Wednesday, January 02, 2013

How Language Represents

Edward Said
Edward Said (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"...language itself is a highly organised and encoded system, which employs many devices to express, indicate, exchange messages and information, represent, and so forth. In any instance of at least written language, there is no such thing as a delivered presence, but a re-presence, or a representation. The value, efficacy, strength, apparent veracity of w written statement about the Orient therefore relies very little, and cannot instrumentally depend, on the Orient as such.  On the contrary, the written statement is a presence to the reader by virtue of its having excluded, displaced, made supererogatory any such real thing as "the Orient". Thus all of Orientalism stands forth and away from the Orient: that Orientalism makes sense at all depends more on the West than on the Orient, and this sense is directly indebted to various Western techniques of representation that make the Orient visible, clear, "there" in discourse about it.  And these representations rely upon institutions, traditions, conventions, agreed-upon codes of understanding or their effects, not upon a distant and amorphous Orient."

Said, E., (1978) Orientalism, London, Penguin Classics, p.21
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