Nothingness in One Man’s Bible

439 Words2 Pages
While most Diaspora writers show the exiles’ anxiety for dining roots in their works, Gao Jingjian has sought an outlet for his character in One Man’s Bible: living a rootless life with freedom, away from authoritarian governance. Being an exile is not just a cultural identity that enables You to expel from the traumatic history, but also a state of being that could possibly reach freedom. The narrated You have learned the essence of freedom throughout the novel. It is one’s conscious sense of life, of who isolate oneself from others (Chapter 39). To achieve this You have to release himself from the previous traumatic memories in China, get rid of the past and merely live in the present (p.10). Despite the great effort of you, Chinese images remain inerasable in your surroundings. You feel strongly that Chinese governance is eroding in Hong Kong (p.25) and would soon recall your memories no matter how hard You try to resist. Memories become an enemy to freedom. In this novel, memories are always “heavy,” (p.29) associated with historical trauma and authoritarian oppression. Indeed, the sexual relationship between You and Magaret is not about love, but an unwitting agent in their sharing of trauma. Unlike Magaret, You keep yourself from the past, yet bitterness is embedded in your identity and becomes part of you. Your struggle for freedom and your internal trauma fuse together into a complicated mixed identity. This complexity is shown in the changing subjects in the novel. “You” is the present (此时此地) observer of “He” who lived previously (彼时彼地)in the midst of trauma. “You” and “He” are minor-images in one. The novel depicts a journey of You getting transcendence through “your” encounter of “his” traumatic experience. You believe in “nothingness,” enjoy being an outsider and living in peripheries. Embracing loneliness, having no love but only sexual desire,
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