilua’s lcclings unconrrollally grcw
inro an inlaruarion [;ina ii ./.na ./i |. Slc said ro lcrscll rlar alrlougl rlcy
wcrc srill nor marricd. slc was—ar lcr morlcr’s cxprcss command—slccp-
ing in lcr fiancc’s lcdding, pcrlaps ir was a sign ol a ‘‘slarcd quilr’’ in rlcir
lururc. 1lcsc lond rlouglrs clung ro lcr mind and. lclorc slc kncw ir. lad
lrccd lcr. lor rlc rimc lcing ar lcasr. lrom all lcr sorrows and carcs. ¡nsrcad
slc conrcmplarcd low mucl lovc and rcspccr slc would slow lim alrcr
rlcy wcrc marricd. . . . Ar rlis joyous prospccr. slc cxpcricnccd a dcsirc
rlar could nor lc sarisficd. a dcsirc lrom wlicl slc drilrcd inro a sound
slccp. (:8–:o, ¡so)
Ivcn alrcr waking up. Ðilua is srill ovcrwlclmcd ly wlar rlc narra-
ror consisrcnrly calls ./ixicna or ./inicn, wlicl can mcan a widc rangc
ol rlouglrs and idcas (llind. silly. wisllul. inlaruarcd. olscsscd. crazy).
lur in rlis conrcxr ir dcscrilcs a scxual arousal or olscssion. 1lc inrcn-
oi. Clow. Ismcn cn! C/in.·. As!.rnitv, clap. |. ‘‘¡oving Womcn. Masoclism.
¡anrasy. and rlc ¡dcalizarion ol Morlcr.’’ ¡¬o, iralics in original.
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46 C/in.·. As!.rn
siry ol rlis longing is irscll so plcasurallc rlar Ðilua. lolding and fingcr-
ing Bolc’s lcdding. cxpcricnccs an croric cxcircmcnr. Sucl an amorous
lanrasy. lowcvcr. docs nor disagrcc wirl lcr virruc lccausc ir ccnrcrs on
Bolc. wlo ol ncccssiry musr nor rcciprocarc. 1lc oljccr ol lcr scxual
dcsirc is sancrioncd ly lcr lcrrorlal and only synccdoclically can lc rc-
callcd inro prcscncc. 1lis condirion is lurrlcr dramarizcd wlcn Bolc is
so sick and lcdriddcn rlar Ðilua las ro lcnd ovcr and lccd lim mcdi-
cinc mourl-ro-mourl (¬¡, ¡oo). Ar rlis momcnr. croricismis finally luscd
wirl a morlcring insrincr. Bolc’s palc passiviry. wlicl may lc vicwcd as
a long-csrallislcd lormulaic posirion lor rlc malc claracrcr in rradirional
romanccs.
63
ncgarivcly rcvcals wlar rlc norion ol virruous passion sccks
ro disavow. namcly. acrivc sarislacrion rlrougl scxual plcasurc. Ðilua’s
virruous passion. on rlc orlcr land. las irs prcccdcnr in numcrous pious
womcn ( ii./u) canonizcd ly rlc larc impcrial rradirion. 1lrougl a vir-
rual crorics ir lccomcs clcar rlar ncurosis nor only allows lcr a lorm ol
agcncy and scll-sufficicncy. lur ir also scrvcs as a sulsrirurivc sarislacrion
lor lcr nasccnr scxual dcsirc. 1lus a grcarly complicarcd porrrayal ol a
modcrn ii./u}sainr. ¡n acknowlcdging Ðilua’s scxualiry and rclaring ir ro
lcr picry. rlc narraror ol T/. S.c s/ B.ar.t inrcrjccrs plcasurallc cxpcri-
cncc ar a momcnr ol crisis and rrauma and rlus crcarcs a lasring amliguiry
in rlc narrarivc.
¡arrly lccausc ol rlc inrriguing srarus ol scxualiry wirlin rlc narrarivc.
T/. S.c s/ B.ar.t las givcn risc ro conrinuous rcrcadings. ¡n ¡oio. lor in-
srancc. onc cnrlusiasric commcnraror rccommcndcd rlc novcl as appro-
priarc rcading marcrial lor ligl sclool srudcnrs lccausc ol irs rlcmaric
proximiry ro ‘‘modcrn lilc.’’ 1lis criric cvcn claimcd rlar Wu Iianrcn lc-
longs in rlc samc rank ol classical novclisrs as Sli Þai’an (Ict.r Acr-
ain) and Cao Xucqin (Dr.cm s/ t/. B.! C/cm/.r).
64
¡n lis ¡o:o Z/snaaus
xics·/us ·/i (¡isrory ol Clincsc ficrion). Guo Zlcnyi lailcd T/. S.c s/
B.ar.t as ‘‘an cxrrcmcly rclrcsling prollcm novcl’’ rlar arracks rlc rradi-
rional marriagc sysrcm.
65
Ycr a lcss symparlcric criric. ycars larcr. would
dcnouncc rlc novcl as advocaring a conscrvarivc ‘‘lcudal undcrsranding
o:. Scc ¡i. Ln./cntm.nt cn! Di·.n./cntm.nt, ¡o8.
o|. Scc Wci Bingxin. ‘‘Xu’’ (¡rclacc) ro rlc ¡oio cdirion ol T/. S.c s/ B.ar.t (Slang-
lai. Slijic sluju). ¡–i.
os. Guo Zlcnyi. Z/snaaus xics·/us ·/i (¡isrory ol Clincsc ficrion) (Clangsla.
Commcrcial ¡rcss. ¡o:o). i.ssi.
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1lc Sca ol Fcgrcr 47
ol marriagc.’’
66
an asscssmcnr rlar ly and largc rcprcscnrcd rlc rlcn offi-
cial vicwol larc Qing and carly Fcpullican romanric ficrion. wlicl lascd
irscll on rlc May ¡ourrl rcjccrion ol rradirional lorms and valucs.
1lcsc sulscqucnr rcadings and rcrcadings ol rlc rcxr. likc all inrcr-
prcrivc cxcrciscs. rcvcal jusr as mucl alour rlc proccss and condirion
ol appropriaring ir as a rclcvanr momcnr ol lisrory. 1lc samc olscrva-
rion applics ro rlis look. lor wlicl rlc inrricarc rclarion lcrwccn rrauma
and passion lccomcs a ccnrral issuc. Morc dirccrly. conrinucd inrcrprc-
rarions rcsrily ro rlc paradigmaric amliguiry rlar T/. S.c s/ B.ar.t las
ar rlc lcginning ol rwcnricrl-ccnrury Clincsc lircrarurc. ¡n rcclaiming
rlc wriring ol a myrlical parlos and rcviralizing rlc discoursc ol pas-
sion. Wu Iianrcn morc rlan modcrnizcd rlc rradirion ol romanric fic-
rion and inaugurarcd a lircrary gcnrc rlar would flourisl in rlc lollowing
dccadcs. mosr norally in rlc popular romanccs ol rlc Mandarin Ðuck
and Burrcrfly sclool. ¡r is lis conccrn wirl rlc luman conscqucnccs
ol a lypcrsrimularing world. rarlcr rlan ‘‘a scvcrc wcakncss lor roman-
ric lovc srorics.’’
67
rlar cnriclcd and lumanizcd rlc ncw ficrion ol rlc
larc Qing pcriod. Againsr rlc grain ol rclormisr ficrion rlar srrovc lor
a ncw clcvaring masrcr narrarivc. T/. S.c s/ B.ar.t lcgan ro dclvc inro
a diffcrcnr rcalm. namcly. lcroic individual cloiccs in cvcryday lilc. ¡rs
psyclological rcalism rlar wavcrs. almosr dclilcrarcly. lcrwccn lagiog-
raply and parlograply is a ncccssary rlcrorical dcvicc ro lorl caprurc
rlc impacr ol a lisrorical rrauma and cxlorr rlc luman cfforrs ar lcal-
ing and ovcrcoming advcrsiry. ¡r lcads ro an anxicry-drivcn narrarivc rlar
is dccply amlivalcnr. nor rlc lcasr lccausc ir locuscs on rlc awakcn-
ing ol a scll-consciousncss rlar is lcmininc. wlicl in rlc conrcxr is cx-
prcsscd rlrougl a complcx discoursc ol passion rlar luscs virruc and
scxualiry. 1lc ‘‘rragic rlcmc’’ inrroduccd ly rlc novcl and. according ro
Ðolcžclova-\clingcrova. lorcsladowing many srorics ol modcrn Clincsc
lircrarurc. cclclrarcs rlc rriumpl ol luman passion rlar noncrlclcss rc-
sulrs in no grarilying. comic rcsolurion. Morc rlan a srory linc or rlcmc.
oo. Fcn ¡angqiu. Z/snaaus iin!ci m.nxu. cusiic /un (Issays on modcrn Clincsc
wrircrs) (Zlcngzlou. ¡cnan rcnmin. ¡o8|). i|o–o¡.
o¬. Scc ¡ink. Acn!crin Du./· cn! Butt.r//i.·, ¡|¬–|8. ¡crc. ¡ink lisrs Wu Iian-
rcn’s influcnrial romanccs as onc causc lor ‘‘rlc gradual dcgcncrarion ol rlc ncw fic-
rion’’ lrom ¡oos rlrougl ¡o¡s. 1lis proccss is dcscrilcd crirically as a rransirion ‘‘lrom
narion-luilding ro rimc-killing ro profir.’’
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48 C/in.·. As!.rn
rlc narrarivc prcscnrs a rragic consciousncss rlar will sarurarc modcrn ro-
manccs and disringuisl rlcm lrom mosr larc impcrial lovc srorics.
68
¡r is
ro lccomc a liglly symlolic narrarivc ro rlc cxrcnr rlar ir rcvcals lagiog-
raply and parlograply as rwo dccply conflicrual lur murually dcpcndcnr
opcrarions in rlc rcprcscnrarion ol Clincsc rcaliry in rlc rwcnricrl ccn-
rury. ¡or wlilc lagiograply may allow a scmllancc ol mcaning. parlog-
raply rcgisrcrs a visccral cxpcricncc rlar is only roo immcdiarc and ovcr-
wlclming. 1lis agonizing divcrgcncc lcrwccn mcaning and cxpcricncc
lcscrs many a scminal rcxr in rlc lody ol rwcnricrl-ccnrury Clincsc lir-
crarurc. Bcing onc sucl ccnrral narrarivc. T/. S.c s/ B.ar.t also lclongs
ro rlc rransirional momcnr ol ‘‘lcginning’’ insolar as ir rcworks a sccm-
ingly lamiliar plor and rcndcrs ir urrcrly indcrcrminarc. olrcn againsr rlc
aurlor’s pronounccd dcrcrminarion.
o8. ¡or a discussion ol rlc ‘‘rragic consciousncss’’ in carly Fcpullican romanccs. scc
Clcn Bolai and Yuan Iin. cds.. S/cna/ci iin!ci m.nxu. ·/i (¡isrory ol modcrn Slang-
lai lircrarurc) (Slanglai. Slanglai rcnmin. ¡oo:). :¬o–¬¬.
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2
¡u Xun’s ‘‘Ðiary ol a Madman’’ and
a Clincsc Modcrnism
¡irsr pullislcd in rlc scll-consciously avanr-gardc journal Xin ;inanicn
(Þcw yourl) in ¡o¡8. ‘‘Kuangrcn riji’’ (Ðiary ol a madman) almosr im-
mcdiarcly csrallislcd irs aurlor. ¡u Xun (¡88¡–¡o:o). as an cmllcmaric
wrircr ol rlc rlcn lurgconing Þcw Culrurc movcmcnr. and ir las sincc
gaincd rccognirion as a prororypical rcxr ol social prorcsr and criricism
in modcrn Clincsc lircrarurc. ¡r also las lccn widcly rcgardcd as rlc firsr
modcrn srory in rwcnricrl-ccnrury Clincsc lircrarurc.
1
1lc slorr srory.
as rlc rirlc promiscs. prcscnrs rlc lragmcnrcd and olrcn imaginarivc wrir-
ings ol a dcrangcd pcrsonaliry—a paranoiac wlo insisrs rlar all rlosc
around lim arc cirlcr disguiscd or unalaslcd cannilals. wairing ro prcy
on lim. 1lc scrring is a namclcss villagc communiry rlar appcars ro lc
scalcd off lrom rlc oursidc world. a milicu rypical ol mosr ol ¡u Xun’s
major srorics ycr ro lollow. ¡rom rlis suffocaring ‘‘iron lousc.’’ as ¡u Xun
would larcr claracrcrizc rlc opprcssivc rcaliry ol rradirional Clina. rlc
Madman lcrs our lis cry ol anguisl and dcfiancc. Ònc ol rlc carlicsr lircr-
ary works ro arricularc anrirradirionalismas a rcvolurionary crlos. ‘‘Ðiary
ol a Madman’’ providcd rlc Þcw Culrurc movcmcnr ol rlc May ¡ourrl
pcriod (¡o¡¬–i¬) nor only wirl a conccrrcd rlcmc lur also wirl a ncw
imagc and languagc.
1lc Þcw Culrurc movcmcnr. as a lar-rcacling inrcllccrual rcvolurion.
lad unmisrakallc aspirarions lor Wcsrcrn modcrniry—irs cxprcss idco-
logical symlols lcing scicncc and rcclnology. gcncral cnliglrcnmcnr.
rcvolurion. and dcmocracy. ‘‘Ðiary ol a Madman.’’ as my rcading in rlis
claprcr dcmonsrrarcs. is a modcrnisr rcxr rlar crirically undcrscorcs rlar
longing. Sucl a rcading ncccssarily clallcngcs rlc convcnrional undcr-
sranding ol ¡u Xun and incurs somc rlcorcrical difficulrics. ¡r sccms ro
pur an old-laslioncd and csscnrially Wcsrcrn lalcl on a kcy rcxr in rlc
¡. Scc. lor cxamplc. Wong Yoon Wal. ‘‘1lc ¡nflucncc ol Wcsrcrn ¡ircrarurc on
Clina’s ¡irsr Modcrn Srory.’’ in Wong. L··cv· sn C/in.·. Lit.rctur.. ³ Csmtcrctiv.
³ttrsc./ (Singaporc. Singaporc \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o88). si–oo.
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50 C/in.·. As!.rn
rwcnricrl-ccnrury Clincsc lircrary rradirion. rlus synccdoclically rcwrir-
ing rlar rradirion inro a dulious srory alour rcpcririon—a pracricc rlar
miglr cvcn lc suspccrcd ol sulscriling ro Wcsrcrn culrural lcgcmony.
¡n addirion. ly rlrowing a modcrnisr ovcrcoar on ¡u Xun. ir may appcar
ro lc anaclronisrically arrcmpring ro disrorr or rccasr a lisrorical rcaliry.
1o suggcsr a modcrnisr lcarurc in ¡u Xun. as a criric commcnrcd in ¡ooo.
would incvirally cnrail a rcconccprualizarion ol rlc coursc ol modcrn
Clincsc lircrarurc in rlc rwcnricrl ccnrury. sincc mucl lisroriograply
and inrcrprcrarion ol rlis rradirion dcpcnd on rcading ¡u Xun as a rcalisr
lounding larlcr.
2
A clarificarion sccms ro lc in ordcr ar rlc ourscr.
1lc Moriliry ol Clincsc Modcrnism
¡irsr ol all. rlc rcrmms!.rni·m, wlcn applicd ro a Clincsc rcxr. cannor lc
rakcn simply as a pcriodizing conccpr. ¡r slould nor lc lorccd ro suggcsr a
lacilc rcpcririon. in rlc lisroriograplical scnsc. ol Wcsrcrn modcrnism as
cirlcr a lircrary movcmcnr or a culrural cxpcricncc. Òn rlc conrrary. rlc
usc ol a culrurally spccific conccpr likc modcrnism in rlc Clincsc conrcxr
works nor so mucl ro dcsignarc an idcnrifiallc lisrorical momcnr as ro
liglliglr rlc alscncc ol ‘‘ligl modcrnism.’’ ol any figurc akin ro. lor in-
srancc. ¡rousr or Ioycc in rlc Iuropcan canon. Alrlougl irs dcnorarion
may vary considcrally lrom conrcxr ro conrcxr. modcrnism. in a gcncral
lisrory ol Wcsrcrn lircrarurc. dcscrilcs rlc lircrary movcmcnrs and pro-
ducrion rlar flourislcd in rlc sccond lall ol rlc nincrccnrl ccnrury and
rlc firsr quarrcr ol rlc rwcnricrl ccnrury. ¡n a conccnrrarcd lorm. ir ar-
ricularcs as wcll as inrcrrogarcs rlc Wcsrcrn cxpcricncc ol modcrniry. 1o
rcconsrrucr a Clincsc lircrary lisrory lascd on rlc samc parrcrn or ro im-
posc a modcrnisr sragc as an indispcnsallc carrc d’cnrrcc inro rlc modcrn
world would rcsulr in wlar Gayarri Spivak rlcorizcs as a ‘‘sulalrcrn cog-
nirivc lailurc.’’ Sucl a lailurc would srand as an cffccr ol rlc ‘‘cpisrcmic
violcncc’’ rlar. according ro Spivak. nor only lclps ro oljccrily a diffcrcnr
i. Clcn ¡angjing. ‘‘¡u Xun dc xiandai zluyi rczli. yigc lcnsliji Zlongguo wcn-
xuc miaoslu ying yu slcnlua dc lunri’’ (1lc modcrnisr lcarurc ol ¡u Xun. a ropic ro
lc pursucd in dcpicring Clincsc lircrarurc in rlis ccnrury). Lu Xun vcniiu vu./cn (¡u
Xun srudics monrlly) (Þovcmlcr ¡ooo). |¬–s¡. 1lis lricl arriclc no doulr rcflccrs a
ncw and imporranr dcvclopmcnr in rlc cnormous ¡u Xun sclolarslip rlar las lccn a
virrual srarc-run cnrcrprisc.
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‘‘Dicrv s/ c Ac!mcn’’ 51
orlcr lur also insrirurcs rlc lcgcmony ol a givcn lorm ol knowlcdgc.
3
1lis cpisrcmic violcncc ncccssarily accompanics an uncqual powcr rcla-
rion and lounds irs lcgirimizing idcology.
A casc in poinr is rlc modcrn Clincsc lircrary canon rlar. lor mosr
ol rlc rwcnricrl ccnrury. was slapcd rlrougl a lcgcmonic imposirion.
alrlougl lcrc a codificd rcalism rarlcr rlan modcrnism scrvcd as rlc
masrcr rropc. A sysrcmaric valorizarion ol rcalisric rcprcscnrarion lclpcd
srrcamlinc rlc lircrary producrion and crccr a crirical paradigm. 1lc lis-
rory ol ¡u Xun srudics up unril rlc ¡o8os alundanrly arrcsrs ro rlc lorcc
ol sucl idcological docrrinc. Òncc widcly acclaimcd as rlc ‘‘Clincsc
Gorky.’’ ¡u Xun was rcvcrcd in rlc ¡o:os and rlc carly ¡o8os alikc lor
lis ‘‘mosr clcarlcadcd rcalism.’’
4
Crirical rcalism is said ro lavc lridgcd
lis carly sragc ol rcvolurionary romanricism and lis larcr. morc marurc
pcriod ol socialism—a complcrc coursc ol rlc ¡cgclian ³u//./una rcrun
in rlc Clincsc ficld.
5
A mcaninglul rcpcririon ol rlc ‘‘progrcssivc’’ Wcsr-
crn cxpcricncc is rlus prcscrilcd in rclcological narrarivcs. Ivcn classical
Clincsc pocrs. sucl as ¡i Bai (¡i ¡o) and Ðu ¡u (1u ¡u). would lc ncarly
classificd as cirlcr romanric or rcalisric and paircd wirl rlcir Iuropcan
counrcrparrs.
1lc poinr. lowcvcr. is nor ro lamcnr rlc loss ol an indigcnous lan-
guagc. Alrlougl ir is rcmpring ro imaginc rlar rlis unspokcn languagc
could lavc lurnislcd Clincsc wrircrs wirl vindicrivc aurlcnriciry and in-
gcnuiry. narivism or olscuranrism offcrs only an inadcquarc answcr ro
rlc inclucrallc inrcracrion wirl Wcsrcrn modcrniry. Wlar wc as lircrary
:. Gayarri C. Spivak. ‘‘Sulalrcrn Srudics. Ðcconsrrucring ¡isroriograply.’’ in lcr
In Ot/.r Isr/!·. L··cv· in Cu/turc/ Ps/iti.· (Þcw York. Mcrlucn. ¡o8¬). ioi. ioo.
|. Scc. lor insrancc. Qu Qiulai. ‘‘¡u Xun zawcn xuan xu’’ (¡rclacc ro sclccrions ol
¡u Xun’s random rlouglrs cssays). collccrcd in ¡i Zongying and Zlang Mcngyang.
cds.. Liu·/i nicn/ci Lu Xun vcniiu /unm.n xucn (Sclccrcd cssays ol ¡u Xun srudics in
rlc pasr sixry ycars). i vols. (Bcijing. Zlongguo slclui kcxuc. ¡o8i). ¡.¡io–i¬, ¡iu
Ðajic. ‘‘¡u Xun yu xiansli zluyi’’ (¡u Xun and rcalism). in ¡i Zongying and Zlang
Mcngyang. S./..t.! L··cv·, ¡.¡oi–o8, Wang Yao. ‘‘¡u Xun sixiang dc yigc zlongyao
rcsc. qingxing dc xiansli zluyi’’ (An imporranr lcarurc ol ¡u Xun’s rlinking. clcar-
lcadcd rcalism). in B.iiina !cxu. Lu Xun !cn./.n vi/ci c/sunicn iinicn m.nii (Com-
mcmorarivc cssays lrom ¡cking \nivcrsiry on rlc ccnrcnary ol ¡u Xun’s lirrl). cd.
Wang Yao (Bcijing. ¡cking \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o8i). ¡–¡8.
s. Scc ¡i Zclou. ‘‘Iianlun ¡u Xun sixiang dc lazlan’’ (A lricl cssay on rlc dcvclop-
mcnr ol ¡u Xun’s rlouglr). in lis Z/snaaus iin!ci ·ixicna·/i /un (Issays on modcrn
Clincsc inrcllccrual lisrory) (1aipci. ¡cngyun slidai. ¡ooo). si¡–so.
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52 C/in.·. As!.rn
sclolars slould do insrcad is ro lisroricizc rlc languagc rlar lramcs our
undcrsranding and knowlcdgc. 1lc lorizon ol inrclligililiry. wlicl is nor
sraric ro lcgin wirl. slould irscll lc opcn ro inrcrprcrarion and lisror-
ical invcsrigarion. ¡or all rlc lircrary or nonlircrary rcrms wc usc and find
convcnicnr ro usc (r.c/i·m, rsmcnti.i·m, ·vm/s/i·m, ms!.rni·m, and cvcn
ts·tms!.rni·m) arc as mucl a disolcdicnr maclinc rlar rwisrs and mis-
sramps our cxpcricncc as a luncrioning rlcorcrical appararus rlrougl
wlicl acrual polirical. idcological conlronrarions on local and glolal
scalcs arc sragcd and playcd our.
1lcrclorc. cvoking modcrnism in our rcading ol ¡u Xun’s srory scrvcs
ar lcasr a dual purposc. ir calls inro qucsrion a dogmaric rcalisr appro-
priarion ol ¡u Xun rlar in lacr prcsupposcs a Iuroccnrric lisrorical para-
digm (alrlougl in rlc guisc ol a rcvolurionary idcology), and. in causing
rlc dominanr crirical paradigm ro slilr. ir may rcvcal aspccrs ol rlc rcxr
rlar will addrcss our prcscnr conccrns morc dirccrly. 1lis paradigmaric
slilr musr rakc placc on rwo rclarcd lcvcls. our undcrsranding ol Wcsr-
crn modcrnism irscll and our rcconsrrucrion ol modcrn Clincsc lircrary
lisrory.
Givcn rlar lircrary (or culrural) modcrnism is mosr likcly ro cmcrgc
ar a momcnr ol massivc and rapid modcrnizarion. ir lcsr cxprcsscs wlar
in ¡cgclian rcrms can lc claracrcrizcd as rlc ‘‘unlappy consciousncss’’
ol modcrniry. Modcrniry. olscrvcs Iurgcn ¡alcrmas. lascs irscll on rlc
idcalisr ‘‘principlc ol suljccriviry’’ rlar. as a lcgirimizing idcology ol rlc
rising lourgcoisic. is lisrorically insrirurionalizcd rlrougl rlc Fclorma-
rion. rlc Inliglrcnmcnr. and rlc ¡rcncl Fcvolurion. All ol rlcsc vio-
lcnr cxpcricnccs ol conccnrrarcd social clangc and disconrinuiry call lorrl
a modcrnisr ‘‘rimc-consciousncss.’’
6
wlcrcly rlc ‘‘lururc’’ or lisrorical
progrcss rurns inro a ccnrral valuc and aspirarion. Wirl sucl inrcnsificd
cxpcricncc ol cvolurionary rimc. a lundamcnral plilosoplical prollcm
lor a posr-Inliglrcnmcnr sccular socicry is rlcn rlc sccuring ol scll-
rcassurancc lor rlc cmanciparcd modcrn individual. Clallcngcd ly a
lilurcarion ol cxpcricncc sucl as pullic vcrsus privarc. or work vcrsus
plcasurc (wlicl ¡alcrmas rcrms rlc ‘‘crisis ol rlc dircmprion ol lilc’’).
7
modcrn suljccriviry consranrly las ro asscrr irs colcrcncc. and in scck-
o. Iurgcn ¡alcrmas. T/. P/i/s·st/i.c/ Di·.sur·. s/ As!.rnitv. Tm./v. L..tur.·, rrans.
¡rcdcrick ¡awrcncc (Camlridgc. M¡1 ¡rcss. ¡o8¬). ¡:.
¬. ¡lid.. i¡.
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‘‘Dicrv s/ c Ac!mcn’’ 53
ing scll-affirmarion ir posirs an orlcr rlar is ro lc rcgardcd and masrcrcd
as an oljccr. An aggrcssivc impulsc is rlcrclorc luilr inro modcrn scll-
consciousncss. ¡cncc. rlc colonial voyagc ro rlc ‘‘lcarr ol darkncss.’’ as
parr ol rlc Wcsrcrn cxpcricncc ol modcrniry. is incvirally also a journcy
ol scll-discovcry.
Ònly a dcpoliricizcd rcprcscnrarion ol modcrniry will cffacc rlis con-
srirurivc prcscncc ol rlc orlcr. Marci Calincscu. lor insrancc. dcpicrs onc
aspccr ol modcrniry as a scll-rclcrcnrial cxpcricncc ol rlc scll-ccnrcrcd
suljccr. 1lc loundarion ol modcrnisr culrurc is rlcrclorc allcgcdly lorgcd
ly an idcnriry ol rimc and scll.
8
Þor surprisingly. ro proposc a modcrn-
ism in a culrurc rlar las nor gonc rlrougl rlc Wcsrcrn srylc ol modcr-
niry and las in lacr luncrioncd as rlc orlcr ol rlis cxpcricncc (modcrn
Clincsc lisrory lcing a ricl documcnr ol painlul conlronrarions wirl a
lormidallc Wcsr). wc musr comc ro rcrms wirl a suljccr rlar is ncirlcr
rlc radically diffcrcnr orlcr ol rlc Wcsrcrn suljccr nor a simplc rcplica ol
rlc Wcsrcrn consciousncss. Wlar produccs and marks off rlis sulalrcrn
suljccr is. and can only lc. irs spccific lisrory—nor simply rlc lisrory
ol irs prc-Iuropcan cxpcricncc prcscrvcd in a collccrivc unconscious and
inscrilcd on all lcvcls ol irs prcscnr cxisrcncc. lur also a lisrory ol rc-
cciving rlc impcrialisr gazc. admiring rlc supcrnarural powcr ol indus-
rrial civilizarion. and finally ol looking lack ar and inrcracring wirl an
imposing orlcr. A modcrnism ol rlc sulalrcrn suljccr. rlcrclorc. is a lis-
rorical ncccssiry grown our ol rlis inrcracrivc cocxisrcncc rlar is markcd
ly a ‘‘nonsynclronous synclroniciry’’, rlc insurgcncc ol sucl a suljccr
las ro lc rccognizcd ly a rcmapping and rcimagining ol rlc imaginary
world spacc.
¡n rlis conrcxr ir is inrcrcsring ro rccall ¡rcdric Iamcson’s ¡o8o cssay
‘‘1lird-World ¡ircrarurc in rlc Ira ol Mulrinarional Capiralism.’’ Al-
rlougl lis rcading ol 1lird World lircrarurc as a narional allcgory ‘‘ol
rlc cmlarrlcd siruarion ol rlc pullic rlird-world culrurc and socicry’’
las provokcd widcsprcad crirical inrcrcsr and rcsponscs.
9
Iamcson sccms
8. Marci Calincscu. Fiv. Fc..· s/ As!.rnitv. As!.rni·m, ³vcnt-acr!., D..c!.n..,
Kit·./, Ps·tms!.rni·m (Ðurlam. Þ.C.. Ðukc \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o8¬). s. ¡or a morc
gcncral discussion ol rlis modcrn condirion. scc Iolanncs ¡alian. Tim. cn! t/. Ot/.r.
Hsm ³nt/rsts/sav Ac/.· It· O/i..t (Þcw York. Columlia \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o8:).
o. Scc ¡rcdric Iamcson. ‘‘1lird-World ¡ircrarurc in rlc Ira ol Mulrinarional Capi-
ralism.’’ Ss.ic/ T.xt ¡s (¡o8o). os–88. Aijaz Almad’s crirical rcsponsc ro Iamcson’s cssay
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54 C/in.·. As!.rn
ro mc jusrificd in arrcmpring ro lroacl rlc Wcsr’s draincd discoursc ol
suljccriviry ly inscrring a lircrary producrion rlar incorporarcs rlc cx-
plosivcly. rarlcr rlan implosivcly. polirical dimcnsion ol social lilc. 1lc
‘‘csscnrial opcrarion’’ lcrc. according ro Iamcson. is a lisroricizing ‘‘dil-
lcrcnriarion’’ rlar crcarcs a rcnsion lcrwccn a complaccnr Amcrican pul-
lic and a polirically and culrurally porcnr 1lird World rcxr. nor pcr-
mirring rlc onc ro consumc or sulordinarc rlc orlcr.
10
¡is allcgorical
rcading unscrrlcs rarlcr rlan grarifics a rcadcrslip accusromcd ro a rapid
rccycling ol laslions. nor rlc lcasr ol wlicl is polirics. ¡n rlis cssay. as wc
will scc slorrly. Iamcson also offcrs lrcsl insiglrs inro ¡u Xun’s ‘‘Ðiary
ol a Madman.’’
Similarly. consrrucring a Clincsc modcrnism las a morc local. rlougl
an cqually lar-rcacling. luncrion, ir lclps ro lring alour an cpisrcmologi-
cal lrcak and ro inrroducc clallcngc and crisis ro a lircrary canon lormcd
rlrougl a rigid official rcalism. Modcrnism appcars ro lc a lisrorically
dcrcrmincd cloicc againsr an ossificd and manipularivc rcalisr idcology.
¡or a quick ovcrvicw ol rlc Clincsc siruarion. wlcrc rlc lankruprcy ol
official rcalismwas rcflccrcd in irs srringcncy. wc can rurn ro Folcrr Kicly.
wlo visircd many Clincsc collcgcs and univcrsirics in rlc carly ¡o8os ro
lccrurc on conrcmporary Amcrican wrircrs. Fcflccring on lis rarlcr rcvc-
larory cxpcricncc. lc wrorc.
Bccausc ol rlc ccnsorslip ol Wcsrcrn lircrarurc sincc rlc ¡osos and rlc vir-
rual llack-our during rlc Culrural Fcvolurion (¡ooo–¬o). rlc grcarcsr curi-
osiry ¡ cncounrcrcd was alour lircrary rrcnds and movcmcnrs in rlc rwcnri-
crl ccnrury. ¡ soon lcarncd rlar rcrminology. including lircrary jargon. las
a disrincrivc flavor and polirical colorarion in Clina. 1crms likc ‘‘srrcams
ol consciousncss’’ or ‘‘romanric irony’’—looscly landicd alour in Amcri-
can classrooms—lad an cffccr comparallc ro ‘‘alorrion-on-dcmand’’ or
‘‘sclool praycr’’ in ccrrain parrs ol rlc \nircd Srarcs.
11
can lc rcad as a sysrcmaric cxprcssion ol rlc dissarislacrion wirl Iamcson’s allcgcdly
roralizing narrarivc. Aijaz Almad. ‘‘Iamcson’s Flcroric ol Òrlcrncss and rlc ‘Þarional
Allcgory.’ ’’ Ss.ic/ T.xt ¡¬ (¡o8¬). :–is. An alridgcd Clincsc rranslarion ol Iamcson’s
cssay appcarcd in Lu Xun Stu!i.· Asnt//v in April ¡oo:.
¡o. Iamcson. ‘‘1lird World ¡ircrarurc.’’ ¬¬.
¡¡. Folcrr Kicly. ‘‘ ‘¡crnicious.’ ‘¡cssimisric.’ and ‘¡orcign’. 1lc Conrrovcrsy Òvcr
¡ircrary Modcrnism in rlc ¡coplc’s Fcpullic ol Clina.’’ in Nst./ss/· in Cu/turc/
³nc/v·i·, cd. Þorman ¡. Canror cr al. (Ðurlam. Þ.C.. Ðukc \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o8s).
i¡o.
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‘‘Dicrv s/ c Ac!mcn’’ 55
Ònc ol rlc many rcrms rlar consisrcnrly arouscd inrcrcsr was ol coursc
ms!.rni·m, wlicl. lor Kicly’s audicncc. mcanr ‘‘mosr rwcnricrl-ccnrury
lircrary and arrisric innovarions. including rlosc now commonly rclcrrcd
ro ly Wcsrcrn crirics as ‘posrmodcrn.’ ’’
12
1lc siruarion rlar Kicly dcscrilcs prcvailcd in rlc carly ¡o8os. lur rlc
gcncral inrcrcsr in undcrsranding modcrnism pcrsisrcd and was mirrorcd
in acadcmic and inrcllccrual circlcs. ¡n Ðcccmlcr ¡o8¬. lor insrancc. an
inrcrnarional conlcrcncc on modcrnism and conrcmporary Clincsc lir-
crarurc was lcld in ¡ong Kong ro givc rccognirion as wcll as pulliciry ro
modcrnism in Clina and ro Clincsc modcrnisr pocrs and wrircrs. ¡apcrs
prcscnrcd ar rlc conlcrcncc corrolorarc Kicly’s olscrvarion. Fanging
lrom symlolism. cxprcssionism. and srrcams ol consciousncss ro rlc rlc-
arcr ol rlc alsurd. llack lumor. /. nsuv.cu rsmcn, and cvcn ¡arin Amcri-
ca’s magic rcalism. all rlc Wcsrcrn (or. rarlcr. nonnarivc) lircrary movc-
mcnrs rlar do nor claim ro lc rradirional (socialisr) rcalism lall inro
rlc carcgory ol modcrnism.
13
1lis sccmingly indiscriminarc classificarion
lorms a discursivc srrarcgy rlar was claracrcrisric ol rlc inrcllccrual cman-
ciparion during rlc mid-¡o8os. Modcrnism in rlc wakc ol rlc Culrural
Fcvolurion significd rlar wlicl lad lccn climinarcd and cxcludcd as
a dangcrous and sulvcrsivc lcrcrogcnciry. and irs appropriarion ncccs-
sarily signalcd a dcparrurc lrom. il nor a rclcllion againsr. rlc srrair-
jackcr ol rcalism. ¡n rlc Clincsc conrcxr. in orlcr words. modcrnism as
a gcncral lalcl. no marrcr low vaguc and unspccificd. was callcd upon
ro play rlc rcvolurionary rolc ol producing ncw cncrgics and imagin-
ings.
14
¡urrlcrmorc. modcrnism as an alsrracrion could scrvc conrradic-
¡i. ¡lid.. io8.
¡:. ¡or insrancc. in ‘‘Bclarcd Modcrnism and 1oday’s Clincsc ¡ircrarurc.’’ rlc inno-
varivc wrircr and playwriglr Gao Xingjian dcrailcd a lisrorical conrrovcrsy ovcr mod-
crnism rlar involvcd limscll. Xic Mian. a promincnr criric ol conrcmporary Clincsc
pocrry. uscd rlc rcrm ms!.rni·m ro dcnorc a pcriod in wlicl ncw conrcnr and ncw
lorms wcrc inrroduccd inro Clincsc pocrry. ¡n a srarisrically supporrcd cssay. ‘‘¡o¬8–
¡o8i. 1lc ¡nrroducrion ol Wcsrcrn Modcrnism inro Clina.’’ Clcn Silc providcd cm-
pirical dara on rlc modcrnism dclarc. ¡c. roo. mainraincd no disrincrion lcrwccn
modcrnism and orlcr lircrary sclools. sucl as rlc avanr-gardc.
¡|. ¡or a crirical rcasscssmcnr ol rlc lircrary and culrural inrcrcsr in modcrnism in
rlc wakc ol rlc Culrural Fcvolurion. scc Xudong Zlang. C/in.·. As!.rni·m in t/. Lrc
s/ B./srm·. Cu/turc/ F.v.r, ³vcnt-Gcr!. Fi.tisn, cn! t/. N.m C/in.·. Cin.mc (Ðurlam.
Þ.C.. Ðukc \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡oo¬). ¡ii–|i. 1lc ‘‘ncgarivc supplcmcnr’’ ol modcrn-
ism rlar Xudong Zlang dcscrilcs is disringuislcd lrom a lcrrcr-apprcciarcd ‘‘avanr-
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56 C/in.·. As!.rn
rory polirical nccds and inrcrcsrs, wlilc ir was promorcd as rlc opposirc
ol dogmaric rradirionalism. rlc idcological srarc appararus would also
vigilanrly rcsisr ir lor irs Wcsrcrn connorarion.
15
1lc insrirurionalizcd
dcnunciarion ol modcrnism—a simplificd ¡ukacsian dismissal ol mod-
crnisr Wcsrcrn lircrarurc as a symprom ol ‘‘morlid ccccnrriciry’’ and ol
rlc lourgcois suljccr’s inaliliry ro grasp rlc wlolc—luncrioncd in rlc
cnd ro mainrain an almosr cynical insrrumcnralizarion ol lircrary prac-
ricc. ¡rom rlc larc ¡o¬os ro rlc ¡ooos. cvcry organizcd arrack on modcrn-
ism lollowcd a paranoid rcjccrion ol so-callcd lourgcois lilcralizarion.
wlicl. incidcnrally. could rclcr arlirrarily ro anyrling lrom illcgal por-
nograply roWcsrcrn Marxism. By laloriously dclcring rlc norion ol sul-
jccriviry lrom lircrary producrion. official rcalism lclpcd ro rcprcss any
dcsirc cirlcr ro cross a givcn cpisrcmic loundary or ro rcprcscnr a lcrcro-
gcncous rcaliry. ¡n slorr. ir scr up a scll-consolidaring orlcr (rlc wrcrclcd
Wcsr) as lorl cvil and scapcgoar. As Marslall Bcrman olscrvcs on rlc
polirical significancc ol modcrnism in non-Wcsrcrn counrrics. wlar mosr
1lird World govcrnmcnrs and propagandisrs ‘‘arc projccring onro alicns.
and proliliring as ‘Wcsrcrn dccadcncc.’ is in lacr rlcir own pcoplc’s cncr-
gics and dcsircs and crirical spirir.’’
16
Againsr rlis lackground. ir lccomcs clcar rlar rlc moril ol modcrn-
ism. wlcrlcr cxprcsscd rlrougl rlcorcrical or lircrary pracriccs. is onc
ol many culrural srrarcgics lor radically rcimagining. cvcn rranslorming.
social organizarion and conrrol in an agrarian and aurlorirarian rradirion
(rlc rwo lcarurcs may lc logically linkcd). As parr ol rlc ongoing cul-
rural rcvolurion. rcinvokcd modcrnism musr inrroducc a ncw languagc.
gardc inrcrvcnrion.’’ lorl ol wlicl. noncrlclcss. sccm ro lclong ro rlc samc carcgory
ol ‘‘Clincsc modcrnism in rlc cra ol rclorms.’’
¡s. Ðuring rlc ¡o8os lorl xicn!ci c/uvi and xicn!ci tci would srand lor modcrn-
ism. lur xicn!ci tci olrcn lad a srrongcr connorarion ol a sclool or a scll-conscious
movcmcnr. 1lc opposirion lcrwccn xicn!ci tci and ./ucntsna tci was mainraincd
mainly ar rlc inirial sragc ol gcncral inrcrcsr in modcrnism. wlcn ./ucntsna tci srigma-
rizcd rlosc wlo wcrc conscrvarivc and rcsisranr ro clangc. ¡or an inrcrcsring arrcmpr
ro compromisc modcrnism wirl rlc csrallislcd ordcr. scc Xu Cli’s ¡o8i prcdicrion
rlar a Clincsc modcrnism would lc rlc narural offsloor ol a modcrnizcd counrry
and would incorporarc lorl rcvolurionary romanricism and rcvolurionary rcalism.
Xu Cli. ‘‘Xiandai lua yu xiandai zluyi’’ (Modcrnizarion and modcrnism). I.nvi /cs
(¡ircrary gazcrrc) (Þovcmlcr ¡o8i). o–o.
¡o. Marslall Bcrman. ³// T/ct I· Ss/i! A./t· ints ³ir. T/. Lxt.ri.n.. s/ As!.rnitv
(Þcw York. ¡cnguin. ¡o88). ¡is.
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‘‘Dicrv s/ c Ac!mcn’’ 57
a ncw modc ol rcxrual producrion and rcproducrion. ¡rs polirical impacr
is srill ro lc dcrivcd lrom an ‘‘acsrlcrics ol pcrccprual rcvolurion.’’
17
Wirl
rlis undcrsranding ol modcrnism. nor as a rranslisrorical rropc lur as
a mcraplor lor lisroricizing a culrural rranslormarion. wc will approacl
¡u Xun’s ‘‘Ðiary ol a Madman’’ as a modcrnisr rcxr. a disruprivc prcscncc
rlar clallcngcs rlc givcn languagc ol mcaning. ¡r is modcrnisr nor mcrcly
in irs ‘‘lircrary cffccr.’’ wlicl is comparallc ro rlar ol Wcsrcrn modcrnisr
lircrarurc. lur also in rlc pcculiar modcrnisr rimc-consciousncss rlar ir
inrroduccs. 1lc wlolc srory can indccd lc rcad as a manilcsro ol rlc lirrl
ol modcrn suljccriviry as wcll as ol a modcrnisr polirics in rwcnricrl-
ccnrury Clina.
1lc Madncss ol rlc Madman
1lc paranoid suljccr in ‘‘Ðiary ol a Madman.’’ rlc firsr-pcrson narraror ol
rlc main rcxr. suffcrs lrom a major mcnral dcrangcmcnr and srays virru-
ally imprisoncd in rlc lousc wlcrc lis rradirional cxrcndcd lamily livcs.
¡is diagnosis. as wcll as rlc diary irscll. is madc known ro rlc rcadcr
ly anorlcr narraror. prcsumally a wrircr. wlo claims ro lavc olraincd
rlc marcrial lrom rlc Madman’s lrorlcr. As a rcsulr. rlc diary cnrrics
arc prclaccd wirl cxplanarory rcmarks ly rlis wrircr-narraror. wlo ar rlc
lcginning inlorms rlc rcadcr alour rlc Madman’s illncss and cvcnrual
rccovcry.
¡n an carly arriclc alour ¡u Xun’s indclrcdncss ro modcrn lorcign
lircrarurc.
18
¡u Xun’s lrorlcr Zlou Zuorcn rranslarcs Þikolay Gogol’s
‘‘Ðiary ol a Madman’’ as ‘‘¡cngrcn riji’’ insrcad ol as ‘‘Kuangrcn riji.’’
wlicl larcr lccamc rlc srandard rranslarion. Alrlougl lorl /.nar.n and
¡¬. 1lis is low ¡rcdric Iamcson dcscrilcs rlc modcrnisr polirics. Scc lis ‘‘Fcflcc-
rions in Conclusion.’’ in ³.·t/.ti.· cn! Ps/iti.·. D./ct.· B.tm..n Lrn·t B/s./, G.sra Lu-
/a.·, B.rts/t Br../t, Ic/t.r B.nicmin, T/.s!sr ³!srns, cd. Fonald 1aylor (¡ondon.
Þ¡B. ¡o¬¬). i¡¡.
¡8. Zlou Zuorcn. ‘‘¡un ‘A Q zlcngzluan’ ’’ (Alour ‘‘1lc rruc srory ol Al Q’’). in
¡i Zongying and Zlang Mcngyang. S./..t.! L··cv·, ¡.o–¡:. ¡or morc comprclcnsivc
analyscs. scc Wcn Fumin. ‘‘Waiguo wcnxuc dui ¡u Xun ‘Kuangrcn riji’ dc yingxiang’’
(1lc influcncc ol lorcign lircrarurc on ¡u Xun’s ‘‘Ðiary ol a madman’’). Lu Xun vcniiu
(¡u Xun srudics) (¡o8:). 8.ioi–¡:. and Wong Yoon Wal. ‘‘1lc ¡nflucncc ol Wcsrcrn
¡ircrarurc on Clina’s ¡irsr Modcrn Srory.’’
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58 C/in.·. As!.rn
/ucnar.n lasically mcan ‘‘madman.’’ Zlou Zuorcn was olviously making
a poinr ol undcrscoring rlc diffcrcncc lcrwccn /.nar.n and rlc /ucnar.n
ol ¡u Xun’s ‘‘Kuangrcn riji.’’ ¡u Xun limscll was no lcss awarc ol rlc
scmanric diffcrcncc lcrwccn /ucna and /.na. ¡n lis yourllul cssay ‘‘Mo-
luo slili sluo’’ (Òn rlc powcr ol Mara pocrs) (¡oo¬). lc posrularcd /ucna
as a Þicrzsclcan scll-affirmarion rlar providcs an csscnrial rcgcncrarivc
cncrgy lor any rlriving civilizarion. 1lc word also claracrcrizcs ralcnrcd
individuals wlo conrcmpruously opposc rlcmsclvcs ro a sragnanr socicry
and wlosc acrions cxcccd rlc pullic’s comprclcnsion.
19
Irymologically. /ucna dcscrilcs a lound gonc wild rlar assaulrs. wirl-
our disringuisling rlcm. irs masrcr and irs masrcr’s gucsrs. Òn rlc lasis
ol rlis significarion. /ucna las acquircd ovcr rimc a ricl rcxrurc ol mcan-
ings. including ‘‘madncss.’’ ‘‘rlc ccsraric.’’ and ‘‘a wildly unrcsrraincd pcr-
son.’’
20
As an adjccrivc—a usagc rlar darcs lack ro rlc S/i iina (1lc
look ol songs. clcvcnrl ro sixrl ccnrurics v.c.)—/ucna is cquivalcnr ro
‘‘unrcsrraincdly ourgoing. wildly dcfianr.’’ ¡n Conlucius’s ³nc/..t·, ir also
occurs as a vcrl mcaning ro progrcss or aggrcss. F.na, an idcogramic
word ol mucl morc rcccnr origin. was inirially a parlological rcrm dc-
noring rlc mad. rlc ncuroric. rlc inscnsillc. or rlc slccrly srupid, irs rwo
compounding parrs rcll ol a scvcrc migrainc arracking a pcrson rapidly
and mysrcriously likc a gusring wind. Kucna is rlc arclcrypal mcraplor
lor an cxplosivc ccsrasy (cx-srasis). a jumping off rlc riglr rrack. a rrans-
grcssivc crossing ol rlc loundary—in slorr. a rcrurn ro rlc primal or
insrincrual drivc. ¡r caprurcs. ro a ccrrain cxrcnr. rlc inncr cxpcricncc ol
rlc alrcriry ol rcason. ol wlar las ro lc rcprcsscd and marginalizcd as
irrarional, ir acknowlcdgcs rlc dccp disconrcnrs rlar a civilizarion ncccs-
sarily lrccds. ¡n conrrasr. /.na rcgisrcrs lorl an cxrcrnalizcd. disrancing
knowlcdgc ol madncss and a simulrancous conrainmcnr ol rlc cruprivc
lorccs rlrougl classificarion and carcgorizarion. il nor. indccd. dismissal.
¡n rlc rcxr ol ¡u Xun’s ‘‘Ðiary ol a Madman.’’ rlis scmanric diffcrcncc
is lully cxplorcd. 1lc Madman is acurcly awarc rlar lc is markcd ly rlc
word /.na, and in rirling lis diary ‘‘Kuangrcn riji’’ (so rlc wrircr-narraror
¡o. Scc ¡u Xun. ‘‘Moluo slili sluo.’’ in Lu Xun ;ucnii (1lc complcrc works ol ¡u
Xun) (Bcijing. Fcnmin wcnxuc. ¡o8¡). ¡.s¬, also scc a discussion in William A. ¡ycll.
Lu H·un’· Ii·isn s/ B.c/itv (Bcrkclcy. \nivcrsiry ol Calilornia ¡rcss. ¡o¬o). o¡–oi.
io. Scc Z/snac/.na xinavi csna/. !c ci!icn (Zlongzlcng comprclcnsivc lcxicogra-
plical dicrionary). srl cd. (1aipci. Zlongzlcng. ¡o8|). ooss. ¡o¬o. lor dcrailcd crymo-
logical and scmanric inrcrprcrarions lor /ucna and /.na.
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‘‘Dicrv s/ c Ac!mcn’’ 59
rclls us in rlc prclacc). lc may wcll lc raking a final srand againsr rlc
suffocaringly normarivc rcaliry in wlicl lis lrorlcr and rlc villagcrs call
lim orlcrwisc.
21
‘‘ ‘Gcr our ol lcrc. all ol you!’ lc roarcd. ‘Wlar’s rlc
poinr ol looking ar a madman [ /.naci |·’ 1lcn ¡ rcalizcd parr ol rlcir cun-
ning . . . rlcy lad lalcllcd mc a madman [ /.naci |. ¡n rlc lururc wlcn ¡
was carcn. nor only would rlcrc lc no rroullc lur pcoplc would prol-
ally lc grarclul ro rlcm’’ (¡¡).
1lc ccsraric /ucna ol rlc Madman lclongs. il wc rclusc ro rcgard ir
as clinical insaniry. ro wlar Miclcl ¡oucaulr dcscrilcs as rlc lascinaring
ycr ‘‘rragic cxpcricncc ol madncss in a crirical consciousncss.’’
22
Kucna,
unlikc /.na, is nor an aplasic alscncc ol significarion lur. on rlc con-
rrary. a discursivc cncrgy rlar cruprs and inrcrruprs rlc normal and nor-
malizing sysrcm ol mcaning. 1lis cruprion musr ncccssarily dissolvc ‘‘rlc
firsr social ccnsorslip—rlc lar lcrwccn significr and significd’’—ro lrcak
down rlc socially insrirurcd symlolic ordcr and kccp rlc signilying pro-
ccss a morilc onc.
23
By dcfinirion. rlcn. /ucna srands as a radical slilr in
rlc producrion ol mcaning lrom rlc clain ol rlc significd ro rlc molilc
clain ol rlc significr. ¡n orlcr words. /ucna swirclcs rlc wlolc qucsrion
lrom m/ct rcaliry is ro /sm rcaliry is consrrucrcd and rcprcscnrcd rlrougl
various sociosymlolic pracriccs. nor rlc lcasr ol wlicl arc our linguisric
convcnrions. 1lis cpisrcmological lrcak is prcciscly wlar rakcs placc in
rlc mind ol ¡u Xun’s Madman. ¡is /ucna indicarcs a rcrurn ol rlar wlicl
las lccn supprcsscd or crascd lrom rlc lorizon ol allowcd or concciv-
allc cxpcricncc. ¡r rcprcscnrs a rransgrcssivc discoursc nor only lccausc
ir goads rlc scll-conscious suljccr ro clallcngc rlc givcn loundarics lur
also lccausc ir drivcs rlc suljccr limscll ro all rlc limirs. all rlc lronricrs.
ol cxpcricncc.
¡rcdicrally. in rlc mainsrrcam lircrary discoursc rlar alsolurizcs rcalis-
i¡. 1lc Inglisl rranslarion ¡ usc lcrc is rlar ly Gladys Yang. Si/.nt C/inc. S./..t.!
Iritina· s/ Lu Xun (¡ondon. Òxlord \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o¬:). ¡–¡:. Þoncrlclcss. ¡
occasionally rakc rlc lilcrry ol alrcring lcr rranslarion ro makc ir morc lircral and ligl-
liglr aspccrs ol rlc rcxr rlar ¡ am morc inrcrcsrcd in. ¡ also lavc consulrcd William A.
¡ycll’s rranslarion in Lu Xun. ‘‘Dicrv s/ c Ac!mcn’’ cn! Ot/.r Stsri.·, rrans. William A.
¡ycll (¡onolulu. \nivcrsiry ol ¡awaii ¡rcss. ¡ooo). io–|¡.
ii. Miclcl ¡oucaulr. Ac!n.·· cn! Civi/icctisn. ³ Hi·tsrv s/ In·cnitv in t/. ³a. s/
B.c·sn, rrans. Ficlard ¡oward (Þcw York. \inragc. ¡o¬:). i8.
i:. Iulia Krisrcva. ‘‘Fcvolurion in ¡ocric ¡anguagc.’’ in T/. Kri·t.vc B.c!.r, cd. 1oril
Moi (Þcw York. Columlia \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o8o). ¡¡:.
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60 C/in.·. As!.rn
ric rcprcscnrarion lor irs prcsumcd social cfficacy. pcdagogical valuc. and
mass appcal. mucl land-wringing and lcadaclc arc causcd lccausc ol
irs inlcrcnr inaliliry ro rakc inro lull accounr rlc rransgrcssivc lorcc ol
/ucna. A lricl cxaminarion ol srarc-sponsorcd ¡u Xun srudics unril rlc
carly ¡o8os (cpiromizcd in ¡i Zongying and Zlang Mcngyang. cds.. S./..-
tisn· s/ Lu Xun Stu!i.· L··cv· /rsm t/. Pc·t Sixtv T.cr·) rcvcals a conrinuous
arrcmpr ro rrimrlc wrircr. posrlumously. inro a modcl rcalisr.
24
Sincc rlc
carly ¡o|os. sclolars lavc puzzlcd ovcr onrorlcological qucsrions alour
rlc idcnriry and class alliancc ol ¡u Xun’s Madman. ¡s lc a clcarlcadcd.
inrclligcnr. lur undcrsrandally pcrsccurcd rcvolurionary againsr lcudal-
ism. or is lc mcrcly a madman wlo lappcns ro lc ¡u Xun’s mourlpiccc·
Òpinions diffcr grcarly—somcrimcs rlcy cvcn sccm irrcconcilallc—lur
rlc conscnsus lolds rlar rlc Madman is dcpicrcd rcalisrically ro cxposc
lcudalism as larlaric cannilalism in narurc. Alrcr lricfly rcvicwing rlc
raging dclarc ovcr rlc Madman’s idcnriry. onc criric conclusivcly lormu-
larcd rlc ccnrral issucs. ‘‘1wo qucsrions arc in cffccr raiscd. (¡) ¡s rlc
figurc ol Madman crcarcd in ‘Ðiary ol a Madman’ a rcflccrion ol rcal lilc·
(i) ¡ow docs ir rcflccr rcal lilc·’’
25
Òlviously. rlcsc rwo qucsrions arc
ulrimarcly rlc samc onc and prcsupposc only onc posirivc answcr. 1lc
wlolc inrcrprcrivc cnrcrprisc lails ro cscapc a dccply cnrrcnclcd lcrmc-
ncuric rradirion undcrlying rlc rlcroric ol rcalism. wlicl—larloring in
irscll a rigid dicloromy lcrwccn rcaliry and rcflccrion or. rarlcr. lcrwccn
rcason and madncss—dcnics madncss any acccss ro rrurl or significarion.
¡ollowing rlis logic. rlc Madman is allc ro rcvcal rlc rrurl only wlcn
lc rakcs a rcccss lrom lis madncss. and lis cxpcricncc makcs scnsc only
wlcn ir is rransccndcd and clcvarcd onro an allcgorical lcvcl.
Wlar is rcally ar srakc gocs lack ro rlc lasic idcological assumprion
i|. ¡or a morc rcccnr rcvicw ol rlis sclolarly rradirion. scc Wang ¡urcn. Z/snaaus
Lu Xun vcniiu !. /i·/i vu xicnc/ucna (1lc lisrory and prcscnr condirion ol ¡u Xun
srudics in Clina). scrializcd in Lu Xun Stu!i.· Asnt//v, nos. ¡–¡¡ (¡oo|).
is. Ðcng Yiqun. ‘‘ ‘Kuangrcn riji’ zlong kuangrcn xingxiang cluangzao dc yislu
rczlcng’’ (Somc arrisric lcarurcs in rlc crcarion ol rlc figurc ol rlc madman in ‘‘Ðiary
ol a madman’’). collccrcd in Lu Xun vcniiu ci/ics (Fcscarcl marcrials in ¡u Xun
srudics). i vols.. cd. ¡u Xun Srudics ¡rogram ar rlc Bcijing ¡u Xun Muscum (1ian-
jin. 1ianjin rcnmin. ¡o8o). ¡. io¡. ¡or a rcvicw ol rlc discussion lrom rlc carly ¡osos
ro rlc ¡o8os ol rlc class idcnriry ol rlc Madman. scc ¡iu ¡uyou. ‘‘ ‘Kuangrcn riji’ yan-
jiu gaislu’’ (Gcncral survcy ol rlc rcscarcl on ‘‘Ðiary ol a madman’’). Lu Xun Stu!i.·
(¡o8|). s.o8–8o.
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‘‘Dicrv s/ c Ac!mcn’’ 61
rlar ‘‘¡u Xun picrurcs. in a liglly rcalisric manncr. rlc csscncc ol a lcu-
dalisr social sysrcm and rcvcals lcudal moral riruals and rcaclings ro lc
cannilalisric.’’
26
1lis dcfinirivc cvaluarion ol ¡u Xun as a rcvolurionary
rcalisr camc in rlc larc ¡osos as rlc summir ol a rwcnry-ycar campaign
ro makc lim scrviccallc ro rlc ncw Communisr rcgimc. 1lc gcncral
sociological paradigm lor ¡u Xun srudics rlar was rlcn scr up cvcnru-
ally sprcad ro dominarc nor only rlis parricular suljccr lur also rlc cnrirc
ficld ol modcrn Clincsc lircrarurc srudics in Clina. ¡ndccd. unril rlc mid-
¡o8os. lircrary criricism and lisrory. ar lcasr in rlcir pullic and pullisl-
allc vcrsions. wcrc mosrly consrraincd ly rlc sociologically rcducrivc and
cpisrcmologically crippling principlc ol unrcflccrivc and unmcdiarcd rcal-
ism. 1lc logic ol rransparcncy implicd ly rlis casrrarcd rcalism dcmands
rlar all social pracriccs lc suljugarcd ro onc ccnrcr. or ro rlc ‘‘cardinal
conrradicrion’’ ol class srrugglc. and all rcprcscnrarions lairllully mirror
a known rcaliry. ¡ndccd. wc scc lcrc an almosr classic casc ol alusing
rlc rcalisr principlc ol commirmcnr ro lcgirimizc a ‘‘vulgar Marxisr prac-
ricc ol rcducing claracrcrs ro mcrc allcgorics ol social lorccs. ol rurning
‘rypical’ claracrcrs inro mcrc symlols ol class.’’
27
¡r is ar rlis poinr rlar
wc conlronr rlc conccprual inadcquacy ol an uncrirical rcalism in dcaling
wirl a rcxr likc ‘‘Ðiary ol a Madman.’’ By slilring rlc crirical locus lrom
a supposcdly cxrracrallc conrcnr ro rlc mulrilaycrcd rcxrurc ol languagc
and lorm. wc conlronr oncc again rlc samc qucsrion rlar launrs ¡u Xun’s
Madman in a morc inrcnsc way. namcly. lowa rcprcscnrarion ncccssarily
consrrucrs a rcaliry rlar ir rclcrs ro and ar rlc samc rimc lclics. Wirl rlis
pcrspccrival clangc. rlc lisroriciry ol rlc lircrary rcxr irscll may cmcrgc
as a lcgirimarc oljccr ol invcsrigarion. and rlc rclarionslip lcrwccn lir-
crary arricularion and irs lisrorical cmlcddcdncss dcmands mucl morc
inrimarc and carclul rcconsrrucrion. ¡n Iamcson’s words. rlc ‘‘a priori lis-
rorical or idcological ·u/t.xt,’’ insrcad ol a mc·t.rt.xt, ‘‘is nor immcdiarcly
prcscnr as sucl. nor somc common-scnsc cxrcrnal rcaliry. nor cvcn rlc
convcnrional narrarivc ol lisrory manuals. lur rarlcr musr irscll always
io. Wang Sliqing. Lu Xun c/ucn (Biograply ol ¡u Xun) (Bcijing. Zlongguo qing-
nian. ¡oso). 88. An Inglisl rranslarion ol rlis scvcrcly darcd liograply ol ¡u Xun
camc our. lclarcdly. in ¡o8| as Lu Xun. ³ Bisarct/v, rrans. Zlang ¡ciji (Bcijing. ¡or-
cign ¡anguagcs ¡rcss).
i¬. ¡rcdric F. Iamcson. Acrxi·m cn! Fsrm. Tm.nti.t/-C.nturv Dic/..ti.c/ T/.sri.·
s/ Lit.rctur. (¡rinccron. Þ.I.. ¡rinccron \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o¬¡). ¡o:.
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62 C/in.·. As!.rn
lc (rc)consrrucrcd alrcr rlc lacr.’’
28
Òl sucl a sulrcxr rlc lircrary rcxr
srands as ‘‘rlc rcwriring or rcsrrucrurarion.’’ and ir is olrcn rlrougl sucl
rcwriring rlar a wrircr may arrivc ar an imaginary rcsolurion ol a rcal
conrradicrion.
Fcducrivc lircrary criricism as an insrirurion. lowcvcr. las lccn on rlc
dcclinc sincc rlc ¡o8os. rlanks ro a pcrsisrcnr. alrlougl consranrly inrcr-
ruprcd. movcmcnr roward morc crcarivc rlinking. A ncw gcncrarion ol
crirics and wrircrs conrcndcd rlar a dirccr suljugarion ol lircrarurc ro
polirical insrrumcnralizarion lcads incvirally ro a lailurc ro rcspccr lircra-
rurc as a disrincr social discursivc praxis wirl irs own logic and lisrorical
dcrcrminarions. 1ogcrlcr wirl rlis awarcncss surlaccd widcsprcad inrcr-
csr in rlc rlcroric ol rlc auronomy ol lircrarurc. in lormalism. and in rlc
rcxrual analysis ol Þcw Criricism. 1lis apparcnr dcpoliricizarion ol lircr-
ary srudics paradoxically sulvcrrcd rlc cnrrcnclcd polirical rradirion ol
rcducing rlc individual ro a lacclcss luncrionary in a rcvolurionary causc.
¡r was an cxrcnsion ol wlar \aclav ¡avcl oncc callcd ‘‘anripolirical poli-
rics’’ in a roralirarian sysrcm. 1lc crirical urgc ro rcad a pocm firsr as a
pocm. rlcrclorc. lad rlc samc implicarion and lorcc as did rlc dcmand
ro rrcar a luman lcing firsr as a luman lcing. 1lc polirical pcrrincncc ol
sucl lircrary plcnomcna as rlc ‘‘misry pocrry’’ ol rlc carly ¡o8os and rlc
dclarc alour ‘‘suljccriviry in lircrarurc’’ a lcw ycars larcr can lc parrially
mcasurcd ly rlc lurious rcsponsc ir provokcd lrom rlc olcsc idcologi-
cal srarc appararus. 1lc olrcn vaguc. unnamallc. and ycr cnduring dcsirc
ro go lcyond rlc imaginary projccrion ol a diffcrcnr rimc and spacc is
dccply disruprivc ro a liglly licrarclizcd conrrol ovcr socicry. ¡r is nor
surprising. rlcrclorc. ro scc ¡u Xun’s ‘‘Ðiary ol a Madman’’ conrinually
rcvisircd ly sclolars. and rlc cvolving approaclcs ro rlc srory rlcmsclvcs
lorm a mini-lisrory ol paradigm slilrs and ncgoriarions.
29
¡nrcnsc arrcn-
i8. ¡rcdric F. Iamcson. T/. Ps/iti.c/ Un.sn·.isu·. Ncrrctiv. c· c Ss.ic//v Svm/s/i. ³.t
(¡rlaca. Þ.Y.. Corncll \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o8¡). 8¡.
io. 1lc lollowing is an incomplcrc lisr ol pullislcd cssays on various aspccrs ol
‘‘Ðiary ol a Madman’’ lcrwccn ¡o¬8 and ¡oos. Ivcn a cursory rcading ol rlcsc cssays
will slow rlc diffcrcnr crirical mcrlods ar work. Yan Iiayan. ‘‘ ‘Kuangrcn riji’ dc sixiang
yu yislu’’ (1lc rlouglr and arr in ‘‘Ðiary ol a madman’’) (¡o¬8). collccrcd in ¡i Zong-
ying and Zlang Mcngyang. S./..t.! L··cv·, i.|||–so, Gong ¡angu. ‘‘¡un ‘Kuangrcn
riji’ ’’ (Òn ‘‘Ðiary ol a madman’’). I.nxu. tina/un (¡ircrary rcvicw) (¡o8o). :.8s–o:,
Zlang ¡uircn. ‘‘Yu lijic ‘Kuangrcn’ xingxiang youguan dc lianggc wcnri’’ (1wo issucs
rclarcd ro undcrsranding rlc figurc ol rlc madman). I.nxu. tina/un .sna/cn (Col-
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‘‘Dicrv s/ c Ac!mcn’’ 63
rion ro ‘‘Ðiary ol a Madman’’ suggcsrs rlar ar rlc lcginning ol modcrn
Clincsc lircrarurc srands an cnigmaric rcxr rlar dramarizcs rlc conflicrs
lcrwccn conlormiry and individualiry. lcrwccn docrrinc and inrcrprcra-
rion. 1o rcrurn ro rlis rcxr and conlronr rlc Madman’s /ucna mcans ro
undcrrakc rlc difficulr rask ol rcclaiming a radical rradirion ol rransgrcs-
sivc polirics.
lccrcd pullicarions ol lircrary rcvicw) (¡o8i). ¡¡.:oo–ii, Yan ¡uandong. ‘‘Kuang-
rcn yu ‘Kuangrcn riji’ xinlun’’ (1lc madman and a ncw cssay on ‘‘Ðiary ol a mad-
man’’). I.nxu. /unii (Collccrcd cssays on lircrarurc) (¡o8:). o.¡¬o–o¡, Gao Songnian.
‘‘Guanyu kuangrcn dc xingxiang ji qi cluangzao’’ (Alour rlc figurc ol rlc madman
and irs crcarion). collccrcd in Lu Xun vcniiu /unm.n xucn (Sclccrcd cssays lrom ¡u Xun
srudics). cd. Zlcjiang ¡u Xun Srudics Socicry (¡angzlou. Zlcjiang wcnyi. ¡o8:).
i8o–:oo, ¡i Ðanclu. ‘‘¡un ‘Kuangrcn riji’ dc xinli miaoxic’’ (Òn rlc psyclological dc-
scriprion in ‘‘Ðiary ol a madman’’). Lu Xun Stu!i.· (¡o8:). o.¡¡o–:o, Sun ¡ao. ‘‘Cong
kuangrcn xingxiang sluoqi’’ (Bcginning wirl rlc figurc ol rlc madman). I.nxu. /un-
.sna (Iournal ol lircrary cssays) (¡o8|). i.¡:i–||, Wang Ðclin. ‘‘Kuangrcn xingxiang
xinran’’ (Þcw approacl ro rlc figurc ol rlc madman). Lu Xun Stu!i.· (¡o8|). :.8o–
8o, ¡cng Ðingan. ‘‘ ‘Kuangrcn jiazu’ clanslcng dc zluguan suzli yu wcnxuc. mcixuc
yiyi’’ (1lc suljccrivc clcmcnrs ol rlc crcarion ol a ‘‘lamily ol madmcn’’ and irs lircr-
ary and acsrlcric significancc). Lu Xun Stu!i.· (¡o8s). o.¡¡i–io, ¡u Gc. ‘‘ ‘Kuangrcn
riji’ cluangzuo langla xinlun’’ (Þcw cssay on rlc crcarivc mcrlod ol ‘‘Ðiary ol a mad-
man’’). Lu Xun Stu!i.· (¡o8¬). ¡¡.8o–¡oo, Wang Claolua and Xu Xiaocun. ‘‘¡un
‘Kuangrcn riji’ dc yislu rcsc’’ (Òn rlc arrisric innovarion ol ‘‘Ðiary ol a madman’’). Lu
Xun Stu!i.· (¡o88). ¡:.i¬s–o¡, Wang ¡urcn. ‘‘ ‘Kuangrcn riji’ xidu’’ (A closc rcading
ol ‘‘Ðiary ol a madman’’). Lu Xun vcniiu nicn/cn (¡u Xun srudics annual) (¡oo¡–
oi). ios–8s, ¡ing Yu. ‘‘ ‘Kuangrcn riji’ rcnwu xingxiang yu zluri dc slcngclcng jizli’’
(1lc gcncrarivc mcclanism ol rlc claracrcr and rlcmc ol ‘‘Ðiary ol a madman’’). Lu
Xun Stu!i.· Asnt//v (Þovcmlcr ¡ooi). i|–io, Sli Clcnglang. ‘‘ ‘Iingguan wanxiang.
rilui yiqic’. ‘Kuangrcn riji’ dc slijian lianma’’ (‘‘Òlscrvc rlc univcrsc quicrly and
undcrsrand cvcryrling’’. 1lc coding ol rimc in ‘‘Ðiary ol a madman’’). Lu Xun Stu!i.·
Asnt//v (Marcl ¡oo:). ¡i–¡o, Xuc Yi and Qian ¡iqun. ‘‘ ‘Kuangrcn riji’ xidu’’ (A closc
rcading ol ‘‘Ðiary ol a madman’’). Lu Xun Stu!i.· Asnt//v (Þovcmlcr ¡oo|). ¡:–i¡,
Qian Zlcn’gang. ‘‘¡un ‘Kuangrcn riji’ zlong kuangrcn gousi dc yislu gongncng’’ (Òn
rlc arrisric luncrion ol rlc crcarion ol rlc madman in ‘‘Ðiary ol a madman’’). Lu Xun
Stu!i.· Asnt//v (Ðcccmlcr ¡oos). is–:o.
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64 C/in.·. As!.rn
Fcading Bcrwccn rlc ¡incs
1lc ccnrral as wcll as rlc canonical passagc in ‘‘Ðiary ol a Madman’’ is no
lcss rlan a sccnc ol rcading, ir is alour a scarcl lor mcaning. a rcorgani-
zarion ol social spacc. and. indccd. a rcwriring ol lisrory.
30
Ivcryrling rcquircs carclul considcrarion il onc is ro undcrsrand ir. ¡n an-
cicnr rimcs. as ¡ rccollccr. pcoplc olrcn arc luman lcings. lur ¡ am rarlcr
lazy alour ir. ¡ rricd ro look rlis up in lisrory. lur my lisrory las no
clronology and scrawlcd all ovcr cacl pagc arc rlc words. ‘‘\irruc and
Moraliry.’’ Sincc ¡ could nor slccp anyway. ¡ rcad inrcnrly lall rlc niglr
unril ¡ lcgan ro scc words lcrwccn rlc lincs. 1lc wlolc look was fillcd
wirl rwo words—‘‘Iar lumans.’’ (o)
¡n claracrcrizing rlc cnd ol lincar wriring accompanicd ly rlc cmcrgcncc
ol a pluridimcnsionaliry and a dclincarizcd rcmporaliry. Iacqucs Ðcrrida
wrircs rlar ‘‘ir is lcss a qucsrion ol confiding ncw wrirings ro rlc cnvcl-
opc ol a look rlan ol finally rcading wlar wrorc irscll lcrwccn rlc lincs
in rlc volumcs.’’
31
A Ðcrridcan rcxrual ‘‘gralring.’’ or a Þicrzsclcan gcnc-
alogical rracing rlrougl crymology. opcns a rcxr ro diffcrcncc and unrc-
lcnringly undcrmincs rlc plcnirudc rlar a sacrcd look supposcdly cnjoys.
1lc Madman’s rcading is prcciscly sucl a rranslormarion ol a givcn rcxr
ro lring lorrl anorlcr rcxr wirlin ir. alrcady inscrilcd. ycr ollircrarcd.
1lc rwo words rlar surlacc lcrc in a surrcalisric laslion arc rlc ourcomc
ol a violcnr movcmcnr ol !iff.rcn.., only a rcprcssion or sulordinarion ol
wlicl could sccurc in rlc firsr placc ‘‘rlc prcscncc ol a valuc or a m.cnina
supposcdly anrcccdcnr ro !iff.rcn.., morc original rlan ir. cxcccding and
govcrning ir in rlc lasr analysis.’’
32
:o. ¡n rlc passagc rlar lollows. rlc Clincsc claracrcr rlar ¡ rranslarc as ‘‘lumans’’
in placc ol rlc ‘‘pcoplc’’ in Gladys Yang’s rranslarion is r.n, wlicl usually mcans rlc
luman spccics in gcncral. By rcplacing ‘‘Iar pcoplc’’ wirl ‘‘Iar lumans’’—rlar is. ly
using a plural lorm rlar suggcsrs pcrsons rarlcr rlan a mass—¡ wanr ro cmplasizc nor
only rlar rlc Madman is conrrasring lumankind wirl orlcr crcarurcs. lur rlar lc is
alrcady awarc ol rlc modcrn suljccr as an auronomous individual. ¡ycll also rranslarcs
rlc plrasc in qucsrion as ‘‘Iar pcoplc.’’ Scc ¡ycll. Lu Xun, :i.
:¡. Iacqucs Ðcrrida. O/ Grcmmcts/sav, rrans. Gayarri C. Spivak (Balrimorc. Iolns
¡opkins \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o¬|). 8o.
:i. Iacqucs Ðcrrida. Ps·itisn·, rrans. Alan Bass (Clicago. \nivcrsiry ol Clicago
¡rcss. ¡o8¡). io.
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‘‘Dicrv s/ c Ac!mcn’’ 65
¡n rlc Madman’s inrcnsc rcading. a lisrory wirlour clronology—rlar
is. rlc scll-cvidcnr look ol roraliry—is carclully pcruscd. dccodcd. dis-
manrlcd. and rlcrcly lorccd ro undcrgo an irrcvcrsillc proccss ol rcxru-
alizarion. An cnrirc rcxrual rradirion. as onc criric purs ir. is rcjccrcd.
33
¡rom rlis almosr violcnr rcading. a ncw rcxr cmcrgcs. onc lorl lisrori-
cal and lisroricizing. 1lc Madman scrs our ro consulr lisrory wirl rlc
lopc ol olraining an answcr ro lis prcscnr conccrn. ¡c wanrs ro rcacl
our and grasp somc ccrrainry alour rlc mcaning and purposc—in slorr.
rlc rarionaliry—ol rlc prcscnr momcnr. Bur lc cnds up rcading inrcnrly
rlc pagcs rlar lcar norling lur scrawlcd words or. rarlcr. significrs. lor
ir is ar rlc momcnr wlcn lc srarrs scarcling lor lisrorical rcaliry rlar lis-
rory ccascs ro lc an cxrcrnal oljccr. ¡isrory lor lim lccomcs no morc
rlan rlc vcrlal rraccs ol a prcvious arrcmpr ro rcprcscnr and prcscrvc a
parricular momcnr or srrucrurc. Þow rlc qucsrion is no longcr wlcrlcr
or nor rcaliry is rrurllully rcprcscnrcd lur low a rcprcscnrarion ol rlc
rcal is aclicvcd and insrirurcd. 1losc scrawlcd words. namcly. no longcr
luncrion as signs lairllully poinring ro prccxisring rclcrcnrs lur rurn inro
significrs wirl rlcir own lorcc and cncrgy. Scr loosc lrom rlar wlolc
dimcnsion ol rlc significd rlar assumcs various namcs. sucl as ‘‘rrurl.’’
‘‘mcaning.’’ or ‘‘rcaliry.’’ rlc significr acquircs irs own marcrialiry and rc-
rurns ro a disoricnring and cxplosivc play.
1lc play ol rlc significr lollowing irs disconnccrion lrom rlc signi-
ficd srirs up rlc lcrcrogcncous clcmcnrs conraincd and rcprcsscd in rlc
consrirurion ol rlc sacrcd rcxr. ¡n rlc rradirion ol Wcsrcrn modcrnism.
diffcrcnr arrirudcs roward rlis disconnccrion givc risc ro varicd acsrlcrics
and polirics (lrom Fimlaud’s ro. say. 1. S. Ilior’s). lur rlc final qucs-
rion invarially rcrurns ro lisrory. Wirl lisrory now projccrcd lack lrom
rlc prcscnr onro rlc pasr. irs prcsumcd rcaliry promiscs ro lc dissolvcd
inro words. All ol a suddcn. rlc mcaning ol lisrory. as rlc Madman dis-
covcrs. is pur inro morion. and mcaning irscll lccomcs an opcn-cndcd
proccss rlar gocs on in rlc prcscnr and consisrs ol a consranr rcrcading
and rcinrcrprcring ol pagcs ol words lrom rlc pasr. Ivcry sucl rcrcad-
ing. as Þicrzsclc argucs in On t/. G.n.c/sav s/ Asrc/· (a work ¡u Xun
admircd). musr firsr disclosc rlc violcncc and larlarism rlar wcnr inro
::. Scc Yi-rsi Mci ¡cucrwcrkcr. ‘‘1cxr. ¡nrcrrcxr. and rlc Fcprcscnrarion ol rlc Wrir-
ing Scll in ¡u Xun. Yu Ðalu. and Wang Mcng.’’ in Illcn Widmcr and Ðavid Ðcr-wci
Wang. cds.. Frsm Acv Fsurt/ ts }un. Fsurt/. Fi.tisn cn! Fi/m in Tm.nti.t/-C.nturv
C/inc (Camlridgc. Mass.. ¡arvard \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡oo:). ¡o¬–o:. csp. ¡¬¡–¬¬.
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66 C/in.·. As!.rn
csrallisling a prcvious rcprcscnrarion ol rlc rcal as cirlcr rruc or naru-
ral. 1lc Madman’s inscrrion ol rlc rwo words ‘‘Iar lumans.’’ rlcrclorc.
signals a rcvolurionary rcrurn ol rlc rcprcsscd ro rlc discursivc ficld. ¡r is
nor mcrcly a conrcnrion ovcr posscssion ol rlc pasr lur a srrugglc ro own
rlc prcscnr. wlicl lor rlc Madman is a marrcr ol lilc and dcarl.
1lc Madman. in and rlrougl lis rcading. carrics our wirl onc srrokc
rlc rwolold rask ol rranslorming rlc rcxr and lilcraring rlc significrs. ¡c
rlcrcly iniriarcs a ncw rcclniquc ol inrcrprcrarion rlar las lccn asso-
ciarcd wirl Marx. Þicrzsclc. and ¡rcud in rlc modcrn Wcsrcrn inrcllcc-
rual rradirion. 1lc ncw inrcrprcrivc srrarcgy—as cxcmplificd in Marx’s
analysis ol rlc rcrm .smms!itv, Þicrzsclc’s gcncalogical approacl ro all
culrural valucs. and ¡rcud’s mapping ol rlc unconscious—lorl modifics
rlc spacc ol significr disrrilurion and rcarrangcs rlc significrs ro cxposc
rlc ‘‘orlcr rling’’ rlar a rcxr is saying ar rlc samc rimc. 1lc inrcrprcrcr
gains acccss ro rlis liddcn inscriprion wlcn a ncw cconomy ol signs dis-
manrlcs rlc cxisring proccss ol idcological rcproducrion. wlicl. lor rlc
Madman. is rlc dominanr valuc sysrcm rlar lcgirimizcs rcprcssion and
larlarism in rlc namc ol ‘‘virruc and moraliry.’’ A similar radical rcasscss-
mcnr ol all valucs lcd Þicrzsclc ro concludc rlar ir was in ‘‘rlc splcrc ol
lcgal olligarions. rlar rlc moral conccprual world ol ‘guilr.’ ‘conscicncc.’
‘dury.’ and ‘sacrcdncss ol dury’ lad irs origin. irs lcginnings wcrc. likc
rlc lcginnings ol cvcryrling grcar on carrl. soakcd in llood rlorouglly
and lor a long rimc.’’
34
1lc crirical radicalism ol ¡u Xun’s srory. or irs
‘‘roralisric iconoclasm.’’
35
ar rlc rurn ol rlc ccnrury. rlcrclorc. rcsrs nor
so mucl on rlc rcvclarory lorcc ol rlc srarcmcnr rlar rlc rradirional
gcmcinsclalr is soakcd in violcncc and injusricc as ir docs on rlc inrro-
ducrion ol dcsirc inro languagc. cngcndcring a ncw lorm ol discoursc.
¡r unlcaslcs an imaginarivc cncrgy rlar always unscrrlcs rlc dominanr
discursivc ordcr.
Ar rlis poinr. ir lccomcs ncccssary ro siruarc ¡u Xun’s ‘‘Ðiary ol a
Madman’’ in rlc gcncral discussion ol rlc possililiry ol a popular vcr-
:|. ¡ricdricl Þicrzsclc. On t/. G.n.c/sav s/ Asrc/·, rrans. Walrcr Kaulman and F. I.
¡ollingdalc (ÞcwYork. \inragc. ¡oo8). os. Scc also Min Kangslcng. ‘‘ ‘Kuangrcn riji’
zlong Þicai dc slcngyin’’ (1lc voicc ol Þicrzsclc in ‘‘Ðiary ol a madman’’). Lu Xun
Stu!i.· (¡o88). ¡i.ioo–:¡s.
:s. 1lis rcrm comcs lrom ¡in Yu-slcng. T/. Cri·i· s/ C/in.·. Csn·.isu·n.··. Bc!i-
.c/ ³ntitrc!itisnc/i·m in t/. Acv Fsurt/ Lrc (Madison. \nivcrsiry ol Wisconsin ¡rcss.
¡o¬o). ¡¡o–i¡.
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‘‘Dicrv s/ c Ac!mcn’’ 67
nacular lircrarurc in rlc larc ¡o¡os. ¡niriaring rlc norion ol ‘‘lircrary
rclorm’’ in ¡o¡¬. ¡u Sli. anorlcr lcading figurc among Þcw Culrurc in-
rcllccruals ol rlc May ¡ourrl pcriod. callcd wirl a rcsounding dcrcrmi-
narion lor a ncw modcrn lircrarurc. ‘‘Wc ouglr ro usc rlc living languagc
ol rlc rwcnricrl ccnrury insrcad ol rlc dcad words lrom rlrcc rlousand
ycars ago.’’
36
1lc ‘‘living languagc’’ is rlc spokcn vcrnacular (/ci/uc). and
¡u Xun’s ‘‘Ðiary ol a Madman’’ was onc ol rlc firsr lircrary works wrir-
rcn in modcrn vcrnacular Clincsc. 1o a largc cxrcnr. ¡u Sli’s modcrn-
isric skcpricism roward rlc pasr and lis crirical awarcncss ol rlc lormarivc
lorcc ol languagc dirccrly lcgor ¡u Xun’s Madman.
Ar rlc lorclronr ol rlc Þcw Culrurc movcmcnr. rlcrclorc. ‘‘Ðiary ol a
Madman’’ cmlodics rlis cmcrging crirical arrirudc roward languagc. and
ir offcrs irscll as an arclcrypal rcxr ol dcconsrrucrivc rcading. ¡n rlis scnsc.
ir is a kcy rcxr rlar unamliguously arricularcs a porcnr discursivc srrarcgy
in modcrn Clincsc culrurc. 1lrouglour rlc diary. various pracriccs rlar
consrirurc and parriciparc in cvcryday lilc arc suljccrcd ro a powcrlul cs-
rrangcmcnr. so rlar rlcir naruralncss or lcgirimacy is callcd inro qucsrion.
Ar onc poinr. rlc Madman’s lrorlcr uslcrs in a plysician ro cxaminc rlc
paricnr. By rcading rlc docror’s movcmcnrs and prcscriprions as a mcan-
inglul rcxr. rlc Madman dcmonsrrarcs lis lrackcring ol wlar is parr ol
rlc acccprcd and pracriccd sociosymlolic ordcr. Wlcn Ðocror ¡c lccls
lis pulsc. rlc Madman dccidcs rlar rlc plysician is a lurclcr in disguisc.
rrying ro find our low lar rlc prcy is. By rcpcaring Ðocror ¡c’s promisc.
‘‘You’ll lc finc in a lcw days.’’ lc lrings lorward and cxplorcs rlc doullc.
cvcn conflicring. mcaning ol ‘‘lcing finc}profirallc’’ (/cs). ‘‘By larrcning
mc ol coursc rlcy’ll lavc morc ro car. Bur wlar good will ir do mc· ¡ow
can ir lc ‘finc’·’’ (¬). Wlcn rlc Madman rakcs ‘‘finc’’ ro mcan ‘‘profirallc.’’
rlc lasic qucsrion lccomcs wlo will profir lrom lis lcing finc. 1lus
qucsrioncd. ‘‘ro lc finc’’ mcans cirlcr ro fir in lcrrcr wirl rlc insrirurcd
cannilalisric maclincry or ro lc allc ro rakc parr in cannilalism. Also.
in Clincsc rlc word lor ‘‘finc’’ can mcan ‘‘good.’’ rlc opposirc ol ‘‘cvil.’’
¡n lrackcring ‘‘good.’’ rlc Madman comcs ro rcalizc rlar ly clallcnging
rlc conccpr ol wlar makcs a ‘‘good man’’ (/csr.n is rranslarcd as ‘‘a good
:o. ¡u Sli. ‘‘Wcnxuc gailiang cluyi’’ (Somc modcsr proposals lor rlc rclorm ol lir-
crarurc). in Hu S/i m.n.un (Sclccrcd works ol ¡u Sli) (1aipci. Yuandong. ¡o¬¡). ¡.¡¬.
¡or an Inglisl rranslarion. scc Kirk A. Ðcnron. cd.. As!.rn C/in.·. Lit.rcrv T/sua/t.
Iritina· sn Lit.rctur., rsc:–rc;· (Sranlord. Calil.. Sranlord \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡ooo).
¡i:–:o.
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68 C/in.·. As!.rn
son’’ [¡:|). lc is ro lc lalclcd an ‘‘cvil man’’ (.’r.n is looscly rcndcrcd as
‘‘a lad claracrcr’’) and imprisoncd. punislcd. and cvcnrually murdcrcd
ly communal ‘‘jusricc.’’ ‘‘Wlcn our rcnanr spokc ol rlc villagcrs caring an
cvil man. ir was cxacrly rlc samc dcvicc. 1lis is rlcir old rrick’’ (¡i). ¡r is
a ‘‘rrick’’ as old as lisrory irscll. rlc rrick ol jusrilying violcncc againsr rlc
rclcl. wlo is firsr marginalizcd and rlcn condcmncd as cirlcr alnormal
or ccccnrric.
¡n a gcsrurc ol projccrion rlar ncccssarily implicarcs lis anxicry and
dcsirc. rlc Madman produccs lis own ncw rcxr. 1lc dcsirc ro namc rra-
vcrscs languagc and makcs ir ar oncc rlc spacc lor cngagcmcnr and rlc
sirc ol possillc lulfillmcnr. 1lc Madman’s playlul manipularion ol lan-
guagc lorl ro disrorr and ro displacc cxisring rcxrs (c.g.. lis mixing up
Cctc/sa s/ F/src cn! Fcunc and Sutt/.m.nt· ts t/. Cctc/sa, lis anaclronis-
ric juxraposing ol Yiya and Iic Zlou. rwo lisrorical and lcgcndary figurcs
lclonging ro diffcrcnr rimcs). apparcnrly a symprom ol lis madncss. lul-
fills lis urgc ro cxprcss limscll—ro lrcak down rlc cxisring clain ol signs
and makc lis own voicc lcard. ¡n spcaking a languagc diffcrcnr lrom
rlar ol rlc cncasing conrcxr—namcly. rlc prclacc providcd ly rlc wrircr-
narraror—rlc Madman slows rlc disruprivc lorcc ol languagc irscll.
37
1lc Madman wrircs in lis own languagc. cmploying a synrax rlar is
irscll lorl colloquial and logical. 1lc passagc prcccding lis diary lramcs
rlc rcxr and. rlrougl rlc mcdium ol languagc. lorms an ironic play wirl
norions ol rlc prcscnr and rlc pasr. ¡rcdric Iamcson noriccs rlar rlc srory
in cffccr offcrs ‘‘rwo disrincr and incomparillc cndings. . . . Ònc cnding.
rlar ol rlc dcludcd suljccr limscll. is vcry mucl a call ro rlc lururc. in rlc
impossillc siruarion ol a wcll-nigl univcrsal cannilalism. . . . Bur rlc ralc
las a sccond cnding as wcll. wlicl is discloscd on rlc opcning pagcs.’’
38
1lc prclacclikc passagc rlar inrroduccs rlc srory rcassurcs rlc rcadcr rlar
rlc Madman ‘‘las rccovcrcd somc rimc ago and las gonc clscwlcrc ro
rakc up an official posr.’’ ¡n orlcr words. lc las rcrurncd ro rlc sysrcm
againsr wlicl lc oncc dcspcrarcly rcvolrcd wirl all lis srrcngrl. Bcrwccn
rlcsc rwo incomparillc cndings. Iamcson sccs a rcnsion surlacing and
concludcs rlar ‘‘ly way ol a complcx play ol simulrancous and anrirlcrical
mcssagcs . . . rlc narrarivc rcxr is allc ro opcn up a concrcrc pcrspccrivc
:¬. Wang ¡urcn suggcsrs in lis insiglrlul ‘‘A Closc Fcading ol ‘Ðiary ol a Mad-
man’ ’’ (scc n. i8 alovc) rlar wlar rlc Madman aclicvcs is a Brcclrian I.r/r.m!una·-
.ff./t.
:8. Iamcson. ‘‘1lird-World ¡ircrarurc.’’ ¬¬.
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‘‘Dicrv s/ c Ac!mcn’’ 69
on rlc rcal lururc.’’
39
1lis rcnsion in lacr cxisrs on rlc lcvcl nor mcrcly
ol rcmporaliry lur also ol linguisric cxpcricncc. 1lc inrroducrory pas-
sagc. composcd in a scmi-csorcric. classical srylc. luncrionally csrallislcs
a prcscnr momcnr or rcaliry wirl wlicl a conrcmporary rcadcr is invircd
ro idcnrily. 1lc rcadcr is assurcd ol a salc disrancc lrom rlc srormy cvcnrs
ro lollow. wlicl lavc ly now lccn lisrorificd and pur inro propcr pcr-
spccrivc. 1lougl rlc prclacc narraror assumcs an acsrlcric rranquilliry
and an cqually dcraclcd scicnrism. lc ncvcrrlclcss judgmcnrally cxcludcs
rlc Madman’s diary lrom rlc ordcr ol rcaliry. ¡c cxprcsscs rlc common
vicwol paranoia as a mcnral disordcr rlar. onc lopcs. can lc curcd. ‘‘1lc
wriring was mosr conluscd and incolcrcnr. and lc lad madc many wild
srarcmcnrs’’ (:). Ycr rlis prcscnr momcnr ol rlc prclacc is salicnrly markcd
as pasr lccausc rlc languagc rlar consrrucrs ir was widcly pronounccd
‘‘dcad’’ and ‘‘arclaic’’ ar rlc rimc wlcn rlc srory was composcd. Ðuring
rlc firsr quarrcr ol rlc ccnrury rlc classical Clincsc languagc was asso-
ciarcd wirl a dccaying and imporcnr rradirion rlar lad ro lc discardcd
and rcplaccd ly a ncw languagc lorn ol a culrurc ol ncw yourl. 1lc ncw
living languagc is wlar rlc Madman spcaks and wrircs.
¡n orlcr words. rlc prclacc. composcd in a narrarivc pasr (similar ro
rlc ¡rcncl prcrcrir).
40
consrirurcs a licrarclizcd and scnsillc ‘‘rcaliry.’’
wlcrcas rlc diary cnrrics. wirlour darcs or a colcrcnr lincar narrarivc.
sccm ro lc wrirrcn in and alour a pcrpcrual and morilc prcscnr. 1lc prcs-
cnrncss ol rlc prclacc is a lollow and ornarc consrrucrion. and rlc ncw
wriring. wlicl in rlc srory is ficrivcly anrcrior ro rlc prclacc’s prcscnr lur
lisrorically posrcrior ro ir. nor only sulvcrrs rlc solidiry ol rlc rradirion
ol old wriring lur also suggcsrs rlc irrcvocaliliry ol rlc ncw wriring—
rlar ol rlc Madman. ¡urrlcrmorc. rlis rcnsion lcrwccn rlc rwo modcs
ol wriring poinrs ro a morc lundamcnral complcxiry in modcrn Clincsc
lircrarurc. Wlar ¡u Xun dcmonsrrarcs in ‘‘Ðiary ol a Madman’’ is a criri-
cal rccognirion ol an impossillc promisc ol rcalisr ficrion. As Marsron
Andcrson olscrvcs. ¡u Xun rcalizcs. rlrougl lis scll-conscious play wirl
lis own sroryrclling. rlar rcalism ‘‘risks making aurlors accompliccs ro
rlc social cruclry rlcy inrcnd ro dccry. 1lc rcalisr narrarivc. ly imirar-
ing ar a lormal lcvcl rlc rclarion ol opprcssor ro opprcsscd. is caprivc
:o. ¡lid.
|o. Scc Foland Barrlcs’s discussion ol rlc usc ol rlc prcrcrir in rlc novcl as an idco-
logical consrrucrion sccuring a givcn social ordcr in lis Iritina D.ar.. Z.rs, rrans.
Anncrrc ¡avcrs and Colin Smirl (Þcw York. Þoonday-¡arrar. ¡oo8). io–|o.
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70 C/in.·. As!.rn
ro rlc logic ol rlar opprcssion and cnds ly mcrcly rcproducing ir.’’
41
‘‘1lc vcry firsr srory rlar scrs rlc ncw lircrarurc movcmcnr in morion.’’
concurs Yi-rsi Mci ¡cucrwcrkcr. ‘‘is also fillcd wirl scll-doulrs alour rlc
narurc and cffccrivcncss ol irs own lircrary cnrcrprisc.’’
42
Ar rlc origin ol
modcrn Clincsc lircrarurc. rlc limirs ol rcalism arc alrcady graspcd and
undcrlincd. 1o rlosc limirs a modcrnisr rcconccprualizarion ol languagc
is offcrcd as a prclcrallc alrcrnarivc. 1lc rcalisr wrircr-narraror ol rlc
prclacc. alrlougl symparlcric. lclongs in rlc final analysis ro rlc cxisring
social ordcr and slarcs no common languagc wirl rlc Madman.
1lc Madman’s dcconsrrucrivc rcading and rlc cmcrgcncc ol a ncw lan-
guagc. lowcvcr. rakc placc nor in an original nowlcrc lur. rarlcr. ‘‘lc-
rwccn rlc lincs.’’ ¡n Scprcmlcr ¡o¡o. againsr rlc grain ol a gcncral cnrlu-
siasric rlcroric ol ‘‘awakcning’’—‘‘cnliglrcning.’’ or ‘‘rcviving’’ rlc narion
lrom a llind complaccncy—¡u Xun wrorc. nor wirlour lirrcr sarcasm.
rlar ‘‘rlc firsr awakcncd las always lccn. ly cirlcr a malicious pcrson or
a mindlcss crowd. opprcsscd. pcrsccurcd. conspircd againsr. cxilcd. and
cvcnrually murdcrcd.’’
43
¡n lacr. rlc awakcning mcraplor. wlicl conrains
rlc liglr}darkncss opposirion and casily givcs way ro anorlcr licrarclical
powcr srrucrurc. is also parr ol wlar rlc Madman srullornly qucsrions.
1lc inirial momcnr ol lis rransgrcssivc /ucna can lc locarcd in rlc niglr
wlcn lc pcrccivcs a lriglr moon rlar lc las nor sccn ‘‘lor ovcr rlirry
ycars.’’ 1lus. rlc firsr cnrry in rlc diary rcads. ‘‘1oniglr rlc moon is vcry
lriglr. ¡ lavc nor sccn ir lor ovcr rlirry ycars. so roday wlcn ¡ saw ir ¡
lclr in unusually ligl spirirs. ¡ lcgin ro rcalizc rlar during rlc pasr rlirry-
odd ycars ¡ lavc lccn in rlc dark’’ (|). Bur rlc lacr is rlar lc is srill in
rlc dark wlcn lc sccs rlc lriglr moon. ¡co Òu-lan ¡cc riglrly poinrs
our rlar rlc ‘‘rccurring imagc ol rlc moon givcs risc symlolically ro a
doullc mcaning ol lorl lunacy (in irs Wcsrcrn connorarion) and cnliglr-
|¡. Marsron Andcrson. T/. Limit· s/ B.c/i·m. C/in.·. Fi.tisn in t/. B.vs/utisncrv
P.ris! (Bcrkclcy. \nivcrsiry ol Calilornia ¡rcss. ¡ooo). o¡.
|i. Yi-rsi Mci ¡cucrwcrkcr. ‘‘1cxr. ¡nrcrrcxr. and rlc Fcprcscnrarion ol rlc Wriring
Scll.’’ ¡¬¬. Scc also Ðavid Ðcr-wci Wang’s discussion ol ‘‘Ðiary ol a Madman’’ in lis
Fi.tisnc/ B.c/i·m in Tm.nti.t/-C.nturv C/inc. Acs Dun, Lcs S/., S/.n Csnam.n (Þcw
York. Columlia \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡ooi). |–¡o. wlcrc lc argucs rlar rlc rcxr rlrougl
irs narrarivc srrarcgy ‘‘lcads us ro rlc idcological and cpisrcmological condirions ol a
rcalisr discoursc’’ (¬).
|:. 1lis ¡u Xun rcxr was discovcrcd in rlc ¡o¬os. Scc B.·.cr./ Act.ric/· sn Lu Xun
Stu!i.·, i.i.
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‘‘Dicrv s/ c Ac!mcn’’ 71
cnmcnr (in irs Clincsc crymological implicarion).’’
44
Bur rlcrc is also a
rwisr in rlc cnliglrcnmcnr rlcroric. ¡or il rlc moon is a mcraplor lor
rlc Madman’s inncr illuminarion. ir is ar rlc samc rimc mcronymic ol
rlc vasr surrounding darkncss rlar srands lor wlar lorl rlrcarcns and
calls lor cnliglrcnmcnr. 1lc visililiry ol rlc moon. unlikc rlar ol rlc sun.
las a parasirically inrcrdcpcndcnr and no lcss anragonisric rclarion wirl
rlar wlicl rcnds ro olscurc or ollircrarc ir. Wlar is in or ol rlc moon
dcpcnds on wlar is around or cvcn againsr ir. 1lc awakcning. in orlcr
words. is nor irscll an unqualificd llcssing. ¡r is mucl lcss likc awakcning
lrom a niglrmarc rlan lccoming crirically conscious ol rlc darkncss ol
rlc niglr. Mcraplorically. rlc moon is a diffcrcnriarcd prcscncc. a soli-
rary sirc rlar lorl acccprs and rcsisrs wlar dcfincs irs loundarics. ¡ol-
lowing rlc samc linc ol skcprical rlinking. ¡u Xun would posc rlc wcll-
known rlcrorical qucsrion in rlc prclacc ro Nc/cn (Call ro arms) (¡oi:).
lis firsr collccrion ol slorr srorics. ‘‘¡maginc an iron lousc wirlour win-
dows. alsolurcly indcsrrucrillc. wirl many pcoplc lasr aslccp insidc wlo
will slorrly dic ol suffocarion. Bur you know rlar sincc rlcy will dic in
rlcir slccp. rlcy will nor lccl rlc pain ol dcarl. Þow il you cry aloud ro
wakc a lcw ol rlc liglrcr slccpcrs. making rlosc unlorrunarc lcw suffcr
rlc agony ol irrcvocallc dcarl. do you rlink you arc doing rlcm a good
rurn·’’
45
¡n opposirion ro rlc moon. rlc sun. wlosc radianr liglr is cxpccrcd
ro prcvail. ncvcr lccomcs lriglr lor rlc Madman. ‘‘1lc sun is ncvcr our
and rlc door is lorcvcr closcd. Iusr rwo mcals cvcry day’’ (¡i). 1lc rlrcc
acrual conlronrarions lcrwccn rlc Madman and orlcrs—mosr norally.
lcrwccn lim and lis lrorlcr—all rakc placc in rlc carly morning. a rran-
sicnr momcnr rlar links rlc niglr and rlc day and ycr inclucrally givcs
in ro dayliglr. Ðayliglr. wlosc prcscncc prcsupposcs rlc alscncc ol rlc
moon. is always dcprcssing ro rlc Madman. ‘‘1oday rlcrc is no moon. ¡
know rlar rlis is a lad omcn. 1lis morning wlcn ¡ wcnr our cauriously.
Mr. Zlao lad a srrangc look’’ (|). Inliglrcnmcnr lor rlc Madman. rlcn.
is nor so mucl a sprcading ol liglr ro lanisl olscuriry or murkincss as ir
is an individual pcrccprion ol rlc cncroacling dark. ol wlicl rlc cnliglr-
||. ¡co Òu-lan ¡cc. Isi..· /rsm t/. Irsn Hsu·.. ³ Stu!v s/ Lu Xun (Bloomingron.
¡ndiana \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o8¬). s|.
|s. ¡u Xun. ‘‘¡rclacc’’ ro Cc// ts ³rm·, in S./..t.! Stsri.· s/ Lu Xun, rrans. Yang
¡sicn-yi and Gladys Yang (Bcijing. ¡orcign ¡anguagcs ¡rcss. ¡o¬i). s.
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72 C/in.·. As!.rn
cncd rcmains a parr. olrcn in an opposirional margin. ‘‘Ðiary ol a Mad-
man’’ can ncvcr lc a rarionalizcd ‘‘program ol polirical srrugglc’’ lor rlc
rcvolurionary masscs. nor docs ir ‘‘rcflccr.’’ as dogmaric rcalism lasrcns
ro arguc. ‘‘rlc awakcning proccss pcoplc undcrgo ro rcalizc rlc unlcar-
aliliry ol lcudal opprcssion. rlcir srrong will ro srrugglc and rlcir dc-
rcrminarion ro figlr lcudalism ro rlc cnd.’’
46
Òn rlc conrrary. rlc Mad-
man. almosr painlully lollowing lis own cpisrcmology ol suspicion. will
in rlc cnd comc ro scc limscll as parr ol rlc darkncss. ¡is lasr lorror is
rlc rcalizarion rlar lc las all rlc rimc lccn cngullcd in rlc rradirion ol
cannilalism and may wcll lavc carcn picccs ol lis lclovcd sisrcr. Ivcn
lis scll-idcnriry. wlicl lc las clung ro as rlc lasr sirc ol rcsisrancc. is
rlrown inro unccrrainry lccausc rlc pasr irrcprcssilly rcrurns. 1lc only
way our rlar lc can scc. rlcrclorc. lics nor in rlc prcscnr lur in a rcmorc
lururc rlar las ycr ro lcgin wirl rlc now. wirl ‘‘saving rlc clildrcn.’’ 1lc
Madman. a modcrn ‘‘lcarcr ol a lull crirical consciousncss.’’ as Andcrson
namcs lim.
47
lcroically rcars down rlc illusivc opposirion lcrwccn liglr
and dark and rcluscs ro lc ovcrsladowcd ly cirlcr. ¡c is rlc solirary war-
rior rlar ¡u Xun larcr cclclrarcs in T..cs (Wild grass). rlc rclcl wlo will
always raisc lis javclin ol skcpricism and ross ir lorward. nor ro confirm
or prolc lur ro clallcngc and displacc.
48
1lc concluding linc ol ‘‘Ðiary ol a Madman’’ srrikcs mc as cxplosivcly
cllipric. ‘‘Savc rlc clildrcn . . .’’ (¡:). Wlo will savc rlcm lrom wlar·
¡rom lccoming cannilals· So rlar rlcy. as rlc ‘‘rcal luman lcings.’’ will
lc sparcd. srarr a ncw cra. and conscqucnrly own a prcscnr rimc ro lc
ncirlcr aslamcd ol nor proud ol. wirl no lisrory ro cscapc lrom or idcn-
rily wirl· Òr savc rlcm lrom lcing dcvourcd ly oursclvcs· So rlar wlcn
rlcy grow up and lccomc acquainrcd wirl a |.ooo-ycar lisrory ol canni-
lalism. rlcy will only lc slockcd ro find rlar rlcy lavc all rlc rimc lccn
caring rlcir own kind· Òr. in ycr anorlcr possililiry. musr rlc clildrcn
lc savcd lrom lcing carcn and lrom lccoming carcrs ol orlcrs· Wlo. in
rlar casc. is ro accomplisl rlis rcdcmprivc rask. and lrom wlar vanragc
poinr can sucl a salvarion dcly lorl lisrory and rlc prcscnr·
Iusr as inrriguing is rlc ulrimarc alscncc ol rlc Madman in rlc srory.
Wc arc rold. indirccrly ly lis oldcr lrorlcr. rlar lc las rccovcrcd lrom
lis mcnral lapscs and is away lrom rlc villagc wairing lor an official posr.
|o. Wang. Bisarct/v s/ Lu Xun, 88.
|¬. Andcrson. T/. Limit· s/ B.c/i·m, 88.
|8. Scc T..cs (Wild grass). collccrcd in T/. Csmt/.t. Isr/· s/ Lu Xun, ¡.sis–i¬.
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‘‘Dicrv s/ c Ac!mcn’’ 73
¡is diary is rlc only rracc wc lavc ol lis madncss as wcll as ol lis cxis-
rcncc. ¡c may lavc rcrurncd ro lcing normal. lur lc may also lavc lccn
dcvourcd. lorl figurarivcly and lircrally. ly rlc villagcrs. ¡r is rlrougl lis
alscncc rlar rlc Madman kccps us lrom srudying lim as a rcalisric oljccr.
lrom rcgarding lim as an idcnrifiallc orlcr. Wirl lis plysical prcscncc
rcmovcd. wc arc compcllcd ro dirccrly cncounrcr rlc Madman’s inncr
world and suljccriviry. Wc find oursclvcs rcading lcrwccn rlc lincs and
rrying ro imaginc rlc condirion undcr wlicl lc wrorc down lis inrimarc
lcars and visions. Òur rcading ol rlc Madman’s diary. rlcrclorc. is largcly
drivcn and dcrcrmincd ly a dcsirc. incircd ly rlc narrarivc lramcwork.
ro ovcrcomc lis alscncc. ro makc prcscnr a pasr momcnr as ir was acru-
ally livcd. Sucl also is rlc Madman’s olscssion wlcn laccd wirl a lisrory
look wirlour clronology.
1lc amliguiry ol rlc Madman’s lasr words. rlcrclorc. dcrivcs lrom rlc
srrucrurc ol rlc srory as a wlolc. in wlicl rlc rcading ol rlc rcxr is prc-
scrilcd as a conrinuous and opcn-cndcd proccss. ¡rom a compararivc
srudy ol ¡u Xun’s rlouglr. somc may arguc rlar rlis lasr scnrcncc cx-
prcsscs lis principlc ol lopc and lclicl in cvolurion.
49
Òrlcrs may con-
cludc lrom a rcducrivc undcrsranding ol social pracriccs rlar ¡u Xun is
calling lor acrion ro ovcrrlrow rlc cnrirc cannilalisric sysrcm. ¡r sccms
ro mc. lowcvcr. rlar rlis scnrcncc poscs nor so mucl rlc lopc or pos-
sililiry ol a lcrrcr lururc as ir docs rlc modcrnisr prollcm ol lisrory.
¡isrory is rlar wlicl can ncvcr lc undonc. 1lc clildrcn musr lc savcd
lrom lcing scvcrcd lrom rlc pasr. lowcvcr niglrmarisl ir may lc. and
also lrom lcing prcycd upon ly rlc lisrorically dcrcrmincd prcscnr. Ònc
kccps lisrory alivc and dcad. prcscnr and rcmovcd. ar rlc samc rimc ly
conrinuously rcrcading and rcwriring ir. By rcading and rcrcading rlc
pasr—as a rcxr. as a spacc fillcd up wirl rcnsion and lorccs—onc can dis-
rancc ir so rlar ir lorl inrcrvcncs in and ycr sulmirs irscll ro rlc prcscnr.
Ar rlis juncrurc rlc modcrnisr olscssion wirl languagc and wirl rlc con-
dirion ol mcaning comcs in and asscrrs irscll as dccply polirical. A mod-
crnisr polirics. in rlc cnd. invarially lcgins wirl cxamining low a givcn
rcprcscnrarion ol rcaliry is always alrcady ourmodcd.
|o. ¡or a discussion ol ¡u Xun’s lclicl in cvolurion. scc Susannc Wcigclin-
Sclwicdrzik. ‘‘¡u Xun und das ‘¡rinzip ¡offnung’. Iinc \nrcrsuclung scincr Fczcp-
rion dcr 1lcorin von ¡uxlcy und Þicrzsclc.’’ Bs./um.r }c/r/u./ cur O·tc·i.n/sr·./una
(Boclum. Broclmcycr. ¡o8o). |¡|–:¡. csp. |io.
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Lx.ur·isn I
Bcyond ¡omcsickncss. An ¡nrimarc Fcading
ol ¡u Xun’s ‘‘My Þarivc ¡and’’
1lc inirial and lcrmcncurically clallcnging difficulry ol rcading ¡u Xun’s
¡oi¡ slorr srory ‘‘Guxiang’’ (My narivc land) lics in irs vcry rirlc. A srock
plrasc in Clincsc languagc and culrural scmanrics. rlc rwo-claracrcr
compound commands a ricl clusrcr ol variarions sucl as au/i, auvucn,
autu, and auaus. Ònc ol rlc carlicsr and mosr mcmorallc usagcs ol rlc
plrasc auxicna occurs in Sima Qian’s (ca. ¡|s–8o v.c.) S/i ii (Fccords
ol rlc lisrorian). in wlicl rlc rriumplanr rcrurn ol ¡iu Bang (ca. i|¬–
¡os v.c.). lounding Impcror Gaozu ol rlc Wcsrcrn ¡an dynasry. ro lis
lomcrown ar rlc cnd ol lis lilc is dcscrilcd in grcar dcrail. Ðuring a lcasr
ro wlicl lc summons all lis old lricnds. ncigllors. and rclarivcs. rlc
aging Gaozu is srrickcn wirl dccp sorrow. lcrs rcars srrcam down lis lacc.
and cxplains ro rlosc prcscnr. ‘‘1lc rravclcr always pincs lor lis narivc
land [youzi lci guxiang|.’’
1
1lis candid rcvclarion ly a lcgcndary lcro ol
lis privarc lcclings conrains sucl myrlopocric powcr as ro lavc slapcd
an cmorivc parrcrn and pcrmcarcd a collccrivc parlos. Ivcr sincc rlc ligl
1ang pcriod ol rlc ciglrl ccnrury. wlcn pocric gianrs cxccllcd in clc-
varing lomcsickncss ro an arclcrypal luman longing. auxicna as suljccr
marrcr las lccn lully dcvclopcd inro a lcrrilc ficld lor culrivaring com-
¡. Scc Burron Warson. rrans.. B..sr!· s/ t/. Hi·tsricn. C/ctt.r· /rsm t/. S/i/ ./i s/
S·u-mc C/’i.n (Þcw York. Columlia \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡ooo). ¡|¡. wlcrc rlc scnrcncc
is rranslarcd as ‘‘1lc rravclcr sigls lor lis old lomc.’’ Bclorc rlis momcnr. Gaozu sings
a song rlar lc composcs ar rlc lanqucr. ‘‘A grcar wind camc lorrl, } 1lc clouds rosc
on ligl. } Þow rlar my miglr rulcs all wirlin rlc scas. } ¡ lavc rcrurncd ro my old
villagc. Wlcrc slall ¡ find lravc mcn } 1o guard rlc lour corncrs ol my land·’’ ¡or
rlc original rcxr. scc S/i ii iin c/u (Fccords ol rlc lisrorian wirl conrcmporary anno-
rarions). annorarcd ly Ma Cliying (1aipci. Commcrcial ¡rcss. ¡o¬o). ¡.:|:. ¡ncidcn-
rally. rlc ¡rcncl rranslarion ol Gaozu’s saying ly Idouard Clavanncs slcds a diffcrcnr
liglr on rlc norion ol auxicna rlan Warson’s rcndirion ol ir as ‘‘old villagc’’. ‘‘¡c voya-
gcur s’affligc cn pcnsanr a sa rcrrc naralc.’’ Clavanncs. rrans. and annor.. L.· m.msir.·
/i·tsri;u.· !. S.-mc T·’i.n (¡aris. ¡ilrairic d’Amcriquc cr d’Òricnr. ¡oo¬). i.:o¬. 1lis
diffcrcncc will lccomc rclcvanr in rlc discussion lclow.
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B.vsn! Hsm.·i./n.·· 75
munal scnrimcnr as wcll as arrisric and lircrary scnsililirics. 1lc imagc
and conccpr ol auxicna lcsr indicarcs a primary srrucrurc ol lccling and
lrcqucnrly provokcs a mclanclolic nosralgia rlar rcaclcs mcraplysical
lciglrs wlilc also suggcsring allcgorical dimcnsions. ¡ircrally mcaning
‘‘old counrry.’’ rlc plrasc pirs an cxisrcnrial rcmporaliry againsr an cxrcr-
nal and cmplarically rural. olrcn cvcn pasroral. landscapc. ¡ikc all sucl
kcy words in a signilying languagc. auxicna dcscrilcs as wcll as prcscrilcs
a modc ol luman rclarionslip and cxpcricncc. ¡n arricularing a viral ar-
raclmcnr and scnsc ol lclonging rlar is prcdicarcd on a spario-rcmporal
displaccmcnr and rlc sulscqucnr possililiry ol nosralgia. rlc plrasc. wirl
irs laycrcd associarions. cncodcs and rransmirs a complcx conccprion ol
lomc. communal lilc. and rlc privarc scll.
1lc riclncss and invocarory powcr ol sucl an ovcrclargcd cxprcssion
may lc illusrrarcd ly rlc rangc ol cloiccs availallc lor rcndcring ir inro
anorlcr languagc. 1lc acccprcd and widcly uscd Inglisl rranslarion ol
¡u Xun’s ‘‘Guxiang.’’ ly Yang ¡sicn-yi and Gladys Yang. is rirlcd ‘‘My Òld
¡omc.’’ wlcrcas a ¡rcncl vcrsion. pur our ly ¡cking ¡orcign ¡anguagcs
¡rcss in ¡o¬|. rcads ‘‘Mon villagc naral.’’
2
¡l rlcsc rwo rirlcs may alrcady
acrivarc srarkly disrincr imagcs and mcmorics. an carlicr Gcrman rransla-
rion. ‘‘Ðic ¡cimar’’ (¡o|8).
3
cvokcs ycr anorlcr and mucl morc inrcnsc
lccling ol lomcsickncss and dcvorion. 1lc implicarion ol rlc Gcrman
word is cvidcnrly diffcrcnr lrom rlc Inglisl ‘‘lomcrown.’’ wlicl is rlc
rirlc rlar William ¡ycll gavc ro lis rcccnr rranslarion ol rlc samc srory.
4
1lc incvirallc mismarcl in capruring rlc associarivc conrcnr ol rlc rirlc
‘‘Guxiang’’ was duly norcd ly Cli-clcn Wang. wlo. as onc ol rlc carli-
csr Inglisl rranslarors ol ¡u Xun’s work. pullislcd ³/ O cn! Ot/.r·.
S./..t.! Stsri.· s/ Lu·in in ¡o|¡. ¡n a loornorc. Wang cxplaincd rlar auxicna
can lc rown or counrry and ir ‘‘indicarcs an indcfinirc rcgion or disrricr
i. 1lc Yang and Yang Inglisl rranslarion was inirially also sponsorcd ly ¡cking
¡orcign ¡anguagcs ¡rcss (¡sr cd. ¡oso). lur ir las sincc lccn rcpullislcd ly Þorron
(Þcw York. ¡o¬¬). 1lc Yang and Yang vcrsion was collccrcd in rlc anrlology As!.rn
C/in.·. S/srt Stsri.· cn! Nsv.//c·, rcrc–rc;c, cd. Ioscpl ¡au. C. 1. ¡sia and ¡co Òu-lan
¡cc (Þcw York. Columlia \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o8¡). ¡¡–¡o.
:. Ò. Bcnl. rrans. ‘‘Ðic ¡cimar.’’ in Stsrv/Lrcc//.r !.· ³u·/cn!· : (Augusr ¡o|8). rc-
lcrrcd ro ly ¡rcnc Ilcr. ‘‘Sclccrivc Billiograply.’’ in Lu Xun cn! Hi· L.ac.v, cd. ¡co
Òu-lan ¡cc (Bcrkclcy. \nivcrsiry ol Calilornia ¡rcss. ¡o8o). i¬o.
|. William A. ¡ycll. rrans.. Lu Xun. ‘‘Dicrv s/ c Ac!mcn’’ cn! Ot/.r Stsri.· (¡ono-
lulu. \nivcrsiry ol ¡awaii ¡rcss. ¡ooo). 8o–¡oo.
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76 C/in.·. As!.rn
rarlcr rlan any spccific placc.’’ ¡or lim. ‘‘rlcrc is no lcrrcr cquivalcnr lor
rlc Clincsc rcrm’’ rlan ‘‘My Þarivc ¡carl.’’ alrlougl ‘‘lcarl’’ admirrcdly
sounds morc Scorrisl rlan Inglisl.
5
1lis srudicd usc ol ‘‘lcarl’’ in rranslaring ¡u Xun’s srory. lowcvcr.
rurncd our ro lc roo idiosyncraric ro gain susraincd currcncy. Þoncrlc-
lcss. Cli-clcn Wang’s dclilcrarion lrings ro rlc lorc a crucial componcnr
ol wlar srands as a paradigmaric narrarivc in modcrn Clincsc lircrarurc.
namcly. rlc rccognirion ol landscapc. 1lis rccognirion las ro ovcrcomc
an inirial csrrangcmcnr or misrccognirion. and ir is rlcn aclicvcd rlrougl
a wirldrawal or a journcy rlar incrcasingly rurns inward. Ar rlc cnd
ol rlc journcy an imaginary land appcars wlcrc rlc narraring. aurolio-
graplical suljccr is allc ro rcconcilc rlc inclucrallc lapsc ol rimc wirl
an alrcrcd luman gcograply. 1lc scnsc ol rccognirion arrivcs as a rlcra-
pcuric rclicl and lcads ro a miraculous discovcry ol an inncr lomc. an
imaginary landscapc rlar dcrivcs lrom and ycr rransccnds rlc old coun-
rry. 1lis rranslormcd landscapc symlolically givcs a ncw lilc ro rlc nar-
raror lccausc ir now rurns inro a sourcc ol spirirual rcsilicncc. 1lc narivc
land. in slorr. cngcndcrs anorlcr lirrl. a scll-conscious rcgcncrarion. Òn
rlis accounr and lor rcasons rlar will lccomc apparcnr larcr. ¡ proposc ro
rranslarc rlc rirlc ol ¡u Xun’s srory as ‘‘My Þarivc ¡and.’’ inrcnding lor
cacl word ro dcsignarc an indispcnsallc aspccr ol rlc cncounrcr lcrwccn
rlc suljccr and irs incscapallc orlcr. lcrwccn lisrorical rimc and alrcrcd
spacc.
Asidc lrom rlc nccd lor rccognirion. rlc moril ol journcy. and rlc
cpiplany in coming upon an imaginary lomcland. ¡u Xun’s srory as a
paradigmaric narrarivc also voiccs rlc anguisl and dcspair ol rlc firsr gcn-
crarion ol modcrn. cducarcd Clincsc. 1lc cncounrcr wirl an unrccog-
nizallc landscapc quickly rranslarcs inro an cxaminarion ol rlc lisrorical
conflicr lcrwccn diffcrcnr rcalirics and knowlcdgc sysrcms. 1lc narraring
suljccr’s impulsc ro disringuisl a lamiliar landscapc lrom rlc unlamil-
iar onc compcls lim ro adopr a modc ol rcalisr rcprcscnrarion. rlrougl
wlicl rlc disrancc lcrwccn rcaliry and anriciparion acquircs a social and
moral valcncc. 1lis moralizcd pcrccprion ol diffcrcncc cnallcs a srrik-
ingly dcrailcd luman porrrairurc in rlc srory ro appcar as mcronymic ol
a disappoinring rcaliry. Òn a mcraficrional lcvcl. rlcrclorc. rlc narrarivc
s. Cli-clcn Wang. rrans.. ‘‘My Þarivc ¡carl.’’ ³/ O cn! Ot/.r·. S./..t.! Stsri.· s/
Lu·in (Þcw York. Columlia \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o|¡). : n.¡.
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B.vsn! Hsm.·i./n.·· 77
ol ‘‘My Þarivc ¡and’’ can cvcn lc rcad as a lallc ol rlc condirion ol pos-
sililiry lor rcalisr ficrion in modcrn Clincsc lircrarurc.
1lc goal ol rlis rcading cxcrcisc is ro closcly lollow rlc imagcry. logic.
and rcasoning rlar undcrlic rlc srory. and ro unpack rlc dcnsc and com-
plcx narrarivc. Òur inrimarc rcading will lc digrcssional and symparlcric.
lccausc wc will rry ro cxpcricncc rlc narrarivc as il lrom wirlin. An inri-
marc rclarionslip wirl rlc rcxr dcmands rlar wc lc rranslormcd ly rlc
cxpcricncc ol rcading. dccoding. and rcasscmlling rlc rcxr. ¡r also im-
plics rlar rlc rcxr is produccd ancw and lrouglr ro lcar on marrcrs and
condirions rlar arc ol our own conccrn. Inrcring rlc rcxr is no doulr rlc
firsr srcp roward placing lorl rlc rcxr and oursclvcs in rlc ongoing inrcr-
prcrivc proccss. ¡n our rcading. wc will lc conccrncd wirl wlar may lc
callcd a ‘‘lomcsickncss complcx’’ and irs sullimarion wirlin rlc srory. Wc
will also cncounrcr qucsrions ol suljccriviry. languagc. scxualiry. mcm-
ory. and lanrasy. Wlar wc will lc cxploring inrimarcly is indccd rlc con-
dcnscd psycloliograply ol a modcrn Clincsc malc consciousncss.
Approacling rlc ¡omcland
1lc lollowing arc rwo rcndirions ol rlc wcll-known firsr scnrcncc ol ‘‘My
Þarivc ¡and.’’
Braving rlc lirrcr cold. ¡ rravcllcd morc rlan scvcn lundrcd milcs lack ro
rlc old lomc ¡ lad lclr ovcr rwcnry ycars lclorc. (Yang and Yang. s|)
Braving rlc lonc-cold wcarlcr. ¡ was lcadcd lack ro my lomcrown. a
lomcrown lrom wlicl ¡ was scpararcd ly ovcr six lundrcd milcs and morc
rlan rwcnry ycars. (¡ycll. 8o)
6
o. Borl rranslarions lavc rlcir srrcngrls. alrlougl William ¡ycll’s rcndirion uscs
morc idiomaric Amcrican Inglisl and offcrs a lcrrcr rcad. ¡n rlc lollowing discussion.
¡ indicarc wlicl rranslarion ¡ quorc wirl rlc rranslarors’ namcs and a pagc numlcr. ¡
pur ‘‘cl.’’ in lronr ol rlc rclcrcncc ro indicarc wlcrc ¡ modily rlc rranslarion ro makc
ir closcr ro rlc original. 1lc pagc numlcrs givcn lor rlc Yangs’ rranslarion arc ro rlc
Þorron cdirion. ¡o¬¬. s|–o|, lor ¡ycll’s rranslarion. pagc numlcrs rclcr ro rlc ¡ooo
\nivcrsiry ol ¡awaii cdirion. ¡ also rcplacc rlc Wadc-Gilcs sysrcm lor rranslircrarion
in rlc Yang and Yang rranslarion wirl rlc now srandard tinvin. ¡or rlc Clincsc vcr-
sion. scc Lu Xun ;ucnii (1lc complcrc works ol ¡u Xun) (Bcijing. Fcnmin wcnxuc.
¡o8¡). ¡.:||–s8.
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78 C/in.·. As!.rn
Fcadcrs wirl somc knowlcdgc ol ¡u Xun would know rlar rlis srory las
a dcfinircly auroliograplical lramcwork. ¡r is largcly lascd on ¡u Xun’s
rrip ro Slaoxing in Ðcccmlcr ¡o¡o ro lring lis morlcr. wilc. and scc-
ond youngcr lrorlcr ro Bcijing. wlcrc lc lad lccn working as a minor
govcrnmcnr clcrk. 1lc ‘‘ovcr rwcnry ycars’’ ol scpararion rclcrs ro lis
firsr lcaving lomc ar agc scvcnrccn. According ro lis ¡oii narrarion. in
¡8o8 rlc rccnagc ¡u Xun (rlcn Zlou Slurcn) lad lclr lis lomcrown lor
Þanjing in rlc lopc ol ‘‘raking on a ncw parl. flccing ro a lrcsl placc.
and scarcling lor diffcrcnr pcoplc.’’
7
1lar inirial lcavc-raking was a dc-
rcrmincd fliglr roward somcrling ncw and diffcrcnr, ir was also rlc ori-
gin ol rlc narraring suljccr’s larcd rclarionslip ro an old lomc. a disranr
narivc land. ¡or rlc lormarion ol a narivc land ncccssarily prcsupposcs a
dcparrurc lrom. cvcn an acrivc rcjccrion ol. rlc land and rlc symlolic uni-
vcrsc ol wlicl rlc rcrurning visiror was unril rlar momcnr ol scpararion
an involunrary parr.
¡n rccounring lis currcnr rcrurn. rlc narraror lcgins wirl rlc firsr-
pcrson pronoun. mucl in rlc samc way rlar ¡u Xun callcd arrcnrion
ro rlc auroliograplical suljccr rlrougl irs opcning scnrcncc in rlc scll-
prclacc ro lis firsr collccrion ol slorr srorics Nc/cn (Call ro arms. ¡oi:).
Appropriarcly. rlc original firsr scnrcncc in ‘‘My Þarivc ¡and’’ is so srruc-
rurcd rlar. lcrwccn rlc suljccr ms and irs dcsrinarion auxicna, ir placcs
rlc dcscriprion ol a spario-rcmporal scpararion and rlc cfforr ro ovcr-
comc ir. Bcrwccn ‘‘myscll ’’ and ‘‘my narivc land’’ now lics a largc narra-
rivc spacc rlar lcspcaks rlc impossililiry ol rlc narraring suljccr aclicv-
ing a complcrc rcrurn. Òncc scpararcd. rlc narraror and lis narivc land
cannor lur mainrain rlc rclarionslip lcrwccn a suljccr and an oljccr.
alrlougl rlc suljccr. as wc will wirncss. is nor always rlc acrivc or agcn-
rial onc as miglr lc cxpccrcd. 1o somc cxrcnr. lis narivc land ncccssarily
parriciparcs in rlc lormarion ol rlc narraror’s sclllood or suljccriviry.
An alscnr prcscncc. rlc narivc land las lccomc rlc orlcr rlar is always
wirlin rlc narraring suljccr and in rcrms ol wlicl lc nccds ro rcll lis
srory and narrarc lis origin. ¡r rlus srakcs a pcrmancnr claim on lis cxis-
rcncc and scll-consciousncss. Þo marrcr low lar lc may drilr away lrom
rlis landscapc. lc cannor cscapc ir. jusr as lc is nor cquippcd ro srcp our-
sidc lis own lody.
¬. 1lis is a lircral rranslarion ol parr ol ¡u Xun’s own prclacc ro lis Nc/cn (Call ro
arms). Scc T/. Csmt/.t. Isr/· s/ Lu Xun, ¡.ioo–¬o, lor an Inglisl rranslarion ol rlc
rcxr. scc Yang and Yang. Lu Xun. S./..t.! Stsri.· (Þcw York. Þorron. ¡o¬¬). ¡–o.
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B.vsn! Hsm.·i./n.·· 79
Ivcn morc srrikingly. rlc original firsr scnrcncc cnds wirl a dirccrional
co-vcrl ;u (ro go) rlar purs rlc narraror in an inrriguing posirion. ¡or
rlis vcrl suggcsrs rlar rlc prcscnr narrarion alour rlis rrip lomc in rlc
pasr is conducrcd away lrom rlc lomcrown. (1lc implicd pcrspccrivc
would lc radically alrcrcd slould rlc co-vcrl lc /ci [ro comc|. wlicl is
synracrically possillc and would placc rlc narraror in conriguiry wirl.
nor away lrom. lis lomcrown.) 1lc word cloicc convcys a dcraclmcnr
wirl wlicl rlc narraror. in anriciparing rlc cnd ol lis rravcl. vicws lis
lomccoming as a rransirory rcrurn or cvcn a lusincss rrip. 1lc ccnrrilu-
gal moliliry rlar rlc vcrl insrirurcs lcrrays a condirion ol roorlcssncss
wirl wlicl rlc narraring suljccr will lavc ro comc ro rcrms during and
rlrougl lis journcy. 1lc lappy convcnrional plor ol rlc prodigal son is
rlcrclorc insranrly cancclcd, ncirlcr is mucl scnsc ol rclicl or pridc con-
vcycd ar rcrurning ro onc’s roors.
Srill lurrlcr rcmovcd is rlc likclilood ol rlc kind ol royal rrcarmcnr
rlar rlc Impcror Gaozu musr lavc rcccivcd. Òn rlc conrrary. rlc dc-
raclmcnr cmlcddcd in rlc firsr scnrcncc alrcady poinrs ro rlc srrucrurc
ol a lard and unscnrimcnral adulr world rlar rlc narraror now inlal-
irs. ¡or lc will soon divulgc rlc lcss-rlan-inspiring purposc ol lis rrip as
ro ‘‘movc away lrom rlis lamiliar counrrysidc ro rlc srrangc and laraway
placc wlcrc ¡ now carncd my kccp’’ (¡ycll. oo). ¡c comcs lomc ro rakc
a final lcavc. lccausc rlc old lamily compound—rlc concrcrc sirc and
symlol ol rcassuring propinquiry and closcncss—las lccn sold. and rlc
rransacrion is ro lc complcrcd lclorc rlc cnd ol rlc ycar. 1lis commcr-
cial clangc ol lands is ro rcndcr rlc narivc land cvcn morc alsrracr and
ro makc rlc narraror an indiffcrcnr oursidcr ro ir as mucl as lc is ro rlc
‘‘srrangc and laraway placc’’ wlcrc lc makcs a living. ¡is coming lomc
is indccd ro wirncss ycr anorlcr loss. lur rlis rimc ir lcars rlc wciglr ol
a morc comprclcnsivc and rlorougl discnclanrmcnr.
1lc discnclanrmcnr. srcmming lromrlc cxposcd lragiliry ol scnrimcnr
in rlc lacc ol commcrcial cxclangc. is compoundcd ly rlc growing gap
lcrwccn rcaliry and mcmory as rlc narraror approaclcs lis dcsrinarion.
As wc drcw ncar my lormcr lomc rlc day lccamc ovcrcasr and a cold wind
llcw inro rlc calin ol our loar. wlilc all onc could scc rlrougl rlc clinks
in our lamloo awning wcrc a lcw dcsolarc villagcs. dcvoid ol any sign ol
lilc. scarrcrcd lar and ncar undcr rlc somlrc ycllow sky. ¡ could nor lclp
lccling dcprcsscd.
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Al! Surcly rlis was nor rlc old lomc ¡ lad rcmcmlcrcd lor rlc pasr
rwcnry ycars· (cl. Yang and Yang. s|)
‘‘Approacling my lomcrown’’ is always an inrcnsc momcnr rlar incircs
rlc rcmcmlcring suljccr ro anriciparc, ir is also an cmorional occasion
lor ovcrdcrcrmincd inrcrprcrarion and scll-cxplanarion. ‘‘Ðrawing ncar’’
in spacc lclps ro acrivarc disranr and luricd mcmorics alour rlc land-
scapc and onc’s pasr cxisrcncc. 1lc momcnr ol approacling is rlcrclorc a
liminal onc in rlar ir scrs inro morion all sraric carcgorics and compcls rlc
suljccr ro lccomc awarc ol lis own rranslormarion and diffcrcncc. ¡r ac-
cclcrarcs rlc prccarious proccdurc ol invcsrigaring dcprls—insidc as wcll
as oursidc. Wlarcvcr rlc lomcland sccncry appcars ro lc in irs prcscnr
condirion. irs concrcrc rcaliry. wlcn suljccrcd ro a comparison wirl rlc
rcmcmlcrcd and inrcrnalizcd narivc land. cannor lur cmlody cxrcrnaliry
and srrangcncss. 1lc inncr lomcland. as rlc narraror gocs on ro acknowl-
cdgc. is always alsrracr and unrcprcscnrallc. ‘‘1lc land rlar ¡ rcmcm-
lcrcd was nor in rlc lcasr likc rlis. My narivc land was lar morc lovcly.
Bur il you askcd mc ro rccall irs pcculiar clarm or dcscrilc irs lcaurics. ¡
lad no concrcrc imagcs. no words ro dcscrilc ir’’ (cl. Yang and Yang. s|).
A scnsc ol lacing an impassivc rcaliry ariscs wlcn rlc alsrracr narivc
land rcvcals irscll ro lc orlcr rlan and in cxccss ol rlc sccncry lclorc
onc’s cycs. Fcaliry scrs in ro signal an inadcquacy. a lailurc ro livc up ro or
rcproducc an imaginary inrcnsiry and plcnirudc. Crirical rcalism. in rurn.
ulrimarcly amounrs ro a rcprcscnrarional cfforr ro undcrscorc rcaliry as
aparlcric lailurc and ro rlrow inro rclicl rlc dispariry lcrwccn rlc ol-
scrvcd and rlc anriciparcd. 1lc rcalisric porrrayal is an implicir dccoding
in rcrms ol a uropian and diffcrcnr orlcr—or a prccxisring cmpry lramc.
as Foland Barrlcs oncc callcd ir. ‘‘1o dcscrilc is rlus ro placc rlc cmpry
lramc wlicl rlc rcalisric aurlor always carrics wirl lim (morc imporranr
rlan lis cascl) lclorc a collccrion or conrinuum ol oljccrs wlicl can-
nor lc pur inro words wirlour rlis olscssivc opcrarion.’’
8
1lis proccss
ol lraming and marcling. iniriarcd ar rlc momcnr ol approacling rlc
sccnc ol unimaginarivc rcaliry. will rcacl a dramaric poinr wlcn rlc nar-
raror rcads rlc plysiognomy ol lis clildlood lricnd Funru. 1lus. morc
rlan an cmorional cxcircmcnr. ‘‘approacling my lomcrown’’ awakcns a
cognirivc impulsc rlar drivcs rcalisr discoursc.
8. Foland Barrlcs. ‘‘¡ainring as a Modcl.’’ S/Z, rrans. Ficlard Millcr (Þcw York.
¡ill and Wang. ¡o¬|). s|.
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B.vsn! Hsm.·i./n.·· 81
1lis cognirivc opcrarion ol rcalism will lclp rlc narraring suljccr cs-
rallisl a crirical rclarionslip ro rlc impovcrislcd sccnc ol rcaliry rlar lc
cnrcrs. ¡r givcs risc ro a lcrmcncuric cxcrcisc rlrougl wlicl rlc firsr-
pcrson narraror consranrly sccks signs and offcrs cxplanarions. ‘‘Ar dawn
rlc ncxr day ¡ rcaclcd rlc garcway ol my lamily compound’’ (cl. Yang and
Yang. s|). ¡rom rlc lrokcn srcms ol wirlcrcd grass up on rlc rilc rool ro
rlc disquicring silcncc and dcscrrcd rooms—all yicld a sign ol disrcpair
and dcclinc. Wlcn rlc morlcr comcs our. rlc narraror sccs wlar is nor
slown or olvious lur wlar may lc cxpccrcd. ¡r is rlis scnsarion ol sccing
rlc unsccn and lcaring rlc unsaid rlar accords rlc narraror a solcring
scnsc ol conlronring rlc rrurl ol rcaliry. ‘‘1lougl morlcr was dcliglrcd.
slc was also rrying ro lidc a ccrrain lccling ol sadncss’’ (Yang and Yang.
ss).
9
Ivcn rlc manncr in wlicl slc asks lim ro rcsr and lavc somc rca
makcs lim suspccr a poinrcd avoidancc ol rlc ropic ol rclocaring. Wirl
lis morlcr is lis ciglr-ycar-old ncplcw. ¡ong’cr. wlo mccrs rlc narra-
ror lor rlc firsr rimc and olscrvcs rlc gucsr wirl curiosiry lrom a rimid
disrancc.
A mulriplc ncrwork ol inquiring gazcs rlus quicrly connccrs lamily
mcmlcrs ol rlrcc scpararc gcncrarions. 1lc mosr norallc alscncc ar rlc
momcnr appcars ro lc rlc larlcr—rlc narraror’s as wcll as ¡ong’cr’s
larlcr. 1lc narraror will larcr rccall lis own larlcr as a lcncvolcnr lur dis-
ranr figurc. wlilc ¡ong’cr sccms ro lc scarcling lor a surrogarc larlcr in
cxamining lis unclc. wlo is apparcnrly a srrangcr. ¡n somc lundamcnral
modcrn Clincsc narrarivcs. sucl as ¡u Xun’s ‘‘Ðiary ol a Madman’’ and
Ba Iin’s Fcmi/v, rlc alscnr or cnlccllcd larlcr olrcn cmlodics an incxpli-
callc lailurc rlar las lorl collccrivc and pcrsonal parlogcns. ¡r is a symp-
romaric alscncc rlar rcflccrs rlc lankruprcy ol parriarclal aurloriry. or
rlc impossillc condirion ol locaring a larlcr figurc in onc’s liological
larlcr.
10
¡u Xun’s own wriring alour rlc illncss and dcarl ol lis larlcr
cffccrivcly rurncd rlc paincd parcrnal lody inro a symlol ol narional
suffcring. ¡n rlc prcscnr siruarion lcrwccn rlc narraror and ¡ong’cr. a
ncw lond will lc lormcd rlar diffcrs lrom and appcars morc modcrn
and morc lopclul rlan rlc rradirional larlcr-son lincagc rlar Funru con-
rinucs ro pracricc.
o. 1lc lcss lircral rranslarion ol rlis scnrcncc ly ¡ycll rcads. ‘‘1lougl slc was olvi-
ously lappy ro scc mc. ¡ also rcad linrs ol mclancloly in lcr lacc’’ (oo).
¡o. Scc claps. | and s lor lurrlcr discussion ol rlc symlolismsurrounding rlc larlcr
figurc.
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82 C/in.·. As!.rn
Ar lasr. rlc convcrsarion lcrwccn morlcr and son comcs ro rlc dcrails
ol moving. ‘‘¡ said rlar rooms lad alrcady lccn rcnrcd up norrl. and ¡
lad louglr a lirrlc lurnirurc, in addirion ir would lc ncccssary ro scll all
rlc lurnirurc in rlc lousc lcrc in ordcr ro luy morc rlings’’ (cl. Yang
and Yang. ss). Almosr impcrccprilly. rlc cmorionally clargcd rcrurn visir
winds down ro lccomc as plain as luying and sclling uscd lurnirurc.
1lcrc is an incrcasing wcarincss alour dcscriling lusincss rransacrions
in an adulr world. Òn rlis pracrical lcvcl ol livclilood. rlc narraror las
no morc arraclmcnr ro rlc old lousc or lis narivc land rlan ro rlc sal-
allc lousclold goods. Again. rlc logic ol commcrcial cxclangc scrvcs ro
wipc our rlc dcprl and cmorional invcsrmcnr rlar gocs inro rlc norion
ol ‘‘narivc land.’’ Mundanc worrics and calcularions momcnrarily kccp rlc
final larcwcll lrom rcacling irs glolal proporrion and makc rlc prospccr
morc managcallc.
Fcmcmlcring rlc ¡omcland
Ycr rlc dull concrcrcncss ol rlc adulr world is inrcrruprcd as soon as rlc
morlcr spcaks ol Funru. almosr as an alrcrrlouglr. wlcn slc cnumcr-
arcs rclarivcs and lricnds rlcy slould visir lclorc dcparring. 1lc mcrc
mcnrion ol Funru’s namc rriggcrs. ‘‘as il rlrougl a flasl ol liglrning.’’
spccracular clildlood mcmorics and rclcascs rlc anamncsric imagc ol a
‘‘young lcro.’’ ‘‘Ar rlis poinr a srrangc picrurc suddcnly flaslcd inro my
mind. a goldcn moon suspcndcd in a dccp lluc sky and lcncarl ir rlc
scaslorc. planrcd as lar as rlc cyc could scc wirl jadc-grccn warcrmclons.
wlilc in rlcir midsr a loy ol clcvcn or rwclvc. wcaring a silvcr nccklcr and
grasping a srccl pircllork in lis land. was rlrusring wirl all lis miglr ar
a c/c wlicl dodgcd rlc llow and cscapcd lcrwccn lis lcgs’’ (Yang and
Yang. ss). ¡n conrrasr ro rlc gray and dcsolarc landscapc ol rcaliry. rlis
magic vision conjurcs up a lanrasy land wlcrc rlc primary colors arc in-
rcnsc and vilranr. rlc spacc is infinirc. and rlc acrion ol a young loy is
playlul and ycr lcroic. 1lis is also an imaginary sccnc rccallcd lccausc. as
ir lccomcs clcar larcr. rlc narraror as a young loy ncvcr lad rlc clancc
ro visir Funru ly rlc occan. Þor did lc cvcr wirncss rlc cscapc ol a cralry
crcarurc callcd rlc c/c. Ycr rlis clildlood lanrasy is now rcmcmlcrcd as
anamncsric ol a diffcrcnr and rcmovcd cxisrcncc rlar is cvcr morc vivid
and mcaninglul rlan rlc prcscnr gloomincss. ¡r parriciparcs in a rruly uro-
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B.vsn! Hsm.·i./n.·· 83
pian vision. il only lccausc sucl a gorgcously lulfilling lilc was ncvcr ro
lc aclicvcd lur mcrcly anriciparcd. Srill. rlc rcmcmlcrcd lanrasy rclcascs
a romanric longing lor infiniry rlar alncgarcs rlc mundancncss and lrag-
mcnrarion ol rlc adulr world. Morc imporranrly. csscnrial ro rlis visra—
ar lcasr lrom rlc pcrspccrivc ol rlc nosralgic suljccr—is a clild’s purposc-
lul lur disinrcrcsrcd play.
Òncc awakcncd. clildlood mcmorics uslcr in a srrcam ol oljccrs.
sccncs. occasions. wislcs. and narrarivcs. rlrougl wlicl rlc mind’s cyc is
rclocuscd and ‘‘¡ sccmcd ro scc my lcaurilul narivc land’’ again (cl. Yang
and Yang. s8).
11
A lorgorrcn languagc. or indccd a diffcrcnr sign sysrcm.
las ro lc cxcavarcd and scr up as rlc lramc lclorc rlc narraror can lring
lis narivc land inro locus. Òr. ro cxrcnd Iacqucs ¡acan’s mcraplor. rlc
‘‘arclival documcnrs’’ ol clildlood mcmorics. in wlicl rlc unconscious
as liddcn rrurl ‘‘las alrcady lccn wrirrcn down.’’ arc now rclcascd and
madc rcadallc.
12
¡n rccounring lis acquainrancc wirl Funru morc rlan
rlirry ycars ago. rlc narraror assumcs rlc posirion ol a culrural anrlro-
pologisr and dcscrilcs a lygonc world wirl irs rigorous cusroms and riru-
als. ¡c cxplains rlc praycr and analogical rlinking rlar go inro Funru’s
namc. wlicl amounrs ro an ingcnuous ovcrcoming ol a lcarcd dcficicncy.
Ivcn lclorc lis firsr appcarancc. Funru alrcady cxcircs anriciparion lc-
causc all rlc young narraror carcs alour is rlar Funru knows low ro ‘‘scr
up rraps and carcl small lirds’’ (Yang and Yang. so). 1o rlc narraror. rlc
namc ‘‘Funru’’ lrom rlc lcginning significs a modc ol lrcc and crcarivc
play rlar is lacking lrom lis own day-ro-day sclooling.
Wlcn lc finally arrivcs lrom rlc counrrysidc. rlc loy Funru lrings
nor only a ncw lricndslip. a rarc opporruniry ro play. lur also a lrcsl
and figurarivc spcccl. ¡c inrroduccs an advcnrurous oursidc world ro
rlc rccnagc narraror. wlo wirl lis cvcryday scloolmarcs would nor-
mally lavc ‘‘norling ro look our on lur rlc squarc parcl ol sky rlar was
visillc alovc rlc ligl walls ol a lamily courryard’’ (¡ycll. o:). 1lc namcs
and nouns rlar Funru urrcrs. lccausc rlcy posscss no spccific rclcrcnrs
lur only cxoric associarions lor rlc lisrcncr. rurn inro a colorlul clain ol
significrs. lusks. plcasanrs. lornclicks. paddyclicks. lluclacks. glosr-
¡¡. Again. comparc wirl rlc morc clalorarc ¡ycll rranslarion. ‘‘¡or a lracrion ol a
sccond. ¡ cvcn sccmcd ro rccaprurc rlar lcaurilul lomcland ¡ rlouglr ¡ lad losr’’ (o:–
o|).
¡i. Iacqucs ¡acan. ‘‘1lc ¡uncrion and ¡icld ol Spcccl and ¡anguagc in ¡syclo-
analysis.’’ in lis L.rit·. ³ S./..tisn, rrans. Alan Slcridan (ÞcwYork. Þorron. ¡o¬¬). so.
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84 C/in.·. As!.rn
scarcrs. Gucnvin lands. ladgcrs. porcupincs. jumpcrfisl. and rlc c/c. 1o
rccaprurc rlc impacr ol rlis ncwcxpcricncc. rlc narraror coins a linguisric
sign c/c and uscs ir ro rclcr mcronymically ro an imaginarivc rcaliry and
playlulncss unknown ro lim. ‘‘¡ lad no idca rlcn wlar rlis rling callcd
c/c was—and ¡ am nor mucl clcarcr now lor rlar marrcr—lur somc-
low ¡ lclr ir was somcrling likc a small dog. and vcry ficrcc’’ (Yang and
Yang. s¬). 1lc concocrcd word and imagc ol c/c, inrimarcly associarcd
wirl young Funru and lis magic world. lccomcs rlc sign par cxccllcncc
ol a diffcrcnr rcalm ol rcaliry lrom wlar rlc narraror finds lamiliar and
uninrcrcsring.
1ogcrlcr wirl lis srring ol ncw nouns. Funru also supplics a scrics ol
minisrorics. wirlour wlicl rlc cxoric lirds and fisl would lardly comc
ro lilc. Wlar rlc young narraror misscs. as a loy lrom rlc small rown.
arc sucl narrarallc cxpcricnccs and advcnrurcs. ‘‘¡ lad ncvcr known rlar
all rlcsc srrangc rlings cxisrcd. ar rlc scaslorc rlcrc wcrc slclls all colors
ol rlc rainlow, warcrmclons wcrc cxposcd ro sucl dangcr. ycr all ¡ lad
known ol rlcmlclorc was rlar rlcy wcrc sold in rlc grccngroccr’s’’ (Yang
and Yang. s¬). 1lc lruir ar rlc grccngroccr’s is alrcady an alsrracrion. lc-
causc ir is rcmovcd lrom rlc cnvironmcnr in wlicl ir grows. and also
lccausc ir is a commodiry ro lc purclascd rlrougl moncrary cxclangc.
¡r slrinks inro rlc flarrcncd. unilorm rcsiduc ol an organic lilc cyclc rlar
involvcs luman rimc and lalor. 1lc lcaps ol lruir in a srorc may con-
vcy rlc idca ol alundancc. lur rlcy also display a splcndid povcrry ol
cxpcricncc. 1lis dcccprivc appcarancc ol a markcrplacc sccms ro srimu-
larc young Funru during lis rrip ro rown. lur rlcrc is no srory ro rcll.
nor mucl dcprl ro look inro. ‘‘¡ don’r know wlar wc ralkcd ol rlcn. lur
¡ rcmcmlcr rlar Funru was in ligl spirirs. saying rlar sincc lc lad comc
ro rown lc lad sccn many ncw rlings’’ (Yang and Yang. so). Þor sur-
prisingly. rlc cxciring ‘‘ncw rlings’’ rlar firsr srrikc Funru ncvcr lccomc
concrcrc cnougl or cvcn gcr namcd ly rlc narraror as a young clild. ¡n-
rrigucd ly rlc ricl cxpcricncc ol rlc visiror lrom anorlcr rcalm ol rcaliry.
lc only las rimc ro lccl cmlarrasscd ly lis cvcnrlcss and rcsrraincd lilc.
¡n liglr ol Funru’s cnricing ralcs. lis world appcars unlcarally narrow
and alsrracr. Alrcr lis visir is ovcr. Funru srill asks lis larlcr ro lring ‘‘a
packcr ol slclls and a lcw lcaurilul lird lcarlcrs.’’ lur all rlc young narra-
ror can do in rcrurn. again. is ro scnd lim ‘‘somc rlings a lcw rimcs’’ (cl.
¡ycll. o:)—alsrracr oljccrs rlar rcmain unnamcd or simply unspccifiallc.
Funru’s visir ro rown. incidcnrally. also rcminds us rlar rlc gcncric
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B.vsn! Hsm.·i./n.·· 85
norion ol auxicna may rclcr ro an arca largcr rlan rlc counrrysidc. ¡or
rlc narraror. lis narivc land olviously includcs rlc small rown wlcrc lc
grows up. ¡is nosralgia lor ‘‘guxiang.’’ or wlar may lc callcd a proro-
rypical ‘‘lomcsickncss complcx.’’ rlcrclorc dcscrilcs a primordial arracl-
mcnr ro a ccrrain lilc lorm or sragc rlar is nor ncccssarily lound ro a rural
scrring. Sincc rlc lormarion ol a narivc land is onc ol rlc firsr signs ol
coming ol agc rlar signals irrcvcrsillc cnrrancc inro adulrlood. rlc nos-
ralgia lor onc’s narivc land is olrcn morc concrcrcly cxprcsscd as a long-
ing lor onc’s losr clildlood. 1lcir similar psyclorropic impacr lrings
rogcrlcr onc’s narivc land and clildlood. lccausc lorl may lc madc inro
dcposirorics ol a myrlical conrcnrmcnr lrcc ol anxicry. or inro mcronyms
ol an imaginary plcnirudc prior ro rlc srricrurcs ol rlc symlolic ordcr.
Morc gcncrally. a visir ro onc’s narivc land may rurn inro a scnrimcn-
ral journcy and yicld a lyrical lircrary ropic only wlcn rlc prospccr ol
aclicving rcconciliarion wirl oncscll lccomcs prollcmaric and is pur on
rrial. 1lc cnsuing parlos ol lamcnr or rcgrcr undcrscorcs a lundamcnral
misrccognirion and lrings ro rlc lorc rlc incolcrcncc or disconrinuiry
in onc’s lilc cxpcricncc. now magnificd and givcn a plysical conrour in
rlc cxrcrnal landscapc.
13
1lc journcy dccp inro pasr rcrrirorics as inscrip-
rions ol rlc unconscious also promprs inrcnsc scll-rcvicw and a glolal
rcflccrion on onc’s condirion ol cxisrcncc. Òlrcn. as rlc narraring suljccr
londly rccalls. in vivid dcrail. an innoccnr and playlul clildlood. wc dc-
rccr a disillusionmcnr wirl and qucsrioning ol rlc cold. larsl rcaliry ol
rlc adulr world.
As a narrarivc gcnrc. wlicl ¡u Xun was firsr ro namc and claracrcrizc
in ¡o:s. modcrn Clincsc narivc-land lircrarurc (xicnatu m.nxu., or lir-
crary narivism) olrcn sullimarcs anxicry alour cnrcring rlc adulr world
inro a crirical rlrusr againsr modcrn urlan culrurc, ir las rlc lasic srruc-
rurc ol rranslorming a privarc rcminisccncc inro an cxprcssion ol uropian
longing. ¡n srraiglrlorward rcrms. ¡u Xun dcscrilcs rlc ncccssary con-
dirion ol displaccmcnr lor narivc-land lircrarurc ro lc wrirrcn. ‘‘Bclorc
a wrircr scrs our ro wrirc narivc-land lircrarurc. lc finds limscll alrcady
cxilcd lrom lis lomc. drivcn ly lilc ro a srrangc placc. Wlar can lc
do lur rccall lis larlcr’s gardcn. a gardcn wlicl docs nor cxisr any-
¡:. ¡or a discussion ol rlc crlos ol nosralgia in modcrn Clincsc lircrarurc. scc Ðavid
Ðcr-wci Wang. ‘‘1owards a ¡ocrics ol ¡maginary Þosralgia.’’ in lis Fi.tisnc/ B.c/i·m
in Tm.nti.t/-C.nturv C/inc. Acs Dun, Lcs S/., S/.n Csnam.n (Þcw York. Columlia
\nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡ooi). i|o–s:.
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86 C/in.·. As!.rn
morc·’’
14
1lc morivarion and rlcrorical opcrarion ol sucl narrarivcs is
rlcrclorc rlc sccking. in clildlood mcmorics. ol an imaginary compcn-
sarion lor prcscnr dissarislacrion. As a lircrary lorm dcvorcd ro rcliving
alscnr sccncs and privarc momcnrs. narivc-land lircrarurc cannor lail ro
lc a lypcrsuljccrivc lorm ol wriring. ¡r is a kind ol wriring rlar draws
on rlc ‘‘arclival documcnrs’’ ol rlc unconscious and lclps rlc narraring
suljccr rccognizc. as ¡acan would suggcsr. lis unconscious nor mcrcly as
lis lisrory. lur also as ‘‘rlc discoursc ol rlc orlcr.’’
15
¡crcin lics rlc sym-
lolic luncrion ol narivc-land lircrarurc. As a lircrary lorm rlar cxplorcs
rlc incidcnral and rcmcmlcrcd lragmcnrs ol cxpcricncc. narivc-land lir-
crarurc compcls as wcll as accomplislcs an inquiry inro rlc rcalm ol rlc
unconscious. ¡n cngaging in rlc discoursc ol alrcriry. nosralgic wrirings
anrirlcrically ourlinc largc and cxrcrnal lorccs rlar drivc mcmorics and
dcsircs inward and inro rlc unconscious. Þarivc-land lircrarurc. in orlcr
words. may lc lorl rlc sympromol civilizarional disconrcnr and irs curc.
¡r is a rlcrapcuric wriring lccausc ir allows lor a conrcmplarivc suljcc-
riviry and opcns up acccss ro orlcr visions ol social lilc and rlc lururc.
Susraincd lircrary inrcrcsr in rlc suljccr marrcr ol lomcland or lomc-
sickncss only rcsrifics ro rlc grcar nccd lor sucl a rlcrapcuric rclicl in
rwcnricrl-ccnrury Clina.
16
According ro onc rcprcscnrarivc analysis. ¡u Xun’s own narivc-land
narrarivcs (including orlcr srorics sucl as ‘‘Þcw Ycar’s Sacrificc’’ and ‘‘¡n
rlc Wincslop’’) dcpicr a sccond loss. onc rcrurns lomc ro losc ir again
and pcrlaps cvcn lor good. ¡n rlcsc srorics rlc alicnarion ol rlc malc
visiror lrom lis lomcland is olrcn rakcn as an allcgory ol ‘‘rlc anrago-
nism lcrwccn a modcrn inrcllccrual. culrivarcd in Wcsrcrn civilizarion
and idcas. and rlc sragnanr communal socicry rlar is srill lockcd in rra-
dirional Clincsc culrurc and rlouglr parrcrns.’’
17
¡ndccd. narivc-land lir-
¡|. ¡u Xun. ¡rclacc ro Xicn!ci Z/snaaus m.nxu. !cxi (Compcndium ol modcrn
Clincsc lircrarurc). ¡o vols.. cd. Zlao Iiali (Slanglai. ¡iangyou ruslu gongsi. ¡o:s–
:o). i.o.
¡s. ¡acan. ‘‘1lc ¡uncrion and ¡icld ol Spcccl and ¡anguagc in ¡sycloanalysis.’’
si–ss.
¡o. ¡or a comprclcnsivc anrlology. scc Ticn!sna .cs. vi auxicna (Clincsc aspara-
gus. rcmcmlranccs ol rlc narivc land). cd. Ðcng Iiuping and Yu ¡aiying (Bcijing.
Zlongguo duiwai lanyi. ¡oos). 1o somc cxrcnr. cvcn rlc xicnatu lircrary movcmcnr in
1aiwan during rlc carly ¡o¬os cxprcsscd rlc samc psyclological nccd.
¡¬. Yang Iianlong. ‘‘¡un ¡u Xun dc xiangru qingjic yu xiangru xiaosluo’’ (‘‘Òn ¡u
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B.vsn! Hsm.·i./n.·· 87
crarurc is also lound ro lc a scll-consciously allcgorical modc ol wriring.
upon wlicl dcpcnds rlc salicnr and sulsriruring rranslaraliliry lcrwccn
privarc scnrimcnrs and social commcnrary. ¡inally. narivc-land lircrarurc
musr rcly on rcalisr rcclniqucs ro sarisly irs dcscriprivc impulsc. wlilc irs
crlos is rccognizally lyrical. and irs ulrimarc vision dccply uropian.
(Mis)Fccognizing rlc ¡omcland
¡l rlc journcy rlrougl onc’s narivc land lcads ro rlc inncrmosr clild-
lood mcmorics lcing discovcrcd as rlc unconscious. cirlcr incidcnrally
or rlrougl conccnrrarcd cfforrs. rlc conrcmporary rcaliry ol onc’s lomc-
rown docs nor cmcrgc lully unril onc as a visiror is lookcd ar and rcc-
ognizcd (or rarlcr misrccognizcd) as a srrangcr. A lailurc ro rccognizc.
wlicl ¡acan poinrs our as csscnrial ro scll-rccognirion and knowlcdgc.
18
occurs ro rcdcfinc rlc suljccr’s posirion and lis rclarionslip ro orlcrs.
Wlcn rlc narraring suljccr arrivcs ar lis lamily compound. lc is grccrcd
ly lis morlcr and ncplcw as a lamily mcmlcr. ¡ong’cr cxamincs lis
unclc wirl curiosiry. lur sincc no orlcr idcnrificarion is possillc. nor is
rlcrc rlc nccd lor murual rccognirion. no dcscriprion lollows. Ðuring
rlc convcrsarion lcrwccn ¡ong’cr and rlc narraror. rlc young loy lcarns
rlar lc will soon lc raking a rrain ridc and a loar rrip and will lcavc
rlis placc. 1lc narraror makcs a poinr ol asking wlcrlcr ¡ong’cr likcs
rravcling. lur is rlc young loy lully awarc ol and prcparcd lor rlc consc-
qucnccs ol rlis cxpccrcd dcparrurc·
‘‘Òl! ¡ikc rlis· Wirl sucl a long mousraclc!’’ A srrangc slrill voicc sud-
dcnly rang our.
¡ lookcd up wirl a srarr. and saw a woman ol alour filry wirl promi-
ncnr clcckloncs and rlin lips. Wirl lcr lands on lcr lips. nor wcaring a
skirr lur wirl lcr rrouscrcd lcgs aparr. slc srood in lronr ol mc jusr likc a
compass in a lox ol gcomcrrical insrrumcnrs. (cl. Yang and Yang. s8)
Xun’s narivc-land complcx and narivc-land ficrion’’). Lu Xun vcniiu vu./cna (¡u Xun
srudics monrlly). no. ¡:| (Iunc ¡oo:). io–:o. csp. :i.
¡8. ¡or onc vcrsion ol ¡acan’s rlcorizarion. scc ‘‘Sulvcrsion ol rlc Suljccr and Ðia-
lccric ol Ðcsirc.’’ in L.rit·. ³ S./..tisn, :oo–o¬ wlcrc rlc original ¡rcncl dcscriprion is
givcn as ‘‘un m..snncîtr. .··.nti./ cu m. .snncîtr..’’
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1lc firsr jolring dcscriprion ol rlc narraring suljccr as a srrangcr rlus
rcsulrs lrom an insrancc ol murual misrccognirion. 1lc pronounccmcnr
ol rlc loud woman alruprly makcs rlc narraror rcalizc. as il looking in an
unflarrcring mirror. low orlcr pcoplc in rown may and will (mis)rccog-
nizc lim—wirl slock and dislclicl. Morcovcr. wirl lcr commcnr alour
lis ‘‘long mousraclc.’’ rlc woman lorccs lim ro scc limscll firsr as a lody
lragmcnr and rlcn as an adulr malc. imagcs grorcsqucly irrcconcilallc
wirl rlc longing and privarc clild wlom lc las jusr rccallcd as lis own
scll. ¡n rcacrion ro sucl lragmcnrary idcnrificarions. rlc narraror grows
dclcnsivc and cngagcs in a similar misrccognirion, rlc lcss rlan plcasing
lcarurcs rlar lc noriccs firsr arc rlcrclorc lcr ‘‘promincnr clcckloncs and
rlin lips.’’
19
1lis misrccognirion. wlicl consisrs in rcducing rlc oljccr
ol olscrvarion ro a lragmcnrcd lody. lollows a synccdoclic proccdurc
and insrirurcs a rcalisric rccognirion—rlc rcvclarory asronislmcnr ar scc-
ing rcaliry as lcss rlan rlc imagincd lullncss or plcnirudc. Ivcn rlougl
rlc narraror alrcady cxpcricnccs sucl a painlul cncounrcr wirl rcaliry on
approacling an unrccognizallc landscapc. rlc momcnr ol murual mis-
rccognirion srill slakcs lim proloundly. lccausc lc now pcrlorcc sccs
limscll lcing sccn and undcrgocs rlc primal ‘‘dcflccrion ol rlc spccular
I inro rlc social I.’’
20
1lc luman lody grows ro lc a morc lirrcr rccord
ol ruinous rcaliry rlan docs landscapc.
Sccing low flallcrgasrcd rlc narraror is. rlc uncxpccrcd srrangcr gocs
lurrlcr and srakcs lcr claim ro lamiliariry and cvcn plysical inrimacy.
‘‘Ðon’r you rccognizc mc· Wly. ¡ lcld you in my arms lclorc!’’ (cl.
Yang and Yang. s8). Ar rlis rurn ol inrimarc misrccognirion. clildlood
or inlancy rurns inro a lialiliry. and rlc narraror’s idcnriry or sclllood
is psyclologically arrcsrcd in and lcld losragc ro a lclplcss inlanr lody.
Ònly wirl lis morlcr’s lclplul linrs docs rlc narraror rccall rlar rlc
woman lclorc lim is Sccond Sisrcr Yang. wlo. as rlc Bcancurd Bcaury.
uscd ro arrracr many cusromcrs ro lcr lcan curd slop. ¡owcvcr. ‘‘prol-
ally lccausc ol my rcndcr agc. ¡ musr lavc lccn immunc ro rlc alclcmy
ol lcr clarms. lor ¡ lad lorgorrcn lcr complcrcly’’ (cl. ¡ycll. o|–os).
Òncc again. rlc prcscnr siruarion dclivcrs a llunr rcmindcr ol rlc rc-
morcncss ol lis clildlood. As il in a psycloanalyrical minidrama. Scc-
¡o. ¡or ¡acan’s classic discussion ol rlc impacr ol a ‘‘lragmcnrcd lody’’ vis-a-vis
rlc Gcsralr ol a suljccr’s roral lody. scc lis ‘‘1lc Mirror Sragc as ¡ormarivc ol rlc
¡uncrion ol rlc ¡ as Fcvcalcd in ¡sycloanalyric Ixpcricncc.’’ in L.rit·. ³ S./..tisn, ¡–¬.
io. ¡lid.. s.
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B.vsn! Hsm.·i./n.·· 89
ond Sisrcr Yang plays rlc parr ol a ‘‘lad morlcr.’’ wlo is cold. scduc-
rivc. and dominccring. 1lc mosr insidious aspccr ol lcr claracrcr is lcr
closc symlolic associarion. as wcll as scmioric associarion. wirl rlc nar-
raror’s narural morlcr. Slc lcld lim as a laly, slc is inrroduccd ly rlc
morlcr, and. wlilc cxiring rlc sccnc. slc srcals rlc morlcr’s glovcs. 1lc
slrcwd. compasslikc woman makcs ir clcar rlar rlc narraror no longcr
can claim innoccncc lrom adulr scxualiry. cvcn wlcn lc is ar lomc wirl
lis morlcr, ycr slc also dcrivcs plcasurc lrom suljccring lim ro an in-
lanrilc posirion. Assaulrcd ly lcr flirrarious rcascs and mockcry (calling
lim. inappropriarcly. ‘‘Ildcr Brorlcr Xun.’’ and allcging rlar lc now pos-
scsscs rlrcc conculincs). rlc narraror lalls spcccllcss. apparcnrly as rlc
rcsulr ol an incapaciraring conlusion ovcr wlicl languagc ro spcak and
wlicl idcnriry ro assumc. ‘‘Knowing rlcrc was norling ¡ could say. ¡ rc-
maincd silcnr and simply srood rlcrc’’ (cl. Yang and Yang. so, ¡ycll. os).
¡cr ourragcous lclavior is so disconccrring rlar rlc narraror’s wir and
knowlcdgc (including lis lcarncd rclcrcnccs ro Þapolcon and Wasling-
ron) appcar lclplcssly palc and poinrlcss.
1lc unscrupulous Sccond Sisrcr Yang rlrcarcns rlc inrcgriry ol rlc nar-
raror’s scll-conccprion ly imposing on lim rwo incomparillc rolcs. an
amiallc laly loy vis-a-vis a lascivious adulr man. ¡cr cnrrancc inro rlc
sccnc. prcccdcd ly lcr ‘‘slrill voicc.’’ purs rlc narraror in a dclcnsclcss
posirion lrom rlc srarr. ¡n rlar inirial momcnr. slc casily dominarcs rlc
siruarion ly firsr voicing lcr surprisc ar low drasrically rlc narraror’s ap-
pcarancc las clangcd. 1lc narraror. surpriscd ly lcr picrcing gazc. ncvcr
managcs ro scr limscll cnrircly lrcc.
Ycr a similar sccnc ol (mis)rccognirion soon rcpcars irscll. wirl diffcr-
cnr inrcrsuljccrivc dynamics ar work. ‘‘Ònc vcry cold alrcrnoon jusr alrcr
luncl ¡ was sirring and drinking rca wlcn ¡ lcard somconc comc in lrom
rlc oursidc. Wlcn ¡ rurncd around ro look ¡ couldn’r lclp lur srarr wirl
surprisc. ¡ scramllcd ro my lccr and ruslcd ovcr ro wclcomc lim’’ (¡ycll.
os). 1lis rimc rlc narraror rakcs rlc iniriarivc. alrlougl rlc scnsc ol lcing
approaclcd and rlc clcmcnr ol surprisc arc srill prcscnr. ¡n acrivcly dirccr-
ing lis look and rccognizing rlc orlcr pcrson. rlc narraror assumcs con-
rrol ovcr rlc unlolding sccnc. ¡owcvcr. rlc samc crisis ol languagc and
communicarion cruprs. lccausc rlc prollcmaric rclarionslip lcrwccn a
gazing suljccr and lis oljccr ol olscrvarion pcrsisrs. Bcsidcs. in rlis in-
srancc ir also lccomcs alundanrly clcar ro rlc narraror rlar rccognirion
involvcs no lcss rlan pcrcciving rcaliry as a painlul lailurc.
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¡r was Funru. Alrlougl ¡ rccognizcd lim riglr off. lc was nor ar all rlc
Funru wlo livcd in my mcmory. ¡c sccmcd rwicc as rall now. 1lc round
and ruddy lacc ol ycsrcrycar lad alrcady rurncd palc and grcy. and ir was
crclcd wirl dccp wrinklcs. 1lc rims ol lis cycs wcrc swollcn and rcd jusr
likc lis larlcr’s. ¡ kncw rlar mosr larmcrs wlo workcd closc ro rlc sca
gor rlar way lccausc ol rlc wind. ¡c was wcaring a larrcrcd old lclr lar.
and lis corron clorlcs wcrc so rlin rlar lc was slivcring. ¡is lands lcld a
papcr packagc along wirl lis pipc. 1lcy wcrc nor rlc smoorl and nimllc
lands rlar ¡ rcmcmlcrcd. Þow rlcy wcrc rougl. clumsy. and as crackcd as
pinc lark. (¡ycll. oo)
1lis dcscriprion prcscnrs argually onc ol rlc carlicsr and mosr mcmo-
rallc rcalisr porrrairurcs in modcrn Clincsc lircrarurc. ¡rs succcss las ro
do wirl rlc slock in rccognirion. lor wirl srriking srrokcs ir makcs visillc
a lamiliar srrangcr. 1lc dcscriprion ol Funru and ol orlcr dcrails alour
lim is morivarcd ly a sysrcmaric comparison wirl rlc idcalizcd imagc
rlar rlc narraror clcrislcs in lis mcmory. 1lrougl rlis filrcring lcns.
Funru’s visagc cmcrgcs as a vivid picrurc ol rlc roll ol a srark rcaliry.
rlc rrurl ol wlicl is irs radical diffcrcncc lrom our suljccrivc wisl or
anriciparion. 1lc crirical rlrusr ol rlc porrrairurc originarcs in a scnsc
ol loss. a lamcnr ovcr rlc conrrasr lcrwccn rlc adulr Funru in rcaliry
and rlc young loy in mcmory. Ar rlc samc rimc. ir rclics on a sympa-
rlcric idcnrificarion wirl rlc oljccr ol olscrvarion. lccausc rlc srrangcr
is vagucly rccognizallc. 1lc lumanisr conccrn in rcalisr rcprcscnrarion
las firsr ro comc lrom rcgarding rlc orlcr as slaring rlc samc luman
condirion and vulncralilirics as rlc olscrving suljccr. ¡r is rlis acrivc and
parriciparory symparly rlar disringuislcs rlc narraror’s rclarionslip wirl
Funru as scpararc lrom lis rcacrion ro Sccond Sisrcr Yang. wlo lorccloscs
a lumanc idcnrificarion ly disallowing rlc orlcr ro cmcrgc as a lull and
scll-sufficicnr pcrson.
1lc slock ol rccognirion. lowcvcr. causcs rlc narraror ro lccl cxcircd
as mucl as conluscd. ‘‘Ðcliglrcd as ¡ was. ¡ did nor know low ro cx-
prcss myscll. and could only say. ‘Òl! Brorlcr Funru—so. ir’s you’ . . .’’
(cl. Yang and Yang. oo). ¡n lis cxcircmcnr. rlc narraror comcs ro rcal-
izc rlc irrclcvancc. or unrcaliry. ol rlc myrlical world rlar lc associarcs
wirl rlc young Funru. 1lc mcnral llockagc lc cxpcricnccs rcsulrs lrom
rlc cxrcrnal rcaliry rlar lc cannor rcconcilc wirl lis mcmory or imagi-
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B.vsn! Hsm.·i./n.·· 91
narion. ¡is pcrccprion ol rcaliry as ruinous ro luman lilc lcads lim ro
scc rlc inadcquacy ol languagc. ‘‘1lcrc was so mucl ¡ wanrcd ro say.
1lcrc wcrc so many words wairing ro gusl our onc alrcr rlc orlcr likc
pcarls on a srring. lornclicks. jumpcrfisl. Gucnvin lands. c/c—lur ar
rlc samc rimc ¡ was awarc ol somcrling damming rlcm up insidc mc. so
rlar rlcy simply swirlcd around in my lrain wirlour a singlc onc coming
our’’ (¡ycll. oo). Þo doulr rlc insidc}oursidc rcnsion. or rlc lorccd insu-
larion ol rlc inncr world lrom ourcr rcaliry. indicarcs a classical dcspair
wirl rlc impossililiry ol acrion. ¡n rlis casc. lowcvcr. rlc narraror is so
lully conscious ol wlar lc wislcs ro say rlar lis inaliliry or unwilling-
ncss ro urrcr rlc ‘‘pcarls’’ ol words may poinr ro a dclilcrarc rclusal. ¡is
myrlical world may lc inadcquarc or unrcal. and rlc c/c may lc slccr
lanrasy. lur wlcn rlcy arc cndangcrcd as sucl. only rlc narraror is in a
posirion ro dclcnd rlcm againsr rlc clcmcnral lorccs ol rcaliry. 1lc lcar
ol wirncssing lis mcmory and languagc ol lanrasy invalidarcd ly lisrori-
cal rcaliry is sufficicnr ro prcvcnr rlc narraror lrom spcaking. ¡is silcncc
prorccrs an inrcrioriry rlar is scnrimcnrally rcal and rruc.
Þor unril alrcr rlc narraror rcaclcs an cmorional ligl poinr do wc
scc Funru rcacr ro rlc momcnr ol rcunion. wlicl lc lumlly cxpccrs all
along.
¡c srood rlcrc. mixcd joy and sadncss slowing on lis lacc. ¡is lips movcd.
lur nor a sound did lc urrcr. ¡inally. assuming a rcspccrlul arrirudc. lc said
clcarly.
‘‘Masrcr! . . .’’
¡ lclr a slivcr run rlrougl mc, lor ¡ kncw rlcn wlar a lamcnrally rlick
wall lad grown up lcrwccn us. Ycr ¡ could nor say anyrling. (Yang and
Yang. oo)
Wlar wc srill do nor know. lrom rlis accounr. is Funru’s olscrvarion ol
rlc narraror. wlom lc now dclcrcnrially addrcsscs as ‘‘Masrcr.’’ ¡n rlis
sccnc ol rccognirion. Funru is rlc oljccr ol rlc narraror’s closc cxamina-
rion and is conscqucnrly rcad as rlc sympromaric sign ol a gcncral lank-
ruprcy. ¡crc is a siruarion rlar could lcad ro wlar Marsron Andcrson
rcrms ‘‘rlc violcncc ol olscrvarion’’ rlar ¡u Xun dcsircs ro avoid in lis
ficrion. According ro Andcrson. ¡u Xun was acurcly awarc rlar ‘‘rcprc-
scnrarional arr risks making rlc vicrim inro a mcrc oljccr ol rlc rcadcr’s
curiosiry or piry, in rlc proccss ol rcading. rlcsc cmorions. wlicl sig-
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92 C/in.·. As!.rn
nificanrly arc rlosc ol rlc olscrvcr. arc sarisficd. rlcrcly camouflaging
rlc rruc narurc ol rlc rcadcr’s involvcmcnr wirl rlc vicrim.’’
21
1o prc-
vcnr sucl lacilc rccognirion and. worsc. moral complaccncy. ¡u Xun cm-
ploys various lircrary rcclniqucs in lis ficrion and insrirurcs an ‘‘inrcr-
prcrivc proccdurc’’ rlrougl wlicl a narrarcd conrcnr is also cvaluarcd
scll-consciously or cvcn dcconsrrucrivcly.
22
¡n rlc narraror’s olscrvarion ol Funru. rlc limirs ol rcalisr dcscriprion
arc ar oncc prcscnr and quickly ovcrcomc rlrougl rlc inrcrnal crisis rlar
conlronrs rlc narraror. A slivcr runs rlrougl lim lccausc ol rlc slock
ol lcing (mis)rccognizcd. a dclilcrarc acr ly rlc orlcr ar rlar. 1lc nar-
raror}olscrvcr is again jolrcd ly rlc oljccr ol lis olscrvarion wlcn lc
rcalizcs rlar lc is sccn as diffcrcnr lrom wlar lc rakcs limscll ro lc. ¡is
slock and sadncss is rlar ol nor lcing rccognizcd and lcing kcpr oursidc.
1lc lonorific rirlc rlar Funru givcs lim confirms rlar rlc narraror inlal-
irs a scpararc rcalm ol rcaliry. and rlar lis vcry cxisrcncc and srarus may
lc parr ol rlc ‘‘lamcnrally rlick wall’’ scpararing rwo loylood lricnds.
Borl rlc woodcn Funru and rlc lrazcn Sccond Sisrcr Yang misrccognizc
rlc narraror. alrlougl lc sccms morc scll-assurcd and occupics a morc
acrivc suljccr-posirion in onc cncounrcr rlan rlc orlcr. 1ogcrlcr. rlcsc
rwo siruarions drivc lomc lis rcalizarion rlar lc is a srrangcr in lis narivc
land. As a srrangcr. lc cannor lur lc irrclcvanr ro Funru’s lard lilc. Also
as an irrclcvanr srrangcr. lc will find norling ro ralk alour wirl Funru.
cvcn il lc rrics ro undcrsrand. ‘‘Wc clarrcd a lir morc rlar niglr. lur
nonc ol ir amounrcd ro anyrling. Iarly ncxr morning lc rook Sluislcng
and lcadcd lack lomc’’ (¡ycll. o8). Wlar conrrilurcs ro Funru’s pliglr
(‘‘roo many clildrcn. laminc. larsl raxcs. soldicrs. landirs. officials. and
gcnrrylolk’’ [¡ycll. o¬|) acknowlcdgcs roo rcal and roo ovcrwlclming a
rclcrcnr ro gcncrarc rlc samc lanrasy as did rlc inrcrjccrion ol molilc
significrs sucl as jumpcrfisl or rlc c/c.
As il ro comlar rlc scnsc ol rcpcririon rlar suggcsrs irscll rlrougl
rlcsc rwo solcring sccncs ol (mis)rccognirion. rlc narraror lclicvcs rlar
lcrwccn Sluislcng. Funru’s filrl clild. and ¡ong’cr. a rranslormarivc
lond and lricndslip dcvclops as oncc occurrcd among rlc gcncrarion
lclorc rlcm. Sluislcng appcars ro lc a rcplica ol rlc young Funru ol
morc rlan rwcnry ycars ago. wlcrcas ¡ong’cr is now rlc rcsponsililiry
i¡. Marsron Andcrson. T/. Limit· s/ B.c/i·m. C/in.·. Fi.tisn in t/. B.vs/utisncrv
P.ris! (Bcrkclcy. \nivcrsiry ol Calilornia ¡rcss. ¡ooo). 8o.
ii. ¡lid.. ¬o.
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B.vsn! Hsm.·i./n.·· 93
as wcll as rlc lopc ol lis unclc—rlc narraror. Wlcn rlc rwo loys arc
rogcrlcr. Sluislcng is nor ar all rlc sly and rimid clild lc sccms ro lc in
lronr ol rlc adulrs. Iusr as a gcncrarion ago. Sluislcng’s visir is lricl and
lc docs nor comc lack. lur lc also promiscs ¡ong’cr a playlul rrip ro
rlc counrrysidc. wlicl ¡ong’cr lcgins ro anriciparc cagcrly. Òlviously.
rlcrc is rlc conccrn rlar Sluislcng will grow up ro lc anorlcr adulr
Funru. jusr as Funru rurns our ro lc no diffcrcnr lrom lis own larlcr.
Ycr rlcrc also is a clancc rlar rlis youngcr gcncrarion will livc irs lilc dil-
lcrcnrly. 1lis is rlcn rlc only rangillc lopc wirl wlicl rlc orlcrwisc
discnclanrcd narraror will lcavc lis narivc land a lcw days larcr.
Fcconfiguring rlc ¡omcland
As wc scr off. in rlc dusk. rlc grccn mounrains on cirlcr sidc ol rlc rivcr
lccamc dccp lluc. rcccding rowards rlc srcrn ol rlc loar. (Yang and Yang.
oi)
As wc procccdcd uprivcr. rlc rwiliglr-grccn mounrains on cirlcr lank
rook on dccpcr lucs and joincd rogcrlcr in a singlc lluc-grccn mass as rlcy
flcd away inro rlc disrancc lclind rlc srcrn. (¡ycll. o8)
¡caving ar rlis juncrurc comcs. oncc again. as a rimcly rclicl. Morc rlan
discngaging rlc narraror lrom rlc cmorional and inrcllccrual agonics and
scll-doulr occasioncd ly lis narivc land. rlc ncw dcparrurc lrccs lim
lrom rlc lccric final days ol ridding rlc old lamily lousc ol ‘‘old and uscd
rlings ol cvcry imaginallc sizc and dcscriprion’’ (¡ycll. o8). Bcsidcs. lc
is rclicvcd ro cscapc rlc pcrrincss and larassmcnr ol Sccond Sisrcr Yang.
wlo. in lcr cfforr ro acquirc a piccc ol lurnirurc lor lrcc. docs nor lcsi-
rarc ro spoil rlc narraror’s rcgard lor Funru. Þow rlc srcady movcmcnr
away lrom rlc lorlorn sirc ol claos inrroduccs a lrcsl pcrspccrivc. and
a ncw sccncry sccms ro scr in. 1lc dcprcssing winrry landscapc rlar lc
wirncsscd upon coming lomc. no morc rlan rwo wccks ago. is miracu-
lously rranslormcd inro a plcasing visra ol spring. 1lcrc is no sadncss or
rcgrcr, scnrimcnraliry givcs way ro a rcsolurc scrcniry. ¡ong’cr. lowcvcr.
sccms ro lc morc arraclcd ro rlc land rlan rlc narraror. lccausc ¡ong’cr
srill rcmcmlcrs Sluislcng’s invirarion ro rlc counrrysidc. Ingrosscd in
rlouglrs alour lis ncwlricnd. ¡ong’cr is allowcd ro pur rogcrlcr a lcau-
rilul myrl alour lis narivc land rlar lc is lcaving lclind. ‘‘¡ong’cr and ¡
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lcancd againsr rlc window and warclcd rlc dimming landscapc’’ (¡ycll.
o8). ¡n rlc passing sccncry. rwo scpararc visions ol rlc narivc land musr
lc rising lor rlcsc rwo quicr passcngcrs.
‘‘¡ was lcaving rlc old lousc larrlcr and larrlcr lclind. wlilc rlc lills
and rivcrs ol my narivc land wcrc also rcccding gradually cvcr larrlcr in
rlc disrancc. Bur ¡ lclr no arraclmcnr’’ (cl. Yang and Yang. o:). 1lc old
lousc and wlar ir srands lor arc roo rcal ro lcavc any room lor imagi-
narion. Morc accurarcly. rlc old lousc disillusions rlc narraror and dc-
privcs lim ol lis lond mcmorics. 1lc ‘‘gcnrlc slapping ol warcr againsr
rlc lull’’ (¡ycll. oo). on rlc orlcr land. rcassurcs rlc narraror rlar lc and
lis morlcr and ncplcw arc moving away. 1lc flowing rivcr nurrurcs an
anriciparory cxcircmcnr alour dcparrurc. morion. clangc. and rcgcncra-
rion. ¡r offcrs irscll as an apr symlol lor lilc. lor unsroppallc cncrgy and
lopc. ¡n soorlingly moving rlc narraror inro an opcn spacc. rlc rivcr
allows lim ro conrcmplarc and pur in pcrspccrivc rlc landscapc ol lis
narivc land. ¡r cmlodics a viallc rcsolurion rlar lrings rlcrapcuric pcacc.
lrcslncss. and complcrion.
1lc lopc lor a ncw lilc lics wirl rlc ncxr gcncrarion. as ¡u Xun’s Mad-
man lamously voiccs. il mainly lor rlc rcason rlar rlc prcscnr gcncra-
rion and lilc arc so incxrrically injurcd and complicirous. Yourl irscll
is rcason lor lopc and clangc lor rlc lcrrcr. ‘‘1lcy slould lavc a ncw
lilc. a lilc wc lavc ncvcr cxpcricnccd’’ (Yang and Yang. o:). ¡ong’cr and
Sluislcng slould nor lc srymicd ly rlc samc larricr rlar scpararcs rlcir
lorclarlcrs. 1lcy slould cxrcnd rlcir lricndslip and nurrurc rlcir closc-
ncss. lur rlis commirmcnr slould nor mcan rlcir living a miscrallc lilc
rogcrlcr. cirlcr. 1lcir lilc slould lc diffcrcnr ro rlc cxrcnr rlar ir is un-
imaginallc. lccausc rlc narraror cannor ycr picrurc an idcal lilc. Þonc
ol rlc rlrcc ways ol living rlar lc wirncsscs sccms sarislacrory. ¡is own
lilc is roorlcss. Funru’s lcnumlcd. and Sccond Sisrcr Yang’s scurrilous.
rlcy arc all lurdcncd ly rlc samc lard and unlulfillcd rcaliry.
23
1lc ncw
lilc slould lc a ncgarion ol adulr lilc as ir is known. ¡r musr consisr ol a
i:. Cli-Clcn Wang’s rranslarion ol rlcsc dcnsc and difficulr scnrcnccs. in my opin-
ion. is rlc mosr succcsslul. ‘‘¡owcvcr. ¡ did nor wanr rlcm ro livc. as a pricc lor rlcir
conrinucd companionslip. rlc lirrcr and roorlcss lilc rlar ¡ livcd, ¡ did nor wanr rlcm
ro livc rlc lirrcr and wrcrclcd lilc rlar Yun-r’u livcd, ¡ did nor wanr rlcm ro livc rlc
lirrcr and slamclcss lilc rlar orlcrs livcd. 1lcy musr lavc a ncw kind ol lilc. a lilc
rlar wc ol rlc orlcr gcncrarion lad nor known.’’ Scc Cli-clcn Wang. ‘‘My Þarivc
¡carl.’’ ¡|.
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B.vsn! Hsm.·i./n.·· 95
communal. communicallc cxisrcncc. and ycr ir docs nor lack gcncrarivc
divcrsiry. ¡n csscncc. rlis visionary ncw lilc calls lorrl a uropian socicry
wlcrc. wirl irs guiding principlc romanrically modclcd alrcr a playlul and
carclrcc clildlood. cacl and cvcry individual will lc diffcrcnr lur cqual.
Ycr sucl a uropian rcvcric suddcnly fills rlc pcnsivc narraror wirl an-
xicry. ¡is lopc lor a lcrrcr lururc makcs lim qucsrion lis own convic-
rion. lor lis vision appcars ar oncc vivid and llurrcd. as may lc rruc ol all
glolal lanrasics. 1lc prospccr ol a ncw lilc. lccausc ol irs radical diffcr-
cncc lrom rlc livcd prcscnr. srrikcs lim as ‘‘lar off in rlc murky disrancc’’
and may dcmand rlc samc dcvorion as an arriclc ol lairl. Morc immcdi-
arcly. conccnrrarion on sucl a grandiosc lopc risks ossilying rlc ‘‘ncw
lilc’’ inro an immovallc crccd rlar llocks concrcrc. rranslormarivc acrion
or discovcrics in onc’s own lilc. ¡or lad lairl. as rlc narraror is kccnly
awarc. may lc a ncgarivc conscqucncc ol rlc graviry ol lairl. Þoncrlc-
lcss. rlc compclling uropian imaginarion causcs lim ro pondcr rlc ncxr
logical qucsrion. wlcrc lics rlc parl rlar will lcad us rlcrc· ‘‘¡n rlc dim
moonliglr. an cmcrald grccn plor ol land ly rlc sca appcarcd lclorc my
cycs. ¡n rlc dccp lluc sky alovc ir lung a moon. lull and goldcn. ‘¡opc
isn’r rlc kind ol rling rlar you can say cirlcr cxisrs or docsn’r cxisr.’ ¡
rlouglr ro myscll. ‘¡r’s likc a parl across rlc land—ir’s nor rlcrc ro lcgin
wirl. lur wlcn lors ol pcoplc go rlc samc way. ir comcs inro lcing.’ ’’ (cl.
¡ycll. ¡oo). 1lc final landscapc ol lanrasy is conjurcd up in rlc concluding
paragrapl ro rclicvc a scrics ol anxicrics. immcdiarc or glolal. Againsr rlc
growing darkncss. rlc lrillianr visra ol infinirc spacc and dcprl scrvcs as a
possillc sirc lor rlc dcsircd good lilc. As in a miragc. rlc slarply dcfincd
vision displays a rimclcss rcrrain in wlicl no luman suljccrs sccm ro lc
prcscnr. nor cvcn rlc ‘‘young lcro’’ wlo so lar is closcly associarcd wirl
rlc sccncry. ¡l rlc cmprincss ol rlc sccnc sccms ro suggcsr rlar no luman
lilc can ycr do jusricc ro rlc sullimc rrurl ol narurc. rlc primary vigor
and simpliciry ol rlc cnvironmcnr arc also callcd upon. as ir wcrc. ro pro-
vidc irrclurallc plysical cvidcncc ol a lriglr lururc lor lumaniry. ¡or.
alrcr all. rlis lanrasric landscapc is rlc rcdcmprivc projccrion ol an cm-
larrlcd luman suljccr. And ir offcrs a dcfinirc sirc ro lury all onrological
doulrs.
¡or rlis rcason. rlc sccncry is ncccssarily spccific and rccognizallc. A
lamiliar landscapc is sullimarcd inro an imaginary lomcland rlar co-
incidcs wirl rlc final lorizon lor lopc and uropian anriciparion. 1lc dc-
parring narraror may always lc launrcd advcrscly ly lis narivc land. lur.
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96 C/in.·. As!.rn
in rlc final analysis. lc rcluscs ro lc rorally discnclanrcd and insisrs on
rcconfiguring irs symlolic clcmcnrs inro a rcliallc sourcc lor spirirual rc-
silicncc and inncr ccrrainry. 1lis symlolic rcconfigurarion culminarcs rlc
narrarivc ol ‘‘My Þarivc ¡and’’ and dcrcrmincs irs lyrical and uplilring
conclusion. Wirl rlis final upward rurn. rlc scnrimcnral journcy undcr-
rakcn ly rlc narraror in ‘‘My Þarivc ¡and’’ acquircs a paradigmaric sig-
nificancc. lccausc ir illusrrarcs rlc arduous lur ulrimarcly grarilying pro-
ccss ol rcclaiming an imaginary lomcland. 1lc ncccssiry and origin ol
sucl an imaginary lomcland is wlar ¡u Xun pcrsuasivcly convcys in rlis
slorr srory. wlicl as a dcnsc psycloliograplical narrarivc offcrs an cffcc-
rivc anridorc lor rlc lomcsickncss prcvalcnr among displaccd modcrn
Clincsc inrcllccruals. 1lc inrcnsc nosralgia rlar propcls popular narivc-
land lircrarurc is lorl acknowlcdgcd and rcdirccrcd in rlis lundamcnrally
sullimarional narrarivc. in wlicl rlcrapcuric discoursc dirccrs a slocking
rccognirion ol rlc rcal lomcland ro irs symlolic rcconfigurarion. 1lis rc-
configurarion cnallcs an opcn-cndcdncss in rlc narrarivc insolar as ir nor
only cxrcnds rlc narivc landscapc ro an onrological dimcnsion. lur ir also
slilrs rlc promisc ol an imaginary lomcland ro rlc rcadcr. lowcvcr lur-
dcncd wirl lis or lcr own lisrory. 1lc rclivallc narivc land lics nor in
rlc pasr. lur in rlc lururc. and ir is ro lc rcaclcd collccrivcly, ir significs
nosralgia ovcrcomc. Sucl is rlc narraror’s lclicl wlcn lc rcminds us low
a ncw parl may lc crcarcd on rlc surlacc ol rlc carrl.
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3
S/cna/ci, Strina rc:c.
Ingcndcring rlc Fcvolurionary Body
¡n lcr novclla Tiiiu ·cn/ina nicn ./un S/cna/ci (Slanglai. spring ¡o:o).
Ðing ¡ing (¡oo|–8o) rclls rwo scpararc and ycr rclarcd srorics. rlc ccnrral
idca ol wlicl. according ro 1si-an ¡sia. is simplc and srraiglrlorward.
‘‘low inrcllccruals discovcr rlc mcaning ol rlcir livcs in a mass movc-
mcnr.’’
1
¡ndccd. lorl srorics. wrirrcn and pullislcd in rlc sccond lall
ol ¡o:o. offcr a lcss rlan rcfincd samplc ol rlc rlcn-popular ‘‘rcvolurion
and lovc’’ ficrion clurncd our ly rlc nasccnr lircrary ¡clr. Many sucl
narrarivcs ccnrcr on an olrcn mclodramaric conflicr lcrwccn collccrivc
causc and individual prclcrcnccs. lcrwccn a rising prolcrarian movcmcnr
and privarc scnrimcnr. ¡n vicw ol Ðing ¡ing’s cnrirc wriring carccr. criric
Yi-rsi Mci ¡cucrwcrkcr suggcsrs rlar rlc S/cna/ci, Strina rc:c srorics.
rogcrlcr wirl anorlcr ¡o:o novclla on rlc samc ropic. slow Ðing ¡ing
rlc aurlor ‘‘ncgoriaring a passagc /rsm lovc ts rcvolurion. lrom rlc locus
on inrcrnal cxpcricncc ro rlc ourcr world ol polirical rcaliry.’’
2
Morc
rlan a pcrsonal cxpansion ol inrcllccrual lorizons. rlis sccmingly incvi-
rallc passagc rcflccrs rlc lisrorical cxpcricncc ol a gcncrarion ol cducarcd
young mcn and womcn in rlc ¡o:os. ¡r was also parr ol an inrcrnarional
polirical culrurc rlar garlcrcd mucl momcnrum during rlc dccadc ol
capiralism in crisis. ¡n accord wirl rlc conrcmporary Òld ¡clr’s cfforr ro
inrcrnarionalizc a worldwidc rcvolurionary lircrarurc. Ðing ¡ing. as wcll
as ¡u Xun. was rranslarcd as a rcprcscnrarivc Clincsc progrcssivc wrircr
in journals sucl as T/. Li/.rctsr and N.m Ac··.· in rlc \nircd Srarcs.
3
¡. 1si-an ¡sia. ‘‘Inigma ol rlc ¡ivc Marryrs.’’ in lis Gct. s/ Dcr/n.··. Stu!i.· sn t/.
L./ti·t Lit.rcrv Asv.m.nt in C/inc (Scarrlc. \nivcrsiry ol Waslingron ¡rcss. ¡oo8).
¡¬s. Alrlougl ¡sia is gcncrally dismissivc. somcrimcs cvcn sardonic. roward rlis lir-
crary rradirion. lis srudy is mcriculous and groundlrcaking.
i. Yi-rsi Mci ¡cucrwcrkcr. Dina Lina’· Fi.tisn. I!.s/sav cn! Ncrrctiv. in As!.rn
C/in.·. Lit.rctur. (Camlridgc. Mass.. ¡arvard \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o8i). s: (original
cmplasis).
:. Among rlc inspircd rcadcrs ol rlcsc radical pullicarions was 1illic Òlscn. a
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98 C/in.·. As!.rn
¡r would lc inrcrcsring ro dcrcrminc wlicl Ðing ¡ing was lcing so
promprly promorcd as a rcvolurionary wrircr in rlc \nircd Srarcs in rlc
carly ¡o:os. ¡or unril ¡o:o. wlicl was acrually lcwcr rlan rlrcc ycars alrcr
rlc pullicarion ol lcr firsr and lamc-csrallisling slorr srory ‘‘Mcngkc.’’
Ðing ¡ing in lcr wrirings lad crcarcd a gallcry ol alicnarcd. dcprcsscd.
olrcn rulcrcular and suicidal young womcn living on rlc lringcs ol rlc
modcrn ciry. ¡cr mosr mcmorallc crcarion lrom rlis pcriod is Miss
Soplia (¡oi8). wlosc anguislcd diary rcvcals a lypcrscnsirivc soul rclcnr-
lcssly rormcnrcd ly scll-doulr and qucsrions. alsrracr and lundamcnral.
alour rlc mcaning ol lilc. lovc. scxualiry. and dcarl. Consumcd ly lorl
cnnui and passion. Miss Soplia cmlodics rlc cxisrcnrial angsr acurcly cx-
pcricnccd ly an cnrirc gcncrarion ol Clincsc yourl cauglr lcrwccn rlc
disinrcgrarion ol rradirional social srrucrurcs and rlc cmcrging modcrn
mcrropolis. ¡or rlis rcason. a conrcmporary criric pcrccprivcly arrrilurcd
rlc imporrancc and modcrniry ol Ðing ¡ing’s wrirings ro lcr scnsirivc
porrrayal ol a rcprcscnrarivc ‘‘modcrn girl’’ in urlan and Wcsrcrnizcd
Clina (rlc Inglisl-languagc rcrm ‘‘modcrn girl’’ is uscd in rlc original
rcxr).
4
Anorlcr rcason lor Ðing ¡ing’s insranr succcss as a young woman
wrircr and spokcspcrson ol lcr gcncrarion is rlc conlcssional modc ol
narrarion rlar slc cmploycd in mosr ol lcr srorics. Somc promincnr malc
wrircrs ol rlc larc ¡oios. sucl as Mao Ðun. lad also cxplorcd rlc ‘‘woman
qucsrion’’ and lad cvcn dcmonsrrarcd a ‘‘lcminisr consciousncss.’’
5
lur
Ðing ¡ing’s lold and pcncrraring cxplorarion ol lcmalc psyclology—in
parricular. scxualiry—was groundlrcaking. ¡cr rclusal ro allcgorizc lcr
young woman and ludding wrircr lrom Òmala. Þclraska. Scc Ðcloral Foscnlclr.
‘‘¡rom rlc 1lirrics. 1illic Òlscn and rlc Fadical 1radirion.’’ in F.mini·t Criti.i·m cn!
Ss.ic/ C/cna.. S.x, C/c·· cn! Bc.. in Lit.rctur. cn! Cu/tur., cd. Iudirl Þcwron and
Ðcloral Foscnlclr (Þcw York. Mcrlucn. ¡o8s). iio.
|. ¡ang Ying. ‘‘Ðing ¡ing lun’’ (Òn Ðing ¡ing). in Dina Lina vcniiu ci/ics (Fc-
scarcl marcrials on Ðing ¡ing). cd. Yuan ¡iangjun (1ianjin. 1ianjin rcnmin. ¡o8i).
i:¬–|s. Òriginally pullislcd in I.nvi xinm.n (¡ircrary ncws). nos. ii. i|. io (¡o. i|.
:¡ Augusr ¡o:¡). 1lc rlcsis ol ¡ang Ying’s arriclc. i.c.. rlc conflicr lcrwccn rradirional
socicry and modcrn capiralismlcing rlc causc ol anomic lor mosr ol Ðing ¡ing’s clar-
acrcrs. is influcnrial and srill prcscnr as an analyrical paradigm in Mcng Yuc and Ðai
Iinlua. Fu./u /i·/i !i/ics. xicn!ci /unu m.nxu. vcniiu (Imcrging lrom lisrory. srudics
in modcrn womcn’s lircrarurc) (Zlcngzlou. ¡cnan rcnmin. ¡o8o).
s. Scc. lor insrancc. Ðavid Ðcr-wci Wang. ‘‘¡cminisr Consciousncss in Modcrn Cli-
ncsc Malc ¡icrion.’’ in As!.rn C/in.·. Ism.n Irit.r·. Criti.c/ ³ttrci·c/·, cd. Miclacl
S. Ðukc (Þcw York. M. I. Slarpc. ¡o8o). i:o–so.
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Slanglai. Spring ¡o:o 99
claracrcrs’ cxpcricncc only addcd ro rlc poignancy ol lcr cxposirional
wriring. 1lrougl a discoursc ol disconrcnr. Ðing ¡ing ar oncc inrro-
duccd a ncw lircrary scnsililiry and csrallislcd rlc prollcmaric lcmalc
cxpcricncc as a pcrsonalizcd lorm ol social prorcsr.
6
¡rom rlc lcginning. rlc incscapallc lackdrop ro Ðing ¡ing’s cxplora-
rions inro rlc inncr dcprls ol rlc dislocarcd ‘‘modcrn girl’’ was rlc ciry ol
Slanglai. Ycr wirlin rlrcc slorr ycars. rlc glamorous lur ‘‘purcly carnal
socicry’’ rlar Mcngkc. rlc lumiliarcd—allcir succcsslul—movic acrrcss.
dcrccrcd and dcrcsrcd in Slanglai would rurn inro a sirc ol polirical
acrion lor rlc young rcvolurionarics dcscrilcd in S/cna/ci, Strina rc:c.
1lis clangc ol rlc lircrary landscapc also lrouglr lorrl in Ðing ¡ing’s
wrirings a diffcrcnr group ol claracrcrs wlo lcgan ro dcmonsrrarc a ncw
polirics ol rlc lody and a ncw rclarionslip ro rlc modcrn ciry.
A Ðcsirc Þamcd Slanglai
¡l in irs popular imagc in rlc carly ¡o:os. no doulr promorcd ly rlc
mulrinarional colonialisr csrallislmcnr. Slanglai was rlc dccadcnr ‘‘¡aris
ol rlc Òricnr’’ and a ‘‘paradisc lor rlc advcnrurcrs.’’ ar rlc samc rimc ir
was rcvcrcd ly Clina’s radicalizcd and ciry-lound yourl as rlc lcsrirring
‘‘Moscowol rlc Òricnr.’’ ¡or rlc conrcmporary Clincsc culrurc and con-
sciousncss. Slanglai was lorl a giganric cmlodimcnr ol Wcsrcrn-srylc
modcrniry. prolally in irs mosr aggrcssivc and grorcsquc lorm. and rlc
sirc rlar lrouglr lorrl irs inscparallc ncmcsis—a conccnrrarion ol indus-
rrial powcr and polirical agcncy. ¡rs modcrn dynamism dcrivcd lrom
rlc raw capiralisr rranslormarion ol a porr ciry. cosmopoliran Slanglai
also lrcd various idcological pcrsuasions (sucl as anarclism. lilcralism.
narionalism. rradirionalism. anri-impcrialism. guild socialism. commu-
nism) rlar ficrccly compcrcd ro imparr inrclligililiry and symlolism ro
rlc sprawling ciryscapc and lcyond.
Ònc classic lircrary cxprcssion ol rlc dcsirc ro comprclcnd rlc symlol-
ism ol Slanglai is Mao Ðun’s ¡o:: novcl Ziv. (Midniglr). ¡n rlc opcning
o. ¡or rlis rcason. 1ani Barlow olscrvcs rlar ‘‘Ðing ¡ing wrorc Clincsc lcminisr
ficrion as a young wrircr. lur ovcr rlc coursc ol lcr lilc slc alandoncd mosr ol lcmi-
nism’s componcnr clcmcnrs.’’ Scc Barlow. ‘‘¡nrroducrion’’ ro I Av·.// ³m c Ismcn.
S./..t.! Iritina· s/ Dina Lina, cd. 1ani I. Barlow and Gary I. Bjorgc (Bosron. Bcacon
¡rcss. ¡o8o). ¡.
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100 C/in.·. As!.rn
paragrapl. rlc rcalisr-narraror. apparcnrly srrolling along rlc cxoric Bund
in a ‘‘lcavcnly May cvcning’’ ol ¡o:o. survcys rlc dynamic ciry lrom a
disrancc.
\ndcr a sunscr-morrlcd sky. rlc rowcring lramcwork ol Gardcn Bridgc was
manrlcd in a garlcring misr. Wlcncvcr a rram passcd ovcr rlc lridgc. rlc
ovcrlcad callc suspcndcd lclowrlc rop ol rlc srccl lramc rlrcwoff lriglr.
grccnisl sparks. ¡ooking casr. onc could scc rlc warclouscs on rlc warcr-
lronr ol ¡oorung [¡udong| likc lugc monsrcrs croucling in rlc gloom.
rlcir liglrs rwinkling likc counrlcss riny cycs. 1o rlc wcsr. onc saw wirl a
slock ol wondcr on rlc rool ol a luilding a giganric ncon sign in flaming
rcd and plosplorcsccnr grccn. L¡cL1. LLn1. vowLv.
7
¡l an inirial dcraclcd vicwol Slanglai would cxposc. cvcn lor an omni-
scicnr narraror. a monsrrous ficld ol ominous inrcrrogarion and inrriguc.
rlc samc unscrrling cxpcricncc ol visual incongruiry was markcrcd as a
lascinaring insrancc ol modcrniry. conccivallc only rlrougl rlc mosr
conrcmporary cincmaric rcclniquc ol monragc. 1lc ¡o:|–:s cdirion ol
an annual Inglisl guidclook. carcring ro an cmcrging inrcrnarional class
ol rourisrs. rlus pcddlcd ‘‘Slanglai rlc lizarrc. cincmarograplic prcscn-
rarion ol lumaniry’’.
Cosmopoliran Slanglai. ciry ol amazing paradoxcs and lanrasric conrrasrs,
Slanglai rlc lcaurilul. lawdy. and gaudy, conrradicrion ol manncrs and
morals, a vasr lrillianrly-lucd cycloramic. panoramic mural ol rlc lcsr and
rlc worsr ol Òricnr and Òccidcnr. . . .
Bclold! ‘‘1lc longcsr lar in rlc world!’’ 1lc slorrcsr srrccr in rlc world
wirl a llaranr cacoplony ol carnaliry lrom a scorc ol dancc-lalls, scarlcr
womcn laugling wirlour mirrl, virgins in scarcl ol lilc, suicidcs, mar-
riagcs, lirrls, carols ol vcsrcd cloirs, carlcdral climcs, Communisrs plor-
ring, Þarionalism in rlc saddlc, war in Mancluria!, ir’s a grcar old rown.
and low wc larc ir and lovc ir.
8
1lis inrriguing ‘‘cincmarograplic prcscnrarion ol lumaniry’’ is rlc
rlcmc as wcll as rlc rcclniquc ol onc ol Ðing ¡ing’s lcsr slorr srorics.
Wrirrcn in ¡oio. ‘‘Ðayliglr’’ (Fi) aclicvcs a swccping panoramic vicw ol
¬. Mao Ðun. Ziv. (Bcijing. Fcnmin wcnxuc. ¡o88). :. Inglisl rranslarion ly ¡su
Mcng-lsiung and A. C. Barncs. Ai!nia/t (¡cking. ¡orcign ¡anguagcs ¡rcss. ¡os¬). o.
8. ³// ³/sut S/cna/ci cn! Lnvirsn·. ³ Stcn!cr! Gui!. Bss/ (L!itisn rc:;–:·) (Slang-
lai. \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o:s). |:–||.
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Slanglai. Spring ¡o:o 101
rlis ‘‘loisrcrous mcrropolis. a colony rlar is scmi-lorcign. a placc gov-
crncd ly numcrous counrrics and inlalircd ly numcrous raccs.’’
9
¡ol-
lowing rlc omniprcscnr narraror. wc look ovcr rlc ciry ar daylrcak and
movc swilrly. all wirlin onc long paragrapl. lrom rlc indusrrial swcar-
slops ro rlc financial disrricr. lrom modcrn ligl-riscs ro purrid slums.
lrom a dccadcnr lilc ol lcisurc ro dcgrading lardslip and dcspair. Ðay-
liglr cxposcs rlc uncvcn urlan landscapc and gradually lrings inro locus
a sickly young woman. namcd Yisai. wlo livcs all ly lcrscll in onc ol
rlc ovcrcrowdcd aparrmcnr luildings in rlc ¡nrcrnarional Scrrlcmcnr.
Slc dcspcrarcly nccds somc slccp. lur rlc cacoplony ol rlc ciry makcs
slccp an impossililiry. 1lc rcsr ol rlc srory dcscrilcs an uncvcnrlul and
poinrlcss day in Yisai’s lilc. Ar rlc sound and srcncl ol rlc niglr-soil
rruck. slc grows symparlcric ro rlc miscry ol rlc mulrirudcs. lur. mo-
mcnrs larcr. slc is assaulrcd oncc again ly lorcdom. Slc lccomcs awarc
ol lcr wcak lody and grows rcsrlcss. 1lc sulking lacc ol rlc inrrusivc
maid complcrcly ruins lcr day. wlicl also makcs lcr rcalizc rlar only
lanrasy can givc lcr somc solacc. ‘‘As a rcsulr. slc would olrcn srarr day-
drcaming wlilc slc was cursing and srarr cursing wlilc daydrcaming’’
(s8:). ¡cr loul mood conrinucs and lclps drivc away rwo glosrly visi-
rors wlo larcly can managc ro cngagc rlc dcjccrcd losrcss in a colcrcnr
convcrsarion.
Wirlour mucl ol a plor. ‘‘Ðayliglr’’ is insrcad rlc prcludc ro a possillc
srory alour rlc ciry. ¡r dcpicrs rlc wcaricd lilc ol a Wclrsclmcrz-srrickcn
young woman againsr rlc unconrrollallc cxpansc ol rlc ciry. in wlicl
cvcn polirical passion quickly lccomcs rlc oljccr ol mockcry. Yourl. as
mucl as rlc imposcd inrcrioriry. lccomcs parlologizcd and dcmands
rlcrapcuric rclcasc. A cincmaric juxraposirion liglliglrs rlc disjuncrurc
lcrwccn rwo pcrspccrivcs. a painlully scll-conscious lur aparlcric indi-
vidual againsr rlc vilranr. rcpcririvc. and unrcflccrivc ciry lilc around lcr.
1lanks ro rlc visual srrucrurc ol rlc narrarivc. rlcsc rwo cxrrcmc lorms
ol lilc in rlc ciry arc lrouglr rogcrlcr. il only ro prollcmarizc cacl orlcr.
Ycr rlcrc is no cxplicir mcssagc or judgmcnr in rlc srory. Òn rlc con-
rrary. rlis skcrcllikc dcscriprion ol diffcrcnr dimcnsions ol ciry lilc sccms
ro lc in scarcl ol a srory. ol a logical or cvcn causal connccrion lcrwccn
rlc urlan landscapc and rlc inrcrior ol Yisai’s drcary world. 1lc srory
o. Ðing ¡ing. Dina Lina m.nii (Collccrcd works ol Ðing ¡ing) (Slanglai. Yiwcn
sludian. ¡o:o). s¬o. ¡agc rclcrcnccs in rlc rcxr arc ro rlis cdirion.
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102 C/in.·. As!.rn
convcys a vaguc longing lor acrion. a dcsirc ro lrcak lrcc ol rlc impris-
oning suljccriviry and parriciparc in urlan narrariviry. 1lc narrarivc cnds
as rlc lcroinc languidly drilrs inro slccp ar dusk. Wirl a final commcnr—
‘‘1omorrow cvcryrling would comc and go onc morc rimc jusr as lc-
lorc’’ (s8o). rlc alscncc ol cirlcr acrion or purposc in lcr lilc lccomcs
an olvious rlcmc and suggcsrs rlc nccd ro inrcrrupr rlis incapaciraring
parrcrn ol rcpcririon.
1lc scarcl lor a purposclul lilc and narraraliliry lccomcs rlc morivc
in Ðing ¡ing’s sulscqucnr wrirings. ¡n S/cna/ci, Strina rc:c (¡). wc scc
a paradigmaric cloicc lcing scr up and madc. 1lrougl rlc acrion ol
Mcilin. wlo is an cducarcd woman ol rlc posr-May ¡ourrl cra now con-
fincd ro lcr comlorrallc lourgcois lomc. a rranslcr ol polirical alliancc
is carricd our. ¡cr final dccision ro lcavc lcr lousc wirlour firsr rclling
lcr lusland (wlo is a scll-olscsscd wrircr wirl considcrallc lamc) and ro
join anorlcr man in a srrccr dcmonsrrarion is rcaclcd as lorl rlc climax
ol rlc srory and rlc rcsolurion ro lcr lorcdom. Mcilin parriciparcs in col-
lccrivc acrion so as ro lrcc lcrscll ol sulmission ro a ‘‘so gcnrlc and ycr so
ryrannical’’ lovc. Wlcn ar lomc. slc incrcasingly lccls likc a prisoncr ol
lcr impcrvious lusland. Zilin. Òur ol dcspcrarion.
Mcilin would wcar a ncw ourfir cvcry day. grccn oncs. rcd oncs. Slc wcnr
our rcgularly wirl Zilin. lur gor ncirlcr plcasurc nor grarificarion lrom ir.
Slc imagincd rlar cacl pcrson slc saw on rlc crowdcd srrccrs lad a morc
mcaninglul lilc rlan slc. Mcilin did nor wanr ro dic. Quirc rlc conrrary.
slc wanrcd ro rcally livc and slc wanrcd ro lc lappy. ¡r was jusr rlar slc
could nor find rlc riglr dirccrion and slc nccdcd guidancc lrom somconc.
(i¡8–¡o, ¡io)
10
¡n rlis dcscriprion. rlc srarcmcnr rlar ‘‘Mcilin did nor wanr ro dic’’ may
sound alrupr. lur ir consrirurcs an inrcrrcxrual rcsponsc ro rlc scrics ol
suicidal lcmalc claracrcrs rlar pcoplcd Ðing ¡ing’s carlicr ficrion. 1lcrc.
rlc young womcn always lclr cxcludcd lrom a prcsumally lappy lilc rlar
cvcryonc clsc was living. and rlcir only connccrion ro rlc lusrling crowd
was rlcir dcarl as a voicclcss prorcsr.
11
‘‘Þo onc would givc mc a dollar
¡o. 1lc pagc rclcrcncc lollowing rlc scmicolon rclcrs ro ‘‘Slanglai. Spring ¡o:o.’’
rranslarcd ly Slu-ying 1s’ao and Ðonald ¡olocl. in I Av·.// ³m c Ismcn. ¡n mosr
insranccs. ¡ lavc modificd rlc 1s’ao}¡olocl rranslarion.
¡¡. ¡ollowing Ðurklcim’s classical srudy ol suicidcs in modcrn socicry. rlc suicidc
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Slanglai. Spring ¡o:o 103
lor lrcc.’’ so lamcnrs Yisa. a young woman srrandcd in Slanglai. in lcr
diary (‘‘1lc Ðiary ol a Suicidc’’). ‘‘jusr as no onc would slow mc any ar-
raclmcnr lor lrcc. ¡ am nor jcalous ol anyonc. lccausc cvcryonc clsc is a
lcrrcr pcrson rlan mc’’ (¡|8). ¡or Mcilin rlc ncw lcroinc. lowcvcr. rlis
momcnr ol olscrving orlcrs in rlc srrccr lcads ro a diffcrcnr rcsolurion.
slc wanrs ro parrakc ol rlis lappincss and nccds ro find somconc ro rakc
lcr rlcrc.
1lis mcnror figurc rlar Mcilin awairs is a young man namcd Fuo-
quan. wlo uscd ro lc a wrircr as wcll. Ar rlc lcginning ol rlc narrarivc.
lowcvcr. lis conccprion ol socicry las undcrgonc somc radical clangcs.
and conscqucnrly lc rcnounccs lircrarurc as usclcss and cvcn larmlul ro
rlosc young pcoplc ‘‘wlo lavc jusr rcaclcd adolcsccncc and arc mosr
suljccr ro mclancloly.’’ Scnrimcnralisr and individualisr wrirings. accord-
ing ro Fuoquan. would only scrvc ro ‘‘drag rlc young pcoplc inro rlcir
own gloom’’ and makc ir impossillc lor rlcm ro scc ‘‘rlc connccrion lc-
rwccn socicry and rlcir suffcrings’’ (¡oo–o¡, ¡¡o). ¡is ncw mission con-
sisrs in dclaring polirical issucs in srudy groups. lolding mccrings ro
lring rogcrlcr workcrs and collcgc srudcnrs. and orclcsrraring rallics in
rlc srrccr. ¡n conrrasr ro rlc palc and solirary Zilin. Fuoquan is a com-
mirrcd young man. lull ol cncrgy and lopc.
12
Òn onc lcvcl. S/cna/ci, Strina rc:c (¡) las rlc srrucrurc ol mcraficrion.
lor ir is dccidcdly a narrarivc alour rlc wriring ol ficrion. and. wirl rlc
lclp ol a moral discoursc. ir rcflccrs on irs own condirion ol possililiry.
¡rony or amliguiry is no longcr an inrcndcd cffccr lor rlis modc ol wrir-
ing. Òn rlc conrrary. rlc clariry rlar Ðing ¡ing now srrivcs lor in lcr
ficrion allows lcr rcposirioning as a polirical wrircr and lrings alour a
ncw scnsc ol aurloriry. 1lc acr ol wriring. ro wlicl somc ol lcr carlicr
diarisrs rcsorrcd as rlc solc mcans ol scll-affirmarion. is now conrcxrual-
rlcy conrcmplarcd can lc sccn as cirlcr an ‘‘anomic’’ or ‘‘cgoisric’’ rypc. lccausc lorl
rypcs indicarc a lack ol social londs and inrcgrarion. Crirics lavc rraccd rlis dcjccrion
ar rlc siglr ol unarrainallc lappincss ro rlc influcncc ol Gusravc ¡laulcrr’s Ac!cm.
Bsvcrv, a novcl rlar Ðing ¡ing lad rcad rcpcarcdly ar a young agc. Scc. lor cxamplc.
¡cucrwcrkcr. Dina Lina’· Fi.tisn, is–i¬.
¡i. According ro Iaroslav ¡ru˚šck. Fuoquan’s commcnrs in Ðing ¡ing’s srory sum
up rlc lasic claracrcr ol a ncw lircrarurc rlar purs mucl cmplasis on suljccrivism
and individualism. Scc lis influcnrial cssay ‘‘Suljccrivism and ¡ndividualism in Mod-
crn Clincsc ¡ircrarurc.’’ in ¡ru˚šck. T/. Lvri.c/ cn! t/. Lti.. Stu!i.· s/ As!.rn C/in.·.
Lit.rctur., cd. ¡co Òu-lan ¡cc (Bloomingron. ¡ndiana \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o8o). ¡–i8.
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104 C/in.·. As!.rn
izcd. Fcconfigurcd. roo. is rlc sccnc ol lircrary crcarion. As 1ani Barlow
commcnrs. ‘‘spcaking as a rcvolurionary wrircr. rarlcr rlan as a woman.
Ðing ¡ing lclr cmpowcrcd ro criricizc rlc masculinc world ol ‘lourgcois’
lircrarurc.’’
13
1lis masculinc world ol lourgcois valucs and acsrlcrics. in-
lalircd ly Zilin. wlo. incidcnrally. suffcrs lrom a major wrircr’s llock. is
clallcngcd and rcvcalcd ro lc laulry ly a rcvolurionary discoursc. wlicl
is wlar inlorms Fuoquan. Mcilin’s cxpcricncc ol lorcdom and lulfill-
mcnr. rlcrclorc. lccomcs inrcrprcrallc largcly in rcrms ol lcr associarion
wirl rlc rwo mcn in lcr lilc. Slc is. as ¡aura Mulvcy would arguc. rlc
‘‘lcarcr.’’ ‘‘nor makcr. ol mcaning’’ in cirlcr ol rlc symlolic ordcrs dc-
fincd ly malc lanrasics and olscssions. Slc cmlodics and dcmonsrrarcs a
posirivc valuc. lur slc is ncvcr allowcd ro gcncrarc or dcrcrminc ir.
14
By rlc cnd ol rlc srory. Mcilin succccds. wirl rlc guidancc lrom Fuo-
quan. in aclicving a scnsc ol lcing socially usclul. Slc docs nor ycr slow
mucl undcrsranding ol rlc oljccrivc ol lcr assignmcnr. lur slc las sul-
ficicnr rcason ro commir lcrscll and lollow insrrucrions. By idcnrilying
wirl a polirical communiry. slc now las a diffcrcnr rclarionslip ro rlc
ciry lrom wlicl. unril rcccnrly. slc lclr disranr. cvcn cxcludcd. Wc arc nor
givcn a dirccr dcscriprion ol lcr ncw cxcircmcnr and grarificarion in rlc
ciry. ¡nsrcad. wc rcad. wirl lcr asronislcd lusland. a norc lrom Mcilin.
‘‘Zilin. ¡ simply can’r lidc rlc rrurl lrom you anymorc. Wlcn you rcad
rlis lcrrcr. ¡ will prolally alrcady lc on avcnuc. as assigncd ly rlc
collccrivc ro carry our a movcmcnr’’ (i:8, ¡:8). 1lc polirical paradc
as a dcmonsrrarion ol solidariry givcs Mcilin acccss ro pullic spacc and
providcs lcr wirl a ncw cognirivc srrucrurc ly mcans ol wlicl slc is
allc ro map. cxpcricncc. and cvcnrually narrarc lcr surroundings. As a rc-
sulr. slc spcaks a ncw and morc asscrrivc languagc. ¡n lcr norc ro Zilin.
Mcilin asks ro lavc ‘‘a rarional discussion’’ wirl lcr lusland wlcn slc rc-
rurns lrom rlc dcmonsrrarion. ‘‘Wc slould lorl criricizc cacl orlcr vcry
sinccrcly and rlorouglly. ¡ lavc a lor ol rlings ro rcll you. somc alour
myscll and somc alour you’’ (i:8, ¡:8).
S/cna/ci, Strina rc:c (¡) rlus cnds wirl a momcnr ol impcnding con-
lronrarion. wirl Mcilin marcling down rlc srrccr and Zilin lcaving luri-
ous sigls ar lomc. 1lc polirical dcmonsrrarion is nor dcscrilcd. lur rlc
¡:. Barlow. ‘‘¡nrroducrion’’ ro I Av·.// ³m c Ismcn, :o.
¡|. Scc ¡aura Mulvcy. ‘‘\isual ¡lcasurc and Þarrarivc Cincma.’’ in lcr Ii·uc/ cn!
Ot/.r P/.c·ur.· (Bloomingron. ¡ndiana \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o8o). ¡|–io.
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Slanglai. Spring ¡o:o 105
privarc lomc is irrcvocally rcorganizcd. Fcsolvcd in rlis lormar. rlc con-
flicr lcrwccn ‘‘rcvolurion and lovc’’ in mucl ol rlc lclr-wing lircrarurc
ar rlc rimc rcflccrcd rlc compcririon lcrwccn rwo ways ol appropriar-
ing rlc ciry. Borl rcrms ol rlc anrinomy—‘‘rcvolurion’’ as cxpcricncc
ol collccrivc powcr. and ‘‘lovc’’ as succcsslul socializarion rlrougl pcr-
sonal lrccdom—arc ccnrral idcological consrrucrs in rlc lcgirimizing dis-
coursc ol modcrniry. Morc spccifically. rlcsc arc rwo symlioric aspira-
rions gcncrarcd ly rlc modcrn indusrrial-commcrcial mcrropolis. wlicl.
in irs daily scll-rcproducrion. ncccssarily rclics on rlc largc congrcgarcd
popularion. 1lc modcrn ciry. lclorc irs posrindusrrial sulurlanizarion.
is rlcrclorc a ccnrripcral ficld ol narrariviry rlar gcrminarcs variarions on
rlc rwo prororypical plors. collccrivc dcsriny and romanric cncounrcrs.
Aparr lrom irs univcrsal lcarurcs as a modcrn mcrropolis. Slanglai. rlc
‘‘crucillc ol modcrn Clina.’’ was in rlc sccond lall ol rlc ¡oios and carly
¡o:os in a rransirional sragc. during wlicl a growing prolcrariar rapidly
dcvclopcd a polirical consciousncss and lccamc molilizcd. ‘‘¡r was dur-
ing rlis cra in Slanglai. amidsr all rlc glamour and suffcring. rlar Cli-
ncsc narionalism and modcrnizarion rook on a ncw mcaning.’’
15
Þarion-
alism. as rlc lcgcmonic unilying polirical discoursc in posr-May ¡ourrl
Clina. was cvokcd ro molilizc srudcnrs. lacrory workcrs. mcrclanrs. and
ordinary ciry-dwcllcrs in anri-impcrialisr dcmonsrrarions sucl as rlc May
1lirricrl movcmcnr in ¡ois and ar sulscqucnr annual rallics commcmo-
raring rlar lisrorical cvcnr. Ar rlc samc rimc. narionalisr idcology luclcd
rlc drivc ro rcgimcnr and modcrnizc rlc ciry. Wirl rlc csrallislmcnr ol
a Þarionalisr govcrnmcnr in Þanjing in ¡oi¬. adminisrcring and polic-
ing Slanglai lccamc parr ol rlc rcncwcd cfforr ro insrirurc a ncw civic
ordcr and cxpcrimcnr wirl rlc narionalizarion projccr. ‘‘Mucl rlc samc
impulsc ro ‘policc’ social lclavior on rlc onc land. and ro ‘rrain’ pcoplc’s
lalirs on rlc orlcr.’’ claracrcrizcd lorl rlc mission ol rlc ¡ullic Sccu-
riry Burcau (csrallislcd on ii Iuly ¡oi¬) and rlc Þcw ¡ilc Movcmcnr
(launclcd in ¡clruary ¡o:|).
16
¡s. Bcrry ¡cl-1’i Wci. S/cna/ci. Cru.i//. s/ As!.rn C/inc (¡ong Kong. Òxlord
\nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o8¬). ioo.
¡o. Scc ¡rcdcric Wakcman Ir.. Ps/i.ina S/cna/ci, rcz~–rc:~ (Bcrkclcy. \nivcrsiry ol
Calilornia ¡rcss. ¡oos). i:i. 1lc ¡ullic Sccuriry Burcau was csrallislcd in Slanglai as
a policc lorcc adminisrcrcd ly rlc Spccial Municipal Govcrnmcnr. ‘‘As a lorcc rcprc-
scnring rlc Clincsc pcoplc and rlc ncw narional govcrnmcnr. ir would also srrivc ro
rccovcr long-losr sovcrcign riglrs ly csrallisling rlc aurloriry ol rlc Clincsc srarc
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106 C/in.·. As!.rn
Ycr rlc pcrilously disconrinuous polirical landscapc ol Slanglai. rc-
flccrcd in irs rlrcc diffcrcnr municipal jurisdicrional lodics (rlc ¡nrcr-
narional Scrrlcmcnr. rlc ¡rcncl Conccssion. and rlc Ciry Govcrnmcnr
ol Grcarcr Slanglai). conrinually dcrailcd an urlan cvcryday lilc rlar
rlc ncw civic ordcr inrcndcd ro csrallisl. Anri-impcrialisr narionalism.
roo. rurncd our ro lc a lisrorical llind allcy in rlc mcrropolis lccausc
a normalizcd urlan lilc. in promoring and rcgularing consumcr lclav-
ior. would spcll a dcad cnd ro rlc insurgcnr narionalisr movcmcnr. ¡or
narionalism ro conrinuc ro lc a viallc polirical idcology. in orlcr words.
rlc modcrn ciry would lavc ro lc rcsisrcd as sucl. and cvcryday lilc
would lavc ro lc narionalizcd and rcclaimcd ly a narional pullic and
lorm. ¡l rlc narionalisr program ol policing Slanglai was a doomcd
cfforr ar crcaring an cxcmplary modcrn disciplinary socicry. wirl rlc Þcw
¡ilc Movcmcnr as irs mosr sysrcmaric idcological cxprcssion. rlcn rlc
rcvolurionary insurrccrion was no lcss a modcrnizing projccr wlosc ulri-
marc rask was ro givc ordcr ro rlc samc posrdynasric and urlanizing
socicry. 1lc cloicc ol rcvolurion ovcr lovc. rlcrclorc. poinrcd ro lorl
a collccrivc and a pcrsonal rcdcmprion. ¡r suggcsrcd a dccply uropian
vision ol ovcrcoming rlc cxpcricnrial lragmcnrarion losrcrcd ly rlc ciry
on rlc onc land. and ol parriciparing in a narional lilc and idcnriry on
rlc orlcr. ¡r also cxprcsscd a ncwly rcinlorccd culrural anxicry ro moli-
lizc and kccp rracrallc rlc luman lody rlar was now suljccrcd ro rlc
monsrrously disjuncrivc modcrn ciry. ¡n slorr. commirmcnr ro rcvolu-
rion mandarcd a corporcal rcoricnrarion.
1lc Qucsrion ol rlc Fomanric Body
1lc lorcc and anxicry ol sucl a lisrorically dcrcrmincd polirics lccomc
mucl morc cvidcnr in S/cna/ci, Strina rc:c (¡¡). wlcrc rlc rcnsion lc-
rwccn collccrivc idcnriry and individual lrccdom is no longcr a simplificd
inrcllccrual cloicc or discussion. as is laccd ly Mcilin. lur manilcsrs irscll
morc as a lodily adjusrmcnr. Alrlougl Mcilin also las ro undcrgo somc
rraining in ordcr ro lcrrcr parriciparc in rlc collccrivc work. ly rlc scc-
ovcr rlosc parrs ol rlc ciry ir rulcd. ¡rs cfforrs ro lring law and ordcr ro Fcpullican
Slanglai wcrc rlcrcly vicwcd as a crucial rcsr ol rlc ovcrall cffccrivcncss ol rlc ncw
rcgimc’’ (¡|–¡s).
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Slanglai. Spring ¡o:o 107
ond insrallmcnr ol rlc novclla. rlc individuarcd luman lody lccomcs
lurrlcr prollcmarizcd in rlc ncgoriarion lcrwccn lovc and rcvolurion.
and a ncw lody las ro lc cngcndcrcd lor rlc individual ro ovcrcomc rlc
apparcnr impassc. Ccnrral ro rlc ncw rcclnology ol rlc lody is irs disci-
plining. wlicl rlc narrarivc rcprcscnrs wirlour amliguiry as a masculinc
arrrilurc and pracricc. 1lc lcmalc lody. ly conrrasr. is now slown ro lc
incapallc ol sucl rcrraining and lccomcs idcnrifiallc only rlrougl irs as-
sociarion wirl scnsuous dcrails. An cmcrging polirical srrugglc ovcr rlc
lody. paradoxically. is nor allc ro arricularc irscll unlcss ir sulscrilcs ro a
licrarclical languagc and imagcry ol gcndcr rolcs and divisions.
1lc srory alour Mary and Wangwci in S/cna/ci, Strina rc:c (¡¡). rlcrc-
lorc. is lorl sulrlcr and morc complcx rlan rlc firsr parr ol rlc novclla.
¡nsrcad ol ranralizing rlc rcadcr wirl a conccivallc rriangular affair. rlc
narrarivc dccidcdly rcvolvcs around rlc lilc ol rwo lovcrs and rlcir cvcn-
rual parring. Þor is rlcrc prolongcd didacric commcnrary on rlc lunc-
rion ol lircrarurc or rlc social rcsponsililiry ol a wrircr. By closcly nar-
raring Mary’s arrival in Slanglai ro livc wirl Wangwci. lcr growing
lrusrrarion wirl a lardly arrcnrivc lovcr. lis doomcd cfforrs ar molding
lcr inro a rcvolurionary companion. Mary’s final dccision ro movc our.
and Wangwci’s arrcsr during an anri-impcrialisr rally ar rlc cnd. Ðing
¡ing prcscnrs a mucl morc nuanccd psyclological porrrair ol rlc young
couplc. ¡n rlc proccss. rlc narraror lollows Mary and Wangwci rlrougl
a scrics ol urlan scrrings—srrccrs. rcsrauranrs. rlcarcrs. makcslilr officcs.
dcparrmcnr srorcs—lorcgrounding rlc ciryscapc as a kcy parricipanr in
rlc srory’s unlolding. Iusr as rlc lilcraring ciry spacc las inirially losrcrcd
rlcir uninlilircd lovc. so rlc samc vasr and mulridimcnsional cnviron-
mcnr lcnds validiry ro rlcir divcrgcnr scnscs ol rcaliry and rclarions ro
rlcir own lodics. 1lc lody in rlc ciry lccomcs a major and concrcrc
rlcmc ol rlc narrarivc.
¡r is rcmpring ro rry ro gaugc rlc dcgrcc ro wlicl rlc wriring ol rlc
srory was affccrcd ly rlc aurlor’s own siruarion ar rlc rimc. ¡or rlc
grcarcr parr ol ¡o:o. Ðing ¡ing was prcgnanr wirl scrious lcalrl prol-
lcms. wlcrcas lcr lusland. ¡u Ycpin. a young and cnrlusiasric pocr and
would-lc Communisr. was lrcncrically involvcd in a mass ol polirically
sulvcrsivc. lcncc dangcrous. lircrary and cxrralircrary acrivirics.
17
Iusr as
¡¬. ¡n 1si-an ¡sia’s rarlcr disapproving accounr. ¡u Ycpin. upon rcrurning ro
Slanglai in rlc carly summcr ol ¡o:o. ‘‘plungcd inro lis ncw lilc wirl zcsr and alan-
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108 C/in.·. As!.rn
wirl Mary in rlc novclla. Ðing ¡ing during rlis pcriod was largcly kcpr
our ol lcr lusland’s cxciring and sccrcrivc world. Slc also lad lcr con-
lusion and misgivings alour a wrircr’s roral dcvorion ro rlc pullic rcalm.
and slc managcd nor ro join. as did ¡u Ycpin. rlc ¡caguc ol ¡clr-wing
Wrircrs. a Communisr organizarion promoring rcvolurionary lircrarurc
and radical young wrircrs. in May ol rlc samc ycar. As a rcsulr ol lcr
lorccd domcsric confincmcnr. lisrorian Ionarlan Spcncc suggcsrs. Ðing
¡ing was pcrlorcc ro cncounrcr rwo scpararc rcalirics.
18
¡r was lcr cx-
pcricncc as a woman. or morc dirccrly. rlc cxpcricncc ol lcr rcproduc-
rivc lcmalc lody. rlar lor a wlilc rcmaincd undisciplinallc and rurncd
Ðing ¡ing inro a dcraclcd olscrvcr. ¡cr prcgnancy lccamc a consranr
rcmindcr ol a rcaliry in cxccss ol polirical cnrlusiasm or sullimarion.
19
Sucl corporcaliry apparcnrly was roo mcssy a marrcr lor ¡u Ycpin. rlc
young lusland and cxpccranr larlcr. Slorrly lclorc lc was cxccurcd.
rogcrlcr wirl rwcnry-rwo orlcrs. ly rlc Þarionalisr govcrnmcnr policc
in ¡clruary ¡o:¡. ¡u Ycpin finislcd a slorr srory in wlicl a young rcvo-
lurionary rccommcndcd alorrion as a ncccssary pcrsonal sacrificc so rlar
a young couplc could conrinuc dcvoring rlcir livcs ro rlc collccrivc causc.
1lc woman. in ¡u Ycpin’s romanric imaginarion. is rcadily pcrsuadcd
and cnds up consoling lcr lusland. ‘‘Òncc rlcrc is a laly. our work will
lc lindcrcd. Wc cannor lavc rlc laly.’’
20
¡n lis mcriculous srudy ol rlis group ol wrircrs-cum-marryrs. 1si-an
¡sia concludcs rlar ¡u Ycpin’s ligl-flying alsorprion in polirical acrion
srood in conrrasr ro Ðing ¡ing’s momcnrary lcsirarion. wlicl allowcd
lcr ro ‘‘scc ar lcasr rlc clarms. prollcms. and mcanings ol a nonrcvolu-
rionary lilc.’’
21
1lis nonrcvolurionary lilc ro wlicl Ðing ¡ing was con-
don. . . . ¡c rauglr ar a summcr sclool. prcsumally lor workcrs. and was clccrcd a
mcmlcr ol rlc Ixccurivc Commirrcc ol rlc ¡caguc [ol ¡clr-wing Wrircrs|. clairman
ol irs Board ol Corrcspondcncc wirl Workcrs. ¡casanrs. and Soldicrs. and a mcmlcr
ol rlc dclcgarion ro rlc Sovicr Congrcss ro lc convcncd in Kiangsi [Iiangxi|’’ (T/.
Gct. s/ Dcr/n.··, ¡¬¬).
¡8. Ionarlan Ð. Spcncc. T/. Gct. s/ H.cv.n/v P.c... T/. C/in.·. cn! T/.ir B.vs/u-
tisn, rsc·–rcsc (Þcw York. ¡cnguin. ¡o8¡). io8.
¡o. ¡or an inrcrcsring discussion ol rclarcd issucs. scc Wollgang Kulin. ‘‘1lc Srag-
ing ol rlc ¡nrcrior. Ðing ¡ing’s Slorr Srory ‘A Man and a Woman.’ ’’ in Ismcn cn!
Lit.rctur. in C/inc, cd. Anna Gcrsrlaclcr cr al. (Boclum. Brockmcycr. ¡o8s). i¬s–o¡.
io. ‘‘Xislcng’’ (Sacrificc. ¡o:o). quorcd and rranslarcd in ¡sia. T/. Gct. s/ Dcr/n.··,
¡¬8.
i¡. ¡sia. T/. Gct. s/ Dcr/n.··, ¡8i. ¡sia conrinucs. ‘‘1lc occasional psyclological
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Slanglai. Spring ¡o:o 109
fincd is now rcprcscnrcd in lcr narrarivc. nor wirlour irs concrcrc plca-
surcs. as rlc opposirc ol a socially mcaninglul lilc. ¡r dcfincs rlc lilc rlar
Mary in S/cna/ci, Strina rc:c (¡¡) livcs. ¡r is a lilc rlar. insrcad ol making
rlc luman lody rransccnd irs immcdiarc surroundings. firmly consigns
ir as sucl ro rlc urlan spccraclc. ¡n slorr. ir is an idlc lilc. mosr susccp-
rillc ro rlc consumcrisr cxploirarion ol rlc lody. a lilc rlar lacks grand
spirirual sullimarion. By ascriling rlis nonrcvolurionary lilc ro a lcmalc
lody. Ðing ¡ing lorl acknowlcdgcd rlc corporcaliry ol lcr own gcndcr
and. morc imporranrly. crcarcd a rropc rlrougl wlicl ro imaginc and
prcscrilc lcr scll-rranslormarion. ¡or rlis rcason. lcr porrrayal ol Mary
in rlc srory is wrouglr wirl amliguiry. 1lc narraror is ar oncc sympa-
rlcric and dcnunciarory. inrimarc and pcncrraringly crirical.
Ar rlc samc rimc. rlis nonrcvolurionary lilc rlar sccms ro consumc rlc
lcmalc lody lrings up rlc qucsrion ol rlc lody and irs incorporarion inro
rlc rcvolurionary causc. Sincc a rcvolurionary lilc cannor lc discmlod-
icd. wlar significancc slould lc accordcd ro rlc rcvolurionary’s lody·
Ònro rlc figurc ol Wangwci. ro wlicl wc now rurn. Ðing ¡ing would
inscrilc as an answcr rlc polirical rcgimcnrarion ol a lilcrarcd lody. a
lody rlar musr firsr lcarn low ro rcsisr rlc scducrivc ciryscapc rlrougl
scll-disciplinc and asccric pracriccs.
¡r is rlcrclorc nor surprising rlar rlc rcvolurionary romancc slould
opcn wirl a dcscriprion ol rlc plcasurallc plysical scnsarion rlar Wang-
wci. ‘‘a likallc. lronzc-complcxioncd young man.’’ drcamily cxpcricnccs
onc carly spring morning in Slanglai ol ¡o:o. Wc scc rlc lcro ol rlc
srory. apparcnrly cxlausrcd lrom working larc rlc niglr lclorc. lic in lcd
and languidly lall aslccp again. ¡is aparrmcnr’s inrcrior is lardly noricc-
allc. cxccpr as rlc cxrcnsion ol an cmlracing spring sccncry. ‘‘Ar dawn
on an carly spring day. a moisr lrcczc swcpr in solrly rlrougl rlc lrokcn
window. lruslcd cvcryrling gcnrly. and lclr quicrly. 1lc palc liglr ol rlc
sky rcaclcd inro cvcry corncr and coarcd rlc room wirl a drcamy luc.
1lc lusrling noiscs ol rlc ciry lad nor ycr ariscn. ¡r was a good rimc lor
somc pcacclul slccp . . .’’ (i|o, ¡:o).
1lis. rlcn. is a momcnr /./sr. rlc noisy cyclc ol urlan lilc. a flccring
sulrlcrics. rlc lirrlc rrcmors ol a scnsirivc mind rlar cnlivcn lcr wrirings arc alscnr in
lis. ¡is cagcrncss lor rcvolurion madc ir impossillc lor lim ro dwcll on sucl rriviali-
rics or on anyrling or any pcrson rlar was doomcd ro lc swcpr away ly rlc surging
ridcs ol lisrory’’ (¡8i–8:).
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110 C/in.·. As!.rn
lur cmplaric momcnr ol narurc’s rcvival and larmony rlar prcccdcs rlc
symlolic spacc ol rlc dynamic ciry. 1lis is also a privarc momcnr /./sr.
Wangwci assumcs lis polirical idcnriry and acriviry. ¡is conrcnrcd lody.
olviously susccprillc ro plcasurc. lorl affirms lis scnsiriviry and scrvcs
as a mcraplor lor lis scll-consciousncss. ¡or lc can allow limscll rlis
momcnrary acsrlcric rclaxarion lccausc lc knows rlar lc is all ly lim-
scll. and rlar lc docs nor ycr lavc ro rccnrcr rlc ciry. A similar insrancc
ol posirivc plcasurc occurs in rlc firsr parr ol rlc novclla wlcn Fuoquan.
rlc mcnror figurc wlo guidcs Mcilin inro collccrivc acrion. vcnrurcs ro
a pullic park on rlc ourskirrs ol Slanglai ro mccr sccrcrly wirl rlc ap-
parcnrly disrrauglr woman. Òncc insidc rlc park. rlc samc spring lrcczc
carcsscs Fuoquan wirl a rcndcrncss complcrcly alscnr in rlc swarming
ciry. Arrracrcd ly rlc surrounding lusl grccn. lc ‘‘walkcd aimlcssly across
rlc undularing grass lor quirc a way. almosr lorgcrring wly lc lad comc’’
(i:o, ¡:|).
22
¡or lorl dcdicarcd young mcn. lowcvcr. sucl plcasurallc
indulgcncc ol rlcir lodics cannor lc a purposc in irscll. ¡cisurc musr
luncrion as a producrivc rcspirc in rlar ir lcrrcr prcparcs rlcm lor rlcir
sulscqucnr roral dcvorion ro work.
1lc inirial inrimarc accounr ol Wangwci’s aparrmcnr and lis rclaxcd
lody. wlilc csrallisling as rlc ccnrral figurc a romanric young man in rlc
ciry. also lorclodcs rlc cnd ro wlar ¡co Òu-lan ¡cc las dcscrilcd as ‘‘a
romanric dccadc.’’ ro wlicl rlc imagc ol a scnsirizcd. lilidinal lody was
ccnrral and during wlicl ‘‘rlc voguc ol scll-cxposc—laying larc rlc au-
rlor’s inncrmosr sccrcrs. cmorional and scxual—all lur carricd rlc day.’’
23
1lc romanric ourlursr ol privarc cmorions and dcsircs in rlc rurlu-
ii. A morc poinrcd dcscriprion ol Fuoquan in rlc park is worrl quoring ar lcngrl
lcrc. ‘‘Fuoquan srood up srraiglr. unlurroncd lis suir jackcr. inlalcd dccply. and lclr
rclrcslcd riglr away. 1lc rcnsion and cxlausrion lc usually lclr lclr lim wirlour a
rracc. Anyonc arriving ar rlis vcrdanr carpcr ol grass. lcaving lclind rlc noisc ol rlc
world. larling in rlc spring lrcczc. cmlraccd ly rlc morning sun. would invarially
rclax. lorgcr cvcryrling and unslouldcr all carcs. 1lcy would casually lay rlcir lodics
in narurc. cxrcnd rlcir limls. and allow rlc scrcnc cnvironmcnr ro givc rlcm sucl
plcasurc unril rlcy could nor rcmcmlcr wlo rlcy wcrc’’ (iio, ¡:|). ¡n Ðing ¡ing’s
¡oio–:o novcl I.i Hu (Wci ¡u). dcscriprion ol plysical plcasurc consrirurcs a lasic
moril ol romanric lovc. 1lc lcroinc ¡ijia is mosrly dcfincd ly lcr lcaury and unin-
lilircd scxualiry.
i:. ¡co Òu-lan ¡cc. T/. Bsmcnti. G.n.rctisn s/ As!.rn C/in.·. Irit.r· (Cam-
lridgc. Mass.. ¡arvard \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o¬:). io:.
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Slanglai. Spring ¡o:o 111
lcnr ¡oios was vcry mucl prcdicarcd on an inrcnsificd awarcncss ol rlc
individual lody and irs dcrcrmincd scpararion lrom socicry and socicry’s
rirualizcd pracriccs. ¡r was rlc culrural cxprcssion ol rlc lody in rcvolr
againsr rradirional disciplinc mcclanisms. 1lc ncwly onrologizcd lody
nor only lccamc a ricl sourcc lor scll-dcfinirion. lur ir also providcd a
pcrsonalizcd sirc lor gcncraring and manilcsring polirical and narional.
cvcn cosmic. significarions. Yu Ðalu’s rclcnrlcss allcgorizarion ol lypo-
clondriac mclancloly. lor insrancc. liglliglrcd rlc impossililiry ol an
individual cvcn lcginning ro rclarc lis lrusrrarion. plysical as wcll as
psyclic. in a slarcd languagc. Sucl was rlc larc ol rlc scrics ol young
womcn rlar Ðing ¡ing painrcd wirl grcar symparly in lcr carly ficrion.
A convalcsccnr Miss Soplia’s rcsolvc ro lcavc again and go ‘‘somcwlcrc
wlcrc no onc knows mc. wlcrc ¡ can squandcr rlc rcmaining days ol
my lilc’’ amounrs ro a dcspcrarc prorcsr againsr rlc displaccmcnr ol a
young gcncrarion (oi).
24
As Mao Ðun olscrvcd in ¡o::. Miss Soplia.
ar oncc an ‘‘cmllcm ol rlc conflicring arrirudc roward scxual lovc cx-
pcricnccd ly young womcn cmanciparcd sincc May ¡ourrl.’’ was also a
dccply woundcd lonc rclcl dcnouncing lcr own rimcs.
25
¡n many ol rlc lircrary cxprcssions lrom rlis romanric pcriod. rlc lil-
crarcd lody. alrcr a lricl ourlursr ol passion. would olrcn grow inro a
local symprom ol a disarraycd socicry’s lailurc ro producrivcly inrcgrarc
irs yourl. rogcrlcr wirl yourl’s ncwly rclcascd cncrgy and cnrlusiasm.
1lc incscapallc urlan scrring. wlcrc ncw pracriccs ol rlc scll as a sign
ol lcing modcrn wcrc cxpcrimcnrcd wirl and cncouragcd. offcrcd a spa-
rial parallcl ro rlc disjuncrurc rlar lcsicgcd rlc individual. Iusr as rlc ciry
was posirivcly modcrn only ro rlc cxrcnr rlar ir cmlodicd a radical dil-
lcrcncc lrom rlc vasr rural linrcrland. so lold proclamarions ol rlc dc-
siring suljccr olrcn scrvcd ro rcvcal irs limircdncss or cvcn irs irrclcvancc
ro socicry ar largc. ¡ndccd. rlc romanric cclclrarion ol rlc scll in rlc im-
mcdiarc posr-May ¡ourrl cra. or wlar Yu Ðalu laudcd as ‘‘rlc discovcry
ol individual pcrsonaliry.’’
26
was largcly an urlan cvcnr. dcriving mucl ol
i|. ‘‘Slalci nusli dc riji.’’ Scc irs Inglisl rranslarion. ‘‘Miss Soplia’s Ðiary.’’ in I Av-
·.// ³m c Ismcn, 8¡.
is. Mao Ðun. ‘‘Þuzuojia Ðing ¡ing’’ (Woman wrircr Ðing ¡ing). I.nvi vu./cs
(¡ircrarurc and arrs monrlly). no. i (¡s Iuly ¡o::), collccrcd in B.·.cr./ Act.ric/· sn
Dina Lina, is:.
io. Quorcd in ¡cc. T/. Bsmcnti. G.n.rctisn, ioi.
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112 C/in.·. As!.rn
irs modcrniry lrom an implicir valorizarion ol rlc cosmopoliran ciry as a
civilizarional vanguard againsr rlc counrrysidc as inrransigcnr rradirion.
As a rcsulr. rlc romanric imaginarion was ulrimarcly dcfincd lcss ly rlc
posscssion ol pocric inspirarion or ralcnr rlan ly rlc lrcqucnr onslauglr
ol a Wclrsclmcrz rlar a scnsirivc soul and lody suffcrcd. ¡rom irs vcry
srarr. in orlcr words. rlc romanric journcy ol scnrimcnr was ro scck an
imaginary compcnsarion lor rlc individuarcd lody rlar now lccamc sus-
ccprillc ro dclcar and dcspair. Ivcn Guo Moruo. rlc mosr clullicnr pocr
ol May ¡ourrl romanricism wlo would imaginc limscll ro lc a wild
cclcsrial lound and dcclarc ‘‘¡ am ¡! My cgo is alour ro lursr.’’ lad ro firsr
cndurc a dark pcriod in lis lilc wlcn rlc only solurion ro lis cxisrcnrial
crisis appcarcd ro lc dcarl.
27
By rlc rimc rlar Ðing ¡ing lcgan a srory ly dcscriling rlc lcrowaking
up in a Slanglai aparrmcnr in rlc spring ol ¡o:o. lowcvcr. rlc rcmpcsr
ol rlc romanric agc lad lccn ovcrrakcn ly a mucl morc violcnr srorm ol
polirical uplcaval. 1lc romanricizcd lody lad provcd ro lc roo lragilc
wlcn laccd wirl lloody rcvolurions and counrcrrcvolurions. ¡r lad dicd
a parlological dcarl in Mao Ðun’s ¡oi8 slorr srory ‘‘Zisla’’ (Suicidc).
wlcrc a Miss ¡uan. prcgnanr lrom lcr lricl lur passionarc lovc affair
wirl a young rcvolurionary. dccidcs ro lang lcrscll wlcn slc rcalizcs rlar
slc is all alonc and unallc ro copc wirl rlar grim rcaliry. 1ormcnrcd ly
anguisl. slc urrcrs a lirrcr vcrdicr on romanric rlcroric lor laving ill-
prcparcd lcr lor socicry. ‘‘¡ics. lics—lilcrarion. lrccdom. lriglrncss—
cvcryrling is a lic! . . . ¡ slall announcc ro rlc world rlc crimcs ol rlosc
lraudulcnr idcas ol lilcrarion. lrccdom. and lriglrncss. ¡ slall announcc
ir wirl my own dcarl!’’
28
Slc docs dic. lur nor wirlour suggcsring. ar
rlc lasr momcnr. rlar pcrsonal rcdcmprion may comc lrom joining rlc
‘‘ridc ol lisrory.’’
¡ndccd. rlc swirling ridc ol lisrory lad lrouglr alour rcvolurion. irs
miscrallc lailurc norwirlsranding. as an cvcn grandcr. morc glolal pas-
sion. 1o dialccrically ncgarc irs romanric parlos and scnrimcnraliry. rlc
i¬. Scc Ðavid 1. Foy. Kus As-is. T/. Lcr/v T.cr· (Camlridgc. Mass.. ¡arvard \ni-
vcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o¬¡). 8¬.
i8. Mao Ðun. ‘‘Suicidc.’’ in lis T.xicnam.i (1lc wild roscs) (Slanglai. Ðajiang
slupu. ¡oio). ¬o–¬¬. ¡or a conrcxrual rcading ol rlis srory. scc Yu-slil Clcn. B.c/i·m
cn! ³//.asrv in T/. Lcr/v Fi.tisn s/ Acs Tun (Bloomingron. ¡ndiana \nivcrsiry ¡rcss.
¡o8o). ¡||–|o.
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Slanglai. Spring ¡o:o 113
‘‘lircrary rcvolurion’’ ol rlc carly ¡oios would ncccssarily rranslorm ir-
scll inro a ‘‘rcvolurionary lircrarurc.’’
29
Along wirl rlis mucl-rrumpcrcd
³u//./una (a rlcorcrical carclplrasc ar rlc rimc. wirl irs Clincsc rranslir-
crarion) ol lircrary pracricc. a ¡cgclian sullimarion ol dcrails lccamc an
inrcgral parr ol rlc ncw acsrlcric ol rcprcscnring collccrivc acrion.
30
1lc
rolc and luncrion ol rlc wrircr lad also undcrgonc significanr clangcs,
rlc idca ol an cxprcssivc. il also loncly. romanric pocr was now rcplaccd
ly rlar ol a proud advocarc ol rlc rcccnrly discovcrcd lairl in rlc col-
lccrivc. 1lc rcvolurionary mass as an cmcrgcnr suljccr ol lisrory quickly
supplicd a causc lor. and rcignircd rlc imaginarion ol. young urlan inrcl-
lccruals wlo lad wirncsscd rlcir own imporcncc or supcrfluousncss only
roo wcll in war-rorn Clina. ¡or rlis posr-¡o¡¡ Fcvolurion gcncrarion ol
Clincsc. rlc polirical cnrcrprisc ol a prolcrariar-lcd narional rcvolurion
offcrcd dirccr social inrcgrarion on rlc onc land. wlilc ir madc availallc
a powcrlully cxplanarory languagc. lccausc ol irs glolal implicarions. lor
rlcir own anxicry and disconrcnr on rlc orlcr.
Againsr rlis lackground. Ðing ¡ing’s marurarion inro a rcvolurionary
wrircr ly ¡o:o. as Mcng Yuc and Ðai Iinlua poinrcdly commcnr. was
almosr a lisrorical ncccssiry. ¡r answcrcd lcr cpisrcmological as wcll as
cxisrcnrial nccd ro rclcasc lcrscll and lcr lcmalc claracrcrs lrom rlc dark
vacuum lclr lclind ly a sparc ol lankrupr idcologics. nor rlc lcasr ol
rlcmlcing romanric individualism.
31
1rappcd in rlis vacuum. carly Ðing
¡ing lad lad ro rurn inward and rcpcarcdly cxplorc. as 1ani Barlow pur
ir. rlc dcprls ol rlc ‘‘gcncrally ‘dark’ qualiry ol lcmalc consciousncss.’’
32
io. Clcng ¡angwu. ‘‘Cong wcnxuc gcming dao gcming wcnxuc’’ (¡rom a lircrary
rcvolurion ro a rcvolurionary lircrarurc). darcd i: Þovcmlcr ¡oi¬. collccrcd in Zlang
Fuoying. Z/snaaus xin m.nxu.·/i ci/ics (Ðocumcnrs lrom rlc lisrory ol Clincsc ncw
lircrarurc) (Slanglai. Guangmin sluju. ¡o:|). :8o–8¬. ¡or an Inglisl rranslarion. scc
Kirk A. Ðcnron. cd.. As!.rn C/in.·. Lit.rcrv T/sua/t. Iritina· sn Lit.rctur., rsc:–
rc;· (Sranlord. Calil.. Sranlord \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡ooo). ioo–¬s.
:o. ¡or a liglly rclcvanr discussion ol rlc implicarion ol rlc ¡cgclian plilosopliz-
ing ol rlc dcrail. scc Þaomi Sclor. B.c!ina in D.tci/. ³.·t/.ti.· cn! t/. F.minin. (Þcw
York. Mcrlucn. ¡o8¬).
:¡. Scc Mcng and Ðai. Lm.raina /rsm Hi·tsrv, ¡io. ¡or a conrcxrual srudy ol rlc
discoursc ol individualism during rlc May ¡ourrl pcriod. scc ¡ydia ¡. ¡iu. Trcn·/in-
auc/ Prc.ti... Lit.rctur., Nctisnc/ Cu/tur., cn! Trcn·/ct.! As!.rnitv, C/inc, rccc–rc:~
(Sranlord. Calil.. Sranlord \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡oos). ¬¬–oo.
:i. Barlow. ‘‘¡nrroducrion’’ ro I Av·.// ³m c Ismcn, is. Ðing ¡ing’s cxplorarion
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114 C/in.·. As!.rn
1lus. rlc porcnr symlolism ol rlc rirlc ol lcr firsr collccrion pullislcd
in ¡oi8. In Dcr/n.··.
1lc 1raining ol rlc Malc Body
Wlcn Wangwci appcars ar rlc lcginning ol S/cna/ci, Strina rc:c (¡¡). lc
and lis lody lavc undcrgonc a radicalizarion similar ro wlar Fuoquan
cxpcricnccd in rlc firsr parr. ¡n Wangwci’s words. lc las consciously
‘‘plclcianizcd’’ (pingmin) limscll (isi, ¡||). Morivarcd ly a ‘‘clangc
in lis ourlook on lilc.’’ lc finds lcss and lcss rimc ro worry alour lis
clorling or plysical appcarancc. 1o lim. plclcianizarion mcans lrcqucnr-
ing dingy and unsanirary rcsrauranrs ol rlc working class. cxlausring
limscll in working lor an undcrground socicry rlar promorcs prolcrar-
ian lircrarurc. and diligcnrly srudying rlc ncwspapcrs ‘‘in ordcr ro sorr
rlrougl rlc inlormarion on world cconomy. ro scck rcporrs on rlc dc-
vclopmcnr ol rcvolurion in Clina and collccr cvidcncc ol rlc daily wcak-
cning ol rlc ruling class’’ (io¬, ¡s¡). Somcrimcs lc gcrs a lcadaclc lrom
laving ro composc work rcporrs or ourlincs ol a plan. lor ‘‘only rlrcc
monrls lclorc lc lad srill lccn a srudcnr pronc ro mclancloly. wlo
could casily and vcry quickly producc moving. clcvcr. and scnrimcnral
lincs in a pocm ol cqual lcngrl’’ (io8, ¡si). ¡is cxrcnsivc involvcmcnr
in ‘‘pracrical srrugglcs.’’ incidcnrally. also cnallcs lim ro lcrrcr dcal wirl
a privarc lrusrrarion causcd ly lis lovcr Mary’s alscncc. Þo longcr an
arrisric young man. Wangwci is now a dcdicarcd inrcllccrual.
33
ol ‘‘lcmalc suljccriviry.’’ according ro Barlow. lcd lcr ro rlc ‘‘cxrraordinarily scnsi-
rivc issucs ol scxual rcprcssion and cxprcssion. lomocroricism. lcmalc Ðon Iuanism.
scxual polirics. and rlc gcncrally ‘dark’ qualiry ol lcmalc consciousncss.’’
::. ¡n lis ¡oo8 cssay on ‘‘ ‘Civilizcd’ Scxual Moraliry and Modcrn Þcrvousncss’’
(S.xuc/itv cn! t/. P·v./s/sav s/ Lsv. [Þcw York. Collicr Books. ¡oo:|). ¡rcud makcs
rlc lollowing olscrvarions. ‘‘An alsrincnr arrisr is scarccly conccivallc, an alsrincnr
young inrcllccrual is ly no mcans a rariry. 1lc young inrcllccrual can ly alsrincncc
cnlancc lis powcrs ol conccnrrarion. wlcrcas rlc producrion ol rlc arrisr is prolally
powcrlully srimularcd ly lis scxual cxpcricncc. Òn rlc wlolc ¡ lavc nor gaincd rlc
imprcssion rlar scxual alsrincncc lclps ro slapc cncrgcric. scll-rclianr mcn ol acrion.
nor original rlinkcrs. lold pionccrs and rclormcrs, lor morc olrcn ir produccs ‘good’
wcaklings wlo larcr lccomc losr in rlc crowd rlar rcnds ro lollow painlully rlc ini-
riarivc ol srrong claracrcrs’’ (i|). Wlar lappcns ro Wangwci ar rlc cnd ol lis srory
sccms ro makc rlis paragrapl cvcn morc rclcvanr.
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Slanglai. Spring ¡o:o 115
1lc lovc srory lcrwccn Wangwci and Mary. now lricfly narrarcd as
prclisrory lrom lis pcrspccrivc. is a rypical cpisodc lrom rlc lygonc
romanric agc.
34
¡r was unconsrraincd modcrn lovc lcrwccn a young loy
in lis aimlcss Icn!.ric/r. and a capricious young girl cqually unclcar
alour wlar slc was looking lor in lilc. Alrcr an inirial cncounrcr. rlc cx-
clangc ol a lcw lcrrcrs was sufficicnr ro arousc a ‘‘mucl srrongcr dcsirc’’
in lim. wlicl cxprcsscd irscll as an unlcarallc ‘‘plysical pain’’ and drovc
lim lrom Slanglai ro Bcijing.
35
1lcrc. lollowing rlc cxamplc ol many
conrcmporary young mcn and womcn loldly rasring pcrsonal lrccdom
in rlc ciry. rlcy swilrly movcd in rogcrlcr and consummarcd rlcir pas-
sionarc. il doomcd. romancc. Slorrly alrcr. Mary wcnr lomc ro visir lcr
parcnrs and ncvcr camc lack. and Wangwci. duly panickcd. rurncd ro a
‘‘ncw lopc’’ rlar mucl cxcircd lim. Gradually. lc would cvcn lorgcr lcr.
lor now lc lad no rimc ro lc idlc or lanrasizc. 1lc lilidinal drivc rlar
lad oncc ovcrpowcrcd lim was now lorl rcgularcd and rranslcrrcd onro
orlcr. morc glolal pursuirs. ¡l rlc romanric ycars allowcd mucl c.·t/.ti-
.icctisn ol lis lody. rlc ncw polirical agc dcmandcd irs c·..ti.icctisn lor
ir ro lc producrivc and acccssillc ro a pullic lilc.
Ar rlis juncrurc. Mary announccs lcr rcrurn ro Wangwci’s lilc rlrougl
a pcrcmprory rclcgraplcd mcssagc. wlicl insranrly ‘‘rcvivcd many lopcs
and drcams in lim and lrouglr lack mcmorics ol rlc swccr pasr’’ (i|:,
¡|o). \pon lcr rcrurn. Wangwci is compcllcd ro conlronr lis largcly rc-
prcsscd romanric pasr. lis scxualiry. and lis ncw scll-imagc. Mucl ol
rlc rcsr ol rlc narrarivc. rlcrclorc. dcpicrs rlc gradual proccss in wlicl
Wangwci and Mary rcalizc rlar rlcy arc no longcr comparillc and arc
in lacr miscrallc rogcrlcr. Mary. as mucl as Wangwci. sccs no rcmcdy
ro rlcir srraincd rclarionslip unlcss slc rakcs rlc pains ro ‘‘dcny lcrscll
:|. ¡n lis casc srudy ol rlc ‘‘romanric gcncrarion.’’ ¡co Òu-lan ¡cc concludcs. ‘‘rlc
lircrarurc ol rlc ¡oios was fillcd wirl srorics ol low an indcpcndcnr Þora mcr and
flirrcd wirl a palc and pcnsivc young man ar a calc or low a group ol narurc-loving
girl srudcnrs lumpcd inro a landsomc arr srudcnr doing a landscapc painring ar rlc
Wcsr ¡akc ncar ¡angclow’’ (:|). 1lis lasic plor ol ‘‘rlc lrccdom ro lovc’’ appcars in
all ol Ðing ¡ing’s rlrcc ‘‘rcvolurion and lovc’’ srorics. I.i Hu and S/cna/ci, Strina
rc:c (¡ and ¡¡).
:s. Cs//..t.! Isr/· s/ Dina Lina, i|i. 1lc Inglisl rranslarion collccrcd in I Av·.//
³m c Ismcn las somc curious omissions. Missing is rlc rclling plrasc ‘‘plysical pain’’
(slcnri slang dc rongku). wlicl. incidcnrally. is also rruncarcd in a mainland cdirion
ol Dina Lina !ci/icscus (Fcprcscnrarivc works ly Ðing ¡ing). cd. Iiao Slangzli and
¡iu Clunslcng (Zlcngzlou. ¡cnan rcnmin. ¡o88). 8:.
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116 C/in.·. As!.rn
and lccomc a pcrson wirl a mind likc lis’’ (io8, ¡oo). Alrlougl rlc
ccnrral consciousncss ol rlc narrarivc is Wangwci’s. mucl symparlcric
room is givcn ro cxplaining Mary’s lrusrrarion and lcr rcasoning. A con-
sranr criss-crossing and clasling ol rwo pcrspccrivcs. as Mcng Yuc and
Ðai Iinlua suggcsr.
36
cngcndcr rlc dynamics ol rlc narrarivc and lring
inro rclicl a widc rangc ol licrarclical valucs cmlodicd ly Wangwci
and Mary. rcason}cmorion. work}plcasurc. pullic}privarc. polirical}pcr-
sonal. collccrivc}individual. mind}lody. lcroism}lcdonism. masculinc}
lcmininc. Wlar rlc narrarivc rcnsion rcvcals. pcrlaps againsr Ðing ¡ing’s
aurlorial inrcnrion. is an undcrsranding rlar rcvolurionary movcmcnr.
jusr likc modcrn indusrry or rourinizcd officc work. firsr las ro dcvclop
a work crlic rcinlorccd ly a modc ol rcgimcnring rlc scxualizcd luman
lody. ¡r las ro invcnr irs own vcrsion ol wlar ¡rcud calls ‘‘rlc cconomics
ol rlc lilido’’ so as ro maximizc rlc producriviry ol rlc lody.
37
1lis idcologically jusrificd nccd ro conrrol rlc lody lccomcs morc
pronounccd soon alrcr Mary’s arrival. Òn rlc samc cvcning. as rlcy cn-
joy a lcisurcly dinncr in a Canroncsc rcsrauranr and conlcss low mucl
rlcy misscd cacl orlcr. Wangwci cannor lclp lur apprcciarc rlc plysical
arrrilurcs ol rlc scnsuous woman wirl lim. ¡is proling gazc ovcr lcr
lody is cnougl ro arousc lis croric imaginarion. ‘‘Slc lad rakcn off rlc
lundrcd-and-rwcnry-yuan coar and was wcaring only a rlin. liglr grccn.
riglr-firring. solr silk ;itcs rlar dclicarcly rcvcalcd rlc inrriguing parrs ol
lcr lody’’ (figurc i). As Mary conrinucs lcr small ralk. Wangwci finds
limscll disrracrcd ly a growing ‘‘discomlorr.’’ ‘‘A lodily insrincr prcsscd
upon lim. making lim wisl rlar ar rlis vcry momcnr lc could jump
upon lcr. prcss lcr down. and cnjoy oncc again rlc ccsraric inroxicarion
on lcr lcaurilul flcsl. ¡or lc did nor lavc rlc nccd ro cxprcss lis lovc
in words. Scvcral rimcs lc said. ‘¡cr’s car up quickly!’ ’’ Ycr Mary. clc-
ganrly sipping winc and rca. is cnjoying rlc plcasanr inrimacy ol rlc rcs-
rauranr wirl lcr lovcr roo mucl ro noricc Wangwci’s rurgid imparicncc.
‘‘Wangwci. on rlc orlcr land. gradually lcll silcnr. ¡c was suffcring lrom
a dcsirc rlar. arouscd ly lovc. could nor ycr lc lulfillcd. ¡c rricd ro lold
limscll rogcrlcr. lc lclr lis cnrirc lody lurning lor. and rcd capillarics
fillcd up lis cycs rlar sccmcd rcady ro lursr in flamcs. ¡c rcmaincd quicr.
:o. Mcng and Ðai. Lm.raina /rsm Hi·tsrv, ¡i8–:¡.
:¬. Scc Sigmund ¡rcud. Civi/icctisn cn! It· Di·.snt.nt·, rrans. Iamcs Srraclcy (Þcw
York. Þorron. ¡oo¡). i8–io.
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Slanglai. Spring ¡o:o 117
i. Commcrcial advcrriscmcnr. ‘‘¡nrcrnarional Ðispcnsary Co.
¡rd.’’ (ca. ¡o:o). ¡rom Lcs vu./.ntci aucnaacs/uc (Advcrrising
imagcs in old calcndars). spccial issuc ol Hcn·/.na (Iclo
magazinc). no. o: (1aipci. ¡anslcng. ¡oo|).
rrying nor ro lisrcn ro lcr. ro lc vulncrallc ro lcr scducrion. lccausc lc
was rcally lccling morc pain rlan plcasurc’’ (is:, ¡||).
1lc scll-conrrol rlar Wangwci cxcrciscs lcrc. lowcvcr. is nor ncarly as
momcnrous as wlar lc is alour ro aclicvc. ¡l ar rlis momcnr lc managcs
ro conrain lis rcacrivarcd scxualiry ly divcrring lis rlouglrs ro orlcr ir-
rclcvanr and rrivial rlings. wlcn lc suddcnly rcmcmlcrs rlar lc las an
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118 C/in.·. As!.rn
imporranr mccring ro clair larcr rlar cvcning. lis dccision ro lcavc lc-
lind an amorous Mary in lis larc aparrmcnr comcs as a rcmarkallc rri-
umpl. ¡r is a rriumpl ol lis will ovcr lis lody, ir marks rlc prioriry now
givcn ro a ncw sourcc ol cxcircmcnr. rlc aclicvcmcnr ol wlicl consisrs in
posrponing. and ulrimarcly sullimaring. rlc immcdiarc grarificarion lor
wlicl lis lody ycarns. 1lc mccring rlar lc lurrics ro arrcnd. ol wlicl
rlcrc will lc a scrics ol rimcly rcpcars in rlc srory. luncrions as a rirual. as
an acr ol good lairl rlar convinccs Wangwci ol lis own aliliry ro displacc
rlc lilido and ro producrivcly dcvorc lis lody ro a grcarcr causc. 1lc
mccring is also a lorm ol pullic lilc. ro wlicl Wangwci nowcnrircly sul-
mirs limscll. 1lc lacr rlar Wangwci is consranrly cxlausrcd and unavail-
allc. cmorionally as wcll as plysically. ro a dcsiring Mary lccomcs onc
cffccrivc way lor lim ro salcguard lis commirmcnr rlrougl disciplining
lis lody.
38
¡r would lc a lallacy. as Miclcl ¡oucaulr rcminds us. ro rlink ol rlc
rcvolurionary commirmcnr rlar alsorls Wangwci as mcrcly rcprcssivc.
39
1o rlc conrrary. ir is a discoursc ol sullimarion rlar lcgirimizcs a ncw
rcclnology ol rlc lody and dclcgarcs ro ir ncw luncrions as wcll as sym-
lolic conrcnrs. 1lc cvocarion ol polirical idcnriry is an ingcnious parr
ol wlar ¡oucaulr dcscrilcs as rlc ‘‘sulrlc. calcularcd rcclnology ol sul-
jccrion (c··ui.ti··.m.nt)’’ rlar answcrcd rlc urgcnr nccd lor conrrolling
‘‘mulripliciry’’ in rlc modcrn lilcral srarc. ¡r is a rcclnology rlar pro-
vidcd a ‘‘guaranrcc ol rlc sulmission ol lorccs and lodics’’ rlar lccamc a
sociological rcaliry wirl rlc dcmisc ol rlc sovcrcign lody ol rlc king.
40
1lc samc rimc rlar an individuarcd and juridical suljccr was callcd lorrl
as sucl. ir also was suljccrcd ro a disciplinary powcr in rlc lorm ol sys-
rcmaric classificarion. normalizarion. and cxrcrnalizarion. ¡or ‘‘rlc rcal.
corporal disciplincs consrirurcd rlc loundarion ol rlc lormal. juridical
lilcrrics.’’ Ðisciplinc as a ncw modaliry ol powcr. wirl irs ‘‘scr ol plysico-
:8. ‘‘¡r was ncvcr cnougl lor Mary. lur wlcn slc saw rlar Wangwci was cxlausrcd.
slc would currail lcr cxcircmcnr. Wangwci would lc so rircd rlar lis cycs would lc
rcd. lis lcad pounding. lis joinrs sriff. Òncc lomc lc would always lall aslccp as soon
as lc rcaclcd rlc lcd. wlicl was somcrling rlar Mary also lclr sorry alour’’ (i¬s,
¡ss).
:o. Scc Miclcl ¡oucaulr. ‘‘¡arr 1wo. 1lc Fcprcssivc ¡yporlcsis.’’ in lis Hi·tsrv s/
S.xuc/itv, Is/. I. ³n Intrs!u.tisn (Þcw York. \inragc. ¡o8o). ¡s–|o.
|o. Miclcl ¡oucaulr. Di·.it/in. cn! Puni·/. T/. Birt/ s/ t/. Pri·sn, rrans. Alan Slcri-
dan (Þcw York. \inragc. ¡o¬o). ii¡–ii.
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Slanglai. Spring ¡o:o 119
polirical rcclniqucs.’’ molilizcs rlc lody so as ro rcgularc ir. inscrilcs
on ir polirical significarion so as ro rcsrricr ir. 1lc asccricism pracriccd
ly Wangwci. rlcrclorc. lclps ro incorporarc rlc lody inro rlc polirical.
and rlc privarc inro rlc pullic. As rlc narrarivc conrinucs and rlc rilr
lcrwccn rlc rwo lovcrs widcns. Wangwci’s lody is rcprcscnrcd as morc
and morc immunc ro rlc insrincrual lorcc rlar inflicrcd inrcnsc ‘‘plysical
pain’’ ar rlc lcginning. 1lc plcasurc lc nowcnjoys is morc ol an inrcllcc-
rual narurc. parrly dcrivcd lrom a conscious rcsisrancc againsr immcdiarc
lodily grarificarion. 1lc samc inrcllccrualizcd plcasurc cnallcs lim ro in-
vcsr lis lody wirl glolal significancc and cvcnrually ro molilizc ir as a
polirical srarcmcnr in a srrccr dcmonsrrarion. Wlcn conloundcd ly rlc
possililiry rlar Mary may lcavc lim somcday. Wangwci dccidcs rlar lc
slould ovcrcomc rlc loss ly making limscll cvcn lusicr. ¡is lairl now
unassailallc. lc rcluscs ‘‘ro clangc lis rlinking duc ro rlc coming and
going ol a woman in lis lilc’’ (ioo, ¡o:).
Wlilc Wangwci’s lody undcrgocs conscicnrious rraining. Mary
rlrouglour rlc srory rcmains rlc samc scnsuous woman and is always
porrraycd in rlc dclilcrarc and dccorarivc dcrail ol rlc privarc splcrc.
41
¡cr ‘‘dignificd and cxciring’’ lody. wlicl slc narcissisrically apprcciarcs
in a mirror. is lcr scll-consciousncss and individualiry (figurc :). ¡cr dc-
cision ro lcavc Wangwci amounrs ro a rclusal. ly a ciry woman in rlc
posr-May ¡ourrl cra. ro rclinquisl wlar rlc romanric agc las madc avail-
allc ro lcr. 1lc rwo rcasons slc givcs lor lcr dcparrurc in lcr larcwcll
norc (lis unlairllulncss ro lovc and lis olscssion wirl work) poinr ro rlc
ccnrraliry ol romanric lovc in lcr cxisrcncc (:oi, ¡o¬). By allowing Mary
a lasr clancc ro voicc lcr anguisl and. morc significanrly. ly inrroducing
rlc rcadcr inro lcr privarc world ol lcmininc plcasurc and scnsuousncss.
rlc narraror cxplorcs. rarlcr rlan dismisscs. rlc young woman’s scnsi-
liliry and dilcmma. ¡n doing so. Ðing ¡ing’s narrarivc prcscnrs morc rlan
an idcological diffcrcncc lcrwccn Mary and Wangwci. A sociology-lascd
rcading ol lorl parrs ol Ðing ¡ing’s novclla may lcad ro rlc conclusion
rlar rlc growing numlcr ol cducarcd womcn. sucl as Mary and Mcilin.
in rlc ¡o:os srill lad lirrlc acccss ro rlc workplacc and wcrc lorccd ro con-
|¡. ¡or a rclcvanr discussion ol rlc supprcssion ol rlc dcrail as lcmininiry in Clincsc
polirical modcrniry. scc Fcy Clow. ‘‘Modcrniry and Þarrarion—¡n ¡cmininc Ðcrail.’’
Ismcn cn! C/in.·. As!.rnitv. T/. Ps/iti.· s/ B.c!ina B.tm..n I.·t cn! Lc·t (Minnc-
apolis. \nivcrsiry ol Minncsora ¡rcss. ¡oo¡). 8o–¡io.
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:. Commcrcial advcrriscmcnr. ‘‘1lc Ccnrral Agcncy. ¡rd.’’ (ca. ¡o:o). ¡rom Lcs
vu./.ntci aucnaacs/uc (Advcrrising imagcs in old calcndars). spccial issuc ol
Hcn·/.na (Iclo magazinc). no. o: (1aipci. ¡anslcng. ¡oo|).
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Slanglai. Spring ¡o:o 121
lronr. primarily as consumcrs. rlc ncw commodiry ol lcisurc in mcrro-
poliran Slanglai.
42
1lcir lodics. in orlcr words. may nor lavc lccn sul-
jccrcd ro rlc samc dcgrcc ol corporal rcrraining firsr undcrrakcn ly rlc
malc popularion in an cmcrging disciplinary socicry. As a rcsulr. rlc Cli-
ncsc Þoras rlar ¡u Xun dcscrilcd in ¡oi: wcrc srill lcsicgcd ly lorcdom
and a lack ol socializarion.
43
¡l rlc irrcducililiry ol Mary’s scnricnr lody indicarcs lorl an inrcri-
oriry nor ycr cxrcrnalizcd and cngcndcrs a dcsirc ro lulfill lcrscll in ro-
manric lovc. an acsrlcrics ol dcrails ccnrcrcd on rlc lody is corrolorarcd
ly mucl ol wlar rlc mcrropolis las ro offcr. Ðuring rlc samc rimc rlar
Wangwci grows rcsisranr ro rlc lurc ol rlc ciry rlrougl lis inrcllccrual
lclicl. Mary is conrinually cnlivcncd ly rlc urlan spccraclc. ¡or lcr. rlc
ciry cannor lc alsrracrcd inro a mcraplysical srrucrurc or conccpr, rarlcr.
ir cmlodics a way ol lilc rlar susrains irscll on concrcrc dcrails. dcsigns.
and oljccrs. ¡cr rclarion ro rlc ciry rlcrclorc lics nor in disrancing lcr-
scll. lur in inrimarc immcrsion. ‘‘¡n rlc cnjoymcnr ol lovc. Mary was
lorcvcr insariallc. Slc’d drag lim our onro rlc srrccr ro look lor lirrlc
rcsrauranrs rlar rlcy lad ncvcr lccn ro lclorc. or somcrimcs rlcy would
go ro largcr oncs. Alrcr dinncr rlcy would rakc a lcisurcly walk along rlc
lrillianrly illuminarcd. lusrling srrccrs lccausc ir was srill roo carly lor
rlc larc movic’’ (i¬i, ¡s|).
Wlcn finally scarcd in a dcluxc movic rlcarcr. Mary would sooncr cn-
joy and lanrasizc alour irs inrcrior dccorarions rlan lollow rlc srory un-
lolding on rlc scrccn. ‘‘Òl rlc onc yuan slc spcnr ro arrcnd rlc movic.
ciglry ccnrs was lor rlc solr. cuslioncd clair. rlc sliny lrass lanisrcrs.
rlc vclvcr currains. and rlc plcasing music. Ònly a counrry lumpkin
|i. ¡n rlc rcxr. wc find a dcscriprion ol low Mary spcnr lcr day consuming popu-
lar culrurc wlilc Wangwci wcnr ro lis ‘‘work.’’ ‘‘¡cr inrcrcsr locuscd cnrircly on lcr-
scll. Slc would rcad ralloid papcrs. rcad alour girl srudcnrs or campus quccns. sporrs
cclclrirics. movic srars. and pimps and prosrirurcs. Wangwci disapprovcd and somc-
rimcs. unallc ro pur up wirl ir. would say ro lcr. ‘Mary! ¡ don’r rlink rlis is good
cnrcrrainmcnr . . .’ ’’ (i¬¬–¬8, ¡so).
|:. ¡or a discussion ol rlc May ¡ourrl undcrsranding ol Þora lrom ¡lscn’s ³ Ds//’·
Hsu·., scc Ilizalcrl Iidc. ‘‘¡lscn’s Þora and Clincsc ¡nrcrprcrarions ol ¡cmalc Iman-
ciparion.’’ in As!.rn C/in.·. Lit.rctur. cn! It· Ss.ic/ Csnt.xt, Þolcl Symposium (:i).
cd. Goran Malmqvisr (Srocklolm. ¡o¬¬). ¡|o–s¡. Also scc Iidc’s ¡o8s cssay ‘‘Òpri-
misric and Ðisillusioncd Þoras in rlc Clincsc ¡ircrary Sccnc. ¡o¡o–¡o|o.’’ in Ismcn
cn! Lit.rctur. in C/inc, ¡o:–iii.
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122 C/in.·. As!.rn
would comc solcly lor rlc movic.’’ 1o Wangwci. lowcvcr. cincma as a
lourgcois cnrcrrainmcnr was condcmnallc lccausc ir ‘‘so casily numlcd
pcoplc’s minds and influcnccd socicry lor rlc worsc.’’ ¡c pur up wirl
sucl scnsclcss divcrsion only lccausc lc lovcd Mary and wislcd ro com-
pcnsarc lor lis alscncc during rlc day (i¬|–¬s, ¡ss).
¡n rracing rlc lisrorical mcramorplosis ol rlc privilcgcd arrisr-flâncur
inro a dcparrmcnr srorc-lound flâncusc in nincrccnrl-ccnrury ¡aris. ¡ris-
cilla ¡crguson commcnrs rlar rlc cmcrgcncc ol commcrcial arcadcs larc-
lully rranslormcd rlc pracriccs ol rlc ciry srrccr. ‘‘Þo woman can discon-
nccr lcrscll lrom rlc ciry and irs scducrivc spccraclc. ¡or slc musr cirlcr
dcsirc rlc oljccrs sprcad lclorc lcr or lcrscll lc rlc oljccr ol dcsirc. as-
sociarcd wirl and agcnr ol rlc infinirc scducrivc capaciry ol rlc ciry.’’
44
1lc infinirc scducrivc capaciry ol rlc ciry rlar now lascinarcs Mary rlc
flâncusc in Slanglai ol rlc ¡o:os (across irs sizallc ¡rcncl Conccssion·)
also originarcs in rlc prcscncc ol orlcr pcoplc. ro wlom slc in rurn con-
srirurcs an inrriguing and pcrlormarivc orlcr. ¡or Wangwci. lowcvcr. in
ordcr ro succcsslully rcsisr rlc scducrivc ciry. lc cannor acknowlcdgc an
onlooking or indiffcrcnr crowd. ¡c las ro consrrucr a collccrivc u· vcrsus
a rcacrionary t/.m. 1lc urlan spccraclc lccomcs a conspirarorial illusion
lccausc ir dcpcnds on a consranr and manipularivc prolilcrarion ol cmpry
lorms ro conccal an impovcrislcd conrcnr. 1lc rrivial and scnsuous ol-
jccrs rlar dcfinc an acsrlcric cxpcricncc lor Mary. lurrlcrmorc. arc lur
an cxploirarion ol rlc lody as scnsory lragmcnrs on wlicl rlc modcrn
ciry flourislcs. Wangwci’s cririquc ol rlc ciry. in agrccmcnr wirl modcrn
polirical radicalism. las ro lcgin wirl a rlcroric ol collccrivc idcnriry and
dcsriny. ¡is pocric vision ol irs rranslormarion. roo. calls upon a climac-
ric ‘‘surgc ol roaring wavcs’’ or an ‘‘crupring volcano’’ rlar would dcsrroy
rlc planrasmagoric ciry in raging flamcs.
45
Sucl an apocalypric vision. composcd ol vivid imagcs ol narural lorccs.
||. ¡riscilla ¡arklursr ¡crguson. Pcri· c· B.vs/utisn. Iritina t/. Nin.t..nt/-C.nturv
Citv (Bcrkclcy. \nivcrsiry ol Calilornia ¡rcss. ¡oo|). 8|. Scc also ¡¡i–¡:.
|s. 1oward rlc cnd ol rlc narrarivc. Wangwci was assigncd ro givc a pullic spcccl
downrown. Bclorc rlc sccrcrly planncd dcmonsrrarion. lc paccd up and down rlc
srrccr ro cxaminc rlc siruarion. ‘‘¡c lclr an cxcircmcnr rlar lc couldn’r supprcss. as il
lc wcrc sccing a surgc ol roaring wavcs roppling rlc mounrains and clurning up rlc
scas. ¡c also imagincd an crupring volcano cngulfing rlc ciry in irs raging flamcs. ¡r
was possillc rlar rlis miglr lappcn immcdiarcly. sincc so many pcoplc wcrc rcady lor
ir! And lc. lc would accclcrarc rlc grcar srorm and ignirc rlc flamc!’’ (:os–oo, ¡oo).
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Slanglai. Spring ¡o:o 123
olrcn undcrlics a rcvolurionary psyclology and sccms ro arricularc a prcv-
alcnr lrusrrarion wirl anorlcr aspccr ol rlc urlan cxpcricncc. rlc rourin-
izarion ol daily lilc. As mucl a spirircd consumcr in rlc ciry as slc can lc.
Mary in rlc srory is also a modcrn louscwilc in rraining.
46
1lrougl rlis
domcsric domain. or rarlcr in Wangwci’s ficrcc rcsisrancc againsr ir. wc
scc a parriarclal gcndcr division lcing cndorscd. as il in an alscnrmindcd
ovcrsiglr. ly rlc poliricizcd pullic lilc rlar clarcs Wangwci. ¡is impa-
ricncc wirl cvcryday lilc and rclusal ol lcisurc. lowcvcr. arc sympromaric
morc ol a lcar rlan a scll-confidcnr rcjccrion. 1lcy lcrray a lcar ol wlar
is nor ycr parr ol rlc socially and scmiorically rcgularcd pullic spacc. 1lc
privarc lomc. as mucl as rlc scducrivc ciry spccraclc. is rlrcarcning lc-
causc ir srands lor wlar las nor lccn lully infilrrarcd ly rlc ncwdisciplinc
mcclanism. ¡n rlc narrarivc srrucrurc ol S/cna/ci, Strina rc:c (¡ and ¡¡).
lanal cvcryday lilc and irs arrcndanr domcsriciry arc rcadily rcprcscnrcd
as cffcminarc and acccssory. Mary’s lack ol a polirical consciousncss. as
in rlc casc ol rlc lcsicgcd wrircr Zilin. is illusrrarcd ly lcr solc wisl
ro luild a lappy lomc. As a rcsulr. Wangwci las ro rcinlorcc lis cfforrs
ar scll-disciplinc ly rcmoving limscll lrom lis aparrmcnr. ly lcing con-
sranrly c/·.nt lrom rlc sccnc. 1lc spccracular cxplosion rlar lc cnvisions
conscqucnrly indicarcs. rarlcr rlan vcngcancc. a dcsirc ro lorcc opcn and
slarc rlc privarc and inrimarc splcrcs ol lilc. Ònly a unirary applicarion
ol rlc lody would givc colcrcncc ro cvcryday lilc and. ar rlc samc rimc.
prcvcnr rlc lody irscll lrom rcccding lrom pullic lilc. 1lc causal rclarion
lcrwccn a ‘‘masculinizarion ol rlc lody poliric’’ and a malc dominarion
ol rlc pullic spacc and discoursc. wlicl Gillian Fosc rcrraccs in lcr srudy
ol womcn in cvcryday spaccs.
47
oncc again provcs ro lc an insrrumcn-
ral componcnr ol rlc modcrn cxpcricncc. cvcn wlcn rlc lody is now
dcvorcd ro a rcvolurionary causc (figurc |). ¡n lacr. lrom irs vcry lirrl
during rlc grcar ¡rcncl Fcvolurion. rlc modcrn rcvolurionary lody las
lccn dominanrly rcprcscnrcd as malc. pullic. and in conrinuous nccd ol
|o. ‘‘Mary did nor go our and run around anymorc. Slc waircd lor Wangwci. and
wlilc lc was our cvcn clcancd rlc room lor lim. Slc wanrcd ro movc ro a lcrrcr placc
and scc alour gcrring onc or rwo picccs ol fincr lurnirurc’’ (ioo, ¡o|).
|¬. Scc Gillian Fosc. ‘‘Womcn and Ivcryday Spaccs.’’ in lcr F.mini·m cn! G.sa-
rct/v. T/. Limit· s/ G.sarct/i.c/ Knsm/.!a. (Minncapolis. \nivcrsiry ol Minncsora
¡rcss. ¡oo:). ¡¬–|o. Fosc also olscrvcs rlar ‘‘a lisrory ol rlc wlirc masculinc lcrcro-
scxual lourgcois lody in Iuro-Amcrica can rlcrclorc lc rold in rcrms a scrics ol dc-
nials ol corporcaliry’’ (:i).
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124 C/in.·. As!.rn
|. Woodcur. Bs!su (Conlronrarion). ly Yclu (¡o::). ¡rom
Z/snaaus xinxina /cn/uc mu·/i nicn xucnii (Anrlology ol ncw
Clincsc woodcurs in rlc pasr filry ycars) (Slanglai. Fcnmin
mcislu. ¡o8¡).
disciplining.
48
1lc lisrorical spccificiry ol Wangwci’s lody. in rlc final
analysis. dcrivcs nor so mucl lrom irs cmlcddcdncss in Clincsc culrural
rradirion. as lromirs cagcr acccprancc ol a modcrn univcrsalismrlar rcsrs.
as ¡ suggcsr clscwlcrc. on a glolal imaginary ol idcnriry.
49
|8. Scc Ðorinda Òurram. T/. Bs!v cn! t/. Fr.n./ B.vs/utisn. S.x, C/c·· cn! Ps/iti.c/
Cu/tur. (Þcw ¡avcn. Conn.. Yalc \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o8o). csp. ¡o|.
|o. Scc my discussion ol Clincsc narionalism and irs ncccssary sulscriprion ro a
glolal imaginary ol idcnriry in G/s/c/ Stc.. cn! t/. Nctisnc/i·t Di·.sur·. s/ As!.rnitv.
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Slanglai. Spring ¡o:o 125
1o lcrrcr illusrrarc rlc unirary applicarion ol rlc lody rlar rcvolurion-
ary discoursc allows. Ðing ¡ing inscrrs anorlcr romanric couplc inro lcr
narrarivc as a conrrasr ro rlc lailurc ol Mary and Wangwci. 1lis scc-
ond pair srrikcs a lappy union lcrwccn a plclcianizcd inrcllccrual and
an ‘‘unaffccrcd. lcalrly’’ rram conducrrcss wlo posscsscs a ‘‘simplc. cor-
rccr undcrsranding ol polirics’’ (i|o, ¡|i). ¡criplcral rlougl rlcy arc in
rlc srory. rlcir succcsslul romancc noncrlclcss significs rlc ccnrral idcal
ol a polirical and disciplincd cxisrcncc. wlicl also jusrifics Wangwci’s
analysis ol lis diffcrcncc lrom Mary in rcrms ol social class and lisrory.
Bcrwccn Mary’s scnsuous and. as is indicarcd ly lcr cxoric namc. Wcsr-
crnizcd lody and rlc narurally lcalrly and narivc lody ol rlc working-
class woman. a social plysiology is consrrucrcd rlar inrcrprcrs rlc luman
lody as a dirccr dcmonsrrarion ol lisrorical and social lorccs. ¡undamcn-
ral ro ir is rlc conrrasr lcrwccn a lilcral. plcasurc-oricnrcd lody and a
disciplincd. socially producrivc lody.
¡l Mary wcrc a pcasanr girl. a lacrory workcr. or a ligl sclool srudcnr.
rlcn rlcy would gcr along vcry wcll lccausc rlcrc would lc only onc idca.
onc ourlook on lilc. ¡c could lcad lcr and slc would lollow. Ycr Mary
was lroma rclarivcly wcll-ro-do lamily and lad ncvcr cxpcricnccd lardslip.
¡cr inrclligcncc madc lcr all rlc proudcr and lcr cducarion confirmcd lcr
arrirudc roward lilc. wlicl was a lcdonisr pursuir lor plcasurc. Slc lclicvcd
in lcrscll and would yicld ro no onc. (i¬o, ¡so)
A dccp amliguiry. lowcvcr. surlaccs wlcn sucl a comprclcnsivc and
lisroricizing analysis srill cannor cxplain away Wangwci’s longing lor
Mary’s ‘‘flawlcss lcaury.’’ ¡r is lis lody. lor all rlc disciplining ir rcccivcs.
rlar rcluscs ro dcny rlc rcaliry ol wlar Mary las comc ro cmlody. Alrcr
slc lcavcs lim. Wangwci rrics ro kccp limscll occupicd. ‘‘lur as soon as
lc lay down on lis lcd alonc. lc could nor lclp lur miss lcr sorcly’’ (:os,
¡o8–oo).
1lc Body as Inunciarion
¡n rlc cnd. rlc qucsrion ol rlc lody dramarically rcasscrrs irscll in rlc
closing sccnc wlcn. in rlc commorion ol a quickly dispcrscd polirical
T/. Hi·tsri.c/ T/in/ina s/ Licna Oi./cs (Sranlord. Calil.. Sranlord \nivcrsiry ¡rcss.
¡ooo).
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126 C/in.·. As!.rn
rally. Wangwci is arrcsrcd. lurlcd inro a policc parrol wagon. and finds
limscll landing on rop ol orlcr dcmonsrrarors wlo lavc mcr rlc samc
larc. ‘‘As lc lookcd our rlrougl rlc wircd mcsl. lc sporrcd an clcganr
lady ly rlc cnrrancc ro a lig dcparrmcnr srorc. Al. ir was Mary!’’ ¡n-
dccd. Mary. ‘‘gorgcous and gracclul as cvcr.’’ lad apparcnrly jusr finislcd
slopping in rlc company ol a landsomc young man. 1lrougl sucl cx-
rraordinary coincidcncc. lcr primary luncrion in rlc narrarivc is lorl dis-
amliguarcd. so ro spcak. and idcologically condcmncd as cmlodying no
morc rlan rlc lourgcois idca ol a conspicuous consumcr. Ar rlis siglr. a
srunncd Wangwci lor somc curious rcason lccls rclicvcd and lids a mcn-
ral larcwcll. ‘‘Good. slc is lappy again. Alrcr all. slc is rlar kind ol pcr-
son. and ¡ don’r lavc ro worry alour lcr anymorc. So long. Mary’’ (:oo,
¡¬o–¬¡).
Wirl rlis final momcnr ol rccognirion. rlc narrarivc rccxamincs Wang-
wci’s rcvolurionary lody wirl a rurn ol irony. 1wo dramarizcd lorms
ol lody cxpcricncc arc lrouglr rogcrlcr. Sidc ly sidc wirl Wangwci’s
lcroic lody. draggcd rlrougl rlc srrccr and lorcilly rlrown onro a po-
lirical collccrivc. is Mary’s carclully prorccrcd and consumcrisr lody. cvi-
dcnrly insularcd againsr rlc disrurlancc ncarly. Iacl dirccrly parriciparcs
in a signilying spccraclc in a pullic spacc and dramarizcs onc porcnrial usc
ol rlc luman lody. Ycr lorl lodics arc oljccrificd—onc rlrougl poliri-
cal insurgcncc. rlc orlcr ly rlc ciryscapc and. morc spccifically. ly rlc
malc gazc. 1lc poliricizcd lody is nowcxplicirly malc. wlcrcas rlc lcmalc
lody rcmains rcsolurcly indiffcrcnr. Ar rlis poinr. wc scc an almosr com-
plcrc invcrsion ol rlc gcndcr disrrilurion in rlc firsr parr ol rlc novclla.
wlcrc ir is Mcilin wlo acrivcly sccks a polirical lilc. mucl ro rlc clagrin
ol lcr scll-olscsscd lusland. alrlougl lcr ncwsocial idcnriry. as wc lavc
sccn. rclics mucl on rlc srrong prcscncc ol lcr mcnror Fuoquan.
1lc dccp irony ol rlis final sccnc ol alorrcd acrion. rlcrclorc. lics in
rlc closc juxraposirion ol rwo now dispararc lodics. wlicl unril rcccnrly
wcrc inrimarcly connccrcd, rlcy prollcmarizc as mucl as rcly on cacl
orlcr lor rlcir own significarion. and ycr rlcrc is an uncqual cxclangc.
Mary ncvcr looks lack. and wc scc Wangwci. lrom lclind rlc larrcd
window. look ar and rccognizc Mary. 1lc malc polirical lcro. olviously.
is privilcgcd wirl a suljccr posirion lrom wlicl lc can olscrvc and makc
a judgmcnr. lur sucl a vanragc poinr quickly collapscs wlcn lis lody is
suljccrcd ro lruralizarion on rlc onc land and disallowcd diffcrcnriarion
on rlc orlcr. Collccrivc acrion and polirical violcncc comlinc ro moral-
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Slanglai. Spring ¡o:o 127
izc lis lody and prcvcnr ir lrom acrivaring irs own mcmory or acquiring
irs own privarc lisrory. ¡r is alsrracrcd inro discmlodicd conccprualiry.
As soon as lc lccls rclicvcd. rlcrclorc. Wangwci is also compcllcd ro dc-
nouncc lis lormcr lovcr as dcspicallc and ol a diffcrcnr social class. 1lc
lcmalc lody. givcn no clancc ro rcrurn rlc malc gazc. is apparcnrly con-
dcmncd ro a morally indiffcrcnr corporcaliry. Ar rlc samc rimc. lowcvcr.
ir projccrs a concrcrc imagc ol pcrsonal lappincss and lrccdom. Wang-
wci’s lasr glimpsc ol Mary. ‘‘likc a quccn lrom a disranr land.’’ caprurcs
wlar lc las consciously dcnicd limscll. and ir cpiplanically illuminarcs.
lclorc lc joins in a collccrivc clanring ol ‘‘Ðown wirl . . . .’’ wlar lis
lody was oncc capallc ol and pcrlaps wlar ir srill dcsircs. indcpcndcnrly
ol lis will and passion. 1lc landsomc young man ly lcr sidc now is in-
dccd lis alrcr cgo. 1lus. rlc irony ol rccognirion. Ar rlc lasr momcnr.
Mary uncxpccrcdly cmcrgcs as rlc narrarivc’s ccnrral claracrcr lccausc
slc lccomcs ar oncc rlc oljccr ol a judgmcnral gazc and rlc oljccr ol
dcsirc. Wangwci’s pursuir ol a polirical lilc lulfills irscll ar rlc momcnr
wlcn lis lody is uscd in a pullic pcrlormancc. wlcrcas Mary’s individual
ncgoriarion wirl various dcmands on lcr scnsuous lody srill firmly an-
clors lcr in rlc narrariviry ol rlc ciry spacc. ¡is is a srory rlar closcs
wirl a ccrrainry lc always srrivcs lor. lur lcr srory rcmains opcn-cndcd.
il only lccausc ir is norling our ol rlc ordinary and rcsidcs in rlc privarc
splcrc.
1lc cvcnrual mcrging ol Wangwci’s disciplincd young lody inro rlc
polirical collccrivc as irscll a lody ol symlolic plcnirudc concludcs rlc
narrarivc ol S/cna/ci, Strina rc:c and comcs as rlc culminarion ol lis
conscious scll-rranslormarion. ¡is individual and indulgcnr lody rlar
wc inirially olscrvc in a privarc aparrmcnr cvcnrually succccds in acquir-
ing as wcll as cnacring social mcaning in a pullic spacc. As a mcraplor.
Wangwci’s clangcd rclarion ro lis lody illusrrarcs rlc invcnrion ol a
‘‘poliricizcd lody’’ in rcvolurionary Clina. wlicl was ro providc a ma-
rcrial scmioric componcnr lor ordcring cvcryday rcaliry and signilying
rlc powcr ol rlc lody poliric lor ycars ro comc.
50
A poliricizcd lody is
rlc lody as pullic cnunciarion. as rlc unmcdiarcd sirc lor rlc cxcrcisc
and dcmonsrrarion ol powcr. \pon rlis scmiorically clargcd lody. many
a spccraclc will lavc ro lc sragcd so rlar ir cxrcnds and cvcnrually lc-
so. Scc Ann Anagnosr. ‘‘1lc ¡oliricizcd Body.’’ in Bs!v, Su/i..t cn! Psm.r in C/inc,
cd. Angcla Ziro and 1ani I. Barlow (Clicago. \nivcrsiry ol Clicago ¡rcss. ¡oo|).
¡:¡–so. csp. ¡so.
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128 C/in.·. As!.rn
comcs idcnrical wirl rlc pullic rcalm. Consranr molilizarion. rlrougl
corporal scmiorics and plysico-polirical rcclniqucs. lccomcs a ncccssary
mcans ro kccp sucl a lody lrom imploding or succumling ro incrria.
51
1lc rurn ro sucl an cmpowcring cxrcrnalizarion marks a ncw sragc in
Ðing ¡ing’s carccr as a wrircr. wlicl in many ways parallcls. il also mag-
nifics. rlc coursc ol rlc ¡clr lircrary movcmcnr as a radical ourgrowrl
ol rlc lilcral-lumanisr May ¡ourrl rradirion. ¡or Ðing ¡ing. wriring
in rlc carly ¡o:os. rlc nodal poinr ol lircrary pracricc was low ro rc-
claim rlc romanricizcd lody lrom an carlicr discoursc ol inrcrioriry and
cvcnrually ro dissolvc in pullic lilc rlc samc lody. now rcrraincd ro lc
purposclul rarlcr rlan idly imaginarivc. producrivc rarlcr rlan acurcly
scnsirivc. Morc spccifically. rlc ncwly plclcianizcd inrcllccrual. inspircd
ly an idcologizcd collccrivc. slould nor only lc allc ro rcsisr scnsuous
dcrails and lilidinal urgcs. wlicl wc scc in Wangwci’s coping wirl Mary
and lis own ‘‘plysical pain.’’ lur also ro culrivarc a diffcrcnr scnsory ap-
prcciarion ol disagrccallc povcrry as an aurlcnricaring social rcaliry. as
is rlc rcalizarion ol anorlcr Wangwci-rypc young man during an oddly
agiraring day ol lis lilc.
52
Wlar rlc romanricizcd lody nccdcd ro ovcr-
comc. in orlcr words. is an acsrlcric rlar ccnrcrs on rlc individuarcd
lody and a scnsililiry rlar valorizcs inncr dcprl and scll-cxplorarion. ¡n
rlc givcn lisrorical conrcxr. rlis lody was rcadily idcnrificd as Wcsrcrn.
urlan. and lourgcois. rlc opposirc ol a narionalisr and prolcrarian cvo-
carion ol a collccrivc suljccr ol lisrory. in wlicl lclongs rlc adcquarcly
disciplincd working-class woman skcrclcd in S/cna/ci, Strina rc:c (¡¡).
wlo also lappcns ro lc namclcss.
1lc idcological campaign ol rlc ¡clr in rlc carly ¡o:os ro prolcrarian-
s¡. Icffrcy Þ. Wasscrsrrom offcrs an inrcrcsring discussion ol rlc rlcarrical aspccr ol
rlc srudcnr prorcsr ‘‘rcpcrroirc’’ dcvclopcd in Slanglai in rlc dccadcs alrcr rlc May
¡ourrl movcmcnr in lis Stu!.nt Prst.·t· in Tm.nti.t/-C.nturv C/inc. T/. Ii.m /rsm
S/cna/ci (Sranlord. Calil.. Sranlord \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡oo¡). ¡or a concisc vcrsion. scc
lis ‘‘1lc Ivolurion ol rlc Slanglai Srudcnr ¡rorcsr Fcpcrroirc, Òr. Wlcrc Ðo Cor-
rccr 1acrics Comc ¡rom·’’ collccrcd in S/cna/ci Ssisurn.r·, cd. ¡rcdcric Wakcman Ir.
and Wcn-lsin Ycl (Bcrkclcy. ¡nsrirurc ol Iasr Asian Srudics. \nivcrsiry ol Calilornia.
¡ooi). ¡o8–||.
si. ¡n rlc slorr srory. ‘‘Yirian’’ ([Ònc day|. ¡o:¡. in Cs//..t.! Isr/· s/ Dina Lina,
o¬:–88). Ðing ¡ing rclls ol low a young wrircr ¡u Xiang rrics ro ovcrcomc lis dis-
rancc lrom polirical rcaliry ly consranrly cxamining and ncgaring lis immcdiarc rc-
sponscs ro rlc dismal condirion. spirirual as wcll as plysical. ol rlc working class. ¡or
a closc analysis ol rlc srory. scc Yi-rsi Mci ¡cucrwcrkcr. Dina Lina’· Fi.tisn, 8¡–88.
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Slanglai. Spring ¡o:o 129
izc rlc wrircr and makc lircrarurc acccssillc ro rlc working masscs drcw
lcavily on a pocrics ol spccracular collccrivc acrion mandarcd ly an opri-
misric lisrorical vision. ¡r also projccrcd a ncw pullic lilc rlar would ap-
propriarc urlan modcrniry rlrougl a disciplining ol rlc individual lody.
1lc dcsirc ro cndow lircrary pracricc wirl polirical significancc cnrailcd
a dccply uropian projccr. wlicl was proloundly conrradicrory and as lil-
craring as ir was limiring.
53
¡n rlc summcr ol ¡o:¡. Ðing ¡ing oncc again
slowcd lcrscll ro lc in rlc vanguard ol rlc ¡clr lircrary movcmcnr ly
finisling rlc novclla S/ui (¡lood) ro offcr a commanding vicw ol a lun-
gry crowd ol pcasanrs. ‘‘roaring wirl a passion lor lilc’’ and rising againsr
social injusricc compoundcd ly narural disasrcr.
54
1lc mosr significanr
aclicvcmcnr ol rlc ncw novclla. according ro an approving criric ar rlc
rimc. was irs prompr arrcnrion ro ‘‘major conrcmporary cvcnrs.’’ wlicl
would dcmand any wrircr ro look lcyond ‘‘rlc rrivialirics ol daily lilc.’’
¡or rlis rcason. F/ss! was lailcd as indicaring rlc lirrl ol a ncw rypc ol
ficrion as wcll as a ncw rypc ol wrircr.
55
s:. ¡n lcr srudy ol rlc long lur also loosc rclarionslip lcrwccn rlc radical rradirion
in rlc \nircd Srarcs and 1illic Òlscn. Ðcloral Foscnlclr locuscs on rlrcc conrradic-
rions ol rlc lircrary policics ol rlc Òld ¡clr. Scc Foscnlclr. ‘‘¡rom rlc 1lirrics. 1illic
Òlscn and rlc Fadical 1radirion.’’ i¡o–|8. ¡cr summary ol rlc lcriragc ol rlc Òld
¡clr is worrl quoring in lull lcrc. ‘‘¡irsr. rlc lclr rcquircd grcar commirmcnrs ol rimc
and cncrgy lor polirical work. on rlc wlolc valuing acrion ovcr rlouglr. dccd ovcr
word, ycr ir also validarcd rlc srudy and producrion ol lircrarurc and arr. providing a
firsr cxposurc ro lircrarurc lor many working-class pcoplc. losrcring an apprcciarion ol
a widc rangc ol socially conscious lircrarurc. and offcring imporranr ourlcrs lor pulli-
carion and lircrary cxclangc. Sccond. alrlougl mucl lclr-wing criricism. cspccially ly
Communisr ¡arry wrircrs. was narrowly prcscriprivc alour rlc kind ol lircrarurc con-
rcmporary wrircrs slould lc producing. ir also inspircd—along wirl rlc rimcs rlcm-
sclvcs—a social consciousncss in wrircrs rlar dccpcncd rlcir arr. 1lird. lor a woman in
rlc ¡o:os. rlc lclr was a proloundly masculinisr world in many ol irs luman rclarion-
slips. in rlc oricnrarion ol irs lircrarurc. and cvcn in rlc languagc uscd ro arricularc
irs culrural criricism, simulrancously. rlc lclr gavc scrious arrcnrion ro womcn’s issucs.
valucd womcn’s conrrilurions ro pullic as wcll as ro privarc lilc. and gcncrarcd an
imporranr lody ol rlcory on rlc woman qucsrion’’ (ii|–is).
s|. S/ui (¡lood). Cs//..t.! Isr/· s/ Dina Lina, :os.
ss. ¡c Ðanrcn. ‘‘Guanyu xindc xiaosluo dc danslcng. ping Ðing ¡ing dc S/ui ’’
(Òn rlc lirrl ol a ncw ficrion. rcvicw ol Ðing ¡ing’s F/ss!’’). B.i!su (1lc Big Ðip-
pcr) ¡.i (Ianuary ¡o:i). rcprinrcd in B.·.cr./ Act.ric/· sn Dina Lina, i|o–s¡. ¡crc is
low ¡c Ðanrcn dcfincs a ncw wrircr. ‘‘Ar rlc prcscnr. a ncw wrircr is onc wlo undcr-
srands class srrugglc corrccrly. idcnrifics wirl rlc inrcrcsrs ol rlc mass ol workcrs and
pcasanrs. and. cquippcd wirl dialccrical marcrialism. clcarly sccs rlc lorcc and lururc
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130 C/in.·. As!.rn
1lis provcd ro lc a powcrlul proplccy. Wirl lcr ncw inrcrcsr in dc-
picring rcvolurionary pcasanr lilc. Ðing ¡ing’s lircrary journcy. and soon
rlc rorruous journcy ol lcr lilc. vcnrurcd lcyond rlc imaginarional gcog-
raply ol Slanglai and lcgan an carncsr scarcl lor a rcdcmprivc poliri-
cal modcrniry.
56
Ycr Slanglai. ‘‘ciry ol amazing paradoxcs and lanrasric
conrrasrs.’’ would conrinuc ro cxisr and offcr rlc samc planrasmagoric
spccraclc. ro lc cirlcr cclclrarcd ly rlc Þcw Scnsarionisrs ol rlc ¡o:os
or narrarcd wirl nosralgia ly modcrn romancc wrircrs sucl as Zlang Ai-
ling ol rlc ¡o|os. Wlcn rlc grcar ciry ol urlan modcrniry did rcappcar.
cvcr so flccringly. in Ðing ¡ing’s larclul srory ‘‘¡n rlc ¡ospiral’’ (¡o|¡).
Slanglai was a lainr mcmory. a rcmorc pasr rlar lardly lorc any rcla-
rionslip. mucl lcss rcscmllancc. ro rlc lcroinc’s ncw communal lilc in
rlc Communisr lordcr rcgion. 1lcrc rlc aspiring young nursc. prolcs-
sionally rraincd in Slanglai. lound lcrscll lospiralizcd and would lavc
ro survivc on lumiliarion and scll-disciplining. ¡cr lody. roo. srill lad
ro lcarn low ro lc usclul and adapr ro a ncw normariviry.
57
ol rlc working mass. only rlc ficrion wrirrcn ly sucl a wrircr can lc dccmcd as ncw
ficrion’’ (i|¬).
so. ¡r is ly no accidcnr rlar Ðing ¡ing’s lilc slould providc a ccnrral organizing
clcmcnr lor Spcncc’s lisrorical narrarivc T/. Gct. s/ H.cv.n/v P.c... Ònc criric las
callcd Ðing ¡ing a paradigmaric scarclcr lor ‘‘complcrc cmanciparion’’ (rlc cmanci-
parion ol rlc scll and rlc collccrivc) in modcrn Clincsc lircrarurc. Scc Clcn ¡uilcn.
‘‘Clcdi jiclang dc zluiqiu zlc lc ransuo zlc’’ (A scarclcr lor and cxplorcr ol complcrc
cmanciparion). I.nxu. tina/un .sna/cna (Iournal ol lircrary criricism). no. io (¡o8¬).
8¬–¡i¬.
s¬. Ðing ¡ing. ‘‘Zai yiyuan zlong.’’ B.tr.·.ntctiv. Isr/· /v Dina Lina, i¡|–:|.
1ranslarcd ly Gary Bjorgc as ‘‘¡n rlc ¡ospiral.’’ in As!.rn C/in.·. Stsri.· cn! Nsv.//c·,
rcrc–rc;c, cd. Ioscpl S. M. ¡au. C. 1. ¡sia. and ¡co Òu-lan ¡cc (ÞcwYork. Columlia
\nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o8¡). i¬o–o¡.
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1lc ¡asr 1ulcrcular in Modcrn Clincsc
¡ircrarurc. Òn Ba Iin’s Cs/! Nia/t·
Sccrcrly ¡ don’r lclicvc rlis illncss ro lc rulcrculosis. ar lcasr nor
primarily rulcrculosis. lur rarlcr a sign ol my gcncral lankruprcy.
—¡ranz Kalka ro ¡clicc Baucr. ¡o¡¬
1lc opcning paragrapl ol Ba Iin’s (¡oo|– ) lasr novcl Hcnv. (Cold niglrs.
¡o|¬) prcscnrs a srarkly modcrn spariorcmporal rcgimc and irs prollcm-
aric rclarionslip ro an individual suljccr. ¡r dcscrilcs a momcnrary sus-
pcnsion ol rcaliry during an air raid. lrom wlicl rlc murky landscapc.
gradually coming inro locus. appcars ro lc norling lur immincnrly cara-
srroplic. By insrilling a scnsc ol rourinizcd cmcrgcncy. lowcvcr. rlc ur-
gcnr sircn rlar lad soundcd and rrailcd off. /./sr. t/. /.ainnina, also sug-
gcsrs a paradoxical siruarion ol pcrmancnr conringcncy. Againsr sucl an
inimical lackground. rlc proragonisr ol rlc novcl finds limscll unallc ro
conccnrrarc. paralyzcd ly somc inrcrnal agony.
1lc lisrorical rimc was rlc winrcr ol ¡o||–|s. rlc darkcsr lour ol
World War ¡¡ wlcn Iapancsc airplancs wcrc sysrcmarically lomling
Clongqing. warrimc capiral ol rlc Þarionalisr Fcpullic ol Clina. 1lc
consranr rlrcar ol air raids ovcr rlc ciry cffccrivcly wipcd our. in addi-
rion ro a civilian scnsc ol rimc and spacc. all crcdililiry ol any uplilring
rlcroric or lopc lor a final vicrory. By rlcn. rlc war lad apparcnrly in-
srirurcd disarray as irscll a kind ol ordcr in rlc linrcrland ciry. and crisis
cxigcncics lad rurncd inro rourinc cxcrciscs ol rcpcririon. Fcsisrancc and
narional salvarion ovcr rlc ycars lad ossificd inro an alsrracr causc and
as sucl sccmcd incrcasingly vacuous and incapallc ol molilizing or cvcn
unilying rlc narion. 1lis momcnr ol pcrvasivc dcspair and vulncraliliry.
wlicl Ba Iin as a war rclugcc livcd rlrougl in Clongqing. promprcd
rlc vcrcran novclisr ro pondcr rlc larc ol individuals violcnrly dislodgcd
ly rlc war. ¡ncrcasingly. Ba Iin. wriring in rlc mid-¡o|os. rurncd lis ar-
rcnrion ro a rcalm ol unlcroic rcaliry rlar sccmcd ro rcmain lcncarl.
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132 C/in.·. As!.rn
or unsullimarcd ly. various ovcrlapping consrrucrs ol suljccriviry. sucl
as discourscs ol cnliglrcnmcnr. narionalisr molilizarion. and rlc sovcr-
cignry ol rlc modcrn narion-srarc. A morc mundanc. lirrcr. and somaric
rcaliry surlaccd ro liglliglr rlc lankruprcy. or ar lcasr irrclcvancc. ol all
ovcrarcling sysrcms ol symlolic mcaning.
1lc firsr paragrapl ol Cs/! Nia/t· rlus firmly scrs up rlc narrarivc
modc ol rlc novcl and inrroduccs rlc rcadcr ro an insrancc wlcrc rlc cm-
larrlcd suljccr is no longcr mcaninglully arraclcd ro rlc cnvironmcnr as
irs rcsponsivc agcnr. Òn rlc conrrary. lc is apparcnrly a wirldrawn and
pcnsivc suljccr.
1lc cmcrgcncy air raid sircn lad soundcd ncarly lall an lour ago, rlc lainr
dronc ol airplancs could lc lcard in rlc sky, rlc srrccrs wcrc quicr wirlour
a rracc ol liglr. Fising lrom rlc sronc srcps in lronr ol a lank’s iron garc. lc
walkcd down ro rlc sidcwalk and raiscd lis lcad ro look ar rlc sky. ¡r was
aslcn. likc a piccc ol ladcd llack clorl. Savc rlc dark sladows ol somc im-
posingly rall luildings across lromlim. lc could nor scc a rling. Woodcnly
lc kcpr lis lcad raiscd lor quirc a wlilc. nor rcally rrying ro lcar anyrling
or scc anyrling. lur only. as ir wcrc. ro pass somc rimc. Ycr rimc sccmcd
ro lc lcnr on rlwarring lim ly passing vcry slowly—so slowly rlar lc lclr
as rlougl ir lad sroppcd moving alrogcrlcr. 1lc clilly niglr air. gradually
pcncrraring lis rlinly-lincd gown. suddcnly madc lis lody slivcr in spirc
ol limscll. Ònly ar rlis did lc lowcr lis lcad and lcavc a painlul sigl. ¡c
said ro limscll in a low voicc. ‘‘¡ cannor go on doing rlis anymorc.’’
1
¡. Ba Iin. Hcnv. (Cold niglrs). firsr pullislcd in ¡o|¬. rcviscd and collccrcd in Bc
}in m.nii (Collccrcd works ol Ba Iin) (Bcijing. Fcnmin wcnxuc. ¡ooi). ¡|.:. An In-
glisl rranslarion ly Þarlan K. Mao and ¡iu 1s’un-yan. Cs/! Nia/t·, c Nsv./ /v Pc C/in
(¡ong Kong. Clincsc \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o¬8). was lascd on rlc original ¡o|¬ cdirion.
Mao and ¡iu claimcd rlar rlc rcvision ly Ba Iin ol lis own works ‘‘rcflccrs lis arrcmpr
ro adapr ro rlc rrcnds ol Clincsc polirics in rlc ¡osos and ¡ooos’’ (‘‘¡rclacc.’’ xi). 1lis
was cvidcnrly rlc casc. Scc Òlga ¡ang’s ‘‘Ipiloguc’’ ro lcr pionccring Pc C/in cn! Hi·
Iritina·. C/in.·. Tsut/ B.tm..n t/. Tms B.vs/utisn· (Camlridgc. Mass.. ¡arvard \ni-
vcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡oo¬). io:–8i. lor a crirical analysis ol rlc sysrcmaric rcvisions carricd
our ly Ba Iin limscll in ordcr ro makc lis wrirings acccprallc ro rlc ncw Commu-
nisr rcgimc. ¡r also is rruc rlar rlc clangcs arc ‘‘only minor srylisric and polirical’’ oncs
(Mao and ¡iu. xi). A compararivc rcading ol rlc rwo cdirions ol Cs/! Nia/t· suggcsrs
rlar rlc rcvision las acrually madc rlc novcl a lcrrcr rcad. 1lis olscrvarion docs nor
dcny. lowcvcr. rlar rlc rcxrual rcvisions arc dccply sympromaric ol rlc lcrcronomous
srarus ol lircrary discoursc in modcrn Clina. Givcn rlc lacr rlar Ba Iin’s works arc
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T/. Lc·t Tu/.r.u/cr 133
Alrcr onc inirial scnrcncc rcgisrcring rlc gloomy surroundings. rlc nar-
rarivc quickly dissociarcs rlc proragonisr lrom a dcclarcd siruarion ol
cmcrgcncy and cnrcrs lis privarc ficld ol vision and pcrspccrivc. Òlvi-
ously inurcd ro rlc prcdicrcd air raid. lc finds lis immcdiarc cncmy ro
lc rlc sccmingly lrozcn rimc. wlicl. in lrusrraring lis wisl. also consri-
rurcs lis passivc rclarionslip ro rlc cxrcrnal cnvironmcnr. 1imc ccascs ro
lc a valuallc rcsourcc, ncirlcr docs ir sccm ro posscss a dirccrional flow.
1lc individual’s inrcrnalizcd cxpcricncc ol rimc. ar rlis momcnr. scpa-
rarcs lim lrom rlc lisrorical prcscnr and lccomcs mcronymic ol lis scll-
consciousncss. ¡rom rlc vcry lcginning. lc is cffccrivcly rcmovcd lrom
any posirion ro claim mcmlcrslip in a collccrivc idcnriry. ¡nsrcad. lc is
assaulrcd ly a growing scnsc ol pcrsonal lailurc rlar sccms ro drivc lim
lurrlcr inro inrcrioriry.
Ycr rlis insularing inrcrioriry is lardly a rcliallc salc lavcn. lor lis rrain
ol rlouglrs. lowcvcr cmpry rlcy may lc. arc suddcnly inrcrruprcd wlcn
lc involunrarily slivcrs lccausc ol rlc invasivc cold air. ¡is lody. mark-
cdly clad in a ‘‘rlinly-lincd gown.’’ scrvcs ro rcarracl rlc individual. nor
ro rlc givcn spariorcmporal rcgimc as a condirion ol collccrivc dcsriny.
lur rarlcr ro a morc immcdiarc and irrcducillc plysicaliry. Ar sucl a
rudc awakcning. lc lowcrs lis lcad and pcrlorcc slcds. so ro spcak. lis
discmlodicd musings. ¡is is alrcady a dcmoralizcd lody rlar inscrilcs a
rcaliry no longcr ol rlc samc ordcr as rlc communal and narionalizallc
cxpcricncc ol dangcr incurrcd ly cncmy invasion. ¡r is rlis lrail. paincd
lody rlar lorl dcrcrmincs rlc lorccd rcflcxiviry ol rlc individual suljccr
and incircs irs aspirarion as wcll as irs dcspair. \pon lis arricularion ol a
dcsircd scll-rranslormarion (‘‘¡ cannor go on doing rlis any morc’’). an
inrrusivc voicc rcsponds poinrcdly. ‘‘1lcn wlar arc you going ro do· Ðo
you lavc rlc gurs. a solry likc you·’’ Srarrlcd. rlc man looks around. only
now widcly availallc only in rlcir rcviscd vcrsion and rlar rlc samc rcvisions arc kcpr
inracr. wirl rlc aurlor’s approval. in an cxlausrivc is-volumc cdirion ol Bc }in ;ucnii
(1lc complcrc works ol Ba Iin) (Bcijing. Fcnmin wcnxuc. ¡o8o–o:). rlc ¡ooi vcrsion
ol rlc rcxr ol Hcnv. slould lc rcgardcd as rlc dcfinirivc cdirion and is rlcrclorc uscd
lcrc. Mao and ¡iu’s Inglisl rcndirion. wlicl. incidcnrally. is inadcquarc in somc rc-
spccrs. is also consulrcd. (¡or a dcrailcd analysis ol rlc inadcquacics ol rlis Inglisl
rranslarion. scc Ianc ¡arisl Yang’s crirical rcvicw in C/in.·. Lit.rctur.. L··cv·, ³rti./.·,
B.vi.m· i.i (¡o8o). i88–o:.) ¡urrlcr cirarions ol Ba Iin’s rcxr will lc givcn as inrcrnal
pagc rclcrcnccs. wirl rlc firsr numlcr indicaring rlc Clincsc original and rlc sccond
rlc Inglisl rranslarion.
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134 C/in.·. As!.rn
ro rcalizc rlar no onc is alour and rlar ir is lis own voicc conrradicring
lim (:, ¡).
An imagincd dialoguc lollows. and lrom lcrc rlc novcl procccds ro
narrarc rlc cxisrcnrial angsr and irrcvcrsillc dccay ol rlc rulcrculous pro-
lcssional proolrcadcr. wlosc lull namc. nor rcvcalcd lor rlc firsr rimc
unril rlc lourrl claprcr. is Wang Wcnxuan. As wc soon find our. rlc
orlcr voicc rlar clallcngcs Wcnxuan ar rlc lcginning cclocs lis wilc’s
opinion ol lim. now apparcnrly inrcrnalizcd as rcprool ol lis lailurc. By
conrrasr. Zcng Sluslcng. lis lovcr lrom collcgc and common-law wilc
ol lourrccn ycars. srands as a splcndid succcss in lcr carccr as a lank
clcrk. Morc rcsourcclul financially as wcll as socially. slc capally sloul-
dcrs rlc rcsponsililiry ol scnding rlcir son ro a privarc prcp sclool and
cvcnrually ol supporring rlc wlolc lamily. wlicl also includcs Wcnxuan’s
doring morlcr. 1lc morlcr. dcrcrmincdly disapproving lcr dauglrcr-in-
law’s modcrn lilcsrylc and opcnly jcalous ol rlc youngcr woman. scizcs
cvcry opporruniry ro dcmcan Sluslcng and insrigarc csrrangcmcnr lc-
rwccn rlc couplc. 1lc lcud and inccssanr lickcring lcrwccn Sluslcng
and Wcnxuan’s morlcr. as a rcsulr. conrinually rormcnrs Wcnxuan. wlosc
indccisivcncss and mallcaliliry only lrusrrarcs rlc rwo womcn in lis lilc
and drivcs rlcm lurrlcr aparr. As rlc war crisis dccpcns. Sluslcng dc-
cidcs ro lcavc Clongqing. wirlour lcr lamily. ro pursuc an clusivc lap-
pincss and scll-lulfillmcnr. ¡n rlc cnd. wlcn rlc war is suddcnly won and
ovcr. rlis miscrallc lamily complcrcly lalls aparr. Wcnxuan dics an cxcru-
ciaring dcarl on rlc day rlar a vicrory cclclrarion is lcld in rlc ciry. and
a lcw monrls larcr. in a cold winrcr niglr. Sluslcng comcs lack ro rlc
old aparrmcnr ro lcarn alour lis dcmisc and rlc sulscqucnr vanisling ol
lcr son and morlcr-in-law.
A complcx and riclly symlolic novcl. Cs/! Nia/t· is gcncrally consid-
crcd ro lc rlc aurlor’s masrcrpiccc. Wirl rlis rragic srory. as C. 1. ¡sia
olscrvcs in ³ Hi·tsrv s/ As!.rn C/in.·. Fi.tisn, Ba Iin finally csrallislcd
limscll as a ‘‘psyclological rcalisr ol grcar disrincrion’’ ly lully prcscnring
‘‘rlc nakcd luman condirion ol suffcring and lovc.’’
2
Suffcring and lovc.
or rarlcr suffcring lccausc ol lovc. prcdominarc rlc lilc ol Wang Wcn-
xuan. prolally rlc lasr and lcsr-known rulcrculous paricnr porrraycd in
modcrn Clincsc lircrarurc. Ycr rlc nakcdncss ol rlc luman condirion is
i. C. 1. ¡sia. ³ Hi·tsrv s/ As!.rn C/in.·. Fi.tisn, rcr~–rc·~ (Þcw ¡avcn. Conn..
Yalc \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡oo¡). :8¡–8o.
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T/. Lc·t Tu/.r.u/cr 135
lcavily mcdiarcd rlrougl ovcrlapping discourscs ol mcaning and social
dcrcrminarions ol idcnriry. Wlar collapscs in rlc coursc ol rlc novcl.
as our rcading will slow. is rlc complcx consrrucr ol suljccriviry lcgiri-
mizcd ly a scrics ol modcrn pracriccs and idcologics. sucl as individu-
aliry. romanric lovc. rlc nuclcar lamily. and finally rlc narion-srarc. Iacl
ol rlcsc lundamcnral modcrn insrirurions is lrouglr ro crisis as Wang
Wcnxuan’s lody is corrodcd ly rulcrclc lacilli and lis world plagucd
ly unccrrainry and lopclcssncss. 1lc painlul discasc. wlicl conrinually
prcvcnrs rlc invalid lrom assuming rlc posirion ol a valid suljccr. loscs
all ol irs romanric connorarions and closcly mirrors a gcncral lankruprcy
rlar lcads ro rlc dcarl ol rlc individual. 1ulcrculosis in rlis casc nor
mcrcly yiclds a symprom or mcraplor. lur also suggcsrs irs own diag-
nosis. dcmanding an criological analysis ol sickncss as /st/ mcaning cn!,
ulrimarcly. rlc undoing ol mcaning.
¡n rlc claracrcr ol Wang Wcnxuan. rlcrclorc. Ba Iin crcarcs a virru-
ally sclizoplrcnic anrilcro wlosc lailurc ro arracl limscll mcaninglully
ro any lorms ol idcnriry. social as wcll as privarc. is aggravarcd ly and
rcflccrcd in lis rulcrculosis. 1lc discasc luncrions as no lcss rlan a sur-
rogarc idcnriry. ¡r drivcs lis lcars and dcsircs inward. lrccds r.··.ntim.nt,
and offcrs masoclism as a dcspcrarc cscapc. ¡r also offcrs lim a somaric
languagc. ly mcans ol wlicl rlc invalid Wang Wcnxuan is lorccd ro in-
rcrprcr and ulrimarcly ro invalidarc lis world wirl a vcngcancc. 1lc sig-
nificancc ol rlc lasr rulcrcular in modcrn Clincsc lircrarurc rlus lics in a
dcmyrlologizing dialccric ol lailurc and succcss.
1ulcrculosis as Symprom
‘‘Þorling is morc punirivc.’’ so warns Susan Sonrag. ‘‘rlan ro givc a dis-
casc a mcaning—rlar mcaning lcing invarially a moralisric onc. Any im-
porranr discasc wlosc causaliry is murky. and lor wlicl rrcarmcnr is in-
cffccrual. rcnds ro lc awasl in significancc.’’
3
1ulcrculosis and canccr arc
rlc rwo masrcr discascs ol modcrniry. rlc mcraploric mcanings ol wlicl
Sonrag succincrly rcconsrrucrs in lcr influcnrial look I//n.·· c· A.tct/sr.
Wlcrcas 1v as a discasc ol rlc rcccnr pasr significd an inrriguing mix-
:. Sonrag. I//n.·· c· A.tct/sr cn! ³IDS cn! It· A.tct/sr·, firsr pullislcd in ¡o¬8
and ¡o8o. rcspccrivcly (Þcw York. Ðoullcday. ¡ooo). ¬o.
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136 C/in.·. As!.rn
rurc ol dclicacy. spirirualiry. willlul romanricizarion. and simulrancously
a lailurc ol will. canccr as a srill unconqucrcd rlrcar mosr olrcn cvokcs
paranoia and lcwildcrmcnr. Sonrag’s ccnrral conrcnrion is rlar ‘‘illncss
is nst a mcraplor. and rlar rlc mosr rrurllul way ol rcgarding illncss—
and rlc lcalrlicsr way ol lcing ill—is onc mosr purificd ol. mosr rcsis-
ranr ro. mcraploric rlinking.’’
4
Þoncrlclcss. slc undcrscorcs a modcrn
prcdilccrion lor giving discasc ar lcasr a psyclological cxplanarion. ¡n a
sccular world alrcr rlc Inliglrcnmcnr. ‘‘psyclologizing sccms ro pro-
vidc conrrol ovcr rlc cxpcricnccs and cvcnrs (likc gravc illncsscs) ovcr
wlicl pcoplc lavc in lacr lirrlc or no conrrol. ¡syclological undcrsrand-
ing undcrmincs rlc ‘rcaliry’ ol a discasc.’’
5
¡owcvcr. onc may also arguc
rlar psyclological discoursc. jusr as prcvious norions ol cosmic prcdcsri-
narion or rcrrilurion. cnriclcs rlc rcaliry ol illncsscs ly cndowing rlcm
wirl a symlolic dcprl and inrcrprcraliliry. A discasc psyclologizcd may
yicld a morc inrcnsc cxpcricncc.
1o lilcrarc oncscll lromall lurid discasc mcraplors. wlicl Sonrag rakcs
ro lc rlc firsr srcp roward a lcalrly acccprancc ol dcarl as narural. onc
would lavc ro dcvclop a diffcrcnr rclarionslip ro onc’s own lody. 1lc
lody would lavc ro lc dclivcrcd nor only lrom lcar. agony. and rlc urgc
ro moralizc. lur also lrom social symlolism in gcncral. ¡r would lccomc
a rruly auronomous lody. signilying norling lur irscll. and inscriling no
orlcr mcaning rlan irs own plysiological rcaliry. Sucl a llanclcd lody.
in rcndcring supcrfluous all luman imaginarivc cfforrs ar coping wirl
and rransccnding pain. dcarl. and cvcnrually lilc irscll. would spcll rlc
cnd ro sickncss as a lorm ol suljccriviry. wlicl is no lcss rlan wlar sus-
rains mcraploric rlinking alour discascs. 1lc samc scll-sufficicnr lody
would also suggcsr rlar modcrn suljccriviry. irs crcarivc lur rancorous
cxprcssion idcnrificd ly Þicrzsclc as r.··.ntim.nt, may irscll lc a sick-
ncss incurrcd ly rlc pcrccivcd impossililiry ol rcconciling consciousncss
wirl acrion. or words wirl dccds. ¡n rlis scnsc. Sonrag’s plca ro cnd all
mcraploric uscs ol illncss is a call lor acrion rarlcr rlan conrcmplarion.
¡r voiccs a dccply uropian projccr ol posirivc dcmysrificarion. ol lrccing
rlc individual lody lrom ‘‘rlc lanrasy ol incscapallc laraliry.’’
6
Wirl sucl uropian cmanciparion. lowcvcr. rlc possililiry always cxisrs
ol a lisrorical rcvcrsal. or. simply. a rcpcririon rlar lclics ir. 1lc lanrasy
|. ¡lid.. :.
s. ¡lid.. ss.
o. ¡lid.. 8¬.
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T/. Lc·t Tu/.r.u/cr 137
ol incscapallc laraliry sccms ro lc allc ro cirlcr givc risc ro or casr doulr
ovcr a rlcroric ol lilcrarion. ¡or il an ovcrr cxploirarion ol illncss as parr
ol a moralizing scmiorics compcllcd Sonrag ro cnvision a scll-sufficicnr
lody and a lcar-lrcc landscapc. rlcn Ba Iin’s crirical arrcnrion ro individu-
als afflicrcd wirl rulcrculosis and ro rlc symlolism ol discascs in gcncral.
ly conrrasr. lollowcd an carlicr pcriod ol cclclraring ncw lilc. yourl. and
a dcsiring lody. Sickncss as mcaning. as rlc rroullcsomc dcrails ol lilc.
lccamc rlc locus ol Ba Iin’s wrirings wlcn lc rurncd ro look inro ‘‘lirrlc
pcoplc and lirrlc rlings.’’ as summarizcd ly rlc rirlc ol a collccrion ol lis
slorr srorics pullislcd in ¡o|s.
7
Mournlul ‘‘groaning.’’ so somc crirics ol-
scrvc. now dcfincd a dclilcrarc modc ol wriring rlar camc in ro rcplacc
rlc romanric wrircr’s carlicr cxulcranr srylc in rlc rradirion ol an uncom-
promisingly anragonisric ‘‘}’c..u·..’’
8
¡or mosr ol lis wriring carccr. Ba Iin was consranrly inspircd. as lc
srarcd in a larcr prclacc ro lis ¡o:¡ novcl Fcmi/v, ly Gcorgcs Ðanron’s
morro. ‘‘¡avc couragc. lavc couragc. always lavc couragc!’’
9
An cffcc-
rivc comlinarion ol anarclisr rcjccrion ol parriarclal insrirurions. roman-
ric affirmarion ol rlc individual. and uropianism in rlc rradirion ol rlc
¡rcncl Fcvolurion madc Ba Iin cnormously popular among rlc young
cducarcd rcadcrs ol rlc ¡o:os and lis pcn namc a synonym lor a radi-
cally modcrn imaginary and passion. Wirl voluminous rrilogics sucl as
B.vs/utisn (unfinislcd). Tur/u/.nt Str.cm, Lsv., and Fir., as Òlga ¡ang
poinrs our in lcr srudy. Ba Iin ‘‘lclpcd ro crcarc among rlc inrcllccruals
an cmorional climarc rlar induccd rlcm ro acccpr rlc Clincsc rcvolu-
rion.’’
10
¡ndccd. lis comlarivc wrirings. up unril rlc carly ¡o|os. can lc
rcad as a figurarivc gcncalogy ol rlc rcvolurionary spirir in rwcnricrl-
ccnrury Clina. 1lc lcrocs in Ba Iin’s carly ficrion arc mosrly young
¬. Xicsr.n xics·/i (Slanglai. Wcnlua slcngluo. ¡o|s). 1lis was Ba Iin’s lasr collcc-
rion ol slorr srorics lclorc rlc lounding ol rlc ¡coplc’s Fcpullic ol Clina in ¡o|o.
¡r rook rlc aurlor wcll ovcr rlrcc ycars. lrom Marcl ¡o|i ro Þovcmlcr ¡o|s. ro fin-
isl rlc fivc srorics in rlc slcndcr volumc. Ðuring rlis pcriod. Ba Iin was lorccd ly
rlc ongoing war ro rravcl across sourlwcsr Clina. Scc Ba Iin. ‘‘¡ouji’’ (¡osrscripr) ro
Xicsr.n xics·/i, si.
8. Scc Clcn Silc and ¡i ¡ui. ‘‘Ba Iin cluangzuo lcnggc dc yanlian’’ (Òn rlc cvo-
lurion ol Ba Iin’s wriring srylc). in Bc }in custin tina/un ii (Issays on Ba Iin’s works).
cd. Iia Zlilang cr al. (Bcijing. Zlongguo wcnlian. ¡o8s). 8:–¡¡|. csp. ¡o¬.
o. Scc ‘‘¡rclacc’’ ro rlc srl cd. (May ¡o:o). Fcmi/v, rrans. Sidncy Slapiro. wirl inrro.
ly Òlga ¡ang (Þcw York. Ðoullcday. ¡o¬i). ¬.
¡o. ¡ang. Pc C/in cn! Hi· Iritina·, ios.
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138 C/in.·. As!.rn
rclcls and idcalisrs. wlo. always compassionarc. alrruisric. and rcady ro
acr. alundanrly display rlc claracrcrisrics longcd lor ly rlc visionary
May ¡ourrl gcncrarion. 1lcir clullicnr and cxprcssivc viraliry. according
ro onc criric’s comprclcnsivc analysis ol rlc diffcrcnr ‘‘lilc lorms’’ con-
srrucrcd in Ba Iin’s ocuvrc. srands in conrrasr ro rlc dccay ol rlc old as
mucl as ro ‘‘rlc aljccr lilc’’ livcd ly rlc wcak and rcsigncd.
11
Alrlougl rlc rwo ccnrral and opposirc ‘‘lilc lorms’’ in Ba Iin’s ficrional
world. rlc cxulcranr and rlc dccadcnr. cxplicirly convcy rlc aurlor’s
judgmcnr and valucs. ir is in prcscnring a rlird lorm ol ‘‘aljccr lilc’’ rlar
Ba Iin is mosr succcsslul and soplisricarcd. 1lc rcason. Zlang Minquan
cxplains. is rlar rlc aurlor always rcraincd a ricl and mulridimcnsional
clildlood mcmory ol rlc laplcss and rcsigncd. and rlar rlc modc ol
rlcsc pcoplc’s livcs lcrrcr cnallcd rcalisr rcprcscnrarion.
12
Wirl a sccm-
ingly suddcn slilr ol lis arrcnrion ro wasrcd and unlulfillcd livcs in nar-
rarivcs sucl as Oivucn (¡cisurc gardcn. ¡o||) and Cs/! Nia/t·, Ba Iin
indccd noriccally modificd lis conccprion ol lircrary rcalism. Fcalisric
dcscriprion would no longcr luncrion as a sign ol immincnr and dcsirallc
clangcs. or mcrcly scr up a sragc lor idcalisric and lcroic inrcrvcnrion.
Òn rlc conrrary. rlc prcvious idcology ol rarionaliry implicd in rcalisr
discoursc now gavc way ro a rccognirion rlar rcaliry as an cncompassing
and complicirous mass ol arraclmcnrs dcfics rarionalizarion. Wriring. as
rlc wrircr-narraror ol L.i·ur. Gcr!.n rcalizcs wirl incrcasing urgcncy. is
rarlcr a compcnsarory acr and answcrs a dcspcrarc nccd ro consolc onc-
scll wirl a lappicr and simplcr imagincd lilc. ¡r rcgisrcrs rlc wrircr’s uro-
pian dcsirc and scrvcs as an imaginary solurion ro rcal and insurmounr-
allc conrradicrions.
Ycr lircrary rcalism is ar irs mosr powcrlul wlcn ir conlronrs rcaliry
as lailurc. cspccially wlcn ir dcals wirl !.ct/ as rlc lorizon ol lilc rlar
cannor lc rransccndcd. Sucl disillusionmcnr wirl rcaliry was rlc lasic
srrucrurc ol lccling ar rlc origin ol modcrn Clincsc lircrarurc. and ir
undcrlics virrually all ol rlc narrarivcs ol rlc scll rlar wc find in. lor in-
srancc. ¡u Xun. Yu Ðalu. and carly Ðing ¡ing. Ba Iin’s ¡o|| novcl L.i·ur.
Gcr!.n conrinucs rlis rradirion ol cxploring rlc diffcrcncc lcrwccn rlc
firsr-pcrson narraror and rlc world rlar lc acurcly wirncsscs in irs disin-
¡¡. Zlang Minquan. Bc }in xics·/us !. ·/.namina tixi (1lc lilc lorms in Ba Iin’s fic-
rion) (Slanglai. Slanglai wcnyi. ¡o8o). ¡–¡s. 1lc Clincsc lor rlcsc rlrcc ‘‘lilc lorms’’
arc ‘‘congsli slcngming.’’ ‘‘luxiu slcngming.’’ and ‘‘wcidun slcngming.’’
¡i. ¡lid.. so–s¡. ¡|o–|¡.
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T/. Lc·t Tu/.r.u/cr 139
rcgrarion. 1oward rlc cnd ol rlc narrarivc. scvcral dcarls occur around
Mr. ¡i. rlc wrircr-narraror. dcspirc lis inspircd arrcmpr ro offcr a lcarr-
warming cnding ro rlc novcl on wlicl lc las lccn working. Almosr
ly accidcnr. rlc purplisl lacc ol a drowncd young man conlronrs rlc
wrircr-narraror and drivcs lomc a dimcnsion ol rcaliry rlar could lardly
lc sullimarcd. ‘‘Sucl is dcarl! So quick. so simplc. and so rcal!’’
13
¡l sud-
dcn dcarl ar rlis poinr is lor rlc firsr-pcrson narraror largcly a rraumaric
cvcnr—in ¡acanian rcrms. rlc lorrilying cruprion ol rlc unsymlolizallc
Fcal in Cs/! Nia/t·—rlc dcarl ol rlc proragonisr lccomcs a prolongcd
and conscious proccss ol cxpccrarion. By painsrakingly narraring Wang
Wcnxuan’s dcmisc. Ba Iin nor only givcs voicc ro rlc murcd agony ol an
aljccr cxisrcncc. lur lc also puslcs ro irs limir rlc rcalisr rcprcscnrarion
ol dcprl and suljccriviry.
1o a largc cxrcnr. rlc maruriry and psyclological sulrlcry rlar Ba Iin
aclicvcs in Cs/! Nia/t· dcpcnd on rlc lasic plor ol rlc narrarivc. namcly.
rlar ol an individual’s lilc as lailurc. Sucl a summary alsrracrion may lclp
us isolarc wlar ¡rcdric Iamcson las namcd an amplilious ‘‘idcologcmc.’’
As rlc raw marcrial or Saussurian /cnau. undcrlying complcx culrural cx-
prcssions and sysrcms. an idcologcmc dcscrilcs a dual lormarion rarlcr
rlan a srarcmcnr. ‘‘as a consrrucr ir musr lc susccprillc ro lorl a conccp-
rual dcscriprion and a narrarivc manilcsrarion all ar oncc.’’
14
An idcolo-
gcmc. in orlcr words. makcs rcprcscnrallc and also givcs significancc ro
ccrrain apparcnrly unconnccrcd cxpcricnccs, ir las rlc capaciry ol gcncr-
aring lorl rlc alsrracr and rlc concrcrc. 1lc alsrracrallc mcssagc ol rlc
novcl in qucsrion. rlcrclorc. cannor sulsrirurc lor rlc complcxiry ol irs
narrarivc manilcsrarion. lor rlc samc rcason rlar a sociological classifi-
carion ol Wang Wcnxuan cannor rcplacc or diminisl lis cxpcricncc. An
cmplasis on rlc lundamcnrally narrarivc claracrcr ol apparcnrly discm-
lodicd idcologcmcs. as Iamcson rcminds us. ‘‘will offcr rlc advanragc
ol rcsroring rlc complcxiry ol rransacrions lcrwccn opinion and proro-
narrarivc or lilidinal lanrasy.’’
15
¡r is on rlc narrarivc lcvcl. on rlc lcvcl ol
imaginarivc opcrarion wlcrc rlc aurlor cngagcs and ncgoriarcs an idc-
ologcmc. rlar rlc lailurc ol an individual lilc. as a rlcmc. yiclds succcsslul
¡:. Oivucn (¡cisurc gardcn). firsr pullislcd in ¡o||. collccrcd in Cs//..t.! Isr/· s/
Bc }in, ¡:.¡8o.
¡|. ¡rcdric Iamcson. T/. Ps/iti.c/ Un.sn·.isu·. Ncrrctiv. c· c Ss.ic//v Svm/s/i. ³.t
(¡rlaca. Þ.Y.. Corncll \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o8¡). 8¬.
¡s. ¡lid.. 88.
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140 C/in.·. As!.rn
symlolic consrrucrion and commcnrary. ¡ilidinal lanrasy. roo. lccomcs
manilcsr only wlcn rlc narrarivc is rcad as a complcx cxplanarion ol rlc
individual’s complcrc and scll-willcd lailurc.
As wc lavc sccn. Cs/! Nia/t· opcns wirl a dcscriprion ol rlc unccr-
rain prcscnr in wlicl Wang Wcnxuan finds limscll rransfixcd during an
air raid. 1lis inirial momcnr ol immoliliry. lowcvcr. signals a dccpcr
malaisc. a dcadly syndromc rlar rcsulrs lrom rlc lailurc ol lorl rlc cn-
vironmcnr and rlc individual. ¡or rlis parlogcnic condirion ol dcspair.
rulcrculosis providcs a pcrlccr mcraplor. lccausc ir was srill a largcly in-
curallc discasc in warrimc Clina and rcmaincd ‘‘awasl in significancc.’’
Ònc way ro rcad rlc mulriplc mcanings ol rulcrculosis in Cs/! Nia/t·
is ro scc ir as psyclosomaric. as a willcd illncss rlrougl wlicl Wcnxuan
inflicrs plysical pain on limscll so as ro displacc rlc largcr anxicrics in
lis lilc. Sucl masoclisric willing—paradoxically. rlc cxcrcisc ol a wcak
will—sccms ro lc rlc rcvcngc ol Wcnxuan. wlo las inrcrnalizcd. as wc
scc lrom rlc vcry lcginning. lis wilc’s calling lim a ‘‘solry.’’ Comlining a
willcd discasc wirl a discasc ol rlc will. rulcrculosis sccms cvcnrually ro
offcr lim rlc only possillc way ro rclarc ro orlcrs and idcnrily limscll.
1lc firsr indicarion ol rlc onscr ol rulcrculosis docs nor occur unril rlc
ninrl claprcr. wlcrc wc find a dcscriprion ol low on onc ordinary rainy
day Wcnxuan rrips on lis way ro work and las ro lcavc lor lomc carly
lccausc ol a rising lcvcr. ¡rom rlcn on. lc succcssivcly dcmonsrrarcs all
ol rlc srandard plysical symproms ol pulmonary and rlcn laryngcal ru-
lcrculosis rlar cnd in lis anguislcd and voicclcss dcarl. \p unril rlis
ill-larcd rainy day. lowcvcr. Wcnxuan las acrually lccn cnjoying a lricl
pcriod ol pcacclul domcsric lilc—ar lcasr sincc rlc lasr crisis lcrwccn lim
and lis wilc. Sluslcng. was. ro lis mind. miraculously rcsolvcd. 1lc
miraclc rlar would lring Wcnxuan rlis slorr-livcd domcsric lliss acru-
ally involvcs using lis paincd lody as an oljccr ol piry and symparly. ¡r
csrallislcs a lclavioral parrcrn and dcrcrmincs lis sulscqucnr rcrurn ro
a sragc ol inlancy in cxclangc lor compromisc and sccuriry. Morcovcr.
rlc incidcnr rcvcals rlc psyclic srrucrurc ol Wcnxuan’s privarc lilc as rlar
undcrlying a masoclisr’s univcrsc.
1lc miraculous rcsolurion ol a major crisis in rlc marriagc ol Wcnxuan
and Sluslcng. wlicl occurs cvcn lclorc rlc novcl lcgins. rakcs placc
rwo niglrs alrcr rlc couplc lad a figlr and slc movcd our on lim and
lis morlcr in a lury. Iarlicr during rlc day. Wcnxuan mccrs lis wilc in a
lancy coffcc slop and rrics. ro no avail. ro ralk lcr inro going lomc wirl
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T/. Lc·t Tu/.r.u/cr 141
lim. ¡c docs managc. noncrlclcss. ro lring rlcir lcarrs closcr ly rcmi-
niscing alour rlcir collcgc days and rlcir slarcd mcmorics and visions.
1lcy lorl lad lopcd ro dcvorc rlcir livcs ro cducarion. ro luild ncw
sclools in rlc counrrysidc and run rlcm likc a lamily (:¡, ¡8). Ycr sucl
lappy rccollccrions ol pasr idcalism only dcmoralizc rlcm lurrlcr alour
rlcir currcnr siruarion.
Ðcjccrcd. Wcnxuan rcrurns lomc ly limscll. lur lis morlcr allows
lim no quicr ly ladmourling lcr indcpcndcnr and unconvcnrional
dauglrcr-in-law. Þor daring ro rclurc lis morlcr. wlo rrcars lim likc a
lclplcss clild wrongcd ly rlc oursidc world.
16
and ycr wanring ro dc-
lcnd lis wilc. Wcnxuan las only limscll ro llamc. ‘‘¡is lcarr sccmcd
ro lc drilring in somc cmpry spacc scarcling lor a lavcn. ¡c lclr rlar
lc lad nor suffcrcd cnougl pain or cndurcd cnougl miscry. ¡c wanrcd
ro scrcam. ro cry lirrcrly. ro cxpcricncc inrcnsc pain. or ro lc lcarcn
mcrcilcssly. Anyrling. cxccpr ro rcmain quicrly ly lis morlcr’s sidc’’
(|o, ii).
Wirl sucl masoclisric urgcs. Wcnxuan lcavcs lomc. lumps inro an old
lricnd in a ravcrn. commiscrarcs wirl lim. and drinks unril lc lccls ill.
Bclorc lc can find lis way lomc larc rlar niglr. lc loscs conrrol. opcns
lis mourl. and ‘‘rlc suppcr lc lad carcn carlicr slor our likc a cararacr.’’
1lis parlcric sccnc ol Wcnxuan rlrowing up in rlc srrccr dramarizcs rlc
connccrion lcrwccn plysical pain and rlc lormarion ol lis cgo. Suffcring
rurns lim inro an oljccr ol curious gazcs in a pullic placc. lur ir also cm-
loldcns lim and allows lim a rarc scnsc ol scll-ccnrcrcdncss. Òvcrcomc
ly pain. ‘‘lc lad norling ro do wirl lis surroundings anymorc. Ar rlis
momcnr. lc would nor lavc rurncd around or cvcn noriccd. lad somc-
onc droppcd dcad riglr ncxr ro lim’’ (|¬, i8). ¡nvolunrary disgorging.
indccd. will cvcnrually dcvclop inro a ccnrral rropc ol scll-cxprcssion lor
Wcnxuan.
Wlilc lc is alsorlcd in vomiring. lis wilc Sluslcng lappcns ro pass
ly and rccognizcs lim.
‘‘Arc you sick·’’ slc askcd.
¡c slook lis lcad. ¡is lrcarling lad gorrcn smoorlcr. lur rcars wcrc
¡o. 1lc dcscriprion lcrc is pcrrincnr ro wlar ¡ discuss lclow. ‘‘¡is rcars won lcr
symparly. and lcr ragc sulsidcd. Slc lookcd ar lim lovingly. as il lc wcrc srill lcr
young clild wlo lad lccn wrongcd ly orlcrs and lad comc lomc ro cry in lronr ol
lcr’’ (:¬–:8, ii).
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142 C/in.·. As!.rn
coming our again. 1lcy wcrc rcars ol grarirudc and sorrow. diffcrcnr lrom
rlosc rlar lad lccn causcd ly lis vomiring. . . .
‘‘Arc you rcally going ro walk mc lomc·’’ lc askcd in a quavcring voicc.
¡c lookcd ar lcr as il inrimidarcd.
‘‘¡l ¡ don’r. ¡’m alraid you will go drinking again.’’ slc rcplicd. smiling.
¡c lclr warmcr. and mucl morc rclaxcd.
‘‘¡ will ncvcr drink again.’’ lc soundcd likc a clild and rlcn lcr lcr sup-
porr lim all rlc way lomc. (|8–|o, i8–io)
1lus. cvcn ro lis own surprisc. Wcnxuan succccds in pcrsuading Slu-
slcng ro go lomc wirl lim. nor rlrougl adulr. discursivc rcasoning.
as lc lad rricd carlicr. lur ly dcmonsrraring lis lody in pain and ly
undcrscoring lis passiviry. Sincc rlc dcmonsrrarivc or pcrsuasivc lcarurc
ol masoclism. according ro 1lcodor Fcik’s classical srudy. consisrs in rlc
masoclisr’s cxlilirion ol pain. cmlarrassmcnr. and lumiliarion.
17
ro con-
vincc Sluslcng ro sray lor good. Wcnxuan las ro undcrgo ycr morc sul-
lcring in ordcr ro lring rogcrlcr rlc rwo lcuding womcn in lis lilc. Wlcn
rlcy rcacl rlcir candlclir lomc. lis morlcr. nor rcalizing rlar Wcnxuan
is sick and rlar Sluslcng is wirl lim. rrics ro clccr lim up ly saying rlar
lc slould marry anorlcr woman oncc rlc war is ovcr and lc makcs a lor-
runc. As soon as slc sccs Sluslcng. lowcvcr. rlc morlcr rurns sarcasric
and. on lcarning rlar Wcnxuan las lccn drinking and las rlrown up. is
grcarly upscr. Slc is alarmcd lccausc slc lclicvcs rlar lcr lusland. Wcn-
xuan’s larlcr. lad dicd lrom alcololism. ‘‘¡’vc ncvcr allowcd you ro roucl
alcolol sincc you wcrc a kid. ¡ow comc you srill wcnr our and drank·’’
Slc firsr dcmands an answcr. 1lcn. ‘‘spcaking gcnrly as il ro a spoilcd
clild.’’ slc asks wlar lappcncd. lur slc sccms ro lc lurr morc lccausc lc
las lrouglr lack lis wilc.
‘‘Wlcn did you comc across lcr·’’ slc prcsscd lim lor an answcr. anorlcr
cmorion laving madc lcr ollivious ro lcr son’s plysical pain.
‘‘Wly don’r you lcr lim go ro slccp·’’ Sluslcng could nor lclp inrcr-
rupring lcr again.
¡gnoring rlc young woman. rlc morlcr conrinucd ro dcmand a lull cx-
planarion lrom lcr son.
¡¬. 1lcodor Fcik. Ac·s./i·m in As!.rn Acn, rrans. Margarcr ¡. Bcigcl and Gcr-
rrud M. Kurrl (Þcw York. ¡arrar. Srraus. ¡o|¡). ¬i–8:. 1lc orlcr rwo lcarurcs ol
masoclism. according ro Fcik. arc rlc spccial significancc ol lanrasy and rlc clcmcnr
ol suspcnsc.
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T/. Lc·t Tu/.r.u/cr 143
‘‘¡ . . . ¡ . . . .’’ lc srrugglcd wirl words. Somcrling clurncd violcnrly in-
sidc lim and slor up lrom lis sromacl. ¡c rricd ro lorcc ir down. lur losr
conrrol insrcad and srarrcd disgorging noisily. spurrcring vomir on lorl
limscll and lis morlcr. (s:, :¡–:i)
Ar rlis sorry siglr. rlc morlcr rclcnrs and givcs lcr dauglrcr-in-law
pcrmission ro rakc Wcnxuan ro lcd. As Sluslcng is rucking lim in. lc
rcalizcs rlar lc lad nor cnjoycd sucl arrcnrivc carc in ycars and lccomcs
‘‘as sulmissivc as an inlanr.’’ Bclorc lc lalls aslccp. lowcvcr. lc rcaclcs
our. grals lcr land. and makcs lis suffcring inro a ncgoriaring dcvicc.
‘‘¡lcasc don’r lcavc mc . . . wlarcvcr ¡ did was lor you . . .’’ (s|, :i).
Wlar Wcnxuan cnacrs lcrc is no lcss rlan a conrracr wirl Sluslcng
and. ly cxrcnsion. wirl lis own morlcr. A masoclisr conrracr. in Gillcs
Ðclcuzc’s psycloanalysis ol masoclism. lorms a crucial srrarcgy ro pro-
rccr rlc masoclisr’s world ol lanrasy and symlols lrom rcaliry or cvcn
lrom irs lallucinarory rcrurn. Ccnrral ro rlis masoclisric imaginarion is
rlc lanislmcnr ol rlc larlcr wlo las provcd ro lc ridiculously wcak
and inadcquarc. By giving up cvcry riglr ovcr limscll ro rlc rorruring
woman. ‘‘rlc masoclisr rrics ro cxorcisc rlc dangcr ol rlc larlcr and ro
cnsurc rlar rlc rcmporal ordcr or rcaliry and cxpcricncc will lc in con-
lormiry wirl rlc symlolic ordcr. in wlicl rlc larlcr las lccn alolislcd
lor all rimc.’’
18
Wirl lis larlcr conspicuously dcad and alscnr. Wcnxuan
is now conrracrually arraclcd ro rlc rwo compcring womcn ro rlc cxrcnr
rlar lc musr conrinuc lis scll-inlanrilizarion and lcr rlcmdcfinc rlc ordcr
ol lis rcaliry and cxpcricncc. ar lcasr as lar as lis domcsric or lilidinal lilc
is conccrncd.
Ar rlis poinr. as Ðclcuzc poinrs our. rlc masoclisr’s rclarionslip ro
lis womcn is dcscxualizcd. and ir is rlc larlcr imagc in lim rlar srands
ro lc cxpcllcd. Wlar rlis proccss acrualizcs is ‘‘rlc rranslcrcncc ol rlc
law onro rlc morlcr and rlc idcnrificarion ol rlc law wirl rlc imagc
ol rlc morlcr.’’
19
¡ollowing sucl a psycloanalyrical inrcrprcrarion. ir is
nor accidcnral rlar Wcnxuan’s larlcr is rccallcd. ly rlc morlcr. only as a
ncgarivc cxamplc ro prolilir any rcscmllancc lcrwccn larlcr and son. ¡r
also lccomcs significanr rlar Wcnxuan and Sluslcng’s rlirrccn-ycar-old
¡8. Gillcs Ðclcuzc. Cs/!n.·· cn! Cru./tv, in ‘‘Ac·s./i·m. Cs/!n.·· cn! Cru./tv’’ /v
Gi//.· D./.uc. cn! ‘‘I.nu· in Fur·’’ /v L.sts/! vsn Sc./.r-Ac·s./, rrans. Ican McÞcil
(Þcw York. Zonc Books. ¡o8o). oo.
¡o. ¡lid.. o¡.
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144 C/in.·. As!.rn
son (Xiaoxuan. or Young Xuan) appcars ro lc an cxacr duplicarion ol lis
palc and rcriccnr larlcr. Þcvcr closc ro lis morlcr. Xiaoxuan cnjoys lcing
wirl lis doring grandmorlcr mucl morc. ¡ndccd. as wc will discuss. rlc
rwo womcn luncrion as diffcrcnr rypcs ol morlcr. rlc lad and rlc good.
and lring inro rclicl rlc masoclisr’s dccpcsr lcar and dcsirc.
A sysrcmaric psycloanalyrical rcading may yicld a mcranarrarivc ol rlc
alscnr larlcr in rcrms ol alrupr lisrorical clangcs and rlcir impacr on rlc
rradirional symlolic sysrcm as wcll as rlc individual psyclc. 1lc cxpul-
sion ol rlc larlcr lrom rlc symlolic ordcr is alrcady sragcd. il wc go lack
ro Ba Iin’s carlicr works. rlrougl disrincr plors in L.i·ur. Gcr!.n (wlcrc
rwo larlcrs. onc indulging and rlc orlcr scll-indulging. lorl lail in rlcir
parcrnal rcsponsililiry ro rlcir sons) and Fcmi/v (wlcrc rlc cldcsr son
ol rlc grandclild gcncrarion las ro assumc. wirl grcar amlivalcncc. rlc
luncrion ol lis dcccascd larlcr). Sucl prcvalcncc ol alscnr or inadcquarc
larlcr figurcs rcflccrs rlc ncgarion ol parriarclal aurloriry on rlc onc
land and rlc wcakcning ol rlc law on rlc orlcr. Wcnxuan. lorn in rlc
ycar wlcn rlc monarcly was ovcrrlrown (lc was rlirry-lour ycars old in
¡o|s) and cducarcd wirl rlc ncwidcas ol rlc May ¡ourrl pcriod. is rlcrc-
lorc lound ro inlalir a world wlcrc rlc imagc and likcncss ol rlc larlcr
is ‘‘miniarurizcd. lcarcn. ridiculcd. and lumiliarcd.’’ Morcovcr. ‘‘wlar rlc
suljccr aroncs lor is lis rcscmllancc ro rlc larlcr and rlc larlcr’s likc-
ncss in lim. rlc lormula ol masoclism is rlc lumiliarcd larlcr.’’
20
¡n rlis
liglr. ¡u Xun’s paradigmaric influcncc ar rlc origin ol modcrn Clincsc
lircrarurc is all rlc morc asrounding wlcn wc rcalizc rlar rlc corc narra-
rivc lc providcd in ‘‘Ðiary ol a Madman’’ dcscrilcs a Conlucian lamily
lrom wlicl rlc larlcr is noncrlclcss dclcrcd and alolislcd. ¡or rlc samc
rcason. wc can lcrrcr apprcciarc rlc psycloanalyrical implicarion ol rlcir
srarcmcnr wlcn Mcng Yuc and Ðai Iinlua comparc rlc significancc ol
rlc Þcw Culrurc movcmcnr ol rlc May ¡ourrl cra ro rlar ol rlc ¡o¡¡
Clincsc Fcvolurion. Borl cffccr a ‘‘massivc. promincnr symlolic parri-
cidc’’. onc in rlc polirical ficld ol parriarclal rulc and ordcr. rlc orlcr in
rlc rcalm ol culrurc and valucs.
21
As a rcsulr ol rlis irrcvocallc parricidc. ‘‘rlc masoclisr cxpcricnccs rlc
symlolic ordcr as an inrcrmarcrnal ordcr in wlicl rlc morlcr rcprcscnrs
io. ¡lid.. oo.
i¡. Scc Mcng Yuc and Ðai Iinlua. Fu./u /i·/i !i/ics. xicn!ci /unu m.nxu. vcniiu
(Imcrging lrom lisrory. srudics in modcrn womcn’s lircrarurc) (Zlcngzlou. ¡cnan
rcnmin. ¡o8o). parr ¡. :–o.
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T/. Lc·t Tu/.r.u/cr 145
rlc law undcr ccrrain prcscrilcd condirions. slc gcncrarcs rlc symlolism
rlrougl wlicl rlc masoclisr cxprcsscs limscll.’’
22
¡arr ol rlc symlolism
lor scll-cxprcssion. lor Wcnxuan. is no lcss rlan ro prcscnr lis own lody
as lcing suljccrcd ro incrcasing pain. ¡is rulcrculosis. rlcrclorc. is as
mucl a plysical discasc as ir is a dcsirc. ¡r luncrions as wlar ¡acan calls
rlc s/i.t t.tit c, wlicl indicarcs an irrcducillc orlcrncss inrcrnal ro rlc
psyclic appararus rlar ar oncc impcdcs and cnallcs. as an olruraror. rlc
suljccr’s consrirurion. Sucl a prcscncc allows a pcrvcrsc plcasurc. cvcn
a scmllancc ol agcncy. wirl rlc suljccr’s rcpcarcd cfforrs ro conrain and
conlronr an inlcrcnr displcasurc or lack.
23
1lc inrcrcsr ol Ba Iin’s novcl. ir
slould lc cvidcnr ly now. lics nor in a clinical casc srudy ol rulcrculosis.
1lc discasc is irscll rurncd inro a symprom ol largcr culrural anxicry. or
ol rlc inrcrnal pain cxacrcd ly rlc ncw symlolic ordcr inro wlicl rlc in-
valid now rcrrcars. 1ulcrculosis. as in rlc casc ol rlc Icwisl paricnr ¡ranz
Kalka. lccomcs wlar Sandcr Gilman calls a ‘‘rcsr casc’’ rlar slorcs up rlc
individual’s ‘‘lundamcnral inaliliry ro conrrol rlc culrural languagc ol lis
rimc.’’
24
Wcnxuan’s lcvcr. cougl. and cvcnrually lis spirring ol llood rlcrc-
lorc luncrion as morc rlan mcrc clinical symproms. 1lcy scrvc as rlc
only cffccrivc languagc rlar lclps lim communicarc lis inncr scll as lc
grows cvcr morc rcriccnr. Sucl somaric signs also rcinlorcc rlc conrrac-
rual rclarionslip rlar lc las cnrcrcd wirl lis morlcr and lis wilc. ¡n
cxliliring lis sick inrcrior. Wcnxuan’s ailing lody compcnsarcs lor lis
inarricularcncss and masoclisrically rclarcs lim ro orlcrs. 1lc llood lc
cougls up. morc spccifically. conrinucs and cvcn rirualizcs rlc symlol-
ism ol vomiring rlar was csrallislcd carlicr. ¡r is also rlc mosr powcrlul
mcans ol vcrlalizarion availallc ro lim. Mucl agirarcd ly rlc inccssanr
ii. Ðclcuzc. Cs/!n.·· cn! Cru./tv, o:.
i:. Scc Iacqucs ¡acan. T/. Fsur Fun!cm.ntc/ Csn..tt· s/ P·v./s-³nc/v·i·, cd.
Iacqucs-Alan Millcr. rrans. Alan Slcridan (ÞcwYork. Þorron. ¡o¬¬). ¡o:–o|. ¡||–|s.
¡or an cxplicarion ol ¡acan’s norion ol rlc s/i.t t.tit c, scc Slavoj Žižck. Lnisv Tsur
Svmttsm! }c.;u.· Lc.cn in Hs//vmss! cn! Out (Þcw York. Fourlcdgc. ¡ooi). |8–|o.
Òn p. ii. Žižck clalorarcs rlar ‘‘rlc vcry gcsrurc ol rcnouncing cnjoymcnr produccs
incvirally a surplus cnjoymcnr rlar ¡acan wrircs down as rlc ‘oljccr small a.’ ’’ Ac-
cording ro Žižck. rlis surplus cnjoymcnr ( isui··cn..) dcrivcd lrom rcnunciarion ‘‘givcs
a cluc ro so-callcd ‘primal masoclism.’ ’’
i|. Sandcr Gilman. Frcnc Kc//c. T/. }.mi·/ Pcti.nt (Þcw York. Fourlcdgc. ¡oos).
i:8. Scc rlc claprcr. ‘‘1ulcrculosis as a 1csr Casc’’ (¡oo–ii8) lor a discussion ol rlc
mcaning ol rlc discasc and Kalka’s discoursc on ir.
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146 C/in.·. As!.rn
quarrcling lcrwccn lis morlcr and lis wilc on anorlcr niglr. Wcnxuan
quicrly lcavcs rlc aparrmcnr again. nor lold cnougl ro spcak lis mind.
‘‘¡ am going ro dic and you rwo arc srill lickcring.’’ Wlcn lc rcrurns
lomc mucl larcr. all palc and slakcn. lc finds rlar rlc rwo womcn lavc
rcaclcd a rrucc. \pon Sluslcng’s solicirarion. lc anxiously rrics ro dc-
scrilc wlar lc las jusr wirncsscd. lur ‘‘pllcgm spurrcd our lclorc lis
words.’’ ‘‘ ‘Blood! Blood! You spar our llood!’ 1crrificd. rlc rwo womcn
cricd in unison. and rogcrlcr rlcy carricd lim ro lcd and laid lim down’’
(¡o¡, so).
Bcrwccn Masoclism and B.··.ntim.nt
1lc dramaric momcnr ol Wcnxuan spirring llood in lronr ol lis morlcr
and lis wilc qualirarivcly clangcs lis lilc as a rulcrcular and irs symlolic
mcclanism as wcll. ¡or rlis is rlc momcnr wlcn lc ar lasr makcs pullic
lis laral illncss and. morc imporranr. lis dcspair. Þowofficially an invalid.
lc. as mucl as rlc pcoplc around lim. is conlronrcd wirl rlc qucsrion
ol low ro rrcar and makc scnsc ol lis discasc. ¡n rlc proccss. Wcnxuan’s
masoclism. rarlcr rlan lis rulcrculosis. makcs possillc a gcncral psyclo-
parlological srudy ol rlc modcrn Clincsc malc suljccr.
1cllingly. Wcnxuan’s morlcr and lis wilc. wlo rlrouglour rlc novcl
consisrcnrly rcprcscnr scpararc gcncrarions. suggcsr rwo diffcrcnr ap-
proaclcs ro lis ailmcnr. 1lc morlcr. wirl lcr srrong lclicl in rradirional
valucs and pracriccs. dccidcs rlar Clincsc mcdicinc will lcsr scrvc lcr
son. Sluslcng. a dcrcrmincd pracririoncr ol rlc May ¡ourrl lumanisr
and lilcral idcals. urgcs Wcnxuan ro scc a docror rraincd in modcrn Wcsr-
crn mcdical scicncc. As lor rlc paricnr limscll. lowcvcr. rlc ricl symlol-
ism ol wlar rrcarmcnr ro scck loils down ro rwo mundanc and pracrical
considcrarions. lc docs nor wanr ro disolcy lis morlcr. and. morcovcr.
Wcsrcrn mcdicinc is morc cosrly rlan a Clincsc lcrlal curc. Ivcn rlougl
lc finds rlc Clincsc docror’s diagnosis—cxlausrion plus roo srrong an
clcmcnr ol firc in lis livcr—lcss rlan convincing. Wcnxuan comlorrs lim-
scll ly purring lis lairl in rlc long narivc rradirion ol mcdical pracricc
(¡oi, so–oo). Wlcn larcr lis condirion worscns and lc srarrs ro losc lis
voicc. lc finally gocs ro a crowdcd modcrn lospiral. only ro lc rurncd
away ly rlc srccp pricc ol a srandard fluorcsccnr cxaminarion prcscrilcd
ly rlc docror (i:o, ¡:i).
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T/. Lc·t Tu/.r.u/cr 147
1lc rwo docrors in rlc novcl. pcriplcral as rlcy arc. ncvcrrlclcss ligl-
liglr rlc paradigmaric difficulry ol making a cloicc on Wcnxuan’s parr.
Ðr. Zlang. wlo significanrly is rclarcd ro Wcnxuan’s morlcr. is oldcr.
amiallc. rcassuring. and lc visirs lis paricnr ar lomc. wlcrcas rlc namc-
lcss docror in rlc lospiral. cquippcd wirl a cold srcrloscopc. appcars
ar lcsr indiffcrcnr and impcrsonal. 1lc conrrasr lcrwccn rlcm scrvcs ro
suggcsr a local culrural opposirion lcrwccn rradirion and modcrniry. or
rlar lcrwccn organic communiry and organizcd socicry. wlicl is also rc-
flccrcd in rlc anragonism lcrwccn rlc morlcr and lcr dauglrcr-in-law.
Borl docrors lail ro savc Wcnxuan’s lilc. and an ourlrcak ol clolcra will
alundanrly cxposc rlc inadcquacy ol cirlcr mcdical insrirurion. rlc cpi-
dcmic immolilizcs Ðr. Zlang limscll as a lclplcss paricnr and paralyzcs
rlc ciry’s lospiral sysrcm. 1lc ourlrcak. a small-scalc rcplica ol rlc on-
going war. crcarcs a crisis siruarion rlar rcndcrs cloiccs ly an individual
lorl morc urgcnr and lcss rcnallc. Wlcn lorl rcrms ol a conccivallc li-
nary opposirion arc lrouglr inro qucsrion rlrougl violcncc. cloiccs can
lardly lc madc rlrougl privilcging onc rcrm ovcr rlc orlcr. 1lis impos-
sillc siruarion lics ar rlc lcarr ol Wcnxuan’s dcspair.
Wlar lurrlcr compounds rlc individual’s dilcmma in a momcnr ol
crisis. morcovcr. is nor so mucl rlc difficulry ol making a cloicc as rlc
incvirallc lailurc ol any dccision. including rlc dccision nor ro cloosc.
¡n rlc casc ol Wcnxuan. rlc largcr dccision in lis lilc las ro do wirl lis
morlcr and lis wilc. 1lis is lorcclully suggcsrcd carly on in rlc novcl
wlcn an anxicry drcam ol Wcnxuan’s. wlicl lc rcluscs ro lclicvc ro lc
a drcam. makcs up rlc cnrirc sccond claprcr. ¡n rlis liglly proplcric
drcam. Wcnxuan is lcroically dcrcrmincd. againsr rlc urgings ol lis wilc.
ro go lack ro rlc ciry ro look lor lis morlcr wlcn war lrcaks our. inrcr-
rupring rlcir ordinary conjugal lilc and scnding inrcrminallc srrcams ol
rclugccs lromrlc ciry. Sluslcng wanrs limro sray wirl lcr and rlcir son.
rclling lim rlar rlcy arc lis rcsponsililiry. lur Wcnxuan is nor ro lc dis-
suadcd. slouring. ‘‘¡ can’r alandon lcr and run away all ly myscll ’’ (¡¬,
o). ¡n rlc cnd. Sluslcng rcsolurcly lcavcs lim. lis morlcr rcmains lor-
cvcr our ol rcacl. and Wcnxuan wakcs up dcspcrarcly figlring a planrom
crowd ol srrangcrs. 1lc lasic srrucrurc and rcnsion ol rlc novcl. cncodcd
in rlis drcam rcxr rlrougl inrricarc condcnsarion and displaccmcnr. rlus
rcvolvcs around Wcnxuan’s doomcd cfforr ro rcconcilc rlc rwo womcn
and rwo moral durics.
Wlar rlis drcam produccs. in lacr. is a ‘‘masoclisr rcxr’’ rlar undcr-
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148 C/in.·. As!.rn
scorcs rlc incomparililiry ol diffcrcnr conccprions ol rlc individual sul-
jccr ar a momcnr wlcn rlc prcsumcd validiry or lcgirimacy ol rlc indi-
vidual is lrouglr inro qucsrion. Masoclismin psycloanalyrical rcrms can
lc rcad as ‘‘a srory rlar rclarcs low rlc supcrcgo was dcsrroycd and ly
wlom. and wlar was rlc scqucl ro rlis dcsrrucrion.’’
25
Kalka’s lircrary
discoursc. lor insrancc. ovcr lis cxpcricncc ol rulcrculosis as a malc Icw
in rurn-ol-rlc-ccnrury ¡raguc offcrs sucl a masoclisr rcxr. ¡or Kalka.
according ro Sandcr Gilman’s srudy. masoclism ‘‘comcs ro lc an acring
our ol rlc conflicr lclr lcrwccn rlc claims lodgcd againsr rlc individual
and rlc inaliliry ol rlar individual ro counrcr rlcsc claims complcrcly
lccausc ol rlc undcrlying incomplcrcncss. rlc rransirorincss ol all con-
srrucrions ol rlc scll.’’
26
1lc original and mosr comprclcnsivc masocl-
isr rcxr. conccivcd ly ¡copold von Saclcr-Masocl (¡8:o–os) undcr rlc
rirlc T/. H.ritca. s/ Ccin, was ro cxaminc rlc cnrircry ol luman lis-
rory rlrougl six dominanr rlcmcs. lovc. propcrry. moncy. rlc srarc. war.
and dcarl.
27
(1lcsc six lorccs rlar propcl rlc cycling ol a masoclisric
lisrory arc also clcarly prcscnr in wlar gcncrarcs rlc anxicry drcam ro
wlicl Wcnxuan wakcs up in a cold swcar.) ¡rcsiding ovcr a masoclisr’s
world dcrcrmincd ly rlc six unconrrollallc lorccs arc lcroincs wlo. in
Ðclcuzc’s rcading ol Saclcr-Masocl. lavc in common ‘‘a wcll-dcvclopcd
and muscular figurc. a proud narurc. an impcrious will and a crucl dispo-
sirion cvcn in rlcir momcnrs ol rcndcrncss and naivcrc.’’
28
1lcsc womcn
lall inro rlrcc arclcrypcs rlar closcly corrcspond ro a myrlic vicw ol rlc
cvolurion ol luman lisrory in rlrcc sragcs. a prcvalcnr lisroriograplical
convcnrion ro wlicl Saclcr-Masocl as a nincrccnrl-ccnrury wrircr ap-
parcnrly sulscrilcd.
29
Sucl a rriparrirc modcl ol luman cvolurion. olvi-
ously. is nor wlar srrucrurcs rlc mcaning sysrcm in Cs/! Nia/t·. Þor is
ir cnrircly low Wcnxuan rclarcs ro rlc womcn in lis world. ¡nsrcad. as
las lccn suggcsrcd. lis masoclisric univcrsc is govcrncd ly rwo morlcr
figurcs. rwo srrong-willcd womcn wlo. in cnacring rlc symlolic ordcr as
inrcrmarcrnal lor rlc masoclisr. rlcmsclvcs symlolizc diffcrcnr conccp-
rions ol rlc individual and claims againsr lim.
¡rom Sluslcng’s pcrspccrivc. sincc Wcnxuan rlc ‘‘solry’’ always wanrs
is. Ðclcuzc. Cs/!n.·· cn! Cru./tv, ¡:o.
io. Gilman. Frcnc Kc//c, ii.
i¬. Scc Ðclcuzc. Cs/!n.·· cn! Cru./tv, ¡¡. :8.
i8. ¡lid.. |¬.
io. Scc ilid.. |¬–ss.
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T/. Lc·t Tu/.r.u/cr 149
ro lc nicc (rlc lircral mcaning ol ‘‘laolaorcn’’). lc cnds up consranrly
compromising limscll. cvcn masoclisrically so. jusr ro avoid conflicr
wirl orlcrs and ro divcrr rlc rcnsion lcrwccn lcing a son and a lovcr}
lusland. ‘‘¡c could nor lring rogcrlcr lis morlcr and lis wilc. or cloosc
onc lcrwccn rlc rwo. ¡c always rricd ro muddlc rlrougl or pur off
rcaliry’’ (¡¬i, o8). ¡or lcr. Wcnxuan’s laral misrakc is rlar lc ncvcr
rlinks alour limscll and. worsc. always rurns lis wcakncss inro passivc
aggrcssion.
30
¡l Sluslcng’s criricism ol Wcnxuan is in agrccmcnr wirl
lcr lilcral-lumanisr conccprion ol rlc scll. Wcnxuan’s lailurc sccms ro lc
complcrc wlcn lis morlcr also llamcs lim lor ‘‘nor rlinking alour lim-
scll.’’ lor lcing a ‘‘solry.’’ Borl womcn complain rlar lc is unncccssarily
sacrificing limscll lor rlc sakc ol rlc orlcr pcrson.
31
Wlar vivacious Sluslcng consciously cmlodics in rlc novcl. on onc
lcvcl. is rlc May ¡ourrl rradirion ol lilcral-lumanisr idcas alour pcr-
sonal lrccdom. lappincss. and scll-lulfillmcnr. ¡cr disrincr culrural idcn-
riry was acquircd. cmplarically. rlrougl lcr modcrn univcrsiry cduca-
rion. ¡r is now lairllully rcflccrcd in rlc crirical cloiccs rlar slc makcs in
lcr lilc. Þcvcr closc ro lcr own son. Xiaoxuan. slc admirs rlar slc is nor
a good morlcr, slc docs nor cvcr acknowlcdgc rlc cxisrcncc ol lcr par-
cnrs or orlcr rclarivcs. Slc is a modcrn individualisr par cxccllcncc in rlar
lcr sclllood is affirmcd rlrougl lrccing lcrscll firsr lrom all lamily rics
and cvcnrually lrom all moral scruplcs. Slc is. in Ðclcuzc’s analysis ol rlc
rlrcc womcn cxamincd ly Saclcr-Masocl. rlc urcrinc. lcracric woman.
Ðcdicarcd ro lovc and lcaury. ‘‘slc is modcrn. and dcnounccs marriagc.
moraliry. rlc Clurcl and rlc Srarc as rlc invcnrions ol man. wlicl musr
lc dcsrroycd.’’
32
¡cr final dccision ro lcavc rlc cndangcrcd warrimc capi-
ral Clongqing. in lcr own words. is lascd on lcr lclicl rlar slc is srill
young and lopclul, ir consrirurcs a rriumplanr sacrificc ol rlc sacrificc
rlar is cxpccrcd ol lcr as a morlcr and wilc. ‘‘¡ am acrivc. and lovc cxcirc-
mcnr. ¡ nccd ro lcad a passionarc lilc.’’ ‘‘¡ am nor a lad woman.’’ slc srarcs
in a long lcrrcr ro Wcnxuan in wlicl slc dcmands ro lc rclicvcd ol lcr
olligarion as lis common-lawwilc. ro annul. in orlcr words. rlc conrracr
lcrwccn rlcm. ‘‘My only laulr is rlar ¡ pursuc lrccdom and lappincss’’
(i:o–|:, ¡:8–:o). ¡n rcaliry. Sluslcng’s succcss owcs mucl ro rlc lacr
rlar slc works as a clcrk in a commcrcial lank and is vigorously pursucd
:o. Scc lcr lcrrcr ro Wcnxuan. i:s–:o, ¡:s–:o.
:¡. Scc. lor insrancc. ¡os. ¡oo, ¡oo. ¡io.
:i. Ðclcuzc. Cs/!n.·· cn! Cru./tv, |8.
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150 C/in.·. As!.rn
ly lcr supcrior. Ðirccror Clcn. a savvy. srrong. and landsomc lankcr.
rlc cxacr opposirc ol Wcnxuan. ¡cr jol in cffccr sripularcs—morc rlan a
complcrc alandonmcnr ol lcr prcvious drcams as an cducaror—rlc sus-
pcnsion ol idcalism irscll. 1lus. lcr financial rcsourcclulncss and unrc-
lcnring pursuir ol pcrsonal lappincss ulrimarcly consrirurc lcr lailurc. lor
rlcy involvc a supprcssion ol lcr uropian dcsircs. or lcr socially signifi-
canr idcals. ‘‘Ðon’r ralk ro mc alour rlc idcals wc uscd ro lavc.’’ so plcads
Sluslcng in lcr lasr lcrrcr ro Wcnxuan. Slc is away and rlriving in rlc
lronricr rown ol ¡anzlou. wlilc lc lics dying in lcsicgcd Clongqing.
‘‘¡iving in an agc and a lilc likc ours . . . wc arc in no posirion ro ralk
alour cducarion or idcals any morc’’ (i|i, ¡:o).
33
Þccdlcss ro say. Sluslcng’s idcological valorizarion ol rlc scll and indi-
vidual cloicc also lcads ro a conccpr ol pcrsonal rcsponsililiry. 1lus. slc
cxpccrs Wcnxuan ro lc lcr cqual and companion. rwo rolcs rlar would
also scrvc as rlc loundarion ol lcr lovc lor lim. Ycr. lis inaliliry ro main-
rain an cqual looring. mosr concrcrcly dcmonsrrarcd in lis sickncss and
financial dcpcndcncc. finally makcs lcr rcalizc rlar no sucl loundarion
cxisrs. ‘‘1ogcrlcr wc arc nor going ro lc lappy. lor rlcrc is nor anyrling
connccring us. . . . ¡ can only piry you. lur can no longcr lovc you. You
wcrc nor sucl a wcakling lclorc’’ (i:o–:¬, ¡:s–:o). ¡n rlis conrcxr. ir
lccomcs cxrrcmcly rcvcaling rlar sn/v alrcr Sluslcng lad lclr lim and
unilarcrally dissolvcd rlcir marriagc conrracr was Wcnxuan allc ro cx-
pcricncc. lor rlc firsr and solc rimc in rlc novcl. scxual dcsirc. ¡nirially.
ir was lcr arrracrivc lacc. now vividly rccallcd. rlar cxcircd lis imagina-
rion. 1lcn ir was rlc amlivalcnr mcaning ol lcr acrion (lcr rcgular lcrrcrs
inquiring alour lis lcalrl and lcr scnding lim moncy) rlar inrrigucd
Wcnxuan and lcd lim ro lanrasizc alour lcr lilc. Ar rlis momcnr. slc
again lccamc a woman wirl lcr lrcc cloicc. and lc. ‘‘an invalid ncaring
lis dcarl. cxpcricnccd a lcalrly man’s dcsircs.’’ Ycr ‘‘lis urgcs rorrurcd
lim all rlc morc lccausc cvcn lc limscll kncw rlar rlcy could nor lc
sarisficd. nor in rlc lcasr’’ (iso, ¡|o).
¡l Sluslcng acrs as rlc lcracric. lad morlcr in rlc masoclisric world.
Wcnxuan’s liological morlcr cncompasscs all rlc marcrnal luncrions ol
::. ¡or a dclcnsc ol rlc claracrcr Zcng Sluslcng lrom a lcminisr pcrspccrivc. scc
¡iu ¡uiying. ‘‘Clongclong lanli zlong dc nuxing kunjing. yi nuquan piping jicdu
Ba Iin dc Hcnv.’’ (1lc difficulr siruarion ol a woman lacing various larricrs. a lcmi-
nisr inrcrprcrarion ol Cs/! nia/t· ly Ba Iin). in Z/snaaus xicn!ci m.nxu. vcniiu .sna/cn
(Iournal ol modcrn Clincsc lircrarurc srudics). no. si (¡ooi). :.¡o¬–¡s.
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T/. Lc·t Tu/.r.u/cr 151
nurruring and prorccring. 1o Wcnxuan’s morlcr. rlc law ol rlc larlcr
is also rranslcrrcd. 1lc good morlcr. wlom Ðclcuzc dcscrilcs as ‘‘cold.
marcrnal. scvcrc’’ and. alovc all. ‘‘oral.’’
34
is ro rriumpl in rlc cnd. and
ir is lcr alliancc wirl rlc son rlar lorms rlc loundarion ol rlc masocl-
isr’s rcalm ol rcaliry. 1lc lovc rlar lis morlcr cxpccrs lromWcnxuan rcsrs
prcciscly on lis lcing wcak and dcpcndcnr. on lis lclaving likc a sulmis-
sivc clild wlo complcrcly surrcndcrs lis rcsponsililiry. \nlikc Sluslcng.
rlc morlcr docs nor producc a wrirrcn srarcmcnr ol lcr lclicls. lur slc
is vocal and arricularc. il olrcn vocilcrous. Aidcd ly lcr rradirional cdu-
carion. lcr valucs arc sysrcmaric and conrradicr wlar Sluslcng srands
lor on almosr cvcry poinr. 1lc morlcr rcscnrs. lor insrancc. rlc lacr rlar
Sluslcng lolds a jol in a lank lccausc slc rlinks ir is impropcr and lu-
miliaring. As mucl as an cxprcssion ol rlc prcmodcrn gcndcr licrarcly
(in rcrms ol a masculinc claim ro rlc pullic workplacc and an cquarion ol
domcsriciry wirl lcmininc virruc). lcr lrusrrarion also amounrs ro a dc-
nunciarion ol rlc modcrn capiralisr commodificarion ol lalor as gcncral-
izcd prosrirurion. ¡crcin lics rlc amliguiry ol rlc cxclangc lcrwccn rlc
morlcr and Sluslcng. wlilc rlc young woman lcarcdly prorcsrs lcing
snccrcd ar as an cnricing ‘‘flowcr vasc’’ in rlc lank officc (oi, s|). slc also
painlully rcalizcs. in a diffcrcnr conrcxr. rlar slc is lcing dcgradcd and
rakcn advanragc ol (:i, ¡o).
1lc morlcr’s mosr lirrcr complainr againsr rlc young woman. low-
cvcr. is rlar slc is nor a good morlcr ro Xiaoxuan (‘‘1lcn ¡ supposc you
will lc lrcc ro lool around wirl your loylricnds. ¡’vc ncvcr sccn a morlcr
likc you’’ [oo, so|). and rlar slc and Wcnxuan ncvcr lad a propcr wcd-
ding. ¡or lcr. Sluslcng is lorl a disqualificd morlcr and an illcgirimarc
wilc—rwo ncgarivc arrrilurcs rlar only scrvc ro rcinlorcc rlc morlcr’s
own aurloriry and lcgirimacy. Wlcn Wcnxuan musrcrs rlc couragc ro cx-
plain rlar lc and Sluslcng undcrsrand cacl orlcr. rlc morlcr rurns a
dcal car ro sucl a lccllc plca ol romanric lovc. Slc firmly lclicvcs rlar.
:|. Scc Ðclcuzc. Cs/!n.·· cn! Cru./tv, s¡–ss. oo–o¬. ¡n Cs/! Nia/t·, noriccallc in-
sranccs occur in wlicl rlc morlcr is dcscrilcd as cxprcssing lcr lcclings rlrougl an
oral urgc. Bcsidcs rlc lacr rlar slc consranrly worrics alour lcr son’s dicr and lccds
lim lood and mcdicinc. slc olrcn gnaslcs lcr rccrl (yaoya qiccli) wlcn slc ralks
alour lcr dauglrcr-in-law (cl. oo, so and ¡oo, oi). Ar onc poinr. rlc dcscriprion lc-
comcs mosr cxplicir. ‘‘ ‘¡’d rarlcr dic and wc all dic. rlan scc lcr again!’ Slc gnaslcd
lcr rccrl. as il slc wcrc gnawing ar rlar young woman’s flcsl. Alrcr rlis ourlursr. slc
rcrurncd ro lcr room. paying no morc arrcnrion ro lim’’ (¡si, 88).
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now in rlc posirion ol morlcr-in-law. slc las rlc riglr ro disciplinc rlc
young woman (¡so, oi).
¡inally. rlc morlcr pcrccivcs lcr rclarionslip ro lcr son as onc ol vcr-
rical conrrol and sulordinarion. and lcr lovc lor Wcnxuan is rlcrclorc
as prorccrivc as ir is posscssivc. Sluslcng’s conccprion ol lovc. lowcvcr.
prcsupposcs a lorizonral rclarionslip ol cquivalcncc and murual rcspon-
sililiry among lilcrarcd and lilcral suljccrs. ¡rom rlcsc rwo rypcs ol
lovc cnsuc rwo vcry diffcrcnr conccprions ol rlc individual and rlc indi-
vidual’s dury. and rwo vcry diffcrcnr cconomics ol dcsirc and irs saris-
lacrion. ¡urrlcrmorc. rlcsc rwo lorms ol lovc arc mcraploric ol rwo
opposing idcologics and social insrirurions. Conlucian lamilism vcrsus
lilcral individualism. 1lc narrarivc acrually conrains a momcnr ol mcra-
commcnrary wlcn Sluslcng is madc awarc ol rlc laral conscqucnccs ol
rlcsc rwo conflicring lovcs, slc las sccn a producrion ol Cao Yu’s play
Tucnv. (1lc wildcrncss. ¡o:¬) and is now rcmindcd ol rlc rragcdy lclall-
ing rlc filial son}lusland (¡8|, ¡os). ¡cr dccision is cvcnrually ro cscapc
lrom rlis cmorional dilcmma in a fliglr ro lrccdom. ro sacrificc rlc sac-
rificc. ¡r is ar rlis poinr in Cs/! Nia/t· rlar rlc psyclological srrucrurc ol
masoclism ncccssarily cxrcnds and lcnds irscll ro a discoursc ol culrural
and polirical cnrrapmcnr.
Cauglr in rlc middlc ol sucl conflicring dcmands and arraclmcnrs is
Wcnxuan rlc invalid. lor wlom rlc fliglr ro lrccdom is ncvcr a viallc
cloicc. Wlilc rulcrculosis is dcploycd as a symprom ol lis masoclisric
anxicry. lc is also cnallcd ly lis rulcrculous lody ro arrivc ar a proro-
polirical gcsrurc ol disavowal. ¡is ailing lody and rlc prospccr ol lis
own dcarl as an individual conrinually compcl Wcnxuan ro disrancc lim-
scll lrom lorl lis morlcr and lis wilc, lis illncss also lcads lim ro dccon-
srrucr various insrirurions ol aurloriry. 1lc inccssanr lickcring lcrwccn
rlc lad and rlc good morlcrs incircs Wcnxuan ro cvcr morc inrcnsc mas-
oclisric plcasurc in inflicring pain on limscll. Ar rlc samc rimc. rlc pro-
lusion ol rlc official discoursc ol rlc sovcrcign narion-srarc. wlicl rlc
suffcring paricnr finds impcrvious ro and irrcconcilallc wirl lis own lilc.
lcavcs lim sccrling in r.··.ntim.nt. Sucl a rransirion. lrom wcakncss as
displaccmcnr ro rlc Þicrzsclcan r.··.ntim.nt, sccms ro lc an inrcgral parr
ol rlc lormarion ol rlc masoclisr’s cgo. Wlilc rlc sadisr. in Ðclcuzc’s
analysis. cxrcrnalizcs lis cgo and posirs ir as rlc supcrcgo. rlc masocl-
isr nurrurcs lis cgo rlrougl mulriplc disavowals in rlc alrcrmarl ol rlc
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T/. Lc·t Tu/.r.u/cr 153
supcrcgo’s rcmoval.
35
1lc masoclisric cgo cmcrgcs as sucl wlcn ir con-
vcrrs irs wcakncss inro a sourcc ol srrcngrl and disavows rlc morlcr. wirl
rlc larlcr alrcady alolislcd. Wlar Ðclcuzc uncovcrs in Saclcr-Masocl’s
dcscriprion ol scxual pcrvcrsion. in orlcr words. is no lcss rlan a rcwrir-
ing ol rlc ¡cgclian lallc ol rlc masrcr and rlc slavc. rlc rriumpl ol an
inrcrnalizcd scll-affirmarion. or rlc rcvcngc ol ‘‘rlc wcak as wcak’’ rlar
Þicrzsclc would dcnouncc.
¡or Wcnxuan. rlcrclorc. masoclism and r.··.ntim.nt arc ol lomologi-
cal valuc in slaping lis pcrsonal and social cxisrcncc. ¡is monoronous
jol as a proolrcadcr consisrs mosrly ol doullc-clccking rcxrs rlar ncvcr
makc mucl scnsc ro lim. Wirl mucl poignancy. lc rcalizcs rlar lc is
dcmcancd ly moncy and rlc nccd ro survivc. Iarly in rlc novcl. Wcn-
xuan lound limscll rackling an impossillc rranslarion rlar lorc lardly
any rcscmllancc ro rlc languagc lc kncw. lur lc lad no riglr ro makc
clangcs. Wlilc lc kcpr lis cycs mcclanically moving ovcr words rlar
lookcd likc a ‘‘lundlc ol cnranglcd lcmpcn cord.’’ lis rlouglrs would
wandcr away. ‘‘¡’mfinislcd. All my lappincss is rollcd ly rlc war. ly lilc
irscll. ly rlosc lolry and prcrcnrious slogans. and ly rlc proclamarions
rlar arc posrcd all ovcr rlc srrccrs’’ (¬s, ||). Sucl dcmurral. lowcvcr.
would always rcmain inrcrnal and audillc only ro limscll. ‘‘Ycr rlcrc was
no poinr. ¡c lad prorcsrcd likc rlis rlousands ol rimcs. lur no onc lad
lcard lim. and no onc cvcr kncw rlar lc would cvcn cnrcrrain sucl a rc-
scnrmcnr. 1o lis lacc as wcll as lclind lis lack. pcoplc would call lim a
‘solry.’ ¡c limscll would also prclcr rlc posirion ol a solry. ¡r lad lccn
likc rlis lor scvcral ycars now’’ (¬s, |:–|s).
As lis rulcrculosis worscns and a gcncral collapsc looms. Wcnxuan’s
rclarionslip ro rlc official discoursc ol parriorism. or wlar may lc callcd
rlc dominanr polirical cconomy ol rlc sign. also clangcs. ¡n rlc final
sragc ol lis illncss. wlcn lc almosr loscs lis voicc lccausc ol laryngcal ru-
lcrculosis lur is srill working in rlc pullisling lousc. Wcnxuan onc day
accidcnrally spills somc ol lis llood on a prool slccr lrom a propagandisr
look rrumpcring rlc imprcssivc progrcss rlar Clina as a modcrn narion-
srarc las lccn making. 1ulcrcular llood-spirring ar rlis poinr lccomcs a
:s. Scc Ðclcuzc. Cs/!n.·· cn! Cru./tv, clap. ¡¡. ‘‘Sadisric Supcrcgo and Masoclis-
ric Igo.’’ ¡i:–:|. Òn p. ¡i|. Ðclcuzc wrircs. ‘‘1lc masoclisric cgo is only apparcnrly
cruslcd ly rlc supcrcgo. Wlar insolcncc and lumor. wlar irrcprcssillc dcfiancc and
ulrimarc rriumpl lic liddcn lclind an cgo rlar claims ro lc so wcak.’’
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rcvclarory supplcmcnrarion. signilying rlc cruprion ol a mucl morc im-
mcdiarc and lrural rcaliry rlan wlar irs idcological rcprcscnrarion allows
or mainrains. As rlc ulrimarc lorm ol asscrring limscll rlrougl pain.
llood-spirring lor Wcnxuan mcraplorically consrirurcs a dcconsrrucrivc
wriring rlar inscrrs radical diffcrcncc and cxposcs any sysrcmaric imposi-
rion ol mcaning as inlcrcnrly incomplcrc and incolcrcnr.
¡c rricd ro wipc ir off wirl a piccc ol wasrc papcr. lur lc lad ro do ir
vcry liglrly. lor lc was alraid rlar lc miglr lrcak rlc lragilc papcr. Fc-
moving rlc wasrc papcr. lc lound rlar among rlc scnrcnccs cclclraring
rlc improvcmcnrs in pcoplc’s living condirions was srill a lainr rracc ol lis
llood. ‘‘Bccausc ol your lics. ¡ am going ro llccd ro dcarl!’’ ¡c rlouglr
angrily. and almosr wanrcd ro rcar rlar pagc ro slrcds. Ycr lc did nor darc.
¡c lookcd ar rlc srain lor a wlilc. siglcd. and rurncd ovcr rlc pagc wlcn
lc ar lasr finislcd proolrcading ir. (io|, ¡si)
1lc indclillc llood srain on rlc prinrcd pagc rlus rcgisrcrs a doullc
lailurc. Òn rlc onc land. ir dclunks rlc lcgirimizing narrarivc ol rlc
narion-srarc ly inscrring wlar las lccn wrirrcn ovcr or crascd. Wcnxuan’s
arrcmpr ro wipc off rlc rracc ol lis llood rurns inro a crirical gcsrurc ol
lrackcring. or purring undcr crasurc. rlc asscrrivc rcxr propcr. ¡n rlc pro-
ccss. rlc idcological scll-rcprcscnrarion ol rlc narion-srarc is rcvcalcd as
ar lcsr arrificial and ncccssarily incomparillc wirl rlc raw and oljccral
cxpcricnccs ol rlc individual. Òn rlc orlcr land. Wcnxuan’s lcar. lis in-
aliliry ro dcvclop lis awarcncss inro polirical acrion. may also lc rcad
as a lailurc on rlc parr ol rlc individual. ¡is mosr lirrcr prorcsrs and
complainrs. cirlcr polirical or domcsric. arc olrcn urrcrcd rlrougl an in-
rcrior monologuc. ¡is capaciry lor passivc inncr musings offcrs an indcx
ol Wcnxuan rlc ‘‘solry’s’’ lailurc in lis social as wcll as lis pcrsonal lilc.
Sucl complcrc lailurc may also consrirurc wlar ¡rcdric Iamcson dcrccrs
as an ‘‘aurlcnric r.··.ntim.nt’’ in rlc narrarivcs ol Gcorgc Gissing. 1lcrc
is an ‘‘cxclusivc prcoccuparion in Gissing wirl rlc anxicrics ol moncy.
rlc miscry ol land-ro-mourl survival. rlc alscncc ol indcpcndcnr mcans
or a fixcd incomc.’’ 1lis prcoccuparion wirl rlc mundanc aspccrs ol lilc
scrvcs rlc purposc ol llocking Gissing’s claracrcrs lrom cvcr cnrcring rlc
posirion ol dcsiring suljccrs. lccausc. in Iamcson’s rcading. rlc novclisr
undcrsrands rlar any aclicvcd dcsirc or wisl is lound ro lc inaurlcnric in
an agc ol univcrsal commodificarion. wlilc ar rlc samc rimc ‘‘an aurlcn-
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T/. Lc·t Tu/.r.u/cr 155
riciry ar lcsr parlcric clings ro imagcs ol lailurc.’’
36
As a rcsulr. ‘‘rlc wlolc
sysrcm ol succcss and lailurc las lccn undcrmincd lrom rlc ourscr ly a
narrarivc srrarcgy wlicl may rlus lc rcad as somcrling likc rlc final lorm
ol r.··.ntim.nt irscll.’’
37
¡nsrcad ol a lourgcois ‘‘commodiry dcsirc.’’ rlc
modcrn narion-srarc is now clallcngcd ly Ba Iin’s novcl as rlc dominanr
sysrcm ol succcss and lailurc.
Wcnxuan’s lailurc and r.··.ntim.nt, in rlc final analysis. arc incvirallc
nor so mucl lccausc ol rlc sovcrcignry ol rlc narion-srarc now lrouglr
inro crisis ly impcrialisr aggrcssion. as lccausc ol lis consrirurion as a
modcrn suljccr in rlc rradirion ol lilcral individualism. 1lrouglour rlc
novcl. rlc narraror rcpcarcdly olscrvcs rlar. alrlougl rlcy oncc slarcd
rlc samc yourllul idcals and visions. Wcnxuan and Sluslcng sccm ro lc-
long ro rwo diffcrcnr lisrorical agcs and arc no longcr conrcmporarics
(so. :s, ¡8o. ¡oo). Sluslcng’s succcss is also lcr pcrsonal lailurc. nor only
in rlar lcr idcalism las ro lc compromiscd. lur also lccausc wlcn slc
comcs lack ro Clongqing ar rlc cnd ol rlc war and finds no onc lur
lormcr ncigllors living in wlar uscd ro lc lcr lomc. slc las ro lacc rlc
cmprincss ol lcr survival and succcss. Slc is rlc loncly survivor. wlicl
rrurllully rcflccrs lcr individualisric rclusal ro lc lurdcncd ly any arracl-
mcnrs. lc rlcy lamilial or scnrimcnral. ¡cr srory. jusr likc rlar ol Mary in
Ðing ¡ing’s S/cna/ci, Strina rc:c, is rlc onc ro lc conrinucd and lurrlcr
ncgoriarcd.
Wcnxuan’s lailurc. convcrscly. succccds in rcvcaling rlc incongruiry lc-
rwccn idcological claims upon rlc individual suljccr and irs acrual condi-
rion ol cxisrcncc. 1lc diffcrcnr pcriods rlar Wcnxuan and Sluslcng sccm
ro occupy. rlcrclorc. arc acrually rwo rclarcd aspccrs ol rlc samc modcrn
discoursc ol lilcral individualism. ¡cncc. rlc imporrancc ol rlcir slarcd
lilcral cducarion and spirirual gcncalogy. ¡rom irs inccprion. as Wcndy
Brown las argucd mosr succincrly. modcrn lilcralism conrains a ‘‘gcncral
incircmcnr’’ ro a Þicrzsclcan r.··.ntim.nt among all lilcrarcd and lilcral
suljccrs.
¡r is nor only rlc rcnsion lcrwccn lrccdom and cqualiry lur rlc prior prc-
sumprion ol rlc scll-rclianr and scll-madc capacirics ol lilcral suljccrs. con-
:o. Iamcson. ‘‘Aurlcnric Fcsscnrimcnr. Gcncric Ðisconrinuirics and ¡dcologcmcs
in rlc ‘Ixpcrimcnral’ Þovcls ol Gcorgc Gissing.’’ in lis Ps/iti.c/ Un.sn·.isu·, io|.
:¬. ¡lid.. ios.
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joincd wirl rlcir unavowcd dcpcndcncc on and consrrucrion ly a varicry
ol social rclarions and lorccs. wlicl makcs c// lilcral suljccrs. and nor only
markcdly discnlrancliscd oncs. vulncrallc ro r.··.ntim.nt. ir is rlcir siru-
arcdncss wirlin powcr. rlcir producrion ly powcr. and lilcral discoursc’s
dcnial ol rlis siruarcdncss and producrion. wlicl casrs rlc lilcral suljccr
inro lailurc. rlc lailurc ro makc irscll in rlc conrcxr ol a discoursc in wlicl
irs scll-making is assumcd. indccd. is irs assumcd narurc.
38
Wcnxuan’s rulcrculosis. lis masoclism. and ulrimarcly lis dcarl all
makc ir impossillc lor lim nor ro lc awarc ol lis own siruarcdncss. ol
rlc disrancc lcrwccn lis consumprivc lody and rlc producrion ol lim
as a modcrn suljccr. ¡is arraclmcnrs ro rlc modcrn discoursc ol lilcral
individualism. jusr likc lis arraclmcnrs ro rlc rwo womcn in lis lilc. arc
indccd morrally woundcd. ¡aunrcd ly dcarl and wirl lis cncrgy dc-
plcrcd. Wcnxuan knows rlar lc would rarlcr nor go on living. ‘‘lur no
onc would allow lim ro givc up’’ (i:o, ¡:i). ¡c las ro dic a mosr cx-
cruciaring dcarl ar rlc momcnr wlcn rlc war cnds and rlc cnrirc ciry is
our cclclraring a lollow narional vicrory. 1lis momcnr ol julilarion is
wrouglr wirl amliguiry insolar as ir also rcgisrcrs rlc masoclisr’s final
vcngcancc in lis accusarory dcarl. 1lc csscncc and rlc aim ol masocl-
ism as a culrural mcraplor. as 1lcodor Fcik oncc commcnrcd. is ‘‘vicrory
rlrougl dclcar.’’
39
1lc Ðcarl ol rlc ¡asr 1ulcrcular
Þcvcrrlclcss. dcarl provcs ro lc mucl roo grcar a rcrror lor Wcnxuan.
no marrcr low lard lc rrics ro arracl limscll ro orlcrs as an inlanr. ro
lis inncr scll and lanrasics. or cvcn ro rlc narion as a causc. 1lc vision ol
lis dccomposing lody drivcs lomc rlc rcalizarion rlar lc will lacc dcarl
all ly limscll and rlar no rcdcmprivc sysrcm ol mcaning could sparc lim
rlc visccral lcar and cxisrcnrial dcspair rlar lc cxpcricnccs alonc.
40
¡n lis
:8. Wcndy Brown. ‘‘Woundcd Arraclmcnrs. ¡arc Modcrn Òpposirional ¡olirical
¡ormarions.’’ in T/. I!.ntitv in Ou.·tisn, cd. Ioln Fajclman (Þcw York. Fourlcdgc.
¡oos). i¡|.
:o. Fcik. ‘‘\icrory 1lrougl Ðclcar.’’ Ac·s./i·m in As!.rn Acn, |i¬–::.
|o. 1lc lollowing dcscrilcs a lricl pcriod wlcn Wcnxuan’s discasc was apparcnrly
sralilizcd and lis lilc wirl lis morlcr madc rourinc. lur lc also kncw rlar lc was
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T/. Lc·t Tu/.r.u/cr 157
dcarl. rlcrclorc. ir is rlc complcrc lailurc ro sullimarc rlc individual’s
pain rlar lccomcs rlc ccnrral issuc. and rlc validiry ol rlc moral ccon-
omy is lrouglr inro qucsrion. ‘‘Wlcn lc finally cxpircd. lis cycs wcrc
lall closcd. slowing rlcir wlircs. and lis mourl widc opcn. as il lc wcrc
srill dcmanding ‘jusricc’ lrom somconc. ¡r was alour ciglr o’clock in rlc
cvcning. Òur on rlc srrccrs was rlc llaring sound ol gongs and drums.
¡coplc wcrc cclclraring vicrory. aiming firccrackcrs ar a gianr dancing
dragon’’ (i8s, ¡oo).
1lc insularion ol rlc dcarlly insidc lromrlc lcsrivc oursidc. ol rlc indi-
vidual lrom rlc collccrivc. is unmisrakallc. Wcnxuan’s dcarl rranslorms
rlc psyclic dcprls ol an individual. wlicl rlc novcl cxplorcs wirl grcar
paricncc. inro a largcr and morc univcrsal qucsrion ol social mcaning and
jusricc. 1lc sympromarology ol rlc novcl. in orlcr words. givcs way ro
an criological analysis. wlicl cxplicirly acknowlcdgcs rlc dcsirc lor curc
and salvarion. 1lc moral discoursc rlar undcrlics rlc novcl finally makcs
irscll audillc and unavoidallc.
¡n lacr. rwo orlcr dcarls dirccrly dcscrilcd in rlc novcl sccm ro poinr
ro rlc samc dirccrion ol social criricism. Wlcn Wcnxuan’s scloolmarc
1ang Baiqing. alrcr somc lcavy drinking onc niglr. rlrows limscll in
lronr ol a roaring rruck. lc las lirrcrly llamcd socicry lor lailing lim
and lis yourllul aspirarions (oo–¡oo, so–so). 1ang Baiqing’s disillusion-
mcnr wirl lilc and sulscqucnr suicidc. inirially rriggcrcd ly lis young
wilc’s dcarl ar clildlirrl. cpiromizc rlc urrcr dcspair and vulncraliliry
ol a gcncrarion ol cducarcd Clincsc. wlo lound rlcir May ¡ourrl opri-
misric idcals conrinually lcrraycd and cruslcd ly war. ly povcrry. and
ly dcarl as rlc ulrimarc unrcason. 1lc sccond dcarl. rlar ol Òld Zlong.
an oldcr. larlcrlikc collcaguc ol Wcnxuan’s. occurs wlcn rlc ourlrcak ol
clolcra claims as irs casualrics numcrous individual livcs in rlc ciry. ¡is
alrupr dcarl morc locally cxposcs rlc lailurc ol socicry ro luncrion and
prorccr irs mcmlcrs. ¡n rlc pcrluncrory lurial ol Òld Zlong. Wcnxuan
slowly approacling dcarl. ‘‘ ‘Wlar clsc can ¡ do orlcr rlan car. slccp. and lc sick·’ ¡c
askcd limscll consranrly. ¡orcvcr unallc ro comc up wirl an answcr. lc gavc up rlink-
ing alour ir wirl a wry smilc ol dcspair. Òncc lc sccmcd ro find an answcr. 1lc drcad-
lul word ‘dcarl’ scnr cold slivcrs down lis spinc and madc lim sluddcr. ¡c lcgan ro
scc lis own lody rorring. wirl worms crawling all ovcr ir. ¡or many days rlcrcalrcr
lc did nor darc ro lcr lis imaginarion wandcr again. ¡is morlcr could nor comlorr
lim. rlis was lis sccrcr. Þor could lis wilc givc lim any morc solacc. alrlougl slc
kcpr scnding lim lricl norcs (ar lcasr oncc a wcck)’’ (ii¬–i8, ¡:o–:¡).
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158 C/in.·. As!.rn
sccs lorl lis lururc and rlc social implicarions ol lis own larc (i¬¡–¬:,
¡s¬–s8).
1lcsc rwo dcarls. rogcrlcr wirl rlc prolongcd and acurcly cxpcri-
cnccd dcarl ol rlc proragonisr. inrroducc ro moral discoursc anorlcr rc-
larcd issuc. rlc qucsrion ol rcrrilurion. All ol rlc main claracrcrs in rlc
novcl ask. onc way or anorlcr. rlc impossillc qucsrion ‘‘Wly do wc dc-
scrvc ro suffcr·’’ Wlcn rlc morlcr cxprcsscd lrusrrarion ar rlc miscry
ol lilc during rlc war. Wcnxuan rcasoncd. ‘‘Wc lavc ncvcr rollcd or
srolcn lrom anyonc. Þcvcr lurr anyonc cirlcr. Wly slouldn’r wc con-
rinuc living·’’ (8¡, |¬). ¡arcr. wlcn Wcnxuan was rlc onc wlo indicarcd
rlar lc miglr as wcll dic ro savc all rlc rroullc. lis morlcr counrcrcd
wirl rlc samc rcasoning. ‘‘Srop rlinking likc rlar. Wc lavc ncvcr srolcn.
rollcd. murdcrcd. or donc anyrling unjusr ro orlcrs. Wly slouldn’r wc
livc·’’ (¡ss, 8o). Wirl rlc samc lclicl in a scnsillc moral cconomy. Slu-
slcng would ask Wcnxuan ro undcrsrand lcr dccision ro pursuc lcr own
lappincss. ‘‘¡iving in an agc and a lilc likc ours. ¡. as a woman. lavc ncvcr
lurr anyonc or donc anyrling wickcd. and ycr wlar could ¡ do·’’ (i|i,
¡:o). ¡n cacl ol rlcsc cascs. rcrrilurion or jusricc is ncvcr ol a cosmic
ordcr, rarlcr. ir is a principlc dccply cmlcddcd in a vision ol jusricc lor
rlc luman world. ¡r is as prorcsr againsr rlc lankruprcy ol sucl principlcs
and moral cconomy rlar Wcnxuan’s dcarl acquircs social pcrrincncc and
rcvclarory lorcc.
Wirl lis final gcsrurc ol voicclcss accusarion. Wcnxuan also dics as rlc
lasr rulcrcular in modcrn Clincsc lircrarurc. ¡is agonizing dcarl simul-
rancously culminarcs and purs an cnd ro a long rradirion ol using rulcr-
culosis as a mcraplor lor an cnlccllcd narion. a lcniglrcd populacc. an
individual’s cxisrcnrial angsr. or a conrinually rlwarrcd scnsirivc mind.
¡rom ¡u Xun’s lony ¡irrlc Sluan (‘‘Mcdicinc’’) ro Yu Ðalu’s ailing and
nosralgic wrircr (‘‘Bluc Smokc’’) ro Ðing ¡ing’s willlul Soplia (‘‘Miss
Soplia’s Ðiary’’). rlc rulcrculous individual in Clincsc lircrarurc las
always lccn a symprom ol a dccpcr malaisc. ¡ircrary rcprcscnrarions ol
sickncss or plysical dclormiry invarially cxprcss an undcrsrandallc dcsirc
lor social criology and rranslormarion. 1lc dcvclopmcnr lrom an cxprcs-
sivc sympromarology ro a morc comprclcnsivc and mcrlodical discoursc
ol criology sccms ro lc incvirallc. Ar rlc origin ol modcrn Clincsc lir-
crarurc. ¡u Xun’s conccprion ol lircrarurc as a mcdicinal discoursc provcd
ro lc paradigmaric and lar-rcacling. Similar poliricizarion (in lacr mcdi-
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T/. Lc·t Tu/.r.u/cr 159
calizarion) ol lircrary pracricc also occurrcd in Mciji Iapan wlcn. as Kara-
rani Kojin suggcsrs. rlc succcsslul insrirurionalizarion ol modcrnWcsrcrn
mcdicinc and rlc narion-srarc madc ir ncccssary ro rcprcscnr suljccrivc
inrcrioriry on rlc onc land. and ro dcpicr socicry ‘‘as ailing and in nccd
ol a lundamcnral curc.’’ on rlc orlcr.
41
Ividcnrly. rlc modcrniry ol all sucl lircrary rcprcscnrarions ol discasc
is groundcd in rlc lclicl. implicir or cxplicir. rlar a curc can and slould
lc aclicvcd rlrougl social cnginccring. Wc cannor afford ro gloss ovcr
rlc uropianism in rlc longing lor a lcalrly and carclrcc luman cxisrcncc.
cvcn rlougl wc also lavc ro rccognizc wlar Kararani Kojin dcscrilcs as
rlc ‘‘pcrnicious’’ narurc ol sucl a sysrcmaric cradicarion ol discasc. 1lc
modcrn ‘‘miragc ol lcalrl’’ consrirurcs a sccular lorm ol rlcology. ac-
cording ro Kararani Kojin. ‘‘wlicl sccs rlc causc ol illncss as cvil and
sccks ro climinarc rlar cvil. 1lougl ir las climinarcd various sorrs ol
‘mcaning’ wlicl rcvolvc around illncss. scicnrific mcdicinc is irscll con-
rrollcd ly a ‘mcaning’ wlosc narurc is cvcn morc pcrnicious.’’
42
1lc disappcarancc ol a sick anrilcro in modcrn Clincsc lircrarurc alrcr
Ba Iin’s Cs/! Nia/t· is rlcrclorc no lisrorical accidcnr lur an ovcrdcrcr-
mincd cvcnr rlar radiarcs mulriplc significarions. 1lc rcmoval ol a sick
lody lrom lircrary discoursc indicarcs a paradigmaric slilr. rlrougl
wlicl rlc locus ol lircrary rcprcscnrarion sclcmarically clangcs lrom rlc
individual ro rlc collccrivc. lrom rlc inrcrior ro rlc cxrcrior. lrom rlc
conrcmplarivc ro rlc acrivc. ¡nsrcad ol an individual passivcly conrcm-
plaring lis pain and suffcring lisrory as a lcrrayal ol wlar lc is promiscd.
a collccrivc suljccr is now lclicvcd ro lc acrivcly rranslorming rlc coursc
ol lisrory. Sucl is rlc lundamcnral logic ol socialisr rcalism. lor wlicl
sickncss can lc only a polirical allcgory rarlcr rlan a lormol conccnrrarcd
cxpcricncc ol individualiry. 1lc alscncc ol individualizcd cxpcricncc ol
pain rlus mcraplorically lcspcaks rlc dcarl ol rlc individual. ¡or rlc
collccrivc lody is ncvcr ill and is always oprimisric. 1lis vision ol social
lcalrl and lappincss inluscd Ba Iin. rcjoicing in rlc srill young ¡coplc’s
Fcpullic. wirl oprimism alour rlc ncw socialisr rcgimc and compcllcd
lim ro srrcss rlc lisrorical spccificiry. or ourmodcdncss. ol lis wriring.
|¡. Kararani Kojin. ‘‘Sickncss as Mcaning.’’ in lis Oriain· s/ As!.rn }ctcn.·. Lit.rc-
tur., rranslarion cd. ly Brcrr dc Bary (Ðurlam. Þ.C.. Ðukc \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡oo:).
¡¡¡. Scc also ‘‘1lc Ðiscovcry ol ¡nrcrioriry.’’ |s–¬¬.
|i. Kararani. ‘‘Sickncss as Mcaning.’’ ¡o8.
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160 C/in.·. As!.rn
¡ oncc curscd rlc old socicry wirl sucl parlos. and cricd our againsr injus-
ricc on lclall ol rlosc individuals. Þow in grcar lappincss and julilarion
¡ sing praisc ol our ncw socicry rising likc rlc morning sun. . . . Consranr
progrcss in scicncc and our supcrior social sysrcm lavc conqucrcd rulcrcu-
losis. ¡r no longcr causcs mucl lcar among us. ¡ rcad Cs/! Nia/t· in rlc lasr
rwo days again and lclr likc laving lad a niglrmarc. lur sucl niglrmarcs
arc gonc and arc gonc lorcvcr.
43
Ba Iin’s rcrcading ol lis novcl in ¡oo¡. cvcn lis rcrcading ol rlis rcrcading
in ¡o8¡. was largcly inspircd ly rlc lopc rlar rlc individual lody would
lc always slclrcrcd lrom unccrrainry and rrauma. ¡or rlis rcason. rlc au-
rlor las insisrcd rlar rlc novcl is a look lull ol lopc rarlcr rlan dcspair.
and rlar irs main poinr is ro criricizc and dcnouncc a dying socicry.
44
1lc dcarl ol rlc lasr rulcrcular. Wang Wcnxuan. rlus lisrorically ac-
companics rlc cnd ol rlc lilcral idcology ol rlc srarc and ol irs rorrurcd
rclarionslip ro individual suljccrs. 1lc r.··.ntim.nt ro wlicl all lilcral
suljccrs arc incvirally incircd also comcs ro an cnd wlcn rlc scll-making
ol rlc individual is no longcr rlc issuc in rlc socialisr rcgimc. 1lc ncw
lcro. lrcc ol discasc and inrcrioriry. will arrcsr ro rlc succcss ol sullima-
rion rlrougl parriciparion in a narional idcnriry and rlc socialisr projccr
ol consrrucrion. Sucl sullimarion. as wc lavc suggcsrcd in our rcading ol
Ðing ¡ing. is lascd on a consranr poliricizarion ol rlc lody. Wlilc rlcrc
is no sick lody anymorc. rlc luman lody is suljccrcd ro dirccr inscrip-
rion ol social mcaning. ¡r is a signilying lody ro rlc cxrcnr rlar ir las ro
rcmain posirivcly clargcd and cxrcrnalizcd as parr ol an imaginary social
lody ol plcnirudc. Sucl is rlc condirion lor sullimarion. rlrougl wlicl
rlc individual’s lcar ol dcarl is allcviarcd lccausc rlc individual lody is.
in lacr. dissolvcd. ¡n rlc cnd sucl a sullimarional mcclanism may provc
roo mucl ro imposc. lccausc cvcn il rlc luman lody is no longcr capallc
ol pain. ir is srill susccprillc. in rlc cnd. ro dcarl.
|:. Ba Iin. ‘‘1an Hcnv.’’ (Òn Cs/! nia/t·). in Cs//..t.! Isr/· s/ Bc }in, ¡|.||8.
||. Scc Ba Iin. ‘‘Guanyu Hcnv.’’ (Alour Cs/! nia/t·). in C/ucnacus /uivi /u (Fcmi-
nisccnccs alour my wriring) (¡ong Kong. Ioinr ¡ullisling. ¡o8¡). cxccrprcd in Bc }in
vcniiu ci/ics (Fcscarcl marcrials on Ba Iin). cd. ¡i Cunguang (¡uzlou. ¡aixia wcnyi.
¡o8s). ¡.s:¬–|s. Ðuring rlc larc ¡osos and carly ¡ooos. Ba Iin was criricizcd lor laving
crcarcd sucl a pirilul claracrcr and giving rcadcrs no lopc in Cs/! Nia/t·. A rcprcscn-
rarivc cxprcssion ol sucl criricism. cvcn rlougl ir is cnormously symparlcric. can lc
lound in Yu Simu. Zusiic Bc }in (Òn rlc wrircr Ba Iin) (¡ong Kong. Þanguo. ¡oo|).
csp. i¬s–¬o.
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5
1lc ¡yrical Agc and ¡rs Ðisconrcnrs.
Òn rlc Sraging ol Socialisr Þcw Clina in
T/. Tsuna G.n.rctisn
Ònly ly radically rcmoulding rlc rcacling. organisarion and rraining
ol rlc yourl slall wc lc allc ro cnsurc rlar rlc cfforrs ol rlc youngcr
gcncrarion will rcsulr in rlc crcarion ol a communisr socicry.
—\. ¡. ¡cnin. ‘‘1lc 1asks ol rlc Yourl ¡cagucs’’ (¡oio)
¡n lindsiglr. ir was nor our ol a pcrsonal wlim rlar. in Ðcccmlcr ¡oo:.
Clairman Mao dccidcd ro pullisl rcn morc ol lis classical-srylc pocms.
all ol wlicl wcrc rlcn promincnrly pullicizcd in T/. P.st/.’· Dci/v on
| Ianuary ¡oo| as parr ol rlc rirualizcd narional salurarion ro rlc ncw
ycar. 1lc majoriry ol rlcsc ncwly rclcascd works lad lccn composcd
alrcr ¡oso. cxccpr lor onc rlar was wrirrcn in April ¡o|o ro commcmorarc
rlc rriumplanr caprurc ol Þanjing. capiral ol rlc Fcpullic ol Clina. ly
rlc ¡coplc’s ¡ilcrarion Army. ¡n rlc ccnrrally conrrollcd symlolic ma-
clincry ol rlc socialisr ¡coplc’s Fcpullic. wlicl was soon ro cclclrarc
irs filrccnrl annivcrsary. sucl an official issuing ol Mao Zcdong’s pocrry
was carclully dcsigncd ro spccd up rlc producrion ol polirical inccnrivcs
and cncrgy. ¡n irs wakc. prolusc cxcgcscs and cclclrarions would lollow.
clcvaring rlc pocr’s voicc and vision inro rlc sourcc ol univcrsal inspi-
rarion. 1lc clliprical pocric rcxrs would olrcn lc cxpoundcd on as ap-
plicallc policics. concrcrc cxlorrarions. and cvcnrually as plilosoplical
vcrirics. 1lc lasr couplcr ol Mao’s ¡oo¡ ‘‘Fcply ro a ¡ricnd.’’ lor insrancc.
consisrs ol lourrccn claracrcrs in rlc original. ‘‘And ¡ am losr in drcams.
unrrammclcd drcams } Òl rlc land ol liliscus glowing in rlc morning
sun.’’
1
Wlcn Guo Moruo. rlc pocr laurcarc ol rlc srarc ar rlc rimc. prol-
¡. T.n Asr. Ps.m· s/ Acs T·.-tuna (¡ong Kong. Iasrcrn ¡orizon ¡rcss. ¡oo¬).
¡o–¡¡. 1lc rranslarion lcrc was adoprcd lrom rlc official journal C/in.·. Lit.rctur.,
pullislcd ly ¡cking ¡orcign ¡anguagcs ¡rcss. May ¡ooo.
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164 C/in.·. As!.rn
lcrcd lis inrcrprcrarion. rlc radianr ‘‘land ol liliscus’’ lccamc morc rlan
a rimc-lonorcd praisc ol rlc sourlcrn landscapc. ¡r now rcflccrcd rlc
glorious lururc ol socialisr Clina and. ly cxrcnsion. ol rlc cnrirc glolc ro
lc lriglrcncd ly an impcnding world rcvolurion.
2
Sucl oprimisric confidcncc sccmcd prcciscly wlar rlc ncw pocms wcrc
inrcndcd ro rcgcncrarc in rlc narion. ¡n lacr. rlc pullicarion ol rlis group
ol pocric works ly Mao markcd rlc lciglr ol wlar lircrary crirics lavc
comc ro dcscrilc as rlc ‘‘cxprcssivc’’ or ‘‘lyrical agc’’ (·/u;ina ·/i!ci ) in
modcrn Clina.
3
1lc onscr ol rlis dccply romanric pcriod was convc-
nicnrly darcd. in Ianuary ¡os¬. ly rlc inaugurarion ol a govcrnmcnr-
sponsorcd journal. S/i/cn (¡ocrry). wlicl grandly inrroduccd irscll ly
pullisling ciglrccn ol Mao’s carlicr pocms. 1lis cvcnr lurrlcr wcldcd
rlc sysrcmaric producrion ol pocrry in Þcw Clina wirl Mao Zcdong’s
rcvolurionary pocrics ol magnificcncc.
4
¡n rlc samc winrcr. an upsurgc
in rlc socialisr rcvolurion lad rcporrcdly lrouglr alour advanccd col-
lccrivizarion in rlc Clincsc counrrysidc. and rlc socialisr rranslormarion
ol socicry ar largc lad also lccn accomplislcd ar a luriously lasrcr pacc
rlan cxpccrcd or planncd. Wirl rlc launcling ol rlc amlirious sccond
¡ivc Ycar ¡lan (¡os¬–oi). rlc young ¡coplc’s Fcpullic dcclarcd irscll ar a
ncw sragc ol pcacclul consrrucrion. 1lc srrarcgic oljccrivc was ro rapidly
modcrnizc rlc counrry and ro dcmonsrrarc rlc supcrioriry ol socialism
ly carcling up wirl Ingland and surpassing rlc \nircd Srarcs in rlc
slorrcsr rimc possillc. ¡or a lricl pcriod. rlc immincncc ol a socialisr
paradisc cnrlrallcd rlc popular imaginarion and cxcircd many a uropian
i. Scc Guo Moruo. ‘‘ ‘¡urongguo li jin zlaolui’. du Mao zluxi xin laliao dc slici
‘Ða yourcn’ ’’ (‘‘1lc land ol liliscus glowing in rlc morning sun’’. rcading Clairman
Mao’s ncwly pullislcd pocm ‘‘Fcply ro a lricnd’’). P.st/.’· Dci/v, ¡o May ¡oo|.
:. Scc ¡i Yang. Kcnac/.na ·umina c/i /u. ·/./ui c/uvi xicn·/i c/uvi (rc;z–rc~e) vcniiu
(1lc parl ol rcsisring dcsriny. a srudy ol socialisr rcalism [¡o|i–¡o¬o|) (Clangclun.
Slidai wcnyi. ¡oo:). csp. ¡|s–oi. Also scc Zlang Gcng’s asscssmcnr ol dramaric works
lrom rlis pcriod in lis inrroducrion ro rlc officially sancrioncd Z/snaaus xin m.nvi
!cxi, rc;c–rcee. xiiu ii (Compcndium ol ncw Clincsc arrs and lircrarurc. ¡o|o–¡ooo.
rlc drama collccrion). i vols.. cd. Zlang Gcng (Bcijing. Zlongguo wcnlian. ¡oo¡).
csp. ¡.o–¬. 1lc play Nicn;ina !. vi!ci (1lc young gcncrarion) rlar is discusscd larcr
is collccrcd lcrc. ¡.8os–|o.
|. Scc Zlang Iiong. ‘‘Mao Zcdong yu xin Zlongguo sligc’’ (Mao Zcdong and
pocrry in ncwClina). Dcna!ci cusiic tina/un (Fcvicwol conrcmporary wrircrs). no. o
(¡oo:). |–¡i. Mao’s cxulcranr idcalism and romanricism. according ro rlc aurlor. lad
a dccp impacr on pocric discoursc during rlc carly ycars ol rlc ¡coplc’s Fcpullic.
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T/. Lvri.c/ ³a. cn! It· Di·.snt.nt· 165
lanrasy. ¡r was apparcnrly an agc ol grcar passion and cxpccrarions. an
agc in wlicl rlc loldcsr drcams alour luman lappincss wcrc collccrivcly
drcamcd. and rlc mosr ordinary momcnrs in lilc gloriously pocricizcd. ¡n
April ¡os8 a mass campaign ro collccr ncw lolklorc was undcr way. cnrlu-
siasrically cndorscd ly Mao Zcdong limscll. wlo poinrcd our rlar ncw
Clincsc pocrry would flourisl wlcn workcrs in rlc ficld ol pocrry firsr
drcwon a narivc rradirion and. morc imporranrly. comlincd rcalism wirl
romanricism.
5
Soon alrcr. rlc lormula ol ‘‘dialccrically lringing rogcrlcr
rcvolurionary rcalism and rcvolurionary romanricism’’ was rlcorcrically
prcscnrcd as rlc solc viallc mcrlod ol lircrary producrion lor rlc grcar.
rlapsodic socialisr cpocl.
6
¡or rlis ncw lircrary srylc. Clairman Mao’s
pocrry. wlicl consisrcnrly ‘‘arricularcs a sullimc lcroics.’’
7
alrcady pro-
vidcd a lrillianr cxamplc.
1lc cuploric lyrical agc. according ro rlc criric ¡i Yang. lccamc lis-
rorically possillc wlcn rlc unprcccdcnrcd socialisr rranslormarion ol
socicry allowcd a gcnuincly narional suljccr ro cmcrgc and rakc ccnrcr
sragc. Ònly alrcr rlc ¡coplc’s Fcpullic lad consolidarcd irscll as a mod-
crn narion-srarc. ‘‘only alrcr wc lad lound our suljccriviry as Clincsc.
could wc lcgin lisrorical crcarion and rurn inro a lyrical suljccr.’’
8
1lc
dcfining lcarurc ol rlis lyricism. lrom rlc mid-¡osos ro rlc cvc ol rlc
Culrural Fcvolurion in ¡ooo. was irs lcrvcnr cclclrarion ol rlc populisr
idcnriry ol rlc narion. Wlar cnallcd rlc lyrical suljccr ro cmorc and rlap-
sodizc was rlc joy ol dirccr parriciparion in a collccrivc lilc and narional
dcsriny.
9
1lis lclicl in immcdiarc acccss ro crcrnal rcjuvcnarion would
in rurn lclp cnlivcn cvcryday lilc wirl mcraplysical cxpccrarions and rc-
vcal glolal significancc in all mundanc dcrails. Þcgarcd in onc srrokc.
rlcrclorc. wcrc rlc prosc ol rlc world and individual finircncss and un-
ccrrainry. Appropriarc lor a culrurc ol lyrical cxulcrancc and rransccn-
s. Scc cdirorial. ‘‘Ða guimo dc slouji quanguo min’gc’’ (Collccr lolklorc in rlc
counrry on a largc scalc). P.st/.’· Dci/v, ¡| April ¡os8.
o. Scc Zlou Yang. ‘‘Xin mingc kairuo lc sligc dc xin daolu’’ (Þcw lolklorc las
lroadcncd a ncw parl lor pocrry). Hsna;i (Fcd flag). no. ¡ (Iunc ¡os8). ::–:8.
¬. Ban Wang. T/. Su//im. Fiaur. s/ Hi·tsrv. ³.·t/.ti.· cn! Ps/iti.· in Tm.nti.t/-
C.nturv C/inc (Sranlord. Calil.. Sranlord \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡oo¬). ¡88. Scc pp. ¡88–
o: ol Ban Wang’s look lor an insiglrlul rcading ol rlc symlolic significancc ol Mao
Zcdong’s pocric discoursc.
8. ¡i Yang. T/. Pct/ s/ B.·i·tina D.·tinv, ¡s8.
o. Scc ilid.. ¡oo.
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166 C/in.·. As!.rn
dcncc. pocric vision would invarially prcvail ovcr narrarivc rcmporaliry.
and pocric dicrion and imagcry offcrcd rlc masrcr mcdium ol cxprcssion
and communicarion. Morc rlan acsrlcricizing polirics alonc. ir was a rri-
umplanr momcnr ol acsrlcricizing cvcryday lilc in rlc socialisr modc.
‘‘Iusr as Clairman Mao is a srarcsman-pocr.’’ as Ban Wang poinrs our.
‘‘rlc parry-srarc is an acsrlcric srarc.’’
10
1lc narionally incircd urgc ro cnacr a pocric lilc was prolally mosr
olscrvallc in modcrn spokcn drama (/uciu). wlcrc lrom ¡ooi rlrougl
¡oos a scrics ol plays alour cirlcr conrcmporary lilc or rlc rcvolurionary
lcriragc wcrc carclully dcvclopcd and produccd ro aclicvc narional im-
pacr. 1lc sraging ol rlc narion in rlc lorm ol rlcarrical spccraclc was a
purposclul cnrcrprisc and a plcnomcnal succcss. 1lc aclicvcmcnrs wcrc
so momcnrous rlar in Marcl ¡oo| rlc Minisrry ol Culrurc lcld an award
ccrcmony. lor rlc firsr rimc cvcr. ro commcnd somc rwcnry plays and
producrions ol modcrn drama in rlc prcvious ycar. As il ro lcar wirncss
ro asronisling progrcss on rlc idcological lronr. Clairman Mao. usually
accompanicd ly orlcr lcadcrs ol rlc narion. warclcd rlc producrion ol
rwclvc ncw plays lrom Augusr ¡oo: rlrougl Þovcmlcr ¡oo|.
11
Givcn
rlc promincncc ir cnjoycd. rlis cxrraordinary momcnr may wcll lc dc-
scrilcd as rlc goldcn agc in modcrn Clincsc drama. alrlougl ir also was
rlc lisrorical occasion rlar Iiang Qing. Mao’s wilc and a onc-rimc film
acrrcss. would scizc ro prcparc lor lcr own cnrry onro rlc narional poliri-
cal sragc. Ònc ol rlc prizcwinning plays rlar Mao did nor managc ro scc
during rlis pcriod was Nicn;ina !. vi!ci (1lc young gcncrarion). a lour-
acr modcrn drama originally produccd ly rlrcc Slanglai-lascd rlcarcr
groups in rlc summcr ol ¡oo:. ¡n Òcrolcr ol rlc samc ycar. Yao Wcn-
yuan. an cncrgcric lircrary criric wlo would larcr lc lirrcrly dcnounccd.
rogcrlcr wirl Iiang Qing. as a mcmlcr ol rlc inlamous ‘‘Gang ol ¡our.’’
pcnncd an cffusivc cssay ro clccr rlc larcsr larvcsr in rlc lurgconing ficld
ol modcrn drama. cxalring rlc play as ‘‘rlc song ol yourl in rlc agc ol
socialisr rcvolurion.’’
12
¡o. Ban Wang. T/. Su//im. Fiaur. s/ Hi·tsrv, ¡oi.
¡¡. Scc lcadlinc rcporrs in rlc govcrnmcnr-sponsorcd journal Xiiu /cs (Iournal ol
drama) lrom Augusr ¡oo: ro Ðcccmlcr ¡oo|.
¡i. Scc Yao Wcnyuan. ‘‘Slclui zluyi gcming slidai dc qingclun zli gc. ping Nicn-
;ina !. vi!ci ’’ (1lc song ol yourl in rlc agc ol socialisr rcvolurion. on T/. vsuna a.n-
.rctisn). I.nvi /cs (¡ircrary gazcrrc). no. :¡¡ (Òcrolcr ¡oo:). 8–¡s. Ònc ol rlc carlicsr
posirivc rcvicws ol rlc play. pullislcd in Iunc ¡oo:. alrcady rccognizcd irs rlcmaric
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T/. Lvri.c/ ³a. cn! It· Di·.snt.nt· 167
1lc laudcd socialisr song ol yourl is dcfinircly lyrical. and T/. Tsuna
G.n.rctisn rcads likc a good spccimcn ol rlc imaginarion and logic ol
rlar lygonc rimc. Wlar ¡ arrcmpr ro do in rlis claprcr is conducr an ar-
clacology ol rlc lyrical culrurc ly also uncovcring rlc dccp anxicry and
disconrcnrs rlar ir dcspcrarcly wislcd ro supprcss. 1lis cxcavarion projccr
rlcrclorc involvcs rlc carclul rask ol rcconsrrucring nor only wlar was
sragcd and visillc. lur also wlar dcrcrmincd rlc rlcarrical spccraclc and
rcprcscnrarion. 1lc anxicry. as mucl as rlc lyricismcmlcddcd in rlc play.
may srill lc alundanrly pcrrincnr. insolar as wc conrinuc ro find oursclvcs
conlronrcd wirl rlc samc dilcmmas ol modcrniry.
1lc ¡olirics ol ¡yricism
By onc conrcmporary accounr. T/. Tsuna G.n.rctisn may wcll lavc lccn
rlc mosr popular ol all rlc modcrn-srylc plays rccognizcd ly rlc Minis-
rry ol Culrurc in ¡oo|.
13
Wirlin lcss rlan rwo ycars ol irs firsr producrion.
a dcfinirivc vcrsion ol rlc play was pullislcd ly rlc Clincsc Ðrama ¡rcss
(wirl an inirial prinring ol i|.ooo copics). ¡n addirion ro rlc ncarly sixry
rlcarcrs across rlc narion rlar pur on rlc play. ir also was adaprcd inro
various rcgional opcra producrions and tcn.i pcrlormanccs. and finally ir
was madc inro a mucl-awaircd movic (figurc s). Òlviously irs quick as-
ccndancc ro rlc limcliglr on a narional scalc lorcsladowcd rlc parl rlar
would lc rakcn ly rlc ‘‘modcl rlcarcr’’ groomcd ly Iiang Qing during
rlc Culrural Fcvolurion. 1lc original aurlor ol rlc play. lowcvcr. rc-
maincd unusually rcriccnr during rlis cxciring rransmurarion. alrlougl
lc durilully wcnr rlrougl all rlc sragcs ol rcvision and adaprarion. ¡n
slarp conrrasr ro orlcr ncwly laurcarcd playwriglrs. Clcn Yun. as lar as
rimclincss. Scc Su Kun. ‘‘Yiclu yinrcn zlumu dc xinxi. jianlun ‘Þianqing dc yidai’
zluri dc xiansli yiyi’’ (An imporranr ncw play. on rlc conrcmporary mcaning ol rlc
rlcmc ol T/. vsuna a.n.rctisn). S/cna/ci xiiu (Slanglai drama). no. |s (Iunc ¡oo:).
¡|–¡o.
¡:. According ro rlc }surnc/ s/ Drcmc (no. ¡8| [April ¡oo||. :o–:¡). ly Marcl ¡oo|.
filry-ciglr rlcarcr groups lad pur on T/. Tsuna G.n.rctisn in rwcnry-scvcn cirics. com-
parcd ro filry-rlrcc lor Ni/sna !.naxic !. ·/cs/ina (Òn guard undcr rlc ncon liglrs).
lorry-somc lor Oicnmcn /uvcs mcnaii (Þcvcr lorgcr). and rwcnry-ciglr lor L.i F.na.
Ðuring Ðcccmlcr ¡oo: alonc. lorry-scvcn rlcarcrs wcrc playing T/. Tsuna G.n.rctisn.
¡n rlc samc monrl rlc play was also adoprcd inro scvcn diffcrcnr local opcras (¡cking.
Slanglai. Canron. crc.) rlar rogcrlcr pur on ¡ii producrions.
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168 C/in.·. As!.rn
s. ¡ilm posrcr. Nicn;ina !. vi!ci (1lc young gcncrarion)
(¡oo|). ¡rom Dcc/sna !icnvina (¡opular cincma) (Bcijing.
Iunc ¡oos).
onc can rcll. ncvcr offcrcd any plarirudinous srarcmcnrs alour lis moriva-
rion or inspirarion.
14
Amazingly lirrlc was madc known alour rlc wrircr
¡|. ¡or insrancc. rwo orlcr award-winning wrircrs. ¡u Wanclun and Cong Slcn.
did nor lcsirarc ro rcvcal ro rlc pullic cirlcr low rlcy wcrc inspircd ly Clairman
Mao’s rcaclings or wlar rlcy lcarncd lrom wriring rlc play. Scc ¡u Wanclun.
‘‘Cluxic luaju dc ganxiang’’ (1louglrs ar wriring modcrn drama lor rlc firsr rimc).
}surnc/ s/ Drcmc, no. ¡8| (April ¡oo|). is–io, Cong Slcn. ‘‘Oicnmcn /uvcs mcnaii
zluri dc xingclcng’’ (1lc lormarion ol rlc rlcmc ol N.v.r /sra.t). }surnc/ s/ Drcmc,
no. ¡8| (April ¡oo|). i¬–i8.
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T/. Lvri.c/ ³a. cn! It· Di·.snt.nt· 169
wlo lclpcd slapc rlc idcalisr profilc ol an cnrirc gcncrarion ol Clincsc
yourl.
¡rs ovcrwlclming populariry asidc. rlc play was ccrrainly rlc mosr in-
flucnrial and mosr paradigmaric ol rlc ncw drama on conrcmporary lilc.
1lc lcarcd discussion and plilosoplizing ir gcncrarcd almosr immcdi-
arcly alrcr irs dclur rcsrily ro rlc idcological nccd ir lulfillcd. Ònc ol
rlc carlicsr commcnrarics on T/. Tsuna G.n.rctisn wclcomcd ir lor irs
‘‘rlouglr-provoking rlcmc.’’ wlicl was ro rrcar rlc cducarion ol young
pcoplc as an inrcgral parr ol rlc conrinuing class srrugglc. domcsric as
wcll as inrcrnarional.
15
1ogcrlcr wirl scvcral orlcr prizcwinning plays.
T/. Tsuna G.n.rctisn raiscd and answcrcd ‘‘qucsrions wirl wlicl mil-
lions ol pcoplc arc conccrncd.’’ onc aurlorirarivc criric srarcd. All ol rlc
ncw plays. lcrrcr rlan any orlcr lircrary gcnrcs. lclpcd dcfinc and dra-
marizc rlc ‘‘major rlcmcs’’ ol rlc lisrorical siruarion. lur rlis work in
parricular ‘‘las nor only cxcircd counrlcss young pcoplc. lur also rouclcd
numcrous parcnrs.’’ Wlar ir pur lorrl ro rlc audicncc was rlcrclorc an
urgcnr qucsrion rlar lad ro lc addrcsscd scriously ly rlc cnrirc socicry.
‘‘low ro culrivarc and cducarc Communisr succcssors and low ro lcad
rlc young pcoplc onro rlc rcvolurionary road.’’
16
Anorlcr commcnraror
morc poinrcdly dirccrcd a rlcrorical qucsrion ro rlc rargcr group ol rlc
play. ‘‘Wlar is rlc mcaning ol rlc ‘young gcncrarion’· And wlar kind ol
‘young gcncrarion’ slould wc makc·’’
17
Ividcnrly ‘‘rlc young gcncrarion’’ was morc rlan an apr rirlc lor a
play alour cducaring rlc young. ¡r acknowlcdgcd a gravc social rcaliry.
namcly. rlc coming ol agc ol rlc gcncrarion rlar grcw up wirl rlc
¡s. Scc Wcn ¡ing. ‘‘¡arcn slcnsi dc zluri. du luaju Nicn;ina !. vi!ci ’’ (A rlouglr-
provoking rlcmc. a rcading ol rlc play T/. vsuna a.n.rctisn). }surnc/ s/ Drcmc, no.
¡¬o (Augusr ¡oo:). ii–i|. Òuyang Wcnlin in anorlcr cssay arrrilurcd rlc lorcclulncss
ol rlc play ro irs cdirorializing srylc and plilosoplical prolundiry. Scc lis ‘‘Nicn;ina !.
vi!ci qianlun’’ (A lricl cssay on T/. vsuna a.n.rctisn). S/cna/ci xiiu (Slanglai drama).
no. s¡ (Ðcccmlcr ¡oo:). s–¬.
¡o. Scc ¡ou Iinjing. ‘‘Guanxin lc riclu qianlaiwan qunzlong suo guanxin dc
wcnri. duju manran’’ (Þoricc and addrcss issucs rlar millions ol pcoplc arc conccrncd
wirl. rcmarks on rcccnr plays). }surnc/ s/ Drcmc, no. ¡8| (April ¡oo|). ¡o–i|.
¡¬. Scc Yang ¡ailo. ‘‘Ba gcming dc luoju ju dc gcnggao ranslao dc gcngwang’’
(Faisc liglcr rlc rcvolurionary rorcl and makc ir lurn lardcr). }surnc/ s/ Drcmc,
no. ¡¬8 (Òcrolcr ¡oo:). ¡–:. 1lc samc arriclc was rcprinrcd in rlc limonrlly Z/snaaus
;inanicn (Clincsc yourl). nos. i¡–ii (Òcrolcr ¡oo:). ¡s–¡¬. A lorum on T/. Tsuna
G.n.rctisn is lcarurcd in rlis comlincd issuc. including a lcngrly plor synopsis.
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170 C/in.·. As!.rn
¡coplc’s Fcpullic. By singling our rlis gcncrarion lor rlcarrical rrcar-
mcnr. in rurn. rlc play arricularcd a dccp uncasincss alour rlc idcnriry
and polirical oricnrarion ol conrcmporary yourl. ¡n rlis scnsc. rlc
‘‘rlouglr-provoking rlcmc’’ rlar T/. Tsuna G.n.rctisn inrroduccd was
acrually an inrcnsificd awarcncss ol yourl as a prollcm. ol rlc nccd
lor grcarcr social guidancc and polirical aurloriry. ¡r also iniriarcd a
ncw discoursc alour rlc lamily srrucrurc and cvcryday lilc during a scll-
consciously socialisr cra. Soon alrcr T/. Tsuna G.n.rctisn appcarcd in
Slanglai. a play callcd Z/u ni iicn/cna (1o your lcalrl) was produccd in
¡arlin. in norrlcasrcrn Clina, ir quickly lccamc rlc ncxr narional scn-
sarion and won rlc samc prizc as rlc prcvious play. alrlougl nor wirlour
a rcviscd. morc alarmisr rirlc. Oicnmcn /uvcs mcnaii (Þcvcr lorgcr).
18
¡n
addirion ro rlcsc rwo promincnr dramaric works. a movic was promprly
madc ro prcscnr and rcsolvc a similar lamily prollcm in wlicl a collcgc-
cducarcd youngcsr son is lumllcd and rauglr low ro rcspccr lis larlcr.
oldcr lrorlcr. and working-class lamily origins.
19
Òl all rlc sragc and filmic rcprcscnrarions ol rlc yourl qucsrion. low-
cvcr. ir is T/. Tsuna G.n.rctisn rlar rcmains rlc mosr lyrical and. as wc
will discuss. rlc mosr dramaric. ¡r was widcly praiscd lor irs prolound
dialogucs and pocric languagc. Ònc dirccror. lor insrancc. projccrcd rlc
arrisric srylc ol rlc play in rlcsc sclcmaric rcrms. ‘‘yourllul rcvolurion-
ary cnrlusiasm, lucid plilosoplical rlcorizing, a vigorous and rclrcsling
lasic ronc, lyricism in rlc srylc ol a pocric cssay.’’
20
Ònly sucl an im-
passioncd srylc ol lyrical pocrry. norcd rlc dirccror. would do jusricc ro
rlc crlos ol conrcmporary yourl and simulrancously rcflccr an uplilring
Zcirgcisr. Ycr rlc dirccror was also pcrlccrly awarc ol rlc graviry ol rlc
dramaric conflicr ar land. 1lc inrcndcd cffccr was ro compcl rlc audicncc
ro rlink ‘‘wlar arrirudc a rcvolurionary yourl slould lavc roward rlc
¡8. ¡or rlc firsr vcrsion ol rlc play. scc Cong Slcn. Z/u ni iicn/cna (1oyour lcalrl).
}u/.n (Scriprs). (Òcrolcr-Þovcmlcr ¡oo:). i–o:, scc also Cong Slcn. Oicnmcn /u-
vcs mcnaii (Þcvcr lorgcr) (Bcijing. Zlongguo xiju. ¡oo|). ¡or a crirical analysis ol
rlc play. scc Xiaoling 1ang. ‘‘Oicnmcn /uvcs mcnaii dc lisli yiyi. guanyu riclang
slcngluo dc jiaolu jiqi xiandaixing’’ (1lc lisrorical significancc ol N.v.r /sra.t. on rlc
anxicry ol cvcryday lilc and irs modcrniry). in Zci ii.!u, cd. 1ang Xiaoling (¡ong
Kong. Òxlord \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡oo:). ¡8|–os.
¡o. ¡or rlc scripr. scc ¡uWanclun and ¡u Claowu. }ictina m.nti (¡amily prollcm)
(Slanglai. Slanglai wcnlua. ¡oo|).
io. Scc Xu Xiaozlong. ‘‘Nicn;ina !. vi!ci daoyan zlaji’’ (Ðirccrorial norcs on T/.
vsuna a.n.rctisn). }surnc/ s/ Drcmc, no. ¡8i (¡clruary ¡oo|). :s–:o.
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T/. Lvri.c/ ³a. cn! It· Di·.snt.nt· 171
rcvolurionary causc. and low ro inlcrir rlc rcvolurionary rradirion and
carry on rlc causc.’’
21
1lc dirccror’s olscrvarions. rlcrclorc. slcd liglr
on rlc polirical dcsigns lclind rlc lyrical srylc. and rlcy rcvcal dirccr
connccrions lcrwccn a ligl-spirircd lyricism and a possillc lcgirimacy
crisis in rlc rcvolurion. ¡n rlis insrancc. lyricismlccomcs a rcclnical solu-
rion. a srrarcgy ol molilizarion rlar scrvcs ro cngagc and coordinarc rlc
young popularion. ¡r lclongs ro rlc modcrn rcclnology rlar rclcnrlcssly
acsrlcricizcs polirics and rlar programs popular scnrimcnr and irs grari-
ficarion in a mass socicry. 1lc lyrical suljccr. roo. is rlc crcarion ol wlar
¡ouis Alrlusscr calls rlc idcological srarc appararus rlar opcrarcs ro sys-
rcmarically inrcrpolarc rlc individual in an imaginary rclarionslip ro rlc
rcal condirion in wlicl lc or slc cxisrs.
22
Alrlougl. as wc lcarn lrom Alrlusscr. wlar consrirurcs rlc rcal condi-
rion ol cxisrcncc cannor always lc rcadily graspcd. rlc idcological lunc-
rion ol lyricism appcars morc and morc dclilcrarc wlcn wc rcalizc rlar
T/. Tsuna G.n.rctisn inrcrsccrcd wirl a numlcr ol lisrorical dcvclop-
mcnrs undcrpinning rlc lyrical agc. By ¡oo:. wlcn rlc play was firsr pur
on. rlc socialisr Þcw Clina lad wcarlcrcd a scrics ol scvcrc polirical
criscs. nor rlc lcasr among rlcm rlc disasrrous conscqucnccs ol rlc Grcar
¡cap ¡orward ol ¡os8 and rlc Sino-Sovicr splir. A morc dirccr clallcngc
lad comc alour cvcn carlicr in rlc rcsrlcss ¡oso–s¬ polirical scason. wlcn
urlan dwcllcrs and inrcllccruals. in parr lcsrirrcd ly rlc ¡oso ¡ungarian
uprising. madc rlcir disscnr and disconrcnr lcard. 1lc opposirion was
quickly supprcsscd as a ‘‘lourgcois riglrisr counrcrarrack’’ on rlc prolc-
rarian dicrarorslip. lur rlc ncccssiry ol conrinuously dccpcning rlc rcvo-
lurion in ordcr ro salcguard irs aclicvcmcnrs was lrouglr lomc. 1lc
lollowing massivc lailurc ol rlc Grcar ¡cap ¡orward lcd ro widcsprcad
laminc. and Mao Zcdong rlc visionary and lis ‘‘srorming approacl’’ wcrc
lorccd ro rlc sccond lronr.
23
Ycr wlilc lis uropian cconomics was dis-
crcdircd. Mao soon rcasscrrcd lis lcadcrslip on rlc idcological lronr ly
warning againsr a lappy olliviousncss ro rlc prorracrcd and ficrcc class
i¡. ¡lid.. :s.
ii. Scc ¡ouis Alrlusscr. ‘‘¡dcology and ¡dcological Srarc Appararuscs.’’ in lis L.nin
cn! P/i/s·st/v cn! Ot/.r L··cv·, rrans. Bcn Brcwsrcr (Þcw York. Monrlly Fcvicw
¡rcss. ¡o¬¡). ¡oi–os.
i:. Scc ¡owcll Ðirrmcr. C/inc’· Csntinusu· B.vs/utisn. T/. Ps·t-Li/.rctisn Lts./,
rc;c–rcsr (Bcrkclcy. \nivcrsiry ol Calilornia ¡rcss. ¡o8¬). lor a discussion ol rlc dil-
lcrcncc lcrwccn an ‘‘cnginccring’’ and a ‘‘srorming’’ approacl. csp. o–¡¡.
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172 C/in.·. As!.rn
srrugglc during rlc socialisr pcriod. ¡is conccrn was rlar rlc morc prag-
maric ‘‘cnginccring approacl’’ lad crcarcd ‘‘in a pcaccrimc conrcxr a ncw
rypc ol cadrc. wlosc narrow prolcssional}lurcaucraric inrcrcsrs causcd
onc ro losc siglr ol rlc rcvolurionary mission.’’
24
Fcmcmlcring rlc origi-
nal mission sulscqucnrly lccamc a kcy componcnr in polirical rcasoning
and discoursc.
Mao Zcdong’s dccp lcar lor rlc lururc ol rlc rcvolurion was also grcarly
compoundcd ly rlc dc-Sralinizarion ol rlc Sovicr \nion sincc rlc mid-
¡osos and ly rlc pro-Amcrican lilcralizarion policics adoprcd ly Iosip
1iro’s Yugoslavia. Fcvisionism now poscd a rcal dangcr lrom wirlin.
rlrcarcning ro dcrail rlc rcvolurion jusr as ominously as impcrialisr ag-
grcssion. cmlodicd ly Amcrican lorccs srarioncd in 1aiwan. Iapan. and
Sourl Korca. would lrom wirlour. ¡n slorr. rlc grim gcopolirical sirua-
rion sccmcd ro dcmand rlar rlc narion lc oncc again molilizcd ro dc-
lcnd rlc rcvolurion’s gains. il nor irs vcry cxisrcncc. Clina lad ro srand
indcpcndcnrly ol rlc rwo supcrpowcrs and unirc wirl rlc opprcsscd lur
incrcasingly indcpcndcnr 1lird World narions across Asia. Alrica. and
¡arin Amcrica. 1lc vision ol a world rcvolurion was rlcrclorc an inrc-
gral parr ol rlc Clincsc lyrical agc lccausc ir grcw our ol a gcopolirical
rcalignmcnr. Morcovcr. ir supplicd an ulrimarc mission ol commirmcnr
and madc lyricism possillc ly inrroducing a discoursc ol infinirc dclcrral.
1lis glolal aspirarion lound irs vivid cxprcssion in onc ol Mao’s lcrrcr-
known pocms. darcd o Ianuary ¡oo:.
1lc ¡our Scas arc rising. clouds and warcrs raging.
1lc ¡ivc Conrincnrs arc rocking. wind and rlundcr roaring.
Away wirl all pcsrs!
Òur lorcc is irrcsisrillc.
25
1o cnsurc rlar sucl a cosmic rask was accomplislcd and rlc rcvolurion-
ary causc conrinucd. campaigns ol varying scalcs wcrc wagcd onc alrcr
anorlcr. now olrcn cnvisioncd as a massivc offcnsivc rarlcr rlan as gucr-
rilla warlarc. 1lc lyrical agc was firsr ol all an agc ol poliricizcd passion.
Ar rlc ourscr ol ¡oo:. a ‘‘socialisr cducarion campaign’’ was srarrcd in rlc
counrrysidc and would lccomc a rcsr run ol rlc sysrcmaric molilizarion
i|. ¡lid.. ||.
is. ‘‘Fcply ro Comradc Kuo Mo-jo. 1o rlc Mclody ol Acn C/icna Huna,’’ in T.n
Asr. Ps.m· s/ Acs T·.-tuna, ¡oo¬. ii–i:.
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T/. Lvri.c/ ³a. cn! It· Di·.snt.nt· 173
during rlc upcoming Culrural Fcvolurion.
26
¡n ¡clruary. rop lcadcrs ol
rlc narion. rlc ¡arry. and rlc ¡coplc’s ¡ilcrarion Army (vLn) offcrcd
aplorisric sayings and calligraply ro urgc cvcry Clincsc ro lcarn lrom¡ci
¡cng. an cxcmplary soldicr and Good Samariran. ¡css rlan a ycar larcr.
rlc cxamplc scr ly ¡ci ¡cng was supplcmcnrcd ly rlar ol rlc vLn irscll.
and wlcn rlc narion was callcd upon ro cmularc rlc army.
27
milirary
unilorms and paraplcrnalia rurncd inro proud laslion srarcmcnrs. Wirl
rlc pullicarion ol Oustctisn· /rsm C/cirmcn Acs in May ¡oo|. rlc cam-
paign ro collccrivcly ‘‘srudy Clairman Mao’s works’’ gaincd momcnrum
and would lurrlcr insrirurionalizc a srandard polirical parlancc lor rlc
narion. Ðuring rlc samc rivcring pcriod. rwo cqually lar-rcacling movc-
mcnrs unloldcd. lorl adding crcdililiry ro rlc docrrinc ol scll-rcliancc
and rlc vision ol uropian modcrniry. Ðazlai and Ðaqing. a producrion
lrigadc and an oil ficld. rcspccrivcly. wcrc promorcd as modcl unirs lor
rlc agriculrural and indusrrial larrlclronrs. Wlilc rlcsc molilizarions rc-
inlorccd rlc socialisr rriumvirarc ol rlc workcrs. pcasanrs. and soldicrs. a
conrinual lur mucl quicrcr campaign lad lccn undcr way. ¡r firsr souglr
ro rcrurn a largc numlcr ol rural young pcoplc. wlo lad migrarcd ro
indusrrial cirics during rlc Grcar ¡cap ¡orward. ro rlc counrrysidc. By
carly ¡oo|. rlc ‘‘rcrurn ro rlc villagc’’ iniriarivc (/uixicna) lad grown
inro a lull-flcdgcd social movcmcnr ro rclocarc urlan yourl rlrouglour
rlc undcrdcvclopcd inrcrior (·/cna·/cn xicxicna).
28
1lcn lailcd as an acr
rlar would rcvolurionizc rradirional valucs and pracriccs. millions ol cdu-
carcd urlan yourl scrrling in rlc rcmorc arcas would indccd clangc rlc
social and culrural landscapc ol rlc narion. Somc filrccn ycars larcr. rlc
samc displaccd gcncrarion would figlr rlcir rorruous way lack. only ro
radically rcconfigurc rlc luman and polirical gcograply ol rlc counrry
io. ¡or an carly lur srill inlormarivc srudy ol rlis campaign. scc Ficlard Baum and
¡. C. 1ciwcs. S·u-./’ina. T/. Ss.ic/i·t L!u.ctisn Asv.m.nt s/ rcez–rcee (Bcrkclcy. Ccn-
rcr lor Clincsc Srudics. ¡oo8).
i¬. Idirorial. ‘‘Quanguo douyao xucxi jiclangjun’’ (1lc wlolc narion musr lcarn
lrom rlc ¡coplc’s ¡ilcrarion Army). P.st/.’· Dci/v, ¡ ¡clruary ¡oo|.
i8. Idirorial. ‘‘Zlisli qingnian slangslan xiaxiang sli yilcng yisu dc gcming xing-
dong’’ (Iducarcd yourl going ro rlc counrrysidc is a rcvolurionary acr ro clangc rra-
dirional pracriccs). T/. P.st/.’· Dci/v, io Marcl ¡oo|. ¡or a good srudy ol rlis ropic. scc
Ioln Gardncr. ‘‘Iducarcd Yourl and \rlan-Fural ¡ncqualirics. ¡os8–oo.’’ in T/. Citv
in Csmmuni·t C/inc, cd. Ioln Wilson ¡cwis (Sranlord. Calil.. Sranlord \nivcrsiry
¡rcss. ¡o¬¡). i:s–8o.
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174 C/in.·. As!.rn
ycr again. ¡inally. parrially in rcsponsc ro rlc conccrn dramarizcd ly T/.
Tsuna G.n.rctisn, in rlc summcr ol ¡oo| a lricl campaign ‘‘ro rrain suc-
ccssors ro rlc rcvolurionary causc’’ inrcrvcncd. lcraldcd ly a srcrn cri-
riquc ol ‘‘Klruslclcv’s plony Communism’’ and irs lisrorical lcssons lor
rlc world rcvolurion.
29
Ycr rlcsc wcrc nor all ol rlc lcsrirring acrivirics rlar dcmandcd con-
sranr polirical cnrlusiasm and rcclarging. 1losc rwo lcady ycars. ¡oo:
and ¡oo|. also wirncsscd incrcasingly rlundcrous marclcs and paradcs
across 1iananmcn Squarc as wcll as orlcr pullic spaccs all ovcr Clina
in spirircd supporr ol rlc civil riglrs movcmcnr in rlc \nircd Srarcs.
Ivcry insrancc ol rcsisrancc againsr Amcrican impcrialism. lc ir in \icr-
nam. Cula. ¡anama. or Zairc (rlc Congo). would lavc rlc rcsolurc lack-
ing ol rlc Clincsc and was laudcd in massivc dcmonsrrarions. ¡or rlrcc
consccurivc days in Ianuary ¡oo|. lor cxamplc. ‘‘workcrs in drama in rlc
capiral assumcd rlcir figlring posirion and marclcd ro rlc srrccrs and
1iananmcn Squarc’’ ro voicc rlcir moral supporr lor rlc valianr ¡anama-
nian pcoplc.
30
¡maginary inrcrnarional solidariry. olviously. supplicd a
ncw sourcc ol cncrgy lor rlc lyrical agc and madc rlc lyrical suljccr a
ncw rcvolurionary cosmopoliran.
1lc flow ol cmorional cncrgy. rlcrclorc. lad ro lc consranrly rc-
dirccrcd in ordcr ro mainrain irs viral lorcc. and rlc capaciry lor lyrical
rcsponsc and agirarion lad ro lc conrinually cnlanccd. ¡or ir is nor so
mucl rlc conrcnr ol lyricism as rlc aliliry ro pracricc rcvolurionary lyri-
cism. nor rlc .nsn.. lur rlc acr ol cnunciarion. rlar complcrcs rlc idco-
logical inrcrpolarion ol rlc lyrical suljccr. 1lis polirical cconomy ol pas-
sion susraining rlc lyrical agc. lowcvcr. ran a vcry rcal risk ol cxlausrion.
cvcn rlougl plysical lariguc and pain wcrc always wclcomcd as signs ol
passionarc dcvorion. As il acurcly awarc ol rlis possililiry. a ¡clruary
¡oo: cssay in Z/snaaus ;inanicn (Clincsc yourl). an organ ol rlc Com-
munisr Yourl ¡caguc. spccifically adviscd irs young rcadcrs on ‘‘low ro
io. Scc Sruarr F. Sclram. ‘‘¡nrroducrion. 1lc Culrural Fcvolurion in ¡isrorical
¡crspccrivc.’’ ³ut/sritv, Pcrti.itctisn cn! Cu/turc/ C/cna. in C/inc, cd. Sruarr F.
Sclram (Camlridgc. Camlridgc \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o¬:). ¬¬–8s. Sclram’s inrroduc-
rion providcs a concisc lisrorical survcy ol rlc pcriod discusscd in rlis claprcr.
:o. Scc ‘‘Woguo xijujic jianjuc zlicli Banama rcmin dc lan Mci aiguo zlcngyi dou-
zlcng’’ (1lc drama circlc in our counrry firmly supporrs rlc ¡anamanian pcoplc’s
parrioric srrugglc againsr Amcrica). }surnc/ s/ Drcmc, no. ¡8¡ (Ianuary ¡oo|). :.
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T/. Lvri.c/ ³a. cn! It· Di·.snt.nt· 175
culrivarc and mainrain rolusr rcvolurionary cnrlusiasm.’’
31
¡n irs cfforr
ro srimularc rcvolurionary passion among rlc young. rlc samc journal
scrializcd a discussion. lor rlc grcarcr parr ol ¡oo:. ol wlar consrirurcd a
corrccr undcrsranding ol ‘‘lappincss.’’ 1oward rlc cnd. ir lccamc appar-
cnr rlar a rigid opposirion was scr up lcrwccn scll and collccrivc. lour-
gcois lcdonismand prolcrarian asccricism. marcrial sarislacrion and rcvo-
lurionary dcrcrminarion. 1lc main rlrusr ol mosr wrirings. lowcvcr. was
ro convincc rlc rcadcr rlar ‘‘you arc acrually lappy.’’ ‘‘Young comradcs.
wc now livc in a lappy counrry. Wc musr nor livc in lappincss wirlour
knowing wlar ir is.’’ so concludcs a scvcrc cssay dcnouncing lourgcois
dccadcncc and lcdonism. 1lc culminaring mcraplors rlar rlc aurlor
cmploys arc graplic and indicarivc ol rlc volarilc ‘‘polcmical symlolism’’
rlar would sarurarc pullic discoursc and pracricc during rlc lorrlcoming
Culrural Fcvolurion.
32
¡l wc ignorc our currcnr lappy lilc and alandon rlc lroad road ol rcvo-
lurionary lappincss. il wc insrcad scck lappincss in rlc cnjoymcnr ol a
marcrialisric lilc. or worsc. in rlc ccsspool ol lourgcois dccadcncc and dc-
gcncrarion. rlcn wc will sink ro rlc lorrom and lccomc a pirilul lug in
lilc. 1o soar in rlc opcn sky likc a lravc caglc. and ro glidc ovcr wavcs likc
a scagull in rlc lurricanc ol rcvolurionary srrugglc. rlis is our clancc ro lc
lcrocs and offcr our ralcnr ro rlc rcvolurion. . . .
33
1lc dcsriny ol rlc young. as advocarcd in rlis ¡oo: cssay. lics in scck-
ing lappincss in pcrpcrual commirmcnr and conlronrarion. Ycr. ar rlc
samc rimc. rlis yourllul rcsrlcssncss musr lc madc producrivc and lar-
ncsscd ro a loundarional purposc or insrirurion. ¡r musr lc socializcd
and sroppcd lrom growing inro a llind anricsrallislmcnrarian and scll-
dcsrrucrivc impulsc or cncrgy. 1lc mcaning ol yourl. so cxplaincd a
rccirarional pocm lrom rlc samc pcriod. was ‘‘ro srrivc lorward. work
sclflcssly. and always rcmain modcsr.’’ Collccrivcly wrirrcn ly rlc May
:¡. ‘‘Zcnyang pciyang lc laocli wangslcng dc gcming rcqing’’ (¡ow ro culrivarc
and mainrain rolusr rcvolurionary cnrlusiasm). C/in.·. Tsut/, nos. :–| (¡clruary
¡oo:). i–s.
:i. Scc Ðirrmcr. C/inc’· Csntinusu· B.vs/utisn, 8¡–oo.
::. Gan ¡cng. ‘‘¡c ziclan jicji xianglc zluyi luaqing jicxian. ran zcnyang zlcngquc
kandai wuzli slcngluo’’ (Sray clcar ol lourgcois lcdonism. on low ro corrccrly vicw
marcrial lilc). C/in.·. Tsut/, no. ¡o (Augusr ¡oo:). ¡:.
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176 C/in.·. As!.rn
¡ourrl ¡ircrary Socicry ar ¡cking \nivcrsiry. rlc pocm. ‘‘¡cr yourl slinc
lorrl.’’ cnds wirl a crcsccndo ol dirccrivcs.
F.mc/. ./sru·. Òffcr ir ro our morlcrland.
Òur ficry lilc!
Ac/. ./sru·. Òffcr ir ro rlc world.
Òur lrillianr yourl!
Tsa.t/.r. Òffcr ir ro rlc lururc.
1lc principlc ol our cxisrcncc.
¡orcvcr rcvolurion!
34
1lc Fc-cnclanrmcnr ol Þcccssiry
1lc ccnrral conflicr ol rlc play T/. Tsuna G.n.rctisn sccms ro rcvolvc
around conrrasring pcrccprions ol lappincss. All ol rlc acrion rakcs placc
in rlc living room ol rlc ¡in lamily lomc in an indusrrial sulurl ol
Slanglai (figurc o). 1lc rimc is rlc lcginning ol summcr. wlcn rlc main
claracrcr. Xiao Iiyc. a i¬-ycar-old gcologisr. rcrurns lrom lis prospccr-
ing rcam srarioncd in rlc lronricr rcgion ol Qinglai ro vcrily rlc rcam’s
rcccnr discovcry ol a rarc mincral rcsourcc. ¡is old classmarc ¡in Yu-
slcng. now also a rcammarc. is alrcady lack in Slanglai on sick lcavc.
supposcdly suffcring lrom disalling rlcumaroid arrlriris in lis knccs.
Wlilc Xiao Iiyc. rlrcc ycars oldcr. is passionarc alour lis work and can
lardly wair ro go lack ro rlc ficld. ¡in Yuslcng mucl prclcrs lilc in rlc
ciry and cvcn lorgcs a mcdical rcporr in ordcr ro sray in Slanglai. 1lc
dcnoucmcnr is nor rcaclcd unril Yuslcng’s misdccd is cxposcd. and a
long-lcld lamily sccrcr is sulscqucnrly rcvcalcd. ¡n rlc proccss. all mcm-
lcrs ol rlc ¡in lamily (lis parcnrs. youngcr sisrcr. and girllricnd). as wcll
as Xiao Iiyc’s grandmorlcr. play an indispcnsallc rolc in accordancc wirl
cacl claracrcr’s symlolic composirion and luncrion. 1lc play cnds wirl
a rousing sccnc wlcrc cvcryonc is garlcrcd onsragc ro scnd ¡in Yuslcng
lack ro rlc prospccring rcam. lis youngcr sisrcr ¡in ¡an ro rlc counrry-
sidc. and orlcr graduaring srudcnrs ol rlc Gcological ¡nsrirurc ro rcmorc
arcas. including Qinglai and 1ilcr. Among rlc oldcr gcncrarion lclr lc-
:|. 1lc May ¡ourrl ¡ircrary Socicry ol ¡cking \nivcrsiry (rccordcd ly ¡i Guan-
ding. Yang Kuangman. Wang Yi). ‘‘Fang qingclun slanguang (jiri langsong sli)’’ (¡cr
yourl slinc lorrl [rccirarional pocm|). S/i/cn (¡ocrry). no. ¬¡ (¡clruary ¡oo|). |o.
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T/. Lvri.c/ ³a. cn! It· Di·.snt.nt· 177
lind. incidcnrally. is Xiao Iiyc rlc rirclcss young man. rccovcring lrom
rlc rcmoval ol a rumorous growrl in onc lcg.
As Kai-yu ¡su commcnrs in an anrlology. rlc play. ly ‘‘rrcaring rlc
prollcm ol gcrring young pcoplc ro work in laraway placcs. rouclcs a
sorc issuc known as rlc ‘rusrificarion ol rlc young gcncrarion.’ or rlc cnd-
lcss rask ol figlring rlc corrupring influcncc ol ciry lilc.’’ ¡or rlis rcason.
¡su olscrvcs. ‘‘ir las conrinuing significancc in rlc ¡coplc’s Fcpullic.’’
cvcn in rlc rclorm cra ol rlc ¡o8os.
35
1lc corrupring influcncc ol ciry
lilc inflicrs irs damagcs mainly on ¡in Yuslcng. alrlougl irs sccmingly
rcsourcclul agcnr is a sladowy Young Wu. wlo ncvcr appcars onsragc.
By making Young Wu an alscnr prcscncc. crirics lavc long agrccd. rlc
playwriglr slowcd grcar ingcnuiry in liglliglring rlc consranr and in-
visillc dangcr ol lourgcois idcology and lilcsrylc.
36
Symproms ol Yu-
slcng’s infirmiry cxrcnd lcyond rlc lorgcd documcnr lc sulmirs as an
cxcusc. 1lcy includc signs ol lis lcing a dclr urlan consumcr and lis
conccprion ol a lappy lilc. Yuslcng makcs lis firsr cnrrancc ly pusling
onro rlc sragc a licyclc drapcd wirl slopping lags. ¡c is gcrring rcady
ro cclclrarc lis girllricnd Xia Qianru’s lirrlday wirl canncd lood. dcs-
scrr. and a lancy drcss.
37
1lc lururc lc anriciparcs lor limscll and Qianru
is onc ol sraliliry and ligl culrural cnrcrrainmcnr. ‘‘Ðuring rlc day wc
go ro work rogcrlcr. Alrcr wc comc lack in rlc cvcning. wc can lisrcn
ro music. rcad a novcl or somc pocrry. go ro a movic. Òn wcckcnds wc
can go ro rlc park. or gcr rogcrlcr wirl somc lricnds. . . . Òl coursc wc’ll
:s. Kai-yu ¡su. inrroducrion ro T/. Tsuna G.n.rctisn, in Lit.rctur. s/ t/. P.st/.’·
B.tu//i. s/ C/inc, cd. Kai-yu ¡su and 1ing Wang (Bloomingron. ¡ndiana \nivcrsiry
¡rcss. ¡o8o). oi8.
:o. Scc Yao Wcnyuan. ‘‘1lc Song ol Yourl in rlc Agc ol Socialisr Fcvolurion.’’
Lit.rcrv Gcc.tt. (Òcrolcr ¡oo:). ¡|. Þoncrlclcss. Yao Wcnyuan also rlinks rlar rlc
audicncc slould lc clcarly inlormcd ol wlar lccomcs ol Young Wu. rlc dcspicallc
‘‘rcprcscnrarivc ol lourgcois lorccs.’’
:¬. ¡n rlc ¡oo: vcrsion. ¡in Yuslcng is rlc firsr pcrson onsragc in acr ¡. 1lis was
clangcd in rlc ¡oo| cdirion. wlcrc Xiao Iiyc appcars firsr in ordcr ro scr a diffcrcnr
ronc lor rlc play. Scc Clcn Yun. Nicn;ina !. vi!ci (1lc young gcncrarion). S.ritt·,
no. ¡o| (Augusr ¡oo:). i, Clcn Yun. Zlang ¡ilui. and Xu Iingxian. Nicn;ina !. vi!ci
(1lc young gcncrarion) (Bcijing. Zlongguo xiju. ¡oo|). i. Ixccpr lor minor rcarrang-
ing and rcwording. rlcsc rwo vcrsions slow no significanr diffcrcnccs. Þoncrlclcss.
rlcy will lc comparcd conrinually in rlis claprcr. wirl rlc firsr vcrsion rclcrrcd ro as
rlc original cdirion. and rlc sccond as rlc rcviscd cdirion. 1lc pagc rclcrcncc immcdi-
arcly lollowing a cirarion rclcrs ro rlc rcviscd cdirion.
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178 C/in.·. As!.rn
o. Sragc dcsign. Nicn;ina !. vi!ci (1lc young gcncrarion) (¡oo:). ¡rom Xiii /cs (Iournal
ol drama) (Bcijing. Þovcmlcr ¡oo:).
lavc ro do a good jol ar our work. Wc dcfinircly will lavc ro scorc somc
succcsscs in our carccrs’’ (i¡).
1lis picrurc ol rourinizcd urlan cxisrcncc. lowcvcr. appcars ro Xiao
Iiyc—rlc posirivc rolc modcl rlar rlc play crcarcs—ro lc unlcarally
lanal. rrivial. and sclfisl. Ðuring rlc firsr cxclangc lcrwccn rlcsc rwo
lricnds. Yuslcng asks Iiyc wlcrlcr lc srill wrircs pocrry. 1lis allows Iiyc a
clancc ro dcscrilc. wirl lull lyrical rlyrlm. lis lilc as a gcologisr. ‘‘¡ilc in
rlc ficld is irscll pocrry! ¡igl mounrains. dark lorcsrs. dcscrrs and rivcrs.
cvcrywlcrc is pocrry. cvcrywlcrc is a srrugglc’’ (¬). Wlar rlc onc-rimc
pocr docs nor rcll Yuslcng alour is rlc lcg injury rlar lc suffcrcd in an
accidcnr. wlicl is anorlcr rcason lor lis coming lack ro Slanglai ar rlis
poinr. ¡n acr :. ar a ligl poinr ol rlc clasl lcrwccn rlcir divcrgcnr ap-
proaclcs ro lilc. Iiyc and Yuslcng cngagc in a lcarcd dclarc alour rlcir
worldvicws. Wirl mounring cloqucncc. Iiyc clargcs Yuslcng wirl insu-
laring limscll complaccnrly in lis own lirrlc univcrsc. rcminds lim ol rlc
mission ro lring lappincss ro millions ol orlcr pcoplc. and warns lim
againsr purring lis own inrcrcsr lclorc rlar ol rlc counrry. 1lc dangcr
ol Yuslcng’s lclavior. Iiyc orarcs. comcs lrom lis nor wanring ro con-
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T/. Lvri.c/ ³a. cn! It· Di·.snt.nt· 179
rinuc rlc rcvolurion. ‘‘1lc dangcr also lics in rlc corruprion ol your mind
ly individualism lclorc you cvcn know ir. ¡r will rakc away your idcals.
wcar down your figlring will. and drag you dccpcr and dccpcr inro rlc
lourgcois quagmirc’’ (¬s).
1lc ‘‘lourgcois quagmirc’’ inro wlicl rlc young gcncrarion musr lc
prcvcnrcd lrom sliding was a srock polirical plrasc during rlis pcriod
ol rcvolurionary lyricism. As uscd ly Xiao Iiyc lcrc. ir morc olrcn dc-
scrilcs rlc incrria and lanaliry ol cvcryday lilc in sccular modcrniry rlan
ir docs a clcarly idcnrificd losrilc lorcc. 1lc imagc ol a sucking ‘‘quag-
mirc’’ (ni/.na) dirccrly dcnounccs rlc narrow privarc world (xics ticn!i )
rlar rlrcarcns ro sulsrirurc lor rlc glolal will and vision ol a rcvolurion-
ary loor soldicr. ¡r arricularcs an almosr idcalisr lcar ol impuriry. conrami-
narion. and unwlolcsomcncss. 1lis implicir clirismis mosr srridcnr wlcn
pursuirs ol marcrial sarislacrion arc lrcqucnrly condcmncd as vulgar and
in lad rasrc. Wlcn Iiyc criricizcs Yuslcng lor olscssing alour lis pcrsonal
lappincss. lc makcs ir clcar rlar rlc poinr is nor wlcrlcr scll-inrcrcsr is
lcgirimarc or nor. lur rlar a morally lcrrcr cxisrcncc is onc rlar is lully
inrcgrarcd inro a collccrivc causc. ¡c gocs on ro invalidarc rlc conccpr
ol lcgirimacy ly arguing rlar an individual riglr. cvcn il ir is lcgirimarc.
nccds ro lc sulordinarcd ro rlc purarivc inrcrcsrs ol rlc narion-srarc (¬|).
¡arr ol rlc rcasoning lcrc rcflccrs an cnrrcnclcd Conlucian rradirion
ol moralizing luman lclavior and rclarions. 1lis plilosoplical rradirion
and discursivc lalir. rcinlorccd ly a ¡cninisr opposirion lcrwccn socicry
ar largc and rlc socialisr srarc. finds in lcgirimarc scll-inrcrcsr norling
lur a moral lcrrayal ol. or cvcn a larcnr rlrcar ro. rlc collccrivc good.
38
1lc lcar ol impuriry. ar rlc samc rimc. also cxprcsscs a dccp-scarcd cul-
rural anxicry ovcr a possillc loss ol narional idcnriry and disrincrion. ¡or
‘‘lourgcois individualism.’’ wlilc rcjccrcd as incomparillc wirl prolcrar-
ian idcals. is primarily consrrucrcd as a Wcsrcrn inlccrion and malaisc. 1lc
:8. Scc. lor insrancc. Yao Wcnyuan’s analysis ol ¡in Yuslcng’s norion ol ‘‘lcgirimarc
individualism’’ in lis ‘‘1lc Song ol Yourl in rlc Agc ol Socialisr Fcvolurion.’’ Lit.rcrv
Gcc.tt. (Òcrolcr ¡oo:). csp. ¡o. 1lc rwo kcy rcxrs rlar dcrcrmincd rlc vanguardisr cri-
riquc ol cvcryday lilc during rlis pcriod wcrc ¡cnin’s ‘‘ ‘¡clr-Wing’ Communism—An
¡nlanrilc Ðisordcr’’ and ‘‘1lc 1asks ol rlc Yourl ¡cagucs.’’ lorl wrirrcn in ¡oio and
collccrcd in Folcrr C. 1uckcr. cd.. T/. L.nin ³nt/s/sav (Þcw York. Þorron. ¡o¬s).
sso–o¡8. oo¡–¬|. ¡cnin’s conccrn wirl rlc conrinuarion ol rlc communisr rcvolurion
in cvcryday lilc lad a major impacr on rlc policics adoprcd ly rlc 1cnrl ¡lcnum ol
rlc Iiglrl Congrcss ol rlc ccv in rlc lall ol ¡ooi.
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180 C/in.·. As!.rn
‘‘quagmirc’’ is doully rcprclcnsillc. rlcrclorc. lccausc ir is lorcign and
lcrcrogcncous. as mucl as synonymous wirl dcgcncrarion and capirula-
rion.
Morcovcr. rlc samc marsly arca ol dangcr also includcs pcrsonal lccl-
ings and arraclmcnrs. wlicl will only mirc any rcsolurc acrion. Wlcn
¡in Yuslcng’s girllricnd. Xia Qianru. cngagcs in scll-cxaminarion. lor cx-
amplc. slc claracrcrizcs lcr rcccnr cmorional dcpcndcncc as laving lallcn
inro a ‘‘rlick and dccp quagmirc’’ (8o). Iarlicr in rlc play. lcr involvc-
mcnr wirl Yuslcng makcs lcr rarlcr complianr ro lis plan ol rcmaining
in rlc ciry. alrlougl slc also lccls consranr pangs ol conscicncc. Ar onc
poinr. Qianru rcvcals lcr lcsirarions ro ¡in ¡an. Yuslcng’s youngcr sis-
rcr. wlo llunrly qucsrions wly slc slould lc so sulmissivc. ‘‘You will
undcrsrand ir wlcn you lall in lovc wirl somconc.’’ Qianru lcclly cx-
plains. \pon rlis rcvclarion. rlc ciglrccn-ycar-old ligl sclool graduarc
solcmnly announccs. ‘‘¡l rlis is wlar lovc is all alour. ¡ will ncvcr lall in
lovc in my lilc. Þcvcr!’’ (||).
As rlc lcmalc and youngcr counrcrparr ol Xiao Iiyc. ¡in ¡an is also
prcscnrcd as a posirivc rolc modcl wirl alundanr pocric passion. il only
morc zcalous and cxcirallc. ¡arr ol lcr luncrion in rlc play is ro glam-
orizc rlc currcnr policy ol rclocaring cducarcd yourl lrom rlc ciry ro
rlc counrrysidc. So slc nor only rcluscs ro lc rcmprcd ro srudy ar a film
sclool. lur slc also managcs ro miss rlc cnrrancc cxams lor an agricul-
rural insrirurc ly saving rlc lilc ol a lcarr-arrack paricnr. Wlar slc scrs
lcr mind and imaginarion on is ‘‘cngaging in anorlcr rcvolurion’’ on a
collccrivc larm in rlc mounrainous Iinggangslan arca. ¡n rlc cnd. lcr
cnrlusiasm is so conragious rlar ¡i Fongslcng. a ‘‘social yourl’’ rwo
ycars lcr junior. lappily quirs idling around and joins lcr in a ncw long
marcl ro rlc linrcrland. Òlrcnrimcs scrving as rlc comic rclicl ol rlc
play. ¡i Fongslcng is a minor claracrcr wlosc prcscncc noncrlclcss rc-
vcals an incolcrcnr corc ol social rcaliry. ¡is inirial disdain lor mcnial
lalor. criricizcd as an insrancc ol lourgcois influcncc. darkly acknowl-
cdgcs rlc growing prollcm ol providing jols lor urlan yourl. ¡n addi-
rion. lis lack ol propcr occuparion. in spirc ol lis working-class lamily
lackground. lrings ro rlc surlacc a rigid social srrucrurc and srrarificarion
rlar is unallc ro rccognizc an individual wirl no insrirurional affiliarion.
1lis nonrccognirion. jusr as in rlc casc ol dcnying lcgirimacy ro indi-
vidual inrcrcsrs. olrcn rranslarcs inro a polirical amliguiry or cvcn suspi-
cion ol wlomcvcr rcmains indcpcndcnr in socicry. ¡cncc. rlc usc ol awk-
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T/. Lvri.c/ ³a. cn! It· Di·.snt.nt· 181
ward carcgorics sucl as ‘‘social yourl’’ or ‘‘pcoplc in socicry’’ wlcn sucl
rcrms acrually dcsignarc rlosc wlo arc marginalizcd in rlc ncw socialisr
ordcr and arc supporrcd ly no parricular work unirs.
39
¡n many ways ¡in ¡an dcmonsrrarcs onsragc rlc uplringing and rrain-
ing ol rlc Fcd Guard gcncrarion ol rlc lorrlcoming Culrural Fcvolu-
rion. ¡cr ardcnr idcalism and scll-alncgarion idcnrily lcr as a proud
yourl ol rlc Mao Zcdong cra.
40
¡cr cpigonic pain ar laving misscd all
rlc grcar lisrorical momcnrs adds ro lcr imparicncc wirl an ordinary
cxisrcncc. Slc dccidcs ro go ro rlc counrrysidc lccausc ‘‘Clairman Mao
and rlc ¡arry call upon us ro aid rlc agriculrural lronr’’ (¡:). 1clling lcr-
scll rlar ‘‘sincc our larlcrs arc a gcncrarion ol iron mcn. wc musr nor
lc a luncl ol cowards’’ (oo). slc longs ro livc ‘‘wlcrc Clairman Mao
oncc livcd. and wlcrc rcvolurionary marryrs slcd rlcir llood’’ (o:). ¡n
rlis cxulcranr ligl sclool graduarc. wc find an idcal pcrson cnvisioncd
ly rlc lyrical agc. wlilc lcr passion consrirurcs lcr rlinking. lcr mori-
varion acknowlcdgcs no inrcrnal origin. Allowing lcrscll no inrcrioriry
or scll-rcflccrion. slc dcrivcs confidcncc and plcasurallc rcassurancc lrom
conrinually srriving ro mcrgc inro a grand collccrivc suljccr. ¡cr lap-
pincss lics in lccoming a lairllul sccd—wlcrcvcr slc is sown. slc will
grow. llossom. and yicld lruir (¡o|). Morc concrcrcly. slc cxprcsscs lcr
anriciparion ol rlc rcvolurionary lururc rlrougl an unwavcring rcspccr
lor lcr larlcr. a rcspccr rlar cnrails norling slorr ol filial picry. (1o rlis
srrucrurc ol lamilial sulordinarion and irs implicarions. wc will rcrurn in
rlc ncxr sccrion.)
1lc crcarion ol Xiao Iiyc and ¡in ¡an as inspiring claracrcrs onsragc
:o. ¡r is clcar rlar a ¡cninisr rcsisrancc ro socicry is rcvcalcd ly sucl loadcd dcmo-
graplic carcgorics. ¡n irs official as wcll as popular usagc. ‘‘socicry’’ olrcn indicarcs
an impurc. complicarcd. and damaging influcncc on rlc moralc ol an cmcrging ncw
ordcr. Scc. lor cxamplc. ¡ou Iinjing. ‘‘Þoricc and Addrcss ¡ssucs rlar Millions ol
¡coplc Arc Conccrncd wirl.’’ }surnc/ s/ Drcmc, no. ¡8| (April ¡oo|). ¡o–i|. Wlcn
cxplicaring rlc significancc ol rlc play N.v.r Fsra.t, rlc criric cmplasizcs rlar ‘‘cvcry
workcr. and cvcry mcmlcr ol rlc cadrc will lavc ro rcmain in a wcl ol conracrs wirl
various social rclarions (rclarivcs. lricnds. and pcoplc lrom rlc samc lomcrown). As a
rcsulr. all rlcsc social groups will lorm an cxrrcmcly complicarcd rclarionslip in our
cvcryday lilc’’ (i¡).
|o. Scc Mi ¡cdu. Hsnam.i/ina c/. vi!ci (1lc rcd guard gcncrarion) (¡ong Kong.
Ioinr ¡ullisling. ¡oo:). csp. s8–o¬. ¡or a psyclological porrrayal ol rlc Fcd Guard
gcncrarion. scc also Anira Clan. C/i/!r.n s/ Acs. P.r·snc/itv D.v./stm.nt cn! Ps/iti.c/
³.tivi·m in t/. B.! Gucr! G.n.rctisn (Scarrlc. \nivcrsiry ol Waslingron ¡rcss. ¡o8s).
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182 C/in.·. As!.rn
lisrorically answcrcd rlc qucsrion ol low rlc young gcncrarion ouglr
ro socializc and inrcgrarc irscll inro rlc rcvolurionary cnrcrprisc. Social
inrcgrarion lor yourl could lc aclicvcd only rlrougl polirical moliliza-
rion. sincc rlc cxisring social srrucrurc was nor vicwcd as srallc lur rarlcr
as in rlc pcrmancnr proccss ol cxciring rranslormarion. Yourllulncss and
social movcmcnr. rlcrclorc. lormcd rlc lasis ol a rlapsodic confidcncc
ol rlc lyrical agc. ro wlicl T/. Tsuna G.n.rctisn was scll-consciously
crccrcd as a magnilying mirror. ¡ar lrom random. lor cxamplc. was rlc
playwriglr’s dccision ro locus on graduarcs lrom a gcology insrirurc. lc-
causc in rlc carly ¡ooos ¡iu Slaoqi. rlcn prcsidcnr ol rlc ¡coplc’s Fc-
pullic. lad in a mcmorallc plrasc romanricizcd rlcir lururc occuparion
as conriguous wirl rcvolurionary warlarc. ‘‘Gcological workcrs arc rlc
gucrrillas lor rlc pcriod ol pcacclul consrrucrion.’’
41
1lis pcculiar mcra-
plor calls lorrl a ccnrral myrl ol rlc lyrical agc. namcly. rlar pcacc is ro
lc wagcd wirl rlc samc inrcnsiry and dcvorion as war. 1lc sourcc lor
rlc ncw lyricism. lollowing rlis myrlical rlinking. lics nor in rourinizcd
work or ordcrlincss. lur rarlcr in consranr morion and rlc cxcircmcnr ol
ovcrcoming incrria.
Wirlin rlc play. rlc acrion is rlcrclorc mcaninglully scr ar rlc lcgin-
ning ol summcr. ‘‘rlc scason wlcn ligl sclool graduarcs dccidc cirlcr
ro go on ro collcgc or ro work. and wlcn collcgc graduarcs arc alour
ro cnrcr rlc rcal world, ir is a rimc wlcn young pcoplc arc fillcd wirl
lopc. lappincss. passion. and rcsrlcssncss’’ (i).
42
Ycr rlc play and irs dra-
maric conflicr arc srrucrurally disallowcd ro pursuc rlc various possilili-
rics laccd ly rlc young, rlcy do nor cvcn addrcss as a concrcrc prollcm
socicry’s growing inaliliry ro alsorl or accommodarc irs young popu-
larion. 1lc cloicc ol living cirlcr in a ciry or in a rural arca is rccasr as
a moral and idcological dccision ovcr wlicl lorm ol lappincss ro pur-
suc and wlar polirical vision ro idcnrily wirl. Mucl pocric passion and
|¡. Quorcd in Sli 1ao. Xia Clun. and Sli ¡ianxing. ‘‘Nicn;ina !. vi!ci daoyan san-
rcn ran’’ (Convcrsarion among rlrcc dirccrors alour T/. vsuna a.n.rctisn). }surnc/ s/
Drcmc, no. ¡¬o (Òcrolcr ¡oo:). ¬. 1lis connccrion ro ¡iu Slaoqi may parrly cxplain
wly rlc play was dcnounccd during rlc Culrural Fcvolurion wlcn lc was disgraccd
and drivcn lrom rlc prcsidcncy.
|i. ¡n rlc ¡oo: vcrsion. rlc rimc is insrcad dcscrilcd as lull ol ‘‘lopc. vcxarion. pas-
sion and rcsrlcssncss’’ (i). 1lc minor clangc lcrc is indicarivc ol rlc gcncral linc ol
rcvision, rlc rcading ol rlc play is morc uplilring. morc lcroic. and morc idcalisric as
a rcsulr.
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T/. Lvri.c/ ³a. cn! It· Di·.snt.nt· 183
plilosoplical grandiosiry is gcncrarcd in rlc proccss. olrcn rcndcring in-
cxprcssillc rlc rlorny dcrails ol a mundanc siruarion. By rlc cnd ol rlc
play. lor insrancc. ¡in Yuslcng agrccs ro rcrurn ro lis prospccring rcam.
lur wc arc ncvcr ccrrain wlar will lccomc ol lis rclarionslip ro Xia
Qianru. wlo is apparcnrly assigncd ro a diffcrcnr arca. ¡nsrcad. lclorc rlc
final currain lalls. ¡in ¡an. rlc spokcspcrson ol rlc young gcncrarion. is
ro spcak wirl rlc ‘‘urmosr passion’’ and dirccrly ro rlc audicncc. Ar rlis
poinr. rlc audicncc can no longcr warcl as spccrarors lur musr parrakc ol
rlc communal cxlorrarion and slarc rlc samc ‘‘lopc. lappincss. passion.
and rcsrlcssncss.’’
Lin Lcn. (Ic//· ts t/. /rsnt, /c.ina t/. cu!i.n..) Good-lyc. rcaclcrs!
Classmarcs! Comradcs! Wc arc on our way. lcaving you and
lcading ro diffcrcnr posrs. ¡ikc sccds sprcad ovcr rlc land. wc
will rakc roor rlcrc. gcrminarc. llossom. and yicld lruir. Good-
lyc! Ðcar comradcs. wc arc on our way ro crcarc a lcaurilul
lururc. wirl your cxpccrarions and llcssings! (¡o|)
1lc ncccssiry ol sucl a passionarc lilc. as las lccn suggcsrcd. grows
lrom rcsisring rlc lurcaucraric rarionalizarions ol polirical and social cn-
ginccring. 1lc massivc rranslcr ol cducarcd yourl ro rlc counrrysidc lad
rlc logisrical purposc ol managing uncmploymcnr in rlc urlan arca, ir
agrccd wirl rlc gcncral policy ol dcvcloping srrcamlincd socialisr ‘‘pro-
duccr cirics’’ (insrcad ol ‘‘consumcr cirics’’). rlc poinr ol wlicl was srill
ro cnlancc urlan managcaliliry.
43
Ðcmograplically and polirically. rlis
rranslcr carricd our rlc srrarcgy ol popularing rlc lronricr rcgions wirl
¡an Clincsc scrrlcrs. Òn a morc visionary lcvcl. rlc rclocarion program
was ro conrrilurc ro rlc long-rcrm goal ol climinaring rlc cnrrcnclcd
dispariry lcrwccn rlc ciry and rlc counrrysidc. alrlougl rlc rcsulr olrcn
sccmcd ro add ncw srrains ro rlc rclarion lcrwccn pcasanrs and ciry
dwcllcrs.
44
Givcn rlar ccnrral planning was rlc guiding principlc and idcology
undcrlying all sucl oljccrivcs. rlc sourcc ol spccracular yourllul cnrlusi-
asm could nor lur lc grand srarc rarionaliry. 1lc rargcr ol rlis manulac-
|:. Scc F. I. F. Kirkly. Ur/cnicctisn in C/inc. Tsmn cn! Csuntrv in c D.v./st-
ina L.snsmv, rc;c–zccc .. (Þcw York. Columlia \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o8s). csp. i¡–s:.
¡o:–::.
||. Scc Gardncr. ‘‘Iducarcd Yourl and \rlan-Fural ¡ncqualirics. ¡os8–oo.’’ io8–oo.
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rurcd passion. rlcrclorc. is ro ovcrcomc aparly as mucl as ro sullimarc
mundanc dcrails ol lilc. Wlilc rrying ro firsr pcrsuadc Xia Qianru ol rlc
nccd ro acccpr lcr jol assignmcnr. Xiao Iiyc cxplains. ‘‘Òl all rlc gradu-
arcs. wlo docsn’r lavc somc pracrical difficulrics· ¡or insrancc. somc may
lavc a lamily prollcm, somc may lavc an cmorional cnranglcmcnr, somc
may suffcr lrom lad lcalrl, srill somc orlcrs may lc scnsirivc ro cold or
lcar. and so on. ¡l cvcryonc srrcsscs only rlcir own prollcms. wlar do
you rlink will lappcn·’’ (|o). ¡in Yuslcng’s grcarcsr offcnsc. in rlc cycs
ol Xiao Iiyc. is ro pur lis own lappincss ‘‘alovc rlc collccrivc inrcrcsr and
oursidc srarc planning’’ (¬|). ¡or rlis rcason. Xiao Iiyc limscll musr lc
projccrcd as a lcro wlosc lasr conccrn is lis own plysical pain or wcll-
lcing. Wlcn laccd wirl rlc possililiry ol losing a lcg ro canccr. lc sccs no
alrcrnarivc lur sraying ar lis jol as a gcologisr. ‘‘Ivcn il rlcy rcally lavc
ro ampurarc ir. ¡ will rcrurn ro rlc rcam on crurclcs. ¡ may nor climl
mounrains anymorc. lur ¡ can sray in rlc flar arca, ¡ may nor go oursidc
anymorc. lur ¡ can work in a rcnr. Þo marrcr wlar. ¡ will work on rlc
survcying rcam rill rlc cnd ol my lilc. . . .’’ (¬o).
Anorlcr insrancc ol Xiao Iiyc’s pocric arrirudc roward lilc. rlis mo-
mcnr also rcvcals rlar a ncw work crlic is lcing promorcd. and rlar rlc
ordinary is rccnclanrcd as an inrcgral parr ol rlc glorious wlolc. ¡l rlis
polirical cconomy ol passion cxlilircd on sragc is run ly rlc culrural dc-
parrmcnr in rlc lurcaucraric ccnrral planning. rlcrc is a parallcl srrucrurc
ol symlolic rarionaliry rlar ovcrsccs and rcsolvcs rlc dramaric conflicr.
1lc nccd ro rrain a rcvolurionary young gcncrarion will acquirc irs sym-
lolic valuc largcly in rcrms ol conrinuing a lamily rradirion.
¡amily as rlc Symlolic Òrdcr
1lrcc gcncrarions arc rcprcscnrcd in rlc play. and cvcry claracrcr is rc-
larcd. cirlcr symlolically or liologically. as a mcmlcr ol onc cxrcndcd
rcvolurionary lamily. 1lc youngcsr gcncrarion—rlc rlird—includcs nor
only all rlc main claracrcrs. lur orlcr srudcnrs ol rlc Gcological ¡nsri-
rurc and ligl sclool graduarcs. 1lc parcnrs ol ¡in Yuslcng and ¡in ¡an
srand lor rlc middlc gcncrarion. lcrc porrraycd as a gcncrarion ol rcvolu-
rionary vcrcrans or luncrionarics. ¡arlcr ¡in Iian. an invincillc vLn gcn-
cral in rlc pasr. suggcsrs a narural conrinuiry lcrwccn rlc rask ol socialisr
consrrucrion and rlc lisrory ol rcvolurionary war. \pon rcriring lrom
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T/. Lvri.c/ ³a. cn! It· Di·.snt.nt· 185
rlc army. lc askcd ro work in agriculrurc lur was insrcad appoinrcd ro lc
in clargc ol a largc lacrory. a dury lc now disclargcs wirl rlc diligcncc
ol a gcncral. As wc soon rcalizc. lis spccific jol lcars lirrlc rclcvancc. as
long as lc lulfills lis posirion as a rcvolurionary larlcr figurc.
45
Morlcr
Xia Slujuan rcprcscnrs rlc lurcaucraric class rlar is usually rclcrrcd ro as
‘‘srarc cadrc.’’ Þow in lcr mid-lorrics. slc lollows a rourinc work sclcd-
ulc and spcnds morc rimc wirl rlc rwo clildrcn rlan lcr lusland. wlo is
always kcpr lusy on rlc lronrlinc and comcs lomc only oncc in a wlilc.
¡n onc sragc producrion. rlc dirccror dccidcd ro slow Xia Slujuan as a
sickly pcrson in ordcr ro makc lcr laxiry roward ¡in Yuslcng morc crcd-
illc.
46
¡n rlc rcviscd vcrsion. ly conrrasr. slc slows no signs ol illncss.
lur slc srill acrs rlc indulgcnr morlcr wlo is also ro lcarn a lard lcsson
in rlc coursc ol rlc play.
Wlilc rlc ancloring rolc givcn ro larlcr ¡in Iian may suggcsr a parri-
arclal inclinarion. rlc prcscncc ol Grandma Xiao sccms ro counrcrlal-
ancc rlar imprcssion. As rlc only spokcspcrson ol rlc firsr gcncrarion.
Grandma Xiao. a rcrircd workcr. las an cnormous invcsrmcnr in lcr
parcnrlcss grandson. Xiao Iiyc. Wirl considcrallc scll-conrrol and dig-
niry. slc is rlc pcrson ro lrcak rlc ncws ro Iiyc rlar lc may losc lis lcg.
1o cncouragc rlc srrickcn young man. slc sirs lim down and narrarcs rlc
lardslip slc wcnr rlrougl ro raisc lim. lcr only grandclild. sincc ¡o:o
wlcn rlc lirrlc loy was onc ycar old and lis larlcr was murdcrcd ly rlc
Þarionalisr Guomindang. ¡ncidcnrally. Iiyc’s larlcr was lcr lasr son ro
dic. and Iiyc’s morlcr is ncvcr mcnrioncd (o¡). Bccausc ol lcr scnioriry
and conrrilurion. Grandma Xiao also commands grcar rcspccr lrom rlc
sccond gcncrarion. ¡n rlc rcviscd vcrsion ol ¡oo|. slc dirccrly inrcrvcncs
and caurions ¡in Iian ro mind rlc goings-on in lis lamily. complaining
in parricular rlar Xia Slujuan las lccn lcss rlan rigorous in cducaring rlc
clildrcn (|8–|o). 1lrougl lcr conccrn alour rlc wcll-lcing ol rlc rlird
gcncrarion. rlc rask ol rraining rcvolurionary succcssors is liglliglrcd
and pur on rlc agcnda.
Wlar Grandma Xiao cmlodics on sragc is a firm and gcnrlc ‘‘rcvolu-
rionary morlcr.’’ a widcly acccprcd lonorific rirlc lor oldcr womcn rcvo-
lurionarics in Clina during rlc ¡ooos.
47
Slc lcsrows lcr marcrnal carc
|s. ¡n an carlicr vcrsion ol rlc play. ¡in Iian is srill a gcncral.
|o. Scc Sli 1ao. Xia Clun. and Sli ¡ianxing. ‘‘Convcrsarion Among 1lrcc Ðircc-
rors.’’ }surnc/ s/ Drcmc, no. ¡¬o (Òcrolcr ¡oo:). |–¡¡.
|¬. Alrcr T/. Tsuna G.n.rctisn was produccd in Bcijing. a rcporrcr lrom Lit.r-
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186 C/in.·. As!.rn
lrom rlc disrancc ol a grandmorlcr. wlicl sccms ro cnallc lcr ro pur
in pcrspccrivc lcr lovc lor rlc clild. Gracclully agcd and vcrscd in lolk-
loric wisdom. slc las rlc grcarcsr srakc in cnsuring rlar rlc rcvolurion-
ary causc. now rccounrcd as a lamily rradirion. will lc conrinucd. ¡n rlc
play. Grandma Xiao is a gcncralizcd grandparcnr. wlosc gcndcr docs nor
lcad ro auromaric qucsrioning ol parriarcly lur on rlc conrrary adds ro
ir a lcnign and pcrsonallc lcarurc.
48
Òl no small gcncalogical imporr is
rlc lacr rlar slc is Xiao Iiyc’s parcrnal grandmorlcr, lcncc. lcr surnamc
Xiao. wlicl las long rcplaccd lcr own lamily namc. Ar rlc samc rimc. as
a closc ncxr-door ncigllor ro rlc ¡ins. slc parriciparcs in rlcir lamily lilc
as grandmorlcr ro lorl ¡in Yuslcng and ¡in ¡an. ¡n a carclully arrangcd
plor dcvclopmcnr. ¡in ¡an rcccivcs lcr firsr cdificarion lrom Grandma
Xiao ar rlc conclusion ol acr i. By rlc cnd ol acr :. wirl lirrlc rimc lapscd
sincc rlc prcvious acr. ¡in ¡an is alrcady making a solcmn guaranrcc ro
lcr larlcr. ¡in Iian. ‘‘Ðo nor worry. ¡arlcr! Wc will marcl ro rlc cnd
along your road!’’ (8|–8s).
¡in ¡an. as wc lavc wirncsscd. is rlc morc pocric ol rlc rwo young
pcoplc in rlc ¡in lamily. alrlougl slc is also morc ol a docrrinairc. as
claracrcrizcd ly ¡in Yuslcng (¡o). Slc is quick ro criricizc lcr lrorlcr
and cvcn lis girllricnd. and slc would sooncr slarc lcr rlouglrs wirl
lcr larlcr rlan scck supporr lrom lcr morlcr. Wlilc praiscd lor pcrsoni-
lying rlc ‘‘puriry. lravcry and ligl dcgrcc ol scll-disciplining posscsscd
ly young pcoplc raiscd ly rlc Communisr cducarion.’’
49
¡in ¡an always
lisrcns ro lcr larlcr as rlc admiring dauglrcr slc is. Slc prcscnrs a con-
rinual scmioric and polirical raming. sincc rlc Yan’an cra. ol rlc woman
wlo lad lccn placcd in a suljccr posirion ly May ¡ourrl lilcral luman-
crv Gcc.tt. inrcrvicwcd somc ‘‘old soldicrs’’ (an army gcncral. rlc vicc-prcsidcnr ol
rlc narional womcn’s lcdcrarion. and rlc dcpury minisrcr ol gcology) ro rcflccr rlcir
apprcciarion ol rlc play. \pon cnrcring Morlcr Yang Zlilua’s lomc. rlc rcporrcr
wrorc. you would immcdiarcly lccl rlar rlis was a ‘‘rcvolurionary lamily.’’ Morlcr
Yang (widow ol rlc promincnr Communisr lcadcr and rlcorisr Qu Qiulai) parricu-
larly idcnrificd wirl Grandma Xiao in rlc play, rlc claracrcr onsragc ‘‘cxprcsscs wlar
wc old pcoplc lavc in mind. Wc arc jusr likc lcr in lilc.’’ Scc ¡ang Mao. ‘‘¡aozlansli
ran Nicn;ina !. vi!ci ’’ (Òld soldicrs ralk alour T/. vsuna a.n.rctisn). Lit.rcrv Gcc.tt.,
no. :¡¡ (Òcrolcr ¡oo:). i–¬.
|8. ¡cr rolc lorcsladows wlar is ro lccomc a srandard grandmorlcr in rlc ‘‘modcl
opcra’’ B.! Lcnt.rn ol rlc Culrural Fcvolurion.
|o. Yao Wcnyuan. ‘‘1lc Song ol Yourl in rlc Agc ol Socialisr Fcvolurion.’’ Lit.rcrv
Gcc.tt., no. :¡¡ (Òcrolcr ¡oo:). ¡|.
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T/. Lvri.c/ ³a. cn! It· Di·.snt.nt· 187
ism. A ccnrral rropc lor rlis proccss is prcciscly ro clangc lcr rolc lrom
rlar ol a lovcr ro a lairllul dauglrcr. olrcn a dauglrcr ro rlc ¡arry.
50
¡n
conccrr wirl rlis idcnriry makcovcr. ¡in ¡an musr lc lrcc ol arraclmcnrs
and lavc no romanric inrcrcsrs, lcr malc lricnd ¡i Fongslcng nccds ro lc
youngcr and cvcn clildlikc. Ycr nowlcrc arc rlc parriarclal valucs morc
rcadily affirmcd rlan in rlc ccnrral acrion ol rlc play. wlicl amounrs ro
a communal cfforr ar rcscuing ¡in Yuslcng rlc prodigal son. wlo finally
comcs ro lis scnscs and lccomcs awarc ol lis olligarions as lamily lcir.
¡is ncwconsciousncss acquircs a gcncral significancc rlrougl rcvclarions
alour lis rruc idcnriry. wlicl also scrvc ro convcy rlc ccnrraliry ol lamily
srrucrurc ro rlc symlolic ordcr.
¡rom all appcaranccs. ¡in Yuslcng rakcs grcar pridc in lis disring-
uislcd lamily lackground. ¡c confidcnrly cnjoys rlc prcsrigc rlar comcs
wirl lis larlcr’s promincncc and lc knows wlcn ro usc lis lamily’s in-
flucncc and connccrions ro lis own lcncfir. Wlcn Xiao Iiyc warns lim ol
sinking inro rlc ‘‘lourgcois quagmirc.’’ all Yuslcng nccds ro say is ‘‘Ðon’r
you scarc mc. ¡’m nor lrom a lourgcois lamily’’ (¬s). ¡n rlc carlicr vcr-
sion. lc promprly adds. ‘‘¡lcasc lcar in mind rlar my lamily is a rcvo-
lurionary lamily.’’ ro wlicl Iiyc will answcr. ‘‘Bur rlar lonor lclongs ro
your parcnrs.’’
51
1lis cxclangc. dclcrcd lrom rlc ¡oo| cdirion. linrs ar
rlc diffcrcnr social srarus lcrwccn rlc ¡ins and rlc Xiaos. a cadrc lamily
vcrsus a working class lamily. 1lc modificd vcrsion. lowcvcr. prcvcnrs
rlis divisivc rcading ly giving Iiyc’s rclurral a morc magnanimous and
morc gcncral appcal. ‘‘Wc arc all rcvolurionary offspring. So wc nccd ro
lc all rlc morc carclul’’ (¬s). 1lc sulscqucnr rcvclarion is nor ro conrra-
dicr Iiyc’s srarcmcnr lcrc. lor rlar would rruly pur in disarray a losr ol
lasic assumprions alour rlc consrirurion ol a rcvolurionary rradirion. Òn
rlc conrrary. Yuslcng is ro lc confirmcd as a rcvolurionary dcsccndanr.
cxccpr rlar lc is nor rlc liological son ol ¡in Iian and Xia Slujuan.
1lis lrings us ro rlc climax ol rlc play. wlcn ¡in Yuslcng rcarlully
rcads rlc larcwcll lcrrcr rlar lis morlcr wrorc lim. wirl lcr own llood.
so. Scc Mcng Yuc and Ðai Iinlua. Fu./u /i·/i !i/ics. xicn!ci /unu m.nxu. vcniiu
(Imcrging lrom lisrory. srudics in modcrn womcn’s lircrarurc) (Kailcng. ¡cnan rcn-
min. ¡o8o). io:–oo. ¡or anorlcr inrcrcsring inrcrprcrarion. alrlougl lrom a diffcrcnr
pcrspccrivc. scc C. 1. ¡sia. ‘‘Fcsidual ¡cmininiry. Womcn in Clincsc Communisr
¡icrion.’’ in C/in.·. Csmmuni·t Lit.rctur., cd. Cyril Bircl (Þcw York. ¡racgcr. ¡oo:).
¡s8–¬o.
s¡. S.ritt· (Augusr ¡oo:). ii.
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188 C/in.·. As!.rn
momcnrs lclorc slc was cxccurcd ly ‘‘rlc cncmy’’ lor parriciparing in
a lalor movcmcnr. 1lis primal sccnc ol sacrificc lappcncd rwcnry-lour
ycars carlicr. wlcn Yuslcng (in rlc carlicsr producrion lis namc mcanr
‘‘prison-lorn’’) was rlrcc days old. Sincc rlcn. ¡in Iian las rakcn carc
ol rlc young loy. and lc and Xia Slujuan dccidc ro rcll rlc rrurl only
now lccausc Yuslcng. in ¡in Iian’s opinion. purs ro slamc morc rlan rlc
lamily ly lorging rlc mcdical rcporr. ‘‘You lavc lumiliarcd rlc working
class. . . . You lailcd rlc ¡arry’s cfforr in raising you. lailcd your rcacl-
crs’ insrrucrions. Worsr ol all. you lcr down your dcccascd parcnrs!’’ (8i)
Wirl cvcryonc prcscnr duly slockcd. ¡in Iian produccs rlc lcrrcr lrom
a lox and ordcrs Yuslcng ro rcad ir aloud. 1lc sragc is ar rlis momcnr
rurncd inro an cmorionalizcd lisrory class ly rlc pullic rcading.
Lin Tu·/.na. (B.c!· c/su!) ‘‘My dcar clild.
1lc cxccurioncr las raiscd lis murdcrous knilc. Òur com-
radcs arc singing in an impassioncd voicc. and wc arc going
ro rlc cxccurion ground vcry soon. ¡rom now on. you will
ncvcr scc your own parcnrs.
Ðcar clild. ¡ wrirc rlis lcrrcr ro you so rlar you will rc-
mcmlcr. your parcnrs wcrc lorl workcrs. . . . You may lor-
gcr your larlcr. you may lorgcr your morlcr. lur you may
ncvcr lorgcr rlar rlcrc arc srill class cncmics in rlc world!
You musr figlr lor rlc nollc idcals ol communism! . . .
1imc is up. 1lc doors arc clanging! 1lc cxccurioncr is
lcrc! ¡arcwcll. my dcar clild! Wc arc lcaving. lur don’r you
lorgcr your roors. nor your roors . . .’’ (1oward rlc lcrrcr)
Morlcr. my own morlcr! (Hun./.· sv.r sn t/. tc//., .rv-
ina) (8:)
52
So mucl lad ro go inro rlis documcnr lor ir ro lc usallc in rlc prcscnr
conrcxr rlar irs firsr vcrsion was rwicc as long. unril onc scnsillc vLn gcn-
cral in rlc audicncc commcnrcd rlar. rcalisrically. rlc morlcr would nor
lavc sufficicnr rimc ro pcn an cssay oncc rlc cxccurioncr was in siglr.
53
Þoncrlclcss. irs ovcrr consrrucrcdncss did nor sccm ro compromisc irs
si. Acr : is rranslarcd ly Kcvin Ò’Connor and Consranrinc 1ung. collccrcd in Lit-
.rctur. s/ t/. P.st/.’· B.tu//i. s/ C/inc, oio–|¡. ¡or a lull rranslarion ol rlc lcrrcr. scc
o:o.
s:. Scc Sli 1ao. Xia Clun. and Sli ¡ianxing. ‘‘Convcrsarion Among 1lrcc Ðircc-
rors.’’ o.
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T/. Lvri.c/ ³a. cn! It· Di·.snt.nt· 189
cmorional rcvcrlcrarions or idcological pcrrincncc. ¡r was cvcn pullislcd
in rlc narional ncwspapcr C/in.·. Tsut/ so rlar rcadcrs could digcsr and
mcmorizc rlc rcxr.
54
Wirlin rlc play. rlc guilry conscicncc acrivarcd ly
rlc lcrrcr srrikcs nor only ¡in Yuslcng. wlo soon alrcr daslcs inro rlc
rimcly rlundcrsrorm rlar ragcs oursidc. lur also ¡in Iian rlc adoprivc
larlcr. ‘‘My old comradcs-in-arms! You sacrificcd cvcryrling lor rlc rcvo-
lurion. cxclanging your llood and lilc lor wlar wc lavc roday. Bur. wlar
can ¡ say . . . ¡ lcr you down. ¡ lavcn’r lrouglr lim up as somconc you’d
lopcd lor’’ (8:). ¡n lacr. cvcryonc ar rlc sccnc. cxccpr ¡in ¡an. las rcason
ro lccl aslamcd. Xia Slujuan. rlc doring morlcr. lalls silcnr, Xia Qianru.
rlc complianr girllricnd. rcalizcs wlar slc musr do. 1lc plcading voicc
lrom rlc pasr loudly dcmands rcdcmprivc acrion.
1lc logic rlar lulfills irscll in rlis climacric sccnc is dccply roorcd in rlc
norion ol indclrcdncss. or cvcn in a sccularizcd vcrsion ol original sin.
Sincc rlc ulrimarc sacrificc was alrcady madc in an cxclangc. grarirudc
lccomcs rlc only paymcnr rlar a larcr gcncrarion can offcr ro rlc rcvo-
lurionary marryrs. 1lar sacrificc insrills a guilr-riddcn scll-conccprion in
rlc young gcncrarion. and ir rcquircs a conlormisr rclarionslip ro rlc
grcar dccds ol rlc pasr. ¡n rlis logic ol symlolic cxclangc. lorgcrring
rlc pasr consrirurcs an unspcakallc lcrrayal and amounrs ro dcnying
onc’s own origin and rlcrclorc onc’s idcnriry. By conrrasr. rlc cfforr ro
kccp alivc a lisrorical mcmory cxprcsscs rlc dcsirc lor conrinuiry and lor
making rlc lururc comprclcnsillc ly connccring ir. il nor suljccring ir.
ro rlc lcroic pasr. A significanr porrion ol rlc culrural-polirical cncrgy
in rlc young ¡coplc’s Fcpullic was spcnr. as Ðirrmcr olscrvcs. ro sarisly
rlc nccd ol rcminding rlc rcvolurionary ¡arry ol irs clarismaric origins
and commirmcnr.
55
Ycr cvcn grcarcr culrural spccificiry rcsidcs in rlc prcdominanr lamily
srrucrurc. rlrougl wlicl rlc dcmand lor grarirudc as a lorm ol idcologi-
cal conlormiry is madc in T/. Tsuna G.n.rctisn. 1lc rcvclarion ol ¡in
Yuslcng’s rruc idcnriry docs nor ar all rcsulr in rlc collapsc ol lis world
or a rcvcrsal ol lorrunc. sucl as a lamily sccrcr. also rcvcalcd againsr rlc
lackground ol ominous rlundcr. would do in a classical rragcdy ly Cao
Yu in rlc ¡o:os. ¡nsrcad ol lringing ir ro a crisis. rlc rcvclarion lorrifics
rlc lamily ly rurning irs symlolic composirion inro irs own rcason lor
s|. Scc C/in.·. Tsut/ (s Òcrolcr ¡oo:).
ss. Ðirrmcr. C/inc’· Csntinusu· B.vs/utisn, is.
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190 C/in.·. As!.rn
lcing and irs srrcngrl. As rlc son ro lorl lis liological and adoprivc par-
cnrs. wlo rcprcscnr rlc pasr and rlc prcscnr ol rlc samc causc. Yuslcng
is doully olligcd ro conrinuc rlc rcvolurion as a lamily rradirion. Wlar
rlc rcvclarion and irs sulscqucnr cffccrs illusrrarc. lowcvcr. is nor rlar
rlc rcvolurionary causc is onc lamily’s lusincss, rarlcr. ir las rlc lilc ol a
lamily cnrcrprisc. wlicl can lc susraincd only ly rlc conrinuing cfforrs
ol gcncrarions. 1lis is ccrrainly ¡in Iian’s undcrsranding wlcn. alrcr Yu-
slcng runs off ro comc ro lis scnscs in rlc drcncling rain. lc asks ol
lis dauglrcr. ¡in ¡an. ‘‘Òur gcncrarion rook grcar pains ro scizc poliri-
cal powcr and csrallisl a prolcrarian lamily cnrcrprisc [ iicv.|. . . . ¡ow
alour our ncxr gcncrarion· Will rlcy all conrinuc along our road ro irs
cnd·’’ (8|)
1lc composirion ol rlc ¡in lamily makcs inrclligillc a parallcl lcrwccn
filial picry and rlc lisrorical mission ol rlc young gcncrarion. ¡r also lclps
naruralizc rlc lamily as rlc symlolic ordcr ol rlc ncw socialisr socicry.
wlicl now idcnrifics and posirions irs mcmlcrs in rcrms ol lamily rcla-
rions. Wlar complicarcs rlis ncw symlolic ordcr is rlar wlilc ir modcls
irscll alrcr rlc cxrcndcd lamily. ir also discouragcs rlc narural lamily as
rlc smallcsr and mosr cxclusivc social unir. 1lus. rlc rwo rccomlincd or
arrificial lamilics in rlc play. rlc Xiaos and rlc ¡ins.
56
1lis rypc ol lcavily
dcnaruralizcd rcvolurionary lamily would find irs classical rcprcscnrarion
in rlc ‘‘modcl opcra’’ Hsna!.na ii (1lc rcd lanrcrn). in wlicl a lamily
ol rlrcc gcncrarions accommodarcs rlrcc scpararc surnamcs. 1lis com-
munal lamily also cmlodics an unmisrakallc uropian cfforr ar crcaring a
pcrsonallc rcvolurionary socicry.
1lc flip sidc ol rlis dominanr ordcr. lowcvcr. is rlar anyonc wlo docs
nor lclong in rlc socializcd lamilial srrucrurc is vicwcd as a srrangcr or
so. ¡n onc ol rlc carlicsr arriclcs cxplicaring rlc significancc ol T/. Tsuna G.n.rctisn,
rlc aurlor apparcnrly noriccd rlc imporrancc ol inrroducing a ncw conccpr and prac-
ricc ol kinslip in rlc ncw socialisr socicry. and lc concludcd rlar rcvolurion is similar
ro a lamily cnrcrprisc and rlar lamily cducarion was parr ol class cducarion. ‘‘¡amily-
lascd social rclarions arc lisrorically cxrincr in our rcal lilc. lur rradirional lamily and
kinslip conccprs arc lar lrom climinarcd. 1lcy arc srill parr ol rlc rcmaining lcudalisr
idcology. ¡or us roday. clildrcn arc nor only rlc ncxr gcncrarion ol rlc lamily. lur also
ol rlc rcvolurion. Clildrcn and rlcir parcnrs arc nor only lamily mcmlcrs. lur also
comradcs in rlc conrinual dcvclopmcnr ol rlc rcvolurionary causc.’’ Scc Wcn ¡ing. ‘‘A
1louglr-provoking 1lcmc. A Fcading ol rlc ¡lay T/. Tsuna G.n.rctisn,’’ }surnc/ s/
Drcmc, no. ¡¬o (Augusr ¡oo:). i|.
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T/. Lvri.c/ ³a. cn! It· Di·.snt.nt· 191
cvcn an auromaric suspccr. ¡in ¡an’s young lricnd ¡i Fongslcng. lor cx-
amplc. is a prollcmaric ‘‘social yourl’’ unril lc mccrs ¡in Iian. lccomcs
domcsricarcd. and addrcsscs Xia Slujuan as ‘‘aunr’’ (/smu). Wlilc ¡in
¡an succcsslully inrroduccs ¡i Fongslcng ro lcr lamily. lcr lrorlcr ¡in
Yuslcng ncvcr managcs ro lring lomc. or onsragc. Young Wu. a dulious
lricnd ol lad influcncc and a diffcrcnr class origin.
57
¡n lacr. lricndslip
now las ro lc rcinvcnrcd lccausc ir olrcn prcscnrs a larcral associarion
rlar undcrmincs rlc lamily-ccnrcrcd vcrrical social srrucrurc.
58
1lanks ro
rlc ncw valuc ol lamiliariry. ¡in Yuslcng’s girllricnd. Xia Qianru. can-
nor lc a roral srrangcr lur lappcns ro lc rlc niccc ol lis losrcr morlcr.
Wlar rlc lyrical agc cnvisions lor irscll is a socicry rlar docs nor nccd or
acknowlcdgc srrangcrs. ¡r is an cnlargcd lamily ro wlicl any unlamiliar
clcmcnr or prcscncc cvokcs rlc lorror ol a quagmirc. ol invading virus
and inlccrious discascs. Ycr ro rlosc wlo acccpr and parriciparc in rlc
symlolic ordcr. as ¡in Yuslcng dcscrilcs wirl mucl grarirudc lclorc rc-
rurning ro rlc prospccring rcam. ‘‘our socicry is rruly a lig warm lamily.
¡l somconc lalls. numcrous comradcly lands will rcacl our lrom all di-
rccrions. Þow all comradcs lavc cxrcndcd rlcir lands ro mc. . . . ¡lcasc
wair and scc’’ (¡o¡). 1lc dramaric conflicr is rcsolvcd only wlcn lc lcgins
ro lccd lis dury and indclrcdncss ro rlc ‘‘lig warm lamily.’’
Climax. 1lc Icsrasy ol Sragcd ¡ilc
1lc final sccnc ol T/. Tsuna G.n.rctisn crcarcs an arousing display ol mo-
rion and yourllul anriciparion. \isionary sragc dirccrions suggcsr low ro
aclicvc rlc dcsircd cffccr.
(Ònc alrcr anorlcr. rrucks pass in rlc ncar lackground. carrying young
pcoplc on rlcir way ro lilc, wavcs ol passionarc singing comc rlrougl.)
(¡coplc cnrlusiasrically lid larcwcll ro onc anorlcr.)
. . . . .
s¬. According ro ¡in ¡an. Young Wu is a parasirc wlo comcs lrom a wcalrly lamily
and docs nor work (¡o). Apparcnrly lis lamily uscd ro own a largc lusincss and now
livcs on inrcrcsr sincc irs propcrry was narionalizcd in rlc mid-¡osos.
s8. ¡or an carlicr srudy ol rlis ropic. scc Izra ¡. \ogcl. ‘‘¡rom ¡ricndslip ro
Comradcslip. 1lc Clangc in ¡crsonal Fclarions in Clina.’’ C/inc Oucrt.r/v, no. i¡
(Ianuary-Marcl ¡oos). |o–oo.
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192 C/in.·. As!.rn
¬. Sragc dcsign. Nicn;ina !. vi!ci (1lc young gcncrarion) (¡oo:). ¡rom Xiii /cs (Iournal
ol drama) (Bcijing. Þovcmlcr ¡oo:).
(1lc young pcoplc [onsragc| wavc good-lyc ro rlc audicncc, rrucks
conrinuc ro pass ncarly, singing ariscs, lurrlcr away rrains arc moving inro
rlc disrancc.) (¡o|)
¡n rlc midsr ol rlis landscapc ol socialisr modcrnizarion and a crcsccndo
ol commorion. ¡in ¡an rlc pracricing pocr dclivcrs. ‘‘wirl urmosr pas-
sion.’’ an officious parring spcccl ro lcr parcnrs. Grandma Xiao. Brorlcr
Iiyc. and. mosr imporranr. rlc rlcarcr audicncc. Iusr as ¡in Yuslcng on-
sragc is compcllcd ro lc grarclul ro a caring socialisr socicry ol a lamily.
so rlc audicncc ol ‘‘classmarcs and comradcs’’ musr parriciparc in rlc
communal salurarion ro rlc rcvolurionary yourl. ¡crc rlc dcsirc ro cn-
gagc and cducarc rlc audicncc finds irs mosr cxplicir cxprcssion. ¡romrlc
pcrspccrivc ol gcnrc convcnrions. rlis cnding scrvcs ro rcinlorcc pullic
spacc and launclcs rlc dramaric acrion lcyond rlc limircd arca ol rlc ¡in
lamily lousclold (figurc ¬). Ònc way ro rakc srock ol rlc polirical agcnda
ol rlc play is indccd ro scc ir as acrivcly climinaring a viallc living room
drama.
59
A gradual disappcarancc ol cncloscd domcsric spacc agrccs wcll
wirl rlc ccnrral idcological mcssagc rlar rlc play wanrs ro convcy. ¡n onc
so. Scc Faymond Williams. ‘‘1lcarrc as a ¡olirical ¡orum.’’ in lis T/. Ps/iti.· s/
As!.rni·m. ³acin·t t/. N.m Csn/srmi·t·, cd. wirl inrro. ly 1ony ¡inkncy (¡ondon.
\crso. ¡o8o). 8¡–o|. lor a succincr analysis ol rlc lormal and inrcllccrual crisis wirlin
rlc naruralisr convcnrion ol locusing on rlc domcsric lourgcois lousclold in Iuro-
pcan drama ar rlc rurn ol rlc ccnrury.
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T/. Lvri.c/ ³a. cn! It· Di·.snt.nt· 193
acrual sraging ly rlc Bcijing ¡coplc’s Arr 1lcarcr. rlc scr dcsigncr lound
ir ncccssary ro crcarc a ncw cnvironmcnr lor rlc final sccnc. wlcrc. wirl
rlc lclp ol a roraring sragc. a panoramic vicwol rlc ciryscapc ol Slanglai
camc ro liglr and rcplaccd rlc lackground ol an cncircling wall.
60
1lc rlcarrical dynamic ar rlc final momcnr is complcx lccausc ir in-
vircs audicncc parriciparion lur dclilcrarcly prccludcs any possillc inrcr-
acrion. By looking in rlc dirccrion ol rlc audicncc and addrcssing ir as a
collccriviry. acrors onsragc arc no longcr parr ol a salcly disranccd spcc-
raclc lor olscrvarion. Òn rlc conrrary. rlcy acrivcly rcacl our and scck
ro clcvarc rlc audicncc. wlilc dominaring rlc inrcrplay ly prcscriling
audicncc rcacrion. 1lis inrcrpolaring opcrarion is consciously carricd our
rlrouglour rlc play. ¡n onc dirccror’s rcndcring. wlcn ¡in ¡an vows ro
conrinuc rlc causc ol lcr larlcr’s gcncrarion. insrcad ol vcrlalizing lcr
inrcnrion. slc comcs lorward lrom rlc rcar ol rlc sragc ro join Grandma
Xiao and lcr larlcr. Òncc rlcir visual dominancc is csrallislcd. ‘‘rlc rlrcc
ol rlcm dirccr rlcir cxcircd. gravc lur carncsr gazc roward rlc audicncc.
and slowly movc ir up and lcyond. . . .’’
61
1lc samc guiding gazc. in lacr.
docs morc rlan pin rlc audicncc in a morally and polirically passivc posi-
rion. Sincc ir is no longcr a pcrsonalizcd look. ir also ricoclcrs. as ir wcrc.
ro imposc scll-cxaminarion on rlc acrors rlcmsclvcs. 1lc cxpcricncc ol
playing ¡in ¡an lorl in rlc rlcarcr and on rlc scrccn. acrrcss Cao ¡ci rc-
porrcd. ‘‘was nor only rwo ycars ol lcarning lrom lcr. lur also rwo ycars
ol lollowing rlc cxamplc ol progrcssivc pcoplc in rcal lilc and ol srudying
advanccd idcas.’’
62
Ar rlc Clincsc Clildrcn’s Arr 1lcarcr. rlc dirccror rc-
counrcd. rlc cnrirc sraff assigncd ro producc T/. Tsuna G.n.rctisn was
scizcd ly a growing anxicry wlcn rlcy rcalizcd rlar rlcy could nor suc-
ccsslully cnacr rlc play unlcss rlcy firsr dcvclopcd ‘‘idcas and scnrimcnrs
as wcll as qualirics rlar arc claracrcrisric ol our rimcs.’’
63
¡or rlcm. roo.
oo. Scc ¡iu ¡u. ‘‘1an Nicn;ina !. vi!ci lujing slcji’’ (Òn rlc scr dcsign ol T/. vsuna
a.n.rctisn). }surnc/ s/ Drcmc, no. ¡¬¡ (Þovcmlcr ¡oo:). :|–:s. A diffcrcnr dcsign.
ly rlc Clincsc Clildrcn’s Arr 1lcarcr. comlincd rlc original rwo sccncs and crcarcd
onc scrring rlar rclocarcs rlc sirc ol acrion ro a morc pullic placc—rlc inrcrmcdiary
arca connccring rlc ¡in and Xiao lousclolds. Scc Xu Xiaozlong. ‘‘Ðirccrorial Þorcs.’’
}surnc/ s/ Drcmc, no. ¡8i (¡clruary ¡oo|). :8.
o¡. Xu Xiaozlong. ‘‘Ðirccrorial Þorcs.’’ :8.
oi. Cao ¡ci. ‘‘Zai lc ¡in ¡an xiangclu dc rizi li’’ (¡n rlc days spcnr wirl ¡in ¡an).
Dcc/sna !icnvina (¡opular cincma). nos. ioo–o¬ (Augusr-Scprcmlcr ¡oos). ||.
o:. Scc Xu Xiaozlong. ‘‘Ðirccrorial Þorcs.’’ :o.
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194 C/in.·. As!.rn
parriciparion in rlc play was a rraining scssion. prolcssional as wcll as
idcological.
Wlar wc wirncss lcrc is a rclling insrancc ol collccrivizcd culrural pro-
ducrion in rlc lyrical agc. 1lc rlcarrical dimcnsion ol T/. Tsuna G.n.rc-
tisn rcvcalcd rlc ccnrraliry ol rlc sragc ro rlc logic ol rlc popular imagi-
narion ol rlis visionary pcriod. ¡r was an agc wlcn rlc sragc was cxpccrcd
ro lc a rrurllul mirror ol lilc. and lilc irscll was cclclrarcd as a grand
sragc lor purposclul acrion. Sraging lccamc rlc mosr cxpcdicnr and mosr
cffccrivc arr lorm rlrougl wlicl ro cnacr narional aspirarion and gcn-
crarc rcvolurionary cnrlusiasm. Þor surprisingly. ir was ar rlc lciglr ol
rlis lyrical pcriod rlar rlcarcr rapidly supcrscdcd rlc novcl. cincma. and
cvcn pocrry in irs srarus as socialisr mass culrurc.
64
¡n a ¡oo| arriclc. ‘‘Masrcrs in ¡ilc. Masrcrs on Sragc.’’ a wcll-known
acrrcss-cum-wrircr marvclcd ar rlc conrinuiry lcrwccn conrcmporary lilc
and rlc sragc. A paradc ol mcraplors lclpcd ¡uang Zongying illusrrarc
rlc imporrancc ol rlcarcr ro rlc unlolding ol a ‘‘socialisr culrural rcvolu-
rion.’’ 1lc sragc ‘‘is rlc figlring ground lcrwccn ncwidcas and old lorccs,
ir is rlc plarlorm lor a singing conrcsr ro cxprcss communisr idcals, ir is
rlc lorum lor a lcarcd dclarc lcrwccn rlc prolcrarian and rlc lourgcois
world vicws, ir is rlc laral larrlcground ol class srrugglc.’’
65
A lircrary
rlcorcrician also souglr ro cxplain. lrom a sliglrly diffcrcnr anglc. rlc
rclcvancc ol rlc ‘‘sccrling lilc’’ rcprcscnrcd on sragc during ¡oo:–o|.
¡n rlis condirion. drama is morc rlan arr work lor pcoplc ro apprcciarc.
and rlcarcr is morc rlan a placc ro cnrcrrain. 1lcsc plays. lccausc rlcy pro-
loundly rcflccr rlc rcvolurionary spirir ol our rimc and porrray rlc inrcnsc
srrugglc in our lisrorical pcriod. lccomc a mirror rlar lclps pcoplc undcr-
srand lilc in our rimcs. a scarclliglr rlar illuminarcs rlc road lor pcoplc
ro advancc on. a rcxrlook lor lilc rlar guidcs pcoplc in low ro cngagc in
srrugglc.
66
o|. ¡or an illuminaring discussion ol rlc olscssion wirl rlc ‘‘sragc’’ mcraplor in
modcrn Clincsc polirical culrurc. scc Ioscpl ¡cvcnson. B.vs/utisn cn! Cs·msts/itcn-
i·m. T/. I.·t.rn Stca. cn! t/. C/in.·. Stca.· (Bcrkclcy. \nivcrsiry ol Calilornia ¡rcss.
¡o¬¡).
os. ¡uang Zongying. ‘‘Slcngluo dc zlurcn. wurai dc zlurcn. dayan xiandai jumu
suixiang’’ (Masrcrs in lilc. masrcrs on sragc. rlouglrs on mass producrions ol modcrn
drama). Lit.rcrv Gcc.tt., no. :¡| (Ianuary ¡oo|). ¡|–¡¬.
oo. ¡cng Mu. ‘‘Wurai slang lcircng dc slcngluo. cong jinnian lai luaju cluangzuo
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T/. Lvri.c/ ³a. cn! It· Di·.snt.nt· 195
¡n onc casc. rlcarcr is vicwcd as rcsraging. alrlougl in a morc in-
rcnsc dramaric lorm. rlc conlronrarions in rcal lilc, in anorlcr. rlc sragc
is callcd upon ro projccr grcarcr clariry onro rcaliry. Borl undcrsrand-
ings cmplasizc rlc crysrallizing luncrion ol pullic rlcarcr rarlcr rlan irs
carlarric or cnrcrraining aspccrs. 1lc mass appcal ol rlcarcr lics in rlc
prcvailing mcraplor rlar ‘‘all rlc world is a sragc.’’ wlicl cncouragcs us
all ro drcamol. or cvcn parriciparc in. a simplificd and ycr liglly purposc-
lul cxisrcncc. ¡r is rlc poliricizcd rlcarcr rlar cncapsularcs a dccp uropian
dcsirc lor glolal rranslormarion. ¡or rlcarcr lcsr cxprcsscs rlc impulsc
ro sullimarc lilc inro an arrisric cxpcricncc, in rlc final analysis. ir dcfics
cxpcricnrial rimc ly sraging a sparial and rlcarrical spccraclc. 1lc lcaury
ol sucl rlcarrical spccraclc is also rlc violcncc wirl wlicl ir rccasrs a
mundanc and normalizcd lilc. ¡cncc. rlc arousing rlcarrics ol all rcvo-
lurionary cnrcrpriscs. ¡owcvcr. wlilc ccsrasy srimularcd ly sragcd lilc
may ignirc cxplosivc yourllul cncrgy. rlc nccd ro susrain sucl cncrgy and
passion will in rlc cnd prcscnr a solcring clallcngc. cvcn rlc spccraclc’s
undoing. ¡l a sragcd spccraclc lcrs us aclicvc a suprcmc joy ar rlc cxpcnsc
ol rcmporal durarion. wc also will scck. wlcn a srarc ol cxcircmcnr lcads
ro lariguc and pcnsivcncss. comlorr and scll-rcassurancc rlrougl narra-
rivcs. rlc quinrcsscnrial arr lorm ol rcmporaliry. 1lc rcsurgcncc ol nar-
rariviry in rlc wakc ol rlcarricaliry. rlcrclorc. may lc ycr anorlcr sign ol
rlc arrival ol a posrrcvolurionary agc.
dc clcngjiu ranqi’’ (1lc sccrling lilc on sragc. rcmarks on rlc aclicvcmcnrs ol rlcarcr
in rcccnr ycars). Lit.rcrv Gcc.tt., no. :¡s (¡clruary ¡oo|). 8.
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Fcsidual Modcrnism.
Þarrarivcs ol rlc Scll in rlc ¡o8os
1lc rlcroric ol posrmodcrnism. pcrlaps lccausc ir is largcly amorplous
and scll-conrradicrory. lolds a pcculiar. almosr uncanny. lascinarion lor
rlc culrural imaginary in Clina sincc rlc larc ¡o8os. ¡rs rlcmarizcd rropc
ol disconrinuiry sccms ro caprurc and cnsurc a gcncral rclicl. a com-
lorring scnsc ol finally laving lclr lclind a niglrmarisl pcriod ol lis-
rory. rogcrlcr wirl all rlc collccrivc polirical aspirarions and idcalismrlar
markcd a rumulruous cra ol rcvolurion. 1lc cclclrarcd posrmodcrn play-
lulncss and !iff.r.n.. providc jusrificarion lor a cynical dcraclmcnr and
ar rlc samc rimc promiscs various ncw lorms ol cngagcmcnr in rlc ficld
ol discursivc and rcprcscnrarional pracriccs. 1lc pcrsisrcnr discrcdiring ol
norions sucl as ‘‘roraliry’’ and ‘‘rclcology’’ rlar onc finds in rlc posrmod-
crn rlcorcrical discoursc also scrvcs ro dclcgirimizc rlc cxisring polirical
rcaliry ol aurlorirarianism. ¡inally. posrmodcrnism. wirl irs amliguous
suggcsrion ol lisrorical pcriodizarion. rcadily mccrs rlc nccd ol an cmcr-
gcnr culrural logic wlcn ir ar oncc conjoins a posrrcvolurionary (pcrlaps
posrsocialisr as wcll) local spacc wirl a posrmodcrn world (or simply rlc
\nircd Srarcs) and allows lor a crcarivc and cnlranclising mockcry ol rlc
rcvolurionary lcriragc. ¡n rlis liglr. wc can say ir is rlc lairly unccrrain
lccling ol lcing ‘‘posr’’ rarlcr rlan spccifically ‘‘posrmodcrn’’ rlar dclivcrs
somc comlorr as wcll as a ncw spacc lor rlc imaginarion.
¡osrmodcrnism as ¡orcclosurc
1lis conflarion ol a posrrcvolurionary crlos wirl posrmodcrnisr dis-
coursc las irs addirional lisrorical rclcvancc lccausc ol rlc inrroducrion
ol a ‘‘socialisr markcr cconomy.’’ 1lc pcculiar synclronic juxraposirion
ol diffcrcnr modcs ol producrion (rcprcscnrcd in sucl various lorms ol
owncrslip as srarc-run. coopcrarivc. joinr-vcnrurc. and privarc singlc-
lousclold lusincsscs) only adds ro a gcncral disoricnrarion and skcpri-
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B.·i!uc/ As!.rni·m 197
cism. Wlilc rlc aurlorirarian polirical ordcr in cxisrcncc is conrinually
clallcngcd ly a ncw social rcaliry. rlc growing markcr cconomy also
mccrs considcrallc rcsisrancc lrom rlc idcological loldovcr ol a prcvious
rcvolurionary agc. Borl socialism and capiralism. as rwo narrarivizallc
lisrorical cloiccs. arc qucsrioncd and discrcdircd. 1lis siruarion can lc
claracrcrizcd as posrmodcrn. as ¡ lavc argucd clscwlcrc. nor only lc-
causc ir casily confirms rlc disappcarancc ol all masrcr narrarivcs. lur also
lccausc rlc rcrm ‘‘posrmodcrnism’’ lcsr dcscrilcs an inrcnsificd lisrori-
cal prcdicamcnr wlcrc rlc pcrsisrcncc ol modcrniry is pcrccivcd as sucl
wirl dismaying clariry.
1
Ixprcssivc ol a culrural logic rlar rccognizcs a
pcculiar siruarion wlcrc ir is nor possillc cirlcr ro rcsisr or lully acccpr
modcrniry. rlc posrmodcrnisr discoursc in conrcmporary Clina rlus lc-
comcs rlc symprom ol a lisroric anxicry rlar is. ncvcrrlclcss. lorccloscd
as sucl.
Bur rlc ironic rurn ol lisrory is rlar posrmodcrnism. lccausc ol rlc
conrradicrions ir indicarcs and arricularcs. invokcs rarlcr rlan canccls or
supcrscdcs modcrnism in rlis parricular juncrurc. 1lc unusual juxraposi-
rion ol diffcrcnr modcs ol producrion. in lacr. sccms ro lc prcciscly wlar
¡rcdric Iamcson rlinks ro lc rlc rypical condirion ol possililiry lor rlc
cmcrgcncc ol a modcrnisr acsrlcrics and polirics in rurn-ol-rlc-ccnrury
Iuropc. ¡n commcnring on rlc srriking ‘‘cocxisrcncc ol disrincr momcnrs
ol lisrory’’ in Kalka’s ficrion—in parricular. T/. Tric/—Iamcson olscrvcs
rlar ir is ‘‘rlc pcculiar ovcrlap ol lururc and pasr. in rlis casc. rlc rc-
sisrancc ol arclaic lcudal srrucrurcs ro irrcsisrillc modcrnizing rcndcn-
cics—ol rcndcnrial organizarion and rlc rcsidual survival ol rlc nor ycr
‘modcrn’ in somc orlcr scnsc—rlar is rlc condirion ol possililiry lor
ligl modcrnism as sucl.’’ ‘‘Wlar lollows paradoxically as a conscqucncc.’’
Iamcson conrinucs. ‘‘is rlar in rlar casc rlc posrmodcrn musr lc clar-
acrcrizcd as a siruarion in wlicl rlc survival. rlc rcsiduc. rlc loldovcr.
rlc arclaic. las finally lccn swcpr away wirlour a rracc. ¡n rlc posr-
¡. Scc my cssay ‘‘1lc ¡uncrion ol Þcw 1lcory. Wlar Ðocs ¡r Mcan ro 1alk Alour
¡osrmodcrnism in Clina·’’ in Ps/iti.·, I!.s/sav cn! Lit.rcrv Di·.sur·. in As!.rn C/inc.
T/.sr.ti.c/ Int.rv.ntisn· cn! Cu/turc/ Criti;u., cd. ¡iu Kang and Xiaoling 1ang (Ður-
lam. Þ.C.. Ðukc \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡oo:). i¬o–o8. ¡or a morc rcccnr cririquc ol posr-
modcrnisr discoursc in Clina. scc Iing Wang. ‘‘1lc ¡scudoproposirion ol ‘Clincsc
¡osrmodcrnism’. Gc ¡ci and rlc Ixpcrimcnral Slowcasc.’’ in lcr Hia/ Cu/tur. F.v.r.
Ps/iti.·, ³.·t/.ti.·, cn! I!.s/sav in D.na’· C/inc (Bcrkclcy. \nivcrsiry ol Calilornia
¡rcss. ¡ooo). i::–oo.
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198 C/in.·. As!.rn
modcrn. rlcn. rlc pasr irscll las disappcarcd (along wirl rlc wcll-known
‘scnsc ol rlc pasr’ or lisroriciry and collccrivc mcmory).’’
2
1lis is. ol
coursc. a lyporlcrical conscqucncc. Wlcrlcr or nor rlc rriumpl ol rlc
‘‘posrmodcrn’’ can lc so rlorouglgoing is vcry mucl opcn ro dclarc.
and. as Iamcson suggcsrs. ro rcgard posrmodcrnism as a complcrc and
mcmory-lrcc sysrcm would luy inro rlc vcry idcology ol rlc posrmod-
crnisr cclclrarion ol rlc dcarl ol lisrory. 1lc rcsidual rraccs ol modcrn-
ism in rlc posrmodcrnisr discoursc arc insrcad a consranr and musr lc
sccn ‘‘in anorlcr liglr. lcss as anaclronisms rlan as ncccssary lailurcs rlar
inscrilc rlc parricular posrmodcrn projccr lack inro irs conrcxr. wlilc ar
rlc samc rimc rcopcning rlc qucsrion ol rlc modcrn irscll lor rccxami-
narion.’’
3
1losc rraccs ol modcrnism would only rcvcal rlc condirion ol
modcrniry. ol wlicl rlc discoursc ol posrmodcrnism is ycr anorlcr idco-
logical rcprcscnrarion.
Clcarly lor Iamcson rlc ‘‘rcsidualiry ol rlc modcrn’’ can work as a
powcrlul srrarcgy ro conrcxrualizc rlc posrmodcrnisr rlcorcrical dis-
coursc. 1lc norion ol ‘‘rcsidual modcrnism.’’ ir sccms ro mc. can also lc
a vcry lruirlul conccpr in discussing somc conrcmporary Clincsc lircrary
producrion. cspccially rlc avanr-gardc ficrion rlar is vcry olrcn clccrcd
as ourriglr ‘‘posrmodcrn.’’ ¡n discussing rlc ‘‘culrural clallcngc’’ poscd
ly rlc cxpcrimcnral wrirings in rlc mid-¡o8os. lor insrancc. criric Zlang
Yiwu spccifically uscs rlc conccpr ‘‘posrmodcrnisr’’ ro claracrcrizc rlc
idcological and lisrorical undcrpinnings ol rlc ncw lorm ol wriring.
¡accd wirl rlc ncwclallcngcs. ‘‘rlc rwo discourscs ol Fcaliry and Modcr-
niry’’ rlar lavc susraincd modcrn Clincsc lircrarurc find rlcmsclvcs com-
ing ro a rapid dcmisc. 1lc narrarivcs ol rlc cxpcrimcnral ficrion cxprcss
a ‘‘posrmodcrn’’ consciousncss and ‘‘rcrminarc in rlcir own laslion rlc
sacrcd rradirion ol May ¡ourrl lumanism. wlilc ar rlc samc rimc making
impossillc rlc lanrasy cnrcrraincd ly inrcllccruals alour rlcir valucs and
posirions.’’
4
Bur rlis ‘‘cnd ol idcalism’’ rlar rlc aurlor lclicvcs ro lc rlc
claracrcrisric ol ‘‘posrmodcrniry’’ sccms srill ro implicarc mucl ol rlc
i. Iamcson. Ps·tms!.rni·m, Or, T/. Cu/turc/ Lsai. s/ Lct. Cctitc/i·m (Ðurlam.
Þ.C.. Ðukc \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡oo¡). :oo. Scc ‘‘Þorcs 1oward a 1lcory ol rlc Modcrn’’
in ‘‘Sccondary Ilalorarions’’ lor a discussion ol rlc rclarionslip lcrwccn modcrniry.
modcrnizarion. and modcrnism. :oi–¡:.
:. Iamcson. Ps·tms!.rni·m, xvi.
|. Zlang Yiwu. ‘‘¡ixiang zluyi dc zlongjic’’ (1lc cnd ol idcalism). B.iiina m.nxu.
(Bcijing lircrarurc) (April ¡o8o). ¡¡.
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B.·i!uc/ As!.rni·m 199
modcrnisr anxicry and dcspair. ¡n lacr. rlc narraror ‘‘¡’’ ol mosr cxpcri-
mcnral ficrion lc dcscrilcs is idcnrifially a modcrnisr lcro. ir is a narraror
wirlour a privilcgcd posirion. laving no conrrol ovcr cvcnrs. and cvcn
lcss conrrol ovcr rlc ccasclcss movcmcnr ol languagc irscll.
¡ slall nor arguc ovcr wlo las a lcrrcr dcfinirion ol cirlcr ‘‘modcrnism’’
or ‘‘posrmodcrnism’’ lcrc. lor lorl rcrms arc consranrly lcing rcdcfincd
and cxpandcd. anyway. Wlar ¡ inrcnd ro dcscrilc ly rlc conccpr ol ‘‘rc-
sidual modcrnism’’ is nor so mucl an ourmodcd lircrary producrion or
somc kind ol rcvival as ir is a conscious appropriarion ol a ccrrain codificd
modcrnism. 1lc crcarors ol avanr-gardc ficrion in larc rwcnricrl-ccnrury
Clina arc lar rcmovcd. sparially and rcmporally. lrom rlc so-callcd ligl
modcrnism ol rlc Wcsr. and rlc condirions ol possililiry lor cirlcr arc
also significanrly diffcrcnr. Ycr in rlc ‘‘rcsidual modcrnism’’ rlar ¡ discuss
lclow rlcrc is an olvious appropriarion ol. il nor carclul sulscriprion ro.
wlar Faymond Williams crirically callcd rlc ‘‘idcology ol modcrnism.’’
1lis idcology cxprcsscs irscll as a sclccrivc rcading ol modcrn Iuropcan
lircrarurc rlar applauds somc wrircrs ovcr orlcrs ‘‘lor rlcir dcnaruraliz-
ing ol languagc. rlcir lrcak wirl rlc allcgcdly prior vicw rlar languagc is
cirlcr a clcar. rransparcnr glass or a mirror. and lor making alruprly ap-
parcnr in rlc vcry rcxrurc ol rlcir narrarivcs rlc prollcmaric srarus ol rlc
aurlor and lis aurloriry.’’
5
¡or Williams. rlis idcological canonizarion ol
modcrnismlas a closc rclarionslip ro rlc conscrvarivc posr-World War ¡¡
scrrlcmcnr in rlc Wcsr and owcs a grcar dcal ro a rapid dcpoliricizing ap-
propriarion ol modcrnisr rcclniqucs ly consumcr capiralism. Wirl rlis
dcvclopmcnr. modcrnism las losr irs crirical rlrusr along wirl irs ‘‘anri-
lourgcois srancc.’’
Bur in rcsidual modcrnism. rlis vcry ‘‘idcology ol modcrnism’’ is rc-
srorcd irs crirical and opposirional porcncy. and irs inncr conrradicrions
arc rcvcalcd rarlcr rlan conccalcd or smoorlcd our. Fcsidual modcrn-
ism in Clina. lurrlcrmorc. appcars ro lc nor mcrcly a rransplanrarion ol
modcrnisr rcclniqucs. lur also a rcsumprion ol a modcrnisr crlos and
cvcn modcrnisr rlcmcs. only in mucl morc inrcnsificd and scll-conscious
lorms. 1lis addcd inrcnsiry. lowcvcr. is paradoxically wlar ulrimarcly
may lcad ro a posrmodcrn lorcclosurc ol anxicry. lccausc ir is an inrcnsiry
cxpcricnccd as alrcady circumscrilcd and undcrsrood. ¡n orlcr words.
s. Faymond Williams. ‘‘Wlcn Was Modcrnism·’’ in lis T/. Ps/iti.· s/ As!.rni·m.
³acin·t t/. N.m Csn/srmi·t·, cd. wirl inrro. ly 1ony ¡inkncy (¡ondon. \crso. ¡o8o).
::.
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200 C/in.·. As!.rn
cvcn il a classical modcrnisr narrarivc (wlar Williams callcd an ‘‘inrcnsc.
singular narrarivc ol unscrrlcmcnr. lomclcssncss. solirudc and impovcr-
islcd indcpcndcncc’’) is rcsragcd. ir implicirly convcys a scnsc ol rclicl.
1lis rclicl is wlar ¡ will call a posrmodcrnisr scnsililiry ol rcsidual mod-
crnism. or wc can say rlar rlc unconscious ol rcsidual modcrnism srrivcs
lor prcciscly sucl masoclisric rclicl. ¡n rlc avanr-gardc wrirings ol rlc
mid-¡o8os. cspccially in somc narrarivcs ol rlc scll ly Yu ¡ua and Su
1ong. wc can ccrrainly scc rlis rcsidual modcrnism ar work.
1lc ¡rollcmaric ol Ixpcricncc
Yu ¡ua’s firsr major pullicarion was ‘‘Slilasui clumcn yuanxing’’ (Òn
rlc road ar agc ciglrccn. ¡o8¬).
6
a slorr srory alour a young man wlo scrs
our ro scc and cxpcricncc rlc rcal world. 1lc young man. as rlc firsr pcr-
son narraror. rclarcs rlc cvcnrs ol onc larc alrcrnoon wlcn lc was walking
on a mounrain road. ‘‘likc a loar floaring on rlc sca.’’ ¡c could nor find
an inn. and. as cvcning lcll. lc lad ro lircllikc. gcrring a ridc on a rruck
rlar was lcading in rlc samc dirccrion lrom wlicl lc lad jusr comc. 1lc
rruck was carrying a load ol applcs. and wlcn ir lrokc down along rlc
way. ir was rollcd and dcmolislcd ly a crowd ol pcasanrs and clildrcn.
1lc young man. roo. was ladly lcarcn wlilc rrying ro srop rlc mol. A
liglly allcgorical srory. ir is a narrarivc alour iniriarion and rcconciliarion
rlar adroirly llcnds olvious narrarivc clcmcnrs ol rradirional lildungs-
roman. Kalkacsquc alsurdiry wirl a scnsc ol lumor. and rlc rlcmc ol
random ycr mcrlodical violcncc rlar would soon dcvclop inro onc ol rlc
aurlor’s prcoccupying morils. Sincc rlc srory is narrarcd as pasr pcrsonal
cxpcricncc. ir also acquircs a quicrly dcraclcd ronc rlar makcs rlc cvcnrs
ir dcscrilcs all rlc morc graplic and pcrplcxing.
‘‘Òn rlc Foad ar Agc Iiglrccn’’ was immcdiarcly rccognizcd as a sig-
o. Yu ¡ua. ‘‘Slilasui clumcn yuanxing.’’ B.iiina Lit.rctur. (Ianuary ¡o8¬), col-
lccrcd in Yu ¡ua. S/i/c·ui ./um.n vucnxina (Òn rlc road ar agc ciglrccn) (1aipci.
Yuanliu. ¡ooo). ¡¬–io. Alrlougl rranslarions ol passagcs in rlis claprcr arc my own.
a complcrc Inglisl rranslarion is availallc in Yu ¡ua. T/. Pc·t cn! t/. Puni·/m.nt·,
rrans. Andrcw ¡. Ioncs (¡onolulu. \nivcrsiry ol ¡awaii ¡rcss. ¡ooo). :–¡¡. ¡n rlc
lollowing discussion. rclcrcnccs ro pagc numlcrs arc givcn in parcnrlcscs in rlc rcxr.
wirl rlc firsr numlcr rclcrring ro rlc Yuanliu cdirion and rlc sccond ro Ioncs’s rrans-
larion.
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B.·i!uc/ As!.rni·m 201
nificanr lircrary work lccausc ir inrroduccd. said rlc crirics. a ncw modc
ol wriring in conrcmporary Clincsc lircrarurc. ¡n lis prclacc ro Yu ¡ua’s
firsr collccrion. lircrary criric ¡i 1uo. wlo was dirccrly rcsponsillc lor rlc
succcss ol rlc young wrircr. olscrvcs rlar ‘‘Yu ¡ua’s ficrion complcrcly
slarrcrs our agc-old convcnrional undcrsranding ol rlc rclarionslip lc-
rwccn lircrarurc and rcaliry. languagc and rlc oljccrivc world.’’
7
¡ollow-
ing Foland Barrlcs’s carly dclcnsivc apology lor lircrary modcrnism. ¡i
1uo givcs Yu ¡ua and orlcr young cxpcrimcnral wrircrs a modcrnisr
rcading and cnrlusiasrically cclclrarcs rlc lclarcd arrival ol a ‘‘wrircrly
lircrarurc.’’ 1lis aurlor-oricnrcd lircrary producrion las ‘‘as irs prior pur-
posc ro disrupr a givcn dominanr languagc ordcr. so as nor only ro prol-
lcmarizc all cxisring lircrary and culrural codings lur also ro rurn rlc acr
ol wriring inro rlc cxciring and risky proccss ol crcaring a ncw univcrsc.’’
1lc cmcrgcncc ol rlis wrircrly lircrarurc. according ro ¡i 1uo. lormcd an
irrcsisrillc ‘‘avalanclc’’ and signalcd anorlcr ‘‘cmanciparion ol languagc’’
rlar would conrrilurc ro a rcwriring ol modcrn Clincsc lircrary lisrory.
8
Alrlougl lc docs nor spccifically usc rlc rcrm ‘‘modcrnisr.’’ ¡i 1uo
slows an cxcircmcnr ovcr Yu ¡ua’s ficrion rlar comcs largcly lrom rlc
rccognirion ol a modcrnisr polirics ol languagc ar work. 1lc criric is
also slarply awarc ol a possillc lisrorical discrcpancy. ¡c poinrs our rlar
cvcn il sucl a lascinarion wirl rlc ncwly discovcrcd nonrclcrcnrialiry and
scll-sufficicncy ol languagc las losr irs lrcslncss in rlc Wcsr. ir is pro-
loundly rcvolurionary in Clina. 1lc ‘‘idcology ol modcrnism’’ rlar Wil-
liams claracrcrizcs is rlus idcologizcd oncc again. and irs rcsidual crirical
impulsc rccncrgizcd and inscrilcd lack. Ar rlis poinr ir also lccomcs cvi-
dcnr rlar lcncarl rlis olvious rranslcraliliry ol modcrnisr rcclniqucs.
‘‘rcsidual modcrnism’’ suggcsrs a rccognizcd rccurrcncc ol rlc condirion
ol possililiry rlar nurrurcd Wcsrcrn modcrnism in rlc firsr placc. ¡l. as
Walrcr Bcnjamin argucd. Baudclairc wrorc lor an agc in wlicl modcrn
rcclnologics ol inlormarion lrouglr alour rlc ‘‘incrcasing arroply ol cx-
pcricncc.’’ and communicaliliry ol cxpcricncc lccamc a losr valuc. and il
all ol ¡rousr’s lcroic lircrary cfforrs (ly mcans ol wlicl rlc nincrccnrl
ccnrury was finally madc ‘‘ripc lor mcmorics’’) wcrc conccnrrarcd on rc-
¬. ¡i 1uo. ‘‘Xu. xuclcng lcclu·’’ (¡rclacc. Wlcrc will rlc avalanclc go·). On t/.
Bsc! ct ³a. Lia/t..n, o. ¡ncidcnrally. rlis piccc was originally pullislcd as a lcadlinc
arriclc in I.n/un /cs (Iournal ol lircrary criricism) on s Iunc ¡o8o. onc day alrcr rlc
1iananmcn incidcnr.
8. ¡lid.. ¡o–¡i.
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202 C/in.·. As!.rn
capruring pasr cxpcricncc. modcrnism in rlc Wcsr rlcn lad as onc ol
irs olscssions rlc prollcm or impossililiry ol rcal cxpcricncc.
9
¡anguagc
was conscqucnrly prollcmarizcd cirlcr lccausc prinr mass mcdia causcd
languagc ro lc dcvalucd or lccausc rradirional linguisric lalirs lad losr
rlcir rclcvancc and impacr. ¡n orlcr words. rlc modcrnisr polirics ol lan-
guagc gaincd currcncy lccausc a ccrrain lormol cxpcricncc madc ir ncccs-
sary ro qucsrion languagc and rcvcal irs unrclialiliry ro rlc cxrcnr rlar rlc
wrircr lad ro consrrucr lis or lcr own world in and rlrougl languagc.
Ðcnaruralizcd languagc finally lccamc sympromaric ol an cxisring social
ordcr rlar was radically disinrcgrarcd and dclcgirimizcd.
¡l rlis is rlc casc. Yu ¡ua’s srory offcrs a convcnicnr poinr ol dcpar-
rurc lor analyzing low a ‘‘rcsidual modcrnism’’ lclps ro grasp a lisrorical
cxpcricncc rlar consranrly lrings ro crisis all givcn rradirions and cxpcc-
rarions. 1o asscrr rlar ‘‘Òn rlc Foad ar Agc Iiglrccn’’ las a disrincr mod-
crnisr imaginarion is morc rlan a rlcorcrical conjccrurc. sincc ar rlc rimc
ol irs composirion irs aurlor was cnclanrcd ly rlc wrirings ol Kalka.
wlicl lc lad prcviously comc across ly clancc.
10
As in rlc alsrracrly
alsurd world ol K or rlc inarricularc Grcgor ol ‘‘Mcramorplosis.’’ rlc
scqucncc ol cvcnrs Yu ¡ua’s young lcro cxpcricnccs las a disrurling
simpliciry. ¡crc. rlc narrarivc unlolds ro lclic a ccrrain paradigm ol cx-
pcricncc and ro parallcl rlc cmcrgcncc ol a ncw scll-consciousncss. 1lc
lorcc ol rlc narrarivc lics in irs prollcmarizing rlc vcry carcgory ol cx-
pcricncc. ¡n rlc lcginning. rlc proragonisr. wlo is vcry proud ol rlc lcw
lrownisl lairs poking our on lis clin. finds limscll ar lomc on rlc road
ly limscll. ‘‘All rlc mounrains and clouds. 1lcy rcmindcd mc ol pcoplc
¡ kncw. So ¡ callcd rlcm aloud ly rlcir nicknamcs.’’ As lc looks lor an
inn lor rlc niglr. lc rcalizcs rlar no onc knows wlar lics alcad. 1lcy all
rcll lim ro ‘‘go ovcr and lavc a look.’’ 1lc journcy soon rurns inro a rry-
ing proccss lrom wlicl rlc proragonisr will lavc ro cmcrgc wirl a ncw
scll-conccprion and a ncw rclarionslip ro rlc oursidc world. 1lc imagi-
nary conrinuiry lcrwccn lim and orlcr pcoplc will lrcak down and lc
displaccd.
¡n a scnsc. rlc srory can lc rcad as a miniarurc ol rlc lildungsroman
o. Scc Bcnjamin’s cssays on Baudclairc. ¡rousr. and ¡cskov in I//uminctisn·, rrans.
¡arry Zoln. cd. wirl inrro. ly ¡annal Arcndr (Þcw York.. Scloclcn Books. ¡ooo).
csp. 8:–88. ¡s¬–os.
¡o. Zlu Wci. ‘‘Guanyu Yu ¡ua’’ (Alour Yu ¡ua). On t/. Bsc! ct ³a. Lia/t..n, iss.
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B.·i!uc/ As!.rni·m 203
in wlicl rlc young lcro or ‘‘yourl.’’ as ¡ranco Morcrri slows. scrs off
ro cxpcricncc and cxplorc ar oncc rlc rwo lundamcnrally consrirurivc
aspccrs ol modcrniry. moliliry and inrcrioriry. Ivcr sincc Ii//./m A.i·-
t.r· Icn!.ric/r., ‘‘ ‘apprcnriccslip’ is no longcr rlc slow and prcdicr-
allc progrcss rowards onc’s larlcr’s work. lur rarlcr an unccrrain cx-
plorarion ol social spacc. wlicl rlc nincrccnrl ccnrury—rlrougl rravcl
and advcnrurc. wandcring and gcrring losr. ‘Bolcmc’ and ‘parvcnir’—will
undcrlinc counrlcss rimcs.’’
11
¡n Iuropc. rlc lildungsroman las lccn in-
dccd a ‘‘symlolic lorm’’ ol modcrniry. rlrougl wlicl onc ol rlc consranr
conrradicrions ol modcrn lourgcois culrurc—individual auronomy and
social inrcgrarion—is rcprcscnrcd and givcn diffcrcnr arricularions. 1lc
ccnrral claracrcr ol rlc drama ol rlc lildungsroman is invarially yourl.
Þor surprisingly. in Clincsc ficrion ol rlc larc ¡o8os. cspccially in narra-
rivcs ly Su 1ong and Yu ¡ua. crirics lavc also noriccd a srrong ‘‘yourl
consciousncss’’ rlar corrcsponds ro a pcrvasivc rcsrlcssncss in socicry ar
largc. ‘‘Wlar is norcworrly is rlar rlis ‘yourl mcnraliry’ ro a ccrrain dc-
grcc cclocs a gcncral mood in conrcmporary Clina. As rlc cnrirc socicry
slips our ol parcrnalisric prorccrion and uniry. rlc scnsc ol lamily is dis-
appcaring. and pcoplc arc olligcd ro sccurc a posirion ol rlcir own. ¡n
addirion. an inrcnsificd markcr cconomy srarrs ro makc socicry inscnsirivc
roward culrural valucs.’’
12
1lc pcculiariry alour Yu ¡ua’s srory is rlar ir is a narrarivc rlar lorcilly
lrings rogcrlcr classical plors ol rlc Iuropcan lildungsroman rlar wcrc
dcvclopcd ovcr a good lall ol rlc nincrccnrl ccnrury rlrougl diffcrcnr
polirical and social lormarions. ¡n analyzing rlc cnding ol Balzac’s Ls·t
I//u·isn· as a samplc ol rlc lildungsroman ar irs rlird dialccrical sragc.
Morcrri poinrs our rlar. ly rlis poinr. ‘‘rlc narrarivc ol yourl is no longcr
rlc symlolic lorm allc ro ‘lumanizc’ rlc social srrucrurc. as in Ii//./m
¡¡. ¡ranco Morcrri. T/. Icv s/ t/. Isr/!. T/. Bi/!una·rsmcn in Lurst.cn Cu/tur.
(¡ondon. \crso. ¡o8¬). |. 1lc inrroducrion. ‘‘1lc Bi/!una·rsmcn as Symlolic ¡orm.’’
is a succincr cssay rlar dcals nor only wirl modcrniry lur wirl rlc lisrorical condirion
ol modcrnism.
¡i. Wang Zlcng and Xiao ¡ua. ‘‘¡ulu dc qingnian yisli. yu Su 1ong youguan dc
luo wuguan dc’’ (Complcmcnrary yourl consciousncss. rlings laving or nor laving
ro do wirl Su 1ong). Du·/u (Fcading) (Iuly-Augusr ¡o8o). ¡o:–o|. 1lis lricl arriclc
is a lrillianr srudy ol rlc group ol young wrircrs rcprcscnrcd ly Su 1ong and Yu ¡ua.
1lc aurlors sccm ro go dirccrly ro rlc lcarr ol rlc marrcr wlcn rlcy ralk alour a
‘‘yourl consciousncss’’ rlar rcminds onc ol modcrnism (¡oo).
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204 C/in.·. As!.rn
A.i·t.r, nor. as in T/. B.! cn! t/. B/c./, ro qucsrion irs culrural lcgiri-
macy. ¡r only acrs ro magnily rlc indiffcrcnr and inluman vigor ol rlc
modcrn world. wlicl ir rcconsrrucrs—as il ir wcrc an auropsy—lrom rlc
wounds inflicrcd upon rlc individual.’’
13
¡n ‘‘Òn rlc Foad ar Agc Iigl-
rccn.’’ wc wirncss. allcir mcraplorically. all rlrcc ol rlcsc disrincr mo-
mcnrs rranslormcd and juxraposcd inro onc cxrrcmcly scminal narrarivc
ly mcans ol irs ricl symlolism. 1lc ‘‘apprcnriccslip’’ moril appcars ar
rlc vcry cnd ol rlc srory. as a momcnr ol rlc pasr rlar las ly now lccn
lully disprovcd. 1lc lcro. alrcr rlc urrcrly uninrclligillc ‘‘carasrroplc.’’
lics down insidc rlc ladly damagcd rruck and rccalls onc sunny. mild
morning wlcn lis larlcr prcparcd a rcd lackpack lor lim and rold lim
rlar lc slould gcr ro know rlc oursidc world. ‘‘So ¡ pur rlc lcaurilul rcd
lackpack on my lack. ¡arlcr parrcd mc oncc on rlc lack ol my lcad.
jusr likc parring a pony on irs rump. Ar rlis ¡ daslcd our ol my lomc
wirl grcar joy and srarrcd ro run lappily. likc a grcarly cxcircd lorsc’’
(io, ¡¡). 1lc prcscncc ol rlc larlcr in rlc srory is nor so mucl rccallcd
as ir is undcrmincd and rcduccd. 1lrouglour rlc narrarivc. rlc ocdipal
arraclmcnr is srrcnuously rcprcsscd or simply lorgorrcn (or arc rlcsc rwo
mcnral acrivirics onc and rlc samc. anyway·) unril rlc lasr momcnr wlcn
ir rcrurns only ro lc disavowcd. 1lc rcal world ol cxpcricncc is discon-
rinuous wirl rlc ‘‘oursidc world’’ rlar rlc larlcr cvokcd in rlc lcginning.
wlicl is now carclully posrponcd ro rlc lasr lincs ol rlc srory. 1lc figurc
ol rlc larlcr srands lor a dcccprivc promisc. a lcaurilul lic rlar las ro lc
cxposcd as sucl. Fccalling lis larlcr and rlar disranr ‘‘sunny. mild morn-
ing’’ lrings somc comlorr ro rlc lcro. cirlcr lccausc lc now knows rlar
lc. ly rcason ol lis own (psyclological and plysical) cxpcricncc. las ir-
rcvocally cnrcrcd rlc rcal world. or lccausc lc rcalizcs rlc world ol lis
larlcr is no morc rlan a lanrasy. Wlcn rlc rcd lackpack. prcparcd ly rlc
larlcr and a srrong symlol ol rlc rcvolurionary lcriragc. is rakcn away
cfforrlcssly ly rlc mysrcrious and lairllcss rruck drivcr. rlc idcalism ol
rlc larlcr is dclunkcd rlrougl rlc young lcro’s dirccr cxpcricncc ol lc-
rrayal and violcncc.
14
¡:. Morcrri. T/. Icv s/ t/. Isr/!, ¡o|.
¡|. 1lc rcd lackpack sccms ro lc a lavorirc symlol ol a lygonc rcvolurionary
agc. ¡n Su 1ong’s novclla Tiiiu ·cn·i nicn !. tcsmcna (Þincrccn rlirry-lour cscapcs).
rlc young proragonisr in scarcl ol lisrory also carrics a rcd lackpack. ¡or an In-
glisl rranslarion. scc Miclacl Ðukc. rrans.. Bci·. t/. B.! Lcnt.rn (Þcw York. William
Morrow. ¡oo:). ¡o¡–¬8.
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B.·i!uc/ As!.rni·m 205
¡l rlc rcd lackpack cmlodics rlc idcological laggagc ol rlc larlcr’s
gcncrarion. ir also consrirurcs an idcnriry ol rlc young proragonisr. Wlcn
rlc lackpack is rakcn away. lor a momcnr lc lccls rlar lc las norling
lclr. ‘‘¡r was complcrcly dark ly now. and rlcrc was alsolurcly no onc
around. cxccpr lor rlc rruck and myscll. lorl cvcry incl woundcd’’ (i8,
¡o). ¡is cxpcricncc ol violcncc curs slorr rlc coursc ol dcvclopmcnr prc-
scrilcd in rlc classical lildungsroman. wlcrc rlc individual is cxpccrcd ro
lc propcrly socializcd ar rlc conclusion ol rlc narrarivc. cirlcr rlrougl
a lappy marriagc or in rlc lorm ol a lully marurc pcrsonaliry. \iolcncc
now imposcs upon rlc lcro a ncw scll-conccprion. a rcalizarion rlar lc-
rwccn lim and rlc world (in rlis casc darkncss and orlcr pcoplc) rlcrc
is an unscrrling rclarionslip ol ruprurc and disconrinuiry. 1o rcsisr vio-
lcncc. ro srand againsr rlc oljccrilying powcr ol lcrrayal and slccr lorcc
in rlc rcal world. rlc lcro las ro asscrr limscll rlrougl discovcring lis
own world. namcly. lis suljccrivc inrcrioriry. ‘‘Òn rlc Foad ar Agc Iigl-
rccn.’’ rlcrclorc. is a parallc alour rlc painlul lirrl ol scll-consciousncss
in a posrrcvolurionary cra wlcn all cxisring languagcs and mcaning sys-
rcms arc slown ro lc incapallc ol cxplaining and conraining individual
cxpcricnccs. Ixpcricncc irscll now nccds rcsrrucruring.
1lc proccss rlrougl wlicl rlc ncw scll-consciousncss appropriarcs in-
rcrioriry as irs ncccssary lorm is closcly mirrorcd and cxrcrnalizcd in rlc
unlorrunarc rruck in rlc srory rlar consranrly lrcaks down. ¡l rlc inn
rlc lcro inirially looks lor significs a purposclul cnd (alrlougl simulra-
ncously a vcry pracrical purposc). rlc rruck rlar cnds up raking lim in
rlc opposirc dirccrion complcrcly displaccs all norions ol dcsrinarion and
ncccssiry. ¡r in lacr inrroduccs slccr conringcncy. ‘‘Alrlougl rlc rruck
was going ro wlcrc ¡ lad jusr comc lrom. ¡ couldn’r carc lcss alour dircc-
rion. ¡ nccdcd an inn lor now. Sincc rlcrc was no inn. ¡ nccdcd a rruck.
and rlc rruck was riglr in lronr ol mc’’ (i¡, |). Òncc rlc rruck is rcpaircd
and lc and rlc drivcr srarr cnjoying cacl orlcr’s company. ncirlcr ol
rlcm appcars ro carc mucl alour wlcrc rlcy arc going. ‘‘¡r now marrcrcd
lirrlc ro us wlar lay alcad. As long as rlc rruck was moving. wc could
always go ovcr and lavc a look’’ (i:, o). Ar rlis poinr. rlc mcaning and
purposc ol rlc journcy is graspcd (or losr·) in rlc proccss ol rravcling.
and rlc moving rruck is madc lomc. lorl lircrally and mcraplorically.
Bur rlis acquircd carclrccncss rlar is associarcd wirl rlc rruck soon
comcs ro an cnd wlcn ir oncc again lrcaks down. 1lcn. in an oddly
casual manncr. rlc drivcr announccs rlar rlc rruck is lcyond rcpair. and
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206 C/in.·. As!.rn
our young lcro again las ro worry alour finding an inn. Ycr wlar is ro
lappcn ncxr makcs irrclcvanr lis lricl cnjoymcnr ol moliliry and lis ncw
undcrsranding ol purposclulncss. \iolcncc inrcrvcncs ro slorr-circuir lis
porcnrially advcnrurous proccss ol finding a lomc. and ir lorcsralls rlc
lappy cnding ol a convcnrional lildungsroman narrarivc.
15
¡irsr. fivc
pcoplc on licyclcs wirl lig laskcrs arraclcd on cirlcr sidc comc down a
lill. Wlcn rlcy discovcr a rruckload ol applcs. rlcy srarr unloading rlc
rruck. 1akcn alack. rlc young man srcps ovcr ro srop rlc rollcry and is
punclcd in rlc nosc. ‘‘llood gusling our likc sad rcars.’’ Mcanwlilc. rlc
rruck drivcr appcars indiffcrcnr ro wlar is going on and rakcs plcasurc in
looking ar rlc young man’s lrokcn nosc. 1lcn morc pcoplc on licyclcs
arrivc carrying lig laskcrs. and finally cvcn a land rracror opcraror par-
riciparcs in rlis ‘‘carasrroplc.’’ 1lc proragonisr rrics oncc morc ro con-
lronr rlc crowd and is lcarcn. kickcd. and pclrcd wirl applcs. ‘‘¡ didn’r
cvcn lavc rlc srrcngrl ro lc angry. All ¡ could do was warcl rlis sccnc
wirl growing indignarion. ¡ was angricsr wirl rlc rruck drivcr’’ (i¬, o).
1lc ‘‘carasrroplc’’
16
rlar lc wirncsscs las a mosr ominous armosplcrc
alour ir. ¡r is nor mcrcly a lrural violarion ol all social rclarions and in-
srirurions, ir is also violcncc madc alsolurc lccausc ol rlc alscncc ol any
significanr arricularion. 1lrouglour rlc incidcnr. nor a singlc mcaning-
lul word is urrcrcd cxccpr lor rlc lcro’s angry and lurilc prorcsrs. Ivcn
rlc plysical pain lc susrains is mosrly inflicrcd ly rlc ‘‘numcrous fisrs
and lccr’’ rlar apparcnrly lclong ro no onc parricular pcrson. 1lus. rlc
lacclcss crowd morc rlan disposscsscs rlc rruck drivcr ol lis propcrry,
ir dcprivcs rlc cvcnr irscll ol mcaning and inrclligililiry. A carasrroplic
cxpcricncc sucl as rlis onc lccomcs almosr lcyond rarionalizarion wlcn
mcaning is ncirlcr rcvcalcd nor cnriclcd ly mcans ol violcncc. lur. on
rlc conrrary. mcaning is rcduccd or cvcn cancclcd. Farlcr rlan suggcsr-
¡s. ¡n commcnring on rlc classical lildungsroman. Bcnjamin wrircs. ‘‘By inrcgrar-
ing rlc social proccss wirl rlc dcvclopmcnr ol a pcrson. ir lcsrows rlc mosr lragilc
jusrificarion on rlc ordcr dcrcrmining ir. 1lc lcgirimacy ir providcs srands in dirccr
opposirion ro rcaliry. ¡arricularly in rlc Bi/!una·rsmcn, ir is rlis inadcquacy rlar is
acrualizcd.’’ ¡rom ‘‘1lc Sroryrcllcr. Fcflccrions on rlc Works ol Þikolai ¡cskov.’’ I//u-
minctisn·, 88. ¡n rlis liglr. Yu ¡ua’s rclusal ro rcprcscnr sucl an inrcgrarion suggcsrs
rlc rccognizcd disconrinuiry lcrwccn rlc social proccss and pcrsonal dcvclopmcnr.
¡o. ¡r is significanr rlar rlc plrasc ‘‘/csii.’’ is uscd lcrc. a rcrm rlar convcnrionally
rclcrs ro rlc Culrural Fcvolurion ol rlc ¡ooos. Ar rlc lcxical lcvcl. a ccrrain lisrorical
rclcrcnrialiry is luilr inro rlc narrarivc.
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B.·i!uc/ As!.rni·m 207
ing a lilcraring rcvolurion. rlc rollcry las rlc lull implicarion ol an in-
luman war.
17
‘‘¡ wanrcd ro scrcam. lur wlcn ¡ opcncd my mourl. no
sound cmcrgcd’’ (io, o).
Wlcn communicarion is violcnrly suspcndcd ly an alscncc ol rcason
or. slall wc say. ly civilizcd larlarism. and wlcn violcncc rcduccs rlc
luman suljccr ro lis lody and lis lody alonc. rlc suljccr las ro wirl-
draw and olscrvc rlc goings-on lrom a disrrusrlul disrancc. ¡r is a dc-
raclcd ‘‘gazc’’ rlar rrcars orlcrs as oljccrs. 1lc oljccrilying ‘‘gazc’’ rlar
rlc young man now dirccrs roward rlings and pcoplc around lim las
lccn lorccd upon lim lccausc lc is rlc oljccr ol violcncc in rlc firsr
placc. ‘‘¡ saw rlc applcs on rlc ground lcing pickcd up. . . . ¡ saw rlcm rc-
movc window pancs lrom rlc rruck. . . . ¡ saw rlc ground lcing swcpr all
clcan. . . . All ¡ could do was look. lccausc ¡ lad no srrcngrl lclr cvcn ro
lc angry’’ (i¬, o–¡o). ¡inally. lc warclcs as rlc rruck drivcr jumps onro
rlc land rracror. carrying rlc young man’s rcd lackpack. lis solc posscs-
sion. ‘‘¡ was lungry and cold. and ¡ was lclr wirl norling.’’ \icrimizcd as
wcll as lruralizcd. rlc young man now sccs lis own condirion mirrorcd
in anorlcr vicrim. rlc dcmolislcd rruck. ¡crc wc lavc somc ol rlc mosr
gripping lincs ol rlc srory.
¡ sar rlcrc lor a long rimc lclorc ¡ srrugglcd ro gcr up slowly. ¡r was vcry
lard lor mc lccausc cvcry movc causcd inrcnsc pain all ovcr my lody. Ycr
¡ srill managcd ro gcr up. ¡ limpcd ovcr ro rlc rruck. ¡r lookcd cxrrcmcly
miscrallc. ¡r lay rlcrc wirl wounds all ovcr ir. and rlcn ¡ kncwrlar ¡ myscll
lad wounds all ovcr.
¡r was complcrcly dark ly now. and rlcrc was alsolurcly no onc around.
cxccpr lor rlc rruck and myscll. lorl cvcry incl woundcd. ¡ lookcd ar ir
wirl grcar sadncss, ir lookcd lack ar mc wirl grcar sadncss. ¡ rcaclcd our
ro lccl ir. ¡r was icy cold. (i8, ¡o)
¡¬. ¡or Bcnjamin. carasrroplic cxpcricncc sccms dirccrly rclarcd ro rlc incrcasing
incommunicaliliry ol cxpcricncc. ¡n rlc wakc ol World War ¡. ‘‘was ir nor noricc-
allc ar rlc cnd ol rlc war rlar mcn rcrurncd lrom rlc larrlcficld grown silcnr—nor
riclcr. lur poorcr in communicallc cxpcricncc· . . . ¡or ncvcr las cxpcricncc lccn
conrradicrcd morc rlorouglly rlan srrarcgic cxpcricncc ly racrical warlarc. cconomic
cxpcricncc ly inflarion. lodily cxpcricncc ly mcclanical warlarc. moral cxpcricncc ly
rlosc in powcr.’’ ¡rom ‘‘1lc Sroryrcllcr.’’ I//uminctisn·, 8|. Wc nccd ro kccp in mind
rlar ir was nor unril alrcr World War ¡ rlar modcrnism in rlc Wcsr gaincd irs lull swing
and voiccd an ‘‘agc ol anxicry.’’
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208 C/in.·. As!.rn
¡n rlc damagcd rruck lc sccs nor only rlc miscrallc conscqucncc ol
violcncc. lur also a slocking rcvclarion. 1lc rruck providcs a mirror
imagc ol lis own woundcd condirion. and lc is givcn a clancc ro scc
limscll as a vicrim. as an oljccr upon wlicl scnsclcss violcncc las lccn
unlcaslcd. ¡n orlcr words. in looking ar rlc rruck. rlc lcro sccs lim-
scll as orlcrs would scc lim and rcalizcs lis own susccprililiry ro lcing
rrcarcd in rlc samc manncr as a rruck can lc. ¡r is rlis awarcncss ol lis
own oljccrifialiliry. ol rlc rcvcalcd rrurl ol lis own vulncraliliry. rlar
givcs risc ro a symparlcric idcnrificarion lcrwccn limscll and rlc rruck.
Ar rlc samc rimc. ly locaring in rlc silcnr rruck an cxrcrnal symlol lor
lis ncw scll-conccprion. rlc young man ar oncc acquircs and arricularcs
lis suljccriviry as a sirc ol rcsisrancc againsr oljccrificarion. ¡n rlc posr-
carasrroplic momcnr. sucl a discoursc ol suljccrivc inrcrioriry sccms ro
supply a mosr consoling answcr ro rlc disrurling plcnomcna ol luman
wcakncss and irrarional violcncc. lorl rcvcalcd only ar a lisrorical mo-
mcnr ol dangcr. ¡r was in dirccr rcsponsc ro rlc lorrilying spccraclc ol rlc
grcar ¡rcncl Fcvolurion. ir sccms ncccssary ro rccall. rlar ¡cgcl dcvcl-
opcd lis plilosoply ol suljccriviry and rlc norion ol Inn.r/i.//.it. Borl
ccloing ¡cgcl’s posrrcvolurionary rcflccrion and condcmning rlc ‘‘caras-
rroplc’’ ol rlc Culrural Fcvolurion (¡ooo–¬o). ¡iu Zailu in rlc ¡o8os
proposcd ro srudy a lulfilling ‘‘suljccriviry ol lircrarurc’’ in opposirion ro
an insrirurionalizcd inlumanism.
18
1lc mcraplor ol ‘‘suljccriviry as a sirc ol rcsisrancc againsr oljccrifica-
rion’’ is a sparial onc. and inrcrioriry. roo. is conccivallc only insolar as
¡8. Scc Liu Zci/u /unm.n xucn (Sclccrion ol cssays ly ¡iu Zailu) (¡ong Kong.
Ðadi. ¡o8o). ¡ discuss rlis poinr in my cssay on ‘‘1lc ¡uncrion ol Þcw 1lcory.’’ Ar
rlc samc momcnr rlar ¡iu Zailu’s rlcory was cvoking vclcmcnr dclarcs and con-
rrovcrsy. narrarivcs ol rlc scll lccamc sucl a dominanr plcnomcnon in lircrary pro-
ducrion rlar somc crirics lcgan lccling uncasy. Scc. lor insrancc. ¡uang ¡ao. ‘‘Iiaosc
jinzlang. yigc sluodc raiduo railci dc ‘wo’—xin sliqi diyi rcnclcng xiaosluo dc jiri
pilci’’ (An inrcnsc rolc. An ‘¡’ rlar is cxlausrcd lrom spcaking roo mucl—collccrivc
lariguc ol rlc firsr-pcrson ficrion in rlc ncw pcriod.’’ Zusiic m.nxu. vu./cn (Wrircr’s
lircrary monrlly). no. is: (Marcl ¡ooo). ¬i–¬o. ¡uang ¡ao givcs somc inrcrcsring
srarisrics in rlis arriclc. Somc |o pcrccnr ol conrcmporary ficrion is narrarcd ly an
indclarigallc ‘‘¡.’’ ¡n rlis conrcxr. ¡ukacs’s accusarion ol a ‘‘carnival ol inrcriorizcd lc-
rislism’’ in Wcsrcrn modcrnism appcars ar oncc undcrsrandallc and ycr mislcading.
Borl ¡uang ¡ao’s crirical cssay and ¡ukacs’s gcncral dcnunciarion ol modcrnism lail
ro comprclcnd a lircrary discoursc rlar. wlilc rrying ro ovcrcomc irs lisrorical condi-
rion. rcvcals somc lundamcnral conrradicrions dcrcrmining irs own producrion.
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B.·i!uc/ As!.rni·m 209
ir lcars an opposirional rclarionslip ro rlar wlicl consrirurcs cxrcrioriry.
¡n rlc srory wc find prcciscly sucl a sparial rcsrrucruring. Fcalizing rlar
lc is gcrring icy cold. jusr likc rlc rruck. rlc young man gcrs insidc rlc
rruck and lics down. ‘‘¡ smcllcd rlc gas rlar lad comc our. ¡r smcllcd rlc
samc as rlc llood rlar lad comc our ol my lody. . . . ¡ lclr rlar cvcn
rlougl rlc rruck was woundcd. irs lcarr was srill lcalrly and warm. ¡
kncw rlar my lcarr was also lcalrly and warm. ¡ lad lccn looking lor
an inn. and wlo would lavc rlouglr rlar rlc inn slould lc lcrc in you’’
(i8–io, ¡o–¡¡). 1lc lcro is finally lomc again. a lomc lc finds and crc-
arcs lor limscll and wlicl now scrvcs as a consranr rcmindcr—ly mcans
ol irs locarion and condirion—ol rlc alscncc ol any social inrcgrarion.
¡c las scr our loping ro know‘‘rlc oursidc world’’ lur cnds up ly know-
ing limscll lcrrcr. By finally idcnrilying limscll wirl rlc rruck. wlicl
las rcplaccd rlc inn. rlc young lcro now posscsscs lis own spacc and
is cnallcd ro arricularc lis rcdcfincd idcnriry on rlc onc land and dis-
own rlc mysrilying lcriragc ol lis larlcr on rlc orlcr. ¡is cnrirc journcy.
rlcrclorc. comcs rlrougl as a modcrnisr voyagc ol scll-discovcry rlar is
inscparallc lrom a disinrcgraring world ol cxpcricncc.
Morc rlan a mcraplor ol rlc lirrl ol suljccriviry in Clincsc ficrion ol
rlc ¡o8os. ‘‘Òn rlc Foad ar Agc Iiglrccn’’ also marks a rurning poinr in
Yu ¡ua’s own dcvclopmcnr. ¡rom rlis momcnr on. ir is olscrvcd. ‘‘Yu
¡ua rccognizcd lis ncw scll lrom a prcvious olscuriry. and lis ficrion
acquircd irs own indcpcndcnr lilc lor rlc firsr rimc.’’
19
1lis ncw idcn-
riry rlar rlc aurlor lound lor lis ficrional world is a producrivc onc rlar
cxprcsscs irscll in conrinuous narrarional cxpcrimcnrarion and rlcmaric
variarions. 1lc suljccr marrcr ol mcrlodical cruclry and violcncc. ly no
mcans lcrclr ol irs lisrorical rclcrcncc and implicir social judgmcnr. is
masrcrlully dcvclopcd and cnriclcd in a scrics ol srorics lcsr rcprcscnrcd
ly ‘‘Xiansli yizlong’’ (Ònc kind ol rcaliry). 1lc crirical inrcrcsr in prol-
lcmarizing languagc and rcprcscnrarion is pursucd in narrarivcs sucl as
‘‘Slisli ru yan’’ (1lis world ol clouds). and a srrucrurally pcrlccr ‘‘Gu-
dian aiqing’’ (Classical lovc) parodics rradirional narrarivc parrcrns and
culrural myrls.
20
¡o. Zlu Wci. ‘‘Alour Yu ¡ua.’’ iso. Scc iso–oo lor a summary ol Yu ¡ua’s wrirings
lrom¡o8o rlrougl ¡o88. ¡crc. Zlu Wci lclicvcs rlar Yu ¡ua las finislcd a rlrcc-sragc
lcap. a proccss ol gradually discovcring lis own narrarivc voicc and lis own imagincd
world ol alsolurc rcaliry.
io. ‘‘Xiansli yizlong.’’ ‘‘Slisli ru yan.’’ and ‘‘Gudian aiqing.’’ collccrcd. rcspccrivcly.
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210 C/in.·. As!.rn
1lc ccnrral organizing principlc ol Yu ¡ua’s wriring ncvcrrlclcss rc-
mains rlc samc. an unrclcnring cririquc ol our cvcryday cxpcricncc. Fc-
vicwing lis own lircrary producrion in a ¡o8o prclacc ro onc ol lis col-
lccrions. Yu ¡ua summarizcs rlar lis major inrcllccrual conccrn las lccn
ro rcvcal a mulridimcnsional and conrradicrory rcaliry rlar rcmains ol-
scurcd and simplificd. nor only ly our cvcryday lilc and commonscnsical
ordcr. lur also ly our languagc convcnrions. 1lus. violcncc and caras-
rroplc lavc rlcir rlcmaric valuc lccausc rlcy cxposc a claoric rcaliry
rlar is rlc supprcsscd rrurl ol our sccmingly wcll-ordcrcd cxisrcncc. Òn
rlc lcvcl ol languagc. roo. Yu ¡ua lclicvcs in consranrly clallcnging
common scnsc lccausc rlc ‘‘indcrcrminarc narrarivc languagc’’ souglr ly
lim locuscs on concrcrc cxpcricncc. wlcrcas rlc ‘‘fixcd languagc ol rlc
masscs’’ only convcys judgmcnr. ‘‘1lc languagc ol rlc masscs prcscnrs us
wirl a world rlar is an inccssanr rcpcririon. ¡or rlar rcason. my cfforr ar
finding a ncw languagc las as irs aim ro rcvcal ro my lricnds and rcadcrs a
world rlar las nor ycr lccn rcpcarcd.’’
21
1lc commonscnsical world rlar
Yu ¡ua wislcs ro dcrail and rlc fixcd cvcryday languagc ol rlc masscs lc
finds so opprcssivc lorl lclong ro a sociolisrorical rcaliry againsr wlicl
rlc wrircr las ro asscrr lis idcnriry wirl an incrcasing cmplasis. 1lc criri-
cal srancc lc rakcs againsr cvcryday lilc and rlc world ol ‘‘ordinary admin-
isrrarion’’ lccomcs availallc parrly lccausc ol lis scll-conscious sulscrip-
rion ro rlc acsrlcrics and polirical idcology in rlc modcrnisr rradirion ol
Kalka. Ioycc. Follc-Grillcr. ¡aulkncr. and Kawalara Yasunari.
22
¡n Yu
¡ua. wc find onc ol rlc dcfining claracrcrisrics ol ‘‘rcsidual modcrnism’’.
rlc idcology ol modcrnism. as lorl a rlcorcrical complcx and a modc ol
lircrary producrion. now provcs ro lc a lundamcnrally lisroricizing dis-
coursc lccausc ir rcvcals rlc condirion ol modcrniry and srrips ir ol any
possillc cuploria. 1lrougl rcsidual modcrnism. rlcrclorc. rlc modcrn-
isr impcrarivc lor rlc Þcw as wcll as rlc modcrnisr lascinarion wirl rlc
scll arc rcrrospccrivcly slown ro lc dccply roorcd in a rccognizcd mo-
mcnr ol incomplcrcncss wlcrc all lorms ol social pracricc and cxisrcncc
in Yu ¡ua’s On t/. Bsc! ct ³a. Lia/t..n and S/i·/i ru vcn (1lis world ol clouds)
(1aipci. Yuanliu. ¡ooo).
i¡. ‘‘Zuozlc xu. xuwci dc zuopin’’ (¡rclacc ly rlc aurlor. lypocrirical arrworks).
T/i· Isr/! s/ C/su!·, ¡o. Ònc imporranr aspccr ol rcsidual modcrnism is irs rlcorcrical
soplisricarion.
ii. Yu ¡ua spccifically mcnrions all rlcsc wrircrs in rlc cssay ‘‘¡ypocrirical Arr-
works’’ wlcn lc ralks alour rlc lormal rradirion ol ficrion. ‘‘¡rclacc ly rlc Aurlor.’’ ¡:.
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B.·i!uc/ As!.rni·m 211
suddcnly cxlilir a pcculiar rcsidualiry lccausc rlcir conrradicrory juxra-
posirion makcs colcrcnr cxpcricncc ar oncc dcsirallc and unarrainallc.
¡l rlc ligl modcrnism ol Kalka and lis conrcmporarics is. in Iamcson’s
words. ‘‘claracrcrizcd ly a siruarion ol incomplcrc ms!.rnicctisn,’’
23
rlcn
in rcsidual modcrnism rlc lcarurcs and lorcsccallc conscqucnccs ol rlc
unfinislcd projccr ol modcrniry arc graspcd simulrancously. 1lis lack ol
amliguiry in lisrorical vision will only makc rcsidual modcrnism all rlc
morc conscious ol irs own rcsidualiry as an opposirional prcscncc.
1lc \nrcal \rlan Spacc
‘‘Òn rlc Foad ar Agc Iiglrccn’’ can lc rcad as a mcraplor lor rlc gcnc-
sis ol rcsidual modcrnism ar a disrincr lisrorical momcnr ol incomplcrc
modcrnizarion. ¡n rlis liglr. ir lccomcs significanr rlar diffcrcnr modcs
ol rransporrarion arc carclully inscrilcd in rlc narrarivc. 1lc rruck. rcprc-
scnring rlc mosr advanccd rcclnology in comparison wirl rlc licyclc
and rlc land rracror. is simply unallc ro lulfill irs luncrion and is sysrcm-
arically rorn aparr. 1lc larc ol rlc rruck rlus lccomcs cmllcmaric ol rlc
anragonisric siruarion lrom wlicl modcrniry srrugglcs ro cmcrgc. ¡r also
rcsolurcly dispcls any nosralgic illusion alour an idyllic prcmodcrn lar-
mony. 1lus. rlc violcncc. ro wlicl rlc rruck as wcll as rlc proragonisr
arc suljccrcd. lorl symlolizcs rlc crisis rlar sucl a cocxisrcncc is likcly
ro incur and cxplains rlc agonizing ncccssiry ol rcsidual modcrnism. 1lis
lisroricizing rcading. lowcvcr. docs nor makc violcncc any morc mcan-
inglul or acccprallc ro rlc individual, on rlc conrrary. violcncc is rcvcalcd
ro lc rlc prccondirion ol mcaning and ro lavc irs own lisrory. 1lis scpa-
rarion ol a narrarivizallc collccrivc movcmcnr lrom individual cxpcricncc
oncc again rcsrifics ro rlc dcfining condirion ol modcrniry.
24
i:. Iamcson. Ps·tms!.rni·m, :¡o.
i|. ¡n anorlcr slorr srory. ‘‘Siwang xuslu’’ (Þarrarivc ol dcarl). Yu ¡ua lurrlcr cx-
plorcs rlc lisrorical significancc ol violcncc wlcn rlc firsr-pcrson narraror rlcrc rclls
ol low ‘‘¡.’’ a rruck drivcr. was murdcrcd ly a lamily ol pcasanrs wirl various larm-
ing insrrumcnrs (a glirrcring scyrlc. a loc. and a slovcl) alrcr an accidcnr in wlicl ‘‘¡’’
killcd rlcir lcaurilul dauglrcr. ¡n rlc vcry cnd. wirl ‘‘my’’ lody sysrcmarically picrccd
and cur up. ‘‘my llood ran alour. My llood lookcd likc rlc roors ol a onc-lundrcd-
ycar-old rrcc rlar lavc surlaccd alovc rlc ground. 1lcn ¡ dicd.’’ ¡n On t/. Bsc! ct ³a.
Lia/t..n, :¡–|i.
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212 C/in.·. As!.rn
Ycr Yu ¡ua’s pcrsisrcnr inrcrcsr in violcncc as an cxprcssion ol a lis-
rorical momcnr ol incomplcrcncss uncxpccrcdly lrings lim lacc-ro-lacc
wirl anorlcr aspccr ol modcrniry. Òrdinary. cvcryday urlan lilc is now
cxamincd in Tiiiu/c/iu nicn (rcse; ¡o8¬). an cpic-spirircd novclla alour
rlc disrurling rcappcarancc ol a violcnr pasr in rlc figurc ol a dcmcnrcd
rcaclcr. 1akcn lrom lis lamily onc niglr during rlc Culrural Fcvolurion.
and now a madman rccognizcd ly no onc. rlc lormcr rcaclcr. now a
glosr ol violcncc. launrs a small. pcacclul rown and sysrcmarically inflicrs
on limscll all rlc arrocious ancicnr lorms ol plysical punislmcnr rlar
lc uscd ro srudy as a lolly. 1lc novclla rcse is anorlcr liglly symlolic
srory rlar rrcars violcncc as a disruprivc rcrurn ol rlc rcprcsscd. 1lc rown
is crowdcd. inlalircd ly pcoplc wlo arc cagcr ro lrcqucnr movic rlc-
arcrs. calcs. and various producr cxpos. rlc solc purposc ol wlicl. com-
mcnrs rlc narraror. ‘‘is ro makc pcoplc lorgcr. ro makc pcoplc lccl lappy
ar rlis vcry momcnr.’’ ¡r is a posrrcvolurionary urlan landscapc wlcrc a
mindlcss ‘‘rlcy’’ counr on laslions and consumprion ro lclp rlcm lcavc
lclind a painlul pasr.
1lc carasrroplc rlar occurrcd morc rlan rcn ycars ago now appcars ro lc
a mcrc flccring cloud. and rlc slogans painrcd on rlc walls arc complcrcly
covcrcd up ly rcpcarcd wlircwasling. 1lcy scc no rracc ol rlc pasr wlcn
rlcy walk on rlc srrccrs. rlcy scc only rlc prcscnr. Þow rlcrc arc lors ol cx-
circd pcoplc walking on rlc srrccrs. lors ol licyclisrs ringing rlcir lclls. and
lors ol cars llowing up lors ol dusr. Þow rlcrc is a van wirl lig spcakcrs
slowly moving along. rlc spcakcrs loudly promoring lirrl conrrol and ad-
vising pcoplc on low ro avoid prcgnancy. Þow rlcrc is anorlcr similar van
also slowly moving along. loudly rcminding pcoplc ol rlc miscry causcd
ly rraffic accidcnrs.
25
¡nro rlis complaccnrly rcgular and uncvcnrlul cvcryday lilc cnrcrs rlc
srory’s proragonisr. a limping madman wlo rakcs plcasurc in sralling.
ampuraring. and casrraring limscll pullicly in rlc srrccr. Morc likc a
glosr lrom rlc pasr rlan a rcal luman lcing. lc is convcnicnrly ignorcd
and will finally rcalizc rlar rlis world nccds dcspcrarcly ro lorgcr irs pasr.
is. Tiiiu/c/iu nicn (¡o8o) in On t/. Bsc! ct ³a. Lia/t..n, s¬–s8, ¡|:. 1lc sccond
pagc numlcr lcrc rclcrs ro Andrcw ¡. Ioncs’s Inglisl rranslarion ol rlc novclla in T/.
Pc·t cn! t/. Puni·/m.nt·, ¡:i–8o. 1lc plrasc lor ‘‘carasrroplc’’ lcrc is again ‘‘laojic.’’
rlc samc as in ‘‘Òn rlc Foad ar Agc Iiglrccn.’’
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B.·i!uc/ As!.rni·m 213
‘‘¡c saw pcoplc walking around in rlc srrccr ovcr rlcrc. ¡c lookcd ar
rlcm as il looking ar a sragc lrom alar. 1lcy appcarcd on rlc sragc. ralkcd
rlcrc and madc all kinds ol gcsrurcs. ¡c was nor among rlcm, rlcrc was
somcrling in lcrwccn. 1lcy wcrc rlcy. and lc was lc’’ (oo, ¡¬s). 1lc
glosr ol violcncc is cvcnrually cxpcllcd and cvcryday lilc lappily rcsumcs
irs normal coursc.
Ðcspirc irs cxplicirly accusarory mcssagc (rlc rclarionslip lcrwccn lu-
man cruclry and civilizarion is rcvcalcd as a givcn). rlc narrarivc alour rlc
rcrurn ol rlc rcprcsscd idcnrifics lor rlc aurlor anorlcr sourcc ol lrus-
rrarion—rcgularcd and rcprcssivc cvcryday lilc. 1lc significancc ol Yu
¡ua’s rcse lics in rlc lacr rlar ir dcpicrs a pcculiar posrcarasrroplic culrurc
rlar srrains ro displacc irs rcvolurionary mcmory and dcsirc ly locaring
grarificarion. vcry olrcn an impovcrislcd kind. in rlc rcalm ol consump-
rion and mass culrurc (spccifically rcprcscnrcd in rlc novclla ly Marlloro
cigarcrrcs. Þcsrlc’s Coffcc. and romanccs ly rlc 1aiwancsc wrircr Qiong
Yao). Wlilc rlc Culrural Fcvolurion as a massivc social movcmcnr srill
launrs rlc scnsirivc wrircr wirl rlc cnormous passion and lorror rlar ir
gcncrarcd. rlc complaccncy ol a ncw consumcr culrurc rcpcls lim and
srrikcs lim as unlcarally loring. 1lus. in anorlcr morc complcx and
cxpcrimcnral novclla. ‘‘Ciwcn xiangci slaonu Yang ¡iu’’ (1lis srory is
dcdicarcd ro a girl namcd Yang ¡iu). rlc narraror. now a firsr-pcrson ‘‘¡.’’
opcns rlc carclully organizcd srory wirl an amlivalcnr condcmnarion ol
‘‘lourgcois’’ pracricaliry. ‘‘¡or a long rimc. ¡ lad lccn living a lourgcois
lilc. 1lc placc wlcrc ¡ livcd was callcd Smokc. and my aparrmcnr was a
onc-srory lousc ly rlc rivcr. 1lc srrucrurc ol rlc lousc was an unimagi-
narivc rccranglc. wlicl suggcsrcd low simplc and unamliguous my lilc
was.’’
26
1lc srory. wirl parallcl lur inrcnrionally disoricnring rcpcririon and
lcavy symlolism. rclls low rlis ‘‘unimaginarivc’’ cxisrcncc is firsr clal-
lcngcd ly rlc complcxiry ol rcal cxpcricncc and rlcn rranslormcd ly rlc
inscrrion ol an inrcrioriry rlar. symlolizcd ly rlc imagc ol rlc girl Yang
¡iu. can lc ar oncc lilidinal dcsirc and lisrorical consciousncss. 1lc girl
is lorl scll and orlcr. lorl imaginarion and mcmory. and lcr arrival ar
rlc ‘‘inncr lcarr’’ ol rlc narraror makcs lim rcsrlcss lccausc slc cxposcs
io. Cim.n xicna.i ·/csnu Tcna Liu in T/i· Isr/! s/ C/su!·, ¡oo. 1ranslarcd as ‘‘1lis
Srory ¡s ¡or Willow’’ ly Ðcnis C. Mair. ir is collccrcd in C/inc’· ³vcnt-Gcr!. Fi.tisn,
cd. Iing Wang (Ðurlam. Þ.C.. Ðukc \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡oo8). ¡¡|–|o.
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214 C/in.·. As!.rn
an ‘‘alscncc’’ in lis lilc (¡i:. ¡i¬). 1lc girl appcars wlcn lc. as usual. is
roaming rlc srrccrs aimlcssly ar niglr. looking ar all rlc curraincd win-
dows. grcarly pcrplcxcd ly rlc inimical prcscncc ol orlcr pcoplc. 1lc
urlan landscapc is dccply unscrrling lccausc ‘‘¡.’’ rlc narraror. is ar oncc
drawn ro ir and las ro rcsisr ir. ¡r is a spacc rlar lccomcs incrcasingly flar
and lomogcncous. lrom wlicl lisrory is in dangcr ol disappcaring oncc
and lor all.
1lis rising urlan spacc irrcsisrilly caprurcs rlc imaginarion ol Yu ¡ua
and lis gcncrarion and prcscnrs rlcm wirl a rroulling prospccr. ¡or
rlcm rlc ncw lorms ol cxpcricncc madc possillc ly rlc ciry arc con-
rinually conrradicrcd and madc unrcal ly orlcr spaccs and rimcs. ¡r is
a spacc rlar las ro lc consranrly conlronrcd and cxamincd in rcrms ol
rlc rural and rlc lisrorical, rraccs ol lorl arc incradicallc as a rcmindcr
ol rlc siruarion ol incomplcrc modcrnizarion. 1lis claracrcrisric skcpri-
cism roward ciry lilc is disrincr nor only in Yu ¡ua. lur ir is also rcadily
rccognizallc in rlc wrirings ol Gc ¡ci and Su 1ong. ¡n Gc ¡ci’s srorics.
wc wirncss a consranr moving lack and lorrl lcrwccn rwo spaccs—rlc
counrry and rlc ciry. Mosr olrcn ir is rlis movcmcnr rlar crcarcs rcnsion
and gcncrarcs lis narrarivcs. As a rcsulr. rlc rypical scrring lor lis srorics
is somc unspccificd liminal sirc.
27
1cnsion lcrwccn rlcsc rwo conflicring
spaccs also sccms ro pcrmcarc rlc ficrional world ol Su 1ong. wlo. low-
cvcr. rrics mcriculously ro kccp rlcm scpararc. 1lus. on rlc onc land.
lc produccs sucl norallc works as Tiiiu ·cn·i nicn !. tcsmcna (Þincrccn
rlirry-lour cscapcs) and Oi;i. ./.na;un (Wivcs and conculincs) wlicl
adroirly dcal wirl lisrorical cvcnrs and inrcrrogarc our undcrsranding ol
rlc pasr.
28
wlilc. on rlc orlcr land. lc conrinually cxprcsscs lis anxicry
alour modcrn urlan lilc in srorics likc ‘‘¡ingjing ru slui’’ (As scrcnc as
srill warcr) and ‘‘Þilao. yanglcngrcn’’ (¡cllo. my lcckccpcr). 1lcsc lasr
i¬. ¡or an insiglrlul discussion ol Gc ¡ci’s ocuvrc. scc Zlang Xudong’s cssay ‘‘Gc
¡ci yu dangdai wcnxuc zlong dc jigc muri’’ (Gc ¡ci and somc main rlcmcs in conrcm-
porary lircrarurc). }inticn (1oday). no. i (¡ooo). ¬o–8|. 1lis cssay’s cxpandcd Inglisl
vcrsion appcars in Xudong Zlang. C/in.·. As!.rni·m in t/. Lrc s/ B./srm·. Cu/turc/
F.v.r, ³vcnt-Gcr!. Fi.tisn, cn! t/. N.m C/in.·. Cin.mc (Ðurlam. Þ.C.. Ðukc \ni-
vcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡oo¬). ¡o:–ioo.
i8. Mcng Yuc’s cssay ‘‘Su 1ong dc ‘jiasli’ yu ‘lisli’ xiczuo’’ (1lc wriring ol ‘lamily
gcncalogy’ and ‘lisrory’ ly Su 1ong). in Ts!cv, no. i (¡ooo). 8|–o:. offcrs an cxccllcnr
analysis ol rlis rrcarmcnr ol rlc pasr. Scc clap. ¬. ‘‘1lc Mirror ol ¡isrory and ¡isrory
as Spccraclc.’’
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B.·i!uc/ As!.rni·m 215
rwo srorics arc unmisrakally scr in a lig ciry. and lorl arc narrarivcs rold
in rlc firsr-pcrson. ¡n rlcm. wc find a clcarcr and morc scll-conscious
rcprcscnrarion ol rlc mcrropoliran spacc lrom rlc poinr ol vicw ol dis-
sarisficd and rclcllious yourl. ¡crc. onc ol rlc culrural lorms ol modcr-
niry will rcccivc crirical cxaminarion. and rcsidual modcrnism finally con-
lronrs rlc spacc ol rlc ciry. Òncc again. ir lccomcs lclplul ro rclcr ro
Faymond Williams. wlo. in a mcmorallc passagc. dcscrilcd rlc mod-
crnisr as a lcro in rcvolr againsr rlc ncw cxpcricncc ol mass mcdia in
rurn-ol-rlc-ccnrury mcrropoliran cirics.
1lc cxpcricncc ol visual and linguisric srrangcncss. rlc lrokcn narrarivc
ol rlc journcy and irs incvirallc accompanimcnr ol rransicnr cncounrcrs
wirl claracrcrs wlosc scll-prcscnrarion was lafflingly unlamiliar. raiscd ro
rlc lcvcl ol univcrsal myrl rlis inrcnsc. singular narrarivc ol unscrrlcmcnr.
lomclcssncss. solirudc and impovcrislcd indcpcndcncc. rlc loncly wrircr
gazing down on rlc unknowallc ciry lrom lis slally aparrmcnr.
29
Þarraring rlc Modcrn
Williams’s dcpicrion ol an idcal-rypc modcrnisr wrircr in cirlcr ¡aris or
ÞcwYork sccms ro lc a pcrlccr summary ol rlc crlos in Su 1ong’s srorics
alour rlc ciry. 1lc suljccr marrcr ol lis ‘‘¡cllo. My Bcckccpcr’’ is yourl
and irs conflicr wirl rlc oursidc world. jusr as was rlc casc in ‘‘Òn rlc
Foad ar Agc Iiglrccn.’’ Ðiffcrcnr lromrlc landscapc ol opcn narurc inYu
¡ua’s slorr srory (alrlougl ir is a narurc radically rranslormcd rlrougl
violcncc). rlc spacc in wlicl Su 1ong’s young lcro las lis advcnrurcs is
rlc ciry. Bur lcrwccn rlcsc rwo srorics rlcrc arc srriking srrucrural simi-
larirics and narrarional conrinuirics. Ar rlc lcginning ol lorl srorics is
rlc momcnr ol ‘‘mc’’ cnrcring a ncw spacc. 1lc ‘‘¡’’ rlar now movcs. ‘‘jusr
likc a fisl.’’ inro rlc ciry ar a winrry dusk in Su 1ong’s srory can ncarly
lc rakcn as rlc ‘‘¡’’ wlo lclr lomc and cxpcricnccd a ‘‘carasrroplc’’ on
rlc road ar agc ciglrccn. By rlc cnd ol ‘‘¡cllo. My Bcckccpcr’’ rlcrc is
also a momcnr ol rclicl wlcn rlc young lcro finds consolarion in rlc lacr
rlar lc lclongs nowlcrc in parricular and rlar lis cxisrcncc is alrcady a
purposc and a mcaning in and ol irscll. ¡n lorl narrarivcs. moliliry and
io. Williams. ‘‘Wlcn Was Modcrnism·’’ :|.
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216 C/in.·. As!.rn
inrcrioriry arc in a scnsc pur on rrial and finally affirmcd as valuallc as-
pccrs ol rlc cxpcricncc ol rlc modcrn. ‘‘1lings arc always likc rlis. You
consranrly lavc ro lcavc onc placc lor anorlcr. You can’r rlink ol anorlcr
way ol living. ¡ lavc ro dcrcrminc my ncxr dcsrinarion wlilc on rlc rrain.
¡ will ncvcr go lomc. lccausc ¡’vc sworn nor ro.’’
30
‘‘¡cllo. My Bcckccpcr’’ is alour a young collcgc dropour’s advcnrurcs
in a lig. rapidly modcrnizing ciry. 1lc ficrivc ciry Þanjin rlar lc ap-
proaclcs ar rlc lcginning ol rlc srory is rlc ninrl ol a scrics ol cirics
rlar lc las visircd. inrcnding ro srudy cacl ol rlcm lor lis projccr in a
ncw disciplinc ol ‘‘urlan srudics.’’ Òn lis way ro rlc ciry lc cncounrcrs
a mysrcrious middlc-agcd lcckccpcr in a drcamlikc ficld ol wildflowcrs
wlo rclls lim ro sray in a ccrrain ¡cacc ¡orcl in Þanjin and wair lor rlc
lcckccpcr’s rcrurn. ¡rcoccupicd ly rlc lcckccpcr’s promisc. rlc young
man rurns lis sray in rlc ciry inro a prolongcd Kalkacsquc scarcl. during
wlicl lc cxpcricnccs a widc spccrrum ol ‘‘rransicnr cncounrcrs.’’ sucl as
a laplcss scxual incidcnr. prosrirurion. rlc criminal undcrground. dcarl.
cvcn romancc. 1lc ¡cacc ¡orcl providcs a pcrlccr sirc lor novclisric nar-
rarion. an idcal mccring placc lor all sorrs ol claracrcrs (including a dis-
grunrlcd ‘‘old rcvolurionary’’ complaining ol inadcquarc lousing. a lund-
raiscr lor a lircrary journal wlosc lusincss card lcars lour unrclarcd rirlcs.
and a wcalrly Canroncsc cauglr wirl a prosrirurc wlo sulscqucnrly luys
limscll our ol rroullc). wlilc rlc ciry as a wlolc consrirurcs an cnormous
impcrsonal spacc rlar rlc proragonisr cxplorcs as a Baudclairian //an.ur
(‘‘My prolcssion was ro ramllc rlrougl all rlc l÷ing cirics’’). wlicl
lc maps and rcmaps rlrougl lis cxpcricncc and movcmcnr. ¡ilc in rlc
ciry rurns our ro lc sucl a disinrcgrarivc cxpcricncc rlar lc soon rcalizcs
rlc nccd ro consranrly consrrucr a ncw idcnriry lor limscll. Ycr lis inirial
lascinarion is a lccling ol lrccdom.
¡ was now uscd ro roaming rlc srrccrs. wlicl sccmcd ro lc a major mcrlod
ol invcsrigaring rlc ciry. ¡ pur my lands in rlc warmrl-dcprivcd pockcrs
ol my coar and srrollcd aimlcssly along rlc srrccrs. sccing myscll rcflccrcd
in slop windows and rranslormcd inro a mcmlcr ol rlis ciry. My scrious
lacc and lcisurcly pacc lad losr all rlc claracrcrisrics ol my small lomc-
rown. 1lc rcsulr ol rlis rranslormarion ¡ callcd urlanizarion. wlicl mcanr
succcss in flccing my lamily. (i¬)
:o. ‘‘Þilao. yanglcngrcn.’’ B.iiina Lit.rctur. (April ¡o88). :o. ¡n rlc lollowing dis-
cussion. rclcrcnccs ro pagc numlcrs arc givcn in parcnrlcscs in rlc rcxr.
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B.·i!uc/ As!.rni·m 217
A major arrracrion ol rlc ciry lor rlis young drilrcr is irs offcring ol
a diffcrcnr social landscapc lrom rlc small rown rlar lc finds cxrrcmcly
‘‘loring and cvcnrlcss’’ and wlcrc lis oldcr lrorlcr suffcrs lrom scvcrc
dcprcssion. 1lc ‘‘silly-looking’’ small rown is a parr ol rlc young man’s
idcnriry rlar lc dcspcrarcly wanrs ro slcd. as il ‘‘our ol lalir.’’ 1lc ciry
also lrusrrarcs lim. cvcn makcs lim loncly. lur ir is ncvcr loring. and ir
always cxcccds lis cxpccrarions. 1lus. lis cxpcricncc in rlc ciry lccomcs
prclcrallc nor lccausc ol all rlc pirilul individuals lc cncounrcrs. lur lc-
causc ol rlc vcry possililiry ol mccring rlcm in rlc firsr placc. 1lis ncw
cxpcricncc ol rlc scll—as a namclcss olscrvcr ol a lig-ciry crowd—now
gcncrarcs and dcfincs rlc narrarivc and ar rlc samc rimc is crirically qucs-
rioncd.
¡crc wc scc a significanr wcdgc drivcn lcrwccn rlc narrarivc lorm ol
‘‘¡cllo. My Bcckccpcr’’ and irs cxprcss conrcnr or plor. 1lc plor ol rlc
srory is rlc young man’s pcrsisrcnr wairing and scarcling lor rlc alscnr
lcckccpcr. 1lc scarcl consrirurcs a mcaninglul cvcnr lor rlc young man.
lccausc ro somc cxrcnr ir organizcs lis cxpcricncc ol rlc ciry. 1lc lcc-
kccpcr. wlosc lauglrcr rcminds rlc narraror ol lis dcprcsscd lrorlcr and
wlo arrracrs lim wirl a ‘‘wcird supcrluman aura’’ (i:). lclongs ncirlcr
ro rlc small rown nor ro rlc lig ciry. ¡c cmlodics larmony wirl Þarurc
(lc rravcls ro wlcrcvcr rlc flowcrs arc). and lis unconvcnrional lilcsrylc
cxprcsscs an aura ol aurlcnriciry rlar is alscnr lrom lilc in lorl rlc small
rown and rlc ciry. ¡c is rclcrrcd ro simply as ‘‘Bcckccpcr.’’ wlicl in Cli-
ncsc sounds likc ‘‘Ònc wlo culrivarcs crazincss.’’ ¡l wc rakc rlc small rown
as rlc placc ol rradirional. prcmodcrn rcpcririvcncss and drudgcry (wlcrc
rlc lcro’s larlcr manually srirs a lugc var ol grccn-lluc dyc day alrcr day)
and rlc ciry as a disoricnring ficld ol modcrn dynamism and disconri-
nuiry. rlc lcckccpcr’s world ol naruralncss rlcn cxposcs cirlcr spacc as
an impossillc sirc lor aurlcnric and inrcgrarcd cxpcricncc.
Ycr rlc spacc inlalircd ly rlc lcckccpcr is an imagincd onc rlar is in-
vokcd as a cririquc ol lorl srifling sragnarion and rapid urlanizarion.
¡r is again an inrcriorizcd spacc wlcrc rlc scll is allc ro cnjoy irs lulfill-
mcnr. jusr as Þarurc is srill imagincd ro posscss a uropian wlolcsomcncss.
Òlviously. rlc rracclcss lcckccpcr and lis lanrasy land lclong ro a lorm
ol cxpcricncc rlar is valuallc lccausc ir is alrcady rccognizcd as alscnr.
Iusr as wirl rlc discoursc ol suljccriviry. rlc uropian impulsc cmlodicd
ly rlc lcckccpcr rcvcals rlc idcological cngagcmcnr ol rcsidual modcrn-
ism in a lisrorical momcnr ol incomplcrc modcrnizarion. (¡n rlis liglr. ¡
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218 C/in.·. As!.rn
would rlink ir mislcading ro acccnruarc a ‘‘posrmodcrnisr’’ profilc in Su
1ong.)
31
1lc young lcro’s scarcl lor rlc lcckccpcr. rlcrclorc. lccomcs
a symlolic acr ol cscapc rlar. ncvcrrlclcss. consrirurcs lis idcnriry. ¡is
olscssion wirl rlc scarcl. slarcd ly rlc young firsr-pcrson narraror ol
Nin.t..n T/irtv-/sur L·.ct.·, finally lcads ro a dramaric cpisodc in wlicl a
lasr-ralking girl cxprcsscs lcr lovc and rclls limrlar lc limscll is a roman-
ric lcckccpcr. Alrcrward. lc las a drcam rlar can lc rcad as an cxprcssion
ol rlc uropian longing ol rcsidual modcrnism.
¡ drcamr rlc lcckccpcr was walking lorward and ¡ was lollowing lim. Wc
wcrc crossing a ficld ol purplc flowcrs in rlc spring. wlilc an ox-drawn carr
loadcd wirl lcc livcs was crcaking ly on rlc dirr road. . . . ¡ lound rlc
placc rlc lcckccpcr lcd mc rlrougl vcry lamiliar. lur ¡ lad no way ro rcll
wlcrc ir was. ¡r lookcd likc rlc ourskirrs ol rlc rown ol Þijiang. or my
small lomcrown. ¡r also lookcd likc nowlcrc lur a disranr ncw world ol
mysrcry. (:|–:s)
Wlcn rlc proragonisr voiccs lis conflicring lcclings alour rlc counrry-
sidc. lc arricularcs an csscnrial amlivalcncc in rcsidual modcrnism. As
an idcologizcd discoursc alour rlc condcnscd cxpcricncc ol modcrniry.
rcsidual modcrnism is proloundly amlivalcnr alour rlc proccss ol mod-
crnizarion lccausc ir is rccognizcd as ar rlc samc rimc ncccssary and rc-
prcssivc. cmanciparory and dysropian. Fcsidual modcrnism is a discoursc
rlar is acurcly awarc ol irs conrradicrory impulscs. ‘‘You cannor imaginc
low inrcnscly ¡ lclr lorl amlivalcnr and cmpry. You cannor undcrsrand
rlc conrradicrion ¡ lclr lccausc ¡ larcd rlc counrry villagc [xicna.un| as
mucl as ¡ was movcd ly pasroral sccncry [xicnav.|’’ (i:).
¡l. lowcvcr. rlc lcro’s scarcl lor idcnriry is rlc cxplicir purposc and
organizing plor ol ‘‘¡cllo. My Bcckccpcr.’’ rlc proccss ol rlc scarcl.
namcly lis cxpcricncc in rlc ciry. assumcs a narrarivc lorm rlar rcvcals
lurrlcr amliguirics. 1lc proccss lccomcs significanr and cvcn cnjoyallc
insolar as ir is a lorm ol cxpcricncc rlar gcncrarcs inccssanr narrarion. 1lc
wlolc scqucncc ol cvcnrs in rlc srory is organizcd nor so mucl ly a rcm-
poral progrcssion as ly rlc young man’s conrinuous sparial movcmcnr
across rlc ciry. Along a lorizonral planc ol juxraposirion arc numcrous
:¡. Scc Wang Zlcng and Xiao ¡ua. ‘‘Complcmcnrary Yourl Consciousncss.’’ ¡o¬.
¡crc rlcy raisc rlc conccpr ol ‘‘posrmodcrnism’’ as a possillc carcgory lor undcr-
sranding rlis group ol young wrircrs.
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B.·i!uc/ As!.rni·m 219
cpisodcs and mini-narrarivcs rlar arc indcpcndcnr and disconrinuous ol
cacl orlcr. So rlc rlrcc inscrrcd sulrirlcs lor rlrcc diffcrcnr scrics ol nar-
rarivcs in rlc rcxr (¡cacc ¡orcl Gucsrs Þumlcr ¡. i. and :) scrvc ro lrcak
as mucl as producc rlc illusion ol a colcrcnr narrarion. Iacl scrics. in
addirion. lcgins wirl rlc samc qucsrion. supposcdly addrcsscd ro rlc
ncw lorcl gucsr ly rlc narraror. ‘‘¡avc you sccn a lcckccpcr·’’ Iacl
rimc rlc narraror ‘‘¡’’ is cirlcr misundcrsrood or simply ignorcd. Wlar
lollows is invarially digrcssion and inrcrruprion. lragmcnrcd cxpcricncc
rlar rcluscs ro lcnd irscll ro any locuscd communicarion or sroryrclling.
¡crc wc can vicw rlc rlcmaric plor ol rlc srory. namcly rlc lcro’s dcrcr-
mincd scarcl lor idcnriry. as wlar Bcnjamin dcscrilcd as rlc ‘‘slock dc-
lcnsc’’ rlar srrcnuously rrics ro lcnd off various srimuli lromlilc in rlc ciry
and kccps rlc inrcgriry ol a narrarallc cxpcricncc. ¡r is. lowcvcr. rlosc
srimuli. rlosc unconrrollallc and flccring digrcssions and inrcrruprions.
rlar movc rlc narrarivc lorward and lccomc wlar is livcd rlrougl. 1lc
lorm ol rlc narrarivc rcflccrs rlc impossililiry ol aclicving mcaninglul
cxpcricncc. rogcrlcr wirl all irs linkagcs and complcxirics.
1lus. rlc narrarivc lorm assumcd ly rlc young man’s lurilc scarcl cor-
rcsponds ro rlc srrucrurc ol lis consciousncss ro rlc cxrcnr rlar ir rcpcars
rlc lrusrrarcd cfforr ro organizc lis cxpcricnccs in a modcrn mcrropolis.
Sincc ciry lilc rurns our ro lc mosr susccprillc ro narrarion—in Balzac’s
¡aris ol carly capiralism. rlcrc was an irrcprcssillc nccd lor wlar ¡ranco
Morcrri calls ‘‘slccr narrarion’’
32
—rlc narraror lccls lis scll-idcnriry ar
oncc rlrcarcncd ly and givcn a ccrrain lorm in rlis cxplosivc narrariviry.
Òn rlc onc land. lc las ro conrain rlis slccr narrarion ly suljccring ir
ro a lramcwork ol inrclligililiry. lur on rlc orlcr ir is rlrougl narrarion.
rlrougl rccounring orlcr gucsrs’ srorics. rlar lc rcalizcs lis own valuc
and idcnriry—lis diffcrcncc lrom orlcrs. ¡n a scnsc. narrarion nowoccurs
nor so mucl ro communicarc cxpcricncc as ro prcscnr irscll as a divcr-
gcnr lorm ol cxpcricncc rlar srill nccds lurrlcr organizing. ¡r lccomcs
a scll-propcllcd mcclanism rlar rlc narraror as a suljccr las ro lalr in
ordcr ro lorm nor mcrcly a possillc rclarion wirl rlc world lur also a
scll-dcfinirion. 1lus. rlc narrarivc lorm ol ‘‘¡cllo. My Bcckccpcr’’ las irs
own lisrorical significancc lccausc irs irrcsisrillc and disruprivc cncrgy
is sympromaric ol rlc difficulr siruarion rlar rlc agirarcd modcrn suljccr
conlronrs.
:i. Morcrri. T/. Icv s/ t/. Isr/!, ¡|o.
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220 C/in.·. As!.rn
1lc slccr narrarion rlar rlc young man wislcs ro conrain and rcsisr is
lcsr rcprcscnrcd ly ncwspapcrs. in wlicl lc finds nor only an ovcralun-
dancc ol unrclarcd lappcnings. lur also a dcvaluarion ol cxpcricncc irscll.
Coincidcnrally. rlc mysrcrious lcckccpcr inscrilcs lis dirccrions lor rlc
young man on a piccc ol ncwspapcr (rlc Ncniin Lv.nina N.m·). rlus lorc-
ing rlc young man ro rcad rlc clipping ovcr and ovcr again in rlc lopc
ol finding somc rcvclarion. 1lcrc lc finds a lragmcnrcd scnrcncc alour a
courr dccision in a rlclr casc. a laral accidcnr. and a rcporr alour an n¡os
paricnr (i:–i|). 1lis ncwspapcr clipping appcars carly in rlc narrarivc.
prcccding rlc young man’s acrual cncounrcr wirl rlc ciry. 1lus. rlc rlrcc
unrclarcd cvcnrs rlar arc juxraposcd randomly (in rlc lormar ol a ncws-
papcr) prcdcrcrminc rlc lorm ol lis cxpcricncc in rlc ciry and lavc a
paradigmaric valuc lor lis own narrarivc. 1lc dominanr parrcrn ol urlan
lilc. in orlcr words. is rcvcalcd in rlc srory ro lc rlar ol a rorn ncwspapcr.
wirl lragmcnrcd narrarivcs rlar lavc ncirlcr lcginnings nor cndings. (¡n
Su 1ong’s ‘‘As Scrcnc as Srill Warcr.’’ wc find an cpisodc composcd cn-
rircly ol ncwspapcr lcadlincs. ranging lrom complainrs alour uncqual
opporrunirics lor young pcoplc. ro sccrcrs ol longcviry ro rlc arrcsr ol
a ccrrain lurglar-murdcrcr.) 1oward rlc cnd. anorlcr clipping lrom rlc
Ncniin Lv.nina N.m· is mysrcriously dclivcrcd ro rlc young man’s lorcl
room wirl a mcssagc lrom rlc lcckccpcr. ¡r is an indcciplcrallc mcssagc
consisring ol a drawing and a pocm. ncirlcr ol rlcm making mucl scnsc.
Bur srill ir is a mcssagc in rlc lcckccpcr’s lamiliar radpolc-slapcd land-
wriring. and ir is dcrcrmincdly nor narrarion. 1lc mcssagc ncgarcs rlc
ncwspapcr and garlcrs irs lorcc lrom rlc lacr rlar ir is inscrilcd ovcr rlc
narrarion rlar sarurarcs modcrn urlan lilc. 1lc significancc ol rlcsc rwo
mcssagcs landwrirrcn on a piccc ol ncwspapcr is parallcl ro rlar ol rlc
lcckccpcr limscll. 1ogcrlcr. rlcy call lorrl an imaginarivc ccccnrriciry
rlar commcnrs on rlc slrinkagc ol cxpcricncc in modcrniry.
Wlilc rlc srrarcgy wirl wlicl ro conlronr rlis ncw cxplosivc narra-
riviry is ro srullornly posc rlc samc qucsrion. ‘‘¡avc you sccn a lcc-
kccpcr·’’ rlc cmlarrlcd suljccr also las ro imaginc a grarilying ‘‘ncw
world ol mysrcry’’ ro rransccnd rlc immcdiarc cnvironmcnr. Òn rwo
scpararc lur rclarcd lcvcls. rlc firsr-pcrson narraror cxpcricnccs rlcsc rwo
crirical impulscs. on rlc lcvcl ol rlc narrarivc. lc organizcs lis srorics ro
slow rlcir irrclcvancc ro lis rlcmaric inquiry (or rarlcr rlc vcry rclc-
vancy ol lis scarcl lor mcaning). and on rlc lcvcl ol conrcnr lc dcpicrs
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B.·i!uc/ As!.rni·m 221
rlc ciry as a dysropian spacc dcvoid ol gcnuinc cxpcricncc. 1lc mod-
crnizing ciry is slown ro gcncrarc narrarion lur nor gcnuinc narrarivc.
1lc ‘‘scnsarion ol rlc modcrn agc may lc lad.’’ Bcnjamin concludcs lis
discussion ol Baudclairc’s vision ol ¡aris in rlc nincrccnrl ccnrury. ar a
dcar pricc. ‘‘rlc disinrcgrarion ol rlc aura in rlc cxpcricncc ol rlc slock.’’
Baudclairc is rlc firsr pocr ro lavc undcrsrood and porrraycd modcrniry
in lis pocric imaginarion. lccausc lc las givcn ‘‘rlc wciglr ol an cxpcri-
cncc’’ ro somcrling livcd rlrougl lrom momcnr ro momcnr. rlus con-
scnring ro rlc disinrcgrarion ol rlc aura.
33
¡or Baudclairc. a narrarallc
and porcnrially complcrc cxpcricncc was irrcparally disconnccrcd lrom
rlc immcdiarc and olrcn involunrary scnsarion rlar onc conrinuously lad
wlcn mingling wirl rlc ciry crowd. ¡n Su 1ong’s narrarivcs ol rlc ciry
wc also find sucl a disconnccrion. 1lc scnsarion ol rlc modcrn agc. as in
Baudclairc. is cnjoycd wirl grcar apprclcnsion. and rlc aura rlar lrcarlcs
lisrorical aurlcnriciry rcmains a uropian vision rarlcr rlan a complcrc
dissiparion. 1lc uropian momcnr in rcsidual modcrnism. in orlcr words.
is a lisrorical ncccssiry prcciscly lccausc rlc incomplcrcncss ol a lisrorical
proccss is lully graspcd. and. morc imporranrly. irs incvirallc complcrion
is pcrccivcd as lcing in nccd ol crirical dcmysrificarion.
1lis lrings us lack ro rlc qucsrion ol lisrory. wlicl dirccrs our ar-
rcnrion ro rlc conrcnr ol rlc narrarivc. ‘‘Conrcnr’’ lcrc slould nor lc
rcgardcd as an cnlccllcd carcgory, rarlcr. ir corrcsponds ro rlc lisrori-
cal significancc ol rlc narrarivc lorm. ¡n a scnsc rlc conrcnr cvcn ar-
rcmprs ro cxplain and narrarivizc rlc cmcrgcncc ol slccr narrarion irscll.
Ar firsr glancc. rlc modcrnizing ciry sccms ro lavc llorrcd our lisrory
complcrcly. Alscnr lrom lorl rlc urlan spacc and irs symlol—rlc ncws-
papcr world ol slock valuc—is any rracc ol rlc prcvious rcvolurionary
cra. cxccpr lor onc momcnr wlcn rlc young lcro. upon firsr cnrcring rlc
ciry. comcs across a uscd sloc lying on rlc road ar an inrcrsccrion. ¡r is
a ¡ilcrarion sloc rlar was popular in rlc carly ¡o¬os. now all ly irscll.
ycr nor wirlour somc arrogancc (i¡). Alrcr rlar. rlc loncly sloc ncvcr rc-
appcars. ¡rs sulscqucnr disappcarancc suggcsrs rlc cxrcnr ro wlicl mcm-
ory ol a rcvolurionary pasr las lccn succcsslully crascd. ¡r also dramarizcs
rlc lankruprcy ol a rcvolurionary lcriragc rlar rlc young lcro finds usc-
lcss and impossillc ro idcnrily wirl. Ycr irs prcscncc as a spccrral rcaliry
::. Bcnjamin. ‘‘Òn Somc Morils in Baudclairc.’’ I//uminctisn·, ¡o|.
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222 C/in.·. As!.rn
grcarly arouscs rlc young man’s curiosiry. and lc dccidcs ro srudy rlc
alandoncd sloc as rlc firsr ‘‘srrangc plcnomcnon’’ ol rlc ciry.
Iacl ol rlc rlrcc ¡cacc ¡orcl gucsrs wlom rlc proragonisr mccrs sul-
scqucnrly rcprcscnrs a disrincr lisrorical momcnr. and rogcrlcr rlcy con-
rrilurc ro a narrarivc conrinuiry. 1lc ‘‘old rcvolurionary.’’ wlo louglr
lorl rlc Iapancsc and rlc Þarionalisrs. srill carrics wounds lrom war-
rimc lur now finds limscll unlairly ignorcd. ¡c rravcls ro rlc ciry ro filc
complainrs and scck jusricc. ¡is prcscncc. alrlougl ncarly anaclronisric.
lirrcrly accuscs a rcvolurionary rradirion ol slamclcssly lcrraying irs indi-
vidual parricipanrs. 1lc lund-raiscr. on rlc orlcr land. carrics a lusincss
porrlolio ladcn wirl six diffcrcnr idcnrificarion cards and is dcspcrarcly
scarcling lor a ncw prolcssion. Þor laving plysical wounds lrom a war.
lc is also wirlour any rcal idcnriry lccausc lc is onc ol rlosc luncrionar-
ics ol rlc prcvious rcgimc wlo arc now dislocarcd ly a ncw social rcaliry.
¡n conrrasr ro rlis mcriculous and rimid cadrc-rurncd-lusincssman. rlc
parvcnu Canroncsc undcrsrands low moncy works and rakcs pridc in
lis ncw wcalrl. A conspicuous consumcr ol ncw srarus-symlol goods
(¡cpsi. Kcnr cigarcrrcs. and ¡rcncl pcrlumc). lc is a conrcmporary ol rlc
narraror and rcprcscnrs rlc cmcrgcnr organizing principlc ol ciry lilc—
moncrary cxclangc. ¡c is mosr disagrccallc ro rlc young lcro lccausc
ol lis mcrcanrilc vulgariry and lcdonisric scll-indulgcncc. ¡c also carica-
rurcs a momcnr rlar las complcrcly supprcsscd rlc rcvolurionary pasr.
1lcsc rlrcc ¡cacc ¡orcl gucsrs. wirl nonc ol wlomrlc young lcro can
rcadily idcnrily. comlinc ro announcc rlc inclucrallc arrival ol a posr-
rcvolurionary agc. in wlicl lorl mcmory and lorgcrring appcar cqually
disrurling. lccausc lorl cnallc rlc narraror ro rccognizc a rrcmcndous
disconrinuiry. 1lus. lis only srrarcgy. or lis scarcl lor scll-idcnriry. las
ro lc an acr ol cscapc. an affirmarion ol lis lrccdom nor ro lc cngagcd.
a solirary /r..!sm /rsm. 1lcrclorc. wc scc lim consranrly on rlc run.
¡c runs lrom a lricndslip rlar lccomcs cxploirarivc. lrom an insrirurion
rlar lclps pcoplc find jols. and cvcn lrom possillc romancc. ¡inally. rlc
young man las ro run lrom rlc ciry irscll.
‘‘¡cllo. My Bcckccpcr’’ is onc ol rlc firsr and mosr succcsslul narra-
rivcs in Clincsc lircrarurc ol rlc ¡o8os ro approacl rlc ciry as a growing
ficld ol culrural and cxpcricnrial disconnccrions. 1lc rcnsion lcrwccn rlc
narrarivc lorm and rlc idcological conrcnr suggcsrs rlc inrcnsiry ol rlar
disconrinuiry. 1lc cxpcricncc ol rcsrlcss yourl and irs final cscapc sccm
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B.·i!uc/ As!.rni·m 223
ro imply a suspicion ol rlc cmcrging urlan culrurc. 1lc young lcro in
rlc cnd finds ir ncccssary ro kccp moving. Bur rlcrc is no nosralgia lor
cirlcr rlc rcvolurionary pasr or lilc in a loring small rown. cvcn rlougl
wc may dcrccr somc disquicring rcscmllancc lcrwccn rlc dcscrrcd ¡il-
crarion sloc ar rlc lcginning and rlc loncly young man wlo srands ly
rlc srrccr warcling pcoplc lurrying lomc. ‘‘¡r was rlc lasr winrcr day ol
¡o8o. on a srrccr in onc ciry’’ (:o). 1lis onc-linc paragrapl dcscrilcs an
opposirional lonclincss rlar is inrcriorizcd and rcmains scll-consciously
on rlc margin. Borl rlc young man wlo is dcrcrmincd nor ro rcconcilc
limscll ro rlc ciry and rlc rccalcirranr ¡ilcrarion sloc arc suddcnly rc-
vcalcd ro lc symlols ol scpararc rcsidual momcnrs. Bur ir is impossillc ro
invokc rlc ¡ilcrarion sloc and wlar ir srands lor as a dcmysrilying lorcc
prcciscly lccausc ol irs lack ol inrcrioriry. ¡n rlc incrcasingly opprcssivc
modcrnizing urlan landscapc. yourl las ro lc in posscssion ol lorl mo-
liliry and inrcrioriry in ordcr nor ro vanisl or lc consumcd alrogcrlcr.
¡crc wc find rlc rclcvancc ol rlc conccpr ol ‘‘rcsidual modcrnism.’’ Yu
¡ua and Su 1ong arc rcprcscnrarivc rcsidual modcrnisrs lccausc lor rlcm
incomplcrc modcrnizarion dcmands a crcarivc rccycling ol rlc idcology
ol modcrnism in ordcr lor rlis lisrorical momcnr ro lc rcprcscnrallc and
rcprcscnrcd crirically. 1lrougl rlc lcnscs ol modcrnism. rlcy rccxaminc
rlc rcncwcd onscr ol rlc modcrn. lorl irs myrls and dcmysrificarions.
1lis rcsorring ro modcrnism as canonizcd rcclniqucs and codificd idcol-
ogy lardly suggcsrs an impovcrislcd imaginarion or inadcquarc lisrori-
cal consciousncss on rlc parr ol rlc pracririoncrs ol rcsidual modcrnism.
Òn rlc conrrary. ly mcans ol a rcsiruarcd rccycling. rcsidual modcrnisrs
slow an cvcn firmcr grasp ol rlc cnduring dilcmmas and conrradicrions
rlar undcrlic rlc condirion ol modcrniry. 1lcy also succccd in rcrro-
acrivcly rcvcaling rlar Iuropcan modcrnismirscll was a discoursc ol spcc-
rraliry in rlc firsr placc. ¡n orlcr words. modcrnism lccamc an availallc
idcology prcciscly ar rlc momcnr wlcn lisrorical cxpcricncc in Iuropc
was lrauglr wirl rcsidual lorms and possililirics (cvcn rlc ¡ururc uncan-
nily appcarcd rcminisccnr ol a pasr imaginarion). Fcsidual modcrnism
rlcrclorc is a morc inrcnsc and. il possillc. purcr modcrnism. 1lis grcarcr
inrcnsiry rlar dcfincs rcsidual modcrnism docs nor ncccssarily mcan rlar
ir will surpass modcrnism in irs ingcnuiry or aclicvcmcnr. Farlcr. ir in-
dicarcs rlc pcrsisrcncc ol an agonizing incomplcrcncss. ¡r also liglliglrs
rlc conrradicrion ol a lisrorical momcnr in wlicl modcrniry. wlilc srill
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224 C/in.·. As!.rn
srruggling ro cmcrgc. is alrcady pcrccivcd ro lc a posirivcly rcsidual. il
nor arclaic. lorm ol cxpcricncc. Ar a rimc wlcn posrmodcrnism is lc-
licvcd ro lavc liddcn a final larcwcll ro rlc anxicry ol rlc modcrn. rlc
viraliry ol rcsidual modcrnism lorccs us ro again conlronr modcrniry and
all irs unrcsolvcd complcxirics.
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1lc Mirror ol ¡isrory and ¡isrory as Spccraclc.
Fcflccrions on Xiao Yc and Su 1ong
1lus rlc lilc ol somconc wlosc cxisrcncc las somcwlar prcccdcd our
own cncloscs in irs parriculariry rlc vcry rcnsion ol ¡isrory. irs division.
¡isrory is lysrcrical. ir is consrirurcd only il wc considcr ir. only il wc
look ar ir—and in ordcr ro look ar ir. wc musr lc cxcludcd lrom ir.
—Foland Barrlcs. Ccm.rc Lu.i!c
1lc rwo novcllas ¡ wisl ro discuss lcrc—Xiao Yc’s Gcn/cn c/.n rc;; (1lc
rown ol Òlivc in ¡o||) (¡o8o)
1
and Su 1ong’s Tiiiu ·cn·i nicn !. tcs-
mcna (Þincrccn rlirry-lour cscapcs) (¡o8¬)
2
—slarc somcrling in com-
mon morc rlan is suggcsrcd ly rlcir rwo similar rirlcs. ¡n lorl. a spccific
ycar locarcs a lisrorical momcnr in rlc pasr. and rlc rwo diffcrcnr mo-
mcnrs ol lisrory invokcd lcrc lorl prcccdc rlc cxpcricncc ol rlc rwo rc-
spccrivc aurlors. ¡or Xiao Yc (¡siao Ycl) (¡os¡- ). rlc prolific and popu-
lar 1aiwan novclisr and scriprwrircr (Ksna/u /.nci [1lc rcrrorizcr|. ¡o88).
rlc ycar ¡o|| is jusr as rcmorc and unapproaclallc as rlc ycar ¡o:| is ro
Su 1ong (¡oo:- ). wlo lcgan pullisling in rlc larc ¡o8os in Clina and las
produccd a scrics ol srorics alour rlc lygonc gcncrarion ol lis parcnrs
and grandparcnrs. As rlc firsr-pcrson narraror in Xiao Yc’s srory rclls us.
‘‘¡oo| was rlc Fcpullican ycar ::. ¡ was nor ycr lorn rlcn, my parcnrs
lad nor cvcn mcr cacl orlcr’’ (io8). 1lc samc awarcncss ol rlc unlridgc-
¡. XiaoYc. Gcn/cn c/.n rc;;, collccrcd in lis Iu!i /cixina (¡cglcss srarfisl) (1aipci.
Yuanliu. ¡o8o). io¬–::.
i. Su 1ong. Tiiiu ·cn·i nicn !. tcsmcna, collccrcd in lis Oi;i. ./.na;un (Wivcs and
conculincs) (1aipci. Yuanliu. ¡ooo). ¡:–¬8. 1ranslarions ol passagcs in rlis claprcr arc
my own. ¡or a complcrc Inglisl rranslarion. wlicl ¡ consulrcd. scc Miclacl Ðukc.
rrans.. Bci·. t/. B.! Lcnt.rn (Þcw York. William Morrow. ¡oo:). ¡o¡–¬8. ¡n rlc lol-
lowing discussion. rclcrcnccs ro pagc numlcrs arc givcn in parcnrlcscs. wirl rlc firsr
numlcr rclcrring ro rlc Clincsc cdirion and rlc sccond ro Ðukc’s rranslarion.
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226 C/in.·. As!.rn
allc disrancc lrom a parricular lisrorical momcnr is arricularcd wirl cqual
lorcc ly Su 1ong’s firsr-pcrson narraror in Nin.t..n T/irtv-/sur L·.ct.·.
‘‘¡or a pcriod ol rimc my lisrory look was covcrcd wirl rlc ycar ¡o:|.
1lc ycar ¡o:| radiarcd srrong slalrs ol purplc liglr rlar circumscrilcd my
rlinking. ¡r was a rcmorc pasr momcnr rlar did nor cxisr anymorc. and ir
rcmaincd rruc lor mc likc rlc circlcs ol an ancicnr rrcc. ¡ could sir upon ir
and rcgard rlc cvcnrs and clangcs rlar rook placc in ¡o:|’’ (¡8, ¡os).
1lc affiniry lcrwccn rlcsc rwo srorics gocs lcyond rlcir similar rirlcs.
Borl srorics lavc a firsr-pcrson narraror wlo conrcmplarcs lisrory wirl
dcrcrminarion and looks lack ar rlc pasr loping ro rccaprurc or cvcn
rclivc wlar rook placc lclorc lis own arrival. Borl narrarors cxprcss a
srrong nosralgia rlar is only mirigarcd ly rlc consranr invocarion ol dis-
rincr. almosr filmic. imagcs ol pasr cvcnrs. ¡n lacr. visual imagcs lcrc sccm
ro lc rlc dominanr modc ol knowing. and rlc spccraclc ol lisrory rlc
ccnrral mcans ly wlicl rlc narraror sarisfics lis longing lor mcaning and
scll-idcnriry. 1o visualizc lisrory. ro imaginc ir as il gazing ar a spccraclc—
rlis is rlc prccisc srarring poinr ol Xiao Yc’s T/. Tsmn s/ O/iv. in rc;;.
¡r is ol inrcrcsr ro olscrvc ar rlc ourscr rlar Xiao Yc wrorc rlc srory
undcr discussion in rlc cmorionally agiraring summcr ol ¡o8o. ¡r was a
rimc wlcn. in rlc aurlor’s words. ‘‘cvcryonc was involvcd in a lisrorical
rorrcnr wirlour knowing ir.’’ 1lc only rling lc lound lcasillc and ap-
propriarc ro do was ro wrirc slorr srorics lranrically so as ro gain somc
disrancc and pur rlings in pcrspccrivc. 1lar summcr provcd ro lc vcry
producrivc lor lim. As rlc aurlor commcnrs in lis prclacc ro rlc col-
lccrion ol srorics rlar camc our in ¡o8o. T/. Tsmn s/ O/iv. in rc;; is
‘‘alour all ol onc wrircr’s possillc imaginarions ol a singlc rcmorc Cli-
ncsc rown in a rimc lclorc lis lirrl. and rlc sulscqucnr lankruprcy ol
rlosc imaginarions’’ (¬). 1lc srory rclls ol low onc 1aiwancsc scripr-
wrircr. Gao 1ian. is invircd ro collalorarc wirl onc wcll-known Iapancsc
filmmakcr. Mr. Suzuki. in a joinr film projccr alour rlc Sino-Iapancsc
conflicr in sourlwcsrcrn Clina during World War ¡¡. Wlilc wriring rlc
scripr lor sucl a film. wlicl is cxpccrcd ro sarisly lorl rlc 1aiwancsc and
Iapancsc markcrs. rlc wrircr runs inro rrcmcndous difficulrics. 1lc srrcss-
lul siruarion in wlicl lc finds limscll nor only indicarcs rlc complcxiry
ol lacrors involvcd in rlc proccss ol film producrion. sucl as commcrcial
conccrns and idcological consrrainrs. lur also poinrs ro rlc impossililiry
ol rcliving lisrory as ir was acrually livcd. or. ro pur ir orlcrwisc. ol rcprc-
scnring lisrory as sucl.
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T/. Airrsr s/ Hi·tsrv 227
1lc main plor ol rlc srory is a scarcl lor lisrorical rrurl. an cfforr ro
rc-crcarc lisrorical rcaliry. Wlilc rlc Iapancsc dirccror las pcrsonal cx-
pcricncc ol rlc Sino-Iapancsc war. rlc 1aiwan-lorn Clincsc scriprwrircr.
wlo is rlc ‘‘¡’’ narraror ol rlc srory. is lar rcmovcd lrom rlc war. lorl
in rcrms ol rimc and spacc. ‘‘¡or mc. rlc rown ol Òlivc is mcrcly a gco-
graplical namc onc finds on a Clincsc map. and ¡ am using rlis namc
rorally our ol convcnicncc. Sincc ¡ lavc no knowlcdgc wlarsocvcr ol rlis
rown. irs popularion. sizc. or cusroms. rlc rown appcars ro mc jusr as rc-
morc and unlamiliar as any orlcr namclcss rowns in Iuropc or Alrica’’
(io¬). Ycr ir is in rlis rown rlar rlc wrircr dccidcs ro sragc lis srory and
imaginc wlar rlc war was likc lack in ¡o||. 1lc vcry olscuriry ol rlc
rown givcs lim mucl morc lrccdom and spacc in imagining and rcpro-
ducing rlc pasr. ‘‘1lc rcason ¡ closc rlc rown ol Òlivc. wlicl is closc ro
1cngclong. as rlc locus lor my srory was rlar rlcrc wcrc vcry lcw rccords
availallc alour ir. ¡ could lavc rlc mosr spacc lor ficrion. clalorarion.
and imaginarion’’ (ioo).
1lc marginal spacc occupicd ly rlc rown ol Òlivc providcs an idcal sirc
lor Gao 1ian rlc wrircr ro rcrricvc a marginal lisrory. a diffcrcnr mcmory
and rcprcscnrarion ol a major war in rlc pasr. 1lc original conccprion ol
rlc film is gcarcd morc roward commcrcial succcss. wirl a srar-sruddcd
casr and a lig ludgcr. Somc vcry wcak pacifism also is pumpcd inro
rlc scripr. lcss ro raisc scrious qucsrions alour rlc war rlan ro lc idco-
logically laslionallc. Bccausc ir is inirially proposcd ly rlc Iapancsc. rlc
firsr dralr prcscnrs rlc srory lrom a Iapancsc pcrspccrivc. dcpicring low
a plaroon ol Iapancsc soldicrs lcroically dclcndcd onc ol rlc lasr mili-
rary srronglolds ro rlc vcry cnd. Alrlougl rlc Iapancsc dirccror Suzuki
(wlosc conrinual caring rlrouglour rlc srory makcs rlc rcadcr suspccr
a morlid and compulsivc appcrirc lor wlarcvcr is consumallc) claims ro
lc a pacifisr. rlc 1aiwancsc scriprwrircr finds ir uninrcrcsring ro rcll ycr
anorlcr all-roo-lamiliar war srory. ¡is immcdiarc oljccrion is rlar rlc
plor roo mucl rcscmllcs convcnrional Clincsc films in wlicl onc sccs
similar dcpicrions ol rlc lcroic dcarls ol Clincsc soldicrs. Wlar lc now
wislcs ro rcsisr is rlc masrcr narrarivc ol cirlcr vicrory or dclcar. ¡nsrcad.
lc wanrs ro rcll rlc srory ol rlc war lrom a diffcrcnr pcrspccrivc. ‘‘¡ dc-
cidcd ro pur asidc rlc original srory. . . . ¡ lound anorlcr pcrspccrivc.
anorlcr srandpoinr. nor rlar ol rlc Iapancsc. nor rlar ol rlc Clincsc.
lur insrcad rlc vicwpoinr ol rlc crlnic minorirics wlo livc in rlc lor-
dcr arca ol Yunnan. ¡ wanrcd ro look ar rlc war lrom rlcir pcrspccrivc’’
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(i¡|). ¡rom rlis vicwpoinr. wlicl allows lim ro comlinc sparial margin-
aliry and crlnic minorirics. lc will morc cffccrivcly rccxaminc lisrorical
cxpcricncc as wcll as irs rcprcscnrarion. 1lis srrarcgy lor idcological cri-
riquc rcadily rcminds us ol rlc ¡ilrl Gcncrarion films in Clina. sucl as
Dcsmc c.i (1lc lorsc rlicl ). Li../cna Z/c·c (Òn rlc lunring ground).
and. ro a ccrrain cxrcnr. Hucna tu!i (1lc ycllow carrl). Gao 1ian’s dcsirc
ro cvokc sucl a lisrorical possililiry gocs lcyond acsrlcric csrrangcmcnr
and dirccrly mirrors a growing indigcnous consciousncss in 1aiwan sincc
rlc mid-¡o8os. 1lc narivisr drivc lor scll-dcrcrminarion in 1aiwan. as in
all narional myrls ol origins. consisrs in rcrricving a local lisrory rlar
givcs rlc prcscnr a diffcrcnriarcd and uniquc idcnriry.
So ‘‘looking ar rlc war’’ in rlis conrcxr acquircs rwo disrincr lur rc-
larcd mcanings. onc is ro rry ro cxpcricncc or rcmcmlcr rlc war diffcr-
cnrly, anorlcr is ro rcprcscnr rlc war lrom rlis parricular anglc. ro crcarc
ncw imagcs and spccraclcs, lor. alrcr all. rlc joinr projccr is ro makc a
movic. ro producc a visual rcprcscnrarion ol rlc war. ‘‘1o look ar rlc war’’
now dcmands rlar rlis parr ol lisrory lc cxamincd lrom a disrancc and
ycr in a crcarivc cngagcmcnr. Ònly rlrougl rlis acrivc look or gazc will
a piccc ol pasr lisrory lc rccovcrcd and lrouglr lack ro mcmory wirl
any rclcvancc ro prcscnr conccrns and dcsircs. ¡n orlcr words. lisrory is
indccd invokcd as a mirror. lur ir is a mirror rlar docs nor ncccssarily
rcflccr or vcrily ccrrain rrurl. as rradirional lisrorical wrirings and wis-
dom would rry ro suggcsr. Òn rlc conrrary. ir is a mirror in rlc scnsc
rlar cvcry pcrson wlo looks ar lisrory will invarially also scc lis or lcr
own imagc and scll. Fcprcscnrarion ol rlc pasr always mirrors prcscnr
cngagcmcnr. anxicry. and longings. 1lus. rlc scriprwrircr’s dccision ro
approacl rlc war lrom rlc pcrspccrivc ol crlnic minorirics scrvcs ar lcasr
rwo purposcs simulrancously. ¡r is a clallcngc ro rlc commcrcializcd film
indusrry and a cririquc ol rlc idcology ol clauvinisric narionalism. Ar
rlis poinr. ir is all rlc morc rclcvanr rlar rlis srory is alour rlc making
ol a film. ¡r lccomcs clcar low mucl idcological wciglr rlc producrion
ol visual imagcry carrics. cspccially in our scopopliliac modcrn culrurc
wlcrc a carclully consrrucrcd imagc olrcn provokcs crirical rcflccrion as
mucl as ir may pass as rlc cnduring rrurl ol a pasr momcnr. 1lc scripr-
wrircr’s scll-imposcd crirical mission. rlcrclorc. is ro rcvolr againsr rlosc
prcdcrcrmincd and prcproccsscd imagcs. ro makc visillc a lisrory rlar
las lccn cirlcr olscurcd or undcrrcprcscnrcd. 1o scc lisrory rlis way
las ycr anorlcr significancc. ¡r is nor only ro slow a parr ol lisrory rlar
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T/. Airrsr s/ Hi·tsrv 229
las nor lccn rcprcscnrcd so lar. rlar is. ro scc lisrory diffcrcnrly. lur
also ro scc concrcrc imagcs. ro rcsrorc irs lacriciry ro rlc lisrorical mo-
mcnr in all ol irs dcrails and conringcncics. in all ol irs visual riclncss and
dcprl.
1lc srory rlcn procccds ro rcll low Gao 1ian rlc lardworking wrircr
rrics ro ‘‘scc’’ rlc war lrom lis parricular vicwpoinr. 1lis lcroic cndcavor
cxcircs lim and causcs lis final disappoinrmcnr. lccausc wlar lc srrivcs
lor is prcciscly rlc impossillc. namcly. rcliving insrcad ol rcprcscnring
a lorgorrcn lisrory. Ycr ir is rlc impossillc prospccr ol rcliving lisrory
rlar grcarly arrracrs rlc wrircr and inspircs lis imaginarion. Alrcr mucl
rcscarcl inro rlc cusroms and riruals ol rlc crlnic minorirics wirl wlom
lc is now gcnuincly lascinarcd. rlc wrircr lorms a srory linc and can scc
rlar ‘‘onc alrcr anorlcr rlc claracrcrs lcgin surlacing.’’ ¡n rapid succcs-
sion. a wlolc casr ol claracrcrs prcscnr rlcmsclvcs. almosr surrcally. in
rlc wrircr’s vision. mosr ol rlcm dcfincd ly rlcir luncrion in rlc movic.
a pacifisr Iapancsc mcdical licurcnanr. a rcrurncd Clincsc srudcnr wirl
lis Iapancsc wilc. an unyiclding villagc masrcr. a rrairor. crc. Bur wirl all
rlcsc claracrcrs. rlc wrircr srill docs nor know low ro unlold rlc srory
lccausc lc las nor lound rlc riglr imagc or rlc riglr momcnr rlar spcaks
ro lim. 1lis lrusrrarion marks rlc firsr sragc ol Gao 1ian’s cfforr ar rc-
rricving a diffcrcnr lisrory. ar wlicl poinr lc is srill vcry mucl wirlin
rlc narrarivc’s lramcwork. Þarrarivc irscll now lccomcs a dcliliraring
dcvicc lccausc somcrling alour rlc war dcfics narrarion. 1lc wrircr is
so olscsscd wirl rlinking up somc inrcrcsring srory rlar lc las niglr-
marcs wlicl mosrly consisr ol launring imagcs ol cmprincss and silcncc.
Ònc way or anorlcr. narrarion lalls inro rlc givcn parrcrn. and rlc wrircr
finds rlis susccprililiry ro an casy and unclallcngcd srory linc dccply
unscrrling.
Þarrarivc. or rarlcr rlc scducrion ol narrarion. now llocks rarlcr rlan
lcads ro rlc wrircr’s grasp ol lisrory. 1lc nccd ro rcll a colcrcnr srory
lccomcs an olsraclc ro lis approacling lisrory or cvcn communicaring
wirl ir. As long as lc carcs alour rclling a srory. Gao 1ian finds lim-
scll lar rcmovcd lrom rlc lisrorical momcnr rlar lc wanrs ro cxpcri-
cncc and cndow wirl an imagc. Ònc way or anorlcr. lc rcalizcs. lc is
lrouglr lack ro spcak ro rlc markcr and sarisly rlc consumcrs’ appcrirc
lor cirlcr scnsarion or comlorr. Ar rlis poinr. rlc wrircr dccidcs ro makc
a rrip ro Iapan and cvcnrually ro ¡iroslima. Wlilc in rlc srill disrurl-
ingly larrcn ¡iroslima. lc finds norling. lc noncrlclcss is consranrly
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launrcd ly rlc lamous filmic imagc lrom Hirs·/imc, msn cmsur. a nakcd
couplc silcnrly making lovc againsr rlc lackground ol rlc dclris ol rlc
firsr aromic loml. 1lis imagc. rogcrlcr wirl rlc calm and flar malc voicc
ol rlc film (‘‘1u n’ai ri.n vu a ¡iroslima. Ficn’’). suddcnly rcvcals ro rlc
wrircr somcrling uncanny alour rlc war and rlc impossililiry ol rcll-
ing a rruc srory alour ir. ‘‘¡ finally undcrsrood rlis linc. lccausc ¡ camc
ro ¡iroslima’’ (iio). An inrcnsc visual imagc illusrrarcs an up-rill-now
cnigmaric urrcrancc rcgarding rlc impossililiry ol sccing anyrling. 1lis
connccrion comcs as a prolound rcvclarion. and Gao 1ian dccidcs ro rurn
away lrom narrarion and lcr limscll rcally scc and imaginc.
\isual imaginarion rlus sccms ro lc rlc only way ro approacl rlc
roraliry ol lisrorical cxpcricncc. or ar lcasr ro mcronymically makc ap-
parcnr rlc irrcrricvallc and unrcprcscnrallc wlolc. 1lc rcal. in orlcr
words. is madc conccivallc rlrougl rlc inrcrvcnrion ol a crirical imagi-
nary. ¡isrorical consciousncss lccomcs morc a spacc-oricnrcd vision
rlan a rimc-oricnrcd narrarivc. Conjurcd imagcs ol rlc rown ol Òlivc
and rcconsrrucrcd sccncs lrom a ccrrain pasr momcnr now lcar mucl
morc rcvclarion rlan docs a narrarivc rlar las ro organizc rimc and rlc
scqucnccs ol cvcnrs. ‘‘Wlar is rlc rown ol Òlivc likc· ¡r is closc ly rlc
Fivcr ol ¡ongcluan. lur rlcn do pcoplc living rlcrc lavc ro dcpcnd on
rlc rivcr lor rlcir livclilood· Can onc sail a loar on rlc rivcr· ¡ rry ro
makc rlis rown lccomc acrivc and alivc. wirlour ncccssarily lcing rruc
ro rcaliry’’ (ii|).
¡n lis cfforr ro rcvivc rlc rown ol Òlivc. so as ro approacl rrurl rarlcr
rlan rcaliry. rlc scriprwrircr rurns ro filmic imagcs and prcscnrs lilc in
rlc rown as il ir wcrc warclcd rlrougl a lorizonrally moving camcra.
Wlar wc lavc. rlcn. is a colorlul picrurc ol cvcryday lilc and a scnsc ol
unconrrollallc simulranciry. All rlc rlings rlar rlc wrircr now makcs us
scc lappcn ar rlc samc rimc. and wc lccl rlar insrcad ol olscrving lilc
in rlis small rown lrom a rcmorc lisrorical disrancc. all ol a suddcn wc
arc lrouglr lacc-ro-lacc wirl rlosc wlo arc walking down rlc srrccrs
and rlrougl rlc loisrcrous and plcasanrly disrracring srrccr lair. ¡crc.
wc lavc a dcscriprion rlar is no longcr rlc samc as wlar ¡ukacs oncc dc-
nounccd as naruralisric and dcvoid ol any crirical judgmcnr. Farlcr. lircr-
ary dcscriprion. carricd our lcrc in rlc modc ol cincmarograply. suggcsrs
a drivc ro go lcyond rlc linguisric mcdium and invircs us ro visualizc.
cvcn wlcn irs conrcnr appcars ro lc incolcrcnr and disoricnring. ¡magcs
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T/. Airrsr s/ Hi·tsrv 231
now lccomc a prclcrrcd mcrlod ly wlicl rlc viraliry and rrurllulncss ol
a lisrorical momcnr arc lrouglr lack.
¡r is inrcrcsring ro olscrvc low rlis filmic rcprcscnrarion is rcalizcd in
rlc rcxr. ¡n ordcr ro cvokc visual imagcs or a cincmaric vision. rlc rcxr
las ro call inro placc rlc suljccr ol a vicwcr. ‘‘¡l you lappcn ro lc ar a
srrccr lair. you will scc. . . .’’ 1lc ‘‘you’’ lcrc is rlc olscrvcr. cirlcr rlc
rcadcr or. morc prolally. a porcnrial movicgocr. Wlar you will scc is nor
a complcrc acrion or a conrrivcdly rcvcaling dramaric siruarion. Òn rlc
conrrary. you will scc concrcrc oljccrs and colors rlar makc up rlc rcaliry
ol cvcryday lilc in rlis rcmorc lronricr rown. ‘‘. . . You will scc. in rlc glar-
ing sunslinc. rlosc slining srccl knivcs. silvcr jcwclry lor womcn. rap-
csrry and cmlroidcrcd silk. Somc Clincsc mcrclanrs scll marclcs. salr.
cosmcrics. imporrcd goods. snowpcas. and grccn pcppcrs, Baiyi pcddlcrs
scll ricc. lomcmadc clorl. lamloo producrs. swccr porarocs. and mung
lcans, finally somc Gawas scll lcrl mcdicinc. pumpkins. arcca nurs. and
cvcn fircwood’’ (ii|). 1lis dcrailcd lisring ol goods on salc ar rlc lair
docs nor cxacrly rccall a Balzacian momcnr ol almosr lrcarlrakingly closc
and rclcvarory dcscriprion or. lor rlar marrcr. any rcalisric rcprcscnra-
rion in rlc classical scnsc. Farlcr. in rlis onc lricl paragrapl. wc movc
rapidly and arc lorccd ro scc an alundancc ol oljccrs. glirrcring dcrails
rlar swarm up and fill our vision. cacl dcmanding somc arrcnrion. ¡n
orlcr words. ir is likc lollowing a camcra and srcadily glancing ovcr a
panoramic slor ol rlc sirc. Wc scc rlc proccss. and wc scc oursclvcs ap-
proacling a spccific momcnr in lisrory wirl all irs irrcducillc rcaliry. cvcn
rlougl rlis rcaliry miglr lc imaginary.
1lcn. in a scrics ol scnrcnccs. our ovcrvicw ol rlc siruarion assumcs a
diffcrcnr pacc. and ir lccomcs morc likc warcling a movic. 1lc camcra.
alrcr rolling ovcr rlc lair as lackground. now lurrlcr zooms in on rwo
kids playing in rlc markcrplacc.
Kala and ¡uosi arc also in rlc crowd. Kala is jusr rcacling ro carcl a
dragonfly rlar is rcsring on a dccorarion madc lrom a cow lorn wlcn rlc
dragonfly appcars ro lc srarrlcd and rakcs off.
¡r rurns our rlar a jccp and a milirary rruck wirl a lull load ol Iapancsc
soldicrs arc spccding ly. ¡nsidc rlc jccp sirs a Iapancsc officcr.
Wirl rlc villagcrs running in all dirccrions. rlc guards lasrcn ro salurc
rlc jccp and rlc rruck.
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Òursidc a Buddlisr rcmplc somcwlcrc in rlc rown langs a sign rlar
rcads ‘‘¡cadquarrcrs ol Milirary Guard in rlc 1own ol Òlivc.’’
Ar rlis poinr wc gcr ro scc lcrrcr rlc rcmplc and somc orlcr arclirccrurc.
(ii|–is)
¡nsrcad ol a narrarivc scqucncc. visualiry now dominarcs and inrroduccs
a diffcrcnr modc ol cxpcricncc. \isual rcprcscnrarion providcs a mucl
morc immcdiarc acccss ro a pasr conrcxr ol livcd cxpcricncc. rlc roraliry
ol wlicl is ar oncc prcsumcd and lrokcn inro mulriplc conrinuous and
disconrinuous momcnrs. As a rcsulr. Gao 1ian lccls mucl morc confi-
dcnr and ar lomc wirl lis projccr. ‘‘1lc rown ol Òlivc acquircd a mucl
lcrrcr imagc in my imaginarion. . . . Òlivc was no longcr a gcograpli-
cal rcrm. nor a llack dor onc finds on rlc map. 1lc cnrirc rown lccamc
acrivc in my imaginarion. 1lcrc wcrc pcoplc living in rown. rlcrc wcrc
rlings lappcning. and rlc war was going ro rcacl ir’’ (iis–io).
Þor surprisingly. wc wirncss a nosralgia cxprcssing irscll in rlc wrircr’s
cfforr ro imaginc rlc pasr. Bur rlis is a culr ol imagc rlar las a diffcrcnr
significancc rlan wlar ¡rcdric Iamcson oncc dcscrilcd as ‘‘rlc culr ol rlc
glossy imagc’’ rlar onc usually cncounrcrs in so-callcd ‘‘nosralgia films
and rcxrs.’’ 1lc ‘‘unimaginally inrcnsc dclicacy ol luc’’ ro wlicl rlc audi-
cncc is cxposcd in conrcmporary ¡ollywood film. according ro Iamcson.
is prcciscly wlar makcs rlc filmic imagc inaurlcnric and pasriclc. ‘‘¡rom
rimc ro rimc sucl slccr lcaury can sccm olsccnc. rlc ulrimarc lorm ol
rlc consumprion ol srrcamlincd commodirics—a rranslormarion ol our
scnscs inro rlc mail-ordcr louscs ol rlc spirir. somc ulrimarc packaging
ol Þarurc in cclloplanc ol a rypc rlar any clcganr slop miglr wcll wisl ro
carry in irs window.’’
3
Wlar Iamcson poinrs ro is rlc insariallc consump-
rion ol imagcs in rlc posrmodcrnisr ‘‘socicry ol rlc spccraclc.’’ ¡n sucl a
culrurc. conrcnr. an cnlccllcd carcgory. is olrcn conluscd wirl lorm—or.
rarlcr. ir is supcrscdcd ly lorm. ¡magc mcans and lccomcs cvcryrling.
¡owcvcr. rlc prcdominancc ol or cvcn olscssion wirl imagcs is nor
cxacrly an cscapc lrom lisrory in rlc casc ol rlc 1aiwancsc scriprwrircr.
wlo only wislcs ro wrirc alour a pasr war diffcrcnrly. Ivcn rlougl lc
can vividly imaginc a pasr momcnr and is indccd wriring lor a film pro-
ducrion. imagcs alonc arc nor cnougl, or. convcrscly. rlcy conrain roo
mucl and appcar roo ovcrwlclming and unlarlomallc. 1lc conrcnr ol
:. ¡rcdric Iamcson. Sianctur.· s/ t/. Ii·i//. (Þcw York. Fourlcdgc. ¡ooo). 8s.
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T/. Airrsr s/ Hi·tsrv 233
lis imagcs is purposcly clargcd and madc mucl morc complcx. Ar lcasr
rlcy arc nor prcpackagcd cnougl ro makc rlc ccnsors lappy. Alrcr a prc-
liminary rcvicw. rlc ccnsors and somc crirics insisr rlar rlc conrcnr ol rlc
film. as Gao 1ian prcscnrs ir. is nor quirc corrccr and rlcrclorc idcologi-
cally unacccprallc. 1lcy do nor scc low a Clincsc can wrirc sucl a dc-
raclcd and ncurral film scripr alour rlar lloody war. 1lcir final conclu-
sion lcads rlcm ro qucsrion rlc idcnriry ol rlc scriprwrircr. ‘‘1lis scripr
docs nor rcad likc ir was wrirrcn ly a Clincsc. lur rarlcr ly a pcrson lrom
a rlird. ncurral counrry. oursidc lorl Clina and Iapan. Alrcr all. arcn’r
you a Clincsc· A Clincsc las ro lavc a Clincsc posirion and pcrspcc-
rivc . . .’’ (i:o).
Gao 1ian’s cfforr ro scc and imaginc lisrory finally lcads ro a lundamcn-
ral qucsrion alour lis own scll-idcnriry. 1losc poinrcd qucsrions alour
lis narional allcgiancc undcrscorc lis growing awarcncss ol limscll as
a 1aiwancsc lrccd lrom an olscssion wirl Clina. 1lc mirror ol lisrory
oncc again rurns our ro lc indispcnsallc lor any conccprion ol scll or sul-
jccriviry. 1lis rlcmc sccms ro lavc a parallcl dcvclopmcnr in Su 1ong.
cspccially in rlc srory wc will cxplorc in a momcnr. Bur firsr. wc nccd ro
commcnr lurrlcr on rlc inrriguing rclarionslip lcrwccn imagcs and nar-
rarivc or conrcnr. ¡n T/. Tsmn s/ O/iv. in rc;;, vivid and concrcrc imagcs
arc clargcd wirl rlc difficulr. il nor impossillc. rask ol rcrricving rlc losr
dimcnsions ol lisrory. ¡magcs nor only suddcnly cxposc rlc rcducrion
and violcncc rlar an apparcnrly colcrcnr and consisrcnr narrarivc miglr
do ro lisrory, rlcy also acquirc a lilc ol rlcir own. an acsrlcric cncrgy as
wcll as lisrorical viraliry. 1o wipc our or supprcss rlcsc imagcs. rlcrclorc.
is rlc samc as ro dcny rlar lisrory was oncc acrually livcd and cxpcri-
cnccd. nor as parr ol somc mcaninglul grand narrarivc. lur prcciscly as
rlar conringcnr and prccarious proccss ol lilc. Also. imagcs ol rlc pasr
arc slown ro lc allc ro rcvcal rlc disrancc lcrwccn pasr and prcscnr. 1lc
unlridgcallc gap lcrwccn a pasr momcnr and rlc prcscnr is rcpcarcdly
undcrscorcd rlrougl rlcsc imagcs. lccausc unlikc a narrarivc rcady lor
consumprion. a rcal and rangillc imagc ol a parricular lisrory will in rlc
final analysis rcmind us ol norling lur rlc rcmovcdncss or pasrncss ol
rlar momcnr.
4
¡magcs ly rlcir vcry rcaliry or rrurllulncss rcll rlc rrurl ol
|. ¡n ralking alour plorograply. Foland Barrlcs also cmplasizcs rlc unlridgcallc
disrancc lcrwccn an imagc and irs rclcrcnr. ‘‘Wlar rlc ¡lorograpl rcproduccs ro in-
finiry las occurrcd only oncc. rlc ¡lorograpl mcclanically rcpcars wlar could ncvcr
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rlcir radical orlcrncss. 1o scc. in rlis conrcxr. ro indulgc in visual imagi-
narion. is rlcn ro rccognizc lisrory as diffcrcncc and ar rlc samc rimc ro
posc a qucsrion alour rlc vicwcr. rlc suljccr wlo imagincs and gazcs ar
lisrory. 1lus. rlc final lrusrrarcd urrcrancc ol rlc wrircr. ‘‘Wlar on carrl
was rlc rown ol Òlivc likc· Wlar on carrl rook placc in rlc ycar ¡o||·’’
(i:i). 1lc wlolc proccss ol lis rrying ro imaginc rlc rown ol Òlivc las
ro lc ar rlc samc rimc a journcy ol scll-discovcry and a conlronrarion
wirl a diffcrcnr orlcr.
1lis lrusrrarion may lring in rlc norion ol rlc sullimc. rlc lclr prcs-
cncc ol rlc unrcprcscnrallc. Gao 1ian’s anguislcd urrcrancc rcvcals rlar
lisrory is indccd rlar sullimc momcnr ol luman cxpcricncc lccausc irs
prcscncc is cvcrywlcrc. alrlougl ir can ncvcr lc rcrricvcd cirlcr cxpcricn-
rially or cvcn rcprcscnrarionally. 1lc idcological luncrion ol sccing rlcrc-
lorc lccomcs clcar insolar as rlc immancnr prcscncc ol lisrory is lrouglr
lomc and liglliglrcd. 1lc lisrorical vision lcrc is nor rcminisccnr ol
rlc ccrrainry and lack ol amliguiry rlar a conrcmplarivc Carrcsian sul-
jccr is supposcd ro lavc cnjoycd in onc ol rlc ‘‘scopic rcgimcs ol modcr-
niry.’’
5
Òn rlc conrrary. ir arricularcs rlc lrusrrarion ol a rimc wlcn. wirl
an ovcralundancc ol imagcs and plorograplic rcproducrions. lisrory is
srill graspcd as rlar wlicl surrounds us wirlour lcing rcprcscnrallc. Þo
wondcr. rlcn. rlar rlc firsr-pcrson narraror in Su 1ong’s novclla Nin.t..n
T/irtv-/sur L·.ct.· slould lavc urrcrcd a similar qucsrion wirl rlc samc
anxicry. ‘‘Þincrccn rlirry-lour. Ðo you know· Þincrccn rlirry-lour was
a ycar ol disasrcr’’ (¡8, ¡os).
Sincc Xiao Yc’s srory is alour rlc producrion ol imagcs—namcly. rlc
gcrminarion ol a rcgional imaginarion in cxccss ol narionalisr discoursc
in wriring rlc scripr lor a film—rlc primacy ol visualiry in lis narrarivc
slould lardly comc as a surprisc. Bur in Su 1ong’s narrarivc ol a ficrional
lamilial gcncalogy wc also find rlc samc drivc lor a concrcrc. almosr ran-
gillc imagc ol rlc pasr. As criric Mcng Yuc poinrs our. in Su 1ong’s
wrirings. cspccially in lis lisrorical narrarivcs. rlcrc is vcry ncarly an im-
pcrarivc lor rlc rcadcr ro scc. ro visualizc rlc pasr. Bcrwccn cmpry ycar
numlcrs and rlc ficrivc world rlar rlc wrircr crcarcs rlcrc is a consranr
lc rcpcarcd cxisrcnrially.’’ Scc lis Ccm.rc Lu.i!c. B.//..tisn· sn P/stsarct/v (Þcw
York. ¡ill and Wang. ¡o8¡). |.
s. Scc Marrin Iay. ‘‘Scopic Fcgimcs ol Modcrniry’’ in Ii·isn cn! Ii·uc/itv, cd. ¡al
¡osrcr (Scarrlc. Bay ¡rcss. ¡o88). :–i:.
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T/. Airrsr s/ Hi·tsrv 235
gazc rlar is rcqucsrcd ly rlc narraror and wlicl makcs a mcaninglul con-
nccrion lcrwccn rlcsc rwo diffcrcnr rcalms. ‘‘As a rcsulr. plrascs likc ‘¡
scc.’ ‘you scc.’ ‘lc sccs.’ and orlcr impcrarivcs in rlc rcxr dcmanding you
ro look lccomc a uniquc narrarivc mcclanism in lis scrics alour rlc
‘Maplc-poplar \illagc.’ 1lcy also consrirurc an unusual narrarivc srrarcgy
in conrcmporary ficrion.’’
6
Mcng Yuc calls our arrcnrion ro a kcy lcarurc
ol Su 1ong’s wrirings and links rlis lcarurc wirl an idcological commir-
mcnr on rlc wrircr’s parr. 1lc vcry gazc ol rlc narraror. or rlc acrion ol
looking lack ar lisrory. is morc olrcn sragcd lor rlc purposc ol gcrring
pcoplc’s arrcnrion so rlar rlc olscrvcr limscll can lc lookcd ar as sucl.
1lc gazc is dirccrcd so as ro lc lookcd ar and gazcd upon. ‘‘[1lc narra-
ror| rclls nor only ol ‘rlc srory ol lis anccsrors.’ lur also ol lis own gazc.
orlcr pcoplc’s gazc. and lis gazc ar orlcr pcoplc’s gazc.’’
7
1lc lisroricizing gazc rlar Mcng Yuc finds lascinaring in Su 1ong is
parricularly rclcvanr and insrrumcnral in Nin.t..n T/irtv-/sur L·.ct.·. A
complcx and scminal srory. rlis novclla can lc srudicd lrom a grcar va-
ricry ol crirical rcadings and approaclcs. lur ir is indccd rcvcaling ro cx-
aminc rlc cvocarion ol vision and visualiry in rlc narrarivc. Wlar wc will
find is pcrlaps morc rlan a conlronrarion wirl lisrory. cvcn a rcrlink-
ing ol rlc ulrimarc mcaning or possililiry ol knowing lisrory. As Mcng
Yuc suggcsrs. rlc sccing ol lisrory rcprcscnrcd in Su 1ong’s srorics in
lacr poinrs ro rlc vcry unknowaliliry ol rlc pasr. and ar rlc samc rimc ir
arouscs our dcsirc ro scc and know.
¡n Nin.t..n T/irtv-/sur L·.ct.·, Su 1ong rclls a srory ol rlc gradual lur
no lcss violcnr disinrcgrarion and dispcrsal ol a lamily in rural sourlcasr-
crn Clina in rlc ¡o:os. ¡r is also a srory alour rlc difficulr and painlul
rransirion lrom counrry ro ciry. lrom rlc valucs ol rradirional communiry
ro rlc cncrgy as wcll as fluidiry ol urlan lilc. A prodigiously rcproducrivc
Grandmorlcr Iiang. six ol wlosc scvcn clildrcn dic off during rlc coursc
ol rlc srory. is rlc lcroinc. Slc is also rlc oljccr ol rlc narraror’s gazc
ar rlc lcginning ol rlc narrarivc. 1lc narraror is unmisrakally idcnri-
ficd as a young man in larc rwcnricrl-ccnrury Clina wlo sccms olscsscd
wirl rlc pasr ol lis larlcr and grandlarlcr. A young man wlo grows in-
crcasingly uncomlorrallc in rlc ciry. rlc narraror ‘‘¡’’ is morc and morc
o. Mcng Yuc. ‘‘Su 1ong dc ‘jiasli’ yu ‘lisli’ xiczuo’’ (1lc wriring ol ‘‘lamily gcncal-
ogy’’ and ‘‘lisrory’’ ly Su 1ong). }inticn (1oday). no. i (¡ooo). 8o–8¬.
¬. ¡lid.. 8¬.
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236 C/in.·. As!.rn
convinccd rlar lis rural lamily. or rlc gcncrarion ol lis grandparcnrs. lad
livcd a glorious lilc in lisrory. ¡n comparison wirl rlcir lilc cxpcricncc.
lc finds lis own cxisrcncc slamclully palc and rrivial. ¡is dcsirc ro rc-
call rlc pasr. ro scc low lis rclarivcs lad livcd and lovcd. rlcrclorc. is
firsr arouscd ly lis dissarislacrion wirl lis own lilc in rlc prcscnr. ¡is
anxicry ro cscapc lrom rlc normalcy ol rlc prcscnr cxprcsscs a scnsc ol
loss and dislocarion rlar onc will find in somc ol Su 1ong’s orlcr srorics.
norally lis srorics alour conrcmporary cirics in Clina. sucl as ‘‘As Scrcnc
as Warcr’’ and ‘‘¡cllo. My Bcckccpcr.’’
8
¡n rlis scnsc. Su 1ong’s narraror
lcrc rcprcscnrs a gcncrarion rlar grcw up during rlc rraumaric Culrural
Fcvolurion. wirlour ncccssarily cxpcricncing rlc rrauma. and wlicl now
finds irscll ar a loss in a monsrrous and rapidly modcrnizing urlan land-
scapc.
1lus. lisrory is invokcd firsr as a lanrasy rlar somclow unflarrcringly
mirrors an uncvcnrlul and rourinizcd prcscnr. ¡or rlis rcason. wlcncvcr
rlc pasr is rcprcscnrcd. Su 1ong’s narrarivc always dcscrilcs ir wirl rlc
riclcsr color and imaginarion possillc. ‘‘1lc ycar ¡o:| radiarcd srrong
slalrs ol purplc liglr rlar circumscrilcd my rlinking.’’ Ar rlc samc rimc
rlar Su 1ong and lis gcncrarion lccl rlcy lavc lccn dcnicd acccss ro rlc
pasr. rlcy also rcalizc rlar lisrory may wcll lc rlcir only mcans ol clal-
lcnging rlc dominanr idcology ol cvcryday lilc. 1lc conrrasr lcrwccn
a ricl lisrory and a monoronous prcscnr is mosr pcrsisrcnr rlrouglour
Su 1ong’s lisrorical narrarivcs. ¡is nosralgia is so scll-indulgcnr and ori-
cnrcd roward scnsuous dcrails rlar crirics lavc cvcn noriccd. wirl appro-
larion. an ‘‘cffcminarc scnsililiry’’ in Su 1ong’s pcrpcrual rcgard ol rlc
pasr.
9
(1lc samc nosralgic longing lor a pasr glory is also apparcnr in rlc
1aiwan wrircr ¡in Yaodc’s cpic-spirircd novcl rc;~—Gcs·/c /ci/. [¡o|¬—
¡ilium lormosanum|.
10
wlcrc wc can find almosr rlc samc lascinarion
wirl condcnscd and srriking imagcs rlar arc rrcarcd as il rcrricvcd lrom
rlc collccrivc unconscious.)
A rcrrospccrivc gazc wirl sucl inrcllccrual and lilidinal invcsrmcnr in-
varially produccs a ccnrral imagc or spccraclc rlar caprurcs rlc suljccr’s
lanrasy alour rlc pasr. ¡n T/. Tsmn s/ O/iv. in rc;;, wc lavc sccn a dra-
8. Scc clap. o. ‘‘Fcsidual Modcrnism. Þarrarivcs ol rlc Scll in rlc ¡o8os.’’
o. Scc Wang Zlcng and Xiao ¡ua. ‘‘¡ulu dc qingnian yisli. yu Su 1ong you-
guan dc luo wuguan dc’’ (Complcmcnrary yourl consciousncss. rlings laving or nor
laving ro do wirl Su 1ong). Du·/u (Fcading) (Iuly-Augusr ¡o8o). ¡o:–o|.
¡o. ¡in Yaodc (¡in Yao-rc). rc;~ Gcs·/c /ci/. (1aipci. \niras. ¡ooo).
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T/. Airrsr s/ Hi·tsrv 237
maric momcnr wlcn a lisrorical pasr ‘‘surlaccs’’ jusr as il lrom a dccp
lody ol warcr. ¡n Nin.t..n T/irtv-/sur L·.ct.·, wc oncc again cncounrcr
rlc samc ‘‘surlacing.’’ ¡irsr rcgarding rlc ycar ¡o:| as an ancicnr rrcc and
rlcn assimilaring limscll as parr ol ir. rlc narraror succccds in sccing
‘‘Grandmorlcr Iiang surlacc lrom lisrory’’ (¡8, ¡os). Sucl a surlacing. a
coming inro lcing. dcmands an imagc ol irs own.
1lc Woman Iiang srands morionlcss on lcr lanky lcgs. as il nailcd ro a
parcl ol clilly and muddy ricc ficld. 1lar is a picrurc ol carly spring and a
counrry woman. ¡cr clcckloncs prorruding. Iiang’s lacc is covcrcd wirl
mud. Slc lowcrs lcr lcad ro lisrcn ro rlc sound madc ly rlc laly in lcr
lclly. Slc lccls lcrscll as a larrcn lill. wlcrc mcn cur down cvcryrling and
rlcn planr sons and dauglrcrs likc rrccs. onc alrcr anorlcr. Slc lisrcns ro
rlc laly’s sound as il lisrcning ro rlc wind llowing againsr lcr. llowing
againsr a larrcn lill. (¡o, ¡os–oo)
1lc cnrirc lisrory ol rlar diaspora in ¡o:| is cncodcd in and dcrivcd lrom
rlis imagc ol Grandmorlcr Iiang sranding in rlc ricc paddy lisrcning ro
lcr unlorn laly. ¡r is firsr a projccrion. a spccracular imagc callcd lorrl
ly rlc narraror. rlrougl lis inrcnsc gazing ar rlc ycar ¡o:| as an cnig-
maric oljccr. ¡n rlis spccraclc wc arc rold nor only rlar Grandmorlcr
Iiang is oncc again prcgnanr. lur sulscqucnrly wc also arc lrouglr ro
scc rlis counrry woman lrom anorlcr anglc. namcly. rlrougl rlc lin-
oculars ol rlc ricl larmcr Clcn Wcnzli. A pcrvcrsc voycur. Clcn Wcnzli
lidcs on rop ol lis llack-lrickcd mansion and olscrvcs mcn and womcn
roiling and copularing in rlc opcn ficld. ‘‘1lc lackground rcmains rlc
lrownisl ycllow lill in rlc norrlcasrcrn parr ol Maplc-poplar \illagc.
wirl rlc llack-lrickcd mansion on rlc lill. Grandmorlcr Iiang and my
larlcr rlus srood againsr rlc lisrorical spccraclc ol filry-odd ycars ago’’
(io, ¡¡o).
1lis spccraclc is only onc srimulanr rlar cxcircs rlc narraror’s ‘‘lanras-
rically lcaurilul imaginarion.’’ ¡n conrrasr ro rlis primal momcnr ol ‘‘sur-
lacing.’’ orlcr rlings lavc ‘‘sunk’’ inro rlc lorromlcss pir ol lisrory. onc
ol wlicl lcing rlc woodcn lousc in rlc ciry wlcrc Grandlarlcr Clcn
Baonian ran lis lamloo slop and dcrcrmincdly uproorcd limscll lrom
rlc rural counrry lor good (i|, ¡¡:). ¡ndccd. only imagcs ol pcoplc sccm
ro rcmain acccssillc. ‘‘Among my rclarivcs ol rlc pasr. rlc ¡irsr Ðog-lrar
ol rlc Clcn lamily. wirl rlc imagc ol a young loy wlo collccrs ani-
mal droppings. arrracrs my arrcnrion in rlc lamilial gcncalogy’’ (is, ¡¡:).
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Almosr cvcry claracrcr rlar appcars in rlc srory. or. rarlcr. cvcry mcm-
lcr ol rlc lamily now rccallcd. las a disrincr imagc. ¡locnix. ‘‘rlc mosr
lcaurilul woman’’ ol rlc Clcn lamily. lor insrancc. is now rcmcmlcrcd
as a ‘‘spor ol purplc liglr.’’ ¡ilry ycars alrcr lcr mysrcrious dcarl. ‘‘¡ rry
ro caprurc rlar spor ol purplc liglr in my lamilial gcncalogy rlar was
my grand-aunr. Ivcn il ¡locnix wcrc a lcaurilul fircfly rlar lurricdly
passcd in lronr ol mc. low could ¡ caprurc rlc purplc liglr slc cmirs·’’
(:¡, ¡ii). Anorlcr woman. ¡uanzi. wlosc prcscncc in rlis rcconsrrucrcd
lamily lisrory is as indclillc as lcr oncc laslionallc lluc corron ovcr-
coar. also posscsscs lcr own parricular imagc. A lovcr and conculinc ol
Grandlarlcr Clcn Baonian. rlc pcrirc ¡uanzi was prcgnanr in rlc win-
rcr ol ¡o:| and was rakcn lack ro rlc villagc ro givc lirrl. Wc arc prc-
scnrcd wirl rlc momcnr ol rlc rcnsc cncounrcr lcrwccn Grandmorlcr
Iiang and ¡uanzi on a clilly winrcr morning. ‘‘My Grandmorlcr Iiang
srood ly rlc door and warclcd rlc lirrlc woman ¡uanzi walking on rlc
snow and approacling rlc anccsrral lomc ol rlc Clcn lamily. 1lc lluc
corron ovcrcoar ol ¡uanzi radiarcd a srrong lluc liglr againsr rlc snow
on rlc ground. and ir lurr Iiang’s cycs. 1lc firsr convcrsarion lcrwccn
rlcsc rwo womcn filry ycars ago now disrincrly comcs ro mc and inro my
cars’’ (o8, ¡oo). ¡crc wc firsr gcr a clancc ro scc rlc siruarion. lrom rlc
pcrspccrivc ol Grandmorlcr Iiang. wlo rcccivcs rlc woman lrom rlc ciry
wirl an undcrsrandallc losriliry. Ònly alrcr a luminous imagc rlar makcs
rlc claracrcrs idcnrifiallc and disrincr do wc lavc a clancc ro lcar rlcir
grccrings and convcrsarion. \isual imagcs ol rlc pasr prcccdc any orlcr
mcmorics. as wcll as our undcrsranding and inrcrprcrarion.
1lis prcdominancc ol visual spccraclc in lacr consrirurcs rlc lasic nar-
rarivc srrucrurc ol rlc srory Nin.t..n T/irtv-/sur L·.ct.·. Again and again
wc arc lrouglr ro scc ricl and concrcrc ‘‘spccraclcs’’ ol a pasr momcnr. Ar
rlc vcry lcginning. wc arc rold. ‘‘il you now go and pusl opcn rlc door
ol my larlcr’s lousc. you will only scc my larlcr and my morlcr. My
orlcr six rclarivcs arc nor ar lomc now. 1lcy arc srill wandcring around
likc llack fisl our rlcrc’’ (¡¬, ¡o:). 1lcy arc alscnr. and rlc cnrirc cn-
dcavor ol rclling rlc srory ol rlc ‘‘diaspora’’ is ro lring rlcm lack lomc.
ro makc rlcm rlc narraror’s companions. imaginary ycr mosr sarislying.
1lus. ro scc is nor only ro ovcrcomc rlcir alscncc, ir also rcvcals rlis
vcry alscncc and rccognizcs ir as rlar wlicl makcs narrarion lorl ncc-
cssary and possillc. 1lc rcrricvcd imagcs wc scc or arc lrouglr ro scc
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T/. Airrsr s/ Hi·tsrv 239
poinr ro a lack rlar consrirurcs our own cxpcricncc. Again. lisrory and
imagcs ol lisrory arc consrrucrcd as a mirror in wlicl rlc narraror las a
clancc ro scc limscll as il sccn ly orlcrs and rcgardcd lrom rlc orlcr cnd
ol lisrory.
1lc dcsirc ro scc rlar undcrlics and organizcs rlc cnrirc narrarivc lorccs
us ro ask qucsrions alour rlc narraror as an cngagcd and rranslormcd
suljccr. Wc arc consranrly madc awarc rlar rlc narraror is in lacr sccing
and imagining wirl us. ¡c makcs us scc rlings as lc imagincs rlcm. ¡c
also rcminds us conrinually rlar ncirlcr lc nor wc know rlar parricular
ycar. ¡o:|. ar all.
1o mc rlc winrcr ol ¡o:| appcars ro lc so srrangc. ¡ lavc no idca low ro
dcscrilc my lorclarlcrs wlowcrc acrivc in my lamily lisrory in rlar winrcr.
¡ was rold rlar my grandlarlcr Clcn Baonian also carricd lis son Ðog-lrar
ourdoors lor somc sunslinc. 1lcn lc would lc warcling. rogcrlcr wirl
Ðog-lrar. rlc small woman ¡uanzi purring up clorlcs ro dry. Wlar was ir
likc lor rlcsc rlrcc pcoplc ro look ar cacl orlcr wirl lcr lluc drcss lang-
ing lcrwccn rlcm· Wlar was ir likc lor rlc sun ol rlc ¡o:| winrcr ro slinc
ovcr rlcsc rlrcc pcoplc· Ðo ¡ know· (oo, ¡o|)
Wlar is unknowallc and irrcrricvallc is rlc immcdiarc livcd cxpcricncc
ol a pasr momcnr. Alrlougl rlc narraror knows rlc cnding ro rlc sccnc
lc dcpicrs lcrc—rlar Ðog-lrar was going ro dic and ¡uanzi would lc
scnr off ro rlc counrry ro givc lirrl ro lcr illcgirimarc clild—lc no
longcr can know low ir was ar rlar parricular momcnr in rlc winrcr ol
¡o:| wirl all ol irs cxpcricnrial irrcducililiry. 1lrouglour rlc srory lc
conrinually cxprcsscs lis anxicry ovcr rlc impossililiry ol rcliving rlc
pasr. ol acrually sccing and lccling rlc samc as lis lorclarlcrs oncc did.
¡ndccd. rlc lascinarion wirl lisrory rlar now posscsscs rlc young man
in rlc ¡o8os is prcciscly rlis awarcncss ol an unlridgcallc gap lcrwccn
lis own prcscnr and rlc lisrory rlar las lcd up ro ir. ¡is dcsirc ro scc and
imaginc rlc pasr is nor ar all dampcncd ly lis knowlcdgc ol rlc gap lc-
rwccn lim and rlar pasr. Òn rlc conrrary. rlis vcry unknowaliliry givcs
lim morc spacc lor imaginarion and a clancc lor lim ro conlronr rlc
pasr. ¡r is rlrougl rlis sccing. rlis ricl imaginarion. rlar lc will lavc a
clancc lorl ro (rc)posscss a lisrory lor limscll and ro find lis own idcn-
riry. 1lc sccing lcrc is as mucl a projccrion as an inrrojccrion. rlrougl
wlicl rlc narraror laslions an imagc ol limscll and implicarcs limscll
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240 C/in.·. As!.rn
inro rlc lisrorical narrarivc. Wlar rlc narraror ol Nin.t..n T/irtv-/sur
L·.ct.· laccs is a mirror ol lisrory rlar docs nor ncccssarily rcvcal somc
rrurl alour or mcssagc lrom rlc pasr. Farlcr. ir is a mirror in wlicl
rlc narraror wislcs ro find lis scll-idcnriry and consrrucr lis own suljcc-
riviry. 1lc mirror ol lisrory. oncc again. is rlc mirror in wlicl lc finds a
scll-imagc. a disranccd lur lull rcflccrion ol and on lis own cxisrcncc.
1lc mirror ol lisrory in lis narrarivc consrirurcs rlc narraror’s own
scll-consciousncss in rlar ir looks lack and rcflccrs. 1lc cxclangc ol gazcs
lcrwccn rlc narraror and wlar lc narrarcs is rlc mosr srriking lcarurc ol
rlc srory. Wc nor only lavc a firsr-pcrson narraror. an ‘‘¡’’ wlo rccounrs
lis cfforr ar rcrricving lis lamily lisrory. lur wc also lavc rlc rcadcr ad-
drcsscd dirccrly as ‘‘you.’’ Claracrcrs in rlc srory arc imagincd wirl sucl
inrcnsiry rlar rlcy consranrly look lack ar lorl rlc rcadcr and rlc nar-
raror. and silcnrly lur wirl cloqucncc rlcy addrcss a collccrivc ‘‘wc}us’’
ol rlc prcscnr. Bcrwccn rlis looking lack and lorrl. lcrwccn a vividly
colorcd vision ol rlc pasr and rlc palc and cmpry prcscnr. rlc narraror
asscrrs limscll and proclaims a ncw imagc and idcnriry. Ar onc momcnr
ol lis scarcl lor rlc pasr. lc comcs ro rlc rown rlar uscd ro lc known lor
irs lamloo producrs. ¡is ‘‘gazc’’ grows likc an ‘‘cxrcndcd ivy’’ rlar cm-
lraccs rlc road and passcrs-ly (i:, ¡¡¡–¡i). ¡owcvcr. ar rlc samc rimc.
lc lccls warclcd.
¡ lancy rlar ¡ scc rlc small arric ol rlc Clcn lamloo slop in rlc old
rown known lor irs lamloo producrs. wlcrc Ðog-lrar and lis lricnd ¡irrlc
Blind uscd ro livc. 1lc windowol rlc arric would givc our a wcak rcd glow
ar niglr, ir was a rcd liglr lrom rlcir cycs. You will lc rouclcd wlcn you
look up ar rlc arric. you will scc pcoplc on rop ol pcoplc. 1lcy arc pccping
ar us lrom an arric rlar no longcr cxisrs, rlcy arc floaring in rlc cmpry sky
ol ¡o:|. (oi, ¡so–oo)
1lc rcnsion lcrwccn rlc pasr and rlc prcscnr is lcrc rranslormcd inro an
cxclangc ol gazcs. ¡n rlis imaginary cxclangc. rlc narraror rcalizcs rlar
lc is ar oncc an olscrvcr ol lisrory and a parricipanr in ir. ¡c no longcr
posscsscs a complcrc idcnriry, on rlc conrrary. lc nccds ro look lack and
conlronr rlc pasr. 1lis cxclangc csrallislcs lis idcnriry and ar rlc samc
rimc clallcngcs rlc rcaliry ol lis own momcnr. ¡isrory. in orlcr words.
is lcrc invokcd ro crcarc a Brcclrian csrrangcmcnr rlar lisroricizcs rlc
prcscnr and rcvcals irs loundcdncss or incomplcrcncss. 1lc imaginary
gazc lrom rlc pasr luncrions as rlc mirror rlar is indispcnsallc lor rlc
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T/. Airrsr s/ Hi·tsrv 241
lormarion ol rlc suljccr. ¡n rlis rcflccring mirror ol lisrory. ‘‘rlc suljccr
finds or rccognizcs irscll rlrougl an imagc wlicl simulrancously alicn-
arcs ir. and lcncc. porcnrially. conlronrs ir.’’
11
1lc sulplor ol rlc srory is. rlcn. a ralc ol scarcl. rlc narraror’s scarcl
lor a lisrory ol lis lamily and lor a scll-idcnriry. ¡n rlc lcginning rlcrc
is a momcnr wlcn lc rcalizcs rlar lis sladow ar niglr in rlc ciry looks
wcird. ¡c is disrurlcd lccausc lc is rcmindcd ol a pcrson on rlc run. By
rlc cnd. wlcn lc las rold rlc srory ol diaspora. lc rurns around ro lavc
anorlcr look ar lis sladow and lclicvcs lc is now rcady ro walk rlrougl
rlc ciry ar niglr. ‘‘¡l you opcn rlc window. you will scc my sladow pro-
jccrcd onro rlc ciry. floaring and rising. Bur wlo will lc allc ro rcll wlar
a sladow rlar is·’’ (¬8, ¡¬8). 1lc final qucsrion is alour idcnriry. rlc nar-
raror’s idcnriry in rlc wakc ol rlc narrarivc. ¡n rlc mirror ol lisrory. rlc
young man finds lis own idcnriry. or rarlcr. finds lis own idcnriry prol-
lcmarizcd and complicarcd. And lc sccms sarisficd.
¡cr us comc lack ro rlc srory onc morc rimc. 1lc wlolc srory dc-
rivcs lrom rlc dcsirc ro scc—ro scc low ‘‘my Grandmorlcr Iiang’’ on
onc spring day morc rlan filry ycars ago srood in rlc ricc paddy and lis-
rcncd ro rlc laly srirring in lcr lody. ¡crc is a cincmaric srrucrurc ol
implicarcd visual rclarions. ¡irsr. wc scc lcr sranding ar rlc ccnrcr ol our
vision, rlcn our vicw is clcvarcd. and wc scc rlc lackground. Òn rlc
ycllow lill is a llack-lrickcd luilding. ¡rs prcscncc is consranrly lclr ly
Grandmorlcr Iiang lccausc. wc arc rold. rlc ricl larmcr Clcn Wcnzli is
warcling lcr wirl a pair ol Iapancsc linoculars. 1lus. a wlolc visual ficld
is inrroduccd. and a powcr rclarionslip is inscrilcd inro rlc picrurc. So
is lisrory injccrcd inro rlar almosr idyllic picrurc ol a prcgnanr counrry
woman planring ricc in an opcn ficld. ¡r would lc inrcrcsring ro cxam-
inc rlc polirics ol vision in rcrms ol scxual diffcrcncc consrrucrcd and
rcprcscnrcd lcrc. lur ¡ would likc ro look lurrlcr inro rlc rclarionslip
lcrwccn visualiry and narrarivc cxplorcd in rlc rcxr.
1lc primacy ol visualiry rlar wc wirncss in Su 1ong’s narrarivcs ol lis-
rory rcgisrcrs a diffcrcnr cxpcricncc ol imagcs rlan wlar wc would find
in a posrmodcrn ‘‘socicry ol rlc spccraclc.’’ cvcn diffcrcnr lrom rlc con-
rcxr in wlicl Xiao Yc pondcrs rlc mcaning ol sccing rlc pasr diffcrcnrly.
¡n a posrmodcrn culrurc wlcrc imagcs and visual cxpcricncc lccomc rlc
¡¡. Iacquclinc Fosc. ‘‘1lc ¡maginary.’’ in lcr S.xuc/itv in t/. Fi./! s/ Ii·isn (¡ondon.
\crso. ¡o8o). ¡¬|.
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242 C/in.·. As!.rn
dominanr modc ol knowlcdgc and pcrccprion. rlc glossy and pcrlccr
plorograplic imagcs. cirlcr ol a rcconsrrucrcd pasr or ol conrcmporary
lilc. in lacr indicarc a ‘‘crisis ol lisroriciry’’ lccausc rlosc lypcrrcal and
dcprllcss imagcs flarrcn and rcducc. rarlcr rlan rcinlorcc. rlc lisrorical
disrancc or ‘‘aura’’ rlar wc nccd ro scnsc alour pasr cvcnrs. Wlar dis-
appcars or lccomcs unimaginallc is prcciscly rlar wlolc livcd conrcxr ol
pasr cxpcricncc. A lypcrrcal imagc llocks and displaccs rarlcr rlan rcgis-
rcrs a momcnr ol lisrory.
12
Bur in Su 1ong’s narrarivc wc find somcrling
clsc. ¡crc. our srarring poinr is an imagincd spccraclc ol rlc pasr. wirl
all irs livcd concrcrcncss and ricl colorarion. Bur rlis will nor lc wlcrc
rlc narraror srops. ¡irsr compclling rlc rcadcr ro scc. ro lc rcconcilcd
wirl rlis imagc. rlc narraror movcs on ro conrcxrualizc rlc spccraclc and
clargcs ir wirl rawluman passion and inncrmosr dcsircs. ¡n orlcr words.
rlc spccraclc now lccomcs lorl rlc srarring poinr and rlc cnd producr
ol a lisrorical imaginarion.
1lc purposcs scrvcd ly sucl a narrarivc srrarcgy arc mulriplc. as Mcng
Yuc in lcr cssay las rcmindcd us. Bur lcsidcs rlc dcrcrmincd luncrion ol
rcsisring an idcological supprcssion ol lisrory. rlc cmplasis on visualiry
is also sympromaric ol a povcrry ol imagcs in gcncral. cspccially imagcs ol
rlc rcccnr pasr. in posr-Culrural Fcvolurion Clina. Su 1ong’s narrarivc is
cffccrivc and powcrlul lccausc rlc imagcs rlar lc consrrucrs ol rlc pasr
arc lorl diffcrcnr lrom rlc convcnrional and insrirurionalizcd pcrccprion
ol rlc pasr (lcrc ir is rlc ¡o:os) and. ar rlc samc rimc. lanrasrically rcalis-
ric and inrimarc. ¡n a polirical culrurc rlar consranrly crascs diffcrcnccs in
lisrory as wcll as imagcs ol rlc pasr. Su 1ong’s srory opcns a ncw visual
ficld and givcs risc ro lrcsl imaginarion. ¡magcs or imaginarions ol a pasr
rlar is diffcrcnr lccomc an cnormously cffccrivc way ro rcappropriarc lis-
rory and rcvivc rlar wlicl rlrcarcns ro disappcar lorcvcr.
1lc rcappropriarion ol lisrory is rlc common rlcmc slarcd ly Nin.-
t..n T/irtv-/sur L·.ct.· and T/. Tsmn s/ O/iv. in rc;;. 1lc dcsirc lor
rcappropriarion srcms lrom rlc rcalizarion rlar lisrory is in consranr
dangcr ol lcing suljugarcd ro onc masrcr narrarivc. 1lc riclncss and im-
¡i. ¡or a cririquc ol rlc posrmodcrn consumprion ol dcprllcss imagcs. scc Iamc-
son’s ‘‘¡osrmodcrnism. Òr. 1lc Culrural ¡ogic ol ¡arc Capiralism.’’ collccrcd as rlc
firsr claprcr in lis look ol rlc samc namc (Ðurlam. Þ.C.. Ðukc \nivcrsiry ¡rcss.
¡ooo). csp. 8–o. Also. Ican Baudrillard’s discussion ol ‘‘simulacra and simularions’’ is
lclplul. Scc }.cn Bcu!ri//cr!. S./..t.! Iritina·, cd. wirl inrroducrion ly Mark ¡osrcr
(Sranlord. Calil.. Sranlord \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o88).
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T/. Airrsr s/ Hi·tsrv 243
mcdiacy rlar an imagc promiscs sccm ro lc rlc lcsr rcason ro go lack ro
lisrory. 1lus. rlc lisrory-lungry narraror in Su 1ong’s srory cxpcricnccs
rlc lallucinarion ol sccing lis rclarivcs conrinually cmcrgc lrom rlc pasr.
‘‘¡ lccl rlar ¡ scc Grandmorlcr Iiang carry my larlcr on lcr lack and run
alour in rlc lirrcr wind and rain ol ¡o:|. 1lc saw-slapcd scar on lcr
lorclcad glowcd. A picrurc ol my grandmorlcr. rlc pond ol rlc dcad.
and rlc lusl purslanc rcpcarcdly flaslcs in lronr ol my cycs. lur ¡ cannor
imaginc rlc unusual suffcring my grandmorlcr cxpcricnccd ly rlc pond
ol rlc dcad’’ (ss, ¡s¡). 1lis imagc. jusr as many orlcr imagcs rlar rlc
narraror conrinucs ro scc. is ly irscll. as rlc narraror rcalizcs. ‘‘a spccific
lisrorical conrcnr’’ (so, ¡so). 1o rcrracc rlar lisrorical mcaning. lc las
ro rcconsrrucr an cnrirc srory and makc rlc spccracular imagc spcak and
givc lorrl all ol irs dccply cmlcddcd sccrcrs and rcvclarions. 1o scc. ro
undcrsrand rlc lisrorical spccraclc finally lcads ro a rcwriring ol lisrory.
and. in rlis parricular casc. ro a ‘‘spccracularizarion’’ ol lisrory.
¡inally. as il ly accidcnr. rlis ricl imaginarion ol lisrory rlar wc wir-
ncss is aclicvcd wirlour any plorograplic imagcs. Ar onc poinr. rlc nar-
raror cxprcsscs lis amlivalcnr lcclings roward rlc alscncc ol any picrurcs
rlar would lavc allowcd limlcrrcr acccss ro rlc pasr. ‘‘¡uanzi and ¡loc-
nix wcrc rlc rwo mosr lcaurilul womcn in my lamily. ¡r is a piry rlar
ncirlcr lclr lclind a picrurc. and as a rcsulr ¡ lavc no mcans ro dccidc
wlcrlcr rlcy rcally lookcd likc cacl orlcr rlar mucl’’ (¬¡, ¡oo). 1lc inrcr-
csring poinr lcrc is rlar rlc rcgrcr lclr ly rlc young man is nor rlar lc
cannor rcll wlcrlcr rlcy wcrc rcally lcaurilul or low lcaurilul rlcy wcrc.
¡nsrcad. lc is saddcncd lccausc lc cannor rcll wlcrlcr rlcy wcrc likc cacl
orlcr. ¡r rcmains unconrcsrcd rlar rlcy wcrc lcaurilul. jusr as rlar par-
ricular lisrory is always cxciring and spccracular. ¡lorograplic imagcs
could lavc lclpcd nor lccausc rlcy may dcrcrminc rrurl or lalsclood.
lur lccausc rlcy would lavc lcr us scc lcrrcr.
1lc culrural significancc ol Su 1ong’s narrarivcs ol spccracular lisrory
is manilold. ¡r firsr indicarcs a gcncral culrural crisis in wlicl official.
mainsrrcam lisroriograply is conrinually clallcngcd. 1lis cfforr ar rc-
wriring and rcrricving lisrory is rcflccrcd in somc orlcr norallc wrircrs
sucl as Mo Yan and ¡iu ¡cng. in wlosc work wc can find a slarcd lond-
ncss lor lisrorical spccraclc. 1lc spccracularizarion ol lisrory also poinrs
ro a rccognizcd nccd in posrrcvolurionary Clincsc culrurc ro scarcl lor
a ncw idcnriry. a ncw scll-consciousncss rlar can claim a diffcrcnr lisrory
rlan wlar las lccn insrirurcd in rlc pasr lorry ycars or so. ¡n lis Nin.t..n
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244 C/in.·. As!.rn
T/irtv-/sur L·.ct.·, Su 1ong lcsr caprurcs rlis crirical impulsc and opcns
up ncw possililirics ol looking inro rlc mirror ol lisrory. ¡n many as-
pccrs. Xiao Yc’s wrirings lavc a comparallc luncrion. cspccially lis srorics
alour lisrorical cxpcricncc sucl as ‘‘Qianglao’’ (\iolcncc). and ‘‘Womcn
dc ¡cilong jiang a’’ (Òur Black Ðragon Fivcr). ¡n T/. Tsmn s/ O/iv. in
rc;;, rlc scarcl lor a ncw scll-idcnriry is lurrlcr complicarcd ly rlc lacr
rlar rlc novclla is sragcd againsr a rransnarional and mulriculrural lack-
ground. (Anorlcr pcrlccr cxamplc ol rlc samc rrcnd will lc ¡in Yaodc’s
novcl rc;~—Li/ium /srms·cnum, mcnrioncd alovc.) Alrlougl Xiao Yc’s
narrarivc is srrucrurally simplcr. rlc idcological mcssagc appcars ro lc
mucl morc complcx and scll-conscious rlan rlar in Su 1ong. 1lis. ol
coursc. is nor a momcnr ro makc any valuc judgmcnr. lur onc cannor
lclp lur lccl rlar Xiao Yc’s dcspcrarc arrcmpr ro find a minoririzcd pcr-
spccrivc on a grand lisrorical narrarivc las ro rcflccr a ncw .s//..tiv. scll-
consciousncss and scll-imagc rlar was coming ol agc in 1aiwan in rlc lasr
quarrcr ol rlc rwcnricrl ccnrury. wlcrcas Su 1ong’s lisrorical nosralgia
garlcrs irs porcncy and rclcvancy prcciscly lrom an in!ivi!uc/ic.! gazc
rlar lc srullornly dirccrs upon our pasr. Ycr lorl wrircrs find rlcir inspi-
rarion in conjuring up and lcrring rlcmsclvcs lc alsorlcd in a lanrasric
lisrorical spccraclc.
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¡n Scarcl ol rlc Fcal Ciry.
Cincmaric Fcprcscnrarions ol Bcijing and
rlc ¡olirics ol \ision
¡orcnrially. rlc ciry is in irscll rlc powcrlul symlol ol a complcx socicry.
¡l visually wcll scr lorrl. ir can also lavc srrong cxprcssivc mcaning.
—Kcvin ¡yncl. T/. Imca. s/ t/. Citv
1lar rlc ciry ol Bcijing prcscnrs a pcrlccr sparial cmlodimcnr ol a rradi-
rional culrurc cauglr in rlc maclsrrom ol rapid and condcnscd modcrn-
izarion is rcadily olscrvallc. cvcn ro a passing rourisr. ‘‘Bcijing is a micro-
cosm ol Clina.’’ so an up-ro-darc pockcr rravcl look inlorms irs rcadcrs
and porcnrial rravclcrs. ‘‘¡r comlincs villagc and mcrropolis. Wcsrcrn-
srylc modcrnizarion and Clincsc rradirion. ncw-laslioncd pomp wirl
old-laslioncd modcsry. ¡r is a slowcasc ol Clina’s policy lor rclorm and
opcning up ro rlc Wcsr.’’
1
Anorlcr conrcmporary guidclook (lrom rlc
‘‘1ravcl Survival Kir’’ scrics) givcs morc in-dcprl inlormarion. ‘‘All cirics
in Clina arc cqual. lur somc arc morc cqual rlan orlcrs. Bcijing las
rlc lcsr ol cvcryrling in Clina lar rlc wcarlcr. rlc lcsr lood. rlc lcsr
lorcls. rlc lcsr rransporr. rlc lcsr rcmplcs. Bur irs vasr squarcs and loulc-
vards. irs cavcrnous monolirls and irs lugc numlcrs ol rourisrs arc likcly
ro lcavc you cold. ¡r is a wcird ciry—rraccs ol irs lormcr claracrcr may
lc lound down rlc lack allcys wlcrc rlings arc a lir morc ro luman
scalc.’’
2
¡ndccd. prolally no visiror ro Bcijing in rlc ¡ooos would lail ro noricc
rlc wcird. somcrimcs mind-loggling claracrcr ol rlis sprawling urlan
ccnrcr rlar is lccoming incrcasingly similar ro ¡os Angclcs. ¡r is onc ol
rlc oldcsr cirics in rlc world. and ycr comprcsscd sircs or islands ol irs
¡. Ðon I. Coln. ³ Gui!. ts B.iiina (¡incolnwood. ¡ll.. ¡assporr Books. ¡ooi). ¡i.
i. Ioc Cummings cr al.. ³ Trcv./ Survivc/ Kit. C/inc, :rd cd. (Bcrkclcy. ¡oncly
¡lancr. ¡oo¡). |8s.
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246 C/in.·. As!.rn
impcrial pasr arc now larcly visillc undcr rlc vcil ol lrownisl smog and
againsr rlc raggcd lackdrop ol masscs ol prclalricarcd. inrcrnarional-
srylc aparrmcnr luildings or morc rcccnr all-glass ligl-riscs. ¡rs lroad
and olrcn dislcarrcningly srraiglr. lur incrcasingly jammcd and lill-
loardcd loulcvards. wlilc srill srridcnrly rcminding you ol rlc scalc and
aspirarion ol a rcccnr collccrivc projccr and ccnrral planning. arc con-
rinually lumanizcd and madc livcly ly an unsroppallc flow ol millions
ol licyclisrs. ¡l you dccidc ro movc across rlc ciry. cirlcr on loor or
ly any mcans ol rransporrarion. you will soon find yourscll cxpcricnc-
ing srarkly diffcrcnr sccrions and ncigllorloods (in rcrms ol rlc appcar-
ancc ol rlcir rcsidcnrs. arclirccrural srylc. sparial arrangcmcnr. and noisc
lcvcl). wlicl. as in almosr any orlcr largc ciry in rlc world. cxisr sidc-ly-
sidc and lorm silcnr commcnrary on onc anorlcr. 1lis ‘‘synclroniciry ol
rlc nonsynclronous.’’ as Irnsr Blocl’s usclul plrasc dcscrilcs ir. finds irs
cxprcssion in anorlcr spacc-rclarcd luman cxpcricncc. namcly. rlc mul-
riplc mcans ol rransporrarion on Bcijing’s srrccrs. lrom pcdicals. ro ovcr-
crowdcd luscs. ro rlc larcsr ¡cxus.
Òl rlis uncvcn lur clanging ciryscapc. wc find rimcly and lascinaring
rcprcscnrarions in Clincsc cincma sincc rlc larc ¡o8os. lor wlicl rlc dy-
namics and social. il also lilidinal. cncrgy ol rlc modcrn ciry lavc lccomc
a mucl-cxplorcd rlcmc and crcarcd a ncw film gcnrc. 1lc onc parricular
scqucncc ol imagcs and soundrrack ¡ lavc in mind is rlc opcning collagc
in Icnc/u (1roullcsloorcrs. dir. Mi Iiaslan. ¡o88). 1lc film’s locarion
is cmplarically conrcmporary Bcijing. 1wo cnormous claracrcrs lor rlc
rirlc ol rlc film arc projccrcd onro rlrcc rc-crcarcd primirivc masks, rlcy
arc accompanicd ly a soundrrack rlar caprurcs a vocal lragmcnr lrom
somc rradirional opcra or sroryrclling. slilrs ro a slrill sircn rlar drowns
our rlc narraring voicc. and rlcn rccords somc loisrcrous markcrplacc
wlcrc voiccs slouring our rlc namcs ol popular magazincs can lc dis-
ringuislcd. Bur rlis lricl rcmporalizcd scqucncc ol sound cffccrs is only
rlc prclacc ro an cxplosivc juxraposirion ol olrcn lragmcnrcd lur nonc-
rlclcss spccracular imagcs ol rlc ciry. 1lrougl a zoom lcns. rlc spcc-
raclc ol rraffic congcsrion is lrouglr mucl closcr. and minimal dcprl ol
ficld undcrscorcs a comprcsscd urlan spariorcmporal rcgimc, unsrcady
and lasr-moving slors ol glass luildings (unmisrakallc signs ol conrcm-
poranciry). wirl rwisrcd rcflccrions ol orlcr ligl-riscs and consrrucrion
crancs. suggcsr rlc sparial lragmcnrarion wirl wlicl an awcsrruck ol-
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In S.cr./ s/ t/. B.c/ Citv 247
scrvcr is lorccd ro lccomc rcconcilcd. 1lcn. quickly. rlc camcra is di-
rccrcd lack ar rlc lusrling and lusrling srrccrs wlcrc ir prcscnrs a scrics
ol incomplcrc. unrclarcd snapslors ol crawling vcliclcs. cxprcssionlcss
old womcn. lordcs ol licyclisrs. counrry girls garlcring ar a lalor mar-
kcr. a lrowning yourl wirl a punk laircur—all lorizonral imagcs ol an
cxpanding mcrropolis lrom rlc pcrspccrivc ol an apparcnrly disoricnrcd
suljccr. Òvcr rlis collagc ol urlan spccraclcs. conrcmporary Clincsc rock
and roll (clcarly rcminisccnr ol carly Brucc Springsrccn) is inrroduccd ro
makc dirccr commcnrary.
¡ oncc drcamcd alour lilc in a modcrn ciry.
Bur ¡ don’r know low ro cxprcss my prcscnr lccling,
Buildings lcrc arc gcrring rallcr and rallcr cvcry day.
Bur my days lcrc arc nor rlar grcar.
3
¡n lacr. ¡o88 saw rlc producrion ol a scrics ol films on rlc suljccr ol
conrcmporary ciry lilc. ar lcasr lour ol rlcm lascd on novcls or novcllas
ly rlc popular Bcijing wrircr Wang Sluo. ¡cncc. ¡o88 las lccn dullcd
‘‘rlc ycar ol Wang Sluo’’ in Clincsc cincma.
4
1lcsc films alour rlc ciry.
mosrly dirccrcd ly mcmlcrs ol rlc ¡ilrl Gcncrarion.
5
lorm a disrincr
gcnrc and indicarc a diffcrcnr inrcllccrual conccrn and culrural criricism
rlan in carlicr ¡ilrl Gcncrarion cxpcrimcnrs or. indccd. in rlc rradirion
ol ÞcwClina cincma. By ÞcwClina cincma. ¡ mcan rlc srarc-supporrcd
film indusrry rlar camc inro lcing wirl rlc lounding ol rlc ¡coplc’s Fc-
pullic in ¡o|o. ¡rs lricl and lrcqucnrly inrcrruprcd coursc ol dcvclopmcnr
norwirlsranding. ÞcwClina cincma is mass-oricnrcd and gcncrally idcn-
rificd wirl a lormulaic socialisr rcalisr acsrlcric. ‘‘a didacric lusion.’’ as
onc criric purs ir. ‘‘ol classic ¡ollywood filmmaking and Sovicr Sralin-
:. 1lc lyrics go on likc rlis. Wirl a lricnd ¡ always kill somc rimc in a lar. } Wlilc
rlc rapc playcr rcpcars all rlc lir songs. } You rlink onc way and you ralk onc way. }
Bccausc cvcryonc wcars a roy-likc mask. } Wlar slould ¡ say·
|. 1lcsc lour films arc Icnc/u, Lun/ui (dir. ¡uang Iianxin). Dc ./ucn;i (dir. Yc
Ðaying). and Ti/cn ·/i /ci·/ui, vi/cn ·/i /usvcn (dir. Xia Gang).
s. 1wo orlcr ciry films rlar camc our in ¡o88 arc Tcsaun ;inanicn and F.na/ucna
!. !ciiic, dirccrcd. rcspccrivcly. ly 1ian Zluangzluang (Dcsmc c.i, ¡o8o) and Zlou
Xiaowcn (Zui/su !. /.na/ucna, ¡o8¬). rwo wcll-csrallislcd ¡ilrl Gcncrarion film-
makcrs. ¡n ¡o8¬. ar lcasr rwo films ly dirccrors ol rlc ¡ilrl Gcncrarion wcrc also alour
rlc conrcmporary ciryscapc. G.i /c/.i iic!icn tcna (dir. Sun Zlou) and Tcivcna vu (dir.
Zlang Zcming).
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248 C/in.·. As!.rn
isr srylc.’’
6
1lc prclcrrcd suljccr marrcr lor rlis dcrcrmincdly rcvolu-
rionary popular cincma is collccrivc lcroism and socialisr consrrucrion.
wlilc irs audicncc is olrcn imagincd ro lc a polirically cngagcd narion in-
srcad ol scnrimcnral urlan dwcllcrs. Conscqucnrly. rlc cxpcricnrial ciry
ladcs as a pcrrincnr cincmaric rlcmc or ficld. and rlc wcll-lir imagcry ol
conrcmporary lilc lound in Þcw Clina cincma invarially comcs lrom
cirlcr an indusrrial consrrucrion sirc or rlc counrrysidc undcrgoing pro-
lound rranslormarions. Ivcn rlc rcvolurionary pasr. wlcn ir is projccrcd
in Þcw Clina cincma. is sysrcmarically romanricizcd and madc ro ad-
lcrc ro rlc currcnr rcprcscnrarional licrarclics. Againsr rlis sraid rra-
dirion ol ‘‘rcvolurionary rcalism comlincd wirl rcvolurionary romanri-
cism.’’ rlc ¡ilrl Gcncrarion ol filmmakcrs inrroduccd a lrcsl cincmaric
languagc and vision in rlc mid-¡o8os ly lringing inro locus a rcmorc
and olscurc locarion. rcmporal as wcll as sparial. rlar lcspcaks a diffcr-
cnr and ycr concrcrc rcaliry ol dcprl. Wlar cnallcd rlcir lrcakrlrougl
was clcarly a modcrnisr acsrlcrics and avanr-gardisr clallcngc againsr di-
dacric mass cincma.
7
¡cncc. rlc inirial dclamiliarizing impacr ol Hucna
tu!i (1lc ycllow carrl. dir. Clcn Kaigc. ¡o8|). Dcsmc c.i (1lc lorsc
rlicl. dir. 1ian Zluangzluang. ¡o8o). and Hsna acs/icna (Fcd sorglum.
dir. Zlang Yimou. ¡o88). all now considcrcd classics ol ¡ilrl Gcncrarion
filmmaking.
¡n rlc ncw gcnrc ol ciry films rlar arrracrcd mcmlcrs ol rlc scll-
consciously innovarivc ¡ilrl Gcncrarion. a ccnrral symliosis is suggcsrcd
lcrwccn rlc cxpcricncc ol disconrcnrcd yourl and a vasr. disoricnring
o. ¡or analyscs ol somc rcprcscnrarivc film rcxrs lrom rlc Þcw Clina cincma rradi-
rion. scc Clris Bcrry. ‘‘Scxual Ðiffcrcncc and rlc \icwing Suljccr in Li S/ucna·/ucna
and T/. In-Lcm·,’’ in P.r·t..tiv.· sn C/in.·. Cin.mc, cd. Clris Bcrry (¡ondon. Bririsl
¡ilm¡nsrirurc. ¡oo¡). :o–:o, Ma Iunxiang. ‘‘S/cna/ci aunicna. gcming nuxing ji ‘guan-
kan’ wcnri’’ (T/. air/ /rsm S/cna/ci. rcvolurionary womcn and rlc qucsrion ol ‘‘vicw-
ing’’). in Zci ii.!u. !cc/sna m.nvi vu vi·/i xinatci (Fcrcading. rlc pcoplc’s lircrarurc
and arr movcmcnr and idcology). cd. 1ang Xiaoling (¡ong Kong. Òxlord \nivcrsiry
¡rcss. ¡oo:). ¡i¬–|o.
¬. ¡or a gcncalogical accounr ol rlc origin ol rlc ¡ilrl Gcncrarion and irs modcrnisr
polirics. scc Xudong Zlang. C/in.·. As!.rni·m in t/. Lrc s/ B./srm·. Cu/turc/ F.v.r,
³vcnt-Gcr!. Fi.tisn, cn! t/. N.m C/in.·. Cin.mc (Ðurlam. Þ.C.. Ðukc \nivcrsiry
¡rcss. ¡oo¬). i¡s–:¡. Scc also. lor insrancc. rlc srarcmcnr ly onc ol rlc lcading mcm-
lcrs ol rlc ¡ilrl Gcncrarion in rlc inrcrvicw ‘‘A Ðirccror Wlo ¡s 1rying ro Clangc
rlc Audicncc. A Clar wirl Young Ðirccror 1ian Zluangzluang.’’ conducrcd ly Yang
¡ing. in P.r·t..tiv.· sn C/in.·. Cin.mc, ¡i¬–:o.
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In S.cr./ s/ t/. B.c/ Citv 249
urlan spacc rlar invarially providcs a symlolic rcplicarion ol rlc com-
plcxiry ol conrcmporary sociopolirical lilc cauglr in rlc maclsrrom ol
modcrnizarion. Againsr rlc sparial complcxiry ol rlc ciry. yourl. wlilc
cclclrarcd as a conccnrrarcd cxprcssion ol rlc culrural dynamics ol mo-
dcrniry. is noncrlclcss lrcqucnrly dcpicrcd on rlc scrccn as a disillusion-
ing cxpcricncc ol lorccloscd moliliry. rcprcsscd lilidinal cncrgy. and cn-
rrcnclcd filial olligarion and durics. ¡or insrancc. in Trsu//.·/sst.r·, wc
scc lowrlrcc young mcn srrugglc wirlour mucl succcss ro run rlcir own
scrvicc company. wlosc daily opcrarion and cusromcrs lring ro rlc sur-
lacc rlc lrusrrarions and criscs dccply cmlcddcd in conrcmporary socicry.
A significanr dcvclopmcnr in rlc film is rlar oncc rlc srory linc lcgins
and wc arc wirncssing rlc nirry-grirry ol rlc company’s lusincss. rlc ciry
no longcr appcars as a spccraclc ro marvcl ar. ¡nsrcad. rlc urlan land-
scapc rcccdcs. as ir wcrc. inro rlc disrancc and rurns simulrancously inro
an unrransccndallc lisrorical condirion and an cxpcricnrial immcdiacy
rlar rogcrlcr smorlcr any colcrcnr pcrccprion. ¡ur diffcrcnrly. rlc ciry
lccomcs lorl an all-cncompassing culrural consrrucr and an incscapallc
narural cnvironmcnr. onc rcinlorcing rlc orlcr. By rlc cnd ol rlc film.
ir is clcar rlar rlc filmmakcr las pcrsisrcnrly rcluscd ro prcscnr rlc ciry
as promising a possillc pcrccprual roralizarion, conrrary ro rlc opcning
collagc. rlc final. slow-rolling slor ol pcoplc lining up ro scck lclp ar rlc
rcvampcd scrvicc company convcys a rcconciliarion. on rlc parr ol a lc-
sicgcd and rcflccrivc suljccr. wirl ordinarincss as wcll as siruarcdncss. 1lc
ciry ly now irrcrricvally rcccdcs inro rlc disrancc and lccomcs a grandi-
osc myrl no longcr rclcvanr ro rlc daily livcs ol irs inlaliranrs. ¡r is now
a lalyrinrlinc complcx wirlour a colcrcnr parrcrn. or wlar Kcvin ¡yncl
oncc promorcd as rlc ‘‘lcgililiry’’ and ‘‘imagcaliliry’’ ol rlc ciryscapc.
¡owcvcr. rlis film gcnrc. wirl irs crirical mcssagc alour ‘‘rlc csrrang-
ing ciry and a paralyzcd suljccr.’’
8
did nor rcacl irs rlcmaric and cinc-
maric pcrlccrion unril ¡o8o. wlcn Xic ¡ci complcrcd B.nmina nicn (Black
snow). a solcr porrrayal ol ordinary lilc in Bcijing cxccurcd wirl a film-
noir scnsililiry. ¡r may appcar coincidcnral rlar an oursranding mcmlcr
ol rlc ¡ourrl Gcncrarion (lcrc rlc rcrm rclcrs ro rlc group ol Clincsc
filmmakcrs wlo wcrc sysrcmarically rraincd lrom rlc larc ¡osos ro carly
8. ¡cng Wcn. ‘‘B.nmina nicn. moslcng dc clcngsli yu ranluan dc zluri’’ (B/c./
·nsm. rlc csrranging ciry and a paralyzcd suljccr). Dicnvina vi·/u (¡ilm arr). no. i¡i
(¡ooo). |¡.
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250 C/in.·. As!.rn
¡ooos and rcaclcd rlcir prolcssional maruriry only in rlc larc ¡o¬os lc-
causc ol rlc disruprion ol rlc Culrural Fcvolurion) lad ro comc in ro
rcalizc rlc porcnrial ol rlc ncw gcnrc. lor rlc dirccrors in rlis rransirional
gcncrarion ol dirccrors arc olrcn vicwcd ly crirics as lorcvcr ncgoriaring
lor rlcir own arrisric idcnriry. Comparcd ro rlc morc cosmopoliran ¡ilrl
Gcncrarion. rlcy appcar as ‘‘rclucranr. awkward pursucrs ol rlc novcl
and cmlarrassing lclicvcrs in clcap lumanism and lisroricism.’’
9
As rlc
proud. lowcvcr aluscd. offspring ol Þcw Clina cincma. rlcy now find
rlcmsclvcs. ly dclaulr. inlcriring a larrcrcd csrallislmcnr. and ycr rlcy
cannor afford ro dissociarc rlcmsclvcs cirlcr cmorionally or inrcllccrually
lrom wlar slapcs and dcfincs rlcm. 1lis claracrcr profilc ol rlc ¡ourrl
Gcncrarion is closcly lornc our ly anorlcr inrriguing ciry film. B.iiina
niccs (Good morning. Bcijing. ¡ooo). dirccrcd ly Zlang Þuanxin (S/c
Ou [Sla Òu|. ¡o8¡, Oina./un ii [Sacrificcd yourl|. ¡o8o). Givcn rlcir pro-
lcssional rraining and lamiliariry wirl socialisr rcalism. ¡ourrl Gcncra-
rion dirccrors lavc a srrong scnsc ol social rcsponsililiry and usually lccl
morc ar lomc dcaling wirl rlc rural landscapc or rlc conrrasr lcrwccn
rlc ciry and rlc counrrysidc. ¡ndccd. mcmlcrs ol rlis gcncrarion arc rlc
oncs wlo madc somc ol rlc mosr succcsslul and rcalisric films alour rural
Clina in rlc ¡o8os. sucl as B.n·/.na (¡ilc. ¡o8|) and Lcsiina (Òld wcll.
¡o8¬) ly Wu 1ianming. and T.·/cn (¡n rlc wild mounrains. ¡o8s) ly Yan
Xucslu.
¡ully acccpring lis idcnriry as a ¡ourrl Gcncrarion dirccror. Xic ¡ci
ncvcrrlclcss lrom rlc lcginning cxlilircd a spirirual affiniry wirl rlc
youngcr gcncrarion. ¡rom lis carlicr. cmorionally clargcd Ism.n !.
ticnv. (Òur widc ficlds. ¡o8:) ro Xicnanu Xicsxics (1lc girl lrom ¡u-
nan. ¡o8o). wlicl cclocd rlc crlos ol crirical culrural roor-sccking. Xic
¡ci csrallislcd limscll as rlc mosr scnsirivc filmmakcr ol lis gcncrarion.
¡n B/c./ Snsm, lc nor only rcdirccrs lis own plilosoplical rlinking. lur
also inrroduccs a ncw inrcllccrual rcnsion inro rlc ciry-film gcnrc. As rlc
film criric ¡cng Wcn olscrvcs. wlilc ciry films ly rlc ¡ilrl Gcncrarion
cxprcss a liddcn dcsirc ro idcnrily wirl and lclong ro rlc ncw urlan
culrurc. ‘‘in B/c./ Snsm, ‘rlc ciry’ is olviously prcscnrcd as an csrranging
and losrilc spacc. ro copc wirl wlicl rlc filmmakcr rccommcnds rcsis-
rancc and discngagcmcnr.’’
10
Srill. rlcrc is cnougl conrinuiry ro rcad Xic
o. Xudong Zlang. C/in.·. As!.rni·m, ii:.
¡o. ¡cng Wcn. ‘‘B/c./ Snsm,’’ |i.
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In S.cr./ s/ t/. B.c/ Citv 251
¡ci’s inrcrvcnrion as an cxrcnsion ol rlc gcncral inrcrcsr in rlc ciry. ¡r is
mosrly a rlcmaric conrinuiry. an incrcasingly crirical cxaminarion ol an
cmcrgcnr urlan culrurc. ‘‘¡rom Trsu//.·/sst.r· ro B/c./ Snsm,’’ as anorlcr
film criric rcmarks. ‘‘Clincsc cincma las rcaclcd a univcrsal suljccr mar-
rcr in world cincma. namcly. rlc cxpcricncc ol anomic and disoricnrarion
in a commodiry socicry. also known as rlc agc ol markcr cconomy.’’
11
¡n
rlis liglr. B/c./ Snsm dcscrvcs a closcr look. cspccially lrom rlc pcrspcc-
rivc ol low rlc ciry now figurcs in rlc cvcryday cxpcricncc ol unlulfillcd
yourl.
12
Ðcprl and Social Criricism
Wlilc rcvicwing films alour Fomc ly \irrorio Ðc Sica in posrwar ¡raly.
¡icrrc Sorlin sccs rlc filmmakcr as somconc wlo cxpcrimcnrcd wirl rwo
diffcrcnr groups ol imagcs ol rlc ciry. ¡n rlc ncorcalisr cincma ol rlc
¡osos. filmmakcrs ‘‘wcrc awarc ol rlc llossoming ol urlan arcas and rricd
ro cxprcss. cincmarically. rlc complcx rclarionslips lcrwccn old rown
ccnrcrs and ncw ourskirrs. Alrcr ¡oos or so. orlcr cincmarograplcrs wcrc
no longcr allc ro rcll. or scc. wlar rowns wcrc. and [rlcy| crcarcd a
llurrcd imagc ol cirics.’’
13
1lis llurrcd vision. according ro Sorlin. was
firsr arricularcd in Ðc Sica’s T/. Bss/ (¡oso). in wlicl ‘‘rlc srrong sysrcm
wlicl associarcd rlc ccnrcr and ourskirrs. prcscnrcd as complcmcnrary
cnrirics. vanislcd. and rlc picrurc ol rowns lcgan ro losc locus.’’
14
Sulsc-
qucnrly. imagcs ol opcn and lormlcss slanryrowns camc in ro diffusc rlc
ncorcalisr cfforr rlar. rlrougl cincmaric projccrion. lad souglr ro makc
¡¡. Wci Xiaolin. ‘‘B.nmina nicn dc rcnzli jiazli’’ (1lc cognirivc valuc ol B/c./ ·nsm).
Fi/m ³rt, no. i¡i (¡ooo). s¡.
¡i. ¡n a ¡o8| cssay. Xic ¡ci cmplasizcd rlc imporrancc ol rcprcscnring daily lilc.
Commcnring on Faizman’s ³ P.r·snc/ Li/. (¡o8:). Xic ¡ci wrorc. ‘‘Þo significanr
cvcnrs. lcarcd dramaric conflicrs. and unusual rcclniqucs arc uscd. Òn rlc conrrary.
ir vividly dcpicrs a varicry ol claracrcrs. rouclcs prolound social prollcms and pli-
losoplics. and is olviously a conrcmporary producr.’’ Scc Xic ¡ci. ‘‘My \icw ol rlc
Conccpr ol ¡ilm.’’ rrans. ¡ou Iianping. in C/in.·. Fi/m T/.srv. ³ Gui!. ts t/. N.m Lrc,
cd. Gcorgc S. Scmscl cr al.. rrans. ¡ou Iianping cr al. (Þcw York. ¡racgcr. ¡ooo). ¬o.
¡:. ¡icrrc Sorlin. Lurst.cn Cin.mc·, Lurst.cn Ss.i.ti.·, rc:c–rccc (¡ondon. Four-
lcdgc. ¡oo¡). ¡:s.
¡|. ¡lid.. ¡io–i¬.
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252 C/in.·. As!.rn
scnsc ol an cxpanding urlan landscapc and rlc inrricarc luman livcs cm-
lcddcd in ir. Ònc classic momcnr ol sucl ncorcalisr clariry can lc lound
in Ðc Sica’s T/. Bi.v./. T/i./ (¡o|8). wlcrc ‘‘cxrrcmc dcprl ol ficld slors
acccnruarc Ficci’s isolarion. wlcn lc scarclcs rlc rlicl ’s lomc lor rraccs
ol lis srolcn licyclc. lor cxamplc. wc scc in rlc lackground mosr clcarly
a ncigllor closing lcr window. as il ro cur off all possililiry ol commu-
nicarion lcrwccn Ficci and rlc rlicl ’s ncigllors.’’
15
1lc loss ol sucl all-cncompassing visual clariry in rlc wakc ol ncorcal-
isr cincma. suggcsrs Sorlin. rcgisrcrcd a ncw pcrccprion ol rlc Iuropcan
ciry. a lisrorical momcnr in wlicl ‘‘filmmakcrs ccascd ro vicw cirics as
porcnrial works ol arr.’’
16
1lus. rlc gradual disappcarancc ol ncorcalism
may poinr ro a gcncral disavowal ol allcgorical roralizarion on rlc onc
land and ol acrivc social cngagcmcnr on rlc orlcr. ¡r may cvcn signal
rlc arrival ol a posrmodcrn urlan lilc. lor wlicl rlc sourcc ol cxcirc-
mcnr is no longcr rlc visionary modcrn ciry or a ncorcalisr ‘‘aspirarion ro
clangc rlc world.’’
17
¡l rlis lundamcnrally moral commirmcnr undcrlics
all lorms ol rlc rcalisr idcology. onc crucial diffcrcncc lcrwccn ncorcal-
ism and socialisr rcalism may lc no orlcr rlan rlc lormcr’s lascinarion
wirl. and crirical cxplorarion ol. rlc anonymous and mulridimcnsional
modcrnizing ciry. Socialisr rcalisr cincma. ar lcasr irs Clincsc varianr. is
idcnrifiallc insolar as rlc ciry on a luman scalc is disallowcd. ‘‘1lc Cli-
ncsc vcrsion ol wlar rlc ¡ralians callcd ‘ncorcalism’ lad lccn a lcarurc
ol rlc ‘goldcn agc’ ol Clincsc cincma in rlc larc ¡o|os.’’ rcmarks ¡aul
Clark. lur ir was supcrscdcd ly socialisr rcalism in rlc ¡osos. As a rcsulr.
‘‘rlc urlan rragicomcdics and social mclodramas ol rlc larc ¡o|os wcrc
rcplaccd ly socialisr mclodramas scr in cirlcr urlan workplaccs or rlc
counrrysidc.’’
18
¡n rlc ¡o8os. wirl socialisr rcalism lalling inro disrcpurc.
rlc ciry and irs cincmaric possililirics rcrurncd ro rlc Clincsc scrccn wirl
considcrallc vcngcancc.
¡s. Bondanclla. Itc/icn Cin.mc /rsm N.sr.c/i·m ts t/. Pr.·.nt (Þcw York. \ngcr.
¡o8:). oo.
¡o. Sorlin. Lurst.cn Cin.mc·, ¡:o.
¡¬. Alrcr making clcar rlc rclarionslip lcrwccn rlc classical rcalisr idcology ol rlc
nincrccnrl ccnrury and ncorcalism. Milliccnr Marcus. in lis Itc/icn Fi/m in t/. Lia/t s/
N.sr.c/i·m (¡rinccron. Þ.I.. ¡rinccron \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o8o) olscrvcs rlar ncorcal-
ism in ¡ralian cincma cxprcsscd an ‘‘immcdiarc posrwar oprimism alour rlc arrcmpr
ro slapc polirical rcaliry according ro a moral idca’’ (i8).
¡8. ¡aul Clark. ‘‘1wo ¡undrcd ¡lowcrs on Clina’s Scrccns.’’ in P.r·t..tiv.· sn C/in.·.
Cin.mc, |o–o¡.
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In S.cr./ s/ t/. B.c/ Citv 253
Wlar ¡ wisl ro accomplisl rlrougl a closc rcading ol B/c./ Snsm and
Gss! Asrnina, B.iiina, is ro slow rlar rlc rcrurn ol rlc ciry in larc rwcn-
ricrl-ccnrury Clincsc cincma oncc again liglliglrs qucsrions ol rcalism
and social cngagcmcnr. 1lcsc rwo srarkly diffcrcnr cincmaric rcprcscnra-
rions ol rlc ciry ol Bcijing arricularc scpararc visions ol rcaliry and poli-
rics. Wlilc in B/c./ Snsm our vicw is consranrly immolilizcd ly closc-
ups and local liglring. Gss! Asrnina, B.iiina movcs us wirl a grarilying
srory and fluid cincmarograply. 1lc ciry in Gss! Asrnina, B.iiina, wlicl
may lc provisionally dcscrilcd as ‘‘ncorcalisr’’ in srylc. is amply narrar-
allc and cvcnrually comcs rogcrlcr as an allcgorical social spacc. ¡n B/c./
Snsm, lowcvcr. rlrougl rlc prcvalcnr usc ol limircd ficld-dcprl cincma-
rograply. Xic ¡ci locuscs our gazc on an cmlarrlcd individual ly kccping
lis surroundings in a sladowy llur rlar cffccrivcly llocks rlc ciry lrom
cvcr cmcrging as a graspallc roraliry.
1lc dramaric rracking slor ar rlc lcginning ol B/c./ Snsm immcdiarcly
scrs rlc clromaric ronc and visual srrucrurc ol rlc film and csrallislcs
irscll as an cxcmplary momcnr in a conccivallc Bcijing noir. ¡caring firsr
a passing rrain and rlcn solirary lur lcavy loorsrcps. wc rcalizc rlar wc
arc in a dimly lir sulway srarion and lollowing somconc. prcsumally
roward rlc cxir. 1lcn rlc crcdirs lcgin ro roll. and rlc land-lcld camcra
films ro rlc rlyrlm ol somconc walking. Soon wc scc srairways lcading
ro rlc ground and a srrccr sccnc. 1lc pcrson in lronr ol us and ar rlc ccn-
rcr ol rlc scrccn. in rlc liglr ol rlc cxir. slouldcrs a sruffcd knapsack and
wcars a lulky coar. Ycr rlc looming. opcn spacc is lardly inspiring lc-
causc rlc narrow srrip ol a winrry sky is an impcncrrallc gray. and a lcw
glosrly lysrandcrs all appcar ro lc unilormly lluc or ol a nondcscripr
monoclromc. As rlc man (wc can assumc rlar ly now. judging lrom lis
luild and rlc gcndcr-spccific lar lc is wcaring) is alour ro lully cmcrgc
lrom rlc sulway. rlc camcra quickly slilrs. and wc scc lim again. lrom
a sliglrly downward anglc. in somc narrow and rorruous lanc. wlicl is
lopclcssly cur slorr ly anorlcr rrain lissing ly ar rlc rop ol rlc scrccn.
¡r is a virrual slanryrown. void ol any luman prcscncc ar rlc momcnr.
1lcn rlc man walks rlrougl a garc. and rlc camcra is noriccally lowcrcd
so rlar rlc lanc lccomcs cvcn morc opprcssivc and suffocaring. 1lcrc arc
srill no luman lcings in siglr. and rlc ovcrcrowdcd spacc is dominarcd
ly an official radio voicc announcing firsr somc prolilirivc policy and
rlcn a rrain disasrcr. 1lc impcrsonal voicc ladcs away as wc rurn a cor-
ncr. and an old man’s sickly cougl. rogcrlcr wirl a laly’s imparicnr cry.
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254 C/in.·. As!.rn
lccomcs morc irrcprcssillc. puncruarcd only ly rlc sound ol flowing rap
warcr. Alrcr ycr anorlcr uncxpccrcd rurn. wc lcar a lragmcnr ol solrcncd
pop rock rlar sccms ro floar lisrlcssly. and wlcn wc arc sufficicnrly losr
in rlis dirccrionlcss spacc. rlc man is suddcnly sroppcd ly a lcncc. and ar
rlc samc rimc rlc camcra comcs ro a srandsrill.
Bur rlc man quickly puslcs opcn rlc lcncc and walks up ro a slanry
rlar slows no signs ol lilc. Wlilc lc srrugglcs wirl lis kcy in rlc lock and
cvcnrually las ro lrcak rlrougl rlc door. a compassionarc lcmalc voicc.
prolally lrom a radio ncxr door. gradually rcplaccs rlc ncws lroadcasr
and. in rlc clcganr srylc ol rlc rradirional arr ol sroryrclling (tina·/u).
cirlcr narrarcs a disranr cvcnr or proffcrs a rcflccrivc commcnrary. ¡n lacr.
rlis lormulaic lur mysrcriously soorling voicc will rcmain as rlc prc-
dominanr lackground sound. as il supplying a sliglrly sorrowlul lisrori-
cal commcnrary on prcscnr condirions. during rlc scqucncc in wlicl rlc
man cnrcrs rlc room. lumps inro a lcw ill-placcd oljccrs. cxamincs rlc
disordcrly surroundings. and finally rakcs off lis lar and glovcs. Ònly
ar rlis momcnr do wc gcr our firsr lronral vicw ol lim. a srurdy young
man in lis mid-rwcnrics. Apparcnrly lc knows rlis placc. lor vcry soon
lc finds limscll a cigarcrrc luricd in a drawcr and. wlilc scarcling lor
marclcs. carclcs siglr ol a lramcd picrurc. ¡c picks up rlc lramc. gazcs
inro ir. and llows lard ar rlc dusr garlcrcd on ir. Ar rlis momcnr. rlc
alarmcd voicc ol an old woman comcs lrom off rlc scrccn. ‘‘Wlo is ir· ¡s
ir Quanzi·’’
¡i ¡uiquan is rlc namc ol rlc young man. rlc lcro ol rlc film. ¡c las
jusr rcrurncd lomc alrcr spcnding alour a ycar in prison. during wlicl
rimc lis morlcr las dicd. Þow lc finds limscll lack in a dcsolarc room.
all alonc. jollcss. and lacing rlc rask ol srarring lis lilc ancw. Bascd on
a psyclological novcl ly ¡iu ¡cng. rlc plor ol rlc film is alour low
lard. and cvcnrually impossillc. ir is lor ¡i ¡uiquan rlc cx-convicr ro
assimilarc limscll lack inro socicry and lcad a normal lilc. \nallc ro
gcr a jol ar rlc lacrory wlcrc lis morlcr uscd ro work. wlicl is now
officially dcclarcd lankrupr. ¡i ¡uiquan dccidcs ro rcly on limscll and
scrs up a srall ar a srrccr markcr ro scll slocs and clorlcs. Alrcr a slow
srarr. lis lusincss grows srcadily, in rlc mcanwlilc. lc gcrs ro know
Zlao Yaqiu. an aspiring singcr pcrlorming parr-rimc in a lar. Ar rlc lar.
lc also mccrs Cui Yongli. a slrcwd. scll-madc lrokcr wlo profirs lrom
clandcsrinc and apparcnrly illcgal lusincss dcals. Wlilc Cui Yongli sup-
plics quanrirics ol popular laslion goods (mosrly lingcric). ¡i ¡uiquan
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In S.cr./ s/ t/. B.c/ Citv 255
occasionally cscorrs Zlao Yaqiu lomc alrcr lcr work. Wirl lcr clarming
innoccncc slc sccms ro rcsrorc in lim a scnsc ol lcing rcspccrcd and cvcn
nccdcd. Sulscqucnrly. slc lccomcs rlc oljccr ol lis lilidinal dcsirc. Ycr
lc cannor lring limscll ro cxprcss lis rcndcr lcclings roward rlc rrusring
young girl, insrcad. lc rcsorrs ro masrurlarion ar niglr. Ar rlc samc rimc.
parrly rlanks ro Cui Yongli’s lrokcring. Zlao Yaqiu lccomcs rclarivcly
succcsslul and grows incrcasingly indiffcrcnr ro rlc young man wlom
slc oncc olviously admircd. 1lcn ¡i ¡uiquan’s lormcr accomplicc and
prison marc. Clazi. dcsccnds onc niglr lrom rlc skyliglr window. lun-
gry as a woll alrcr lcing on rlc run lrom rlc law lor alour rwo wccks.
Clazi’s suddcn rcrurn dcvasraringly rcminds ¡uiquan ol lis own solirary
cxisrcncc. wlicl makcs lis advicc rlar Clazi rurn limscll in ring lollow.
¡inally. rlc lacr rlar Clazi. rurllcssly disowncd ly lis own lamily. las
ro run away lrom lim and lor lis lilc. rogcrlcr wirl rlc knowlcdgc rlar
Zlao Yaqiu las lccomc lcr agcnr’s misrrcss. cruslcs ¡i ¡uiquan’s lragilc
world. ¡c ladly lcars up Cui Yongli. and. in a dcspcrarc lasr cfforr. lc
prcscnrs rlc now glamorous Zlao Yaqiu wirl a gold nccklacc. ¡is offcr
is polircly rurncd down. and alrcr aimlcssly roaming inro a park ar niglr
¡i ¡uiquan is rollcd and rlcn larally srallcd ly rwo rccnagcrs. ¡n rlc
film’s lasr slor. wc arc givcn a prolongcd look downward ar lis lcnr lody
lying among wasrc papcr and garlagc on rlc floor ol a dcscrrcd opcn-
air rlcarcr. wlicl. according ro dirccror Xic ¡ci. consrirurcs lis aurlorial
commcnr on rlc vacuiry ol a purposclcss cxisrcncc.
19
1lc scnsclcss dcarl ar rlc cnd ccrrainly appcars ro arracl an anriclimac-
ric conclusion ro rlc narrarivc. Ycr ir symlolically lrings ro complcrion
rlc film’s crirical rcflccrion on rlc limirs and anxicrics ol ciry lilc. A lull
circlc ol lcrmcncurical mcaning is rlus aclicvcd in rcrms ol lorl nar-
rarivc and cincmarograply. As ¡cng Wcn rcmarks. rlc unlolding ol rlc
srory adoprs rlc parrcrn ol a classical lincar narrarivc. and lrom ¡i ¡ui-
quan’s rcrurn (ncw lilc) ro lis dcarl rlcrc is a ‘‘complcrc closurc.’’
20
1lis
narrarivc closurc is rcinlorccd ly a visual as wcll as audirory imagcry rlar
ar rlc vcry cnd rccalls rlc film’s lcginning. ¡crc is again a prolongcd
and uninrcrruprcd rracking slor ol rlc young man. lis lack rurncd ro us
and lis loorsrcps ccloing lollowly. 1lc movcmcnr ol rlc camcra sug-
gcsrs unsrcady srcps. wlilc rlc mufflcd and unrcal lackground noisc and
¡o. Xic ¡ci. ‘‘ ‘Ði sidai’ dc zlcngming’’ (1lc prool ol rlc ‘‘lourrl gcncrarion’’). Fi/m
³rt, no. i¡i (¡ooo). i:–i|.
io. ¡cng Wcn. ‘‘B/c./ Snsm,’’ |:.
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256 C/in.·. As!.rn
lauglrcr ol a dispcrsing rlcarcr crowd do nor divcrr our arrcnrion lrom
rlc dying lcro. 1lc imagc ol rlc pullic and rlc pullic spacc irscll lorl
lall our ol locus and lccomc a grorcsquc llur. ¡i ¡uiquan finally col-
lapscs in rlc cmpry rlcarcr. 1lrougl sucl srrucrural symmcrry. rlis lasr
momcnr ol arriving ar lis dcarl and lis rcrurn in rlc film’s lcginning
powcrlully complcmcnr cacl orlcr. rlc rcsulr lcing a disrurling rrans-
grcssion ol givcn carcgorics and myrls alour ciry lilc. ¡l. ar rlc lcgin-
ning. ¡i ¡uiquan’s coming lomc can lc vicwcd as rcrurning ro an in-
rcrior lopclcssly undcr survcillancc (suggcsrcd ly rlc larsl radio voicc).
rlc cnding rcprcscnrs a final disconnccrion lcrwccn rlc pullic and rlc
privarc. rlc cnvironmcnr and irs pcrccprion ly rlc individual. Ònly ar rlc
momcnr ol lis random dcarl. in a dcscrrcd pullic spacc. docs ¡i ¡ui-
quan voicclcssly and ycr in vain cxprcss lis individualiry and wirl dcs-
pcrarion cxposc rlc undcrlying currcnr ol lonclincss.
Borl crirics and rlc filmmakcr limscll lavc rcmarkcd on rlc srrong
rcndcncy ol inrcllccrualizing. olviously in rlc lumanisr rradirion.
rlrouglour B/c./ Snsm.
21
1lc wlolc srylc ol rlc film. lrom irs prcdomi-
nanr mclancloly. grayisl-lluc ronc ro rlc virrual alscncc ol cxrcrnal
music. rcflccrs rlc mcdirarivc commcnrary ol a symparlcric inrcllccrual. ¡
wisl ro arguc. lowcvcr. rlar ir is rlis plilosoplical inrcrcsr in rlc cxisrcn-
rial condirion ol an individual in rlc modcrn ciry rlar lcads ro rlc llur-
ring ol rlc ciry irscll. wlicl las rlc cincmarograplic cffccr ol kccping rlc
vicwcr and. ly cxrcnsion. rlc suljccr on rlc scrccn lrom gaining a com-
manding pcrspccrivc on rlc urlan cnvironmcnr and irs rclarionslips. 1lc
conccrncd gazc rlar rlc film dirccrs upon rlc suljccr and lis immcdiarc
surroundings is so inrcnsc rlar rlc rcsr ol rlc ciry las ro lc kcpr ar a dis-
rancc and as an incomprclcnsillc lackground. ¡n orlcr words. lor rlc
anxicry ol rlc individual suljccr ro lc cxpcricnccd as sucl. rlc conncc-
rion lcrwccn lim and rlc ciry musr lc rcvcalcd as noncxisrcnr. and lis
anguisl slown as rlar ol onc incapallc ol idcnrilying limscll wirl rlc
i¡. Scc. lor insrancc. Clcn Xiaoming. ‘‘Ðaodc zijiu. lisli zlouxin dc duanlic’’
(Moral scll-salvarion. rlc lrcaking ol a lisrorical axis). Fi/m ³rt, no. i¡s (¡ooo). ¡os.
Wlilc dcscriling rlc diffcrcncc lcrwccn B/c./ Snsm and lis carlicr films. Xic ¡ci cm-
plasizcs lis plilosoplical lclicls. ‘‘Surcly rlcrc was somc clangc in my conccprion.
lur in my arrisric crcarion. ¡ as always lcld dcar my idcals. and sraycd wirl my valuc
judgmcnr as lar as rlc rruc. rlc good. and rlc lcaurilul vcrsus rlc lalsc. rlc cvil. and
rlc ugly in our lilc cxpcricnccs arc conccrncd.’’ Scc Xic. ‘‘1lc ¡rool ol rlc ‘¡ourrl
Gcncrarion.’ ’’ io.
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In S.cr./ s/ t/. B.c/ Citv 257
cnvironmcnr lrom wlicl lc noncrlclcss cannor cscapc. ‘‘Bur lcr rlc mis-
lap ol disoricnrarion oncc occur.’’ Kcvin ¡yncl wrircs wlcn cmplasizing
rlc imporrancc ol kccping rlc ciry an imagcallc cnvironmcnr. ‘‘and rlc
scnsc ol anxicry and cvcn rcrror rlar accompanics ir rcvcals ro us low
closcly ir is linkcd ro our scnsc ol lalancc and wcll-lcing.’’
22
Ar rlis poinr. wc may idcnrily a modcrnisr acsrlcrics ol dcprl in
rlc film B/c./ Snsm. Sucl an acsrlcrics is usually arricularcd wirl a scll-
conscious. il nor idcological. cxplorarion ol lavorirc ligl modcrnisr
rlcmcs ol inrcrioriry. anxicry. cxpcricnrial aurlcnriciry. and lrusrrarcd
dcsirc. 1lis ‘‘inward rurn’’ rlar wc will discuss in rclarion ro ¡i ¡uiquan’s
cxpcricncc. lowcvcr. docs nor carry rlc samc ‘‘poliricaliry’’ or uropian
dcsirc rlar ¡rcdric Iamcson sccs undcrlying rlc allcgcd suljccrivism in
rlc classics ol Wcsrcrn modcrnism. ‘‘Modcrnism’s inrrospccrivc proling
ol rlc dccpcr impulscs ol consciousncss. and cvcn ol rlc unconscious
irscll.’’ proposcs Iamcson. ‘‘was always accompanicd ly a \ropian scnsc
ol rlc impcnding rranslormarion or rransfigurarion ol rlc ‘scll ’ in qucs-
rion.’’
23
1lc anxicry rlar Xic ¡ci porrrays in lis film. wlilc clcarly ccloing
a modcrnisr inrrospccrivc proling. is gcncrarcd lcss ly a llockcd uropian
cxcircmcnr alour rranslorming rlc scll or socicry rlan ly a prolound
unccrrainry ovcr rlc vcry conrcnr ol sucl a rranslormarion. ¡r is a posr-
uropian anxicry. in rlar rlc inrcrioriry cxplorcd lcrc rcsidcs nor so mucl
in somc mcaninglul rransirional linkagc lcrwccn rradirion and modcr-
niry as in a nonspacc rcjccrcd ly. and cxcludcd lrom. lorl rlc pasr and
rlc lururc. ¡n rlc inrcrior spacc cncircling ¡i ¡uiquan. wlilc mcmory or
nosralgia offcrs lardly any comlorr. rlc lururc is disclaimcd wirl cqual
dismay. ¡r is rlc grim rcaliry ol a cagclikc prcscnr rlar rcndcrs anxicry as
rlc cxpcricncc ol incscapaliliry and clausrroplolia.
¡cr us rcrurn again ro rlc opcning slor ro lurrlcr cxaminc rlc acsrlcr-
ics ol dcprl in rlc film as a wlolc. Ònc rcading ol rlar sccmingly cndlcss
walk along a rorruous lanc in a slanryrown is rlar ir suggcsrs rlc diffi-
culr parl rlrougl wlicl onc arrivcs ar rlc prcscnr. ¡r is a mcraplor ol
living rlrougl rwisrcd lisrory irscll. ‘‘¡l rlc gray cxpcricncc ol walking
lclongs ro lisrory.’’ rlc lircrary criric Clcn Xiaoming commcnrs. ‘‘rlcn
rlc slally lousc as rlc ‘prcscnr rcnsc’ ol rlc narrarivc is joincd wirl rlc
ii. Kcvin ¡yncl. T/. Imca. s/ t/. Citv (Camlridgc. Mass.. 1cclnology ¡rcss.
¡ooo). |.
i:. ¡rcdric Iamcson. Ps·tms!.rni·m, Or, T/. Cu/turc/ Lsai. s/ Lct. Cctitc/i·m (Ður-
lam. Þ.C.. Ðukc \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡oo¡). :¡i.
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258 C/in.·. As!.rn
‘now’ ol rlc claracrcr. 1lis small lousc rlcrclorc lccomcs rlc srarring
poinr lor ¡i ¡uiquan’s scll-rcncwal, ir also indicarcs rlc cnd ol pasr lis-
rory. As a closcd spacc ol cxisrcncc lor an individual and a ‘prcscnr’ rlar
musr scpararc irscll lrom irs own lisrory. rlis lousc las ro rcsisr rlc our-
sidc world as mucl as socicry.’’
24
¡ndccd. wlar ¡i ¡uiquan docs lcrc is
walk away lrom rlc ciry. lrom any lorm ol collccriviry. and inro lis own
inrcrior spacc. As lc movcs inro rlc dcprls ol rlc slanryrown. rlc camcra
lcgins ro dcsccnd lrom an cncompassing vicw ol rlc sirc down ro a closc
rracking slor ol rlc lcro. \cry soon. wc arc lrouglr so closc ro rlc pcr-
son walking in lronr ol us rlar wc can no longcr lavc rlc inirial. alrlougl
momcnrary. colcrcnr pcrccprion ol rlc cnvirons. Òur undcrsranding ol
rlc siruarion lccomcs firmly mcslcd wirl ¡i ¡uiquan’s vision. wlicl
quickly rurns our ro lc parrial and unmcdiarcd.
25
Wlilc rlc sorry imagcs
ol an ovcrcrowdcd slanryrown cvokc povcrry as rlc poignanr cririquc
ol a lailcd social projccr. rlc lailurc ol rlc currcnr siruarion is ulrimarcly
prcscnrcd—ly mcans ol camcra anglcs and an cvocarivc soundrrack—as
a dcad-cnd cnrrapmcnr. 1lc only cscapc sccms ro lc ¡i ¡uiquan’s lomc
or lis privarc room. lur rlis mucl-nccdcd inrcrior lolds lor rlc young
man a mcmory lorl roo painlul and roo lrokcn ro lc ol any rcdcmprivc
valuc lor rlc prcscnr.
1lis sparial rcnsion. in wlicl dcprl is cmlraccd our ol dcspair. givcs
risc ro an cxisrcnrial anxicry and ar rlc samc rimc cndows rlar anxicry
wirl social criricism. ¡r also gcncrarcs rwo rclarcd kinds ol visual imagcry.
1lc ciry. wlcn ir appcars ar all. is rcduccd ro flccring imagcs ol cmpry
srrccrs. noisy rraffic. dimly lir lack allcys. and palc. cold srrccrliglrs. All
ol rlcsc imagcs irrcprcssilly suggcsr ¡i ¡uiquan’s uncasc wirl rlc pul-
lic dimcnsion ol rlc ciry and cvcn lis lcar ol ir. ¡n conrrasr. rlc inrcrior
inro wlicl rlc individual suljccr now rcrrcars is conrinually inrcrruprcd
and rcvcalcd ro lc vulncrallc. Wirlin rlis sccond group ol imagcs. wc
i|. Clcn Xiaoming. ‘‘Moral Scll-Salvarion.’’ ¡o:.
is. 1lc ‘‘inward rurn’’ or psyclologizarion ol cxpcricncc rlar ¡ rclarc lcrc wirl rlc
acsrlcrics ol dcprl can also lc olscrvcd in rlc original novcl. wlicl opcns wirl ¡i
¡uiquan’s rcrurn ro lis lomc and a winrry prcscnr. ¡crc is ¡oward Goldllarr’s rrans-
larion ol rlc firsr scnrcnccs. ‘‘Alar wlirc guy was squarring in rlc yard. ¡i ¡uiquan. lis
knapsack slung ovcr lis slouldcr. noriccd rlc lrosry grin as soon as lc walkcd rlrougl
rlc garc. so lc walkcd ovcr and wipcd ir off. Clunks ol coal lor cycs. a clili-pcppcr
nosc. a wasrclaskcr lar—rlc samc sruff lc uscd as a kid.’’ ¡iu ¡cng. B/c./ Snsm, rrans.
¡oward Goldllarr (Þcw York. Arlanric Monrlly ¡rcss. ¡oo:). :.
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8. ¡ilm posrcr. B.nmina nicn (Black snow) (¡o8o). Courrcsy ol Zlongguo
dianying ziliao guan. Bcijing.
can lurrlcr disringuisl rwo disrincr clusrcrs. Ònc consisrs ol rlosc mid-
rangc slors ol ¡i ¡uiquan in lis lomc. ¡crc. rlc camcra always rcmains
ar rlc lcro’s cyc lcvcl. and. rlrougl a zoom lcns. as rlc dirccror Xic ¡ci
larcr rcminds us. rlc claracrcr is slown in mucl slarpcr locus rlan lis
surroundings so as ro inrcnsily lis psyclological isolarion.
26
Also. invari-
ally. a rop liglr inrrudcs. wlicl. likc rlc ncigllor’s loud radio and 1\.
rcinlorccs a scnsc ol lorl anrisocialiry and voycurisric survcillancc.
27
1lc orlcr clusrcr ol rcprcscnrarions ol rlc inrcrior occurs in rlc lar
(anorlcr lavorirc symlol ol modcrn ciry lilc rlar ¡ commcnr on lclow)
wlcrc closc-ups ol a pcnsivc ¡i ¡uiquan. usually in rlc dark lur somc-
rimcs undcr a dirccr rop liglr. arc lrcqucnrly crosscur wirl luminous and
inrcnscly colorlul imagcs ol rlc singcr Zlao Yaqiu (figurc 8). 1lc inrcri-
io. Xic ¡ic. ‘‘1lc ¡rool ol rlc ‘¡ourrl Gcncrarion.’ ’’ io.
i¬. Scc ¡iu Sluyong. ‘‘Zaoxing zuowci yuyan. qianlun B.nmina nicn dc yongguang
cluli’’ (¡maging as languagc. on rlc liglring rcclniquc in B/c./ ·nsm). Dcna!ci !icn-
vina (Conrcmporary cincma). no. :s (April ¡ooo). 8¬–o¡.
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260 C/in.·. As!.rn
oriry cxpcricnccd in rlis siruarion is ol a morc cmorional narurc and is
conrrasrcd ro rlc fluidiry and vacuiry ol popular music as a pliallc lorm.
1lc visual proximiry ol a dcsiring suljccr ro rlc oljccr ol dcsirc acrually
undcrlincs rlc unlridgcallc gap lcrwccn rlcm and lorms a disrurling
imagcry ol an cmorional and communicarional llockagc. 1lc prolound
irony is rlar commodificd arr now supplics rlc cxprcssion and appropri-
arcs rlc conrcnr ol rlc suljccr’s inmosr mcmory and dcsirc.
¡l ¡i ¡uiquan’s ulrimarc dcspair is parrly arrrilurallc ro lis inaliliry or
unwillingncss ro acccpr rlc crucl lacr rlar Zlao Yaqiu is. alrcr all. a popu-
lar pcrlormcr wlo las ro prosrirurc srylc lor markcraliliry. rrurllulncss
lor a univcrsally appropriallc cxrcrnal lorm. lis own polirical idcnriry—
or. rarlcr. a llaranr lack rlcrcol—consrirurcs lis rragic claracrcr. An cx-
convicr lor rlc crimc ol aggravarcd assaulr. and now rlc owncr ol a lasl-
ion srall. ¡i ¡uiquan finds limscll an auromaric misfir in a socicry wlcrc
a liglly moralisric polirical culrurc srill dominarcs. wlilc cconomic ac-
riviry oursidc rlc pullic sccror incvirally smacks ol (or rarlcr rlrivcs on)
amoraliry and cvcn illcgaliry (as cmlodicd ly rlc lrokcr Cui Yongli). Ònc
dcfining lcarurc ol rlc dominanr polirical culrurc is irs rclusal ro rccog-
nizc rlc complcxiry ol cvcryday lilc. in parricular irs quoridian ordinari-
ncss and mundanc nccds and passions. Bccausc rlc crimc lc commirrcd
and rlc punislmcnr lc conscqucnrly rcccivcd appcar ro lc so urrcrly
‘‘pcrry’’ in rlc scnsc rlar ncirlcr can lc cxplaincd away ly somc polirical
mislorrunc or injusricc and rlcrcly rclalilirarcd and rurncd inro a sourcc
ol lonor. ¡i ¡uiquan is ar oncc idcnrificd as a dismissallc oursidcr and an
invisillc mcmlcr ol socicry. ¡is cxplosivc angcr ar Clazi’s parcnrs. wlo
disown rlcir criminal son so as ro lc acccprcd ly socicry ar largc. dirccrly
arricularcs lis lrusrrarcd prorcsr againsr a riglrly knir and dclumanizing
social lalric. A srunning rcprcscnrarion ol ¡i ¡uiquan’s social invisililiry
comcs ar rlc cnd. wlcn. in rlar larclul cvcning in rlc park. lc drags lis
woundcd lody rlrougl a complaccnrly indiffcrcnr crowd. By now a rlc-
maric connccrion is csrallislcd lcrwccn ¡i ¡uiquan’s amliguous poliri-
cal idcnriry. or rlc difficulry ol narraring lis lilc srory. and rlc llurring
or pcrccivcd illcgililiry ol rlc ciry on wlicl ¡ commcnrcd. 1lc unap-
proaclallc ciry. lrom wlicl ¡i ¡uiquan wislcs dcspcrarcly ro discngagc
limscll. lccomcs rlc giganric symlol ol a social lailurc.
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\rlan Fclarionslips Fcconnccrcd
1lc lisrorical significancc ol B/c./ Snsm in conrcmporary Clincsc cincma
lics in rlc lacr rlar. lcrrcr and morc locally rlan orlcr films ol rlc samc
gcnrc. ir prcscnrs rlc ciry as a social issuc and makcs visillc rlc dccp
anxicry ir simulrancously gcncrarcs and supprcsscs. ¡rivarc inrcrior spacc
is masrcrlully slown ro lc lorl a ncccssary slclrcr and an incscapallc
cnrrapmcnr. wlilc rcalisric imagcs ol srark povcrry and disrcpair quicrly
dcpicr a dcmoralizcd collccrivc imaginarion. 1lc psyclological dcprl.
rogcrlcr wirl rlc lilidinal lrusrrarion. ol rlc individual is symparlcri-
cally cxplorcd and rurncd inro a mcraplor lor rlc anxious. cmlarrlcd sul-
jccr ol a pcculiar lisrorical momcnr—lclorc a rcprcssivc polirical ordcr
ccascs ro dcmand lomogcnciry lrom mcmlcrs ol socicry. a vilranr mar-
kcr cconomy scrs in ro insrill anonymiry and indiffcrcncc. ¡l rlc poliri-
cal rcaliry is cmlodicd in rlc gloomy urlan landscapc (prcdominanrly
rlc opprcssivc slanryrown). ncw and rampanr commcrcialism finds irs
pcrlccr figurarion in rlc arrracrivc lur lcarrlcss singcr Zlao Yaqiu. 1lc
final dcarl ol rlc lcro. rlcrclorc. wlilc suggcsring a srrong social criri-
cism. also drivcs lomc rlc impossililiry ol dissiparing individual anxicry
rlrougl any ovcrarcling myrl or rarionalizarion. wlicl in rcccnr Cli-
ncsc lisrory las slilrcd lrom an cgalirarian vision ol socialisr paradisc ro
rlc idcology ol cconomic dcvclopmcnr and prospcriry.
1o lurrlcr undcrsrand rlc polirics ol sucl a posruropian anxicry. wc
slould rurn ro Gss! Asrnina, B.iiina, a noriccally diffcrcnr filmic rcprc-
scnrarion ol conrcmporary lilc in rlar ciry. ¡crc. in conrrasr ro a llurrcd
imagc ol rlc ciry. wc scc a conrinual mapping ol rlc sprawling ciryscapc,
insrcad ol an acsrlcrics ol dcprl as social criricism. wc find a pcrsisrcnr
rcmporalizarion ol spacc. linking diffcrcnr parrs ol rlc ciry rlrougl nar-
rarallc. individual cxpcricnccs. ¡n lcr prcproducrion cxposirion ol rlc
film’s rlcmc. dirccror Zlang Þuanxin madc ir clcar rlar Gss! Asrnina,
B.iiina would pursuc an ‘‘cxprcssivc. documcnrary’’ srylc ro rrurllully
rcflccr rlc flow ol daily lilc. wirl a scnsc ol lumor and liglr comcdy.
1lc soundrrack would lc mosrly livc rccording. and rlc color a sladc
ol plcasanrly larmonious gray. Scr in a conrcmporary Bcijing awasl in
rlc ‘‘grcar wavc ol rlc markcr cconomy.’’ rlis film would lollow cvcryday
cvcnrs in rlc lilc ol a group ol young pcoplc. lur in rcaliry mirror rlc
conrcmporary social rlcmc ol ‘‘rclorm and opcning up.’’ ¡r slould also
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262 C/in.·. As!.rn
convcy a rclrcsling lroadmindcdncss—‘‘cvcryonc’s pursuir las irs rario-
naliry and cvcry arrirudc ro lilc slould lc givcn irs duc undcrsranding.’’
1lc dirccror dccidcd ro usc rlc rirlc Gss! Asrnina, B.iiina ‘‘lccausc rlis
film will prcscnr a snapslor ol millions ol Bcijing cirizcns. dcpicring rlc
lilc ol rlosc ordinary pcoplc quicrly working in rlc mosr lasic srrara ol
our socicry.’’
28
Consciously or nor. Zlang Þuanxin cnvisioncd lcr movic
largcly in rcrms ol a ncorcalisr srylc ol filmmaking. ccnrral ro wlicl arc
scmidocumcnrary rcclniqucs and social conccrns.
29
1lis prcproducrion srarcmcnr. lowcvcr. slould nor limir our rcad-
ing ol rlc film roo mucl lccausc ir was a documcnr inrcndcd ro sccurc
rlc film irs official approval and lunding (in posr-¡o8o Clina). Srill ir
docs srrikc rlc kcynorc lor rlis pullic-oricnrcd rcprcscnrarion ol lilc in
Bcijing. 1lc plor ol Gss! Asrnina, B.iiina may appcar complcx ar firsr
glancc. ¡r ccnrcrs on a young woman. Ai ¡ong. wlo works as a lus con-
ducror. and ir lollows lcr succcssivc rclarionslips wirl rlrcc young mcn.
firsr. lcr co-workcr Wang ¡ang. rlcn rlc lus drivcr Zou Yongqiang.
and finally rlc currcnrly uncmploycd lur ncw-laslioncd and imaginarivc
Kckc. Slc cvcnrually marrics Kckc and wirl lim srarrs a privarc lusincss.
Bccausc Wang ¡ang las no dcfinallc claracrcr ol lis own. Ai ¡ong’s dc-
parrurc lrom lim is rclarivcly casy ro cxplain. lur lcr lrcak wirl Zou
Yongqiang. a caring. loncsr young man wlo somclow lacks rlc cour-
agc ro imaginc a diffcrcnr lilc lor rlcm. causcs lcr mucl soul-scarcling
(figurc o). ¡cr liaisons wirl and movcmcnr among rlcsc rlrcc vcry diffcr-
cnr young pcoplc lavc an olviously allcgorical imporrancc. 1lcy rcpcar.
as onc criric suggcsrs. a classic narrarivc lormar in wlicl rlc lcmalc clar-
acrcr. ly lcr dcparrurc. cirlcr symlolizcs ncgarion ol an ourmodcd or
oljccrionallc way ol lilc. or. rlrougl lcr acquicsccncc or cvcnrual rcrurn.
i8. Zlang Þuanxin. ‘‘B.iiina niccs dc daoyan clanslu’’ (1lc dirccror’s rlcmaric cx-
posirion ol Gss! msrnina, B.iiina). Csnt.mtsrcrv Cin.mc, no. :o (Ðcccmlcr ¡ooo).
s:–s|.
io. Acknowlcdging rlc lormidallc difficulry in gcncralizing alour ncorcalism. Mil-
liccnr Marcus noncrlclcss offcrs a usclul dcscriprion ol wlar consrirurcs irs lasic srylc
and rcclniqucs. ‘‘1lc rulcs govcrning ncorcalisr pracricc would includc locarion
slooring. lcngrly rakcs. unolrrusivc cdiring. narural liglring. a prcdominancc ol
mcdium and long slors. rcspccr lor rlc conrinuiry ol rimc and spacc. usc ol conrcm-
porary. rruc-ro-lilc suljccrs. an unconrrivcd. opcn-cndcd plor. working-class prorago-
nisrs. a non-prolcssional casr. dialoguc in rlc vcrnacular. acrivc vicwcr involvcmcnr.
and implicd social criricism’’ (Marcus. Itc/icn Cin.mc, ii).
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In S.cr./ s/ t/. B.c/ Citv 263
o. ¡ilm srill. B.iiina niccs (Good morning. Bcijing) (¡ooo). Courrcsy ol
Zlongguo dianying ziliao guan. Bcijing.
rcprcscnrs affirmarion ol a ccrrain valuc sysrcm or acccprcd idcology.
30
¡n sucl a narrarivc rradirion. womcn arc madc ro cxprcss rarlcr rlan crc-
arc valuc. 1lc valuc sysrcm ro wlicl Ai ¡ong sulscrilcs in rlc cnd is
rlcrclorc an cmcrgcnr onc associarcd wirl rlc markcr. wlicl spccifically
calls lor dcsirallc claracrcr qualirics sucl as cncrgy. indcpcndcncc. and
advcnrurousncss. ¡n rlc film. Kckc. wlo ar firsr prcrcnds ro lc an ovcr-
scas Clincsc and wcars a ¡arvard 1-slirr. pcrsonifics sucl a ncw spirir.
and lis cnrlusiasm and modcrn lilcsrylc will lclp lim win Ai ¡ong away
lrom a rcriccnr and mucl-inlilircd Zou Yongqiang.
¡ndccd. rlc cconomy ol passion in Gss! Asrnina, B.iiina makcs ir a
narrarivc rlar cxplicirly parriciparcs in an ongoing and largc-scalc cul-
:o. Zlang Wci. ‘‘Þuxing dc guislu yu lisli qianyi. B.iiina niccs dc yuyanxing clan-
sli’’ (1lc posirion ol rlc woman and lisrorical rranslormarion. an allcgorical inrcr-
prcrarion ol Gss! msrnina, B.iiina). Csnt.mtsrcrv Cin.mc, no. :o (Ðcccmlcr ¡ooo).
ss–so. Ònc nccds ro norc lcrc rlar rlis rcading is lcavily influcnccd ly ¡aura Mulvcy’s
crirical analysis ol classic ¡ollywood narrarivc cincma.
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264 C/in.·. As!.rn
rural rcvolurion rlrougl wlicl lalirs. mcnralirics. and social srrucrurcs
will all lc sysrcmarically rranslormcd so as ro lcgirimarc rlc markcr as
an imporranr organizing principlc ol socicry. ¡r is also a narrarivc alour
social disconrcnr and irs mirigarion rlrougl rlc inrroducrion ol dcsirc.
31
Ðcsirc lccomcs a posirivc social valuc in rlc film. nor only in rlar ir cx-
prcsscs a purarivcly collccrivc vision ol a diffcrcnr ¡clcnswclr. lur also.
pcrlaps morc crucially. lccausc ir scrs lrcc rlc cncrgics and imaginarions
ol individuals. 1lc cngcndcring ol rlis cmanciparory dcsirc is narrarcd
and ar rlc samc rimc cxplaincd in Ai ¡ong’s dcparrurc lrom Zou Yong-
qiang and lcr sulscqucnr lascinarion wirl Kckc. wlo appcars ro movc in
a morc molilc spacc wirl unmisrakallc signs ol modcrniry (raxis. niglr-
cluls. Wcsrcrn-srylc groccry srorcs. and gcncral socialiliry). (1lc social
conrcnr ol sucl a dcsirc can lc gaugcd lrom rlc lacr rlar. alrlougl rlis
can lc rcad as a convcnrional rriangular lovc srory. ‘‘lovc’’ is ncvcr pro-
nounccd as ol major significancc in rlc plor’s unlolding. Òn rlc conrrary.
Ai ¡ong’s affair and cvcnrual marriagc wirl Kckc. an odd rwisr. arc aux-
iliary mcans lor lcr ro discovcr and asscrr lcr own ncw idcnriry.) As a
dirccr opposirc ro Kckc. Zou Yongqiang lclongs ro a conlormisr world
in wlicl filial dury and rcspccr lor lis supcrior comlinc ro dcmand lrom
lim grarirudc and. ar rlc samc rimc. providc lim wirl a scnsc ol sccu-
riry. ¡c livcs wirl lis parcnrs in an ovcrcrowdcd Bcijing courryard wlcrc
lis morlcr las ro conrinually cur slorr lis only cxprcssion ol individu-
aliry (playing rlc rradirional Clincsc violin and larcr rlc guirar) our ol
considcrarion lor rlc ncigllors. \nlikc Kckc. lc slops in a lcarurclcss
dcparrmcnr srorc. and lc cxprcsscs lis affccrion lor Ai ¡ong ly luying
lcr a pracrical skirr. wlcrcas Kckc cnclanrs lcr wirl a Walkman and a
rapc ol Amcrican rock and roll.
1lus. rlcsc rwo rivals lor Ai ¡ong’s affccrion arc liglly symlolic fig-
urcs. cacl rcprcscnring a scpararc social rcaliry and culrural logic. Ycr rlc
rcsidual and rlc cmcrgcnr condirions ol cxisrcncc. il wc wisl ro so undcr-
srand rlc symlolism lcrc. arc cngagcd in a rlcroric ol compromisc and
rolcrancc. 1lc idcological cmplasis placcd on compromisc rcndcrs un-
rcnallc a lacilc dicloromy ol rradirion vcrsus modcrniry rlar sccms ro
suggcsr irscll lcrc as an inrcrprcrarivc lramcwork. Òn rlc conrrary. rlis
rlcroric ol compromisc cnallcs rlc film ro symparlcrically porrray Zou
:¡. ¡r is inrcrcsring ro norc rlar in irs sulrirlcd Inglisl-languagc vcrsion. rlc film is
givcn a mucl morc suggcsrivc rirlc. Bu!!ina D.·ir.·.
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Yongqiang’s lrusrrarion. rlc gravc social-lisrorical (dis)conrcnr ol wlicl
is now cffccrivcly displaccd as momcnrary pcrsonal mislorrunc. As dircc-
ror Zlang Þuanxin purs ir. cvcn rlougl lc cannor. primarily cmorion-
ally. idcnrily wirl rlc dominanr Zcirgcisr ol rlc markcr. Zou Yongqiang
mainrains lis dcccncy and worrlincss and conrinucs ro work and con-
rrilurc ro socicry.
32
Ar rlc samc rimc. Kckc is rranslormcd in rlc proccss
lrom a conspicuous consumcr ol urlan culrurc lack inro a producrivc
mcmlcr ol socicry. 1lc film’s concluding scqucncc lrings rogcrlcr all
rlc major claracrcrs in a dramaric momcnr wlcn Ai ¡ong. now an ap-
parcnrly succcsslul scll-cmploycd lusincsswoman. and lcr lusland gcr
onro rlc lus rlar Zou Yongqiang srill drivcs and on wlicl Wang ¡ang
srill works as a conducror. Alrcr a lricl and polirc cxclangc ol grccrings.
Zou Yongqiang rurns around and srarrs rlc lus. Slowly. rlc camcra pulls
lack ro slow all lour vcry diffcrcnr young pcoplc aloard rlc samc lus
pcacclully moving along a sunny srrccr in Bcijing.
1lis comlorring momcnr ol rapproclcmcnr. wc arc rold ly a sulrirlc
on rlc scrccn. arrivcs onc ycar alrcr rlc main acrion ol rlc film. ¡n rlis
ricl final imagc. rlc clcmcnr ol rimc is as imporranr as rlc ccnrral mcssagc
alour rlc inclucrallc cocxisrcncc ol diffcrcnr modcs ol producrion. 1imc
lcrc significs clangc. progrcss. and a lcaling proccss as wcll. 1imc also
lccomcs idcnrificd wirl rlc lururc. or rarlcr wirl somc uropian projcc-
rions lrom rlc prcscnr. Acrually. cvcn ar rlc lcginning ol rlc film. wlcrc
wc arc slown Ai ¡ong srill in lcd onc carly morning. rimc as a major lac-
ror is inrroduccd cmplarically wlcn rlc ricking alarm clock gocs off. ¡r is
rimc lor rlc young lus conducror ro go ro work. and rlc wlolc inrcrior
spacc is rlus rcdcfincd and lorccd opcn ly a univcrsal clock rimc. \n-
likc B/c./ Snsm, wlcrc rimc is suljccrivizcd and lockcd inro a dcprcssing
prcscnr. Gss! Asrnina, B.iiina is a film alour rlc mulriplc and conrradic-
rory rcmporal flows in rlc spacc ol rlc cnormous ciry. Sparial srrucrurcs.
locarions. and rclarions now acquirc a rcmporal. lisrorical significancc ro
rlc cxrcnr rlar wc can spcak ol a socially produccd ‘‘sparialiry’’ wlicl.
according ro Idward Soja. ‘‘likc socicry irscll. cxisrs in lorl sulsranrial
lorms (concrcrc sparialirics) and as a scr ol rclarions lcrwccn individuals
and groups. an ‘cmlodimcnr’ and mcdiumol social lilc irscll.’’
33
1lrougl
:i. Zlang Þuanxin. ‘‘1lc Ðirccror’s 1lcmaric Ixposirion.’’ s|.
::. Idward W. Soja. Ps·tms!.rn G.sarct/i.·. T/. B.c··.rtisn s/ Stc.. in Criti.c/ Ss.ic/
T/.srv (¡ondon. \crso. ¡o8o). ¡io.
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266 C/in.·. As!.rn
rlc narrarivc ol rlc film. rlc uncvcn and mulridimcnsional sparial rcla-
rions arc mappcd and rcconnccrcd. and rlc ciry ol Bcijing is lrouglr
rogcrlcr as an imaginallc roraliry. as a lascinaring collccrion ol imagcs ol
various social rcalirics rlar simulrancously cxisr and inrcracr.
So a ccnrral plor in Gss! Asrnina, B.iiina is rlc movcmcnr lrom rlc
inirial spariorcmporal srrucrurc ol a confining domcsric inrcrior (undcr-
lincd ly rlc closc-up slor ol a cagc wirl an imparicnr lird clirping in ir)
ro an opcn ciryscapc rlar is cmplarically conrcmporary and modcrniz-
ing. Òl parricular inrcrcsr in rlc opcning scqucncc is a srark ‘‘crudcncss’’
ol rlc inrcrior spacc—crudc surlaccs as wcll as crudc condirions ol cxis-
rcncc. ¡n rlis crampcd room wc rcalizc rlar lilc las ro lc rcduccd ro irs
larc ncccssirics, ir is an cncloscd spacc kcpr flar and pullic ly rlc alscncc
ol any rcfincmcnr or rlc possililiry ol privacy. ¡r lccomcs a mosr cfficicnr
cxrcnsion ol rlc workplacc lccausc ‘‘lomc’’ now srands lcss lor scpara-
rion lrom work rlan lor a dirccr rcproducrion ol lalor. Wlcn ar lomc.
Ai ¡ong. as wc scc larcr. also las rlc rask ol raking carc ol lcr invalid
grandpa. Slc rcadics coal lor lcaring. fixcs rlc cxlausr pipc wirl rlc lclp
ol Zou Yongqiang. and. in rlc samc room wlcrc lcr grandpa lics in lcd
ycar round. slc prcparcs porridgc lor lim and waslcs lcr lands in a lasin
ncxr ro rlc window. 1lc samc cmlarrassing cxpcricncc ol scarciry is cvcn
morc poinrcdly rcprcscnrcd ar Zou Yongqiang’s lomc. wlcrc. in lis par-
cnrs’ makcslilr lcdroom. rlc wlolc lamily cars suppcr and warclcs 1v
wlilc rlc larlcr soaks lis lccr in a lasin ol warm warcr. Ar rlc cnd ol din-
ncr rlc son’s dury is ro rakc rlc lasin. walk rlrougl a dark lallway. and
drain rlc warcr inro a pullic sink locarcd in rlc courryard.
¡n isolarion. sucl imagcs ol impovcrislmcnr and scvcrcly consrraincd
condirions ol cxisrcncc would nor ncccssarily mcan social criricismor cul-
rural commcnrary. Òn rlc conrrary. scarcc and ovcrcrowdcd domcsric
spacc would only appcar ‘‘narural’’ or ‘‘rcalisric’’ cnougl. sincc somc pul-
lic placcs ro wlicl rlc camcra lrings us (sucl as rlc lus company lcad-
quarrcrs. rlc policc srarion. and rlc lospiral) lavc surlaccs and srrucrurcs
no lcss slally and pcrluncrory. A 1lird World condirion—lcrc rlc rcrm
is uscd srricrly ro rclcr ro gcncralizcd inadcquarc living condirions and a
prcindusrrial. undcrdcvclopcd sociocconomic inlrasrrucrurc—can lardly
lc graspcd as sucl unlcss dclamiliarizcd ly imagcs ol. or rclcrcnccs ro. a
diffcrcnr. morc advanccd sragc ol modcrnizarion. ¡n Gss! Asrnina, B.i-
iina, as wc will scc momcnrarily. rlc 1lird Worldncss ol rlc ciry is can-
didly acknowlcdgcd. rogcrlcr wirl irs cxplicirly anriciparcd clangcovcr.
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In S.cr./ s/ t/. B.c/ Citv 267
¡r is cxrrcmcly significanr. lowcvcr. rlar rlc 1lird World condirion prc-
scnrcd ly rlc film carrics wirl ir nor so mucl mcrc scll-loarling (would
rlar lc polirically incorrccr·) or scll-glorificarion (would rlar lc poliri-
cally corrccr·) as an almosr rcsrlcss uropian dcsirc lor scll-rranslormarion.
¡n rlis scnsc. rlc film as a 1lird World producrion is also conscicnriously
lor a 1lird World audicncc. insolar as an undcsirallc prcscnr condirion
ol cxisrcncc is lorl rcprcscnrcd as an immcdiarc collccrivc rcaliry and lis-
roricizcd as somc lasr-vanisling rcmnanr ol a lcrrcr lururc.
34
Conscqucnrly. rlc scrics ol imagcs rlar rcvcals an impovcrislcd cvcry-
day lilc acquircs irs lisrorical conrcnr wlcn ir is juxraposcd wirl a diffcr-
cnr scqucncc. a diffcrcnr scr ol spariorcmporal srrucrurcs. Wc may cvcn
arguc rlar lisrory. or a lisrorical undcrsranding ol conrcmporary Bci-
jing. lccomcs acccssillc prcciscly wlcn rlis juxraposirion ol diffcrcnr spa-
rial rcalirics and rclarionslips is cmploycd as a srrarcgy ol claracrcrizing
an incomplcrc. in-progrcss prcscnr condirion. Ònc way ro dcscrilc rlis
sparial cocxisrcncc or simulranciry could lc rlc arclirccrural norion ol
‘‘a collagc ciry.’’ wlcrc ‘‘dispararc oljccrs (arc) lcld rogcrlcr ly various
mcans’’ ro lorm a composirc prcscncc.
35
¡n rlc film. rlc ciry ol Bcijing
docs lccomc lragmcnrcd inro a collagc ol various sircs. rlyrlms. and in-
rcnsirics. lur rlc movcmcnrs rlrougl rlc ciry ol rlc claracrcrs. in par-
ricular Ai ¡ong. rcconnccr all rlcsc olviously disconrinuous momcnrs.
1lus. rlcrc is srill rlc possililiry ol narraring onc’s srory in rlc ciry. ol
prcscnring a sparial cxpcricncc in rcmporal rcrms. As an apr symlol ol
collccrivc pracricc. rlc moving lus. wlcrc mucl ol rlc movic’s acrion
rakcs placc. providcs an idcal vcliclc lor linking up diffcrcnr parrs and
:|. 1lcrc is anorlcr group ol films in conrcmporary Clincsc cincma wlosc cul-
rural ‘‘1lird Worldncss’’ is markcrcd primarily ro ¡irsr World film audicnccs. ¡ilms ly
Zlang Yimou ( }u Dsu, ¡ooo, Bci·. t/. B.! Lcnt.rn, ¡ooi) sccm ro lc lavorirc samplcs
ol rlis group.
:s. Colin Fowc and ¡rcd Kocrrcr. Cs//ca. Citv (Camlridgc. Mass.. M¡1 ¡rcss.
¡o¬8). ¡:o–|o. ¡ would likc ro poinr our rlar Fowc and Kocrrcr’s vision ol a ‘‘col-
lagc ciry’’ cxprcsscs a rypical posrmodcrnisr scnsililiry and idcology. ‘‘Collagc ciry’’ is
offcrcd as a solurion ro rlc anxicry gcncrarcd ly lorl uropia and rradirion. ‘‘lccausc
collagc is a mcrlod dcriving irs virruc lrom irs irony. lccausc ir sccms ro lc a rccl-
niquc lor using rlings and simulrancously dislclicving in rlcm. ir is also a srrarcgy
wlicl can allow uropia ro lc dcalr wirl as imagc. ro lc dcalr wirl in /rcam.nt· wirl-
our our laving ro acccpr ir in tsts, wlicl is lurrlcr ro suggcsr rlar collagc could cvcn
lc a srrarcgy wlicl. ly supporring rlc uropian illusion ol clangclcssncss and finaliry.
miglr cvcn lucl a rcaliry ol clangc. morion. acrion and lisrory’’ (¡|o).
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268 C/in.·. As!.rn
luncrions ol Bcijing. ¡rom lcrc wc scc imagcs ol Bcijing as a polirical
ccnrcr (1iananmcn Squarc). a rapidly modcrnizing mcrropolis (all-glass
ligl-riscs). and an ovcrpopularcd 1lird World ciry (lusincss disrricrs
and slopping srrccrs). ¡n a scnsc. rlc moving lus scrvcs as a clcvcr scll-
rcflccrion on rlc rolling camcra and our vicwing cxpcricncc.
¡r is. lowcvcr. Ai ¡ong’s cxpcricnccs as an individual suljccr wlo
srrivcs ro clangc lcr own lisrorical siruarion rlar cndow rlc ciry wirl a
lumanizing narraraliliry and a spariorcmporal colcrcncc. Wc firsr scc lcr
gcr up carly in rlc morning. run rlrougl rlc cmpry lanc ol rlc ncigllor-
lood. and lop onro Wang ¡ang’s licyclc ro go ro work. Working on rlc
lus is a dcmanding jol. lur slc gcrs ro mccr and olscrvc pcoplc. (¡crc.
rlc lus is also a sulsrirurc lor modcrn ciry srrccrs. lound ro lc occupicd
ly wlar Walrcr Bcnjamin oncc callcd an ‘‘amorplous crowd ol passcrs-
ly.’’)
36
Ònc day lcr lricnd Ziyun comcs onro rlc lus and proudly rclls
lcr rlar slc now works as a rypisr lor a joinr-vcnrurc company. Ar lcr
invirarion. Ai ¡ong dccidcs ro pay lcr lricnd a visir and sulscqucnrly
finds lcrscll insidc a lusincss officc on rlc sixrccnrl floor ol a guardcd
luilding. 1lis is onc ol rlosc srandardizcd. ncwinrcrnarional-srylc officcs
(polycsrcr carpcr. air-condirioning. and low ccilings). cquippcd wirl
word proccssors. conrcmporary lurnirurc. and a coffccmakcr. 1lc mosr
asronisling lcarurc ol rlis clausrroplolic officc. wlcn wc rccall Ai
¡ong’s lomc as wcll as lcr workplacc. arc rlc smoorl wlirc walls and
sliny oljccrs. 1lc glass coffcc rallc quicrly rcflccrs. rlc sola cxrcnds a
comlorrally curvaccous linc. and rlc srccl sink givcs lorrl a lygicnic sil-
vcr glarc. 1lis inrcrior spacc is rorally alicn ro Ai ¡ong. and ar firsr slc
appcars inrimidarcd. 1lc polislcd surlacc nor only ourlincs a ncw lorm
ol lalor no longcr associarcd wirl lodily discomlorr or cndurancc. lur
ir also suggcsrs a simplificarion ol social rclarionslips ro rlosc ol an im-
pcrsonal ‘‘casl ncxus.’’ Farlcr firringly. in rlis sccmingly dcprllcss spacc.
Ziyun. wirl lcr own cxpcricncc. calmly illusrrarcs ro lcr awcsrruck lricnd
somc lundamcnral aspccrs ol modcrn urlan lilc. conringcncy and mo-
liliry.
37
1lis modcrn officc spacc can also lc rakcn as an insrancc ol rlc posr-
:o. Walrcr Bcnjamin. I//uminctisn·, rrans. ¡arry Zoln (Þcw York. Sclockcn
Books. ¡ooo). ¡os.
:¬. Wlilc purring on makcup in rlc officc lavarory. Ziyun rclls Ai ¡ong rlar cvcn
rlougl lcr salary is landsomc. slc las no jol sccuriry, rlcn. wlcn askcd alour lcr
loylricnd. slc rcplics rlar rlcy splir up lccausc ‘‘ir was roo dcmanding lor lorl ol us.’’
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In S.cr./ s/ t/. B.c/ Citv 269
¡o. ¡ilm srill. B.iiina niccs (Good morning. Bcijing) (¡ooo). Courrcsy
ol Zlongguo dianying ziliao guan. Bcijing.
modcrn ‘‘rclicl ’’ rlar a world ol smoorl oljccrs may promorc.
38
¡l ir las a
slarrcring cffccr on Ai ¡ong lccausc ir cxposcs as ‘‘prcmodcrn’’ or ‘‘ycr-
ro-lc-modcrnizcd’’ rlc slallincss ol lcr own world. ir also iniriarcs a
rcadjusrmcnr ol lcr rclarion ro rlc ciry. ¡cr cycs arc suddcnly opcncd.
as ir wcrc. and slc is allc ro cxpcricncc and pcrccivc rlc ciry as an cnor-
mous spariorcmporal srrucrurc rlar cncrgcrically produccs a widc rangc
ol social rcalirics and pcrsonal idcnrirics. ¡n rlc lollowing scqucnccs. wc
scc Ai ¡ong cnjoy Korcan lood ar a lancy rcsrauranr wirl ZouYongqiang
and a lricnd ol lis, wc scc lcr wandcr inro an uppcr-gradc groccry srorc
and find lcrscll lollowcd ly an admircr wlo inrroduccs limscll as Kckc
(figurc ¡o). Soon. slc and Kckc go ro a niglrclul wlcrc lc pcrlorms wirl
passionarc cmorion and dcdicarcs a song ro lcr. Ar rlc cnd ol rlar cvc-
ning. lc rakcs lcr lomc in a raxi. ¡inally. as a ligl poinr ol rlcir romanric
affair. and also ro divcrr Ai ¡ong lrom lcr work. Kckc suggcsrs rlar rlcy
lcavc rlc ciry and go on a vacarion. 1lis scrics ol concrcrc and vcry olrcn
disconrinuous sparialirics dcmands rlar Ai ¡ong consranrly map and rc-
:8. Scc Iamcson. Ps·tms!.rni·m, :¡:–¡s.
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270 C/in.·. As!.rn
map rlc ciry in ordcr ro aclicvc a colcrcnr pcrccprion ol lorl lcrscll and
lcr cnvironmcnr. ¡ndccd. insrcad ol lcing incapacirarcd ly rlis ncw spa-
rial mulriplicarion. Ai ¡ong insisrs on kccping rlc ciry a lcgillc luman
spacc ly lcroically rcdcsigning lcrscll and rcwriring lcr own srory. ¡cr
narrarivc rlcrclorc prcsupposcs rlc possililiry ol lccoming. and ir is rlis
convicrion rlar supporrs a prolound oprimism alour social clangc and
scll-rranslormarion. pcrsonal as wcll as collccrivc. ¡n rlis liglr. rlc lricl
rrip rlar Ai ¡ong and Kckc makc ro somc lisrorical sirc (now a popular
rourisr arrracrion) away lrom Bcijing lccomcs a significanr movc. ¡r rc-
inrroduccs lisrorical rimc as rlc unrransccndallc lorizon ol cxpcricncc.
and ir localizcs—allcir in irs alscncc—rlc ciry as a rcaliry wirl rcaclallc
limirs.
Òur rcading rlcrclorc suggcsrs rlar rlc spariorcmporal srrucrurc
undcrlying rlc narrarivc ol Gss! Asrnina, B.iiina rcmains rcsolurcly ac-
ccssillc ro rcprcscnrarion. in spirc ol all apparcnr conflicrs and disjunc-
rurcs. Ai ¡ong’s srory can lc rcad as a narrarivc ol rlc lirrl ol urlan
individualism and scll-consciousncss. and lcr sparial movcmcnr in rlc
ciry ar oncc rcvcals and rcconnccrs rlc complcxiry ol social srrucrurcs and
rclarions. wlcrlcr pullic or privarc. cmcrgcnr or rcsidual. Þor surpris-
ingly. rlc cincmaric imagcs wc wirncss lcrc arc cvcnrually conrrollcd and
organizcd ly rlc suljccr. rarlcr rlan rlc orlcr way around. \nlikc in
posrmodcrn cincma. wlcrc rcprcscnrarion. according ro Ðavid ¡arvcy’s
pcrsuasivc analysis. runs inro crisis lccausc ol a pcrvasivc ‘‘rimc-spacc
comprcssion’’ cngcndcrcd ly a larc capiralism ol flcxillc accumularion.
39
Gss! Asrnina, B.iiina, as a visual rcprcscnrarion. is srill lascinarcd ly rlc
sccmingly infinirc possililirics and lronricrs promiscd ly a modcrnizing
mcrropolis. ¡l onc dominanr rlcmc ol posrmodcrn cincma. as ¡arvcy
slows rlrougl lis rcadings ol B/c!. Bunn.r and Iina· s/ D.·ir. (rcspcc-
rivcly alour ¡os Angclcs and Bcrlin). is an impossillc conflicr ‘‘lcrwccn
pcoplc living on diffcrcnr rimc scalcs. and sccing and cxpcricncing rlc
world vcry diffcrcnrly as a rcsulr.’’
40
wlar wc find in rlis parricular Cli-
ncsc film is rarlcr a ‘‘ncorcalisr’’ arranging ol urlan rclarions and a uro-
pian rcsolurion ol conflicrs arising lrom ciry lilc. By conrinually moving
irs claracrcrs across rlc uncvcn urlan landscapc. Gss! Asrnina, B.iiina
cvokcs rlc ciry irscll as an inrimarc parricipanr rlar quicrly jusrifics rlcir
:o. ¡arvcy. T/. Csn!itisn s/ Ps·tms!.rnitv. ³n Ln;uirv ints t/. Oriain· s/ Cu/turc/
C/cna. (Camlridgc. Mass.. Blackwcll. ¡o8o). :ii.
|o. ¡lid.. :¡:.
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In S.cr./ s/ t/. B.c/ Citv 271
cndcavors and aspirarions. ¡r is a film rlar rcluscs ro lcr closc-up imagcs
ol rlc ciry llur irs organizarional logic and mulriplc luncrions. or ro allow
rlc ciry ro disappcar as a mappallc roraliry. ¡rs gcncral visual clariry. cn-
lanccd ly conrinual slors wirl grcar dcprl ol ficld. mirrors rlc film-
makcr’s cfforr ro influcncc and slapc our undcrsranding ol rlc clanging
ciry.
By way ol conclusion. ¡ wisl ro lring rogcrlcr and comparc rlc dil-
lcrcnr polirical visions in B/c./ Snsm and Gss! Asrnina, B.iiina. Borl
films lcarurc a pivoral sccnc in a livcly niglrclul. ¡n B/c./ Snsm, ¡i ¡ui-
quan as a mcmlcr ol rlc audicncc is painsrakingly scpararcd lromrlc solo
singcr. lorl visually and cmorionally. Bur wlcn Ai ¡ong and Kckc in
Gss! Asrnina, B.iiina go ro a lar wirl livc music. Kckc joins rlc land
and asks ro parriciparc. ¡c sings and dcdicarcs ro Ai ¡ong a popular
song ly rock srar Cui Iian. wlicl Ai ¡ong will also lcarn ro sing. cvcn
rlougl slc appcars ro lc ar a loss wlcn lcaring rlc song lor rlc firsr
rimc. 1lc inrcrprcrarion rlar ¡ would proposc. il only roo sclcmarically.
is rlar rlcsc rwo diffcrcnr momcnrs cxprcss rwo approaclcs ro rlc ciry
rlar arc ar odds wirl cacl orlcr. ¡l wc claracrcrizc rlc polirics ol B/c./
Snsm as a rclusal and conrcmplarion ly mcans ol a modcrnisr acsrlcrics
ol dcprl. rlc rlcroric ol compromisc in Gss! Asrnina, B.iiina ncccssarily
valorizcs culrural and polirical parriciparion. wlicl in rurn arricularcs rlc
lcgirimaring idcology ol a growing markcr cconomy. Wlcrcas rlc markcr
cconomy arrivcs ro prcscnr an opcn ciry ro Ai ¡ong and lcr conrcmpo-
rarics. somc dccp (wcll-nigl insrincrivc) suspicion ol rlc markcr rriggcrs
¡i ¡uiquan’s anxious. and ro a largc cxrcnr lorccd. rcrrcar ro inrcrioriry.
¡n onc casc. ncorcalisr rcclniqucs arc uscd ro rarionalizc rlc modcrniza-
rion projccr. wlilc in rlc orlcr a lypcrrroply ol modcrnisr suljccriviry
cmirs uncompromising social criricism. ¡crcin lics rlc cognirivc valuc ol
B/c./ Snsm, wlicl may lc rcalizcd only wirl crirical rcflccrion on rlc parr
ol rlc vicwcr.
1lcsc rwo significanrly conrradisrincr polirical visions and cincmaric
languagcs lardly cscapcd rlc noricc ol rlc Clincsc audicncc wlcn B/c./
Snsm and Gss! Asrnina, B.iiina wcrc rclcascd in ¡o8o and ¡ooo. rcspcc-
rivcly. 1lcy wcrc quickly rccognizcd as rcprcscnrarivc works ol rlc rising
ciry cincma. Wlilc B/c./ Snsm cnjoycd rlc rarc disrincrion ol winning
lorl domcsric and inrcrnarional lonors (Bcsr ¡icrurc ar rlc 1lirrccnrl
Þarional ¡undrcd ¡lowcrs Awards and rlc Silvcr Bcar ¡rizc ar rlc Bcrlin
¡ilm ¡csrival). Gss! Asrnina, B.iiina was a rcmarkallc lox-officc suc-
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272 C/in.·. As!.rn
ccss. Quoring Ccsarc Zavarrini. rlc rlcorisr ol ¡ralian ncorcalisr cincma.
an cnrlusiasric commcnraror commcndcd rlc sccond film lor rrurllully
capruring conrcmporary cvcryday lilc in rlc ancicnr capiral ciry and in
rlc proccss rcvcaling a dccpcr lisrorical mcaning.
41
Ar rlc samc rimc. rlc
crirical rccognirion ol B/c./ Snsm causcd considcrallc uncasincss among
mainsrrcam crirics and mcdia. A lricl cssay in Pstu/cr Cin.mc, appcar-
ing ncxr ro ¡ci Ða’s cndorscmcnr ol Gss! Asrnina, B.iiina, souglr ro
cxplain wly rlc ¡undrcd ¡lowcrs Award won ly B/c./ Snsm did nor
mcan rlar rlc film is flawlcss. ¡n lacr. rlc cssayisr dcnounccd rlc film as
dccply flawcd lccausc. in spirc ol irs arrisric aclicvcmcnrs. ‘‘ir docs nor
find (or docs nor wanr ro find) a ncw worldvicw and a ncw claracrcr
rlar ncw social lorccs. wlo rcprcscnr a ncw modc ol social producrion.
ouglr ro posscss.’’
42
¡r would lc an involvcd rask ro unpack rlc loadcd
discoursc and idcological sranccs lcrc. Sufficc ir ro say rlar ar srakc arc
somc proloundly unrcsolvcd qucsrions alour arrisric and social lorms.
alour rcprcscnrarion and cngagcmcnr. all ol wlicl rlcsc rwo films suc-
cccd in lringing ro rlc lorc ly cvoking scpararc inrcllccrual and acsrlcric
rradirions. ¡l our analysis ol rlcir indclrcdncss ro cirlcr modcrnism or
ncorcalism slows lorl films ro lc an idcological inrcrvcnrion. ir slould
also lc clcar rlar wc cannor dismiss onc on rlc accounr ol rlc orlcr.
Farlcr. rlcsc rwo films slould lc vicwcd rogcrlcr. and pcrlaps lcrwccn
rlcm wc will lcgin ro approacl rlc impossillc urlan rcaliry significd ly
Bcijing.
|¡. Scc ¡ci Ða. ‘‘Ðangda dusli lcngjing xian. ran yingpian B.iiina niccs’’ (Con-
rcmporary urlan landscapc. alour rlc film Gss! msrnina, B.iiina). Dcc/sna !icnvina
(¡opular cincma). no. |so (Ðcccmlcr ¡ooo). |–s.
|i. Scc Zlcng Slu. ‘‘Xic zai B.nmina nicn luojiang zlilou’’ (Alrcrrlouglrs on
B/c./ ·nsm winning rlc award). Pstu/cr Cin.mc, no. |so (Ðcccmlcr ¡ooo). s.
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Þcw \rlan Culrurc and rlc Anxicry ol Ivcryday
¡ilc in ¡arc-1wcnricrl-Ccnrury Clina
1lcrc is no qucsrion rlar in conrcmporary Clina a markcr cconomy is
finally prcvailing. and wirl irrcsisrillc lorcc is pcncrraring inro cvcry filcr
ol social lilc. lucling an cxplosivc capiralisr Grcar ¡cap ¡orward rlus lar
unmarclcd in modcrn Clincsc lisrory. Þo qucsrion. cirlcr. rlar a posr-
socialisr consumcrism las. as 1lcodor Adorno would say. rurncd rlc
commodiry lorm inro an idcology ol irs own and cvcn skilllully capiral-
izcd on rlc lygonc rcvolurionary agc and irs passionarc uropianism. ¡r is
nor surprising ar all. lor insrancc. ro scc middlc-agcd ‘‘ludding rycoons
. . . dining on pcasanr larc likc cornmcal cakcs and ricc grucl in onc
ol scvcral ncw Bcijing rcsrauranrs scrving Culrural Fcvolurion (cv) cui-
sinc.’’
1
Fcrro-Maoisr cuisinc asidc. rlosc ingcnious idcas ro casl in on rlc
onc-lundrcdrl annivcrsary ol Mao Zcdong’s lirrl. wlcrlcr officially cn-
dorscd or nor. scrvc as ycr anorlcr good casc in poinr. Wlcn sucl rolusr
commcrcialism and cnrrcprcncurialism cvcnrually makc inroads inro rlc
rradirionally idcological lronr ol rlc socialisr rcgimc. namcly. rlc rcalm
ol ccnrralizcd culrural producrion. wc lcar an almosr audillc sigl ol rc-
licl. a nor-so-quicr cclclrarion ol rlc dcmisc ol ovcrpoliricizarion and rlc
cnd ol ¡dcology. 1lc markcr is wclcomcd in gcncral ly wrircrs and arrisrs
alikc as a lilcraring agcncy. and rlc implicd pcrsonal auronomy. pcrlaps
morc rlan arrisric lrccdom. grcarly cxcircs rlc imaginarion ol gcncrarions
ol srarc-cmploycd ‘‘culrural workcrs.’’ wlo lavc lccn lrusrrarcd ly a ‘‘vcl-
vcr prison’’ lor roo long.
2
Alrcady. cvcn lrom alar. wc wirncss a ‘‘young
¡. Scc N.m·m../, ¡o Ianuary ¡oo|. 8. Zlu Kunnian. rlc owncr ol a lusk-srrcwn cv-
srylc rcsrauranr. is quorcd lcrc as saying. ‘‘Wc’rc nor nosralgic lor Mao. pcr sc. Wc’rc
nosralgic lor our yourl.’’ Scc also Carlcrinc Sampson. ‘‘Fcrro Maoisr Cuisinc ¡s a ¡ir
in Clina.’’ Ic// Str..t }surnc/, i ¡clruary ¡oo|. A¡|.
i. ¡or insrancc. in an inrcrvicw. Clcn Iiangong. an csrallislcd Bcijing wrircr. ar-
gucs rlar rlc spccd ar wlicl lircrarurc and arr cnrcr rlc markcr las lccn unsarislyingly
slow. ‘‘Þo doulr rlar rlc markcr is a srrangc rling ro us. and wrircrs and pullislcrs
nccd ro lc morc imaginarivc in rlis aspccr.’’ Scc Yan Xinjiu. ‘‘Zlongguo zuojia kan sli-
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274 C/in.·. As!.rn
and rcsrlcss’’ lircrary producrion rlar lcars only rlc lainrcsr rcscmllancc
ro rlc moralism and lcroism glossing rlc works lrom rlc agc ol socialisr
rcalism.
3
¡nsrcad. ‘‘slock valuc’’ is quickly rccognizcd and clcrislcd as an
cffccrivc markcring srrarcgy. Ar rlc samc rimc. rlc grcar dividc lcrwccn
so-callcd popular or mass culrurc and scrious or clirc culrurc is rcsurlac-
ing. and rogcrlcr rlcy liglliglr lcarurcs ol a culrurc rlar. as a wlolc.
is opcnly cnranglcd wirl rlc dcsircs and lrusrrarions provokcd ly rapid
modcrnizarion.
1lc complcxiry ol rlc siruarion can lardly lc undcrsrood simply in
rcrms ol rlc markcrizarion ol a ccnrrally planncd cconomy in gcncral and
idcologically conrrollcd culrural producrion in parricular. 1lc sraggcring
dcmand lor mass culrural producrs and kirscl also sccms ro srcm lrom
morc sourccs rlan rlc dirccr lurc ol consumcrism. Ònc way ro gaugc rlc
rranslormarion is ro rcalizc rlc cxrcnr ro wlicl rlc ciry las arrivcd ro
occupy rlc ccnrcr sragc in culrural oricnrarion and rlc social imaginary.
1lc way lor rlc currcnr cconomic loom was firsr pavcd ly rlc ‘‘lousc-
lold rcsponsililiry sysrcm’’ in agriculrurc (implcmcnrcd in rlc larc ¡o¬os)
and was loosrcd ly largc-scalc alsorprion ol lorcign and rransnarional
invcsrmcnr capiral in rlc ‘‘spccial cconomic zoncs’’ along rlc coasral arca.
Bur ir is rlc cmcrgcncc and flourisling ol wlar cconomisrs and social
cnginccrs call ‘‘villagc and rownslip cnrcrpriscs’’ rlar lavc prolally cl-
lccrcd rlc mosr prolound impacr on rlc counrry’s social and gcograplical
landscapc. Acring lorl as rrading posrs and locarions ol cxporr-oricnrcd
liglr indusrry. lundrcds ol rlousands ol sucl cnrcrpriscs lclp ro clanncl
an cnormous surplus lalor lorcc lrom rlc counrrysidc inro rlc markcr as
wcll as inro rlc indusrrial sccror. As a rcsulr. ‘‘agriculrural divcrsificarion
and rural cnrcrpriscs lavc rcduccd rlc urlan-rural gap.’’ cvcn rlougl. as
clang’’ (Clincsc wrircrs convcrsc on rlc markcr). Z/snaaus ;inanicn (Clincsc yourl)
(¡clruary ¡oo:). |. All rcn wrircrs inrcrvicwcd. among rlcm ¡iu ¡cng. Wang Zcngqi.
and Wang Mcng. lclicvc rlar rlc markcr mcclanism providcs a ncw opporruniry lor
lircrarurc and arr (|–¬). 1lc rcrm ‘‘vclvcr prison’’ comcs lrom rlc ¡ungarian wrircr
Miklos ¡araszri. T/. I./v.t Pri·sn. ³rti·t· Un!.r Ss.ic/i·m, rrans. Karalin and Srcplcn
¡andcsmann. wirl rlc lclp ol Srcvc Wasscrman (Þcw York. Basic Books. ¡o8¬).
:. Scc ¡oward Goldllarr’s look rcvicw. ‘‘1lc Young and rlc Fcsrlcss.’’ Ls· ³na./.·
Tim.·, Sunday. s Scprcmlcr ¡oo:. ¡n rlcsc young wrircrs. sucl as ¡iu ¡cng. Su 1ong.
and Mo Yan. Goldllarr olscrvcs a ‘‘common rlrcad ol misanrlropy’’ and an ‘‘cmplasis
on skcwcd lamily rclarions and anri-Conlucian lclavior. wlicl includcs inccsr. rapc.
murdcr. voycurism and morc.’’
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N.m Ur/cn Cu/tur. 275
a lirrcr rcsulr. ‘‘roral rcgional dispariry rlrouglour Clina las prolally
widcncd.’’
4
As onc Clincsc commcnraror las argucd in lavor ol rlis dcvclopmcnr.
world lisrorical cxpcricncc las slown rlar rlc modcrnizarion projccr in-
varially involvcs markcrizarion. indusrrializarion. and urlanizarion, and
rcccnr Clincsc lisrory las also dcmonsrrarcd rlc ncccssiry ol making a
final rransirion lrom rlc counrry ro rlc ciry. lrom rlc rural ro rlc urlan.
5
¡ndccd. rlis ncw wavc ol massivc urlanizarion comcs as a dirccr rcvcr-
sal ol rlc official policics ol rlc socialisr pcriod. rlc crlos ol wlicl in
lindsiglr appcars ro lavc lccn pcrsisrcnrly rcsisranr ro rlc ‘‘dissocia-
rion ol scnsililiry’’ accompanying modcrnizarion. Ðuring rlc ¡ooos and
¡o¬os rlc idcologically sancrioncd mcrlod ol ovcrcoming rlc diffcrcncc
lcrwccn rown and counrry. lor insrancc. was ro supprcss nonlarm cm-
ploymcnr or dcurlanizc socicry as a wlolc. A dccply cnrrcnclcd agrarian
rradirion lclpcd ro jusrily an csscnrially anriurlan policy ol modcrniza-
rion wirlour urlanizarion. lor urlanism was morc olrcn rlan nor idcn-
rificd and condcmncd as rlc cmlodimcnr ol cvil modcrn capiralism.
6
1lc alrcrnarivc vision ol a 1lird World modcrniry saw irscll in rcrms ol
scll-rcliancc. srrarcgic indusrrializarion. and a ncgarion ol markcr lorccs.
inrcrnarional as wcll as domcsric. 1lc socialisr cirics. ar lcasr in rlcory.
‘‘slould lccomc Sparran and producrivc placcs wirl lull cmploymcnr.
sccurc jols wirl a rangc ol lringc lcncfirs. minimal incomc and lilc srylc
|. Scn-dou Clang and F. Yin-Wang Kwok. ‘‘1lc \rlanizarion ol Fural Clina.’’ in
F. Yin-Wang Kwok cr al.. cds.. C/in.·. Ur/cn B./srm. I/ct As!./ Nsm? (Armonk.
Þ.Y.. M. I. Slarpc. ¡ooo). ¡s¡.
s. ¡or a scmiofficial srarcmcnr. scc Gou Sli. ‘‘Iiakuai nongcun clcngslilua jin-
clcng’’ (Spccd up rlc urlanizarion ol rlc counrrysidc). Z/snaaus iinaii tic/i acia.
(Clina’s cconomic sysrcm rclorm). no. os (Þovcmlcr ¡oo:). |o. ¡or a comprclcnsivc
casc srudy. scc Yia-¡ing ¡iu. ‘‘Fclorm lrom Bclow. 1lc ¡rivarc Iconomy and ¡ocal
¡olirics in rlc Fural ¡ndusrrializarion ol Wcnzlou.’’ C/inc Oucrt.r/v ¡:o (Iunc ¡ooi).
io:–:¡o.
o. Scc. lor insrancc. cssays collccrcd in \icror ¡. S. Sir. cd.. C/in.·. Citi.·. T/.
Grsmt/ s/ t/. A.trsts/i· Sin.. rc;c (Òxlord. Òxlord \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡o8s). ¡n lis
inrroducrion. Sir lisrs a lcw arriclcs ol inrcrcsr lcrc. ¡. I. C. Ma. ‘‘Counrcrurlaniza-
rion and Fural Ðcvclopmcnr. 1lc Srrarcgy ol ¡sia-¡siang.’’ Curr.nt S..n. ¡s.88o
(¡o¬o). ¡–¡¡, A. Koslizawa. ‘‘Clina’s \rlan ¡lanning. 1owards Ðcvclopmcnr Wirl-
our \rlanizarion.’’ D.v./stina L.snsmi.· (¡o¬8). :–::, C. ¡. Ccll. ‘‘Ðcurlanizarion ol
Clina. 1lc \rlan Conrradicrion.’’ Bu//.tin s/ Csn..rn.! ³·icn S./s/cr· ¡¡. no. ¡ (¡o¬o).
oi–¬i.
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276 C/in.·. As!.rn
diffcrcnccs. an cnd ro conspicuous consumprion and lavisl spcnding. and
wirl dcccnr consumprion srandards lor all.’’
7
Conscqucnrly. posrsocialisr
urlanizarion mcans nor mcrcly a plysical rranslormarion ol rlc prcvi-
ously rural landscapc lur also rlc insrirurion ol social valucs. sucl as mo-
liliry. privacy. and divcrsiry. rlar arc associarcd wirl lilc in rlc modcrn
ciry. 1lc consumcr ciry. in placc ol rlc discrcdircd modcl ol produccr
cirics. rcasscrrs irscll as rlc dominanr ccnrcr ol a ncw polirical cconomy
and slould offcr us a cluc ro rlc logic ol Clincsc culrurc in rlc agc ol
glolal capiralism.
1lis cmcrgcnr urlan culrurc. as can lc cxpccrcd. cxlilirs many rccog-
nizallc lcarurcs. il nor caricarurcs. ol modcrn mcrropoliscs in rlc Wcsr.
¡n rlis scnsc. a sprawling ciry sucl as Guangzlou or Slanglai grows ro
lc morc and morc parr ol rlc glolal. srandardizcd gcograply ol mod-
crnizarion.
8
As in many orlcr parrs ol rlc world. ligl-riscs lavc cruprcd
lcrc. sranding lor financial capaciry and sraliliry. olrcn wirl a rransna-
rional connccrion. and lclrways lavc lccn lasrily cxrcndcd ro casc rraffic
congcsrion and pusl rlc sound and rlc lury ol rlc ciry lcyond rlc givcn
loundary. Wirl lcavy smog langing as a pcrmancnr lackdrop. srrccr-
sidc lillloards and advcrriscmcnrs srylisrically rcminisccnr ol rlc Culrural
Fcvolurion’s visual rcgimc ncarly llock rlc vicwand aggrcssivcly dcmand
consumcrs’ arrcnrion, lcisurc rimc lor rlc ciry dwcllcr quickly rurns inro
a lusy scarcl lor cnrcrrainmcnr and divcrsion. As cvcning lalls. loud and
color-splasling karaokc lars durilully supply scnrimcnr and cxprcssion
ro rlc laslionallc and advcnrurous. and rlc milling crowd. as in all lig
cirics. rakcs pridc in lcing indiffcrcnr and anonymous. Þcvcrrlclcss. a
lacclcss n: or ¡: ralk-radio losr will rcacl our ro comlorr loncly souls
and will assumc. wirl cnrlusiasm. rlc rimc-lonorcd rolc ol a marcl-
makcr in rlc middlc ol rlc niglr. McÐonald’s or ¡izza ¡ur may add a
wclcomc cosmopoliran flavor ro daily sraplc lood. wlcrcas lomc-grown
¬. Marrin King Wlyrc and William ¡. ¡arisl. Ur/cn Li/. in Csnt.mtsrcrv C/inc
(Clicago. \nivcrsiry ol Clicago ¡rcss. ¡o8|). ¡o. Wlyrc and ¡arisl’s look is a com-
prclcnsivc srudy ol rlc srrucrurc and conrcnr ol ciry lilc during rlc socialisr pcriod.
8. ¡ wisl ro cmplasizc rlar conrcmporary Clincsc urlan culrurc can and slould lc
suljccrcd ro rlc samc classic scruriny and crcarivc analyscs rlar wc find in rlc wrirings
ol Gcorg Simmcl. Imilc Ðurklcim. Walrcr Bcnjamin. Kcvin ¡yncl. and Faymond
Williams. 1lcir crirical insiglrs inro rlc modcrn ciry and irs culrurc will provc ro lc
an indispcnsallc lasis lor any crcdillc urlan srudics in conrcmporary Clina.
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N.m Ur/cn Cu/tur. 277
1v sircoms—in cvcr-grcarcr doscs and puncruarcd ly imposing commcr-
cials—adroirly spicc up an orlcrwisc incrcasingly rourinc and cvcnrlcss
lilc.
A morc ominous vicw ol sucl rccklcss urlanizarion. in rlc opinion ol
a N.m·m../ rcporrcr. is rlc arrival ol ‘‘niglrmarc cirics.’’ ovcrsrrcrclcd ly
rlc growing numlcr ol crlnic pcasanr glcrros—‘‘virrual Clinarowns in
Clina.’’ Wirl ‘‘ridal wavcs ol lumaniry’’ rolling lrom rlc vasr inland ro
rlc morc prospcrous coasral cirics. ‘‘Clina will lc prcscnrcd wirl vasr
lrccding grounds ol urlan unrcsr.’’
9
1lis dark vision undoulrcdly calls
our arrcnrion ro rlc srark rcaliry ol ciry lilc in Clina. a lrcwing arca lor
ncw lorms ol class. gcndcr. and crlnic conflicrs. Bur rlc vcry monsrrosiry
ol ‘‘niglrmarc cirics’’ also lcspcaks. cvcn il ncgarivcly. rlc lacr rlar rlc
ciry las movcd onro rlc ccnrcr sragc ol conrcmporary Clincsc culrural
and polirical lilc. ‘‘A rcrrillc lcaury.’’ as William Burlcr Ycars would say.
is oncc again lcing lorn.
1o all appcaranccs. cvcryday urlan lilc as normalcy now sccms succcss-
lully insrirurcd, lor good rcason. rlis is cclclrarcd as a gcnuinc culrural
rcvolurion in larc rwcnricrl-ccnrury Clina. ¡nrcrcsringly cnougl. rlis
normalcy. wlicl comcs in rlc wakc ol a massivc socialisr cxpcrimcnr. can
lc rcadily rlcorizcd as wcll as rarionalizcd rlrougl Marxian rcrminology.
¡r is nor ar all difficulr. lor insrancc. lor rlc gcncral social discoursc ro
grasp rlar rlc markcr is rlc opcraring logic lclind cvcryday urlan lilc.
1lc Ianus lacc ol rlc markcr. lorl a lilcraring ‘‘angcl’’ and a dcsrruc-
rivc ‘‘dcvil.’’ is vcry mucl acccprcd as a ncccssary rcaliry principlc. 1lus.
an arriclc rlar appropriarcly appcars in rlc ‘‘1link 1ank lor rlc Coming
Ccnrury’’ sccrion in C/in.·. Tsut/, a popular magazinc pullislcd ly rlc
¡caguc ol Communisr Yourl. asscrrs. ‘‘1lc markcr cconomy is an ‘angcl.’
lccausc ir rranslorms rlc world inro a colorlul placc, ir is also a ‘dcvil’
lccausc ir purs cxisring valucs and social ordcr in complcrc disarray. ¡n
rlc words ol Karl Marx. rlis mcans a rcvolurion in rlc rcalms ol poli-
rics. consciousncss. spirir. and moraliry.’’
10
According ro rlc arriclc’s au-
rlor. rlc markcr cconomy will inrroducc a complcrc rcncwal ol Clincsc
socicry in rcrms ol irs social organizarion. Wirl rlc markcr as a lcvcling
o. Gcorgc Wclrlrirz. ‘‘Þiglrmarc Cirics.’’ N.m·m../, io Ðcccmlcr ¡oo|. ¡oo–o8.
¡o. Xu Wcixin. ‘‘Sliclang jingji jiang sli Zlongguo slclui quanmian gcngxin’’
(1lc markcr cconomy will complcrcly rcncw Clincsc socicry). C/in.·. Tsut/ (Augusr
¡oo:). ii.
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278 C/in.·. As!.rn
mcclanism. rlc individual will lc lrccd lrom roral dcpcndcncc on and
conrrol ly rlc work unir. and rlc work unir in rurn will irscll lc rclcascd
lrom rlc rigid lurcaucraric licrarcly. Anorlcr dcsirallc conscqucncc is
rlar social lilc will lc lcss poliricizcd lccausc socicry ar largc will lccomc
pluralizcd and polirics will ccasc ro providc rlc only mcaninglul conrcnr.
Clincsc socicry as a wlolc. concludcs rlc aurlor. is lidding larcwcll ro a
pasr in wlicl polirics dominarcd all dcrails ol cvcryday lilc. 1lc ncw cra
ol ‘‘opcn and plural dcvclopmcnr.’’ propcllcd ly rlc markcr. will uslcr in
a youngcr. morc cncrgcric. and morc colorlul socicry.
11
As oprimisric an asscssmcnr as rlar may lc. rlc arriclc noncrlclcss
lrings ro our arrcnrion a ccnrral lcarurc ol rwcnricrl-ccnrury Clincsc
rcvolurionary culrurc. and. ar rlc samc rimc. ir slcds liglr on rlc making
ol conrcmporary urlan culrurc. 1lc aurlor dcscrilcs rlc social rcaliry
rlar rlc ncw markcr cconomy will lclp ro dismanrlc as cirlcr rlc ‘‘rra-
dirional socialisr sysrcm’’ or simply rlc ‘‘rradirional sysrcm.’’ 1lis rradi-
rional social organizarion valorizcs communaliry. licrarcly. and idco-
logical lomogcnciry. all ol wlicl conrrilurc ro an impovcrislmcnr ol
cvcryday lilc. 1lis impovcrislmcnr rakcs rlc lorm ol moralizing lcclings.
social rclarions. and quoridian rourincs, ir is rlus an impovcrislmcnr
paradoxically susraincd ly an immcnsc riclncss in polirical mcanings and
conscqucnrialirics. 1lc ulrimarc injuncrion ol rlis modc ol social lilc is
srarcd in a slogan popular during rlc radical ¡ooos. ‘‘Makc a rcvolurion in
rlc dcprls ol your soul.’’
12
Wirl sucl an impcrarivc lor crlical polirics.
cvcryday lilc is nor wirlour irs cxcircmcnr or conrcnr, on rlc conrrary.
ir is norling lur rirualizcd conrcnr. and ir can lc lull ol pious passion
and longings. Wirl idcology or polirical idcnriry as irs solc conrcnr or
dcprl. cvcryday lilc is organizcd. rcndcrcd mcaninglul. and cffccrivcly
rcduccd in lorm. 1lis consrirurcs wlar Agncs ¡cllcr. lollowing Gcorgc
¡ukacs. las dcscrilcd as an ‘‘cmcrgcncc’’ lrom cvcryday lilc rlrougl lo-
mogcnizarion. morc spccifically a ‘‘moral lomogcnizarion.’’ rlc crircria
ol wlicl arc ‘‘conccnrrarion on rlc givcn oljccrivc. sulordinarion ro ir
¡¡. ¡lid.. ii–i:. Xu’s conclusion concurs wirl Gordon Wlirc’s wcll-documcnrcd
analysis rlar rlc sprcad ol markcr rclarions las cffccrivcly ‘‘crcarcd rlc lasis ol. and
conrcxr lor. ncw lorms ol sociopolirical parriciparion and organizarion. ro varying dc-
grccs indcpcndcnr ol and}or in opposirion ro rlc ¡arry}srarc.’’ Scc Wlirc. Bi!ina t/.
Tia.r. T/. Ps/iti.· s/ L.snsmi. B./srm in Ps·t-Acs C/inc (Sranlord. Calil.. Sranlord
\nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡oo:). i¡¬.
¡i. ¡n Clincsc. rlc slogan usually gocs ‘‘¡inglun slcnclu nao gcming.’’
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N.m Ur/cn Cu/tur. 279
ol cvcryday acrivirics. cvcn rlcir parrial or roral suspcnsion.’’
13
Alrlougl
¡cllcr acknowlcdgcs rlar ‘‘cvcryday lilc could nor lc rcproduccd wirl-
our rlc lcrcrogcncous luman acrivirics.’’ slc. as mucl as ¡ukacs. cmpla-
sizcs rlc proccss ol lomogcnizarion as collccrivc crcarion or rc-crcarion
lor rlc ‘‘oljccrivarion’’ ol luman ‘‘spccics-csscnrialiry.’’
14
¡ur diffcrcnrly.
rlc lcrcrogcncous lorms ol cvcryday lilc can lc rransccndcd or cmcrgcd
lrom only wlcn rlcy arc cndowcd wirl rlc conrcnr ol lomogcnizcd
social rclarions and pursuirs.
A collccrivc dcsirc ro rcsisr rlc incrria ol cvcryday lilc was an inrcgral
parr ol rlc grand socialisr movcmcnr in modcrn Clina. Morcovcr. rlc
samc dcsirc. wlicl Agncs ¡cllcr claracrcrizcs as rlc ‘‘ncccssiry ol pli-
losoply’’ alrcr rcligion. las lccn univcrsally cxpcricnccd in rlc agc ol
modcrniry. Alrcr all. modcrnizarion arrivcs only wlcn insrrumcnral rca-
son sccurcs a dcsacralizarion ol rlc luman as wcll as rlc narural world
and wlcn a sccular ordinary lilc is affirmcd ro lc cqually providcnrial
and indispcnsallc ro luman idcnriry. 1lc lumanisr culrurc ol modcr-
niry. according ro Clarlcs 1aylor. affirms rlc lull luman lilc ‘‘in rcrms
ol lalour and producrion. on onc land. and marriagc and lamily lilc
on rlc orlcr.’’
15
Againsr sucl massivc dcmocrarizarion or culrural lcvcl-
ing. various modcrnisms. conscrvarivc or radical. arisc in prorcsr and ‘‘in
rlc scarcl lor sourccs wlicl can rcsrorc dcprl. riclncss. and mcaning ro
lilc.’’
16
1lc modcrnisr aspirarion ol wrircrs likc 1. S. Ilior or Ð. ¡. ¡aw-
rcncc. olscrvcs 1aylor. ‘‘is usually madc morc urgcnr ly rlc scnsc rlar
our modcrn lragmcnrcd. insrrumcnralisr socicry las narrowcd and im-
povcrislcd our livcs.’’
17
1o cmcrgc lrom rlis sccularizcd cvcryday lilc. ro
rranslorm t/. sr!incrv /i/. inro t/. ass! /i/., rlcrclorc. is as mucl a mod-
crnisr dcsirc as a cririquc ol modcrniry. 1lis anrimodcrn and ycr modcrn-
isr rcjccrion ol cvcryday lilc sccms ro lc a dccply cmlcddcd impulsc ol
rlc rcvolurionary culrurc in modcrn Clina. wlicl olrcn cxprcsscs irscll
in rlc Maoisr uropian longing lor a lull and complcrc lilc. 1lc succcss ol
¡:. Agncs ¡cllcr. Lv.rv!cv Li/., rrans. G. ¡. Camplcll (¡ondon. Fourlcdgc &
Kcgan ¡aul. ¡o8|). 8¬.
¡|. Scc ilid.. so–so.
¡s. Clarlcs 1aylor. ‘‘¡arr ¡¡¡. 1lc Affirmarion ol Òrdinary ¡ilc.’’ in Ssur..· s/ t/.
S.//. T/. Ac/ina s/ t/. As!.rn I!.ntitv (Camlridgc. Mass.. ¡arvard \nivcrsiry ¡rcss.
¡o8o). i¡:.
¡o. ¡lid.. |os.
¡¬. ¡lid.. |oo.
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280 C/in.·. As!.rn
sucl a polirics ol uropia. lowcvcr. can pcrlaps lc mcasurcd only in irs
lailurc. in irs ncgarion ly larc rwcnricrl-ccnrury consumcrism and mass
culrurc. wlicl. ¡ wisl ro arguc. in lacr lclps ro rcrroacrivcly rclcasc rlc
uropian porcncy ol a rcvolurionary rradirion. ‘‘¡n rcrms ol polirical posi-
rions and idcologics.’’ as ¡rcdric Iamcson commcnrs on rlc lailcd radical
rradirions in lircrarurc and culrurc. ‘‘all rlc radical posirions ol rlc pasr
arc flawcd. prcciscly lccausc rlcy lailcd. . . . Wlar rlcy aclicvcd. low-
cvcr. was somcrling rarlcr diffcrcnr lrom aclicvcd posiriviry, rlcy dcm-
onsrrarcd. lor rlcir own rimc and culrurc. rlc imts··i/i/itv ol imagining
\ropia.’’
18
1o dcmonsrrarc rlar a dccp uropian impulsc ol rlc Clincsc rcvolurion-
ary culrurc is ro ovcrcomc ordinary cvcryday lilc would lc a complcx pro-
ccss. and ir prolally could lc aclicvcd only ncgarivcly. namcly. rlrougl
an cxaminarion ol ·iani/vina c/·.n..·. 1lc lour gcncral dcvclopmcnrs rlar
Clarlcs 1aylor lclicvcs ro lavc conrrilurcd ro rlc culrurc ol modcrniry.
lor cxamplc. could lc a usclul poinr ol dcparrurc in a culrural srudics ap-
proacl. rlc ncw valuarion ol commcrcc. rlc risc ol rlc novcl. rlc clang-
ing undcrsranding ol marriagc and rlc lamily. and rlc ncw imporrancc
ol scnrimcnr.
19
Wc would likcly find in rlc rcvolurionary rradirion a sys-
rcmaric supprcssion or rcoricnrarion ol rlcsc acrivirics rlar would lavc
lclpcd ro affirm and dcfinc a sccular cvcryday lilc. A pcrsisring paradox
lcrc is rlar rlc lullcr lilc cnvisioncd ly Maoisr social cnginccring rcflccrs
lorl an csscnrially agrarian imaginarion and a lascinarion wirl modcrn
indusrrial powcr. lorl an cgalirarian commirmcnr ro social larmony and
an almosr arisrocraric rclusal ol rlc mundanc and rlc plysical.
¡rom sucl a vision ol rlc good lilc. wlicl valorizcs complcrcncss and
rransccndcncc. is dcrivcd an acsrlcrics ol scalc rarlcr rlan ol dcrail. lor
immcdiacy and parriculariry would only swamp any cfforr ro ovcrcomc
rlc daily rourinc. 1lis in parr cxplains wly arrwork lrom rlc rcvolurion-
ary pcriod is dominanrly pcrspccrival and panoramic.
20
¡n N.m Lss/ s/
¡8. ¡rcdric Iamcson. ‘‘¡mmancncc and Þominalism in ¡osrmodcrn 1lcorcrical Ðis-
coursc.’’ in Ps·tms!.rni·m, Or, t/. Cu/turc/ Lsai. s/ Lct. Cctitc/i·m (Ðurlam. Þ.C..
Ðukc \nivcrsiry ¡rcss. ¡oo¡). io8–oo. Scc also in rlc samc volumc Iamcson’s discus-
sion ol arrisr Folcrr Golcr’s work in ‘‘\ropianism Alrcr rlc Ind ol \ropia.’’ ¡s|–8o.
My linc ol rcading lcrc is dccply indclrcd ro Iamcson’s ‘‘Marxian posirivc lcrmcncu-
ric.’’ cvcn rlougl ¡ may lc simplilying somc ol lis idcas.
¡o. Scc 1aylor. Ssur..· s/ t/. S.//, i8s–:oi.
io. Illcn Iolnsron ¡aing. in lcr T/. Iin/ina Om/. ³rt in t/. P.st/.’· B.tu//i. s/
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N.m Ur/cn Cu/tur. 281
¡¡. ¡casanr painring. N.m Lss/ s/ c Ii//ca. (¡o¬|). ¡rom P.c·cnt
Pcintina· /rsm Hu/·i.n Csuntv (¡cking. ¡orcign ¡anguagcs
¡rcss. ¡o¬|).
c Ii//ca. (¡o¬|) (figurc ¡¡). a rcprcscnrarivc ¡uxian (¡ulsicn) Counry
pcasanr painring lrom rlc lcyday ol rlc socialisr rcvolurion. wc scc rlc
way rlar a poliricizcd pullic spacc las cndowcd lalor wirl glolal signifi-
C/inc (Bcrkclcy. \nivcrsiry ol Calilornia ¡rcss. ¡o88). rraccs rlc polirical lisrory ol
arr during rlc radical ¡ooos. ‘‘[Òrlcr| landscapcs donc during rlis pcriod.’’ slc ol-
scrvcs. ‘‘arc also vasr panoramic visras. and rlcir suljccrs arc usually. il nor rlc alrcady
csrallislcd rlcmcs lascd on rcvolurionary lisrory. rlcn clcarly dclincarcd morils ol
socialisr rriumpls in pullic projccrs. lridgcs. lusy porrs. dams. rclorcsrarion’’ (¬8).
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282 C/in.·. As!.rn
¡i. ¡casanr painring. T/. I/s/. Fcmi/v Stu!i.· t/. Csmmuni;u. (¡o¬|). ¡rom
P.c·cnt Pcintina· /rsm Hu/·i.n Csuntv (¡cking. ¡orcign ¡anguagcs ¡rcss.
¡o¬|).
cancc. 1lc conrinuiry ol sparial srrucrurc ncarly dclcrs grarificarion and
ycr kccps in pcrspccrivc rlc consummaring trsm.··. !. /sn/.ur (promisc
ol lappincss). ¡n a similar spirir. T/. I/s/. Fcmi/v Stu!i.· t/. Csmmu-
ni;u. (¡o¬|) (figurc ¡i) prcscnrs rlc cxrcndcd lamily as a polirical unir
and projccrs a domcsric inrcrior rlar is opcn and pullic. simplc lur pro-
ducrivc. and ulrimarcly ccnrcrcd on rlc communal as wcll as spirirual
acr ol rcading. ¡n rlcsc srylizcd imagcs ol lappincss. rlc polirical ccon-
omy ol rlc sign lorcclully disrrilurcs rlc socialisr idcals ol cqualiry. usc
valuc. scll-rcliancc. and lomogcnizcd social rclarions. ¡r is ly no acci-
dcnr. morcovcr. rlar rlcsc socialisr rcalisr rcprcscnrarions ol rural lilc
wcrc acclaimcd as cmllcmaric ol ‘‘rlc socialisr ncwculrurc’’ ar rlc rimc.
21
As mcnrioncd. rlc ruralizarion policics. or rlc ‘‘dcvclopmcnr wirlour
i¡. ¡n rlc lorcword ro rlc Inglisl cdirion ol P.c·cnt Pcintina· /rsm Hu/·i.n Csuntv
(¡cking. ¡orcign ¡anguagcs ¡rcss. ¡o¬|). rlc govcrnmcnr compilcrs laud rlc pcas-
anr arrisrs as ‘‘masrcrs ol rlc socialisr ncw culrurc.’’ Morcovcr. ‘‘rlcy lavc scr a parrcrn
lor dcvcloping finc arrs as a sparc-rimc acriviry in rural arcas and lccomc a modcl lor
prolcssional arrisrs.’’
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N.m Ur/cn Cu/tur. 283
urlanizarion’’ modcl. ol rlc ¡ooos and ¡o¬os could lc sccn as a collccrivc
cfforr ro cnsurc an organic and connccrcd lilc rlar rlrcarcns ro unravcl in
rlc urlan landscapc. 1lcsc ¡uxian Counry pcasanr painrings. wlicl cn-
joycd considcrallc populariry and official sponsorslip in rlc mid-¡o¬os.
lcsr caprurc an agc lor wlicl /c ·s.ic/i/it. vi//ca.si·. (villagc larmony) was
rlc norm and rlc idcal lorm ol lilc.
22
¡n lacr. wc lavc ro undcrsrand rlis parricular arr lorm. rogcrlcr wirl
many orlcr signilying pracriccs lrom rlar pcriod (sucl as rlc ‘‘rcvolu-
rionary modcl rlcarcr.’’ pullic squarcs. and massivc paradcs). as consri-
ruring a rcvolurionary mass culrurc. ¡r is a mass culrurc rlar cmplasizcs
conrcnr ovcr lorm. usc valuc ovcr cxclangc valuc. parriciparory commu-
nal acrion ovcr lcrcrogcncous cvcryday lilc. ¡cncc. sucl a mass culrurc
is proloundly romanric in irs lorm and uropian in irs vision, ir is ncccs-
sarily didacric rarlcr rlan cnrcrraining. producrion-oricnrcd rarlcr rlan
consumprion-oricnrcd. 1lc lisrorical rclcvancc ol rlis spccific mass cul-
rurc. cspccially irs uropian vision. lowcvcr. may lccomc all rlc morc
rccognizallc and cvcn compclling only wlcn ir is ncgarcd as a lcgc-
monic. pracriccd social ordcr. Ònly in alscnria docs rlis rcvolurionary
mass culrurc rcvcal irscll ro lavc lccn a lcroic cfforr ro ovcrcomc a dccp
anxicry ovcr cvcryday lilc. olrcn ar rlc cosr ol impovcrisling ir. Wlcn
cvcryday lilc is affirmcd and acccprcd as rlc ncw lcgcmony. wlcn com-
modificarion arrivcs ro pur a pricc rag on luman rclarions and cvcn on
privarc scnrimcnrs. parriciparory communal acrion may offcr irscll as an
opposirional discoursc and cxposc a vacuiry undcrlying rlc myriad ol
commodiry lorms. 1lc pcrsisrcnr nosralgia lor Mao and lis cra in larc
rwcnricrl-ccnrury Clina is a good sign ol rlc collccrivc anxicry rlar rlc
markcr cconomy las givcn risc ro.
23
Bur ir cannor lc concludcd rlar rlis
posrrcvolurionary culrurc is wirlour irs consolarion or cvcn irs uropian
appcal. ¡n lacr. a dirccr luncrion ol rlc rising consumcrism is ro conrain
ii. 1lc plrasc /c ·s.ic/i/it. vi//ca.si·. is lrom lisrorian Ican-¡icrrc Gurron’s look
Lc ·s.ic/i/it. vi//ca.si·. !cn· /’cn.i.nn. Frcn... ·s/i!crit.· .t vsi·inca.· !u XII. cu XIIII.
·i/./. (¡aris. ¡aclcrrc. ¡o¬o).
i:. Sociologisr Wang Yanzlong also poinrs our rlar ‘‘Mao Zcdong lcvcr’’ rcflccrs a
popular longing lor rlc clarismaric lcadcr in an agc ol growing insrirurionalizarion.
Scc Zlang Zlanling and Song Yilu. Z/snaaus. Acs Z.!sna r. (Clina. Mao Zcdong
lcvcr) (1aiyuan. Bciyuc wcnyi. ¡oo¡). i¬s–¬o. i8o–8¡. Ònc ol rlc good rlings alour
rlis popular scnrimcnr. according ro rlc aurlors ol rlc look. is rlar ir will call arrcn-
rion ro issucs sucl as inflarion. social sccuriry. jusricc. and a communal spirir (i8|–8s).
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284 C/in.·. As!.rn
and dissolvc rlc anxicry ol cvcryday lilc. ro rranslarc collccrivc conccrns
inro consumcr dcsircs. ly wlicl mcans cvcn rlc rcvolurionary pasr may
lc madc profirallc.
1lus. rlc rransirional qualiry ol larc rwcnricrl-ccnrury Clincsc culrurc
can lc olscrvcd as rwo rclarcd social discourscs. an anxious affirmarion
ol ordinary lilc and a conrinuous ncgoriarion wirl rlc uropian impulsc
ro rcjccr cvcryday lilc. 1lis rransirion. parr ol rlc long rcvolurion roward
modcrniry. is rcadily olscrvallc as rlc rcnsion lcrwccn rlc ciry and rlc
counrry. As las lccn poinrcd our. urlanizarion las ccrrainly slilrcd rlc
locus ol rlc social imaginary. lur rlc counrry srill rcluscs ro disappcar.
and lrcqucnrly ir flaslcs lack. so ro spcak. ro rlrow an unscrrling liglr
on rlc urlan landscapc. Wlilc an apparcnrly amorplous urlan cvcryday
lilc lccomcs rlc norm and an alicnaring insrirurion. rusric simpliciry and
aurlcnriciry sccm ro posscss a grcarcr pcculiar arrracrion. ¡n rlis liglr.
jusr as rlcrc can lc a rcvolurionary mass culrurc. so rlcrc is lound ro lc
anorlcr mass culrurc rlar olscrvcs rlc logic ol rlc rcproducrion ol cvcry-
day lilc. Wlcrcas rlc rcvolurionary mass culrurc nccds ro projccr a lilc
rlar is wlolcsomc lur alsrracr. rlc ncw urlan culrurc las ro prcscnr a
sccular cxisrcncc rlar. rourinc rlougl ir may lc. is lull ol concrcrc cxpcc-
rarions and lulfillmcnrs.
Ar rlis juncrurc ir is usclul ro cxaminc somc conrcmporary lircrary
works in ordcr ro apprcciarc rlc cmcrgcnr and conrcsrcd urlan con-
sciousncss. wirl rlc aim ol dcrcrmining wlcrlcr rlc works in qucsrion
lclong ro mass culrurc or ligl lircrarurc. A good casc in poinr is rlc ¡oo:
novclla S/.na/us mucui (¡ilc is nor a crimc) ly a young wrircr. ¡c Ðun.
1lis srory. a looscly organizcd firsr-pcrson narrarivc alour a young man’s
various cfforrs ro makc moncy on lis own in rlc inland ciry ol Clangsla.
may lc paradigmaric ol rlc narrarallc cxpcricncc ol a wlolc gcnuincly
posrrcvolurionary gcncrarion ol urlan yourl. 1lc world in wlicl rlc
young man finds limscll is onc ol cnrrcprcncurial advcnrurc. prosriru-
rion. violcncc. organizcd crimc. commodirics. and quick moncy. As in lis
orlcr novclla. Is /u xicna·/i (¡ don’r carc). ¡c Ðun lurricdly narrarcs
in a lacrual. indiffcrcnr ronc ol undcrsranding. lur wirl no compassion.
momcnrs and scnsarions in rlc lcro’s lusy. dirccrionlcss lilc. 1lc scrics
ol cvcnrs is larcly colcrcnr. and irs mulripliciry sccms ro lc rlc only nar-
rarallc conrcnr ol rlc young man’s cxpcricncc. 1lc srory lcgins wirl a
lricl rirual ol iniriarion. a momcnr ar wlicl rlc lcro. ¡c ¡u. rlcn an im-
povcrislcd ligl sclool rcaclcr. is invircd ro cnrcr rlc symlolic spacc ol
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N.m Ur/cn Cu/tur. 285
rlc narrarivc—a domcsric spacc poinrcdly cxliliring irs conrcmporanciry
rlrougl an osrcnrarious display ol oljccrs. commodirics. and dcrails. Ònc
alrcrnoon in May. ¡c ¡u and lis wilc. Zlu ¡i. dccidc ro pay a visir ro an
old lricnd ol lis. wlo now runs a dcparrmcnr srorc and scll-consciously
lclongs ro rlc ncw managcrial class.
Wlcn ¡. laving madc lovc wirl Zlu ¡i around noon. walkcd inro Qu
Gang’s aparrmcnr and saw low luxuriously lurnislcd ir was. ¡ lclr rca-
sonally calm. Qu Gang owncd an aparrmcnr wirl lour rooms. onc ol
rlcm uscd as rlc living room. 1lc surrounding walls wcrc dccorarcd wirl
pink cnamclcd rilcs. a clandclicr lung lrom rlc cciling. and rlc floor was
covcrcd wirl inlaid parqucr. 1lcrc was a niccly cralrcd. snow-wlirc com-
posirc drcsscr. on wlicl srood an imposing i8º 1oslila color 1v. Þcxr
ro ir was a vidco maclinc, lurrlcr down srood an Amcrican-madc Slcr-
wood srcrco sysrcm. Alrcr my wilc and ¡ lad scrrlcd down in rlc clcganr
slccpskin sola. my wilc said. ‘‘Your sola is so comlorrallc ro sir in.’’ ‘‘¡m-
porrcd lrom¡raly.’’ Qu Gang rcplicd. rlrowing ovcr ro mc a ‘‘sss’’ cigarcrrc.
‘‘Cosr mc alour rcn grand. ¡r lcrrcr lc comlorrallc ro sir in.’’ ‘‘1lar mucl
moncy·’’ Zlu ¡i lclr rlc sola. ‘‘1lar was roo cxpcnsivc.’’ Qu Gang smirkcd
wirlour commcnr. ‘‘Ðo you guys wanr coffcc or rca·’’
24
1lis inirial momcnr is pivoral ro rlc srory in rlar ir inrroduccs dcsirc. or.
morc cxacrly. ir givcs concrcrc. plysical slapc and cxprcssion ro a dcsirc
lor scll-rranslormarion. 1lc marcrial world lccomcs a promincnr indcx
nor so mucl ol vulgariry as ol an cnviallc spirirual rcsilicncc. 1lc samc
momcnr also offcrs a rcdcfinirion ol cvcryday lilc. ol domcsric cxisrcncc
as graspallc rlrougl various rangillc lorms—in rlis casc. cxpcnsivc con-
sumcr goods. 1lis sruffcd slowroom will nor lc cnrcrcd again. lur ir
providcs mcaning and imagc ro rlc spacc in wlicl ¡c ¡u. rlc aspiring
consumcr}cnrrcprcncur. wislcs ro parriciparc. (Ar rlis poinr. lowcvcr. lc
lccls cmlarrasscd ro cvcn ralk alour moncy lccausc lc las ro savc cvcry
pcnny in ordcr ro purclasc a color 1v.)
Bclorc rusling alcad ro condcmn rlis unalaslcd consumcrism. wc
nccd ro rcalizc rlar ir prolally las irs origin in a nor-so-disranr pasr wlcn
consumprion was maximally supprcsscd lrom rlc rcproducrion ol cvcry-
day lilc. Almosr dirccrly. rlis commodiry lcrislism comcs as a rclcllion
i|. S/.na/us mucui (¡ilc is nor a crimc). in S/su/us (¡arvcsr). no. oo (¡oo:). is, Is
/u xicna·/i (¡ don’r carc). in S/cna/ci m.nxu. (Slanglai lircrarurc). no. ¡oi (Scprcmlcr
¡oo:). |–|¡.
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286 C/in.·. As!.rn
againsr. or an ovcrcompcnsarion lor. rlc uropian lilc dcpicrcd in an arr-
work sucl as T/. I/s/. Fcmi/v Stu!i.· t/. Csmmuni;u.. ¡n rlc wakc ol
sucl a clcarly dcfincd and communiry-oricnrcd lorm ol lilc. in wlicl
spirirual clcvarion was rlc prcdominanr nccd. rlcrc is a srriking lack ol
pcrspccrivc in ¡c Ðun’s srory alour rlc lcsrirring lilc in larc rwcnricrl-
ccnrury Clangsla. 1lc narraror. morcovcr. consisrcnrly rcluscs ro im-
posc moral judgmcnr or cvcn indicarc indignarion. As rlc srory rapidly
unlolds. rlc day-ro-day cvcnrs. lrusrrarions. and cxpccrarions rlar lclall
lim and lcllow ciry dwcllcrs kccp lis arrcnrion rivcrcd. and rlc ciry in
wlicl lc movcs ncvcr cmcrgcs as a roralizallc sparialiry. Ònly roward rlc
vcry cnd ol rlc srory do wc find a pausc and a momcnr ol doulr. And rlis
occurs wlcn anorlcr old lricnd. likc a spccrcr lrom rlc unspcakallc pasr.
rcrurns ro qucsrion ¡c ¡u’s incrcasingly complaccnr daily lilc. \cry rcll-
ingly. rlis lricnd is an arrisr wlo livcs in rlc disranr lronricr ol Xinjiang
and finds limscll nor wclcomcd wlilc visiring ¡unan. lis placc ol lirrl.
¡n rlc srory. rlc arrisr scrvcs ro posc a lundamcnral qucsrion alour valuc.
wlicl ¡c ¡u. wirl a lor ol sarcasm. dismisscs as mcraplysical and poinr-
lcss. Bur wlcn rlc arrisr lricnd lcavcs in disappoinrmcnr carly rlc ncxr
morning. rlc lcro lccls rlc warm flow ol an old lricndslip and lccomcs
guilr-srrickcn. 1lcn rain srarrs pouring down oursidc. ‘‘Scvcral rimcs ¡
madc up my mind ro go our. lur lackcd rlc couragc ro walk in a rlundcr-
srorm. ¡ gazcd ar rlc lcavy rain rlar would possilly ncvcr srop and said
ro myscll. ‘1lis world rcally makcs pcoplc suffcr.’ As soon as ¡ said rlis. ir
dawncd on mc rlar all rlosc rlings—alour wlicl ¡ lad lccn roo cxcircd
ro lall aslccp normally in rlc pasr lcw monrls. and wlicl could lc dc-
scrilcd as lorming a lcaurilul llucprinr—lad all ol a suddcn rurncd inro
a pilc ol lrokcn rilcs.’’
25
1lis is wlcrc rlc narrarivc cnds. and wc lcavc rlc
lcro wirl rlc pouring rain. pondcring ovcr rlc rransccndcnral mcaning
ol rlc world.
Ðcspirc a final. rcflccrivc momcnr likc rlis onc (pcrlaps an ‘‘cpipl-
any’’·). Li/. I· Nst c Crim. rcsolurcly sulscrilcs ro rlc urlan spacc ir dc-
picrs. ¡r is a paradigmaric narrarivc ol rlc ciry lccausc ir is morivarcd ly
a lascinarion wirl rlc apparcnrly infinirc possililirics ol lorm rlar a ciry
now allows. 1lis ‘‘guilr-lrcc lilc’’ is a lragmcnrcd lur concrcrc cxisrcncc.
rlc moral conrcnr ol wlicl is rcalizcd in acrion rarlcr rlan in conrcm-
plarion. 1lc lacr rlar rlc idcalisric arrisr appcars uncxpccrcdly. only ar
is. ¡c Ðun. Li/. I· Nst c Crim., s:.
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N.m Ur/cn Cu/tur. 287
rlc cnd ol rlc srory. calls our arrcnrion ro a spccrraliry alour lis lcing.
¡crlaps lc is a rcsidual modcrnisr lcnr on rcvcaling rlc incomplcrcncss
ol lilc in modcrniry. Ivcn rlougl rlis arrisr figurc disappcars alrogcrlcr
lrom ¡c Ðun’s larcr work. lis flccring prcscncc lcrc rcvcals a lundamcn-
ral lack. ¡is loncly dcparrurc also suggcsrs rlar rlc pursuir ol a lull lilc is
now a pcrsonal commirmcnr and las ro lc conducrcd ar rlc margin. lar
away lrom rlc crowdcd urlan landscapc.
¡l wlar ¡c Ðun clooscs ro dcpicr is rlc lcrcrogcncous ‘‘sruff’’ ol cvcry-
day urlan lilc. rlc sarislacrion ol wlicl is lrcqucnrly aclicvcd rlrougl
oljccrs and commodirics. rlcn Wang Anyi. an csrallislcd and prolific
conrcmporary wrircr. prcscnrs an inrriguing cxaminarion ol urlan scnsi-
liliry and cmorional lilc. Wlar ¡ lavc in mind is lcr novclla Xicnaacna
!. ;ina vu ci (¡ovc and scnrimcnr in ¡ong Kong). a piccc ol wriring rlar
lcars an uncanny rcscmllancc ro Zlang Ailing’s (Iilccn Clang’s) srory
lrom rouglly filry ycars carlicr. Oina./.na c/i /icn (¡ovc in a lallcn ciry).
Crirically acclaimcd lor laving a srrong ‘‘lururc look.’’ Wang Anyi’s con-
rcmporary srory rclls ol an affair in ¡ong Kong lcrwccn an aging lur
wcalrly Clincsc-Amcrican lusincssman and lis crass and pracrical mis-
rrcss. wlo is an immigranr lrom Slanglai and now dcspcrarcly wanrs ro
go ro rlc \nircd Srarcs. 1lc ralc lcgins as ycr anorlcr affair lascd on
an cxclangc ol lavors. and ir cnds wirl rlc woman lcading lor Ausrralia
scvcral ycars larcr. lcaving lclind an oldcr ¡ao Wci. wlo. in lcr alscncc.
finds limscll morc rlan cvcr arraclcd ro rlc ciry ol ¡ong Kong. ¡n an
associarional and cvcn nosralgic srylc. Wang Anyi paricnrly cxplorcs all
aspccrs ol rlc qucsrion ol ‘‘low rlc lusrling and prospcrous mcrropolis
parriciparcs in rlc cmorional lilc ol pcoplc.’’
26
1lc srory is cqually a ricl
and complcx narrarivc alour ¡ong Kong. rlc spccracular ciry rlar may
srrikc onc ar firsr as a ‘‘grcar cncounrcr. a miraculous coming rogcrlcr.’’
27
lur cvcnrually rcvcals irs many dcprls and dimcnsions ovcr rimc. ¡or rlc
proragonisrs in rlc srory. ¡ong Kong is a ciry ol lorl pasr and lururc. a
rransir sropovcr rlar noncrlclcss indiscriminarcly slclrcrs lomclcss souls
and cvcn nurrurcs arraclmcnr and lovc. 1lc lacr rlar ¡ao Wci and lis
misrrcss. ¡cngjia. arc no longcr young and arc pcrlaps mucl roo prac-
rical also indicarcs a marurc approacl ro rlc ciry. wlar Faymond Wil-
io. Scc rlc ‘‘Idiror’s Words’’ sccrion ar rlc lronr ol S/cna/ci Lit.rctur., no. ¡o¡
(Augusr ¡oo:). in wlicl Wang’s srory appcars.
i¬. Wang Anyi. Xicnaacna !. ;ina /. ci (¡ovc and scnrimcnr in ¡ong Kong). in
S/cna/ci Lit.rctur., no. ¡o¡ (Augusr ¡oo:). |.
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288 C/in.·. As!.rn
liams calls rlc pcrspccrivc ol ‘‘an adulr cxpcricncc.’’
28
¡or rlc aurlor ol
rlc srory. roo. ¡ong Kong. as a complcrcly urlanizcd spacc. prcscnrs an
cnormous ficld ol mulriplc ncw possililirics and cxpccrarions. a wlolc
ncw civilizarion rlar srands in nccd ol comprclcnding. rcprcscnring. and
prolally cvaluaring.
29
Ycr. jusr as in Li/. I· Nst c Crim., rlc narrarivc ol Lsv. cn! S.ntim.nt
in Hsna Ksna is a carclul wirllolding ol moral judgmcnr or criricism.
¡nsrcad. ir conrinuously marvcls ar rlc prorcan slapc posscsscd ly rlc
conrcmporary ciry and rlc cndlcss variarions—in livcd spacc as wcll as
in rlc luman lcarr—rlar rlc ciry consranrly provokcs. Wirl dclilcr-
arc slowncss. rlc narrarivc movcs us rlrougl a scrics ol sparial srruc-
rurcs rlar arc cmplarically urlan. courrcous scrvicc lur impcrsonal lorcl
rooms. privarc and ycr unilorm aparrmcnrs in a rwcnry-srory luilding.
and ncw lur cmpry lomcs wairing ro lc lurnislcd wirl a pcrsonal roucl.
¡r asscmllcs inro a colorlul picrurc sucl acrivirics as slopping. dining.
riding rlc doullc-dcckcr lus. pursuing domcsric plcasurcs. and cngag-
ing in small ralk on rlc plonc. ¡n rlc cycs ol rlc narraror. ¡ong Kong
is no lcss rlan rlc ciry ol all cirics. Iusr as cvcry dcrail ol lcisurcly urlan
lilc offcrs insranr sarislacrion and is savorcd wirl dclilcrarc plcasurc. so
cvcry momcnr is clargcd wirl amliguirics and opcn ro inrcrprcrarion.
¡or insrancc. raking a doullc-dcckcr lus ro go lomc. ¡ao Wci and ¡cng-
jia look our ro cnjoy rlc lusy srrccr sccncs. in parricular rlosc aparrmcnr
windows sccmingly wirlin arm’s rcacl. ‘‘1lcsc windows rcvcal rlc mosr
sinccrc. mosr pracrical ways ol susraining lilc, rlcsc arc ways rlar will rc-
main unclangcd lorcvcr. as pcrmancnrly as rivcrs flowing and rlc sun and
i8. Ar rlc lcginning ol lis T/. Csuntrv cn! t/. Citv (Þcw York. Òxlord \nivcr-
siry ¡rcss. ¡o¬:). Williams wrircs in a pcrsonal ronc. ‘‘¡ lavc lclr also rlc claos ol rlc
mcrro and rlc rraffic jam, rlc monorony ol rlc ranks ol louscs, rlc acling prcss ol
srrangc crowds. Bur rlis is nor an cxpcricncc ar all. nor an adulr cxpcricncc. unril ir
las comc ro includc also rlc dynamic movcmcnr. in rlcsc ccnrrcs ol scrrlcd and olrcn
magnificcnr aclicvcmcnr’’ (s).
io. 1lis is nor ro say rlar rlc ciry las nor appcarcd in Wang Anyi’s work unril rlis
momcnr. Bascd in Slanglai. Wang Anyi is prolally onc ol rlc vcry lcwconrcmporary
Clincsc wrircrs wlo rakc rlc ciry as a scrious suljccr ol rlcir wrirings. ¡n a slorr cssay.
‘‘Þanrcn lc nurcn. nurcn lc clcngsli’’ (Mcn and womcn. womcn and rlc ciry). wrir-
rcn in ¡o8o. slc alrcady rlcorizcd on rlc lrccdom and opporruniry rlar rlc ciry may
prcscnr ro womcn. ¡or lcr. rlc ciry rcprcscnrcd a wclcomc lrcak wirl rlc agrarian
rradirion in wlicl only mcn could lavc cxccllcd. Scc Wang Anyi. Hucna·/cn c/i /icn
(¡ovc on a larrcn mounrain) (¡ong Kong. Sourl Clina ¡rcss. ¡o88). i|:–|8.
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N.m Ur/cn Cu/tur. 289
rlc moon rcvolving. 1lcy lclong in rlc samc carcgory as rlc sky and rlc
occan lcyond rlc liglrs in ¡ong Kong. as rlc rocks sranding in rlc sca
warcr. 1lcy arc rlc solid loundarion ol rlc marvclous spccraclc ol ¡ong
Kong. ¡crc you find rlc mosr ordinary lilc. as ordinary as rlc inrrigu-
ing spccraclc ol ¡ong Kong can lc.’’
30
Againsr rlis lackdrop ol lcrcro-
gcncous cocxisrcncc. luman cxpcricncc is dcscrilcd as anyrling lur un-
cvcnrlul. ¡crc. rlc narraror is grcarly lascinarcd ly rlc ncw modaliry rlar
¡ong Kong promiscs ro luman scnsililiry.
¡n sucl a lor and lumid cvcning. you ncvcr know low many srorics arc
srrolling along rlc srrccrs. pausing and moving lcsiranrly. Somc ol rlcm
jusr lavc a lcginning. somc ol rlcm arc coming ro an cnd. and somc orlcrs
arc riglr in rlc middlc. 1lis is wly cvcnings in ¡ong Kong arc lull ol rurns
and suspcnsc. 1lcsc arc rlc lcasr quicr and pcacclul cvcnings. wirl numcr-
ous comcdics and rragcdics unlolding ar rlc samc rimc . . . . [1lc drama ol
¡ong Kong| offcrs you cxcircmcnr rlar cannor lc roral. and dcspair rlar
will ncvcr lc complcrc. It trsmi·.· vsu c /c·t rcv s/ /st. m/.n .v.rvt/ina turn·
sut ts /. c !i·cttsintm.nt; it c/·s c!!· c /rs/.n ti... m/.n vsu /inc//v ts··.··
.v.rvt/ina. Ycr no marrcr wlar. rlc srory ol ¡ong Kong will ncvcr comc
ro an cnd. 1lcrc will always lc insrrumcnrs playing in rlc rlcarcr ol ¡ong
Kong. and rlcrc will ncvcr lc a dying our ol rlc liglrs in ¡ong Kong.
(Implasis addcd)
31
1lcsc olscrvarions ly rlcmsclvcs may nor lc prolound or original. and
somc ol rlcm alrcady lavc lccn madc—lor insrancc. in Zlang Ailing’s
srorics alour ¡ong Kong and Slanglai in rlc ¡o|os
32
—lur in rlc con-
rcxr ol conrcmporary Clincsc social discoursc. rlc ¡ong Kong rlar
Wang Anyi narrarcs lcrc is undoulrcdly a purposclul mcraplor lor a
culrural cloicc. As a gcograplical cmlodimcnr ol rlc social imaginary.
¡ong Kong indccd srands as a ciry ol rlc lururc. ¡r offcrs irscll as an idcal
insrancc ol rlc lcrcroropian urlan lilc rlar rlc Clincsc posrrcvolurion-
ary culrurc sccms anxious ro undcrsrand and cvcnrually ro acquirc.
Mosr noriccally. rlcrclorc. rlc lrokcn lur concrcrc lilc srorics rlar
:o. Wang. Lsv. cn! S.ntim.nt in Hsna Ksna, ¡o.
:¡. ¡lid.. ¡s.
:i. ¡or an insiglrlul analysis ol rlc scnsc ol ‘‘incomplcrcncss’’ and modcrniry in
Zlang Ailing’s ficrion. scc Mcng Yuc. ‘‘Zlongguo wcnxuc ‘xiandai xing’ yu Zlang Ai-
ling’’ (1lc modcrniry ol Clincsc lircrarurc and Zlang Ailing). }inticn (1oday). no. :
(¡ooi). ¡¬o–oi.
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290 C/in.·. As!.rn
Wang Anyi rclls us lcrc arc lardly affccrcd ly cirlcr collccrivc conscious-
ncss or polirical aspirarions. 1lcrc is larcly any rclcrcncc ro rcccnr lis-
rory. ¡owcvcr. rlis docs nor ncccssarily mcan rlar rlcrc is no slarcd
vision ol rlc lururc. 1lc pcculiariry ol ¡ong Kong. as porrraycd in Wang
Anyi’s narrarivc. is rlar ir is complcrcly posrindusrrial and urlanizcd.
1lis is pcrlaps wlcrc rlc wrircr sccs rlc rclcvancc ol ¡ong Kong as a
paradigmaric spacc lor an approacling lururc. Òn rlc onc land. rlc ciry
ol ¡ong Kong appcars ro lc an cnormous posrmodcrn slopping mall.
wlcrc cvcryrling is lor salc and all anxicrics can lc sloppcd away, on
rlc orlcr land. rlc ciry is lull ol luman drama lccausc. ccasclcssly. ‘‘ir
rlrows an inclusivc parry ly inviring all kinds ol lonclincss. and arrangcs
a grand rcunion ly lringing rogcrlcr all momcnrs ol solirudc.’’
33
1lc
srory ol ¡ao Wci and ¡cngjia and rlcir usc and undcrsranding ol cacl
orlcr slould ulrimarcly lc rcad as a dclcnsc ol rlc riclncss ol a mun-
danc urlan lilc. ¡n lcr novclla. Wang Anyi anriciparcs a major culrural
rranslormarion in conrcmporary Clina as mucl as ¡c Ðun docs in lis
lragmcnrcd srorics alour rlc ciry ol Clangsla. Borl wrircrs grasp rlc
ciry as ccnrral ro a posrrcvolurionary rcaliry. and. in doing so. rlcy makc
rcprcscnrallc an agc in wlicl rlc cmcrgcnr lcgcmony is no longcr ¡dcol-
ogy or Collccriviry. lur rarlcr cvcryday lilc. Also in rlis scnsc. rlcy llcnd
mass culrurc and ligl lircrarurc and dirccrly parriciparc in rlc making ol
a ncw urlan culrurc. rlc lisrorical luncrion ol wlicl is ro lclp alsorl rlc
slock ol urlanizarion and ulrimarcly ro lcgirimarc modcrniry.
By way ol conclusion. ¡ would likc ro lricfly discuss rlrcc vcry diffcr-
cnr arrworks ro liglliglr somc ol rlc poinrs madc carlicr. 1lcsc rlrcc
painrings may lc dcscrilcd in rcrms ol gcnrc. polirical posrcr. commcr-
cial lillloard. and auronomous arr, rlcy also can lc dcfincd in rcrms
ol rlcir srylc. socialisr rcalism. capiralisr rcalism.
34
and ncoimprcssion-
ism. By purring rlcm rogcrlcr in a collagc. lowcvcr. ¡ wisl. firsr. ro
visually dcmonsrrarc a lisrorical dcvclopmcnr and sccond. ro poinr ro
rlrcc clcmcnrs ol larc rwcnricrl-ccnrury Clincsc culrurc. Clcarly. T/.
Astsr’· Bscr (¡o¬|) (figurc ¡:) rccords an idcalisr cra in wlicl indus-
rrial as wcll as agriculrural producriviry acquircs an idcological valuc and
scrvcs as a mcans ol social lomogcnizarion. 1lis pursuir ol mcaning is
::. Wang. Lsv. cn! S.ntim.nt in Hsna Ksna, ¡s.
:|. Miclacl Scludson las uscd rlis rcrm ro dcscrilc rlc idcology ol Amcrican ad-
vcrrising arr. Scc lis ³!v.rti·ina, t/. Un.c·v P.r·uc·isn. It· Du/isu· Imtc.t sn ³m.ri.cn
Ss.i.tv (Þcw York. Basic Books. ¡o8|). i¡|–¡8.
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¡: and ¡|. ¡casanr painrings.
(c/sv.) T/. Astsr’· Bscr
(¡o¬|) and (/./t) O/! Pcrtv
S..r.tcrv (¡o¬|). Borl lrom
P.c·cnt Pcintina· /rsm
Hu/·i.n Csuntv (¡cking.
¡orcign ¡anguagcs ¡rcss.
¡o¬|).
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292 C/in.·. As!.rn
¡s. ¡lorograpl. Brinaina Tsu t/. Cs/sr· s/ t/. Isr/!, Gisr!cns, ly Xiaoling 1ang
(¡oo:).
srrongly indicarcd ly rlc conspicuous prcscncc ol a ncwspapcr and a rcd
look. wlicl cndows rlis lilc lorm wirl a spirirual conrcnr and cvcn-
rual rransccndcncc (scc figurc ¡|). 1lc pcasanr ol rlc Socialisr Þcw Ira.
lowcvcr. docs nor occupy ccnrcr sragc lur lappily cmlodics insrrumcn-
raliry and dirccrs our arrcnrion away lrom limscll. 1lis rcificarion lc-
comcs morc srriking wlcn wc mccr rlc warm and cngaging gazc ol rlc
urlan consumcr in Brinaina Tsu t/. Cs/sr· s/ t/. Isr/!, Gisr!cns (¡oo:)
(figurc ¡s. color plarc ¡. lollowing pagc ioo). 1lc suljccr ol rlc dramari-
cally lulfilling lanrasy world musr dominarc our vicw lccausc rlc mir-
ror imagc luncrions ly infilrraring our scll-conccprion and consciousncss.
1lis world ol rlc scll-assurcd consumcr is jusr as unrcal and uropian as
rlar ol rlc scll-alncgaring produccr. cvcn rlougl rlcy suggcsr vcry dil-
lcrcnr mcans ol rranslorming rlc world. ¡n rlis liglr. lorl socialisr rcal-
ism and capiralisr rcalism arc uropian arr lorms dcsigncd ro allcviarc rlc
anxicry ol cvcryday lilc and ro lclp rlcir rcspccrivc vicwcrs copc wirl
rlc sccular condirion ol modcrniry. 1lc gray srandardizcd officc luilding
againsr wlicl rlis lillloard is crccrcd firsr sccms ro jusrily rlc nccd lor
sucl a lanrasy and rlcn quicrly lclics ir.
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N.m Ur/cn Cu/tur. 293
¡o. Òil. Dr.cm Gir/, ly Qiu 1ao (¡o8s). ¡rom
B.vsn! t/. Ot.n Dssr. Csnt.mtsrcrv Pcintina·
/rsm t/. P.st/.’· B.tu//i. s/ C/inc, cd.
Ficlard I. Srrasslcrg and Waldcmar A. Þiclson
(¡asadcna. ¡acific Asia Muscum. ¡o8¬).
¡inally. Dr.cm Gir/ (¡o8s) (figurc ¡o. color plarc i. lollowing pagc ioo)
ly Qiu 1ao prcscnrs irscll as a rcvclarory acr ol inrcrvcnrion as wcll as a
cririquc ol rlc polirics ol uropia. Ònc possillc rcading is ro scc a casc ol
‘‘scnrimcnral conlccrion wlicl doulrlcss rcflccrs wcsrcrnizcd lanrasics ol
romancc common ro rlc youngcr urlan gcncrarion.’’
35
Bur wlcn placcd
ncxr ro rlc orlcr rwo painrings. rlc sullcn lacc and grccnisl skin ol rlc
‘‘drcam girl.’’ in slarp conrrasr ro rlc lriglr and dancing rcd. sccm ro
:s. Ficlard I. Srrasslcrg. ‘‘1lc Òpcning Ðoor ol Conrcmporary Clincsc ¡ainr-
ing.’’ in B.vsn! t/. Ot.n Dssr. Csnt.mtsrcrv Pcintina· /rsm t/. P.st/.’· B.tu//i. s/
C/inc, cd. Ficlard I. Srrasslcrg and Waldcrmar A. Þiclscn (¡asadcna. Calil.. ¡acific
Asia Muscum. ¡o8¬). ¡s–¡o.
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294 C/in.·. As!.rn
suggcsr a lorccd rccognirion. or acccprancc. ol somc unromanric rcaliry
or rrurl. 1lc colorlul drcss can larcly supporr or lold rogcrlcr a cold.
dcspondcnr lody. and rlis is wlcrc rlc incrria ol cvcryday lilc cruprs. ¡n-
srcad ol rranslcrring or divcrring rlc anxicry ol cvcryday lilc. Dr.cm Gir/
cxposcs ir ro our vicw and prcscnrs no lcss rlan a dysropian rcaliry. 1lis
makcs rlc painring a lairllul cxrcnsion ol rlc crirical spirir in Wcsrcrn
modcrnism and givcs ir a polirical rlrusr. Ycr lccausc ol irs auronomous
srancc. ir is lundamcnrally a dcconsrrucrivc arr lormand rcmains opposcd
ro rlc mass culrurcs rcprcscnrcd ly rlc orlcr rwo imagcs.
1lc siruarion rlar nccds carclul considcrarion now. lowcvcr. is rlar
rlc rwo uplilring imagcs arc morc mass-oricnrcd and posirivc prcciscly
lccausc rlcy conrain a uropian clcmcnr. Wlcrcas onc imagc poinrs ro a
moral lcing as rlc mcans ro cmcrgc lrom cvcryday lilc. rlc orlcr. also as
a compcnsarion. sulsrirurcs consumcr nccds lor glolal dcsircs. ¡n lorl
imagcs. rlc vicwcr is invircd ro parriciparc in a promiscd good lilc. in onc
our ol a moral impcrarivc. in rlc orlcr rlrougl imaginary idcnrificarion.
1lc lacr rlar onc ol rlcm was officially cndorscd in ¡o¬|. and rlc orlcr
was pullicly displaycd in rlc srrccrs ol Guangzlou in ¡oo:. is a rclling
indicarion ol rlc cxrcnr ol rlc culrural rranslormarion in larc rwcnricrl-
ccnrury Clina. Wlar is morc inrcrcsring is ro rcad rlcsc rwo imagcs as
indiccs ol rwo diffcrcnr culrural logics and visions ol lisrory. organic
and rransccndcncc-immancnr rural lilc vs. incomplcrc lur dcrail-ccnrcrcd
urlan cxisrcncc. 1lcsc rwo lilc lorms arc ulrimarcly idcological cfforrs ro
ovcrcomc rlc anxicry ol cvcryday lilc—wlicl is also rlc lorrom linc ol
modcrniry.
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Lx.ur·isn II
Ðccoraring Culrurc. Þorcs on ¡nrcrior Ðcsign.
¡nrcrioriry. and ¡nrcriorizarion
‘‘¡nconspicuous consumprion.’’ olscrvcs ¡ilar \iladas. rlc arclirccrurc
and lomc dcsign criric lor rlc N.m Tsr/ Tim.· Acaccin., claracrcrizcs
a prcvailing acsrlcrics ol simpliciry in Amcrican lomc lurnislings and
dccorarions during rlc ¡ooos. ‘‘Farlcr rlan purring rlcir moncy on dis-
play. pcoplc sccm ro lc invcsring in a quicrcr lrand ol luxury. lascd
on comlorr and qualiry.’’
1
As il disclosing a ncw discovcry. rlc dcsign
and srylc indusrry rcvcrcs as irs morro ‘‘lcss is morc.’’ and a lar-rcacling
movcmcnr away lrom rlc ‘‘ovcrdcsign’’ ol rlc ¡o8os roward rlc Òrdi-
nary. according ro ¡cnry \rlacl. a conrriluring cdiror ar Int.risr D.·ian
magazinc. is drivcn ly rlc ycarning lor a simplc and lamiliar lilc. ‘‘1lc
Òrdinary las gaincd momcnrum in rcccnr ycars as a kind ol compcn-
sarion lor. or rcacrion againsr. rlc cxrraordinary clangcs affccring our
cvcryday livcs. Þo placc sccms salc. lcasr ol all rlc lomc. wlcrc privacy
and rranquilliry cannor lc rakcn lor granrcd.’’
2
1lc currcnr rcaffirmarion ol a privarc and unprcrcnrious lomc may lc
an cxpccrcd pcndular swing ol rlc laslion world, ir may cvcn lavc irs
psyclological origins. as \rlacl suggcsrs. in rlc Amcrican amlivalcncc
roward ‘‘slowing off wcalrl’’, and ir may lc rlc cvcnrual. gadgcr-wcary
lomccoming ol a mucl pullicizcd posrmodcrnism. wlicl las lully rc-
vcalcd irscll as an idcology ol cvcryday lilc in rlc posrindusrrial sccror
ol glolal capiralism. Wlarcvcr rlc rcadings. inrcrior dcsign crccrs an in-
rriguing sign sysrcm rlar indcxcs rlc individual psyclc as wcll as rlc col-
lccrivc onc. ¡n marcrial lorms and rclarions. ir sragcs a ccrrain conccprion
ol lomc—a givcn norion ol lclonging and sclllood. ¡nrcrior dcsign—
cvcn innocuously sclccring and arranging lurnirurc in an aparrmcnr—
¡. ‘‘¡nconspicuous Consumprion.’’ N.m Tsr/ Tim.· Acaccin., ¡arr i. ‘‘¡omc Ðc-
sign.’’ ¡: April ¡oo¬. is.
i. ‘‘¡idc rlc Moncy!’’ N.m Tsr/ Tim.· Acaccin., ¡arr i. ‘‘¡omc Ðcsign.’’ ¡: April
¡oo¬. 8–¡o.
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296 C/in.·. As!.rn
lcars wirncss ro our pcrsonaliry and imaginarion. ¡n slorr. ir offcrs onc
lorm lor cxrcrnalizing our inncr lilc or inrcrioriry.
¡ cxaminc in rlis cxcursion rlc rranslormarivc rclarionslip lcrwccn in-
rcrior dcsign and inrcrioriry in rlc conrcxr ol larc rwcnricrl-ccnrury Cli-
ncsc culrurc. 1lc inrcrior dcsign promorcd in rlc Clina ol rlc ¡ooos is
anyrling lur inconspicuous. sranding in spccracular conrrasr ro and ncga-
rion ol rlc ausrcrc simpliciry ol rlc ‘‘socialisr modcrn’’ during rlc ¡ooos
and ¡o¬os. 1lrougl rcading a scminal narrarivc inrimarcly and conrcxru-
ally. ¡ rracc rlc murarions ol inrcrioriry lrom an ovcrdcrcrmincd conccpr
ol prorcsr ro irs co-oprarion ly a nasccnr sign consciousncss in rlc rcalm
ol popular culrurc. 1lc samc lircrary rcxr lcrs us cxaminc rlc discursivc
lcgirimarion ol and srrarcgics lor inrcriorizarion. a proccss rlar lorl in-
srills and answcrs psyclic and insrirurional nccds lor a rapidly modcrniz-
ing cconomy.
Ðclilcrarc Ðisplay and a ¡asr ¡ilc
1oward rlc cnd ol lis mucl acclaimcd novclla Di!i ni/cs (¡cllo. my
youngcr lrorlcr. ¡oo:).
3
¡c Ðun. an cncrgcric lircrary ncwcomcr lascd
in rlc provincial capiral Clangsla. arrangcs lor rlc lcro ol lis srory ro
cnjoy a mcaninglul momcnr ol pcacc and conrcnrmcnr. 1lrouglour rlc
narrarivc. Ðcng ¡cping. lis pcriod-spccific givcn namc mcaning ‘‘pcacc.’’
is rclcrrcd ro as ‘‘my youngcr lrorlcr’’ and is conrinuously casr in rlc
awkward rolc ol a rclcllious and csrrangcd lamily mcmlcr. Ðisrcspccr-
lul ol lis orrlodox. rcvolurionary larlcr and slowing grcar ingcnuiry
in capiralisr cnrrcprcncurslip. ¡cping cmlodics a posr-Culrural Fcvolu-
rion gcncrarion rlar. rcacling irs adulrlood in rlc carly ¡o8os. appcars
lorl lamiliar and ycr ominously unconrainallc in Clincsc socicry in rlc
¡ooos. 1lc novclla lcgins in ¡o88. wlcn ¡cping is rwcnry-six and dcfi-
nircly lcyond lis lormarivc ycars. ¡n rlar ycar. lccausc ol a scrics ol
misdccds. onc ol wlicl is imprcgnaring lis nincrccn-ycar-old girllricnd.
¡cping finally managcs ro cnragc ‘‘my larlcr’’ ro sucl a dcgrcc rlar lc
is pcrmancnrly larrcd lrom visiring lis parcnrs’ aparrmcnr. ¡ncidcnrally.
as rlc narraror coolly commcnrs. ‘‘my larlcr.’’ ar rlc samc promising agc
:. Collccrcd in ¡c Ðun. S/.na/us mucui (¡ilc is nor a crimc) (Bcijing. ¡uayi. ¡oos).
i¬8–:oo. ¡urrlcr pagc rclcrcnccs ro rlis srory arc givcn in parcnrlcscs in rlc rcxr.
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D..srctina Cu/tur. 297
ol rwcnry-six. lad cxpcllcd lis own landowning larlcr wlcn lc lcd a lri-
gadc ol Communisr gucrrillas and ransackcd rlc csrarc in ¡o|8.
As rlc dcnsc and lasr-paccd narrarivc winds ro a suddcn lalr. wc rcacl
rlc wcr Ðcccmlcr ol ¡ooi and rcalizc rlar ‘‘my youngcr lrorlcr’’ las ap-
parcnrly ‘‘madc ir.’’ ¡n lurricdly lollowing rlc proragonisr around. wc
quickly gcr alsorlcd in. cvcn lascinarcd ly. lis world ol oljccrs. dcsirc.
moncy. and acrion. 1lc novclla. rogcrlcr wirl ¡c Ðun’s orlcr ficrional
narrarivcs alour conrcmporary Clangsla. indccd offcrs a raw accounr
ol rlc widcsprcad capiralisr drivc rlar las lccomc a concrcrc passion
lor rlis gcncrarion ol Clincsc urlan yourl. 1lrougl all rlc rougl and
olrcn sordid ups-and-downs in lis lorruncs and cmorional lilc. ¡cping
cmcrgcs as a scll-madc and scll-confidcnr lcro. inspiring as mucl cnvy
as admirarion lrom rlc narraror. lis amlivalcnr lur ulrimarcly sympa-
rlcric oldcr lrorlcr. Ivcn rlc young man’s plysiquc undcrgocs a sig-
nificanr mcramorplosis in rlc proccss ol assiduous scll-laslioning. Gonc
arc rlc rwo discascs. fisrula and lypcrrlyroidism. rlar pur lim ar a dis-
advanragc wlcn lc was also a consranr annoyancc ro lis parcnrs and
supcriors. Fadiaring a rolusr glow. lc now proudly ridcs an cxpcnsivc
¡onda mororcyclc and is prcparing lor a sccond marriagc. 1lc woman
lc lovcs and wlom lc will marry on Þcw Ycar’s day ol ¡oo: was rlc nc-
glccrcd lur lcaurilul wilc ol ¡cping’s onc-rimc loss. a local Mafia lcadcr
wlo madc lis wcalrl rlrougl lcroin rrafficking and was cvcnrually ar-
rcsrcd and condcmncd. Sincc Ðandan. a succcsslul lairdrcsscr. is now
visilly prcgnanr. rlcy nccd ro gcr rlc wcdding ccrcmony our ol rlc way
soon. ¡cping. lowcvcr. is lusicr rlan cvcr. lccausc lc rcrails marcrials
lor luilding dccorarion. and ¡ooi lappcns ro lc a ycar wlcn rlc cnrirc
narion. rlc rcscrvcd narraror clroniclcs. is consumcd ly a crazc in ‘‘rcal
csrarc. consrrucrion. gas and warcr-lcarcr insrallarion’’ (:s|). 1o rakc lull
advanragc ol rlc ncw lad in lomc improvcmcnr. ¡cping las ro lcavc lis
wilc-ro-lc lclind and slurrlc nonsrop. usually ly rruck. lcrwccn Clang-
sla and Guangzlou. scramlling lor supplics rlar arc now in grcar slorr-
agc. Ònc alrcrnoon. alrcr anorlcr lumpy rrip. lc comcs lack cxlausrcd.
only ro find lis onc-lcdroom aparrmcnr rorally rranslormcd.
Youngcr Brorlcr languidly puslcd opcn rlc door and was rakcn alack. 1lc
living room was complcrcly rcdccorarcd. Wlar uscd ro lc solr grccn walls
wcrc now covcrcd wirl crimson rcd wallpapcr wirl lrick dcsigns on ir,
ovcrlcad a solr rcd drop-cciling ol plywood was addcd. 1lc original pancl-
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298 C/in.·. As!.rn
ing ol clcsrnur-colorcd plywood was now rcplaccd wirl rlc samc marcrial
in pink. ‘‘Slc movcd lcr Fcd ¡air Salon lcrc.’’ Youngcr Brorlcr murrcrcd
ro limscll. 1lc lour walls ol rlc lcdroom. lrom lorrom ro rop. wcrc all
covcrcd wirl asl loards. and rlc floor was parqucrcd in a laskcr wcavc
parrcrn. 1lc lurnirurc was nowa luxurianr dcluxc scr. ol a plcasanr maroon
color. 1lc old wlirc composirc scr was nowlcrc ro lc lound. ‘‘Slc knows
low ro spcnd moncy.’’ Youngcr Brorlcr rlrcw limscll onro rlc lcd and
marvclcd. ‘‘Bur rlis is prcrry comly.’’ (:ss–so)
1lis ncwly dccorarcd inrcrior spacc rlar ¡cping cnrcrs comcs as lorl
a surprisc and a rcassurancc. Ivcryrling lc sccs is ncw and unlamiliar.
lur rogcrlcr rlcy win lis rccognirion. almosr insranrancously. and arc
acccprcd as lis own posscssions. ¡c immcdiarcly claims rlis slowroom
as lis lomc ly rlrowing limscll onro rlc comlorrallc lcd. Alrlougl
Ðandan is nor rlcrc ro grccr lim. rlc mcriculous dcsign loudly lcspcaks
lcr prcscncc. ¡n lacr. lcr alscncc convcnicnrly allows lim ro closcly cx-
aminc rlcir ncw lomc and ro alsorl lcr anriciparion lor rlcir lururc lilc
rogcrlcr. 1lrougl lcr cloicc ol oljccrs. marcrials. and dcsign. Ðandan
crcarcs a privarc and concrcrc spacc rlar mirrors rlcir privarc and concrcrc
dcsircs. ¡r is also ar rlis momcnr rlar ¡cping. rlc inrrcpid small-lusincss
owncr. lully cxpcricnccs. as il srcpping oursidc limscll. rlc scducrivc
powcr ol consumprion and rranslarcs rlc lomc inrcrior surrounding lim
inro a sign ol lis social succcss. ¡cncc. lis apprcciarivc commcnr ro Ðan-
dan wlcn lc wakcs up lours larcr. ‘‘1lis lccls jusr likc sraying in a lour-
srar lorcl’’ (:so).
¡n lacr. rlrouglour rlc srory. ¡cping is consisrcnrly srudicd as a con-
spicuous consumcr. lor wlom consumprion is morc ol a pracriccd idc-
ology rlan a sarislacrion ol wlimsical nccds. ¡c rcadily cmlraccs wlar
Ican Baudrillard dcscrilcs as rlc ‘‘sysrcm ol oljccrs’’ and. wirl grcar pro-
ficicncy. commands rlc sign languagc ol commodirics.
4
¡c and lis co-
lorrs dcmonsrrarc an insrincrivc grasp ol rlc srarus symlolism associarcd
wirl lrand namcs. lorcign producrs. and luxury ircms. Wlilc rlc ciga-
rcrrcs lc smokcs cvolvc lrom domcsric ro Amcrican lrands. lis loorwcar
also progrcsscs lrom gcncric ‘‘poinry and sliny llack slocs’’ ro ‘‘¡ralian-
madc crocodilc skin slocs.’’ wlicl lc is quick ro slow off ly purring lis
|. Ican Baudrillard. ‘‘Sign ¡uncrion and Class ¡ogic.’’ in lis Fsr c Criti;u. s/ t/.
Ps/iti.c/ L.snsmv s/ t/. Sian, rrans. wirl inrroducrion ly Clarlcs ¡cvin (Sr. ¡ouis.
1clos ¡rcss. ¡o8¡). io.
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D..srctina Cu/tur. 299
lccr on a rallc as a mcans ol convincing lis lricnds ol lis amlirion. Wlcn
rlc lusincss ol lis ¡ongrai Ðccorarion Marcrials srorc flourislcs. lring-
ing in a ncr profir ol ¬oo.ooo yuan (cquivalcnr ro \S S8s.ooo). lc rcwards
limscll ly upgrading lis mororcyclc lrom a Clincsc-madc Þanlang ro
a Foyal ¡onda. and lc makcs a poinr ol visiring all ol lis lricnds and
acquainranccs on rlis landsomc maclinc cquippcd wirl rwin railpipcs.
Ycr norling as dccply and complcrcly grarifics lim as rlc ncw domcsric
scrring rlar lc finds ar lomc. ¡or rlis is cffccrivcly rlc firsr rimc rlar.
insrcad ol dcmonsrraring ro orlcrs wlar lc likcs and can afford. lc gcrs
ro vicw lis own wcalrl and accomplislmcnr splcndidly displaycd lor lis
consumprion alonc. ¡n a scnsc. lc is now invircd ro rcad rlc sign ol lis
own succcss rarlcr rlan paradc ir around as an invidious disrincrion.
Ðclilcrarc display is wlar rlis parricular sccnc ol inrcrior rcnovarion
lrings ro rlc lorcground. ¡r is also rlc inrcndcd cffccr ol sucl dcrailcd dc-
scriprion. ¡or lorl rlc claracrcr in rlc srory and rlc rclarcd narraror. rlc
plcasurc dcrivcd lrom rcgisrcring rlosc ornamcnral dcrails is irrcprcss-
illc and luncrions as a driving lorcc lclind rlc narrarivc. An olscssion
wirl rlc ornamcnr. ol wlicl ¡cping is a prolcssional promorcr. pcnc-
rrarcs rlc ficrional world. lorl irs lorm and conrcnr. Þor only docs rlc
srory’s young lcro gradually lcarn low ro disringuisl limscll rlrougl
cosrly dcsigncr arrirc. lur rlc narraror also conrinually rclics on naming
various oljccrs and spclling our priccs in ordcr ro makc lis rcprcscnra-
rion rcalisric. Mcriculous carc is rakcn in rlc narrarivc ro spccily. olrcn
in an offland laslion. wlcrlcr a lounrain pcn is lrom rlc \nircd Srarcs
or a licyclc is jusr an ordinary domcsric ¡locnix. 1lc rcaliry cffccr ol
novclisric discoursc now rclics on rccognizing rlc diffcrcnriaring lunc-
rion rlar commodirics arc callcd upon ro scrvc as cvcryday oljccrs. All
commodirics. indccd. parriciparc in an ingcnious ‘‘social discoursc ol ol-
jccrs’’ rlar conrrilurcs ro wlar Baudrillard oncc dcscrilcd as a gcncral
‘‘mcclanism ol discriminarion and prcsrigc.’’
5
According ro rlc ¡rcncl
sociologisr. rcflccring on rlc logic ol rising consumcrism in posr-World
War ¡¡ Iuro-Amcrica. rlcrc always cxisrs a ‘‘polirical cconomy ol rlc
sign.’’ in wlicl commodirics or oljccrs arc consumcd nor so mucl lor
rlcir uriliry or usc valuc. as lor rlcir cxplicir sign valuc. ¡arallcl ro rlc
signilying opcrarion ol all languagcs. rlc sign valuc ol oljccrs cnlorccs a
logic ol diffcrcnriarion and csrallislcs. rlrougl display and conspicuous
s. ¡lid.. :o.
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2
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300 C/in.·. As!.rn
consumprion. a disrincrivc licrarcly ol rasrc. srarus. and idcnriry. ‘‘Signs.
likc commodirics. arc ar oncc usc valuc and cxclangc valuc. 1lc social
licrarclics. rlc invidious diffcrcnccs. rlc privilcgcs ol casrc and culrurc
wlicl rlcy supporr. arc accounrcd as profir. as pcrsonal sarislacrion. and
livcd as ‘nccd’ (nccd ol social valuc-gcncrarion ro wlicl corrcsponds rlc
‘uriliry’ ol diffcrcnrial signs and rlcir ‘consumprion’).’’
6
¡uman nccds.
Baudrillard lurrlcr olscrvcs. arc ncvcr a narural cxpcricncc or oljccrivc
pcrccprion. lur rlcy always lavc an idcological gcncsis lrom alovc and
in rlc privilcgcd. ¡n lacr. nccds arc ncccssarily consrrucrcd ro providc rlc
alili or scll-cvidcnr rarionalc lor any givcn sragc ol ‘‘consummarivc mo-
lilizarion.’’
7
wlicl provcs ro lc a ccnrral lcgirimizing proccss ol rlc larc
capiralisr modc ol producrion.
1lc cxrcnr ol sucl a consummarivc molilizarion is alundanrly rcsrificd
ro in ¡c Ðun’s ciry narrarivcs. Morcovcr. rlc vcry modc ol lis srory-
rclling is olviously implicarcd in rlc commodificarion ol lircrarurc. mir-
roring rlc rcorganizarion ol lircrary producrion and consumprion ly rlc
logic ol rlc markcr. ¡n lis cxposc-srylc dcpicrion ol an ill-dcfincd zonc
ol cmcrging capiralism. a sulrlc lcgirimarion ol rlis dcsullimarcd rc