“Infiltrate as Cells”: The Biopolitically Ethical Subject of sybil unrest


In sybil unrest, Rita Wong and Larissa Lai bring the techniques of avant-garde formalism and the sensibility of the transnational subject together in their project to "re-subject" the "i." Their book-length poem is a sharp critique of twenty-first century local-global scales of capital flow that provocatively proposes the figure of the Asian female body as a more robust figure of humanist universality than, say, Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. This playful provocation is not quite a call to a representational coup, but an illumination of the cultural specificity of wholisms underwriting discourses of species and interspecies interaction. In their pursuit of a strategy of ethical (self)-representation,Wong and Lai fortuitously produce a critique of “human” as the species and identity category whose ideological underpinnings inform and are informed by Euro- and androcentric post-Enlightenment humanist values. Ultimately, Wong and Lai propose political action as occurring at the moments where the subject literally composes herself—nutrionally, affectively and narratively—as living material.

This article ““Infiltrate as Cells”: The Biopolitically Ethical Subject of sybil unrest” originally appeared in 21st-Century Poetics. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 210-211 (Autumn/Winter 2011): 169-189.

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