and artistic representation were blurred: beautiful scenery was frequently described as being like a painting while skilful painting was described as being like reality. This leads Hsiao to one of the most interesting passages in the book: a detailed analysis of a post-Wanli-period edition of The Western Chamber (1640 ce) showing a marionette puppet performance with the puppeteers clearly visible. Hsiao argues persuasively that the illustration suggests "an infinite regression of embedded realities [a pattern which] destabilizes any notion of a single absolute or privileged reality, and calls into question the status of our own reality" (218). Though the image is post-Wanli, it effectively illustrates the philosophical thrust of the chapter in which embedded realities suggest conflation of time and space that bring the viewer/reader to direct contact with the past. On the other hand, the illustration is such an enticing record of performance practice that it again raises the question why the Wanli era publishers did not choose to include at least some illustrations in this clearly performative mode. Chapter 6 completes the temporal conflation trajectory: "By insightful reading the reader resurrects the historical figure on an imaginary stage that becomes real (as discussed in [chapter 6])"
Asian Theatre Journal – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Apr 1, 2008