Abstract

In 2007, acclaimed Taiwanese postmodern poet Hsia Yü published a transparent book of bilingual poems generated mostly from weblogs (in English) and from a computer translation program (in Chinese). The book, Pink Noise (now available on Amazon), has ignited enthusiastic responses among Hsia Yü's "lay readers" in Taiwan, but like many other postmodernist works from a postcolonial context, has not yet received much critical attention. The essay begins with the question of locating or localizing Hsia Yü's postmodernism in postcolonial, post-Martial-Law Taiwan, reading the form of layered transparency and the play with (artificial) language and (machinic) translation not as a free play of signifiers or equivalent of concrete or conceptual art but as a realistic representation of digital (uneven) globalization. Reading Hsia Yü's bilingual poems closely through Lacan's theory of alienation and Wittgenstein's ideas on nonsense, the essay shows that the English/Weblish and the Chinese/Translationese can be read as different kinds of language games which are signposts to the questions concerning the status of English as a global language, the loss and love of translation in a postcolonial context, the return from narratology to a musicology of poetry, and the tremendously rich "nonsense" that happens when two heterogeneous and disparagingly hegemonic national languages meet. In conclusion, Pink Noise, unlike modernism with its implicit claim to whiteness, trans-lates negative dialogics into a convivial romance of poetry.

Additional Information

ISSN
1053-1920
Launched on MUSE
2010-08-25
Open Access
No
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