13 Jun 2010
The huge repository of historical knowledge in depth and breadth, as well as visual art and literature, that is included under the heading of Orientalism, is now supposedly tainted and so neglected and virtually forgotten in modern academia, as if an embarassment to our heritage.
A priceless hoard, dumped because of the absurd and baseless adherence to some polemical writings by one man who, ironically, could not approach the scholastic standards of his predecessors, and in a sane world, would have been rejected by his peers.
I wonder when the pendulum will swing back again and the Orientalists will have their due. At present it seems that they have all been dismissed from fair consideration by the arbiters of fashion; not for their work but for what they are said to represent - prejudice.
Yet the arbiters themselves make no attempt to evaluate the Orientalist scholarship of the past; they merely pass along the judgements of others. This is prejudice aggravated by mindlessness.
Ibn Warraq's writings are hopefully now redressing the balance. I very much appreciate these essays (I include the one on Kipling) for their valuable corrective insights.
15 Jun 2010
ruins do attract the Romantic mind, and have been popular at least since the ruins of ancient Rome were painted by Hubert Robert [1733-1808]
I'm glad that Ibn Warraq used "at least". This fascination with overthrown civilizations goes back long before Hubert Robert. The French poet Joachim du Bellay writes at the beginning of his probably most famous work: "Le premier livre des Antiquitez de Rome contenant une generale description de sa grandeur et comme une deploration de sa ruine . . . "
The first poem of the collection is a dedication of the book to the king, and a description of it in verse. It tells the king and us that it is, "ce petit tableau . . . [qui tire] des vieux Romains les poudreuses reliques."
Du Bellay was born in 1522, more than 200 years before Hubert Robert. The poems du Bellay are a painting, he explains to the king. That seems to put him on the same esthetic level as Gerome & Delacroix.
May I say that du Bellay's attitude to his subject is a certain melancholy, like that of Roberts whose paintings of Jerusalem are so famous? In Roberts' tableaux of Jerusalem small groups of men are overwhelmed by immense ruins of monuments to which they have not contributed to erecting and the original meaning of which is lost to them. Roberts' paintings showing the Temple Mount and other ruined and partly ruined structures express melancholy over departed splendor, over great cities lost in the sense of their greatness lost.
Since Roberts worked in the East, he was orientalist. But Hubert Robert and du Bellay depicted Rome. Is the mood expressed by Roberts so different from that of du Bellay and Robert? How then is the Orientalist artist so different from a Romantic poet or painter [avant la lettre?] like du Bellay or Robert?
I can think of one difference. Du Bellay expresses a hope that grandeur will return, that the gods will enable the king "De rebastir en France une telle grandeur." I don't feel that Roberts has hope that grandeur will return. Roberts' melancholy is purer.
15 Jun 2010
adding to my previous comment:
If the melancholy over the ruins of Rome is not all that different from the melancholy over the ruins of the East, what justifies all the rancor against an artist like Roberts??
30 Jun 2010
the article by ibn warraq is learned, scholarly and profound. it would be exceedingly difficult ever to overstate the vile and pernicious effects of edward said's writing.
28 May 2011
You have a very spiteful style of essay writing which seems more in keeping with the bitchy conversations of schoolgirls than academia. Sorry to be the one to tell you, but it was so bad that it actually overshadowed any points of interest or general insight. but then again, I doubt there were any there to begin with.
15 Jun 2012
By labeling Nochlin's article 'at times hysterical', we should know we have here a masculinist ad hominem by a man from a culture that holds woman's issues in contempt. Freud often sought to demote women with the hysteria accusation. This polemic ignores Nochlin's main point that especially in Ingre's Le Bain Turc and Odalesque, we have the equation of a failed culture with the western European white female body, thus making them both needing western white male domination. Remember Nochlin points out in the Snake Charmer the cracks and disrepair in the tiling depicted by the painter who is selling works to western Euro males, in addition to the non-laboring Orientals adds up to stereotypes held by Europeans.