Saturday, August 13, 2005

Otherness and the Hegemonic View

In our discussions on ideology of Left dhimmi fascism we have neglected to provide our readers with art blurbs. For shame! The following piece deconstructs in a dense yet vacuuous fashion how we of the West fail to understand the complexities of Otherness, and in our hegemonic ideological state of false consciousness misinterpret and devalue Otherness. Far be it from us to cloud any important issue with capitalist mystifications. No, dear reader, you can have a go at it yourself:

It is clear to those who are following the contemporary artistic production in the Arab world (or rather in certain Arab cities) that this production is more preoccupied with the seductiveness of ideas rather than the creation of (aesthetical) forms. There is a growing awareness among artists that critical ideas cannot be channeled by the not-so-old media (at least in this region of the world) of painting or sculpture, and that these engender a passive audience rather than active subjects. So in a way these works can be viewed as social utterances requiring, and shaped by, the answers they anticipate; their elements are interchangeable, be they photographs, drawings, diagrams, or texts.

That said, it would be useful to note that, on the one hand, mass-produced images of any "third-world" society have their references in the West, in an ever-expanding, globalized world, and that on the other hand, signifiers do not necessarily carry the same signified, as an essence encapsulated in them....

In that sense, when the work is "transported" to Europe (because of an interest that will eventually dwindle - no illusions here), a double effort must be made: it is no surprise to anyone that the "West" already has a "system of reception", a web of ideas about what the "East" is about, what it should be, and what it is expected to say; a web of ideas, I dare say, that is a direct descendant of the old Orientalist discourse that doesn't seem to subside. It is these ideas that prompted certain US scholars after the events of 9/11 to read or to recommend reading the Qur'an, truly believing that it would provide an insight into Arab societies.

These ideas also generate situations that are awkward, to say the least. The mild and badly concealed surprise on someone's face when an Arab artist makes a reference to Walter Benjamin, for instance; or the misreading of a particular work by the most well-intended person, because of the pre-supposition that a critical utterance articulated by a westerner vis-à-vis an Arab society (on the basis of Universal Human Rights for example) must necessarily coincide with the critical utterances articulated by a person actually living in that society.

Yes dear reader, you know now how Islamophobic we all are. After being so vividly exposed to the truth we understand that you will no longer care to soil your eye-beams by reading anything further at this blog. Well, we will continue because we're stupid and we're baby killers. No, not the kind who send children to explode themselves in public places, we mean the other kind, the Imperialist kind. We're just too evil to change our ways; and besides, it's the system we live in that makes us think the way we do. It ain't our fault, man.

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