reading material27 Sep 2004
A brief smattering of my reading material of late. I just picked up The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck and read it last night. It’s a great, short one-sitting read about the occupation of a fictional small town occupied by Nazi forces. It’s a little depressing, and if I had more time, I could make some insightful parallels to Hideous Dream, both stories about the folly of trying to subdue an occupied people.
Also, if you’ve ever wondered why the term “oriental” is considered offensive, Mahmood Mamdani sums it up nicely in Good Muslim, Bad Muslim:
Edward Said summed up “the principal dogmas of Orientalism” in his majesterial study of the same name. The first dogma is that the same Orientalist histories that protray “the West” as “rational, developed, humane [and] superior,” caricature “the Orient” as “aberrant, undeveloped [and] inferior.” Another dogma is that “the Orient” lives according to set rules inscribed in sacred texts not in response to the changing demands of life. The third dogma prescribes “that the Orient is eternal, uniform, and incapable of defining itself; therefore it is assumed that a highly generalized and systematic vocabulary for describing the Orient from a Western standpoint is inevitable and scientifically ‘objective.’” And the final dogma is “that the Orient is at the bottom something either to be feared (the Yellow Peril, the Mongol hordes, the brown dominions) or to be controlled (by pacification, research and development, outright occupation whenever possible).”