Orientalist and Liberating Discourses of East-West Difference: Revisiting Edward Said and the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, MH Tamdgidi

Tags: SOCIOLOGICAL PRACTICE, East-West, Orientalism, East and West, Omar Khayyam, notion, argument, distinction, orientalist, the West, Eastern Politics, Eastern Archaeology, University of Massachusetts Boston, Western intellectuals, false dichotomy, Eastern Colonialism, Western identity, representation, Freud and the Non-European, cultural differences, cultural difference, Franz Fanon, Reciting Khayyam, Charles Horton Cooley, psychological discourses, Edward FitzGerald, looking glass self
Content: Orientalist and Liberating Discourses of East-West Difference: Revisiting Edward Said and the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
Mohammad Tamdgidi University of Massachusetts Boston ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ [email protected]
rOH K sД tВ XHЦ jKz tР sLэoe rOЅ XHЦ Л« tвЅ¬ tВ bЅ«oe oee№« В« БbД¬ КUOэ¬ rz s№« --oe uЗ sJOГ шrOВ tВ rЅ«bР sД tJЅ¬ "« rВ U№¬ The foe claims in vain a philosopher I am. God knows I am not what he says I am. But, having endured this sorrows nest, I ask: Why should I not know at least what I am? --Omar Khayyam, c. 12th Century AD If I were to read to you several paragraphs from the news, a literary work, or a scholarly article in which the words "West" and "Western" alone were to appear numerous times, no eyebrows would be raised and no complaints would be lodged for having heard the terms. But, let the term "East" and "Eastern" appear in any similar texts, in particular alongside the terms "West" and "Western," and these only a very few times, and expect to hear numer-
ous complaints nowadays, especially from politically-correct quarters, that I or the texts have misguidedly introduced a false dichotomy, a dualism, a binary, a bipolarity, a false separation or distinction, etc., that needs to be immediately corrected and/or justified. The terms "West" and "Western" in and of themselves imply their opposites, that is, the non-West and non-Western-- which could be substituted by "East" and "Eastern." Yet our impulse upon hearing the uses of the terms "West" and "Western" is drastically different when the dichotomy itself is explicitly evoked in our texts and conversations. Say "Western intellectuals" and no one will even think of objecting; say "Eastern intellectuals" and expect quite a stir. Why? Why is it that we gloss over the evocation of a Western identity, but hesitate when the notion of an Eastern identity is evoked? I just now--at the time of this writing-- took a brief moment to conduct a spontaneous content analysis of the internet, thanks
to the wonderful search engine Google, and came up with an interesting list of numbers of appearances of the following terms regarding East and West (I used closed quotes to ensure phrase searches when applicable, noting that phrases such as "Eastern Politics" would also pick up "Middle Eastern Politics," but East and West may at times refer to regional distinctions within a country as well. However, overall, the broad results were interesting; "m" stands for "million"): East-West: 7,340,000 West: 247m, East: 179m Western: 132m, Eastern: 59m Western World: 2,190,000; Eastern World: 44,900 Western Thought: 287,000; Eastern Thought: 51,700 Western Philosophy: 347,000; Eastern Philosophy: 235,000 History of Western Thought, 10,800; History of Eastern Thought: 574 Western Art: 982,000; Eastern Art: 66,100 Western Religion: 43,100; Eastern Religion: 117,000 Western Civilization: 1,240,000; Eastern Civilization: 13,800 Western science: 137,000; Eastern Science: 13,100 Western Politics: 15,400; Eastern Politics: 33,700 Western Logic: 6,020; Eastern Logic: 517 Western culture: 1,090,000; Eastern Culture: 66,800 Western Archaeology: 494; Eastern Archaeology: 31,400 Western Literature: 155,000; Eastern Literature: 16,200 Western Colonialism, 18,800; Eastern Colonialism: 134 Occidental: 4m, Oriental: 17m East and West dialectically imply one another. Use of the term West in and of it-
self evokes the notion of a supposed "East;" and vice versa. However, among all the terms randomly chosen above, except for the four areas of religion, politics, archaeology, and "oriental"/"occidental," the pattern of wider use of the term associated with the West is maintained. But the very different set of numbers above, reversed in pattern, is quite telling. This may be too sweeping a generalization, but for the sake of argument the numbers support the notion of the East as a much older ("archeology") tradition central to whose cultural production is spirituality ("religion"), yet has experienced a higher share of conflict ("politics") and been, relatively speaking, much more often subjected to the gaze of its opposite ("oriental"). And yet, from the standpoint of political correctness today, representing oneself as "Eastern" is perceived as being more problematic than being labeled as "Western." The Omar Khayyam's quatrain opening this paper speaks to the heart of the crisis of representation facing the nonWestern/European world. I know that the other cannot really know who I am over and above how I represent myself; but why could not I, or more importantly should not I, know who I am? Why can't I know and represent myself? Why am I not acknowledged for having the capacity and power to represent myself? Is the difficulty with selfknowledge and self-representation, individual or collective, an impasse arising from an inescapable human condition, or is it a socially, a world-historically, constructed condition that privileges the other over the self in seeking individual and collective self-knowledge and self-representation? What is the nature of this condition--what Khayyam refers to as the "sorrows nest"-- which has shaped our ontologies, epistemologies, sociologies, and psychologies, to privilege the other over the self to the point where even when one, individually and/or collectively, engages in seeking self-knowledge and self-reflection, the effort is imme-
diately pathologized? The same dilemma of representation exists in regard to the discourses of East- West difference and speaks to the heart of the orientalist attitude which the late Ed- ward Said (1979) sought to severely cri- tique and expose as part of his engaged humanist scholarship.1 Orientalism opens with the quote from The Eighteenth Brumaire by Karl Marx, "They cannot represent themselves; they must be represented." Ac- cording to Said, orientalism is the represen- tation (or more accurately and often, misrepresentation) of the East through the eyes of the West serving the interests of im- perial and colonial control. Orientalism is about imperial misrepresentations of the colonized East by the West, of a subjugated East by an imperial West, not as how the East sees and imagines itself, but as how the West does. 1.Edward Said clearly associated himself with the humanist tradition, drawing sharp lines of dissociation with the postmodern perspective. In this regard it is important to note how Said represents his own intellectual project: The purpose of intellectual's activity is to advance human freedom and knowledge. This is still true, I believe, despite the often repeated charge that "grand narratives of emancipation and enlightenment," as the contemporary French philosopher Lyotard calls such heroic ambitions associated with the previous "modern" age, are pronounced as no longer having any currency in the era of postmodernism. According to this view grand narratives have been replaced by local situations and language games; postmodern intellectuals now prize competence, not universal values like truth or freedom. I've always thought that Lyotard and his followers are admitting their own lazy incapacities, perhaps even indifference, rather than giving a correct assessment of what remains for the intellectual a truly vast array of opportunities despite postmodernism. For in fact governments still manifestly oppress people, grave miscarriages of justice still occur, the co-optation and inclusion of intellectuals by power can still effectively quieten their voices, and the deviation of intellectuals from their vocation is still very often the case. (Said, 1994:17-18)
I am sure my pointing to the East-West difference in the preceding lines has already raised some eyebrows with regards to the so-called dichotomization of East and West. But this was precisely my intention. My purpose in this paper is in fact to direct our attention to that question, and more specifically to a misreading of Edward Said's text in regard to the issue of East-West difference. I believe this issue is of fundamental significance in our efforts not only to critique but to transcend orientalism (and occidentalism) and the crisis of representation in search of authentic autobiographies and world-histories. The irony implicit in the title I have chosen for this paper ("Orientalist and Liberating Discourses of East-West Difference") may now be clear. I am distinguishing between different (orientalist vs. liberating) approaches to the East-West difference, not for blanket dismissal of the East-West difference itself. The irony that I see here is that, on the one hand we call for respecting diversity and difference, and on the other dismiss or even condemn the evocation of the East-West cultural difference as being artificial, dichotomous and expressive of a false dichotomy. We reject the politically-incorrect notions of color-blindness or gender-blindness but insist on pushing the notion of East-West difference under the carpet in favor of a culture-blind discourse in political correctness. In the very conference in which we are invited to explore theories and praxes of difference-- and this, on a campus whose academic and pedagogical identity is strongly built on recognition and respect for diversity and difference--we are also invited to revisit a prolific thinker, i.e., Edward Said, whose critique of orientalism is believed by some to have involved the questioning of the East-West binary, dualism, and difference. In parts of his own writings, Edward Said seems to lend credence to this interpretation of his text:
Recently, for example, Professor Samuel Huntington of Harvard University advanced the far from convincing proposition that Cold War bipolarism has been superseded by what he called the clash of civilizations, a thesis based on the premise that Western, Confucian, and Islamic Civilizations, among several other, were rather like watertight compartments whose adherents were at bottom mainly interested in fending off all the others. (Said, 1979: 347) ... This is preposterous, since one of the great advances in modern cultural theory is the realization, almost universally acknowledged, that cultures are hybrid and heterogeneous and, as I argued in Culture and Imperialism, that cultures and civilizations are so interrelated and interdependent as to beggar any unitary or simply delineated descriptions of their individuality. How can one today speak of "Western civilization" except as in large measure an ideological fiction, implying a sort of detached superiority for a handful of value and ideas, none of which has much meaning outside the history of conquest, immigration, travel, and the mingling of peoples that gave the Western nations their present mixed identities? ... And this was one of the implied messages of Orientalism, that any attempt to force cultures and peoples into separate and distinct breeds or essences exposes not only the misrepresentations and falsifications that ensue, but also the way in which understanding is complicit with the power to produce such things as the "orient" or the "West." (Said, 1979: 347)
In the same text of the Afterword to Orientalism, however, we find instances in which Said himself uses the East-West terminology and distinction to elaborate on his approach to the subject. He writes, for instance, I must confess to a certain pleasure in listening in, uninvited, to their [Orientalists'] various pronouncements and inter-Orientalist discussions, and an equal pleasure in making known my finds both to Europeans and non-Europeans. I have no doubt that this was made possible because I traversed the imperial East-West divide, entered into the life of the West, and yet retained some organic connection with the place from which I originally came. (Said, 1979:336) If there is no dichotomy between East and West, in other words, why traverse their divide? Elsewhere, in his Freud and the Non-European (2003) lectures delivered to the Freud Museum of London, Edward Said draws upon the works and thought of Franz Fanon in contrast to that of Freud, when speaking of cultural difference. Approvingly acknowledging that "[t]he notion that there were other cultures besides that of Europe about which one needed to think is really not the animating principle for his [Freud's] work that it was in Fanon's..." (22), Said writes: Not surprisingly, then, and even though his prose and some of his reasoning depend on it, Fanon rejects the European model entirely, and demands instead that all human beings collaborate together in the invention of new ways to create what he calls "the new man, whom Europe has been incapable of bringing to triumphant birth." (Said, 2003:21)
In other words, in one passage the EastWest dichotomy is eschewed, while in another the distinction of the European or Western from the other is used to advance his own, via Fanon's, argument. Is this an inconsistency in Said's presentation of his argument? Does the East-West distinction become problematic only when employed by the adversary, but not so when used in advancing Said's own argument? Karl Mannheim's distinction (1936) between the analysis of ideology and the sociology of knowledge--and of the transition from the former to the latter--comes to mind here. The distinction specifically involved a transition from awareness of biases in others' to those in one's own views. Are we witnessing here a similar distinction in Said's awareness of biases in his adversaries, but not in his own views? Said is not entirely dismissive of the issue of East-West cultural difference--or at least its possibility. In the same Afterword to his Orientalism (1979), he writes: What has been of special interest for me has been the extension of post-colonial concerns to the problems of geography. After all, Orientalism is a study based on the rethinking of what had for centuries been believed to be an unbridgeable chasm separating East from West. My aim, as I said earlier, was not so much to dissipate difference itself--for who can deny the constitutive role of national as well as Cultural differences in the relations between human beings--but to challenge the notion that difference implies hostility, a frozen reified set of opposed essences, and a whole adversarial knowledge built out of those things. What I called for in Orientalism was a new way of conceiving the separations and conflicts that had stimulated generations of hostility, war, and impe-
rial control. And indeed, one of the most interesting developments in post-colonial studies was a re-reading of the canonical cultural works, not to demote or somehow dish dirt on them, but to re-investigate some of their assumptions, going beyond the stifling hold on them of some version of the master-slave binary dialectic. (Said, 1979:350-51) My argument here is that we need to distinguish between Said's literary and political rhetoric and the substantive point he is making in regard to the East-West difference and orientalism. His work is a critique of a particular, that is, orientalist, way of seeing, reading, imagining, and subsequently ruling the non-European, the nonWestern, world exacerbated by the political and conjunctural realities of the post-WWII and especially Post-Cold War period. He is not, in substance, dismissing the East-West cultural difference itself. Said's own argument needs to be historically contextualized, in other words, to reveal the severity of his critique of orientalism. His is, at heart, a critique of a particular way of gazing and imagining the East-West difference, not the denial of the possibility or reality of a difference itself. In Said's view, human history is a history of constant reciprocity and exchange of ideas, values, information, and influences across cultures, traditions, and millennia. However, it is one thing to represent oneself and another to be represented by an other, and more specifically by an imperial other whose interpretations of any cultural difference that may exist is shaped by its own imagination, desires, and interests in maintaining the master-slave dialectic. Critiquing these misrepresentations is the most immediate and primary purpose of Said in Orientalism, not the search for what an authentic representation of the East may be. But the tension in Said's rhetoric seems at times to be inconsistent in this regard.
For instance he writes in his Afterword: Yet Orientalism has in fact been read and written about in the Arab world as a systematic defense of Islam and the Arabs, even though I say explicitly in the book that I have no interest in, much less, capacity for, showing what the true Orient and Islam really are. (Said, 1979:331) But then he immediately follows this statement in which he confesses to a lack of interest and capacity for showing the true Orient and Islam with the statement: Actually I go a great deal further when, very early in the book, I say that words such as "Orient" and "Occident" correspond to no stable reality that exists as a natural fact. Moreover, all such geographical designations are an odd combination of the empirical and imaginative. (Said, 1979:331) These kinds of rhetorical claims and counter-claims somewhat obstruct Said's main purpose in Orientalism of primarily critiquing an idea which "derive[s] to a great extent from the impulse not simply to describe, but also to dominate ..." (Said, 1979:331). But in the process of advancing such a rhetoric, space is opened not only for an inconsistency in his argument but for a misreading of his intentions. Aijaz Ahmad, in his "Orientalism and After" states: There had been, [...], no evidence until after the publication of [Orientalism] that Said had read any considerable number of non-Western writers. By contrast, references to principal figures of the countercanon of `Third World Literature' surface very regularly in his more recent writings, even though not
even one of them has yet been treated with the hermeneutic engagement and informed reading that Said offers so often for scores of Western canonical figures; in the rare event that he actually refers to particular texts--as in the case of George Antonius or Ranajit Guha [...]--none receives the kind of detailed scrutiny which Said routinely accords to a wide range of European writers, from Swift to Renan to Schwab to Kipling. (Ahmad, 1994 [1983]:170) Said himself warns his readers, in the concluding chapter of his Representations of the Intellectual (1994), not to turn creeds and intellectuals into "Gods that Always Fail." "I am against conversion to and belief in a political god of any sort," Said continues, "I consider both as unfitting behavior for the intellectual." It would be fitting therefore not to turn Said in turn into a god, for, if not his own words, but our misreading of his rhetoric, may lead us to impute certain meanings and intentions to his text that were not intended. At other times, however, we must always take into consideration that Said's own biography and perspectives--his secularism and upbringing and education in the West, for instance--may have played an important role in his dismissal of certain aspects of non-Western culture which he may have considered, for political reasons, unacceptable or indefensible. Those who insist on historicizing Said's discourse cannot make an exception to historicizing his own biography and the historical context shaping (and perhaps limiting) his world-view. To clarify what may lay at the root of the crisis of representation, the sociologist Charles Horton Cooley's (1902; cf. Jacobs, 2004) notion and definition of the "looking glass self" may be useful here. In my reading, the looking glass self is not an inescapable human attitude and condition, but a
pathological state conditioned by an alienated and alienating society which imposes on its members a mode of self-inquiry that is based less on authentic self-representation than on representation via our imaginations of how others view and judge us-- whether or not this is based on how they actually view and judge us. Of course Cooley's definition is expressed from the vantage point of the observer, of how one imagines one appears to and is judged by an other, and the feeling one obtains as a result. But the definition may also be used to express the crisis of representation in social psychological terms, and in fact points to a plausible explanation for why, as a result of the looking glass self process, the self may have a difficulty in representing him/herself. Cooley's definition emphasizes a central feature of the "looking glass self" process, that is, the role played by imagination in how the looking glass self comes to be. Cooley's widely-cited statement explicating the three phases of this reflective process is as follows: ... the imagination of our appearance to the other person; the imagination of his judgment of that appearance; and some sort of selffeeling; such as pride or mortification. (Cooley, 1902: 184) Significant in this definition is that the imagination of the other by a self, in this case of the East by the West, does not really have to involve--and it often does not-- how the other, the East, really is. The Western looking glass self involves how the West encapsulates its own colonial desires and needs in its imaginations of the East, resulting in the imagined judgment of its own superiority in the eyes of the East, culminating in its feelings of imperial pride and superiority. However, from the vantage point of the colonized, due to the very process of imperial imposition and rela-
tions of ruling, the East internalizes the West's attitude, imagining its own inferior appearance to and judgement by the Western other, resulting in a self-feeling of inferiority and incapacity to represent itself--to the point where the very reality of its existence is challenged by implying the notion of political incorrectness of posing binaries such the East-West dichotomy. Denying the East-West difference, in other words, may itself come to be regarded as the hallmark of an orientalist attitude in disguise. Using Cooley's definition in the imperial/colonial context, in fact, one may arrive at a preliminary and plausible explanation for the crisis of representation: the crisis and inability of self-representation on the part of the East is itself a result of the operation of the economic, political, and cultural relations of imperial ruling-- what Michel Foucault (1979) would call the internalized technologies of self-subjugation invented by the imperial carceral society to discipline and punish the colonized. The Western and orientalist psychologies' telling us that we need an Other to know who we are, when translated in the colonized context, metamorphoses into the notion that the East needs the West to know who it is--where the opposite possibility is often taken for granted. The notion that "East" does not exist, when the terms "West," "Western," or European, are unproblematically used to label a particular set of cultures from others, is therefore itself problematic and may signify the presence of a subtle internalized eurocentric bias at work. The privileging of the Other over the self in the philosophical, scientific, and social psychological discourses of the West is itself an important epistemological impediment that disempowers the colonized subject to seek representation on its own apart from the authority of the imperial other, and devalues any efforts it may make in favor of authentic autobiographies and
historio-graphies. Khayyam's quatrain noted above is a protest against the privileging of the other over the self while being also an acknowledgment of the difficulties encountered in finding one's own identity and voice in the midst of a "sorrows nest," implying the alienating society. The very crisis of self-representation of the East is itself a product of imperial theorizing and worldhistorical praxes. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, in her famous article `Can the Subaltern Speak?' (1988) has noted how "writers like Edward FitzGerald, the "translator" of the Rubayyat of Omar Khayyam ... helped to construct a certain picture of the Oriental woman through the supposed "objectivity" of translation" (1994 [1988]: 102). The key point regarding the relevance of Khayyam to the argument advanced here is in fact the juxtaposition of an oriental vs. an authentic representation of his thought. Just because a FitzGerald mistranslated Khayyam and willy-nilly helped construct an orientalist view of his poetry, his philosophy, and in fact of his spirituality and the "East," does not mean that an authentic representation of Khayyam's thought is not warranted or possible. The most telling, if not damaging and degrading aspect of the introduction of Omar Khayyam to the world through FitzGerald has been the notion that Khayyam's culture is incapable of representing itself through producing verse translations of its own to convey the beauty and subtlety of his quatrains; that we need a FitzGerald to give us a taste of Khayyam in English, while his culture cannot; that we cannot represent ourselves; that we must be represented. The orientalist stereotypes of the East cannot adequately represent the notion that an Eastern--yes Eastern--intellectual, can have a critical mind, reject unwarranted influence of powers that be, and refuse to fit into the straitjackets of blind adherence to particular religions, sciences, and philoso-
phies of his time. Khayyam, a global, or now a world-historical, intellectual was wary of all habitually accepted metanarratives that claimed to have an answer for cosmic and human mysteries; yet at the same time he made lasting contributions to science, spirituality, and philosophy of his time. The orientalist representation of Khayyam makes us believe that he was distinct and different, not because he was an Eastern intellectual, but because he was more "like us," Westerners, being a "freethinker," "hedonistic," "skeptic," etc. Our orientalisms, open or subtle, lead us to dismiss the relevance of a certain set of poems by an astronomer and mathematician turned poet, i.e., Khayyam, or a mystic such as Rumi, in our sociological discourse, because such poetic or "mystical" pursuits are deemed "different" from the kinds of scholarships our "Western" sensibilities have made us familiar with. We cringe when we hear of discourses of utopianism and mysticism when it comes to our Western sociologies and psychologies. It is just simply inconceivable to consider Rumi's or Khayyam's poetry as theoretical works expressed in poetic form, since our Western, or Westernized, sensibilities assume that theory must always be abstract, dry, and mostly incomprehensible to the world. Reciting Khayyam or Rumi in a sociology conference?--how exotic and "different!" We complain about binaries of East-West, but nevertheless continually construct binaries in which questions about social theory and poetry, science and spirituality, humanism and science, as well as mystical, utopian, and academic theorizing and praxes must be classified, compartmentalize, "disciplined," and frozen across rigid disciplinary boundaries. The works of a certain Rumi, or Khayyam, or a certain "enigmatic" Gurdjieff (1950; 1973) are seen to be too exotic and "mystical" for our socalled scientific, scholarly, psychological, and sociological pursuits, such that those of us coming from "different" cultural and in-
tellectual backgrounds have to justify at each step why we are studying and seeking to build dialogues across multiple civilizational traditions that have shaped our biographies and histories. And even when we insist on our interests that are different from others, we are pathologized for having fears of influence and afflicted with narcissism of minor differences. What for an imperial other is a minor difference, may be for the colonized selves major experiences of oppression. Howard Zinn, in his Declarations of Independence: Cross-Examining American Ideology (1990), wrote "How we think is ... a matter of life and death" (1990). In other words, what appears as minor in theory may have major repercussions in praxis. As sociologists, among others, I think we also need to be asking the question, Who determines whether a difference is major or minor? Just note what the Bush Administration basically said about the Abu Ghraib scandal: what happened there were just "minor" deviant behaviors of a few prison guards--nothing major. As Robert Merton asked about functionalism ("functional for who?") We need to be asking, major and minor for who? What is minor or major is, it is true also, in the eye of the beholder. And that is precisely what the gaze of the West does to the East. "Why insist on minor differences? He or she--the Eastern other-- must be an "anxious type" ... better be psychoanalyzed!" Orientalism is not just an object of academic discourse, it shapes the very conceptual, curricular, scholarly, or even recreative structures of the knowledges we use, here and now. To challenge simplistic Huntingtonian notions of clash of civilizations we do not need to abandon the substantive relevance and interpretive value of the East-West difference. On the contrary, by insisting on false polemics about using false binaries-- when we abandon the same regarding race or gender blindness--we introduce false
clashes among ourselves about whether it is worth contemplating about the difference itself. Embracing or critiquing orientalism can be ironically similar in outcome if we are not careful; the whole enterprise of seeking, articulating, and representing the subaltern voice may be set aside and forgotten. Neither the East nor the West is a monolithic block. There are terrorists and humanists on both sides; there are barbarisms and civilities on both sides. The very notion that civilizations need to clash in an either/or intellectual, political, and militaristic confrontation is itself an uncivilized and barbarian proposition that engages and feeds the fundamentalist and terroristic tendencies on both sides. Binaries in and of themselves are not politically incorrect. Problematic is the dichotomous and dualistic ways in which they are conceptualized in mutual exclusion of one another, not in terms of their identities in difference, of the dialectics of part and whole. We use binaries all the time. Interesting is to wonder and understand why the East-West dichotomy is so stigmatized among other binaries in our scholarly debates. The East-West difference may no longer be a clearly demarcated geographical distinction, but it arose from a geographically differentiated world-historical trajectory across millennia that produced distinctive contributions to world culture. The distinction may be analogous to the workings of the two halves of the human brain. One is analytical, specializing, splitting, and separating; another integrating and synthesizing (Deikman 1982). They represent cultural contributions made in favor of the equally necessary epistemological and methodological tasks of splitting and reintegrating modes of human dialectical discourse and development as a whole. One insists on the separation of human sciences and spirituality, of the separation of the two humanistic and social/scientific cultures (Wallerstein 1991; Gulbenkian Commission 1996), another cannot envis-
age human discourse without a holistic, integrative, cosmic, natural, scientific, artistic and creative discourse. Neither the analytic nor the integrative efforts in the global human cultural production can succeed in the absence, in opposition to, and in clash with the other. A dialectical conception of the East-West cultural difference, in fact, aims to integrate both into a singular and holistic framework while maintaining the distinctive contributions of each to the world culture. I have elsewhere (Tamdgidi, 2002; forthcoming) argued that the conflict between settled and nomadic lifestyles is the source of the East-West dialectic long ingrained in our world-historical vocabularies and imaginations. The introversive nature of the East and the extroversive nature of the West are expressions of the same dialectic. The East-West discourse is an expression of the self-world dialectics of human development at work in particular world-historical spacetimes. The distinctiveness of the sciences as exemplified by the works of Eastern global intellectuals such as Omar Khayyam or Rumi, is that for them the sciences of nature, human society, and human mind and psychology are not conceivable apart from one another, and from the larger cosmic paradox of the meaning of human life and existence. I would like to end this essay with a few of my verse translations of Khayyam's quatrains, not only to help represent the voice of an Eastern global intellectual, but also to provide a taste of the inherently integrative and anti-disciplinary message hidden in the simultaneously spiritual, scientific, philosophical, artistic, poetic, mystical, and utopian discourse immortalized in their midst--it is this holistic and integrative approach to knowledge production that, in my view, is the most distinctive and liberating contribution of the East to world culture and scholarship. Khayyam has been called a mystic,
sufi, hedonist, skeptic, utopian, scientist, philosopher, freethinker, materialist, and much more, being uniquely criticized and praised by voices in both religious orthodoxy and mysticism. He was not persuaded by the conventional narratives of the religious orthodoxy, nor did he identify himself with any particular mystical school. However, he was also not satisfied with the assumed certitude of the "sciences" and philosophical discourses of the past or his time. Khayyam's quatrains speak of an independent spirit searching for rational answers to the paradoxes of existence. His poetry suggests its author's inclinations towards a mixture of mysticism on one hand and this-worldly utopianism on the other, but identifying with neither of the crowds. He demonstrates a skeptical attitude toward the claims of both religious and secular dogmatisms. He may have been in religious, "scientific," and philosophical currents of his time; but he was not of them. In reading the quatrains in the original, one is often struck by the creative skill with which Khayyam employs his keen sense of spatiotemporality to construct his skeptical and paradoxical interpretations of the relationship between himself and the universe as a whole. The spatiotemporal dialectics of the self, here-and-now, and universal world-history as a whole informs the paradigmatic structure of the symbolic imagery built into Khayyam's poetry. A close reading of the rubaiyat makes it apparent how Khayyam's astronomical and philosophical pursuits found their way into the fabric of his poetry. The adoption of the surname "Khayyam" or "tentmaker" may have been a genealogical coincidence, but the imagery of a simple and detached nomadic abode in a transient earthly life perhaps provided Khayyam with a motif for the poetic reconstruction of his life's story. It would be wrong to extrapolate the meaning of Khayyam's views on life in general from the message contained in each
of his quatrains in isolation, for each quatrain plays only a part in the drama of Khayyam's poetry as a whole. Moreover, a literal interpretation of his symbolism of wine as such--and not as representing a deep, almost intoxicating, appreciation of the nature and dynamics of meditation-- would be a gross misrepresentation of the real meaning and purpose of his quatrains. The spatiotemporal poetics of part and whole in Khayyam's rubaiyat involve a synthesis of his multifaceted astronomical and philosophical wanderings in the universe and his everyday selves in search of rational answers to the mysteries of life, death, and immortality. Reminding himself and his audience of the inevitability of our physical death has for Khayyam a paradigmatic significance in dehabituating and detaching humanity from the transient bonds of greed, fame, wealth, and power, directing our attention to the paradox of our journeys in cosmic space and time. And he finds his ultimate answer to the paradox of immortality in the everlasting flow of the crystal clear elixir of his meditative life, the creative wine droplets of his science and spirituality as expressed in his poetry. rІ ј rІ Д tЅUGФД vД " sД dЦ rІ ј rІЭdД vД Л bЅ-- Л oэUZ dЦ oe--«oe vЅULФЦ sД" И« tH№UЮ dј rІ ј rІ ј tВ КUMЗ Вoeus К¬ " sД Am I high from the Magian wine? Yes, I am. Am I sly, lover, worshiping wine? Yes, I am. Crowds suppose I am this, that, or the other. I am my own, the way I am. Yes I am.
-­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ s№oe Б-- --bЅ« bЅdJHІД vДuБ sOI№ Б«-- --oe БoeUІ КULФЦ tР vДuБ И"Л-- b№¬ @ЅUР tJЅ¬ "« rЭdр vД s№« tЅ Л XЭ« К¬ tЅ Б«-- °К«dі OР ИUВ One crowd in religion ponder their way. One crowd in science supposedly stray. I fear one morning town-crier shouts: "The way's not this nor that! O gone astray!" -­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ XHNЅ " КЛdOР БbД¬ oeulЛ dЧР s№« XH Р oOIЧр dјuЦ s№« tВ X OЅ fВ bMІHЦ «oeuЭ dЭ "« vM Э fВ dј XHЦ bЅ«uІOLЅ fВ X ј tВ ИЛdЅ¬ " This ocean of being grew from the concealed. No one ever has the jewel of its truth drilled. All claimed in vain to have found the jewel, But nobody can tell how it can be revealed! -­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ XЭUД sІ -- Л КbД¬ tВ И« Бd№«oe --oe XЭ«bOД X№«bР tЅ X№UNЅ tЅ «-- Л« XЭ«-- vMFД s№« --oe vДoe bЅeЅ vД fВ XЭU-В tР sІ -- Л U-В "« КbД¬ s№UВ The circle comprising our coming and going, Has no end or start--infinitely flowing. No one has revealed its straight truth about Where we come from and go to--unknowing. -­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ «dД XЭUі№" ИuР Л @Ѕ-- tВ bMЗdј «dД XЭфUР ЛdЭ uЗ Л OE-- tГф КuЗ Ў ,,Us tДUMРdЮ --oe tВ bAЅ ВuKFД «dД XЭ«--¬ tЗ dNР "« `UIЅ My color and smell--O what beauty! My face a tulip, and height, a Cyprus tree! In this jolly garden of Earth, I wonder Why the Genesis artist painted me!
Ў X р tMOВ "« vР«ds pУKУ OEdЗ И«
X р tM№d№oe БuOэ ИdЦoe«bOР
Ў bM UJAР uр tMOЭ dЦ« ,,Us И«
Ў X р tMOЭ --oe tВ vІLOБ dјuЦ fР
Your vengeance, O heaven, causes all ruin! Injustice, your old art, isn't it, O heaven!? If they slit your chest, O Earth, they'll find Oh, so many precious jewels hidden! -­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­
oeuЭ «-- КЛoedЦ oeuіЅ rЅbД¬ "« oeЛeHЅ gјUl Л цl sД sІ -- "Л oeuMAЅ rэuЦ Лoe eOЅ v В кOј "Л oeuР tЗ dNР "« rMІ -- Л КbД¬ s№UВ From my coming here, heaven profited not. From my leaving, it's majesty increased not a lot. And my two ears never heard from anyone, My arrival and leaving this world was for what!? -­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­
"UР XіFФГ pK Л rOЅUJІіFФГ UД "U-Д ИЛ-- "« tЅ rOІIOIS ИЛ-- "« r№oedВ И"UР U Р s№« --oe bMЗ p№ "UР p№ p№ ВbZ ,ЛbM tР rOІ -- Heaven's a doll player and we, playing dolls-- Real dolls not fake, though, in these cosmic halls. For a while we played in this vast playground, Then returned, one by one, to the chest full of nulls. -­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­
oeUA~Ѕ «-- Тql« --«dЭ« qJAД fУВ oeUNMЅ КЛdOР Бd№«oe "« ВbБ p№ fУВ oeUІЭ« Uр ИbІіД " Вd~Ѕ vД sД oe«" --oeUД "« tВ dј XЭoe tР XЭ« e-Z No one has unravelled the secrets of dying. Outside this circle, no one's been prying. Novices, masters, all of whom I've met, Remain as baffled as the newborn crying. -­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­
XЭ БoeuР И--«" oэUZ sД uЗ Б"uВ s№« XЭ БoeuР И--U~Ѕ nГФ" dЭ bMР --oe vMOР vД Л« КoedЦ dР tВ tІЭoe s№« XЭ БoeuР И--U№ КoedЦ dР tВ XЭ« vІЭoe This jar, as I, was a poor lover once, Chained to the long hair of a beloved once. This handle you see on the neck of the jar Was a lover's hand on his beloved once. -­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­
X -- vј«us «bl ХЛ-- "« tВ »U№--oe X -- vј«us UM --«dЭ« ЎБoedД --oe И« БbД¬ U-В " vЅ«bЅ `uЅ vД X -- vј«us U-В tР vЅ«bЅ `UР `us Beware! You will go from your soul apart, Beyond the veil, to the secrets of doom's heart. Drink Wine! You'll never know where you've come from. Be jolly! You'll never know where to you depart. -­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­
XЭoeuР И--UNЅ Л qOГ uр Л sД "« gOД XЭoeuР И--UВ tР eOЅ pK БbЅoedЦ sOД" ИЛ-- dР uр vNЅ ВbБ tВ Ul dј XЭoeuР И--U~Ѕ rAЗ pДФoedУД К¬ Before you and I were many days and nights. The heaven's been at work in heavenly flights. These stones you lay your foot on today, Were for a time eyeballs of lovers' sights.
XЭ« `us --uS UР XANР КU УВ bM№uЦ XЭ« `us --u~Ѕ« »¬ tВ r№u~OД sД --«bР tO Ѕ К¬ "« XЭoe Л dO~Р bIЅ s№« XЭ« `us --Лoe "« КbOMэ qФјФoe Ф"«Л¬ tВ Paradise, they say, is good for its beauts. Better, though I say, is grape wine's truths. Take this cash, let go of that promised dream, For percussion only from long distance soothes.
Ў bэ vЮ vЅ«ul tДUЅ tВ "u « bэ Иoe vЅUЦbЅ" --UNР Б"Uр К¬Л »Uіэ oeuР Л« ВUЅ tВ »dЮ /dД К¬ bэ vВ bД¬ vВ tВ rЅ«bЅ "u « Alas! my blank page of life is now gray. My springtime is now a winter's day. That Nightingale called "the bird of youth," Flew over me. When? I can't even say! Ў oe--cЦ vД V-Z dLZ tK UБ s№« oe--cЦ vД »dЮ UР tВ vДoe »U№ --oe И--us tЗ КUH№dS И«oed rz vБUЭ oe--cЦ vД Vэ tВ «-- tГUOД --¬ gOД This life's caravan is so soon passing! Cherish the moment that's joyfully passing! What judgments foes pass will pass, O wine pal! Just pass over the cup, for the night is passing! -­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ bMЭds ИeOД Л КUNl "« lLЮ sВ rВ bЅuOД qУ ~Р tЅUД" bР Л pOЅ "« oeЛ" tВ dOЦ ИdіГoe nГ" Л nВ --oe vД bMЗ И"Л-- s№« bЅULЅ Л oe--c~Р rј This world and its full house, desire not. Of "the good and the evil" free your lot. Raise the cup and caress a lover's hair. Like your days they, too, will be not. -­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ X Ф Ѕ "Л-- oeuіЅ sД tР rЅbД¬ КuЗ шXЭ--oe X OДeZ oe«dФД vР sІ -- s№Л X ФЗ vБUЭ И« bMіР КUOД Л eOsdР X Фэ rј«us Лd vД tР КUNl БЛbЅ« tВ In my coming to life, I had no say. Is leaving unfulfilled part of the play? Get up O beloved, now pour me wine, So I can wash world's sorrows away.
шuВ ИoeuЭ UД sІ -- Л КbД¬ "« шuВ ИoeuД UД dLZ oeulЛ --Uр "Л КUВUД s№bMЗ КUl OEdЗ dіMЗ --oe шuВ ИoeЛoe oeuэ vД ,,Us Л oe"uЭ vД We all come and go--but the gain is where? Warps of our life stay--but the weft is where!? In this whirling kiln many innocent lives Burn and dust away--but the smoke is where? ИdУЧУЭ "Лds --oe БbOбЭ ВU~Mј ИdЦ tSuЅ bMВ vLј «dЗ tВ vЅ«oe Ў `і tMOz¬ --oe bЅoeuLЅ tВ vMF№ Иdіs vР uр Л XэcЦ vіэ dLZ eВ Do you know the morning rooster why Mourns at dawn, raising aloud the cry? It says: "One more night passed, O fool, And on the ignorant's bed still you lie." -­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ r№bэ БoeuЭd Бb№U vР tВ "u « r№bэ БoeuЭ Кu~ЅdЭ dNбЭ "«oe UР r№oe" rAЗ Uр tВ UІД«bЅ Л «oe--oe r№bэ БoeuРUЅ g№us ВUВ tР БoeuРUЅ Alas! how uselessly perished I! By heavenly sickle reaped up high! O what pains and regrets I endured and then, Died unfulfilled in the blink of an eye! -­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ rЅ«oe vІ ј Л vІ OЅ dјUю sД rЅ«oe vІ Д Л "«d dј sЮUР sД oeUР rДdэ oeus gЅ«oe "« tLј s№« UР rЅ«oe vІ Д И«--Л И« tірdД dЦ About how things appear or not, I know. About the meaning of depth and height, I know. Shame on my knowledge of things, though, If a state higher than drunkenness I know.
oeuэ БbMВ sД dLZ UNЅ tВ t~Ѕ¬ oeuэ БbMВ«dД dЦbJ№ " В«dl« Л sД qЦ "« bMMВ vS«d tJЅ«" dЦ oeuэ БbЅ" vMВ gOД "« dФД tВ vГUS When my life-tree's uprooted, or when heavenly bodies scattered `till end, If you mold my clay into a jar And fill it up with wine, I will live again. -­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ Ў bэ U№--oe UР oeuР »¬ БdDБ p№ Ў bэ UІJ№ sOД" UР ,,Us БТ--­ p№ X OЗ rГUZ s№« --bЅ« uр Кbэ bД¬ bэ «bOДUЅ Л b№bД v ~Д bД¬ A water drop it was--joined the sea in pour. A tiny dust in air--now one with the floor. You came to this world for what purpose, you think? A fly just flew by, but is there no more. -­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ eOs dР dр t~Д bMДoeds dOД И« eOр d~MР «-- eOіВUs ,,oeuВ К¬ Л eOР vД pДdЅ ВdЅ tВ uЦ Л Бoe `bMД e№ЛdД rAЗ Л oeUіIOВ dЭ eGД Get up earlier at dawn, O wise old friend. For that child sifting the dust please send. Advise him, say: "Sift more gently, boy, "These are kings' heads and eyes at each end!" -­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ Ў "uЮ Б--UР dР tІ AЅ Вb№oe vzdД Ў "ЛЛUJOВ tТKВ БoeUNЅ gOД --oe "u « "u « tВ XHЦ vLј tТKВ UР Ў "uВ tГUЅ U-В Л UNЭdl @ЅUР uВ I saw a bird once in the Castle of Tus, Sitting beside the head of King Keikavoos, And saying constantly: "Alas, alas, where Are the battle drums and the bells after the truce!?"
К«oee№ КuЗ ИbФР XЭoe rJK dР dЦ КUOД" «-- pK s№« sД vLІэ«oedР vLІsUЭ КUMЗ dЦoe vJK uЅ "« КUЭ¬ ИbOЭ-- oe ВUВ tР Бoe«"UВ If I, like God, turned my heaven's wheel, I'd take it apart all seal to seal. I'd then remake it so the free in mind, Reached heart's desire with no ordeal. -­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ vэUВ ИuіЭ `Лoe Вoe" @MЭ dР vэUРЛ« s№« ВoedВ tВ ВbФР X Д dЭ uіЭ XHЦ vД US КUР" tР sД UР vэUР sД КuЗ eOЅ uр ВbФР uр КuЗ sД I broke the night before a porcelain jar. I'd been drunk I guess to go so far. The jar cried: "You'll be in pieces too, Just as I was whole, like now you are." -­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ Вoe p№ r№u~Р Uр "«-- ВУdЧУД uВ Вoe¬ XЭoeuР tЗ oeus X Ѕ "Л-- eВ rz qЦ "« И« tІэdЭ Бoe«" XMЧД ВbБ Xэ«oedР Л XAУ~Р КUNl bMЗ p№ Where is the confidant! I must reveal, What is the nature of the human, real. From the start born of sorrows' clay To roam the Earth. O what a deal! -­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ r№--u Ѕ «oed rz Uр UOР XЭЛoe И« r№dLэ XLOMz «-- dLZ Вoe p№ s№Л r№--cЦ --oe sNВ d№oe s№« "« tВ «oed r№d Р dЭ КU~ГUЭ --«eј XHј UР O friend! Let's not bother with pains of next day. Let's both take stock of this moment's pay. Tomorrow, when we leave this convent old, With seven thousand year olds we must lay.
UД oe И«dР UІФР UOР Л eOsdР UД qJAД sІA№us ULl tР sВ ТqS rOMВ `uЅ rNР Uр »«dэ Б"uВ p№ UД qЦ "« bMMВ И« Б"uВ tВ gOД К«" Rise O idol! come over to my heart afar, Solve with your beauty this problem our! Let's drink together a whole jar of wine, Before they make from us a wine jar! -­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ «-- «oed v В oeuэ vLЅ БbNФZ КuЗ «-- «bOэ oe s№« uр sВ `us vГUS БUД tВ БUД И« »UІјUД tР `uЅ vД «-- UД bРUOЅ Л bРUІР --UO Р Since no one can foretell tomorrow, Now bring joy to lovelorn heart's sorrow. Drink wine in moonlight O moon, for Moon May no more cast and find our shadow! -­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ «-- КUІ Д КeД tMFЮ И--u Ѕ vД dЦ «-- КUІЭoe Л tKOS uр sJД oeUOMР И--u MOД vД tВ uAД К«bР БdТz uр «dЅ¬ XЭ« Вцz vД tВ И--us tLIГ b Don't blame the drunkard if you are sober, Don't build life on deceptions, moreover, You may be proud of your sobriety, my friend, but, On hundred greater bites you're hooked all over. REFERENCES Ahmad, Aijaz. 1994 [1983]. "Orientalism and After" in Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader." Edited and Introduced by Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman, New York: Columbia Univ. Press, p. 162-171. Cooley, Charles Horton. 1902. human nature and the Social Order, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. Deikman, Arthur 1982. The Observing Self: Mysti-
cism and Psychotherapy. Boston: Beacon Press. Foucault, Michel. 1977. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Pantheon. Gulbenkian Commission. 1996. Open the social sciences: Report of the Gulbenkian Commission on the Restructuring of the Social Sciences. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Gurdjieff, G. I. 1950. All and Everything: Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson. First Edition. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company. Gurdjieff, G. I. 1973. Views from the Real World. New York: Arkana. Jacobs, Glenn. 2004. "Charles Cooley: Traveler in the Inner and Outer Worlds." The Discourse of Sociological Practice, Vol. 6, Issue 2, Fall, 143-164. Mannheim, Karl. 1936. Ideology and Utopia: An Introduction to the Sociology of Knowledge. New York: Harcourt, Inc. Said, Edward W. 1979. Orientalism. New York: Vintage Books. Said, Edward W. 1994. Representations of the Intellectual. New York: Vintage Books. Said, Edward W. 2003. Freud and the Non-European. London and New York: Verso. Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. 1994 [1988]. "Can the Subaltern Speak?" in Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory, edited and introduced by Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman. New York: Columbia University Press, 66-111. Tamdgidi, M.H. Forthcoming. "Toward a Dialectical Conception of Imperiality: The Transitory (Heuristic) Nature of the Primacy of Analyses of Economies in WorldHistorical Social Science." REVIEW (A Journal of the Fernand Braudel Center for the Study of Economies, Historical Systems, and Civilizations). Tamdgidi, Mohammad-Hossein. 2002. "Mysticism and Utopia: Towards the Sociology of Self-Knowledge and Human Architecture (A Study in Marx, Gurdjieff, and Mannheim)," Ph.D. Diss. SUNY-BinghamtoN. Wallerstein, Immanuel. 1991. Unthinking Social Science: The Limits of nineteenth century Paradigms. Cambridge: Polity Press. Wallerstein, Immanuel. 1998. Utopistics Or, Historical Choices of the Twenty-First Century. New York: The New Press. Zinn, Howard. 1990. Declarations of Independence: Cross-Examining American Ideology. New York: Harper Collins.

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