Painting by Ahn Gyeon (안견/安堅), Dream Journey to the Peach Blossom Land (몽유도원도/夢遊桃源圖), 1447.


On Edward Said's Orientalism

Many scholars now agree that Edward Said was wrong when he touted what he (again wrongly) considered to be Eurocentric visions of the 'Orient' as an enduring by-product of colonialism, tainted by ignorant assumptions about what makes the Orient really 'Oriental'.
The point of view of the Other as the 'Anti-West', in opposition to Us as the 'West', is as myopic as the Islamist view of the 'West' as the infidel 'Anti-East' (to be fair, Said was not an Islamist).
Needless to say, Said's 'Orient' did not venture into India or the Far East. To him, the Orient was the Near East: in fact, Oriens was the name of the easternmost Praetorian Prefecture of the Late Roman Empire, encompassing all the Asian provinces.
The avoidance of the same Manichean fixation should be extended to views held of the Far East by the West and vice-versa. One must be neither 'self-centric' nor completely relativistic. A healthy dialectic towards mutual acceptance of the Other is the only rational course of action.
Here is Christopher Hitchens on the captioned topic ("Where the Twain Should Have Met", The Atlantic, 1 September 2003).

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