“To Imitate the Chinese”

Christopher Bush

in Ideographic Modernism

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780195393828
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199866601 | DOI:
“To Imitate the Chinese”

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The third chapter analyzes a series of unremarked references to China and Chinese writing in the work of Walter Benjamin. By relating these scattered references to Benjamin’s canonical writings on technological media, I demonstrate a decades-long affiliation in his work between China and media as figures of bodily mimesis. Even more so than with Segalen’s inscriptive model, Benjamin’s mimetic model of writing is not simply a different way of representing Chinese writing but is itself symptomatic of a qualitatively different relationship to “China” and indeed China.

Keywords: Walter Benjamin; mimesis; cinema; porcelain; Mark Hansen

Chapter.  7711 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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