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A Mosaic of Misunderstanding: Occident, Orient, and Facets of Mutual Misconstrual


Julia Szołtysek

The book investigates relations between the ‘East’ and ‘West’ which have been forming and evolving from the Enlightenment until the present times. On the basis of material covering a selection of American, British and Turkish literature, as well as examples of Western Orientalist painting and musical (operatic) illustrations of analysed issues, the study aims to usher in a deeper and more nuanced understanding of post/colonial phenomena and their broader socio-cultural implications. The work attempts to accentuate the resonances and dissonances between various arts and disciplines, with the view to illuminating the organic nature of both inter- and intra-cultural relationships. The rationale behind such an orientation in research and methodology has not been to arrive at a final eclectic perspective, but rather, to promote a more comprehensive and diverse approach towards the ‘Other’.

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Chapter One: Of Mutual Threats – 9/11 Re/Considered



Countries are constructs not easy to capture within the finite frameworks of description. Carrying with them the symbolic and, at the same time, performative, burden of nationality and culture, as well as cultural nationality and national culture, they do not permit a clear-cut definition which would enclose their other-than-geographical boundaries, though these contemporarily also prove a fluid category. Benedict Anderson, in Imagined Communities, struggling to capture and contextualize the ephemeral nature of the notion of a ‘country,’ determined several major factors which he found responsible for the shaping of a communal sense of belonging, characteristic of the emergence of nations.2 Country and nation, however, do not constitute the obverse and reverse of one terminological and symbolic coin – there are nations with no countries (or deprived of countries, or fighting for their countries), and the relation between the two hardly amounts to a one-to-one correspondence. For the idea of the nation to materialize in a formal shape, a narrative backbone is necessary, to which recourse may be had when the need for a reassertion of authenticity and legitimacy occurs. Such a ‘backbone’ is most readily provided by the tradition-sanctioned idiosyncratic mythology which develops simultaneously with and alongside the emergence of the germs of the awareness of national distinction. The texture of various national mythologies itself permits an insight into the cultural, psychological, political, religious, and geographical, among others, uniqueness of nations around the globe, facilitating their complex analyses. Thus, the British have their Lancelot and...

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