Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Episode 1219: Foiled Again!

While reading in preparation for meeting with my dissertation supervisor tomorrow, I've come to realise that once again, what I was thinking of writing about has already been done before. The first iteration of my plan for the dissertation was more concerned with straightforward literary analysis, Bloom's 'anxiety of influence' type of stuff. Had to change that because some undergraduate at NUS published a paper about exactly that. Her analysis wasn't perfect, but it wasn't sufficiently flawed that picking holes in it would take up the whole of my dissertation. So I switched to thinking about the Merlion in terms of the concept of liminality as a springboard for discussing its problematic reception as a cultural icon that is also profoundly implicated in the economics of Singapore. Turns out a pair of academics have sort of done that second half already, so it looks like in order to actually say anything new, I'm going to have to postulate that as a liminal figure, the Merlion is actually fundamentally necessary for Singapore in terms of cultural development, regardless of how it makes Singaporeans feel because of its economic significance as a tourist symbol. I've read one article so far that comes close to suggesting this, although it's phrased in terms of a dialectic that self-critiques à la Adorno and Horkheimer's Dialectic Of Enlightenment, so my take on it is still sufficiently different to justify being written about.

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