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Friday, Feb 25, 2005

reality trip

"Later, I began to wonder far more about the ways in which orientalist images and representations were understood to be straightforward contributors to racist or imperialist ideology. The functionalism of Saidís original analysis became more and more urgent, demanding, and simplistic. To some extent, critiques that followed in the model of Orientalism began to presume, with increasingly less and less explicit theorizing, that not only were such images incorporated into racism or colonialism but were explanatory or causal to it. Eventually, the scholarship decomposed into a narrative of activism and an off-the-shelf theory of cultural interpretation. At that point, the mirroring of the cultural right and cultural left matured. Though drawn to very different texts or images, both groups in the United States shared an understanding of culture as cipher or code, that almost-subliminal references to past tropes or images or stereotypes somehow transmitted the entire history of associated ideologies and systems to later generations, that even a subtle incorporation of historical misrecognition or misrepresentation contaminated the whole of culture."