Buttery Flies: On the Alien Permanence of the InvAsian Irony of Permanent Aliens
Abstract

This piece revisits this old Asian American trope, “the perpetual foreigner-stranger over there and here,” by showing how and why irony, “invAsian” irony in particular, becomes the constant in the cultural ontology and phenomenology of Asian Americana, where the Asian American subject still figures as encroaching builder or unbuilding resident, a transfigurative threat to the narrative coherence of the nationalist US imaginary. These particularly “InvAsian,” dangerous and honorary “CauASIAN,” characters—however outdated and yellowing they may seem in the year 2015—still seem real enough; they are downwardly mobile noodle delivery men or upwardly mobile medical overachievers, riding up and down on the Great Chain of American Being, except that they are not laterally mobile, for they are still a little too strange, stupidly or smartly. So, the alien permanence of the “invAsian” irony of permanent aliens: how does this diehard cliché of fascination and fear, this contradictory object of condescension and condemnation, exist or subsist? The economized, i.e., selective and “invested” performance and mobilization of ethnoracial stereotypes captures the invAsian irony of America, which mirrors the deeper and wider Euro-American irony of identitarian anxieties over mythologized reality or territorialized origin. America, come on, really, where is your originality from?


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