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Botanically Adrift: Writing Ecological Estrangement in Two Trees Make a Forest-On Memory, Migration and Taiwan

植物漂流:潔西卡.李傳記《雙木成林》生態疏離書寫中的記憶,飄移,台灣

Abstracts


This essay contributes to literary criticism on ecobiography through an analysis of Jessica Lee's Two Trees Make a Forest. A genre of life writing which reflects on the imbrication of a human and their ecosystem, ecobiography can be defined through two main themes: the dissolution of the human and non-human, and attention to local environments and ecosystems. However, Two Trees Make a Forest challenges the first of these themes through the obvious disconnect between Lee and the natural environments of Taiwan. Lee attempts to uncover her Taiwanese history following the deaths of her grandparents, and travels to Taiwan for three months to learn the language and explore the island's natural environments. Throughout her ecobiography, she continually reflects on her unsettlement in Taiwan given her estrangement from her history, and expresses this through reflections on Taiwan's geology and plants. More subliminally, her disconnect from her maternal family's culture is expressed through the way she chooses to write about Taiwan's natural history. Her accounts privilege writing by travelers and colonizers, rather than Taiwan's Indigenous peoples. This may be attributed to language difficulties-Lee's main language is English and she accessed translated, printed material-and because of her Western education. Lee also aestheticizes the environments through which she moves, dwelling on their obvious attractions (particularly the plant life) rather than the incursions of human habitation and industrialization. This necessarily leads to a rewriting of one of the themes of ecobiography, in that ecobiographical texts are not so much about representations of the dissolution between the human and its ecosystem, but about the desire for dissolution, and how this can be attained, or not. The essay closes with a meditation on whether one can simply belong to a place by accessing that place's language, and on the need for time to acquaint oneself with an ecosystem and the cultures that it supports. It concludes with the suggestion that arboreal companions can prompt us to think about human relationships with local ecosystems on a much longer scale.

Parallel abstracts


本文主要藉由探討潔西卡.李旅遊回憶錄《雙木成林》對生態傳記作為文學批評提出貢獻。生態傳記作為人與生態系統密切關係的生命書寫文類,主要有二大主題:瓦解人與非人界線,以及關注地方環境與生態系統的重要性。然而《雙木成林》卻挑戰第一主題,而呈現作者與台灣自然環境的疏離,作者企圖追蹤祖父母之死,旅遊台灣三個月來挖掘台灣歷史,學習當地語言及自然環境。她的旅遊回憶錄的生態傳記書寫反映了她的離散失根以及與歷史,自然地質植物的疏離。她藉由書寫台灣自然歷史來表達與自己母系文化的隔閡與生疏。傳記中往往重視主流旅遊者及殖民者而忽略原住民聲音,更因為語言及西式教育影響而過度浪漫地美化自然環境而對人類對自然侵犯及高度工業化的破壞,視而不見。而造成其生態傳記書寫,並非人與非人的界線瓦解,而是瓦解的企圖而力有未逮。本文結論思索人是否藉由了解當地語言以及熟悉自然與文化環境,而能歸屬於當地。本文主張與林中植物相伴可以增進人與生態系統共生共存的關係。

Parallel keywords

生態傳記 自然書寫 台灣 生態系統 原住民

References


Aarts, Bas. “The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.” The Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar, 2nd ed., Oxford UP, 2014, p. 367.
Adawai, Jason Pan. “Taiwan.” The Indigenous World 2019, edited by David Nathaniel Berger. International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, 2019, pp. 302-310.
Brewster, Anne. “Can You Anchor a Shimmering Nation State via Regional Indigenous Roots?: Kim Scott Talks to Anne Brewster about That Deadman Dance.” Cultural Studies Review, vol. 18, 2012, pp. 228-46.
Chang, Chia-ju, and Scott Slovic. “Introduction.” Ecocriticism in Taiwan: Identity, Environment and the Arts, edited by Chia-ju Chang and Scott Slovic, Lexington Books, 2016, pp. ix-xxii.
Ch’ing-wen, Cheng. The Three-Legged Horse. Columbia UP, 2000.

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