White Ink, Family Systems, Forests of Illusion, and Aging: Knots of Passion
This chapter explores the work of the poet, writer, and psychologist Lydia Kwa. Attuned to psychoanalytical knots, Kwa's four novels are about jouissance (ecstasy out of pain, implicitly or explicitly sexual) in lives affected by psychosocial and sociopolitical change. They can be read as philosophical texts, psychology studies, and moral struggles, and often reinterpret classical tales in the context of contemporary lives. Drawing on the Shan Hai Jing (The Classic of Mountains and Seas), a compendium of mythical animals and mythic geographies, and the genre of zhiguai chuanqi (“strange tales”), Kwa dabbles in the hidden meanings of names, magical scripts used by exorcists (fangshi), and Buddhism. The discussion of her work also focuses on gender, sexuality, and family structures.