Cicada and the ‘Lost Generation’
“Will we see cicadas should we ever meet here again next year? “Of course, but they will not be the same cicadas we’ve seen.” I met a gang of young people on a summer. I never saw them again and I knew I would never hear the cicada sing again.”
This is the end of Taiwanese choreographer and writer Lin Hwaimin’s novelette Cicada, written in 1969.The novelette was first published in a short story collection, making its debut in 1974. In the story, the Taiwanese "Lost Generation" enjoyed a whole summer of revelry in coffee shops and pubs, indulging in ‘LONGLIFE’ cigarettes, talking to hippies and outcasts, bragging about marijuana, and idling away listless days in the melodies of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Beatles’
nd Blue Jay Way.The gang swam in the mountains, wondering for whom the bell at the Xuanguang Temple tolled. Near the finish line of their dazed, orgiastic puberty, they heard a burst of cicadas singing wildly… Life is like cotton candy. It looks good and tastes sweet, but contains nothing in the core except a dirty bamboo stick. At the end of the story, Xiaofan was reading Carson McCullers’The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter before committing suicide. Lin Hwai-min, in addition to being the founder and creative force behind Cloud Gate that thrilled the Taiwanese cultural scene when it came into being in the 1970s with an unbroken series of innovative dances and dance directions, is also an important author of short stories, and was intimately involved in the literary scene of Taiwan in the late 1960s and 1970s. Born in an intellectual family in Chiayi,Taiwan, Lin was exposed to different art forms and culture very early on in his childhood. He published his first story in United Daily News at the age of fourteen. At the age of eighteen, he was engaged as one of the contract writers for Crown, one of Taiwan’s biggest magazines. Through the novelette Cicada, the author who is openly gay, found an outlet to release his restrained deep feelings for the male body.The story is also a perfect demonstration of the choreographer’s inborn sensitivity to literary aesthetics; and the title ‘Cicada’ together with its nondescript metaphorical power derived from the fact that it endures the abyss of underground darkness for most of its short lifetime and sings until its death proves to be the perfect match to compliment the desired mise-en-scene of the story.