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Orientalism
"Two great themes dominate his remarks here and in what will follow: Knowledge and power, the Baconian theme. As Blafour justifies the necessity for British occupation of Egypt, supremacy in his mind is associated with "our" knowledge of Egypt and not principally with military or economic power." He describes the desire for knowledge about the orient as being spawned from the desire to colonialise effectively not to decipher the complex nature of a society which is inherently different, thus bound to do things a little differently. By comprehending the Orient, the West justified a position of ownership. The Orient became the subject, the seen, the observed, the studied; Orientalist philosophers were the apprentices, the overseers, the observers. The Orient was quiescent; the West was dynamic. This is a rather unfortunate position both for the West and the 'Orient'. The students used their position of perceived understanding to further compel 'Oriental' people into subservience while simultaneously justifying their actions. They protected their conscience by convincing themselves that the 'Orient' was incapable of running itself, thus their territory must be administered for them. "It dose not occur to Balfour to let the Egyptian speak for himself, since presumably any Egyptian who would speak out is more likely to be the "agitator [who] wishes to raise difficulties" Said makes some vivid, passionate and striking points however, he seems to be lacking of a little objectivity. The general tone of his book "Orientalism" depicts western Orientalists as persistently reinventing the near and Middle East in self-serving, eurocentric terms; as seen through Western eyes, "the Orient" emerges as a passive, backward world, monolithic in nature and exotic in its alienism, a realm ideally created to sustain the West's daydream of supremacy. Said brutally charges Western scholars for perpetuating the notion that the Orient should not be taken seriously but rather be seen as a subject of study. It is in this line that Said builds his argument. Totally oblivious to the fact that the sheer passion in his discourse may be equated to favouritism by readers. He makes many hard hitting and vivid points, but the repetitive hammering on the same point posses the ability to transform a great piece of work into an opus which skates around a diluted form of reverse racism. As progress is made through "Orientalism" several instances are depicted which provoke negative attitudes from the reader: "The European is a close reasoner; his statements of fact are devoid of any ambiguity; he is a natural logician, albeit he may not have studied logic; he is by nature very sceptical and requires proof before he can accept any proposition...the mind of the oriental on the other hand, like his picturesque streets, is eminently wanting in symmetry. His reasoning is of the most slipshod description. Although the ancient Arabs acquired in a somewhat higher degree the science of dialectics, their descendants are singularly deficient in logical faculty..."1 Excerpts with similar themes are found all over Said's "Orientalism". They generate feelings which cannot be considered to be catalyst to a sound and logical comprehension. It is this model of argument, employed by Said, which reduces the effectiveness of his contention. In Said's blueprint of Orientalist discourse, the argument fell, inadvertently but ultimately, into the same binary logic it desired to criticise. He essential conveyed the impression that, there is justifiably, a "real" Orient; whose essential contrast remains incomprehensible by Occidental reasoning. However, Edward Said's appraisal and investigation into the practices referred to as "Orientalism" forms a crucial setting for postcolonial academia. He has aptly explained and summarised the thought processes and intentions behind colonialism; by highlighting several conceptions housed by the Occidentals he has efficiently characterised the reasoning employed to 'effectively' colonialise, as well as the reason why elements of colonialism still perpetuates themselves till this present day. His efforts lay emphasis on the inaccuracies of a kaleidoscope of presuppositions, while it simultaneously questions various patterns of conviction which are approved of on personal, academic, and political spheres. Said tackles various derivatives of "Orientalism". Offspring if you will, as a result of which perspectives and thought processes are influenced all over the Western world and to a lesser degree, the mind of the "Oriental" as well. He discussed a Dormant Orientalism which amounts to the underlying, certainty of understanding, about the very nature of Orient. Viewed as eccentric, unenlightened, stimulating, and inert, it has a predisposition towards despotism while retreating from development. Always compared with the West who hands down a certificate of inferiority and assumes the position of kindergarten teacher on it's behalf. The second derivative of "Orientalism" is the result of the application of Dormant Orientalism: Apparent Orientalism. Meaning when the principles of dormant orientalism are acted upon and it's results are manifest. These derivatives of "Orientalism" have served as the host of perpetuation, which carry "Orientalism" (In it's negative form) into the present. This is achieved by handing down of similar thought processed from generation to generation; by both institutionalised and uninstitutionalised modes of education. Definitely books written by authors such as Balfour and Cromwel are still in obtainable today and may be mandatory reading for those who will graduate into opinion makers. Similarly, since the "Oriental" has been forcibly put into a relationship of subservience due to their inability to study the Occidental as well; they will be unable to "own the West" as a result of a better understanding of them. Since the ways of the "Oriental" have already been deemed as "uncivilised" and this propaganda has been spread across to the economic and technological dominants, it would be a matter of deprogramming the rest of the world and indeed the "Oriental". Said's arguments which are summarised above are particularly interesting. He unearths a particular format for colonialisation and indeed the reasoning which justifies it to the colonial powers, in this case the West. Superiority. In the sense that the West believe that they set the standard, there is no "different standards for different people"; all positions which are not on the same path as theirs are primitive and must be brought on track with the Eurocentric societal development. This proved to be a very interesting point, which I agree with thoroughly. The present day adaptation of this is rightly ( Apparent Orientalism ) described by Said in the modern day treatment of Arabs cultures. The current view of the west with regards to Arabs (Orientals) is as a result of a long process of evoloution, a metamorphosis if you will, of the pronciples of Orientalism Dormant Orientalism and Apparent Orientalism. These principles are established as the basis for dogma and procedure, as developed by the Occident. Present day representation of Arabs in the media (which help to shape opinion) are everything but positive. Arabs are seen as the instigators, untrustworthy, fanatical, dangerous. Numerous instances of negative imagery, which appeals to the fears and insecurities of peoples, thus placing the Arab in the position of an enemy, whom extra caution should be exercised around. Edward Said attacks Orientalism from a moral high ground, uneathing the underlying principes behind it. It all boils down to prejudice it seems; prejudice and greed. Greed being the underlying cause due to the fact that Oriental study was brought about by colonialism which served to benefit the Colonial Masters. It served as a justification for Colonialsim, and it's after effects are still being felt by the "Orient" and "Oriental peoples all over the world.. It is an erasure of the line between 'the West' and 'the Other.' Said's makes it clear the his desire is to highlight the negative influences in Orientalism, and pave the way for a new evaluation of the "Orient", made objectively, without preconceived notion, or bias. Facilitated by adequate municipal representation, that is, finally giving the "Orientals" the chance to speak for themselves, instead of Western scholars speaking on their behalf. To make this possible there would need to be a global revolution, where mindsets would be transformed into logical, moral thought process. This is seldom the case now, where petty prejudices are still commonplace. Thus the effect of Orientalism (as well as postcolonialism) will still be felt through the globe for decades to come. However Said's "Orientalism" aptly and provocatively unsheathes the mindset behind colonialism. 1 Cromer's statements with regards to the Egyptians in his book Modern Egypt. "Orientalism" by Edward Said. Page 38.

 



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