CHUNG Ling (Hong Kong Baptist University), The Pacific Rim Consciousness of American Writers in the West Coast , English/18 Pages, March 2004.


In this essay, the Pacific Rim consciousness refers to the way some American West Coast writers consciously identify themselves with, or actively advocate, the Rim area as one cultural region of coalition and/or one bioregion. These writers include Kenneth Rexroth, Jack Kerouac, Philip Whalen, Lew Welch, Gary Snyder, Robert Hass and Jane Hirshfield. The West Coast's geographical and ethnic features as well as its radicalism and egalitarianism gave rise to the birth of this consciousness, especially when East Asian cultures had already become an integral part of it. These writers share a genuine interest in and an admiration for East Asian civilizations. They more or less dissociate themselves from the East Coast and from European cultural traditions, in particular its literatures, religions and philosophy. In their writings, they have fused cultural content from China, Japan and Korea with their own heritage into an innovative hybridity that could also be seen as a critical localism in Western literary traditions. They not only advocate this consciousness in their writings but also carry it out in cultural activities that involve writers from both sides of the Rim as well as in their personal life. They could be deemed role models of the fusion of the East and West, and that of global cultural integration, especially when placed in the context of the West's expansionism.