Creative Cities Nov. 4, 2019

Creative Cities Nov. 4, 2019

Make new characters who are culturally relevant

Unique taiwanese culture, influenced by chinese culture. But how to prove that it exists? Because culture is abstract.

Take for example greek culture, its easy to imagine that culture because of the greek monsters. So what if we have taiwanese monsters?

What is a monster? This question makes the contemporary significange of the monster.


Shadow chicken monster??


God monster human are all interconnected

Han god system has complex functions

Mazu was originallt godess of sea but in thr temple she resolve the disease problem. People think mazu is effective for this kind of disease, effective to resolve unknown crisis, the logic of folklore.

Ex1: -> How these kind of fears are turned into monsters. “The sky dog eats the sun” = solar eclipse. People would make noise with pots to drive out the sky dog, daily ritual so sky dog don’t eat them. If the sun disappears there would be no food anymore so people are scared. Every time people male noise the eclipse would disappear so they think it’s effective.

Ex2:-> according to old japanese documents Pingtong boys would imitate the ox to make noise under ground to scare the ox underground. Not effective but helps people to be less scared so it’s emotionallt important. People need to demonize natural phenomena to deal with fear of danger.

Ex3:-> Ghost in the mountain during sunrise.

Ex4: Water spirits in the rivers because sometimes people drown. So better keep away from the river. Slogans are not so effective but water spirits are.

Ex5:-> Haunted house, keep away fro that house. Maybe destroyed structurally dangerous, ownership issues, etc.

Ex6: fear of the other, bird of disaster. From atayal tribe language, a magic bird. People feed this bird to do evil things. If anyone die, landfall from mountain, probably fault of the bird. Dog-shaped bird that only whiches can see, normal people can’t. If a normal person sees it, they are cursed.

Ex:6B-> japanese writer came to taiwan in 1930s during colonial period, wrotr about this bird. People are happier if it’s suitable for the customs of the tribe. Concept on gaga, people who don’t follow the tribes rules.suspicous of who’s not close to the tribe, punished of found.kill family of the suspicious person, burn their house. The one who feeds the bird. Helpful for unifiing the tribe. Legend of social order. In contemporary culture similar thing is bullying at school, group of people violent towards an individual without concete reason. Mayority in the society bully the minorty, those who don’t follow the social customs. In Taiwan more gender friendly, more female friendly.

Me: This is japanese perspective, trustworthy?

Ex7:-> Whiches in the indigenous tribe, know some black magic so people will be hurt. She can fly with the leaves of banana. Change cats eyes to herself, see at night, etc. Whiches social status is higher than those who feed the bad bird because people need powerful friends to protect themselves from rivals. They want the which to protect them from others. Ironically she gets some power in the society. Black magic by poisonous insects. Make them kill another. Especially of the south part of taiwan. People can become slave of the which, they get free labor in the house. Eat one person each year? Hatred towards rich people, suspicoous of their sucess. Probably they do black magic. Japanese anthropologist talks about south african society, they think the same, whiches are helping them- example of the outsider, the other, for the ordinary people.

Ex8:-> Baby spirits, morhers who abandon the baby and the baby dies and haunts the mother. Taiwanese legend, from the 1980s, very recent! At that period abolishment of abortion ban, before that illegal to do abortion. So people think aborted babies will become ghosts. It’s about the societal ethical judgment, society demonize those who don’t follow their rules. Cruel and still exists in contemporary society, we continue to create monsters for our needs.

Ex9:-> Ordinary people who become god,People who are worshipped, just those ancestor who followed the rules. Others become Homeless ghosts, will do bad things outside. Ghosts become hungry and need to eat. If theres a disaster people think its the homeless ghosts. more female ghosts because of the patriarchial society. “The female need to be married so they can be worshipped, the ghosts are female who died before marriage! Homeless ghosts” it’s about power relationships in contemporart world.



So in conclusion monsters are related to human psychology and logic of the society. This is basic understand of monsters. Without this understanding, we can’t create monsters.  What can make monsters disappear? In their daily lives people don’t think scientifically. So it’s not scientfic development that makes monsters disappear. New development creates and generates new monsters and customs.

— ex1: For example big machines need a spirit to make them work.

— Example2: people draw a turtle and burn it to make good marriage

— ex:3 in japan a dog who can prevent rain in the photoraghy/movie industry.

Monsters related to customs hardly disappear rhey are very reluctant. Modernization is the trace of colonization. Usually there’s a market in front of the temple. Japanese destroyed many temples to rearrange the urban design. New kinds of markets, parks, etc. We think we are modernized but... Our contemporary market is the 7-11.

Colonization caused in-continuity of the past and present. It’s from the past that we need to transform old concepts and make them contemporary. We need some roots and reasons to face problems.

Science is not compatible with monsters. But monsters are viable in contemporary society because of fantasy, we think they are not connected to the real world. Nut for example japanese drama where people are connected to the past dead people, it’s connected to our real world problems. We are looking for another possiblity of our reality. Russian formalist literary theory of alienation explains we need to make it strange, the daily language is too familiar we can’t appreciate it and understand its beaury. For formalist theorist they need to alienate strange langue for the arsthetic demand, we are not creating a new world, we dexonstruct and reconstruct our reality to analyse and show our own reality.


Contemporar scope of mosnter story making. Before the trend of taiwanese monsters, pokemon. We think of the monsters as IP it’s dangerous. Pokemon go cultrue is about battles and collectibles, exchanges culture constructed over 20 years form social relations. A trend can be formed because people can interact between each other. But it doesn’t connect with any historical content, someone creates a beautiful avatar but has no context, no social and historical memory. This way monsters are destroyed by ourselves.

Japan has research into monsters for over 100 years.In japanese research, if a monster is made  into entretainment, it’s not scary anymore. That’s why it’s the graveyard of monsters. Taiwan doesn’t even have an institute of folk monster studies, folk studies are powerless if we haven’t done enough research work - it’s dangeorus and too early to entertainmenize such heritage.


Japanese writer famous for his monster writing. In his stories, monsters are the backsides of the persons. Why can god exist in society? Why can mosnters exist in society? If they have some effect in the society, have some effect on human behaviour, in a sense they exist.

Monsters are crucial to cultural heritage, bridge between pre-moder and contemporary. Modern people still have the same psychological status. What can we in Taiwan learn from such way of creating monsters? Can we create mosters? It’s possivle if we focus on the social contexts. Otherwise it’s just a symbol without content.

The night song story, old house in Taipei. Someone sings a song at the night. Teenagers go in to prove there is no monster. Taipei gov want to destroy this buding to turn the area into tourist spot. But maybe it’s an opportunity? Make it into a superhero star singer instead and reconstruct the building. But the night song is no longer the same. The historical spots can tell an old authentic story. Sometimes buildins are moved to anothe place for preservation but they still lose their historical meaning.

Japanese story about maintance worker, the relation of urban history and strange horror stories. Repair not destroy in subirban area in Japan. If there’s an issue with a monster, the people call the maintance worker (ghost buster?). Some monsters Visit houses in a specific order so we can calculate when the monster comes and call the maintance worke at rhe right time. Very punctual monster. Sometimes need to make streets wider for cars. Monster’s relationship with urban development. Make a new steet for the monster to not disturb?

Monsters are able to make intangible things visible, work with memory abd heritage. Space is not homogenious, around Taipei president hall ordinary people are aftaid of the big buildings. People are attracted and excludes from certain areas, power relations in the space of the city. The power relations differ for people based on their status. We can talk about monsters and power relations, monsters live longer than people, so they are a symbol for those already passed.


The Paradise of Mosina, elementary school in the countryside. Students are seduced by the ghosts by becoming like a familiar person and draw them to the mountains. It’s about becoming an adult, need to be brave to escape the Mosina. Also contemporary connection to social problems, fore destruction in the forest.


Water spirits in Taiwna and the Otter eho lost its mother. New student at elemnetary school, local student challenge the newcomer to swim in the dangerous river, bullying. Symbol of water spiris even if they don’t appear in the story.


Japanese colonial time, The train station leader’s young wife. They have a servant. People around are barbarians, tell the wife there are Mosina ghosts in the mountains. Mosina can transport peopel. The wife wants to leave, so the Mosina become a hope for the protagonist.


The vanished giant.  National identity, different ethnic groups. Mosina is not only for Han people, indigenous people have such a legend also. Mosina wakes people up and brings them to the mountain and puts things in the person’s mouth. Many indigenous legends. Also in Okinawa similar stories to Taiwan. Monster asks people if they want to eat white or red rice. Need to answer correctly. Or someting happens. Speaker wrote a story based on such stories in Yilan (east coast) because close to Okinawa, closely related in history and had many jnteractions. But later this same group of peole became 2 different groups in 2 different countries. Yilan catch fish after 1970s because of okinawa controlled by America returned to Japanese gov. Before fisherment interact freely, after political change can’t speak anymore. The story is set in such social backgroudn. The protagonist grandmother in Taiwan disappeared like seduced by Mosina so people in the story peolpel of Okinawa say it’s no Mosina in Taiwan wh took grandma but another monster from Okinawa. So it’s a paradox which countrt monster tool grandma. National indentit conflict. Because even though grandma is living in Taiwan she is from Okinawa but has no experiencw living there. We can reflect society using monster stories. In the end of the story, grandma the son said it’s probably okinawa monster after which he also disappeared. So monster of Taiwan or Okinawa??

Speaker is official of Taiwan local strange stories office. They invite people to tell strories they know. Because decline of oral tradition of monsters. People have more media types. Monsters are useful to explain various things also in contemporary world. Usig logic of monster story we can change the narrative, comnect to contemporary experience and reflect human behaviour. Things like violence towarss the others, who don’t belong, our social issues.

The end



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