Yi-sang attaches greater importance to the sense of touch than to the
sense of sight in his work, “Donghae”. It is thought of as an attempt to
resist the vision model of modernity, formed since Descartes.
Shifted from ‘Eternal Time’ to the part of consciousness, ‘I’(in this
novel) go into finding the objects in external world with the tactual
sensation and look upon the objects under his eyes as linguistic sign.
Because of the ambiguous attribute of linguistic sign itself, ‘I’, however,
ain’t close to the nature of the object. The uncertain condition of things
is meant pleasure to me on the contrary. In fact, the ambiguity has a
relationship with the part of unconsciousness, the fantastic world to me.
In his novel, Yi-sang makes ‘I’ come and go in the provinces of reality
and fantasy through arrangement of the sign, “knife”. One day awaking
and taking to look ‘a woman with knife’, ‘I’ ask her the question, “Are
you a killer?”. His question in this way is that much relevant and probable,
because he haven’t moved to consciousness. He is still left in the world of
fantasy or moving picture. But peeling a citrus with her knife, she, named ‘Yim’, does against his expectation. ‘knife’-‘citrus’ chain plays an important
part to him to get more realistic sense out of ambiguous condition.
Through that chain, ‘I’ become a realistic man with the sense of marriage.
Text in novel is also changed to have realistic tendency after that. Being
extremely realistic, however, ‘I’ am sunk in self-hatred and let his lover,
‘Yim’ go to his friend, Yun. When ‘I’ in despair go to movie with another
friend of his, T, T gives him a knife. ‘I’ am troubled with whether he have
to kill ‘Yun’ or ‘Yim’ or himself with the knife. But T gives a citrus to
him, too. ‘knife’-‘citrus’ chain in this part, does the opposite funtion with
that former chain. It lets him know emotional, nonrealistic part of world
In brief, there are two communication failures in “Dong-Hae”, occurs
from the difference of knife/death and knife/citrus. But it is not only failure
itself. In dialogue, it makes him(‘I’) face the interactive circumstances out
of the cognitive world he constructed before. The first linguistic failure
makes him(‘I’) being realistic out of childish dream. ‘Dong-Hae’ is, in a
kind, a laboratory work with only a linguistic variable given. The second
failure in just the end of the work, makes him, a realistic adult, enter into
another world, which is emotional, fantastic and friendly.