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Diasporic aesthetics of Gao Xingjian's exilic discourse

Authors Shum, Janet Sau Ching
Issue Date 2010
Summary This thesis examines the diasporic aesthetic of Gao Xingjian’s narrative and plays and studies how the idea of time, space, homeliness and unhomeliness pivotal to exile literature is constituted in his work. It postulates that the diasporic aesthetic of Gao as a spiritual and political exile from the Mainland in late 1980’s is starkly different from that of the traditional Chinese exile in the twentieth century across the straits who are largely under the spell of the Middle Kingdom syndrome. The new kind of “dissident voice” as exemplified by Gao is of double alienation. It is one which alienates the nation by questioning its ideological hegemony and one of self-alienation through speaking in split. The voice speaks as a counter-discourse against national myth and also against the myth of self as the centered subject. Distance is not what the exile mourns but embraces so as to remain at the margin which would enable the diasporic intellectual to observe with a cold eye, attain self-interrogation and self-reflection. The ethic of the new type of dissident Gao demonstrates as a mental and literal exile is to incessantly question the existential condition of the self and its poetics is a sublimity of imperceptibility and possibility. In adopting an intertextual approach and positing the discussion of Gao’s exilic discourse in dialogical exchange with theories in cultural studies which attend to issues including cultural identity, narrative as agency and cultural translation, this study foregrounds the writer’s work in a transcultural context and shows that Gao’s diasporic third space is always already transformed and hybridized. Whether the writer’s cultural resources are derivative from traditional Chinese aesthetics or modern western culture, what we see is Gao’s individuated translated version which is irreducible and personalized, and a transcultural assemblage seeking to communicate with the world audience a history of trauma, the aporia of self, the libidinal, and deadly experience. In the midst of a “postmodern” condition where inter-cultural transaction is a rule rather than exception, Gao’s aesthetic provides an option to interpreting the cultural self as a potential self-conscious site of on-going cultural contest and transmutation.
Note Thesis (Ph.D.)--Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, 2010
Language English
Format Thesis
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