Thursday, January 06, 2005

On Authenticity - Kent Johnson's Response

Kent Johnson has provided his response to my Jan. 2nd post, "On Authenticity," on the Yasusada hoax. If you'd like, please scroll down to read it. Thanks!

EDIT: For the sake of readability, I am placing the comment here:

Barbara Jane (and Roger),I've recently read your posts on Doubled Flowering with interest. Both commentaries, I think, are excellent additions to the ongoingdiscussion--which by the way, Roger, has actually deepened and actively continued since the initial, more "journalistic" responses. There is abook of essays in preparation, in fact, which will gather old materials and new ones, and perhaps you'd like to submit something to the editors. I'll put you in touch if you are interested.

I do think, though (your unproblematic attribution of the work to "Kent Johnson" aside, which has become a "fact" only because of its insistent repetition) that both of you are missing something crucial to any consideration of the work and its larger "effects," and I thought it would be worthwhile to mention what that is: Doubled Flowering, as opposed to standard, "straight" hoaxes, never attempted to hide its fictionality, and the naked clues about its fictional status are everywhere in the work (a number of these have been mentioned by various critics; numerous other fairly obvious ones are still waiting to be found). In other words, Yasusada openly exposes his nature from thebeginning... what makes Motokiyu's "dissimulation" more novel andchallenging is that his fiction moves out to encompass the paratextual codes readers have grown accustomed to taking for granted--codes thatare ideologically and institutionally loaded with all sorts of interesting stuff. It's this fact, what Brian McHale has called the "mock hoaxness" of Yasusada, that forces the issues involved into territory that moves beyond the early simplistic charges leveled against the writing. And growing numbers of critical considerations are doingjust that. (One you may wish to check out will be in this months PMLA, should you care to see that. As well, a follow up volume to Yasusada, published this spring by Combo Press, will carry an afterword by aprominent Asian-American critic whose relatives are hibakusha. He recently published two essays on Yasusada in Japan's leading journal of literature and gave a keynote address last August to the National Institute of Literature in Tokyo. I think you will certainly find his remarks of interest.)

In any case, I found your comments thought-provoking and fruitful to the unfolding debate, and I wanted to let you know that.

Kent

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