Blog 4 – Outtakes

There are lots of outtakes and deletions from TMAC. After all, it took almost 20 years… about the same timeframe as the Odyssey. All I can say is that Odysseus made a lot of false starts as well. I thought that loading some of these outtakes onto the website might enrich TMAC in keeping with the slogan that “the text is fixed but everything on the website is provisional.” In fact, I should have said that ‘everything on the website makes the text provisional.’

Anyway, the first scene represents the original entrance of Shanghai Dog into TMAC (C5, E17).

It is important because it introduces a new Odysseus into the novel and jolts the temporal frame forward from 1984 to 2008. It serves other purposes as well like problematizing the distinction between fiction and autobiography. You see, a lot of planning went into TMAC. I didn’t just mangle Joyce, Homer and a bunch of theoreticians.

In the end, I went with the airplane scene because it places Shanghai Dog directly en route back to Australia, just like Odysseus in Book 12 after he leaves Phaeacia. It also mirrors the entrance of Don Hallem in Chapter Two, thereby activating the “son must repeat the journey of the father” trope. And it reverses chronology by introducing Shanghai Dog after he has already left China. This means that later scenes in the novel become retrospective, and the reader is influenced by his decision to go home.

By contrast, the text would have been linear and consecutive if I had used this Nankai office scene. But I still think it is a neat piece of writing. It is also a pretty accurate description of my working life in China from 2005-2013.