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Justin Hall
19 February, 1996
Shamanism, Grant


Edward W. Said, Orientalism
Major chip on his shoulder. My problem lies not with his point, or his admirable scholoarship (or perhaps the explanation thereof), indeed the work is an engagin, if plodding read. What is bothersome is the sniping tone. I understand he's writing his way out from hundreds of years of oppression, can he lighten up about the misguided dead dudes? I'm certainly willing to listen to him, I just get tired of reading the rehash.

But by the time I reached the end I realized his argument was with generalizations in general. He makes a persuasive (especially after the rest of the book) arguement that scholars can study far-away folks, as long as they keep in mind their folksiness.

I'm all in favour of that.

In terms of Shamanism, this is like critical theory stuff, how to approach the study of studying the studied, or something. A little disheartening to read (or try) so much about a specific case of misguided scholarship.

But the point about generalizing and grass-is-greenerism, while I have power over the other side, is persuasive.

On page 40, discussing knowledge creation authority, reminds me of those friends I have who run other folks's lives with much authority, and without much hold over their own.

I do that myself, speak authoritatively on other folks's problems with knowledge and assurism, even proposing plans for how they can turn around their wicked ways and come up unto happiness, perhaps even "enlisting [their power] on the side of my values, civilization, interests, goals." (page 238)

It's when I step back from my own authority and admit, oh yeah, I do that too, that progress is merged, made

benefitting us both!

I've also got to watch my own orientalism. I'm not ready to speak about this yet, I think this whole course could serve to demystify the mystical, or at least the study of "exotic" cultures. I've definitely got a taste for the exotic, ecclectic, eccentric, what have you. Whether or not I am "orientalizing," I hope to have a better sense of this by the end of the semester.

I know there has to be a fair amount of projection, grass-is-greenerism, spiritual tourism. But I'm young! I'm learning!

What's the deal with his not translating everything? Talk about scholoary elitism! I want books for english speakers! One languange one country one people one culture!

towards bottom of page 80, he dramatizes the situation, the moment where all orientalists have to decide their allegiance to the studied, or the institution. I imagine that to be a non-issue for the vast collective of "orientalist" scholars. Perhaps that's his point.

from page 78

On August 17, 1787, he wrote unassumingly to Lord Althorp that "it is my ambition to know India better than any other European ever knew it." Here is where Balfour in 1910 could find the first adumbration of his claim as an englishman to know the orient more and better than anyone else.
while there may be some validity to the superiority interplay between these short sighted europeans, the tone is like, we caught you asshole.

what is the root of this word orient?
from the OED:

b. Hence, of other things: Brilliant, lustrous, shining, glowing, radiant, resplendent (also fig.); sometimes (after A. 3), Shining like the dawn, bright red. arch.
1430 Lydg. Bochas i. i. (1554) 1 b, The rivers were so orient and so fine Like quicksilver upboyling on the pleyne.
1526 Pilgr. Perf. (W. de W. 1531) 183 b, Whyte set by blacke, appereth more oryent whyte than yf it stode by it selfe.
1578 Lyte Dodoens ii. ix. 158 The floures [of rose campion] of an excellent shining or orient redde.
1600 Hooker Eccl. Pol. viii. ii. 8 To make the countenance of truth more orient.
1650 Fuller Pisgah iv. v. 99 A shrub, whose red berries, or grains, gave an orient tincture to cloth.
1667 Milton P.L. i. 546 Ten thousand Banners..With Orient Colours waving.
1703 Burkitt On N.T. (1818) 355 The several graces and virtues, which were so orient in the life of Christ.
1881 Rossetti House of Life Introd. Sonnet, Its flowering crest impearled and orient.
3. Rising, as the sun or daylight; also fig.
1598 Yong Diana 99 Behold a Nymph more faire then orient sunne.
1646 J. Cooke Vind. Law 32 That spirit of Reformation which I see orient in that court.
1728 Pope Dunc. iii. 74 Far eastward..from whence the Sun And orient Science at a birth begun.
1822 Shelley Hellas 266 The orient moon of Islam.
1831 Carlyle Sart. Res. ii. v, A many-tinted, radiant Aurora,..this fairest of Orient Light

So it is the east, all that is implied in birth, youth, beginning.

The opening mourning montage, the monuments and not the people, reminded me of news coverage of the ancient Bosnia Bridge that was destroyed during the recent war. I guess people need to be able to mourn art.

My 75 year old step father George occasionally describes folks as having "gone asiatic." A request for clarification resulted in - he listens to strange music, dating different women, ecclectic clothes - basically deviant tastes. He faught in the Pacific Theatre in World War II. I think he would there attribute his use of the phrase.

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