preview

Orientalism

Satisfactory Essays
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.
Get Access