Special issues:

Literature and Linguistics (Vol. 1 No. 2); Literature and Violence (Vol. 3 Nos. 1-2)

Women, Consumption and Popular Culture (Vol. 4 No. 1); Life, Community, and Ethics (Vol. 4. No. 2)

The Making of Barbarians in Western Literature (Vol. 5 No. 1); Chaos and Fear in Contemporary British Literature (Vol. 5 No. 2)

Taiwan Cinema before Taiwan New Wave Cinema (Vol. 6 No. 1); Catastrophe and Cultural Imaginaries (Vol. 6 No. 2)

Affective Perspectives from East Asia (Vol. 9 No. 2); Longing and Belonging (Vol. 10 No. 2, produced in collaboration with the European Network for Comparative Literary Studies)

Transatlantic Literary and Cultural Relations, 1776 to the Present (Vol. 11 No. 2). 


It has been widely accepted that the detective’s failure to solve mysteries is characteristic of the genre of metaphysical detective story. Confronting labyrinthine literary texts or perplexing topographies of cities, metaphysical sleuths find themselves unable to penetrate the scheme of the universe. The detective’s failure thus dramatizes a strange world devoid of meaning where the bewildered detective is uncertain of even his/her own identity. A question arises regarding whether the significance of the metaphysical genre can only be evaluated in such a negative manner. If the so-called defeat of detection testifies merely to the limits of knowledge and the unintelligibility of the world, we will be left with the chaos defined negatively in relation to a meaningful world. This paper proposes instead to appreciate the apparently failed problem-solving effort as a dramatic reorientation in the course of detection which ends up in what Gilles Deleuze finds as a certain mad zone of indetermination and experimentation where new ways of thinking are yet to be formulated. The purpose of this paper is to reassess the significance of the metaphysical genre by finding the way to this mad zone and to positively define the logic of detection which reaches the zone. “Things I Do Not Know” by Natsuhiko Kyogoku serves to exemplify how those seen as the failures of traditional detecting can be the beginning of thinking for those who remain attentive to the voice of difference.

KEYWORDS: metaphysical detective fiction, defeat of detection, thought, chaos, absurdity, Natsuhiko Kyogoku 

摘 要

多有評論者認為,偵探的失敗或死亡是形而上偵探小說 的最重要的特徵之一。本文的提問是,形而上偵探小說中的 偵探確實在偵查過程中總看似困惑於多重的身分、散佚的文 本、撩亂的城市或無盡繁衍的謎題,但難道形而上偵探小說 帶給讀者的因此只能是知識的徒然與因知識徒然而陌生難 解的世界?如此豈非只是展演了非全有即全無的雙輸局面, 以負面論證的方式確認了「秩序/意義(meaning)之外只 能是渾沌/荒謬再無其他」此一命題?本文認為我們必須徹 底跳脫這個邏輯,體認看似無效的偵查不必然取消了所有思 考的可能性,其所通往的也未必只能是相對於有機秩序的混 亂失序,而是開啟另一種意義的邏輯,循線來到德勒茲(Gilles Deleuze)所發現的新思考與新知覺可能萌生的瘋狂之境,由 此正面體認形而上偵探小說種種提問的重要性,甚而進一步 推展這些問題。本文最後以京極夏彥的〈不知道的事〉為例, 展演偵探小說中知識模型崩解後思考如何發生。

關鍵詞:形而上偵探小說,偵查失敗,思考,渾沌,荒謬, 京極夏彥