On Orientalism

"what Marx is really trying to say…" started the Prof. H’s interesting argument, which was really out of my expectation and therefore was fascinating.
The central concern of Marx is Time, the Capitalist Time, which is totally different from Historical Time.  In the historical time, we sense a multiple time, not only the time at present, but also the legacy of the tradition, the trace of the past.  Therefore, it is a sense of time-within-timeness.  However, in the capitalist society, only time associated with capital is sensible.  The conception of time changed fundamentally in the modern industrial society that is centered around the capital circulation.  The time in a capitalist society is divided into "work time" and "leisure time," which is supposed to be squeezed to minimal.  The historical sense of time disappeared; only the past that has interaction with the capital circulation will occur to mind.
Therefore, the argument that the history is progressing and developing, by many so-called Marxist scholars, is a distortion that is fundamentally the same with the bourgeoise conception of history.

The conception of tradition is another theme which is equally confusing and interesting.  Japan faced a critical stage during its modernization process by the end of nineteenth century, evident in its attitude toward tradition.  to completely erase, or to maintain it intact at the expense of being crushed by the western power?  Japan, willingly or not, chose to reconstruct its tradition from an orientalist perspective.  Therefore, a lot of traditional concepts we take for granted today are actually re-invented during that transitive period.  I wonder if it is the same case with China around 1919 or around 1990s.  just purely a random guess, since I am not a Chinese expert.


About GloriaYuYANG

art historian, writer


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