Why is Orientalism so important to the people who live in the west? Is it because it brings new things to the west? or is it a reformation of their own heritage in relation to the east?
Orientalism if one may say is a sense of focusing on the way the west see the east and the people in it. Many writers, long ago, who really visited the east knew the truth about the Eastern people and how they acted out. but the ones who didn't even dare move out of their home lands, only could have imagined about our wondrous climates, and fantastic sites.
even though people may don't even know what we easterners have as a culture, whatever it is will surprise them beyond their imagination, whether it was our folk traditions, or our heritage in each sect of the country.
The reason that the east has interested so many westerners and made them come for a visit to the east is the way that long time ago the people behaved differently. first the trip from the west to the east took a long time, so in order for one to take the decision to go from the west to the east, one should have been up for a real challenge. trips used to take over than four months, and this was due to the lack of advanced technology back then.
Many great writers like Lord Byron who visited the east, and practically called it his home, knew all about our traditions and how hospitable the easterners were. by that, the stories that were interesting in the beginning, like for instance the Arabian nights that focused on the magic associations had to do with the was the Arabs lived, or the fact hat the desert was the most mysterious place ever, kind of dimmed the light in the scene, and shifted it to a new image of the east that many travelers and writers talked about.
One western female writer, whose name has skipped my mind right now, even had the chance of going into a Hareem and meeting with the women in there describing them as amazing, tall beautiful women. she saw the power they had, and the nonchalant attitude about being trapped all day in the same place; that is if one may call sitting all day by the pool, and someone mending to your every command, trapped than yes they were considered to be 'trapped'.
Anyway, not only did the orientalists focus on the way that people acted in the East rather than they tried to change the false ideas that Westerners had about the East.
Plus, many writers like Shakespeare mentioned Arabs in one of his plays, and so did Johanna Lindsey (a novelist).
In his book on Orientalism, Edward Said said: "To believe that the Orient was created-or as i call it, "Orientalised"- and to believe that such things happen simply as a necessity of the imagination, is to be disingenuous. The relationship between Occident and Orient is a relationship of power, of domination, of varying degrees of a complex hegemony..." (p.5)
Edward Said also says: "Romantic writers like Byron and Scott consequently had a political version of the Near Orient and a very combative awareness of how relations between the Orient and Europe would have to be conducted." (p.192) As for the Orientalism view from the West now, in the book by Edward Said, Gibb says in his book 'The Near East and the Great Powers' that: "...we can no longer rely on that factor of prestige which seemed to play a large part in prewar thinking ...we have to learn about them so that we can learn to work with them in a relationship that is closer to terms of mutuality."(p.275)
As for the Oriental studies, they "were to be thought of not so much as scholarly activities, but as instruments of national policy towards the newly independent. and possibly intractable nations of the postcolonial world." (p.275)
In a book on Modern Literary Criticism and theory by M.Habib, (chapter 23), explains the m,eaning of formalisms, and its effects on society (as i saw it). M. Habib says that: "Formalists’ analyses were far more theoretical, seeking to understand the general nature of literature and literary devices, as well as the historical evolution of literary techniques; the New Critics were more concerned with the practice (rather than the theory) of close reading of individual texts." As for other books, for instance the 'Literary Theory Introduction' by T.Eagleton, explains that "formalists started out by seeing the literay work as a more or less arbitrary assemblage of 'devices'". But as I noticed both books start by explaining that the Formalist theroues were started by Russian schools founded by Russian writers such as,Victor Shklovsky, Boris Eichenbaum, and Yuri Tynyanov. These three writers were the bases of the formalist movement,and each one of them had a different perception of this theory. For instance, Shklovsky says that "The technique of art is to make objects ‘unfamiliar,’ to make forms difficult, to increase the difficulty and length of perception because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged. Art is a way of experiencing the artfulness of an object; the object is not important" Hence Shklovsky’s formalism can endure cultural change and the status of radical innovation can be endured (according to his theory that is). Whereas for Eichenbaum, the formalist movement was characterized according to this founder, a type of scientific positivism. Going back to the formalists theory "Shklovsky rejected the traditional notion of plot as a combination of motifs (the smallest units of narrative); plot was no longer viewed as synonymous with “story”; rather, it was viewed as a compositional device rather than a thematic concept." As i saw it Formalism was based on being a parasite to the former theories, making them meaningless in a way, and giving their own ideas and reformations the best interest. Thus, making the formalist theory include later defamiliarization which is not a bit close to positivism. According to theses great writers and theorists one should appreciate life better, not sit and ponder of great ideas that are only found in fiction.
People may tell us about the things that we are allowed to do and the things that we musn't do. We are adults, so we now think for ourselves, but when we were children our parents, treachers, or guardians used to see over every step we make and judje us accordingly. As University students, we tend to think more than once about the next step we are going to take, and think about the consequences upfront, pondering about the mishaps that may occur if one could go wrong in formalizing out a plan. But to what extent do we keep on thinking that we will or will not, or rather we should or should not. people from as long as their histories were jotted down, had some laws against the good and bad; rating the good as being shwon in deeds that would help others not only selfish gains, and rating the bad deeds as being those which cause harm to the society. This type of transgression developped form several years ago to several thoughts and movements trying to prove that these theories, that the old genrations came up with were not that effective, and tha the new theories were more to occupy the nation with. As the world, and technology advances, so does the harm and the ideas of hurting other people evolve. For instance, terrorism whether it was political, from big countries onto small ones, or whether it was on an individual basis from a bully onto a weaker one, all these would retaliate to the violence of the global. This violence is clearly explained in the Baudrillard article titled "The Violence of the Global. In this article Baudrillard says that not only "The passage from the universal to the global has given rise to a constant homogenization, but also to an endless fragmentation." which in a way says that globalization which most of the people see that it is a new step forward to the opening oif the poeple onto one another is infact totally different since the latrger countries are seeing this an opportunity to take control over the weak largely populated cities. This Fragmentation is mainly done on the bases of the society to begin with, ending with the fragmeting of a person's mentality and family, making her one to follow the system uncinditionally. I still keep you with the question about whether a person thinks about what she should do next, or not do anything at all considering the state it will leave other people? And will this slip of conscience make the cold-hearted think twice before acting? Or will they just see it as a type of modern way to evolve?
Plus is there a modern world in the presence of globalization or the presence of globalization makes us wonder "whether universalization has not already been destroyed by its own critical mass. It also makes us wonder whether universality and modernity ever existed outside of some official discourses or some popular moral sentiments."(Baudrillard)
This article by Baudrillard explains briefly the way that after globalization the universal values start to lose their legitimacy, and things will in fact become more radical. In a sense that people will look above what is in their faces, and try to think about what they should do, and what they should not do!
And the question Baudrillard and me will leave you is: "have we reached the point of no return?"
As a comment on Jowell's post on the parasite\host articles by both Hillis miller and Serres, i found out an idea that is in reality shocking to me. We as English majors, are in fact marginalized just as jowell said beacuse of the ability from our part to criticize, and antagonize whatever text may come within our hands. But I do not soleley agree with what other people may think of us.
For instance if we dare say that we are English students, people may look at is quizically and ask us why do we do such tirture with ourselves; and they continue on talking about that we do nothing but read and memorize. This idea that people have about us makes me mad, also because they do not take the time to listen to our responses whether they were literary responses made in class, or general discussions made out in the open.
I think that, people feel inferior when with us, andmost of the time try to make us shut up and not tell them what we know. For example if I were to come and ask someone about a book they have recently read, they would no doubtedly laugh at me, especially if these students were more focused on Math and Sciences.
Not only that, but if these students ask me what I am doing as a major, and i reply, they do not talke the time to ask me what courses I am taking fearing they should, and would not understand what I would be talking about.
So why do people really revolt against the idea of English in general, and Literature in specific, and why don't they understand that if they tend to ask us about our real perspective about this major, that we will not parasite their thoughts?!
We offer them, (other people), the chance to parasite and infect our ideas, while we in turn become their hosts for more competent ideas than they might think about. We as students, even though are quiziccal about some stuff, and in relation to Miller's, and Serres' articles tend to parasite and host severak ideas so that our fellow students would not feel that afraid or distant fron the world that we call ours which is the Literary world.
So as Miller states in his article " the ctitic as host", " a parasite is one of those words which calls up its apparent opposite. It has no meaning without its counterpart" just as we do not convey any meaning if not related to our study in soecific areas.
Also, miller states in the same article:" A parasite is like a new poem, the new poem both needs the old texts and must destroy them". And as English students we need the past in order to criticize and learn from the other poets, and writers, in order for us to become higher aheivers, parasiting the norms and hosting the new forms of writing!!
Serres, in his book called "The Parasite", he states that " the parasite is the primordial, one-way, and irreversible relation that is the base of human institutions, and disciplines", in another page, he states that "A parasite who has the last word, who produces disorder and who generates a diffrent order" is considered to be a parasite. Serres in this book tries to identify the real parasite that is ruining our social, and economical culture, and even though he does not focus on these specific terms, Serres tries to identify the real problem behind the parasite's overrule. "Man is a louse for other men. Thus, man is a host for other men." As I took it, people are like parasites, they do not know when to stop at something, or at a deffinite point, they tend to keep on going like they are the only living things on this planet. Parasites, to me and unlike what Serres said in the beginning, they tend to have an inhuman quality, thus they become more like pests or insects, which seek out the good in the land, and rummage it out until it becomes no good for anyone, even for the following pests. Serres states that "they are quite simply predators" in a way there he is right since destroying what one gets ones hands on is making the word predator seem a bit futile in the face of the real disorder that is happening. Serres states also, "that there is no parasitic mammal", and that "Abuse appears before use." The latter statement is somewhat true considering the treatment of people in the big cities, where workers are treated as garbage, and like insects, where in fact the employers are supposed to be the parasites, and not the workers.
In this book an intreguing sentence caught my eye "What started out looking like a play on words, is now compact and coherent." But I thought about it, and somehow nothing coherent came out, or what was the coherencey, if I may say,was in it? Serres continues on saying that " The word and the history are only paper. But the experience, especially the experience of suffering." If I may state that, this Experience of suffering makes people open up their eyes onto the reality of this world, and onto the inhumane things done all over the world. People see themselves after suffering,that they were also the ones who were acting as parasites, thus making this experience much more unbearable. In addition, Serres states that "Men whom I call parasites, are never, as far as we know, inside another animal" and that, " the depopulation of the prey is immediate, brutal, and explosive" plus Serres continues on saying that "We parasite each other, and live amidst parasites." To these three statements I can say that, Serres had a point to prove, and even though he started out by saying there are no mammal parasites; if we take a look at humanity we can see that the infectious parasites are taking over our minds in ways no person may imagine, whether it was in politics, or in society, people are being infected by one another into becoming inhuman pests known only to be trampled upon.
So the question that Serres asked is " Who then is the REAL interrupter?"... And "...Such a parasite is responsible for the growth of the system's complexity, such a parasite stops it." All i can say in the end is that, a low life groveling insect may be a paprasite in people's eyes, but to me a parasite is a harmful being that permits its own society to be rampaged on, and never look back on the consequences that may have beheld the "cirlce of their own life" if I may call it that. A parasite is an annoying creature, whether it is a pest 'literally', or just the metaphor of it.