Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context
Issue 3, January 2000

Alphonso Lingis' Response to Peter Jackson's 'Spurning Alphonso Lingis' Thai "Lust": The Perils of a Philosopher at Large'

Alphonso Lingis

  1. I really reveled in the wicked pleasure of reading, as much, I think, as Peter Jackson of writing, the portrait of Alphonso Lingis - this individual neither of us has met. Any academic like us gets off on letting out all the stops sometimes. This Alphonso Lingis is 'ignoran[t] of the power relations in East-West erotic contact.' He 'rule[s] out the possibility of loving erotic relationships between Caucasians and Thais.' He is unable 'to tell the difference between a kathoey and a Thai woman.' He takes Thailand to be a 'matriarchal Garden of Eden.' He takes 'transvestites [as] representative of Thai males,' and 'assume[s] that all Thai men are potentially kathoey.' He is afflicted with 'blindness to non-Western cultural patterns.' He 'imperiously' 'fail[s] to see or acknowledge the local different rules of the erotic.' He embodies 'an uncritiqued Orientialism,' and 'an uncritiqued imperialist view of Asian masculinities as inferior forms beside Western expressions of manhood.' Makes one think of Fritz Shrobenius, in Yambo Ouologuem's Bound to Violence. But in the end Alphonso Lingis is 'just another angst-ridden coloniser feeling guilty about his power rather than a liberator.' Peter Jackson lets us down there. Ouologuem's portrait of Shrobenius is both more malicious and more liberatingly side-splitting.
  2. I do sincerely apologize to Peter Jackson for having somehow dropped the appropriate footnote for the two sentences he indeed is the origin of.

    Al Lingis

    Professor Alphonso Lingis,
    Department of Philosophy
    The Pennsylvania State University


This paper was originally published in Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context, with the assistance of Murdoch University.

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