It will be clear later why I have insisted on both “gay” and “queer” as adjectives here. But let me say at the outset that for me these terms are not collapsible (despite recent usage), yet are also not simply to be opposed in terms of generation, but rather in terms of a conceptual or ontological distinction. I take my cue from Moe Meyer, who argues that unlike the identities labeled “gay and lesbian,”
A more practical reason for the distinction is that not all men who participate in cruising and homosexual sex would identify as “gay men” (nor might they identify as “queer” but here I use the term as a concept not an identity label). [return to page 1 of essay]
 On this, see Miriam Hansen’s discussion of how “the cinema as a heterotopia converges with the concept of an alternative public sphere” (402) in early cinema’s specific social context of theatrical reception prior to the disciplining of spectatorship in accordance with middle-class taste. I would like to thank John Mowitt for suggesting this connection.
 Put variously by Lacan in “God and the Jouissance of [The] Woman”: “there is no sexual relation” (143), “the absence of sexual relation” (141), and “in the case of the speaking being the relation between the sexes does not take place” (138). (See also Kirsten Hyldgaard, “Sex as Fantasy and Sex as Symptom”). Tsai’s The Hole is literally structured by the gendered splitting of two apartments connected by a hole in the floor/ceiling, and the frustrated desire/ curiosity/ communication between them (Lee Kang-sheng as “The Man Upstairs,” Yang Kuei-Mei as “The Woman Downstairs”). Elizabeth Grosz clarifies Lacan’s assertion in terms which fit the fantastical unifying ending of Tsai’s The Hole quite aptly:
Lacan might also be helpful for reading an enigmatic erotic scene in The Hole in which the woman in the downstairs apartment participates in (fantasy?) phone sex. Grosz explains:
This is clearly what makes feminists ambivalent about Lacan, and while I have tried to indicate how Lacan might help us read The Hole, I don’t think that Tsai’s work is therefore Lacanian. Tsai certainly focuses on jouissance, but in the end I have found Barthes’s use of this same vocabulary (in The Pleasure of the Text) more appropriate here. I am also mindful of the danger of too heavily “applying” French theory to Tsai’s work, what Chris Wood calls “the dangers of over-criticism.” Despite having used André Bazin and Julia Kristeva to speculate about Goodbye, Dragon Inn, Wood concludes:
Though Lacan is quite aware of the “comedy” of romance, a Lacanian reading may not help us pick up on the comic, almost camp effects in Tsai’s musical The Hole, either.
 In an interview with Danièle Rivière, Tsai explains his relation to the actor’s body:
In an interview with Michael Berry his language is almost romantic:
 This is why I find Tsai’s films “queer” rather than “gay,” simply because his vision of cruising goes beyond being “about gay men” in any sort of matter-of-fact way. Certainly Tsai has experience making films about gay people, as evidenced by his AIDS documentary My New Friends (1995), which he describes in an interview with Danièle Rivière:
Tsai’s logic here is quite refreshing, actually, but beyond this documentary I would question whether Tsai’s other films are “about” homosexuals (to use his term) in Taiwanese society. Tsai has declared “I’m sick of people labeling my films as ‘gay films’ or ‘dysfunctional family films’" (Berry 385). I believe that sexuality is “queered” in films like The River, The Hole, Vive L’Amour, and his most recent feature I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone (see Martin 84–85, 85n4, and Johnston, online). Vive L’Amour is to my knowledge the most often identified as having a “gay” character (played by Lee Kang-sheng), but Angelo Restivo, in the context of a reading of the film in connection with Antonioni, resists this particular reading. After putting “gay” in quotation marks, Restivo adds in a note,
I think Michael Moon’s concept of “sexual disorientation” — as a way of challenging a certain kind of “knowingness” about homosexual identity — might apply to Tsai’s characters, who also challenge our knowingness about their sexual identities. Like Delany’s personal-sociological reflections on cruising in his account of Times Square porn theaters, I do not presume that all the men doing the cruising in Tsai’s film are “gay men” per se. In this, I differ slightly from Kenneth Chan’s reading of gay cruising in the film. Chan argues:
Chan makes it clear that in emphasizing institutional homophobia he has chosen not to valorize queer freedom, though he supports a “politically multivalent view of gay cruising” (99n8). While I am sympathetic with Chan’s stated desire not to moralize, I think he might end up doing so despite himself, however now on behalf of an unambiguously out and proud “gay community.” Again, this is why I find Delany so helpful, since he resists both forms of moralizing, without ignoring institutional homophobia. I should also add that I read Chan’s essay after composing my own, and have incorporated his insights into my revision. [return to page 2]
 The three-year-old boy and grandfatherly Miao Tien are in fact a “ghostly” intertextual reference to Lee Kang-sheng’s directorial debut film The Missing (Bu jian) produced around the same time as a companion to Tsai’s Goodbye, Dragon Inn (Bu san). The two appear as “ghosts” or, in a more lighthearted joke, as gone “missing” in the theater in Tsai’s film. (I thank Chuck Kleinhans for clarifying this for me.) Tsai provides the back-story in his interview with Michael Berry, starting with the theater about to be torn down:
 On this, see my article, “We Are the World Cinema: Chacun son cinéma, ou, Ce petit coup au coeur quand la lumière s’éteint et que le film commence” in Senses of Cinema 45 (2007) (online):
 Though they often try to show how Tsai’s particular use of nostalgia avoids potentially reactionary uses of nostalgia: specifically Chan reads the nostalgia in Goodbye, Dragon Inn in a way that “disrupts its conservative possibilities,” arguing that “this nostalgia, in employing place-based politics, allows Goodbye, Dragon Inn to question the cultural commodification of Chinese culture in the recent Hollywood interest in the wu xia pian” (92). Likewise, Hu draws out the ambiguity and ambivalence of nostalgia as it is deployed in Tsai’s The Skywalk Is Gone and Goodbye, Dragon Inn.
 Also, several of the characters appear quite pale and are lit with a slightly greenish light reflecting from the screen, thereby conforming to the conventions for representing “ghosts” in Chinese cinema, especially of the King Hu era. Thus, they seem more like ghosts by association with cinematic presentations of ghosts. I thank Chuck Kleinhans for pointing this out to me.
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