Viewing posts tagged edward said
In the first part of our Exegesis of Solitary, we explored the mirror-twinning of Sayid and Danielle, the meaning of do-overs or “mulligans” in golf, and the principle that “names are important” when it comes to decoding LOST in our discussion of Nadia. We now enter the second part of theses essays, an Intermission where we dive deep into the intertextuality of the show.
With the introduction of Danielle Rousseau, we get our second invocation (after John Locke) to another Enlightenment-era philosopher. Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 – 1778) was born in Geneva, Switzerland, and his mother died nine days later due to complications from the childbirth. His personal life was, frankly, a mess. With his semi-literate seamstress, Thérèse Levasseur, he sired five children, all of whom were deposited at a foundling hospital soon after birth, which Rousseau later regretted. His early writings on music were published in an early Encyclopedia, and he even invented a new system of musical notation based on numbers, but those works were never considered very important. He alienated every colleague he ever worked with, from Diderot to Hume, and his antagonistic writings against religion forced him ...
The utility to Western imperialism of depicting Arabs with the kind of culturalist discourse of modern vs. pre-modern, secularism vs. cultish religion, democracy vs. theocracy, civilisation vs. medievalism, rationalism vs. fanaticism (translated out of code: good Westerners vs. bad Arabs) that followed in the wake of the "war on terror" is obvious.
This way of constructing Arab and/or Middle Eastern cultural identities in Western art, literature, media and ideology, is very old.
Edward Said's seminal book Orientalism outlines the way in which the West has constructed the East as an exotic, romantic, cruel, sensuous, decadent, fanatical, inscrutable Other. (...though it is occasionally weakened - in my presumptuous and insignificant opinion - by the problems underlying Foucault's notion of 'discourse', which Said utilises.)
Jack Shaheen's book Reel Bad Arabs reveals how Hollywood has vilified and dehumanized Arabs. Here's a great short documentary demonstrating his thesis. It's central message may not come as a surprise to you, but it's still salutary to see the evidence collated and concentrated.
Such representations of Arabs pop up in the Doctor Who story 'Pyramids of Mars' (1975) as part of the show's tactic, at that time, of raiding the motifs ...