A History of Pain: Trauma in Modern Chinese Literature and by Michael Berry

By Michael Berry

The portrayal of ancient atrocity in fiction, movie, and pop culture can demonstrate a lot concerning the functionality of person reminiscence and the transferring prestige of nationwide identification. within the context of chinese language tradition, motion pictures akin to Hou Hsiao-hsien's City of Sadness and Lou Ye's Summer Palace and novels corresponding to Ye Zhaoyan's Nanjing 1937: A Love Story and Wang Xiaobo's The Golden Age jointly reimagine prior horrors and provides upward push to new historic narratives.

Michael Berry takes an leading edge examine the illustration of six particular ancient traumas in smooth chinese language background: the Musha Incident (1930); the Rape of Nanjing (1937-38); the February 28 Incident (1947); the Cultural Revolution (1966-76); Tiananmen sq. (1989); and the Handover of Hong Kong (1997). He identifies fundamental modes of restaging ancient violence: centripetal trauma, or violence inflicted from the surface that evokes a reexamination of the chinese language kingdom, and centrifugal trauma, which, originating from inside of, evokes aggravating narratives which are projected out onto a transnational imaginative and prescient of worldwide desires and, occasionally, nightmares.

These modes let Berry to attach portrayals of mass violence to principles of modernity and the state. He additionally illuminates the connection among ancient atrocity on a countrywide scale and the discomfort skilled through the person; the functionality of movie and literature as ancient testimony; the intersection among politics and artwork, background and reminiscence; and the actual merits of contemporary media, that have stumbled on new technique of narrating the load of historic violence.

As chinese language artists started to probe formerly taboo features in their nation's heritage within the ultimate many years of the 20th century, they created texts that prefigured, echoed, or subverted social, political, and cultural developments. A heritage of Pain recognizes the far-reaching impact of this artwork and addresses its profound position in shaping the general public mind's eye and conception-as good as misconception-of glossy chinese language history.

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And while many of the works examined were produced by victims of, participants in, or witnesses to the events depicted, the majority were produced by writers, filmmakers, and artists experientially removed— sometimes by several generations—from the history they represent. 5 This is where the term “trauma” can be difficult, as depictions of atrocity segue from firsthand accounts of trauma-as-experience to vicarious trauma, or imaginary trauma. Freud and others have written about the important place of fantasies in the construction of traumatic memory, but by “imaginary trauma,” I mean not a conflation of traumatic memories and the fantasy component that often becomes intermingled with them, but rather a trauma constructed purely on the textual level, without direct experience or observation.

Something to be refused. Something that makes one feel powerless. (Sontag 2004:99) Sontag brings our understanding to another level through her introduction of comparative religious iconography; placed within a Judeo-Christian context, the pain, sacrifice, and martyrdom take on new meaning that points to a kind of transcendence. What is not taken into consideration, however, is the role that opium plays in the act of lingchi and in the photograph. If the victim, having been forced to ingest large amounts of liquid opium, is, as he appears to be, in a Two images from Chen Chieh-jen’s Revolt in the Soul and Body series: (left) A Way Going to an Insane City (1999); (right) Geneaology of Self (1996).

Those Tartars had already been brutal and merciless in their raping and pillaging—there was already no crime they had not committed. But now they were given the order to massacre the city! Pity the city of Fancheng; the murder was such that heaven cried and the earth screamed, neither the sun nor the moon shone, bones formed mountains, and blood rushed like a river. [The reader] will be spared detailed descriptions of the miserable scenes that transpired. (You see, this is a horrific situation when another ethnic group vanquishes our own!

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