May 3, 2011

Victor Segalen, Essay on Exoticism: An Aesthetics of Diversity, trans. Tael Rachel Schlick (Duke, 2002).

"Clear the field first of all. Throw overboard everything misused or rancid contained in the word exoticism. Strip it of all its cheap finery: palm tree and camel; tropical helmet; black skins and yellow sun; and, at the same time, get rid of all those who used it with an inane loquaciousness [. . . .]

Then, strip the word exoticism of exclusively tropical, exclusively geographical meaning. Exoticism does not only exist in space, but is equally dependent on time.

From there, move rapidly to the task of defining and laying out the sensation of Exoticism, which is nothing other than the notion of difference, the perception of Diversity, the knowledge that something is other than one's self; and Exoticism's power is nothing other than the ability to conceive otherwise" (18-9).


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