“Colonialism is not satisfied merely with holding a people in its grip and emptying the native’s brain of all form and content. By a kind of perverted logic, it turns to the past of the oppressed people, and distorts, disfigures, and destroys it. This work of devaluing pre-colonial history takes on a dialectical significance today.”
— Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth.
Let’s think about this for a moment in relation to the “Arab Spring” or the “Arab Awakening” and how we (they) have already begun to reconstruct and write a narrative of “pre-revolution” history, even in the way we have titled the uprisings. So in Fanon’s words above, instead of just colonialism, we can think also of neo-colonialism, and instead of merely pre-colonial history, also post-colonial authoritarian history. And while everyone loves throwing around “orientalism” as if it is merely a practice of representation and caricaturizing the other, let’s remember that petty, exotic/barbaric representations are a symptom of orientalism, not its meaning, and that orientalism is, by its practice of producing bodies of knowledge and dictating language, is a practice of constructing reality that it consequently colonizes and devalues, both “ours” and “theirs”.
Which shall be the darkness of God. As, in the theatre,
The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed
With a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness on darkness.” —T.S. Elliot (via sierramussperamus)