I Lost My Head

A Literary Predecessor to Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite


Hordes of critics weighed in on the themes and aesthetic strengths of Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite when it won a 2020 Oscar for Best Picture, and one also for writing and directing. One interesting aspect of the film though was under-discussed. That was how it continues a long East Asian tradition of literary work that explore frauds, illusions, and things not being as they appear, or feign, to be. Don’t believe us? Check out this hilarious, surreal, and disturbing flash nonfiction …

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Franz Kafka’s Passion for Taoism

“The actual reality is always unrealistic,’ said Franz Kafka. ‘Look at the clarity, purity, and veracity of a Chinese coloured woodcut. To speak like that—that would be something.’”—Gustav Janouch, from his memoir Conversations with Kafka *** Franz Kafka (1883–1924) is revered for such short, expressionist pieces as “The Metamorphosis” and “The Penal Colony,” and longer works like The Trial. This is true not just in the West but across East Asia where writers from Haruki Murakami to Can Xue credit …

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The First Chinese SCI-FI Story by Lie-Zi, 4th Century BCE

The world’s oldest Chinese sci-fi story? It’s a robot story written by the Taoist philosopher Lie Zi written in in 4th century BCE!! It goes like this: “In the year 1023, the artificer Yan Shi presented a marvelous invention before the fifth king of the Chinese Zhou Dynasty, King Mu. It was a life-sized automaton. To the king’s astonished eyes, the figure walked with rapid strides, moving its head up and down, so that anyone would have taken it for …

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