Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

The Dictionary

FEIFEISM (FEIFEI ZHUYI). Established in Sichuan in 1986, Feifei (meaning “no no,” a phrase coined by the group), represents a counter-cultural movement in poetry. Named after its journal, Feifei (Rejection), it includes a large number of poets scattered around the country. To be considered a Feifeist, a poet has to subscribe to the ideals promoted by Feifei, whose mission is to challenge the social and literary norms of the country. The Feifeist movement, which has flourished under ideological as well as market pressures, can be divided into two stages. The first, which lasted from 1986 to 1989, was characterized by its radical, subversive stance made evident by its proclamation of anticulture, antisublime, and antirhetoric. In 1988, Zhou Lunyou, who cofounded the movement, published his most contentious essay, “Fan jiazhi” (Anti-value), in the third issue of Feifei, announcing the intention to wage a war against all forms of establishment. He advocated targeting culture and its privileged concepts such as beauty, harmony, symmetry, completion, truth, and style in order to carry out a systematic subversion of conventional semantics. To accomplish this mission, Zhou and his colleagues engaged in the invention of new words and the deliberate use of unseemly expressions. Representing Feifei’s vision and aesthetics are Zhou’s own poems, in particular “Ziyou fangkuai” (Freedom Squares) and “Tou xiang” (Head Portrait), Yang Li’s “Gao chu” (The Summit), Lan Ma’s “Shi de jie” (The Demarcation of the World), and “Zu shi” (A Set of Poems) by He Xiaozhu.

Since 1989, the Feifeists have adopted a new tactic, advocating “personal writing” that calls for “pure Chinese language,” uncorrupted by Western influences. This nationalistic assertion emphasizes the need to shift away from the preoccupation with the West, which has dominated Chinese intellectual thought and expression since the beginning of the 20th century. The Feifeist poets see no need to esteem the great masters of the West; instead, they position themselves as perpetual innovators and each writing act is projected as a fresh beginning, a “zero point.” Chen Yaping, Chen Xiaofan, and Yuan Yong emerged as prominent members of the movement. Chen Yaping’s poems “Yingxiang sanbuqu” (Trilogy of Influence) are particularly important in defining Feifeism’s position at this stage.