By Andrea Bachner
New verbal exchange and knowledge applied sciences offer specified demanding situations and probabilities for the chinese language script, which, in contrast to alphabetic or different phonetic scripts, will depend on a number of signifying rules. In fresh a long time, this multiplicity has generated a wealthy corpus of mirrored image and experimentation in literature, movie, visible and function paintings, and layout and structure, inside either China and various elements of the West.
Approaching this historical past from quite a few replacement theoretical views, past Sinology displays at the chinese language script to pinpoint the a number of connections among languages, scripts, and medial expressions and cultural and nationwide identities. via a fancy research of intercultural representations, exchanges, and tensions, the textual content specializes in the concrete "scripting" of identification and alterity, advancing a brand new knowing of the hyperlinks among id and medium and a critique of articulations that depend upon unmarried, monolithic, and univocal definitions of writing.
Chinese writing--with its historical past of divergent readings in chinese language and non-Chinese contexts, with its present reinvention within the age of latest media and globalization--can educate us the right way to learn and build mediality and cultural id in interculturally liable methods and likewise find out how to scrutinize, critique, and but take pleasure in and revel in the robust multi-medial creativity embodied in writing.
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Additional info for Beyond Sinology: Chinese Writing and the Scripts of Culture
At least since Marshall McLuhan’s slogan “the medium is the message,” we have understood the intricate connections between content and carrier, indeed the impossibility of distinguishing neatly between them. However, speaking of the medium in the singular is yet another abstraction, since each mediated representation is really multiple. For instance, Chinese writing, and indeed writing in general, has myriad medial possibilities: each sign or group of signs teems with different “reading” possibilities for its semiotic content, its sound, and its graphic shape, even before we pay attention to historically specific forms, calligraphies, or writing styles on the one hand, and to its “media” in a more literal sense, such as possible textual, visual, and computational avatars, on the other.
When the planners of the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics decided to showcase Chinese writing, they chose to underline its link to movement, digitalization, and visual media. In other words, the ideological impulse of a certain script politics relies on the erasure of the various medial possibilities of a language or a script. It can eclipse them for a while, but they never really go away. A single embodiment of a writing system always invokes a multiplicity of meanings and symbolic values.
For Lu Xun, the necrotic character of sinographic writing, linked to an archaic, antiscientific mindset mired in superstition, spelled the demise of the nation as well as of the individual bodies of its citizens. 5 Several years later, in 1937, the Esperantist Hu Yuzhi 胡愈之 proposed even more starkly corporealized metaphors of language in support of a script reform. The very title of his essay, “On Poisonous Discourse” (“You du wen tan” 有毒文談), already sets the stage for an imaginary of disease, death, and medical treatment.
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