Thu, Feb 08, 2001 - Page 11 News List

Get into the flow

Gao Xingjian, as the hero of Chinese-language literature, sees a literary future based in the Zen-based observation of the individual

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Gao says he has been looking for what can be called a flow to Chinese language, one "that follows existing linguistic rules but also can be innovative and flexible enough to plumb the abundance of human emotions.

"I avoid using terms imported from European languages and Chinese idioms and quotes, because they have established meanings which may limit the use of words to generate new feelings."

This search for a flow to Chinese language is apparent in his lengthy novel Soul Mountain (靈山), which Gao describes as "a long monologue to one's inner self."

For Gao, vivid literary language relies on the voice, tone and intonation more than the basic rhetoric of the words themselves. From this belief came his special writing habit to speak his texts into a tape recorder. Gao says the first draft of his writing is always his recorded voice.

Music and voices are always crucial elements to the writing. "I first choose the music, mostly Bach or Baroque music, and preferably something I'm not too familiar with, so that I have more space for imagination. And then I talk along with the music, sometimes in complete darkness. As long as the red light indicating that the machine is recording is still on I feel safe. Sometimes I can talk like this for 10 hours," says Gao.

Although Soul Mountain received better reviews, many of Gao's Taiwan fans prefer to focus on his autobiographic One Man's Bible (一個人的聖經), in which the protagonist's abundant sex experiences can be found in many chapters in the book.

"Are those your true experiences?" "How many girlfriends did you have?" "How do you define love and desire?" "How do you describe women?" These questions were repeatedly raised by the audience during Q&A sessions of both speeches.

Gao's answers were both elusive and reflective. He says that as a novelist his is talking about a fictional story. But he also "never passes up a chance to understand women."

"As a male writer, women are always what men pursue, and their world is always a mystery. So I always tried to present as many views as possible on women's worlds.

"Love is so holy, so confusing. It makes a man anxious, tormented. Love, how can I define it?" said Gao on a final, romantic note.

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