The West's Way of Oriantalism

The West's Way of Oriantalism

  • Submitted By: fz1989
  • Date Submitted: 02/12/2009 10:48 PM
  • Category: Book Reports
  • Words: 582
  • Page: 3
  • Views: 1

Said writes, “By virtue of the fact that the poet, scholar, and politician speaks for, or writes about the Orient indicates the Orient is absent, and that the Orientalist is outside the orient… Poets make the Orient speak, and renders its mysteries plain to the West.” Said is making the distinction between discursive reality created in the West and the brute reality of the East which remains beyond western comprehension.

Said claims Orientalism is the West’s way of coming to terms with the experience of the Other. Remember the binary Self/Other Lacan introduced us to earlier in the course. According to Lacan, we construct a notion of self only in juxtaposition and recognition of “Otherness.” Said adopts the same logic and applies it on a global scale. He claims the West develops a sense of identity only through its divergence and juxtaposition to the East. The West casts vices, which it cannot acknowledge, onto the Other. Such vices include drunkenness, greed, trickery, sloth, sensuality, cruelty, laziness, decadence etc. In defining the Other, the West is actually creating boundaries which help it define itself. For example, Westerns are “cerebral” only because Orientals are “sensual”, “corporal”, or “bodily”. Said says that the Orientalism reveals more about the West and its own fantasies than it does about the actual people, culture, and history of the East. The East becomes a repository for the repressed qualities, which Westerners deny. This should remind you of Freudian concepts of repression. In fact, the terminology Said employ’s (repression, displacement et. cetera) presents the East as the “id” of western consciousness. We see Said embarking on a psychoanalytic study of Western culture and history.

The East is not only a myth but also a sign of European-Atlantic power over the Orient. The fact that it can create race through discourse is possible because of authority. There is an inherent relationship between...

Similar Essays