It Starts with an Island: An Empty Terrain in the Danshui River, Taipei and Orz Boyz

David Barton


For Slavoj Zizek the empty place or void stands for ‘Drive/Death Drive’: “a drive is not a primordial, positive force but a purely geometrical, topological phenomenon, the name for the curvature of the space of desire.” (Zizek 2005: 361) This paper examines this ‘empty space’ in two recent cultural texts relating to Taiwan: one a multi-media presentation at the Taipei Biennial and the other the movie, Orz Boyz. The connecting topology belongs to the topography of islands found in the rivers of Taipei. Both the film and the multi-media project make explicit use of the islands in ways which this paper relates to the psychoanalytic project of Zizek/Lacan. The possible discourses, besides psychoanalysis emerging from these two cultural objects are outlined, but in particular the notion of childhood and underdevelopment/overdevelopment are discussed. From this vantage point, childhood/drive and the symbolic order this paper examines the current predicament of Taiwan from a psychoanalytic point of view.

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Asian Culture and History   ISSN 1916-9655(Print)   ISSN 1916-9663 (Online)   Email:

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