This paper examines the characteristics of the biji 筆記 narrative as storytelling discourse, focusing on the concept of "the strange" in the "Tanyi" 談異 (Talking about the strange) chapter of Chi bei ou tan 池北偶談 (Casual talks on the north of the pond). In China, the tradition of "strange" stories goes back to zhiguai 志怪 and chuanqi 傳奇. Biji is in the tradition of zhiguai, the intellectual narrative discourse, and thus is distinguished from chuanqi, the literary narrative discourse. However, there is a significant difference between zhiguai and biji: while the goal of zhiguai is to explore "the other world" that contrasts with "this world" and construct a self-contained system of signs of that world, the goal of biji is to grasp the "otherworldliness hidden in this world" and create discourses on its secondary cultural meanings. In this sense, we may consider zhiguai as religious discourse that focuses on "the other world," and biji as social discourse that focuses on "this world."
In terms of the change in the boundary of "the strange," biji narrative's interest in "this world" means the extension of the boundary drawn by zhiguai, which focuses on "the other world." It also signifies the internalization of the boundary in the sense that the direction of the extension is inward rather than outward. At the center of this change is the secularization of the narrative interest: while the narrators of zhiguai aspire to recognize and apprehend "the other world," i.e. the world of "you" and "the unknown" as opposed to the world of "I" and "the known," the narrators of biji have a strong desire to culturally assimilate the otherworldliness that exists in the subjective space.
Also worth noting is that, in the Ming-Qing period, the formation of the biji discourse seems to enabled the literati, the subject of narration, to constitute the context and discourse of the world, and thus have formed the foundation of the usual intellectual communication. Moreover, it is very plausible that the biji discourse functioned as the major site of public opinion during the pre-modern era. It is probably because the biji tradition was deeply embedded in Chinese society that modern Chinese newspapers in the late 19th century, formed under strong Western influences, seems to be not very far from the literati biji in terms of the composition of discourse and the contents.