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Cosmopolitan De-scriptions: Shanghai and Hong Kong

Cosmopolitan De-scriptions: Shanghai and Hong Kong “I like all big cities. More than Japanese, I feel I’m from Tokyo, where I was born. . . . Tokyo has no nationality.” Yohji Yamamoto, in Wim Wenders’s 1989 film Notebook on Cities and Clothes ne of the most moving, and revealing, texts of the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges is his short 1954 preface to A Universal History of Infamy, a collection of stories first published in 1935. During the two decades between the original publication and the 1954 preface, Borges had established himself as a cosmopolitan writer who belonged not just to Argentina but to the world. However, it is possible to see Borges’s cosmopolitanism both as the great cultural achievement that it unquestionably and as a response to a quasi-colonial situation that inevitably leaves its traces, however indirectly. In Borges, we find these traces in the excessive and exhaustive erudition that he is famous for and that he calls the baroque: “I would define as baroque the style that deliberately exhausts (or tries to exhaust) its own possibilities, and that borders on selfcaricature.”1 That there is some relation between style and situation, between the baroque and the colonial, becomes clear when we learn a http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Public Culture Duke University Press

Cosmopolitan De-scriptions: Shanghai and Hong Kong

Public Culture , Volume 12 (3) – Oct 1, 2000

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2000 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0899-2363
eISSN
1527-8018
DOI
10.1215/08992363-12-3-769
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

“I like all big cities. More than Japanese, I feel I’m from Tokyo, where I was born. . . . Tokyo has no nationality.” Yohji Yamamoto, in Wim Wenders’s 1989 film Notebook on Cities and Clothes ne of the most moving, and revealing, texts of the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges is his short 1954 preface to A Universal History of Infamy, a collection of stories first published in 1935. During the two decades between the original publication and the 1954 preface, Borges had established himself as a cosmopolitan writer who belonged not just to Argentina but to the world. However, it is possible to see Borges’s cosmopolitanism both as the great cultural achievement that it unquestionably and as a response to a quasi-colonial situation that inevitably leaves its traces, however indirectly. In Borges, we find these traces in the excessive and exhaustive erudition that he is famous for and that he calls the baroque: “I would define as baroque the style that deliberately exhausts (or tries to exhaust) its own possibilities, and that borders on selfcaricature.”1 That there is some relation between style and situation, between the baroque and the colonial, becomes clear when we learn a

Journal

Public CultureDuke University Press

Published: Oct 1, 2000

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