It is important to see Edward Said’s work, and the mixed reception it received, in the round. This means reading Orientalism as carefully as its author would wish and then being able to understand its role as the first part of a project which required the construction of alternative methodologies as its complement. Inevitably, this alternative project proved to be much more difficult for reasons Edward himself could not anticipate and for which his own critique shares a small part of the blame.
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And so it has been ever since. Orientalism often continues to be regarded as dangerous, perhaps in particular by those who have never read it. Hence, the intense, ludicrous, alarming and, I would hope, unique way in which the field of modern Middle Eastern studies has become polarized between the followers of Edward Said and those of Bernard Lewis and, now between those belonging to the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) and its newly-created rival, the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA).
Edward Said’s Orientalism | DESORIENT
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More seriously, the ad hominem attacks on Said and his band of alleged Pied Pipers also make it more difficult to sustain an attack on the role of Orientalists in authorizing certain aspects not only of American military and security policy but those of Israel as well. For all the books that castigate the malign influence of the State Department Arabists, none to my knowledge point to the policy impact of Israeli Orientalists as well as to the fact that, even in Israeli terms, their close association with the country’s defense establishment has been counter-productive to what might be described as the country’s national interests. Think of expert authorities like Gabriel Baer, who assured me, in the mid-1970s, that Egypt would never make peace with Israel. Think of those who created and managed the Palestinian “village leagues.” Think of those who supported policies to encourage Hamas during the first Intifada. Think of those who argued that the Shi‘a population could be lured into playing an anti-PLO, anti-Syrian role in South Lebanon.
Originally posted September 2009
Mystical experience is alleged to be “noetic,” involvingknowledge of what a subject apprehends (see James, 1958). To whatextent this knowledge is alleged to come from the experience alone willbe discussed below (Section 8.5).
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In the wide sense, mystical experiences occur within the religioustraditions of at least Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Indian religions,Buddhism, and primal religions. In some of these traditions, theexperiences are allegedly of a supersensory reality, such as God orBrahman (or, in a few Buddhist traditions, Nirvana, as a reality (SeeTakeuchi, 1983, pp. 8–9). Many Buddhist traditions, however, make noclaim for an experience of a supersensory reality. Some cultivateinstead an experience of “unconstructed awareness,”involving an awareness of the world on an absolutely or relativelynon-conceptual level (see Griffiths, 1993). The unconstructedexperience is thought to grant insight, such as into the impermanentnature of all things. Buddhists refer to an experience of tathata orthe “thisness” of reality, accessible only by the absenceof ordinary sense-perceptual cognition. These Buddhist experiences aresub sense-perceptual, and mystical, since thisness is claimed to beinaccessible to ordinary sense perception and the awareness of it toprovide knowledge about the true nature of reality. Some Buddhistexperiences, however, including some Zen experiences, would not countas mystical by our definition, involving no alleged acquaintance witheither a reality or a state of affairs (see Suzuki, 1970).
my position at Original Gump's in Jade Room and Oriental.
Mystical and religious experiences can be classified in variousways, in addition to the built-in difference between mystical supersense-perceptual and sub sense-perceptual experiences. This sectionnotes some common classifications.