Unit 5 Assignment 1 by Simon Cheng

I have to be honest here that these readings are not easy. Both of them reach a high enough philosophical level.

Schneider’s reading is about history of performances. The first few quotes just below title in the first page is about performances as history and how they disappear, which is what the passage talks about in the first half, and I want to talk about it more here. (the rest of them is how history/performance remains as living or death on the stage)

“If we consider performance as a process of disappearance, of an ephemerality read as vanishment (versus material remains), are we limiting ourselves to an understanding of performance predetermined by our cultural habituation to the logic of archive?” This sentence on the bottom of the second page is a topic question through the first half. One interesting point is about the equation of self-annihilation of the performance (“Too often, the equation of performance with disappearance reiterates performance as self-annihilating”, page 101, bottom left corner). The fact that performance can never be re-create through any means prove that it is self-destructive. Someone may say the retell of oral history or the video of dance ensemble are replays of the original performance, but “flesh can house no memory of bone. Only bone speaks memory of flesh. (page 101, bottom left corner)”

It is in my opinion true that performances of any kinds cannot be re-created. Every performance by different artists, even though the same theme (take theater of Macbeth from last semester) means different ends to different circumstances. (college students as actors versus commercial actors) And this is more appropriate for oral history. Folktales and legends have been past for thousands of years and even different regions have completely different version. Are they still the same tales? Definitely not, though they share a common origin.

For Birns’s passage, it first introduces Lemon’s work, and the part I like it very much is that “Lemon avoided both exoticism and a self-conscious status as an outsider in an investigation of cultural difference that, in being both sociological and spiritual, was able to view India, China, and Japan with a percipient clarity.”(page 18, second paragraph) Such achievement is very hard to accomplished, and this reminds me about the movie Crazy Rich Asian. As a Chinese, I found many stereotypes and scenes in the movie very insulting. But when one of my high school English teacher talked to me about it, he understood it as perfect representation of Asians. There is no wrong answer here, I suppose. But there are plenty of much better representations out there than this one.

“Lemon seeks to ritualize the past, but not to monumentalize it.”

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