M. Butterfly : Poststructuralist Approaches (2). Postmodernism & Poststructuralism Q&A M. Butterfly: Discourses & Subject Positions (M. Foucault) M. Butterfly: Deconstruction Assignments. Postmodernism: Q & A.
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Postmodernism & Poststructuralism Q&A
M. Butterfly: Discourses & Subject Positions (M. Foucault)
M. Butterfly: Deconstruction
(wk 1)– Re-presentation or realistic presentation is impossible. metafiction
(next wk) – Meanings of a text cannot be fixed; must be un-decidable or multiple. Deconstruction
– Truth is provisional.
– Subjects are fragmentary.
– Society is a network of discourses.
(Foucault & Orientalism)
-- Is there truth underneath clothes? Or is clothing a part of identity? -- Does Gallimard turns to love Song at the end of Scene 6. What’s the “something new, something unnatural, . . . Something very close to love”?
1) Truth is provisional; constructed within a certain discourse, or “regime of truth.” e.g. Orientalism
2) Subjects are fragmentary (positions).
3) Society is a network of discourses.
(Our course: Language Forms Race)
Values: Rules about the “sayable” and “thinkable”; the good and the bad;
Authority of knowledge, and exclusion of other statements
Practices within institutions in their historical circumstances
Orientalism – a system of knowledge provided by some authorities (e.g. traveler);
institutions –Oriental Studies, publishers, government, import/export companies, etc.
History – changes of international relationship.
e.g. Changing constructions of the Japanese.Elements of a Discourse (1)
1). Hierarchy of Position;
2). “Other” as a subject positions. (e.g. Butterfly)
experts; in-betweeners; the exotic
The West as Man, Savior;
The Orient as Woman and backward/wickedElements of a Discourse (2): Subject Position
(Note: two ideas of subject: 1. Conscious & autonomous subject; 2. Subject to someone else’s control. )
A. Transformation of a historical event into a parody of Madame Butterfly, which is part of the discourse of Oriental Woman.
1) History of Bernard Bouriscot and Shi Peipu –differences from M. Butterfly (source: 20/20)
-- Six months after their friendship, Shi Peipu said he was not the man he appeared to be, but was a woman in disguise as a man.
M. Butterfly: the tradition of Chinese opera.
-- BB no previous sexual experience;
M. Butterfly relates his desire to male voyeurism;
-- BB more active: stayed in China twice: left China in 1966, went back four years later to search for Shi and their son.
-- BB more implicated in China: because he was obsessed with being able to continue to see Peipu, Bernard began smuggling secret documents out of the French embassy and bringing them to the two Communist Party officials. (in China) [less power play among the French]
M. Butterfly: --Butterfly’s return to the empire; -- historical junctures: Cultural revolution Vietnam war May Revolution in 1968 France
-- After B. is summoned back to France, he had affairs with women, but he also realized he was sexually attracted to men.
M. Butterfly: G concentrates on his ideal woman.
-- 1982, Shi visited Paris with his son.
-- 1986 caught because of their spy acts.
G: “I am a man who love a woman created by a man.”
G as an author
4) Final switching of
-- “theatre of China” 85
-- stripping to take another role
-- “ a man, and not just a man.”
-- your fantasy
-- “Butterfly? Butterfly?”
BERNARD BOURSICOT: And instead of beating him, I told, “But I want to see.” And he told, “Oh, it does not matter, no problem.” And he took his pants down and he told me, “You can see.” And a week after, I wanted to die, because I was thinking, “Okay, now I am not only a prisoner, not only a spy, but a foolish person.”
B: . . . there is the theory that you were homosexual all those years ago, but couldn't face it, and so you allowed yourself to be deceived. How do you answer that?
BERNARD BOURSICOT: It is possible, but it's not the sole explanation.
BARBARA WALTERS: Just a friend?
SHI PEIPU:(through interpreter) Of course.
BARBARA WALTERS: Nothing more?
SHI PEIPU: (through interpreter)Yes, but there is no use talking about it. It's over. It's over.
BARBARA WALTERS: How did you meet Monsieur Boursicot?
SHI PEIPU: (through interpreter)I have forgotten, and besides, I don't speak about him anymore.
BARBARA WALTERS: Did you ever tell Monsieur Boursicot that you were a woman?
SHI PEIPU: (through interpreter)He said that? I don't think so. I'm not crazy like that.
1966 - (1968)-- 1986 in Paris;
Why?Connecting sexual politics to
(Inter-)national politics time of wars & revolutions
Traces of public history in M. Butterfly:
-- the play of power between Toulon and Gallimard (Toulon being the “God”?—transcendental signifier)
-- e.g. changes of power of Comrade Chin & Song as an artist; Scene 10 –11 (Chairman Mao)
Historical Background the subversion of several authorities
-- Cultural revolution -- 1966-1976; fixed roles
-- Vietnam War :
History: 1860 – French colonization started, followed by Japan during WWII;
After WWII ~ 1955: France fought hard to regain their former territories without success.
1954-- the country divided into North and South
1955 -- the U.S.’s involvement
1961-- support forces arriving since then,
Nov. 1963-- President Diem overthrown and executed.
1965 -- US intense bombing started,
1969 -- US’s withdrawal started,
1973 –total withdrawal
May 1975 -- the fall of Saigon.
France:May 68: France's month of revolution -- a week of clashes there between extreme right wing groups and students campaigning against the Vietnam War. (More strikes and demonstration followed)
interracial marriages between white men and non-white women
Discourse 1 (e.g. Suzie Wong, Pocahontas in Hollywood films and fictions)
White men: promises of freedom of choice; progress and material prosperity; Women: Cinderella-like transformation into “American” (Marchetti 117)Related Discourses of Orientalism
“White knight” in romantic love:
[Romantic love – spiritual transcendence, against social stigma.]
The male lover – worthy of woman’s submission and self-sacrifice. (Marchetti 110)
1) self = Dress/Body/Mind,
2) Reality/Fantasy, 3) Communism/Capitalism,
4) Male/Female (Madame/Monsieur), East/West, Cunning & Wicked Asian (Fu Man Chou or Dragon Lady)/Submissive Woman (China Doll)
* Only subverted? Do we still have the stereotypes of Asian – as cunning and manipulative, and West –as idealistic, trusting and misinformed?
* the final un-decidable: “M”
Binaries: White man Oriental Woman
Gallimard & Song ?
“I am a man who love a woman created by a man.”
Creating his own love object becoming his own object.