Animal Contact in Liu Ka-shiang's He-lien-mo-mo the humpback whale

Sun Chieh Liang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper begins with a discussion of the scientifically damaging role that anthropomorphism has played in Western scientific thought, and turns to explore the ambivalent attitude that Liu Ka-shiang has always had toward science and literature. To Liu, the problematic of the representation of the animal pushes the ambivalence to its extreme, which leads to his constant anxiety. On the one hand, he has to represent what he sees, or what comes in contact with his naked eyes, and on the other hand, he knows very well the hegemonic power of seeing that shapes our worldview; it controls, manipulates, and forms the being of the object (live or not) under observation, and even such a physical experience as the sense of touch is under its control. In He-lien-mo-mo the Humpback 'Whale, Liu shows not only the power and horror of seeing, but more importantly, the life force of the genuine contact with the animal. Initiated by the physical touch, this animal contact, this contact with the other (animal) essentially embedded in the very being of each living creature, is the crucial point that defines the relationship between the human and the animal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-58
Number of pages26
JournalTamkang Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jun


  • Animal
  • Anthropomorphism
  • Derrida
  • He-lien-mo-mo the Humpback Whale
  • Literature
  • Liu Ka-shiang
  • Science
  • Seeing
  • Touch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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