Asian Journal of Literature, Culture and Society: Vol. 3, No. 2 (October 2009)

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    Proxemics and the novel : an ecological approach
    The term "proxemics" was coined by the anthropologist Edward T. Hall to describe the relationships between people in terms of the distances and spaces they set up in their societies which shape the ways they behave towards each other. For Hall, these spaces are the "hidden languages" of a culture which contribute to the meanings of other communication acts individuals in that culture perform. As Hall argues, each culture shapes and interprets these spaces in different ways. While Hall looks at the role of these spaces in art, he does not develop his ideas beyond a description of how certain artists such as Rembrandt and Kafka exploit social spaces in their work for artistic effects. The implication is that artists are sensitive to such spaces as they are skilled communicators whose role is to connect with their audience through the various linguistic and visual media. Artists embody their world through their perceptions and representations of what they see as the reality of their art. Inherent in all the forms of literary art (drama, poetry, novels, journals and films) there is a social fact that may well be true of all language but which is highlighted in the literary form: private life is looked at in a public way. Literary art seems to offer ways of exploiting or perceiving and representing this tension between inner and outer life which is at the heart of the matter being discussed here. With the explosion of English outside the inner circle countries subsequent to the publication of Hall's research, the issues raised by Hall need to be re-examined and expanded in terms of the opportunities and threats such changes create for an English teacher working in a classroom where the students lack any lived sense of the experience of these spaces in English, the language they are learning. As they learn the language, they are also learning to come to terms with the ways the English language has shaped space in terms of the L1 cultures and how the new societies learning to use English for communication are reshaping their own relationships in possibly new ways now. This paper considers the implications of these ideas for the novel in terms of how a proxemics framework may help us reconsider the ways we read and write about novels, expecially in the Asian context of teaching English as a foreign language in Thailand. How is social life embodied in Asian and Western novels through the ways sociocultural spaces dialectically shape and are shaped by the language of the novel? What does a proxemic approach to the novel contribute to our understanding of the ecology of language in Asian and Western novels, especially in terms of how these novels may be taught to and read by the growing large readership in Asia?
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    Spiritus ex machina : spectral technologies in Asian horror film
    Difficult as it may be to talk about a unified category of "Asian Horror Film," this article originates from an observation that in a great majority of Asian horror films (exemplified in this research by japanese, South Korean, Hong Kong, Chinese, Thai, Taiwanese, Singaporean and Vietnamese films) the horror film is almost equivalent with the "ghost" film. At the same time, it is relatively easy to notice that the celluloid representations of Asian spirits frequently do not comply with the Hollywood-established patterns, easily recognisable to a Western horror fan. This, to a certain extent can be said to reflect local religious beliefs, customs and traditions, as well as numerous Eastern aesthetic and philosophical values. Recently, however, many Asian horror films seem to convey a message that the spiritual world is in need of a technological upgrade. This, in turn, has a direct effect on the popular understanding and representation of the supernatural, as observed in everyday life in the said Asian cultures, and the idea of "the ghost" evolves. This paper examines the notion of spiritual technologies, understood in a twofold manner. On the one hand, based on an analysis of a number of contemporary East Asian and South East Asian horror films, the discussion will focus on the ways modern technologies, particularly visual and media technologies, have contributed to a shift in understanding the concept of the ghost. On the other hand, this paper will focus in more detail on the case of Thai horror cinema, where ghosts have become a narrative technique and ghost stories seem to have contributed to the development of cinematic technologies in general.
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    Critical awareness : romance novels in English for the Asian market
    This paper proposes to illustrate what is possible in the classroom to help learners to see texts as problematical; to be critically aware of literacy as a phenomenon and as a consequence for the learner to be assertive in their interaction with text. At the same time it is hoped to show how Information Technology can be used as a tool in the analysis of texts. The study will focus on samples taken from a novel published locally for the English speaking market in Southeast Asia. The choices made by the writer in both lexis and grammar will be critically examined in an attempt to reveal the stereotypical role modelling with its implicit relations of power structures in society.
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    The discourse and epistemology of ideas : the role of metaphors
    The idea of ideas is potentially an illusive language claim. Whether as a word, as a concept, it implies an existential phenomenon which raises epistemological issues of how language shapes what we believe we know. The delineation and explication of ideas requires an examination of the roles of metaphor in such discourse. Considered from a cross-cultural perspective the fact that the concept idea recurs in various languages suggests at least a functional need as a reality creating device, a linguistic tool in the explications of our social discourses but an analysis of the underlying metaphoric patterns reveal significant divergences of intent in their use. An examination of the systems of our epistemologies of knowledge both historically and in contemporary discourse leads to an analysis of metaphoric patterns and the schema derived from underlying conceptual metaphors (Lakoff, Johnson, Gibbs, Goatly, et al.) in the social constructions we make. A cross-cultural perspective on the conceptual metaphors utilized provides insight into value structures and reveals culturally dependent structures and associated values in shaping our understanding of human and natural sciences in the building of models to give coherence to our understanding. Culture-based perspectives of social realities differ because they embody a variety of underlying conceptual or root metaphors. This leads to a re-examination of the implications of linguistic relativity (Wm. Von Humboldt; Sapir, Whorf with Cartesian rationalism). To investigate these potentially divergent patterns of thought with their differing assumptions about creating understanding, a conceptual metaphoric analysis (Lakoff and Johnson, 1980; Lakoff, 1987; Lakoff and Turner, 1989; Gibbs, 1994; Goatly, 1997) of contemporary English and Japanese discourse on expressing "ideas/kangae" was made. The discourse data were analyzed into eleven underlying metaphoric or conceptual patterns. E.g. IDEAS ARE FOOD, IDEAS ARE COMMODITIES, IDEAS ARE PATHS. The expressions in the data related to the key terms of IDEAS and KANGAE were collated from genre such as psychology, philosophy, cognitive linguistics, language learning, and reference works. While the eleven underlying patterns were found in both English and Japanese discourse, four cross-cultural semantic relationships were also examined. (1) essentially the same in form and meaning; (2) similar in form but different in meaning; (3) different in form but similar in intent; (4) miscellaneous items different in form and meaning (linguistically and semantically distinct). The degree of commonality in the conceptual metaphoric usage between the two languages was generally low with only one pattern showing a high degree of congruency. These divergences bring us to the conflicts in epistemologies which have historically shaped our discourses in the sciences and humanities in positivistic or phenomenological modes and bring us to the diversity of conceptualization patterns and schema which we use to bring order into our experiences and understanding.