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Article Dans Une Revue positions Année : 2008

Tsai Ming-liang and the Lost Emotions of the Flesh


The cinematic universe of Tsai Ming-liang gives us a chance to examine how contemporary Taiwanese views of personal feelings, erotica and politics interact in the new arena of cinematic representations and the biopolitics of emotion. Through an analysis of the representation of the emotions in Tsai's cinematography I will discuss how, in the view of the director, they are formulated and shaped by society, mechanized by a world of hypermodern consumption. In his long and complex career, emotions have of course had different nuances and functions, so that at the beginning of the 1990s, with his first trilogy, these oppressed feelings still resemble the cries of individuals, a staging of repressed but powerful agencies, and an appeal for legitimacy, understanding and sympathy. They then become more and more the stylized items of memory, fragments of imagination related to time past and to the philosophical elaboration of Buddhist concepts such as piety, contempt for the human world of the passions, and reincarnation. Emotions such as mourning and longing are described as ways to reach a higher, more detached philosophical point of view; a metaphysical realisation of concepts such as impermanence and reincarnation. Finally, with the porno-humorous twist of The Wayward Cloud, emotions are completely denied, banished to the abstract world of the musical, and commercialized through the imported media of pornographic movies, where the flesh prevails with its overwhelming power over individuals and society. So, while Tsai can defy (and win out against) censorship with his quasi-erotic movie, he demonstrates also - both with cinema as art and as a social construct - how sex and emotions are commercialized and become, in the same way, mere objects of consumption.
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Dates et versions

hal-00835796 , version 1 (19-06-2013)


  • HAL Id : hal-00835796 , version 1


Corrado Neri. Tsai Ming-liang and the Lost Emotions of the Flesh. positions, 2008, pp.289-407. ⟨hal-00835796⟩
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