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Globalizing the Self: The Aesthetics of Hybridity

  • Lingchei Letty Chen

Abstract

In this final chapter I will propose and discuss a new kind of aesthetics that is grounded in textual hybridity. This aesthetics of hybridity offers a new concept of cultural identity for our fast globalizing cultural context. Hillel Schwartz argues that in our culture of copy, “authenticity can no longer be rooted in singularity.”1 When an object is deemed original or unique, it then possesses authenticity. Authenticity thus does not necessarily conflict with hybridity as a hybrid is an entirely new (thus “unique” and “original”) product of different entities. Following this line of thought, we can also argue that a hybridized artwork-narrative can be authentic because the artwork has created for itself a new “aura” or style as manifested in the work’s aesthetics.

Keywords

Gender Identity Cultural Identity Indigenous Culture Authentic Identity Truth Content 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 6.
    The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays (first appeared in 1975 in Moscow), ed. by Michael Holquist, trans. by Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981), 358–61.Google Scholar
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    M. M. Bakhtin, “The Problem of the Text in Linguistics, Philology, and the Human Sciences: An Experiment in Philosophical Analysis,” Speech Genres and Other Late Essays, trans. by Vern W. McGee, ed. by Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996, 1986), 105.Google Scholar
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    In 1996, David Der-wei Wang edited a new collection, A Flower Remembers Her Previous Lives (Taipei: Rye Field, 1996), comprising seven of Zhu Tianwen’s earlier but most representative short stories, two chapters of what Zhu Tianwen called the “predecessor” of Notes of a DesolateMan—an incomplete novel which she titled Descendants of the Sun Goddess (my translation), and two chapters from Notes of a Desolate Man. The significance of this collection lies in its two prefaces and scholarly criticism by Huang Jinshu at the end of the book. The two prefaces are, “From ‘Diary of a Mad Man’ to Notes of a Desolate Man: On Zhu Tianwen, Hu Lancheng and Eileen Chang” written by the editor himself, which is an overview of Zhu’s literary development, and one which bears the same title as the collection but with an important subtitle: “Remembering Hu Lancheng in Eight Essays” (Ji Hu Lancheng bashu) written by the writer herself. From this article we learn how decidedly and deeply Hu Lancheng has shaped Zhu Tianwen as a writer and a thinker. Huang’s solid critical analysis at the end of the collection, “Descendants of the Sun Goddess—the Last Forty Chapters? The (Post)Modern Revelation ?” (my translation; Shenji zhi wu—hou sishihei? houxiandai qishilu?), traces precisely how the central thought of Notes of a Desolate Man can be attributed to Hu’s lasting aesthetic, philosophical, ideological, and moral influence on Zhu Tianwen.Google Scholar
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    See Zhu Weichen, “A Desolate Man Trapped—A Gender Reading of Zhu Tianwen’s Notes of a Desolate Man” (Shoukuen zhuliu de tongzhehuangren— Zhu Tianwen Huanren Shouji de tongzhi yuedu). Chung-wai Literary Monthly (Taipei: Taiwan daxue waiwenxi), vol. 24, no. 3 (Aug. 1995): 142–59.Google Scholar
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    See Liu Liangya and her article, “Swinging between Modern and Postmodern: Issues of Nationality, Generation, Gender, and Desire in Zhu Tianwen’s Recent Fiction” (Baidong zai xiandai yu hoxiandai zhijian: Zhu Tianwen jinqizuopinzhong de guozhu, shidai, xingbie, qingyu wenti ). Chung-wai Literary Monthly, vol. 24, no. 1 (June 1995): 7–19.Google Scholar
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    T’ientven Chu, Notes of a Desolate Man (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999).Google Scholar
  12. 38.
    The idea here is closely linked with my earlier discussion of l’objet petit a. For detailed analysis, please see Slavoj Zižek, “The Undergrowth of Enjoyment: How Popular Culture can Serve as an Introduction to Lacan,” New Formations, vol. 9 (1989): 7–29;Google Scholar
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  14. 43.
    I am borrowing this term developed by Emily Apter in her study of women and fetishism in Feminizing the Fetish: Psychoanalysis and Narrative Obsession in Turn-of-Century France (Ithaca & London: Cornell University Press, 1991).Google Scholar
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    Aesthetic Theory, ed. by Gretel Adorno and Rolf Tiedemann (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997), 172.Google Scholar
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    “Enigmaticalness, Truth Content, Metaphysics,” Aesthetic Theory; Lambert Zuidervaart, Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1994).Google Scholar
  17. 50.
    The historical degradations surrounding hybrid/hybridity is clearly delineated and analyzed by Robert J. C. Young in his Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory, Culture and Race (London & New York: Routledge, 1995).Google Scholar
  18. 53.
    Debating Cultural Hybridity: Multi-Cultural Identities and the Politics of Anti-Racism, ed. by Pnina Werbner and Tariq Modood (London & New Jersey: Zed Books, 1997), 5.Google Scholar

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© Lingchei Letty Chen 2006

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  • Lingchei Letty Chen

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