It is worth pausing on Segalen because, in marked contrast to his literary idol Paul Claudel featured in Bush's first chapter , whom he met in and who by his own admission barely grasped a word of the language, Segalen showed an abiding interest in the abstract semiotics of classical Chinese calligraphy, and travelled widely amid the comfortless grandeur of the north-western provinces.
Bush's detailed discussion is part of a welcome and overdue reassessment prompted by postcolonial theorists as well as historians of cross-cultural negotiation. Like Yvonne Y. Hsieh in Chinese Moulds, Western Thoughts , Bush demonstrates with emphatic assurance that Segalen's literary encounter with China — converting a tangible actuality into an imaginative conceit that voices his own transplanted identity — is wilfully contradictory.
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I would have liked from Ideographic Modernism more analytical stress at this point on Segalen's China as a highly self-conscious literary tactic that keeps a yearning for transcendental fulfilment and a scathing critique of ethnocentrism in delicate equipoise. This prescient essay calls for an anti-colonial aesthetic, marked by a sophisticated scepticism that debunks the decadent fantasies and egotistical sublime which epitomized the mass of orientalia to which Pierre Loti, Rudyard Kipling, and Claudel variously contributed. I will therefore fashion an equivocal being: neither genie, nor dead, nor living.
Hear me: If it pleases you yet to suck on life, with its sweet taste and pungent spices; If it pleases you to bat your eyelids, draw breath into your chest and shiver beneath your skin, hear me: Become my Vampire, friend, and night after night, without disturbance or haste, gorge yourself on the hot liquor of my heart. Yao in Sinographies , Bush reveals that Segalen's China, like the various conceits of this geopolitical site canvassed elsewhere in Ideographic Modernism , is not something thought about but something thought through and with.
The book also makes a methodological argument, demonstrating new ways ofrecovering the generally overlooked presence of China in the text of Western modernism. About The Author.
Ideographic Modernism : China, Writing, Media
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Hours of Play:. On another level, the book makes a methodological argument, demonstrating new ways of recovering the generally overlooked presence of China in the text of Western modernism.
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