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Beyond SinologyChinese Writing and the Scripts of Culture$
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Andrea Bachner

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231164528

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231164528.001.0001

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(p.129) 4 Allographies
Beyond Sinology

David Der-wei Wang

Columbia University Press

This chapter investigates different examples from the margins of the Chinese tradition that render Chinese writing other to itself and therefore break the link between the sinograph and a monolithic imaginary of “Chineseness.” It showcases literary experiments that contest the absolute difference or identity vested in a script by pointing to elements that render Chinese writing uncannily strange, or allographic: from the playful equation of Chinese writing with the archaic “script” of tattooing by Zhang Guixing and Chen Li, to Kim-chew Ng's crafting of a crypto-Chinese, to experimentations with punctuation marks and other script systems by the Taiwanese author Wuhe. The chapter concludes that in order to live up to allographic experiments with the Chinese script and its parasitical kin (punctuation marks), to eschew and plot against the compulsion to think only in terms of absolute sameness and otherness, and to make tools of communication into symbols of being, we need different script politics as well as alternative cultural epistemologies.

Keywords:   Chinese script, Chinese writing, other, identity, Zhang Guixing, Chen Li, Kim-chew Ng, Wuhe, allography

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