Document Type

Book Chapter


In the mirror, I face the mirror woman: outcast, exile, immigrant. Standing at a point of truth, knowing that there is no truth, only illusions and more illusions, that all thought is implanted, that every society carries within itself a form of oppression, that living itself is tenuous, that in the end is only silence and something other. Lau Siew Mei's portrayal of her character's confusion in front of the mirror provides a shadowy parallel to the kind of mirror stage hailing from psychoanalysis. But her sense of alienation, like that of other Chinese Australians, is compounded by a dilemma which is at the same time simpler and more urgent: a response to the 'mirror' image held up to her by the mainstream culture ('outcast, exile, immigrant'), a sense of estrangement from both the ethnically marked face in the mirror and the culturally marked imagination which greets it. It is an experience which instead of certainties (psychological, social, cultural) yields only 'illusions and more illusions' - and beyond that, perhaps, the possibility of 'something other.'