|Published online: April 20, 2017||$US5.00|
By analyzing the writings of contemporary Chinese female worker poets, this article studies the complicated relationships between labor, alienation, and aesthetics. After differentiating two aesthetic stands—one is “productive,” which relates poetry to production, history, and totality; the other is “aesthetic,” which relates art’s antithetical relationship to reality—the author points out that the former still enlightens worker poets in late capitalism. In Lan Lan’s poetry about pre-modern socialist production, the poet in productive aesthetics questions the now-human condition by presenting realistically an ideal mode of production realized in the past. In Shu Ting’s poem “Streamlines,” the poet declares her antithetical relationship to the “status quo” in resisting the homogenization caused by mechanized production. The aesthetic stand loses its critical power in Zi Li’s poem “Finger Pains,” which describes the alienation in market capitalism. The poet constructs a self-enclosed aesthetic world by dissociating the fate of individual from its social context. In Xiaoqiong Zheng’s poems about the fully alienated life of workers in the twenty-first century, the poet returns to the productive stand and presents a dereified relationship among workers through disclosing sociality as determined by the infrastructure.
|Keywords:||Labor, Alienation, Productive Aesthetics, Aesthetic Aesthetics|
Professor, School of Foreign Languages, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, China
Lecturer, School of Foreign Languages, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, China
MA Student, School of Foreign Languages, South China University of Technologies, Guangzhou, China