[Buddha-l] Zen War Guilt/Zen and the Sword

curt curt at cola.iges.org
Wed Aug 24 08:11:28 MDT 2005

I'm sorry, Richard - I didn't interpret your post as a serious
critique of Said, but more as an attack on his credibility. I
just went back and reread your post, and I find that I was,
as I had suspected, exactly right. If you would like to make
some substantive criticism of Said's work, that would be
very interesting to read, although I wouldn't feel any personal
responsibility to respond to it.

My original point was that Said's criticism of "Orientalism"
does, in fact, provide insight into how perfectly intelligent
and articulate people (like Robert Aitken, although I don't
want to unfairly single him out - but he'll do as an example),
could have "overlooked" the fact that many of the people
that they looked to for spiritual guidance were Nazis. The
way in which Said's critique of "Orientalism" helps to explain
this is quite simple: Said argues that there is a strong tendency
for Westerners to project their fantasies and desires on to
everything "Oriental", and in doing so, they fail to see what is
really there. It would be difficult to imagine a more striking
example of this phenomenon than the one we are now discussing.
- Curt

P.S. The wikipedia article on Said is pretty good:
as is his obit in the Guardian:

Richard Hayes wrote:

>On Tue, 2005-08-23 at 12:06 -0400, curt wrote:
>>Said was one of the few great American intellectuals of the 20th
>>century - so its no wonder he was a foreigner! His work stands
>>on its own and I feel no need, nor am I competent, to offer any
>>hints about its value.
>You evade questions the way George W. Bush evades truth and
>responsibility. No one asked you to assess the value of Said's work as a
>whole. What you were asked is what the value of his work is for a
>Buddhist scholar or a Buddhist. It seems to me that none of the things
>he was whining about, all of which had to do with the allegedly negative
>characterization of Arabs by Western scholars who had bought into the
>project of colonizing the Middle East, can be applied to Western ways of
>thinking or talking or writing about Buddhism. But if I am wrong about
>this, I'm also willing to learn. So please give me a hint.

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