“The Answer,” a poem by Bei Dao first published in 1978, marks the emergence of a defiant voice in contemporary Chinese poetry and asserts skepticism as the political stance of a young generation in post–Cultural Revolution China. It also heralds a historic transition from an era of sonic agitation to an aesthetics based on visual perception and contemplation. This rereading of Bei Dao's canonical poem and other related texts goes back to the late 1970s, when the political implications of the human senses were firmly grasped and heatedly debated. The author shows that an ocular turn occurs in “The Answer” and drives the aesthetic as well as political pursuits of a new generation of poets. He further argues that, in a moment still enthralled with a revolutionary sonic culture, Misty poetry disavowed aural excitement and was part of the reconditioning of the human senses in preparation for a postrevolutionary order and sensibility.

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