M Butterfly a Poststructuralist Approach _2_ by decree


									          M. Butterfly :
 Poststructuralist Approaches (2)
1) Postmodernism & Poststructuralism Q&A
2) M. Butterfly: Discourses & Subject
   Positions (M. Foucault)
3) M. Butterfly: Deconstruction
                                  4)   Assignments
Postmodernism: Q & A
Do you think that our society with its fast
processing of images and news is
symptomatic of depthlessness?
What is hyperspace? Is Living Mall a kind
of hyperspace? Do you feel lost in it?
How does Jameson characterize & explain
postmodernism? How is postmodernism
related to poststructuralism?
Post-Structuralism Defined
 A theoretic grounding and explanation of postmodern
 society and postmodernism.
 An anti-foundationalist mode of thinking prevalent
 in the second half of the 20th c. Turns structure into
 structuration, or différence.
1. Reality          Representation
2. Man              Subject
3. Truth; History; God, . . ., any kind of Totalization
    and Center.       Différance & Discourse
Poststructuralist critiques of
(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.
(today) Textualization of Knowledge,
Subject and Society           e.g. Foucault
– Truth is provisional.
– Subjects are fragmentary.
– Society is a network of discourses.
 M. Butterfly: Possible
 Poststructuralist Approaches

  representation & identity: Its use of meta-
 theatrical devices to present how gender and
 racial identities are constructed.
 Parody of Madame Butterfly by exposing
 the play of power in the characters’ role
 Subject Positions & Competing Discourses.
(Foucault & Orientalism)
    Identity Construction
    Roles = Clothes = Identity?
1) Costume change on the stage: 9, 14 (Marc), 86-87
2) Renee: We fight wars because we wear clothes.
   P. 55  We assume different positions of
3) Undressing: Gallimard not undressing Song. 60
-- 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
   From Language to Discourse:
   M. Foucault

  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)
  Elements of a Discourse (1)
P. 26 – 27
   Values: Rules about the     Orientalism – a system of
   “sayable” and               knowledge provided by some
                               authorities (e.g. traveler);
   “thinkable”; the good
                            institutions –Oriental Studies,
   and the bad;                publishers, government,
   Authority of knowledge,     import/export companies, etc.
   and exclusion of other   History – changes of
                               international relationship.
                            e.g. Changing constructions of
   Practices within            the Japanese.
   institutions in their
   historical circumstances
    Elements of a Discourse (2):
    Subject Position
p. 55 – 56                         Orientalism:
   Foucault                      experts; in-betweeners; the
   1). Hierarchy of Position;    The West as Man, Savior;
   2). “Other” as a subject      The Orient as Woman and
   positions. (e.g. Butterfly)     backward/wicked

    (Note: two ideas of subject: 1. Conscious &
    autonomous subject; 2. Subject to someone
    else’s control. )
Discourse Theory:
Application to M. Butterfly
1. M. Butterfly changes history to make
itself a critique of Oriental Woman.
2. M. in a network of discourses:
  Private: competing discourses.

  Public: Colonial and communist
   discourses in context
  Public: related discourses
  M. Butterfly: critique of the discourse of
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;
   Turning History into a critique of
   Oriental Woman (2)
-- 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
Turning History into a critique of
Oriental Woman (3)

-- 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
-- 1982, Shi visited Paris with his son.
-- 1986 caught because of their spy acts.
       Competing Versions of Fiction

                        1) Song: ironic overtones: pp. 30;
  G as an                  41; 51; 63
  author                3) Song’s intrusion: pp. 47(scene
                           4); 63 (Scene 7),67, 78-79
4) Final switching of
roles:                   Song:
                         -- ―theatre of China‖ 85
  G: ―I am a man who     -- stripping to take another role
      love a woman       -- ― a man, and not just a man.‖
      created by a
                         -- your fantasy
                         -- ―Butterfly? Butterfly?‖
 Competing Fictions outside the play
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.
    Competing Fictions (5): P’s version
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
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.
     Setting Orientalism in Context:
     Authorities/‖God‖ in Politics Challenged

1)   The story—set in 1960-1970 in Beijin;
 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)
   Official history:
   Colonizers and Asia

Historical Background  the subversion of several
-- 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
History and Fiction : Official history
1955 -- the U.S.’s involvement
1961-- support forces arriving since then,
Nov. 1963-- President Diem overthrown and
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)
         Related Discourses of Orientalism
            Society is a network of discourses
 Reality:                                Discourse 1 (e.g. Suzie Wong,
   interracial marriages                 Pocahontas in Hollywood
   between white men and                 films and fictions)
   non-white women                       White men: promises of
“White knight” in romantic love:         freedom of choice; progress
                                         and material prosperity;
[Romantic love – spiritual               Women: Cinderella-like
transcendence, against social stigma.]   transformation into
The male lover – worthy of woman’s       “American” (Marchetti 117)
submission and self-sacrifice.
(Marchetti 110)
  Binaries Subverted or Made Undecidable
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
* the final un-decidable: ―M‖
   Hwang wants to create a ―deconstructivist
   Madame Butterfly.‖
   Butterfly as a floating sign, to be possessed in
   different ways by Gallimard and Song.
Binaries: White man               Oriental Woman
           Gallimard              Song
           Gallimard & Song ?
           Gallimard/Butterfly Song/Butterfly
―I am a man who love a woman created by a man.‖
Creating his own love object  becoming his own
THE REAL M BUTTERFLY.‖ Program script.
ABC’s 20/20, segment #02. Anchor: Barbara
Walters. Date: Aug 12, 1994.
Marchetti, Gina. Romance and the “Yellow Peril”:
Race, Sex, and Discursive Strategies in
Hollywood Fiction (U of California P, 1993)
Poststructuralism (1): Deconstruction
Postmodern Taiwanese poems “我把一條
河弄丟了”(p. 125﹚ and/or 夏宇的詩

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