Tendentious Theory Blocks our View
In the guest book at the Dahesh Museum on Madison Avenue, in Upper Manhattan, there is an entry by a tourist, possibly German, who enthuses about the Orientalist paintings in the collection, saying how much she admired and enjoyed them. Then, almost as an afterthought, as though she has only just remembered to put on her ideological spectacles, she adds words to the effect that, "of course, they were Orientalist works, hence imperialist and reprehensible." Apparently, she felt guilty for having enjoyed and appreciated Orientalist art. How many other ordinary lovers of paintings, sculpture, drawings, watercolors and engravings have had their natural inclination to enjoy works of Orientalist art damaged, or even destroyed by the influence of Edward Said and his followers? How many people have had their enjoyment of Jane Austen spoiled by Said's insidious claim that Austen was condoning slavery?
Nowadays when discussing Orientalist...
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