ends in repetition

To be direct: The fantasy is to be discovered, reunited, made whole. From the willow basket floating among the reeds. To discover lineage, a kind of completion.

Of Theresa Cha’s Dictee, Timothy Yu writes, “The great theme of the book is in fact, the paralysis caused by historical and mythical thinking.”

“…an embrace of writing itself as the master discourse that moves out into agency from the stasis of history.”

If history is static, why do I insist on returning? To put it directly: Why do I keep getting it all wrong?

(He said: If you are writing about a journey, then look, you are getting in your own way.”)

Yu suggests that Dictee locates “home” in writing itself, its experiments, its abstractions. Writes itself into agency.

Cha says:


It is an empty theatre.


Why resurrect it all now. From the Past. History, the old wound. The past emotions all over again. To confess to relive the same folly. To name it now so as not to repeat history in oblivion. To extract each fragment from the word from the image another word another image the reply that will not repeat history in oblivion.

Being forgotten is a kind of death.

I dream remembering. Of being remembered into life. Resurrected through memory, being held there.

A mother returns after separation; a child returns home from a journey. Living in re-union.

I write the things I remember but the truth is I remember little. The blue-roofed school in the country. Men on park benches sleeping off the soju of the night before, there on the sidewalks of the dense, hot city.

They wanted to give us a sense of history, to learn the traditional methods of pouring tea. To dress in hanbok. To learn the traditional folk songs and sing them with our foreign tongues.

We took photos at Mt. Sorak and in the gardens. We drank soju around wooden tables. Sang songs. Propped each other up as we stumbled back to dorm room beds in the night.

Toward what agency might I be writing? From what stasis of history am I turning?

Yu: “But for Cha, myth and history collude in creating stasis and in robbing the individual of her singularity – even as they provide our only means of knowing not only our pasts but ourselves. Neither can provide change; each ends in repetition.”

Repeated stories represent no movement, no progress.   

What is needed: “the reply that will not repeat history in oblivion.”