History's recording . . . Not physical enough. Not to the very flesh and bone, to the core, to the mark, to the point where it is necessary to intervene, even if to invent anew, expressions, for this experience, for this outcome, that does not cease to continue.

Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Dictee

Theresa Cha's Dictee opens in multiple and successive moments before entering into the first realm of History. The initial words of Sappho: May I write words more naked than flesh, stronger than bone, more resilient than sinew, sensitive than nerve not only invoke the presence of an ancient, Western, female literary tradition, but also establish the resounding undercurrent of the text as a whole: that of the intricate connection between human body and textual body, spoken voice and written voice, visual expression and verbal expression, and the eroticism of a language possessed. Yet Dictee maintains a problematic relationship with the bodies of a particular history and ethnic-gender identity; through the text Cha seeks at once to expose the gaps of a history recorded and the lacks of an identity represented, as well as to reveal the necessary inadequacy of the textual body of Dictee itself to account for and to embody an experience, a history, and an identity that does not cease to continue.

In juxtaposing the recognition of history's recording as Not physical enough. Not to the very flesh and bone, to the core, to the mark with the contradictory claim that this experience, this outcome [do] not cease to continue, Cha gestures towards the reclamation not of a fixed center but of a continually shifting core process that is inherently and paradoxically tied to the containment of the physical body yet also to the fluidity of its rhythms. Dictee itself thus emerges as the record of a continual process, or a book that works self-consciously to bring its own textuality (its own materiality, its own body and its voice) to the surface.

The way in which Cha evokes the fluid interactivity between textual and human bodies appears poignantly in Dictee's second extended passage, the prose-poem, "Diseuse." Midway through the poem:

She waits inside the pause. Inside her. Now. This very moment. Now. She takes rapidly the air, in gulfs, in preparation for the distances to come. The pause ends.
The syntactical stops and starts, or the overriding pulse of the sentences, creates the rhythm of sexual excitement and anticipation. This occurs through the movement from fragment (This very moment) to monosyllabic breath (Now) to complete and complex sentence (She takes rapidly the air, in gulfs, in preparation for the distances to come), back to a simple phrase (The pause ends). Anticipation, breath, hold, release before resolution. The pause ends. The contracting and expanding pulse of the poem as a whole (from moments of fragmentation, bits torn from words, to those of fluidity, absorb it spill it flood) works to encompass and articulate the natural rhythms and pleasures of the body. Overall, "Diseuse" presents the subject "she" who reclaims and puts to use the voice that ultimately will allow the speaker to recast the fissures of a fragmentary record, or an identity of gender, of ethnicity, of nation.

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