Apparitions of Asia: Modernist Form and Asian American by Josephine Park

By Josephine Park

Walt Whitman referred to as the Orient ''The prior! the previous! the Past!'' yet East Asia used to be remarkably current for the U.S. within the 20th century. Apparitions of Asia reads American literary expressions in the course of a century of U.S.-East Asian alliances within which the some distance East is imagined as either close to and modern. advertisement and political bridges around the Pacific generated American literary fantasies of moral and religious accord; Park examines American bards who capitalized on those ties and considers the cost of such intimacies for Asian American poets. l l The ebook starts off its literary historical past with the poetry of Ernest Fenollosa, who known as for ''The destiny Union of East and West.'' From this major instigator of the Gilded Age, Park newly considers the Orient of Ezra Pound, who grew to become to China to put the foundation for his poetics and ethics. Park argues that Pound's Orient was once guaranteed to his the United States, and he or she strains this American-East Asian nexus into the paintings of Gary Snyder, who discovered a local American spirituality in Zen. the second one half Apparitions of Asia considers the construction of Asian the US by contrast backdrop of trans-pacific alliances. Park analyzes the load of yank Orientalism for Asian American poetry, and he or she argues that the suggestions of Lawson Fusao Inada supply a critique of this literary prior. ultimately, she analyzes Asian American poets, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha and Myung Mi Kim, who go back to modernist types to be able to show a background of yank interventions in East Asia.

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This meditation on friendship describes a “fellowship” in which “we all spoke out our hearts and minds, and without regret” (Personae 137); we may imagine Pound’s relationship with Gaudier-Brzeska and the intensity of his loss when the young sculptor was killed in the trenches. The power of this poem lies in its ability to convey the deeply personal experience of exile, not by describing what it feels like to be abroad but by painting the intensity of a lost world. Youthful camaraderie and its loss are experiences the reader can feel even if he or she has never left home; to live every day in the freshness of that loss is to approximate the 38 a p pa r i t i o n s o f a s i a experience of exile, and “Exile’s Letter” conveys this painfulness with a lingering resignation.

P. ” Like Fenollosa, Pound saw an America “filled with parallels” with the East, and Pound’s claim that Fenollosa “looked to an American renaissance” further bound Fenollosa’s aims with Pound’s desire to renew the West. c at h ay t o c o n f uc i u s 33 Fenollosa begins the essay in grand style: “This twentieth century not only turns a new page in the book of the world, but opens another and a startling chapter” (3). The surprise of this new chapter lies in the “Chinese problem”: “We in America, especially, must face it across the Pacific, and master it or it will master us” (3–4).

None of these artists accepted a division between aesthetics and politics, and they imagined their poems in the public sphere. Each of them performed ambassadorial functions; they are, to use Kirsten Silva Gruesz’s potent phrase, “ambassadors of culture”: they fashioned themselves as diplomats of cultural traffic by applying their aesthetic tastes to political ideologies. In the two halves of my study appear two different kinds of ambassadors: Gruesz distinguishes between “a ‘top-down’ model of cultural transmission,” in which the artist “validates his own authority through a tradition of taste and prestige understood to be the culturally dominant one” and “a ‘bottom-up’ model,” in which the artist “stands in for his readership, representing interests, and values, their knowledge before the tribunal of Tradition” (17).

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