"A foul lump started making promises in my voice." - from John Yau's poetic series "Genghis Chan: Private Eye" (1989).
This body of work is an ongoing study in racial melancholia and racial grief, in examining how and why we fixate, even devour that which we are excluded from. The foul lump is a reference to John Yau’s poetic series “Genghis Chan: Private Eye” (1989), in which the Chinese American narrator states: “A foul lump started making promises in my voice.” If we consider the foul lump to be a repulsive object that hijacks the Chinese American subject’s racialized body for the vocalization of others, we must consider how the lump arrives in the larynx in the first place. In Freudian melancholia, melancholy is pathological and enduring, in which the ego wishes to incorporate the object into herself through devouring.
In this case, it is my double’s (a Chinese cowgirl avatar) fixation on the American West, a mythological space she recognizes as biopolitically, historically, and thus, residually not belonging to her. Through racial melancholia, how do we navigate new conditions from which we speak and new ways of inhabiting our subjectivities? How can we begin to consider melancholia as a realistic response to the insidious underbelly of American history?