The Melancholy of Race. Author(s): Anne Anlin Cheng. Source: The Kenyon Review, New Series, Vol. 19, No. 1, American Memory / American. Forgetfulness . The melancholy of race. by: Anne Anlin Cheng urn:acs6: melancholyofrace00chen:pdf:1fd-ec8-a0ea18a2e2. Cheng, The Melancholy of Race - Download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or The Melancholy of Race Author(s): Anne Anlin Cheng Source: The Kenyon.

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The Melancholy of Race: Psychoanalysis, Assimilation, and Hidden Grief by Anne Anlin Cheng. New York, New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., In this groundbreaking, interdisciplinary study Anne Anlin Cheng argues that we have to understand racial grief not only as the result of racism but also as a. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data. Cheng, Anne Anlin. The melancholy of race / Anne Anlin Cheng. p. cm. — (Race and American culture).

Well before Brown, there was a series of key rulings in school segregation, in addition to the well-known Plessy v. Ferguson, that involved the problem of racializing Asians in this country….

However, Asians and Asian Americans are not merely obscured; they are also used to discipline other racialized groups, especially blacks. To move beyond the superficiality of who suffered more or who succeeds more, Cheng invites consideration of the psychological processes through which subjects deal with nationally imposed contradictory categories of race and citizenship.

In other words, Cheng helps reiterate what many race theorists including Spivak know to be illusory about racial categories while turning attention from causes of subjection e. Grievance only is the guise of political action that, as has been charged by white opposition, often sounds like whining or vengeful retribution. Cheng makes a strong case for considering melancholia as the term that best approaches effects of racial subjection and helps put those effects into critical dialogue.

Unlike recent popular notions of hybridity and multiplicity e. This tendency is not hard to understand since dehumanization has long been the tool of discrimination. Incorporation operates clandestinely with a prohibitionit neither accepts nor transgresses.

Annotation: Anne Anlin Cheng’s “The Melancholy of Race’ (2001)

WhatI called the pureself thatSong in M. Butterfy assertsis constituting figuredafterthe master. Song does not come to power in the end nor assume the success of his politicalcritiqueby acquiringsome authentic Chinesemale identity. On the contrary, he does so by donningan Armanisuit and adopting the colonial voice: "Youthink I could've pulled this off if I wasn't full of pride?. It took arrogance, really-to believe you can will. The difficultlesson of M. Butterfly thereforeis not the existenceof fantasystereotypesas the playwrighthimself idea thatfantasystereotypes assertsin the Afterword, but the more disturbing may be the very ways in whichwe come to know and love someone Melancholia has thus seeped into every cornerof our landscape.

Is there any getting over it? First it seems more importantthan ever to recognize that identity built on loss is symptomaticof both the dominant and the marginalized. Second,at the risk of speakinglike a true melancholic,perhaps minoritydiscoursemight prove to be most powerful when it resides within the consciousness of melancholiaitself, when it can maintaina "negative betweenneitherdismissing,nor sentimentalizing the minority.

Let capability" us returnto the hauntingsof InvisibleMan.

Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrorsof hard,distortingglass.

When they approachme they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination As muchas racialblindnessrenders the narrator invisible, his invisibility also reflects emptiness back on those gazers as well. If he has been assimilatedonly throughhis invisibility,then he also rendersdissimilarand strangethe status of their visibility.

Here we have the potentialfor a kind of subversiveassimilation,a kind of mimetic dissimulation inherentin, thoughdifferentlyinflectedby, Bhabha's"discourse of mimicry.

The character who embodiesthis strategyof imitationis of course the phantasmatic figure of Rinehart. Literallythe real invisible man in the text, Rinehartnever appears-except as pure appearance:Rinehartthe runner, Rine the gambler,Rine the briber,Rine the lover, pimp, and reverend.

He stands as the figure of a figure. To try to locate Rinehart's"true"identity would be to miss the lesson of Rinehart:who you are depends on whom you are talking to, which community you are in, and who is watching your performance. Embodyingdissimulativepotentials,glaringly visible in his invisibility,Rinehartoperatesand structures a networkof connectionsin Harlem fromreligionto prostitution to the law.

A mandefinedby costumesand and "insider," props,he is at once the ultimate"outsider" makingvisible the of identityandperverting the lines of power-or at least,exposing contingency As a parablefor plurality, as a continually poweras positionality. Rinehart as an event of visual performance demonstrates firstthatthe act of identification is dependent on representation, and thus drawsour attention to the power dynamics of viewer and spectatorship; second, that the act of representation involves simultaneously,on a deeper level, an act of disidentification.

To impersonate Rinehart was is to becomeRinehart: "Something and profoundly Butterfly has foundout.

The site of identification is presented as difficultand ambivalent preciselybecause thereis a cost in every identitystaging. This liberation is thus provisional, if not downright shattering.

By the narrator arrivesnot at an identity,but the phantasm impersonating Rinehart, that is the mode of identification. I'd plunge into it with both feet and they'd gag.

Oh, but wouldn't they gag Yes, and I'd let them swoller me until they vomited or burst wide open. Let them gag on what they refuse to see. Americancultureis continuallyconfrontedby ghosts it can neither spit out nor swallow. Rinehart,the "SpiritualTechnologist," 18 recommends a remedy for that social malady: "Behold the Invisible," suggesting that only by recognizinginvisibilitycan we begin to understand the conditionsof visibility.

EarlierI askedwhatis the statusof the "presence" to "real"Africanwhich Toni Morrisonwants us to uncover. Is she referring of African-American presence?

I propose Americanpresenceor the phantasm of and phantomization thatthe answercan only be the latter.

The melancholy of race

The racialization exist to produce"American" presence. The always ghostly African-Americans in Americanliterature implies that the entire presenceof African-Americans of configuring visibility who is white, who is black; process of racialization, who is visible, who is not , must be consideredas itself melancholic.

The act of delineatingabsence preconditionspresence. Race in America is thus "stuck"withinthe Moebius stripof inclusionand exclusion:an identification thatworksitself out by on dis-identity. It is a fear of contamination predicated a remembering of a forgettingthat cannotbe remembered.


This, to sidetrack made AnnaDeveareSmithholds suchresonance. In Smith's theaterof incorporation, conflictualviews betweenracializedpeoples stage the agon, the multifaceted, andthe inconsolability of eachof theirpositions. One even withinindividuals , gets a feeling too that there will never be enoughjustice, enough reparation, enoughguilt, pain, or angerto make up for the racialwoundscleaved into the as Americanpsyche-remembered by boththe dominant andthe marginalized it is itself.

With Smith'speculiarbrandof impersonation, incommensurability in the bodilyoccupation as if only in imitation, of the other,thatwe come to see an alternative to the trapsof representation. Thatis, representation paradoxically has frequentlyand rightly been criticized for its colonizing potentials.

But Smith's art suggests that representation, mimicryeven, may be employed as a form of performative counteroccupation, wherebythe act of placingoneself in the other'splace exposes one's vulnerability to thatperformed other. More polyphonicmonologuedramatizesthe psychical profoundly,her paradoxical truththat to speak is to speak the other. Rinehart'smetaphoricdisembodiment hallucination, the scene of own epiphanic becomesliteralizedin the narrator's castration. In a state of neitherdreamingnor waking,he confrontsthe groups histories brandsof incorporative and their particular that he has encountered and ideologies I lay the prisonerof a group consisting of Jack and Emerson and Bledsoe and Norton and Ras and the school superintendent But look By tryingto recruit tanceagainstgroupconsolidations him to do so, the as a mirrorimage of themselves,by castrating the narrator the very loss that they instigate.

If incorporate various social organizations then historywill be structured by thatbrutalization. The only vision as well as communal identification.

In that scene of invisibilityhas been theorizedas a condition castrationand relinquishment, of disembodimentand abstraction,as an escape from "illusions.

Whatis the "socially will play by the end of the novel? The responsiblerole" that the narrator or particular narrative has offeredus more questionsthanany final affirmation course of action. I condemnand affirm,say no and say yes, say yes and say no Like these practitioners of formalism, Cha seems invested in a project of critiquing the linearity and pretentiousness of historical narration through fragments, undocumented quotations, and non- contextualized allusions to historical figures.

Dictee dramatizes the desire to repeat, to echo the external world to make an internal reality. Instead of evaluating mimicry as a negative symptom of colonization i. In this way, Cheng helps detach the idea of race from the reductive notion of interpellation that treats the oppressed as duped victims of ideology, oversimplifying the complex process of racialization to coercion.

Self-love comes not from grieving, which actually is an expression of hatred for the other that the self needs to exist, but from expressions of grief We must accept paradoxes as precondition for social relations, then think about the task of responding, ethically, to racial injustice without hatred or competition Turning to self-love has Cheng understandably turn to Walt Whitman where lyrical roots of American meloncholia as political praxis appear For instance, chapter two follows two interdependent female embodiments of racial melancholia: Linda Low and Helen Chao, the former is merely fantasy dominated by white ideals of female beauty while the latter expresses grief over the denial and repression of the Asian body.

As the two inappropriate-to-marry female choices for the male protagonist of Flower Drum Song, Linda Low and Helen Chao express the racial dynamics of beauty in an American culture that would not even allow these exotic substitutes for American whiteness to marry Chinese.Cheng makes a strong case for considering melancholia as the term that best approaches effects of racial subjection and helps put those effects into critical dialogue.

In all three brief instances,Song's answer comes in the form of ellipses and pauses, as thoughhis desire can only be pronounced as unutterability. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. The hypochondriac affords Kingston the power to write her grievances against American ideologies of assimilation simultaneous to grievances against Chinese patriarchal traditions but without simply blaming some figure outside herself. If so, who and what are they forgettingin orderto remember?

What we have been calling the "internalization of the other,"Bhabhaattributesto authoritative injunction.