This essay foregrounds and interrogates what is resistant to intelligibility in John Yau’s “Genghis Chan: Private Eye” poetry series. I argue that the force of this resistance is not only meaningful to the (un)reading of the poem but to the “subjects” of Asian American studies and Asian Americans, as it gestures toward the indeterminate as a site in and through which to imagine being and doing otherwise in the world. This “otherwise” hinges on what must be suppressed and elided in the process of making the “subjects” of Asian American studies and Asian Americans intelligible, a largely institutionalized process that is in opposition to what I refer to as the pleasure of indeterminacy. Taking a cue from Yau’s own foregrounding of “gesture” as a mode of telling, I examine how the poetics at work and in play in Yau’s poem demands the suspension of the post-Enlightenment mode of reading the word and world as intrinsically open to interpretation and intelligibility. I associate this post-Enlightenment mode of reading to the racialized lens through which the “subjects” of Asian American studies and Asian Americans must always already appear intelligible, or as Antonio Viego would say, dead.


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pp. 233-258
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