Posthuman Identity: Fragm entation and Origins (of the Past and Future) Salt Fish Girl By Larissa Lai Outline Introduction: Mainstream SF films vs. Feminist Sci fi Larissa Lai
Questions re. chap 1; Chap 1: Nu Wa and her Creation; her Views of Proc reation; Nu Wa becomes Little Mermaid; Questions re. chap 2 Chap 2: Mirandas Parents; her Birth and the Smell; Serendipity vs. the Unregulated Zone; the Business Suit; Implications of the First Two Chapters Mainstream Sci-Fi films Origin Myths Sons rebelling against the Father figures (e.g. Blade Runner , Minority Report and The Island); Mo ther missing or marginalized. Ethnic Minorities on the margins, or
in the slums and underworld. Cyborg Identity: Cloned, disassemble d and re-assembled. Feminist Sci-fi Fictions Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Herland (feminist utopi a where men are not needed for procreation.) Marge Piercy: Woman on the Edge of Time disto pia vs. utopia (where both genders can be mother s & nuclear family no longer a basic unit) Margaret Atwood: The Handmaids Tale, The Blind Assassin challenge patriarchal/capitalist control
Octavia Butler: Dawn -- five genders in the extrat errestrials , cross-breeding of two extraterrestials, an intermediary (called ooloi), a black woman an d an Asian man. Feminist Sci-fi Fictions (2) The Island Clones made to extend human lives or for organ transplants, etc. What will they do after being liberated? Salt Fish Girl
Sonias cyborgs made wit h minorities & fish genes; Miyakos, mixed with cat ge nes. All sent to serve as factory workers. Liberated Sonias try to resi st and maintain their auton omy. ends with Mirandas matin g with Evie (a liberated Son ia) Larissa Lai & Chinese history & myth
Beyond the debate over aut henticity and exoticism History re-visioned for differ ent causes and connected w ith contemporary or future C hinese-Canadians History embodied: (1) histor y of gender exploitation told through the stories of fox, , Nu Wa and Salt Fish Girl. (2) the foxs animating human c orpses; Nu Was human-fish bodyand the smell.
Born in La Jolla, California, Grew up in Newfoundland, Joined the ChineseCanadian movements in the 80s in Vancouver; currently working on a PhD at the University of Calgary. When Fox Is a Thousand -1. thematic concerns: connections and betr 2. 3. ayals of friends and lovers; fluidity of gen der and cultural identity centers around the murder of a ChineseCanadian woman; involves re-interpretation of the fox (no l
onger but one who animates wom ens bodies and moves to the West, , and the fluid gender & ethnic bound aries of the Chinese-Canadians Salt Fish Girl Two Time-lines: (1) (ancient China) nineteenth-cen tury China -- Nu Wa and Salt Fish Girl (2) Pacific Northwest in 2044 the a bsolute power of the Big Six (14); places -- the walled city of Serendipity (m ultinational companies Saturna and Next corp), the Unregulated Zone (Pellas Sho es)Miranda and Evie
Salt Fish Girl Connections between the two time-lines 1) Salt Fish Girl is a factory worker in the late 19th cen tury, like Evie (the female clone) in 2000. 2) Nu Wa once betrays Salt Fish Girl and migrate to th e Land of Mist and Forgetfulness, just as Miranda la ter also betrays his father by selling the mothers s ong. 3) Nu Wa, after returning to Canton, is involved in mar ital problems (of the husbands infertility and force d sexual relations with a fisherman) and then force d to commit suicide. 4) Inside the water, Nu Wa becomes a durian fruit, to l ater impregnate Mirandas mother. 5) Both Miranda and Evie are of putrid origins (of fis h and durian). What does this mean? More later.
The First Chapter Questions Bifurcation How is Nu-Wa as a creator of humans presented? How is the story of Th e Little Mermaid revised? (You can compar e it with the creation myth of the Bible or t he following version-- source)
Her Sense of Loneliness & Need for Communication Not a philosphical, mountain-top sort o f loneliness p. 1 Not omnipotent as Goddess; Speaks to you, who may eats her up as fish. p. 2 Creates humans out of loneliness, thou gh the humans laugh at her. Human Identity begins with splitting of ones tail. Creation and Procreation Creation neither kind or gentle p. 2;
Legs created out of anger p.3 Products disgusting, rude, insolent, brutal, p. 4 Humans start the sacrificial ritual Nu Wa worries about their mortality Sexual act for pleasure as well as procreati on p. 5 (Confucius mentionedanachronis m.) Nu Wa becomes Little Merm aid Lonely and envying humans having passion River pool waterfall a cold green lake a young mans face p. 7
p. 9 The young mans face In the third chap ter, the mans face becomes a womans (the Salt Fish Girls) and Nu Wa impregnates a wo man through water. Mirandas mixture of origins; a feminist rev ision of both Nu Wa and The Little Mermaid Chapter Two: Questions Mirandas Birth: How are Mirandas parents related to each other? What happens to Mir andas mother before Ms birth? What can be the symbolic meanings of Mira ndas smell? How is Serendipity different from the Unreg ulated Zone?
And the Business Suit and The Real World ? Can you find any connections between Nu Wa and Miranda? Mirandas Parents uneasy relationship The mothers image: before the vanity table. Interpreted through a photograph M sees a squiggle in his fathers eye On the day of Ms conception After the parents argument At 65, mother falls in love with the father for the fi rst time. P. 17;
The smell immaculate conception love seat garden unattended bliss interrupted by a nei ghbor p. 18 The mothers ancient sigh pp. 12; 19-20; p. 4 1 her career made and broke in The New Kubla Kh an a young man who jilted her estranged fro m her husband until his getting a durian for her. The Stinky, Pepper-Pissy Sm ell Chap 1: p. 2 the stink of the beginnings and endings Chap 2: first unpleasant, then vaguely familiar; of something forbidden smuggled on board. . .mingled with the smell of unwashed underwear(13) Durian
p. 15 p. 16 pervades everything in her house. P. 37the smell of the Unregulated Zone smell of the minorities or underclass; later Miranda is suspected to have a dreaming disease (a disease that causes memories of the traumatic past to leak into the present) The Durian Tree Duriansuggestive of Asian foreignness; The seeds of Miranda; The DNA for a subversive society of free clones
Serendipity vs. the Unregulated Zone CD-Rom, laptop old p. 19; TV dated; p. 24 thought control -- Running dog TV 21 ; Forbidden Tales p.34 No mixture with the other world; Business Suit for tax collecting p. 25; 27;
Interactive Electronic Books with Spy Goggles (24--) Miranda the only Asian in her school Food bright and regular in shape 31 More ethnic minorities Food strange, twisted and misshaped More poor people and violence Business Suit virtual reality
intersecting with the other world Turning tax collecting into adventures The father is not always heroic; collecting tax by swallowing long streams of razor disc birds which turn into numbers. in the following chapter, Miranda returns all the tax and kills Receiver General the family exiled to the Unregulated zone Implications of the first two chapters Mirandafish scale Nu Wa
The past can inhabit our bodies but there are multiple sordid origins; The past the mother misses & the Song for Clara Cruisesexist and racist, too, just as t he future and the novels ending is not a sol ution once and for all. Miranda will later tried many different medicine without success, until later she is sent to Dr. Flo wer, who produces clones, and works for him. Resistance group will fail. Everything will be all right, I thought, until next time.
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