Orientalism
Said describes Orientalism as, "...the generic term that I have been employing
to describe the Western approach to the Orient; Orientalism is the discipline by
which the Orient was (and is) approached systematically, as a topic of learning,
discovery and practice". By this, Said is saying because we treated the East
like a school subject, we have learned to treat the East as an inferior. Which
has developed into something called Orientalism. The poets, authors and
statesmen of the nineteenth-century have made Orientalism every thing that it
is. They started out with the intent of learning about a civilization of people
that was extremely different from ours. Their intentions were academic and
nothing more really. Unfortunately, their almost unconscious prejudices and
fears of the unknown, led to the slow cultural and then political domination of
the place referred to as the Orient. I agree with Said on the matter of
knowledge leading to slow domination, but I think he needs to be much clearer on
the fact that it was arrived at with good intentions. Our predecessors wanted to
understand, unfortunately there were much too eager, and presumptuous. In 1798,

Napoleon invaded down through Syria. Although this was one of the first attempts
to invade the Orient, two people were ahead of him. Both were scholars from

Europe, Antiquetil-Duperron and Abraham-Hyacinthe. These men gave the first
images of language, text and civilization to Europe. The started the fascination
with the Orient, and Napoleonís urge to dominate it. Out of his failed plan to
take over Egypt, came more people who wrote about the Orient without
experiencing it. Said called these authors "textual children". Said also
goes on to describe the "textual attitude"; this mindset believes everything
you read. In this case reading about places, and the generalizations made, and
believing these simplifications of a rather complex area, to be the concrete
truth. This is an attitude, which I personally believe exists. It is apparent in
the Western world because an education is such a commonly valued, and widely
available institution. A common phenonmenon has developed in the West, using our
education as a barometer to measure our merit based on how much knowledge we can
cram, and regurgitate. Although that phenomenon doesnít have a name, itís
by-product would be the textual attitude. Said reasons that the textual attitude
comes from feeling threatened by the unknown, and formerly unattainable. With
this I would have to agree. So many times in history, whenever the Europeans or
even Americans, are threatened with change, or unfamiliraity we seek to dominate
it. For example our first colonist landed in the United States because our
freedome was being threatened by the Eurpeans, who were trying to control our
beliefs. We, then take over the nativeís land, the native himself, and proceed
to oppress the Africans because they are different than us. Hitler oppressed the

Jews, and other cultures because they were different than him, and the United

States denies Communist countries because they choose to follow a different
style of governing. By the look of history, we are afraid of what is different,

Said argues that we battle our fear, with the ability to describe anything in
text. "The idea in either case is that people, places, and experiences can
always be described by a book, so much so that the book acquires a greater
authority, and use, even than the actuality it describes." To be evenhanded,
we must also recognize the textual attitude as a generalization, and because of
that it retains much less value. To be giving one culture stereotypes because of
the stereotype it has given another culture, is the same as two wrongs donít
make a right. Of course Said has another theory on the textual attitude. He
argues that the thinking that books are always extremely accurate also comes
from trial and error. He stated that if a book on lions and how they are fierce
is read, and then the reader encounters a fierce lion, not only is the author
believed, but encouraged to write more, and in turn will be read more widely.

Edward W. Saidís theory is a profound one: "books on fierce lions will do
until lions can talk". As the world expanded, so did the practices of
colonialism, and imperialism. Kiplingís poem about White Men "cleaning up"
a land, it also states that without freedom, war will be the consequence. Said
picked a wonderful poem to illustrate the Western manís feeling of
superiority. He feels that he is responsible for all men. Kipling also implies
that the White Men will battle for their freedom, "freedom for our sons/And,
failing