Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Said: Seeing from Engaged Eyes

It took me a while to finally finish Edward Said's classic Orientalism. His claim is that Western philologist's/historian's writings depict the people of the Middle East in a way that makes them a mythical Other. In other words, the Orient becomes an enchanted place to the Western viewer. A good example is the Aladdin story of genies and magic carpets.

Anyway, as I have begun to read current strands of philosophy and theology of the engaged follower of the Event, I am left wondering, with Said, that perhaps there is a time to suspend engagement and to try to open oneself to a universal, rational public world where the East/West views will no longer become clouded by engaged eyes. This view is obviously a little naive in light of the postmodern turn in the academic world or the multicultural turn to the celebration of a plurality of narratives. However, perhaps we should double the attempts to temper our engagement with a little indifference. Blind engagement for the sake of a cause is the ultimate betrayal of justice to a good cause.

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