“In a society where it is the collective that matters, we’re the only people who make the individuals count.”
“‘You know what Dr. Song said about you? He said you had a gift, that you could say a lie while speaking the truth.’”
Now, that last bit? about the man and his story? That happens in the middle of a big, mostly comic set piece, with our hero in the middle of a halfassed North Korean delegation to Texas. It’s funny, and in such a way that doesn’t take away from the basic tragedy of the North Korean characters. But that passage ends with its speaker, Dr. Song, telling Jun Do, who he’s talking to, that the Americans will believe him as a man and not a story, undermining his point, or maybe exposing the lie at the heart of the assertion about the primacy of story. And I think that it’s interesting that Johnson straddles, so often, the line between double consciousness and bad faith — he’s very good on the one side, and very unfortunately ironic, or maybe just knowing, on the other side of it.
January 31, 2012, 11:00am Comments