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Poetics of EmptinessTransformations of Asian Thought in American Poetry$
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Jonathan Stalling

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780823231447

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823231447.001.0001

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/ Pacing the Void: Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's Dictée

/ Pacing the Void: Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's Dictée

(p.157) 5 / Pacing the Void: Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's Dictée
Poetics of Emptiness

Jonathan Stalling

Fordham University Press

This chapter shows how Cha's novel/poem Dictée, unquestionably the most important transpacific document of American Postmodernism has not been adequately contextualized within the explicit East Asian philosophical discourses running through it. While one can trace Cha's interest in Daoism to, for example, her daily practice of taiji chuan during her years at UC Berkeley, or to the numerous Daoist concepts and references to “inner alchemy” in her MFA thesis “Paths,” the depth of her Daoism is clearly attributable to a fusion that has taken place between the poststructuralism of Roland Barthes and the Daoist desire to enter the “void”, the undifferentiated/infinite/potentiality, from which, according to Daoist cosmogony, all things emerge and, according to Daoist soteriology, one can return. The heterocultural aggregate of this poetics of emptiness re-imagines “active reading practices” and “writerly texts” as a gateway through which to empty the subject of its ideologically constructed “expressive voice.”

Keywords:   American Postmodernism, Daoist concepts, Daoist cosmogony, Daoist soteriology, emptiness

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