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  • Emoji Poetics
  • Seo-Young Chu (bio)

An emoji can be many things. It can be, for instance, a national flag (e.g., ""), a lovely image (e.g., ""), a grotesquely oversimplified facial expression (e.g., ""), and/or a literalized figure of speech (e.g., "," which renders cartoonishly visual and violently legible the hyperbolic expression "mind blown").

No matter what form they may take, emojis allow users to automate and outsource certain types of labor. For example: the emoji "" relieves the user of the (relatively simple) "burden" of having to type out "Love" or "I love you." (A cynic might go so far as to argue that the emoji "" relieves the user of the emotional burden of having to feel love too deeply, as well as the cognitive burden of having to think about love too seriously.)

In the spirit of playfully reducing burdens and increasing the number of shortcuts, I have designed several new "emojis" for this ASAP/Journal forum. Each emoji is followed by at least one sentence illustrating how the emoji can be used.

  1. (1). A shortcut for typing out "the uncanny valley":

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    [End Page 290]

    • ❖ "Frankenstein's creature should not have to live in ."

    • ❖ " must be a strange home."

    • ❖ "The emoji for resembles the letters 'UV.'"

    • ❖ "I would rather visit than live there permanently."

  2. (2). A shortcut for typing out "Techno-Orientalism":

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    • ❖ "Does imagine Asian women as ?" ("Does Techno-Orientalism imagine Asian women as speechless/voiceless?")

    • ❖ "'' is an emoji that visualizes Techno-Orientalism as a cyborg—half robot, half geisha."

    • ❖ " borrows its power from ."

    • ❖ "I hate feeling ambivalent about ."

    • ❖ "Is the word for capitalized? Is there a hyphen?"

    • ❖ "Am I imagining things or does the geisha in resemble a gray alien sporting a wig and antennae?"

  3. (3). A shortcut for typing out "the place where emojis are created":

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    • ❖ " is full of yellow playdough and blood-red ink."

    • ❖ "Is located in ?"

    • ❖ " is where , , , and were born."

    • ❖ "Last night I dreamed that was the same place where human beings are created. It was a nightmare."

  4. (4). A shortcut for typing out "the feeling of being pi, the feeling of being π, the feeling of being the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, the feeling of being rational and mystical at the same time":

    3.1415926535 …

    • ❖ "Do I love math? 3.1415926535 … and "

    • ❖ "Emily Dickinson probably felt 3.1415926535 … every single day."

    • ❖ "The synemojinym (emoji-synonym) for '3.1415926535 …' is 'π.'"

    • ❖ "Emerson's Transparent Eyeball weighs approximately 3.1415926535… pounds."

  5. (5). Shortcuts for typing out "the Korean Demilitarized Zone":

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    [End Page 291]

    • ❖ " is laced with cursive concertina wire."

    • ❖ "Over the decades, has evolved from a desolate reminder of war into a lush sanctuary for endangered wildlife."

    • ❖ "Is still 'Korean'?"

    • ❖ "In my dream this morning, I woke up in and felt 3.1415926535 …"

    • ❖ " is the diameter of Korea."

  6. (6). A shortcut for typing out "the square root of negative Korea: reimagining Korean unity and division":

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    • ❖ "Should '' be the title of my book manuscript?"

    • ❖ "Like Korean unity, is an imaginary number."

    • ❖ " is preferable to zero Koreas."

  7. (7). Finally, here is an interactive emoji for the opposite of automated:

Seo-Young Chu

seo-young chu's publications include Do Metaphors Dream of Literal Sleep? A Science-Fictional Theory of Representation, "I, Stereotype: Detained in the Uncanny Valley," "Free Indirect Suicide: An Unfinished Fugue in H Minor," "Science-Fictional North Korea," and "A Refuge for Jae-in Doe: Fugues in the Key of English Major." She teaches at Queens College, CUNY.



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pp. 290-292
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