THE JE/MOI ANTINOMY AND THE CHESS-BOARD AS METAPHORS OF THE CONFLICT BETWEEN WEST AND FAR-EAST IN THE NOVELS OF PHAM VAN KY (VIETNAM)
Abstract (Summary)Objective. The "melting pot" nature of our world has been intensified recently by the migration of Southeast Asian refugees. This socio-cultural interchange modifies the character of the East-West conflict (dating back to the beginning of colonialism), thus engendering a new anthropological figure. My intent is to enumerate and classify the signs of this figure as studied in six novels by Pham Van Ky, winner of the French Academy's Grand Prix for the Novel. This Vietnamese writer depicts the transformations of the Je, acquired at Western school, and contrasts it with the innate Moi: the motherland. In Asia, the family took precedence over the individual, who, subordinated to the ancestors, was to perpetuate the cult of the dead and of the tradition. Method. My analysis utilizes two critical perspectives: the conflict Je/Moi, and the chess-board. From the "living chess game" to the "chess-board of chess-boards," these boards constitute an increasingly complex battleground for the Je/Moi conflict. Conclusions. These critical perspectives highlight central concepts: mimesis and consciously borrowed behavior, disappointment in the Je, liberation of the Moi. The very principle of the chess-board permits recognition of the Other, the alien Je, the white man, who, by upsetting the norms of the Moi, introduces the element of comparison, creating the divergence between the Je and the Moi, the signs of change. Pham Van Ky relates the game of chess to the cosmic game of Yin and Yang which is at the very heart of Asian tradition; through his characters, he spans all Far-Eastern civilizations; he reduces the East/West conflict to the Je/Moi conflict: the Western Je, aspiring to a continual abolition of the infinite; the Tao(')ist or Buddhist Moi, to a continual abolition of the finite.
School Location:USA - Massachusetts
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:01/01/1982