The World as Exhibition

TIMOTHY MITCHELL
New York University

The Egyptiandelegation to the Eighth International Congressof Orientalists, held in Stockholm duringthe summerof 1889, traveledto Sweden via Paris and paused there to visit the World Exhibition. The four Egyptians spent several days in the Frenchcapital, climbing twice the height (they were told) of the Great Pyramidin AlexandreEiffel's new tower, and exploringthe city and exhibition laid out beneath. Only one thing disturbedthem. The Egyptian exhibit had been built by the Frenchto representa street of medieval Cairo, made of houses with overhanging upper stories and a mosque like that of Qaitbay. "It was intended," one of the Egyptianswrote, 'to resemble the old aspect of Cairo." So carefully was this done, he noted, that "even the paint on the buildings was made dirty."' The Egyptianexhibit had also been made carefully chaotic. In contrastto the orderlinessof the rest of the exhibition, the imitationstreet was arranged in the haphazard mannerof the bazaar.The way was crowdedwith shops and where Frenchmen,dressed as Orientals, sold perfumes, pastries, and stalls, tarboushes.To complete the effect of the Orient, the Frenchorganizershad importedfrom Cairo fifty Egyptiandonkeys, togetherwith their drivers and the requisite number of grooms, farriers, and saddlemakers.The donkeys gave rides for the price of one franc up and down the street, resulting in a clamor and confusion so lifelike, the directorof the exhibitionwas obliged to issue an orderrestrictingthe donkeys to a certainnumberat each hour of the day. The Egyptian visitors were disgusted by all this and stayed away. Their final embarrassment been to enter the door of the mosque and discover had like the rest of the street, it had been erected as what the Europeans that, called a facade. "Its externalform was all that there was of the mosque. As for the interior, it had been set up as a coffee house, where Egyptian girls performeddances with young males, and dervishes whirled."2 After eighteen days in Paris, the Egyptiandelegation traveledon to StockParts of this essay are drawn from the first chapterof a book entitled Colonising Egypt (Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press, 1988). I am indebtedto Stefania Pandolfo and Lila AbuLughod for their comments. I MuhammadAmin Fikri, Irshad al-alibba' ila mahasin Urubba. (Cairo: al-Muqtataf,1892), 128. 2 Fikri, Irshad al-alibba', 128-29, 136. 0010-4175/89/2254-2417 $5.00 ) 1989 Society for ComparativeStudy of Society and History 217

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holm to attend the Congress of Orientalists. Together with other nonEuropeandelegates, the Egyptians were received with hospitality-and a great curiosity. As though they were still in Paris, they found themselves somethingof an exhibit. "Bonafide Orientals," wrote a Europeanparticipant in the Congress, "were staredat as in a Barnum'sall-world show: the good Scandinavian people seemed to think that it was a collection of Orientals, not of Orientalists."3 Some of the Orientaliststhemselves seemed to delight in the role of showmen. At an earlierCongress in Berlin, we are told that "the grotesque idea was startedof producing natives of Orientalcountries as illustrationsof a paper: thus the Boden Professor of Sanskritat Oxford produced a real live Indian Pandit, and made him go through the ritual of
Brahmanical prayer and worship before a hilarious assembly . . . Professor

Max Miiller of Oxford produced two rival Japanesepriests, who exhibited theirgifts; it had the appearance two showmenexhibitingtheirmonkeys."4 of At the Stockholm Congress, the Egyptians were invited to participate as scholars, but when they used their own language to do so, they again found themselves treated as exhibits. "I have heard nothing so unworthy of a
sensible man," complained an Oxford scholar, "as . . . the whistling howls

emitted by an Arabic studentof El-Azharof Cairo. Such exhibitions at Congresses are mischievous and degrading."5 The exhibition and the congress were not the only examples of this European mischief. Throughoutthe nineteenth century, non-Europeanvisitors found themselves being placed on exhibit or made the carefulobject of European curiosity. The degradationthey often suffered, whetherintendedor not, seemed inevitable and as necessary to these spectacles as the scaffolded facades or the curious crowds of onlookers. The facades, the onlookers and the degradationseemed all to belong to the organizing of an exhibit, to a particularlyEuropeanconcern with renderingthings up to be viewed. This essay will examine whatthis process of exhibitingcan tell us aboutthe moder West. I will explore it first throughthe eyes of a numberof Arab writers, as a mechanismof order and meaning that exemplifies their experience of nineteenth-century Europe.Whatthey found in the West, I will argue, were not just exhibitions of the world, but the orderingup of the world itself as an endless exhibition. I will then comparethis experiencewith the Western Orient-with the images of Orientalism. experience of the nineteenth-century As we have begun to see, the Orientwas perhapsthe most important object on display at Europe's exhibitions, the West's great "external reality." Orientalism, I would argue, illustratesnot just the strangeways in which the West has treatedthe "outside world"; it illustrateshow the Westernexperienceof
3 R. N. Crust, "The International Congresses of Orientalists," Hellas 6 (1897): 359. 4 Ibid., 351. 5 Ibid., 359.

Colonising Egypt (Cambridge:CambridgeUniversity Press. The curiosity of the observing subject was something demandedby a diversity of mechanismsfor renderingthings up as its objectbeginning with the Middle Easternvisitor himself. "The First EgyptianStudent Mission to France Under MuhammadAli. "Whenever he paused outside a shop or showroom. The membersof an Egyptian studentmission sent to Paris in the 1820s were confined to the college in which they lived and were allowed out only to visit museumsand the theater. "For example." the protagonist in one such story found on his first day in Paris. "They constructthe stage as the play demands. (London: FrankCass. 1980). 1988) 4-5.'"8 6 Rifa'a al-Tahtawi. for example."7 The curious attitudeof the Europeansubject that one finds in Arabic accounts seems to have been connected with what one might call a corresponding objectness.THE WORLD AS EXHIBITION 219 orderand truth.epitomizedin the exhibition. contrastsit with the "general lack of curiosity" of non-Europeans. 177. If for instancethey want to play the Shahof Persia. 119-20. 76. .Alam al-din (Alexandria. if they want to imitatea sultan and the things that happento him. 299. where they found themselves parodiedin vaudeville as objects of entertainment for the Frenchpublic." in Modern Egypt: Studies in Politics and Society. 7 Ali Mubarak. "One of the characteristicsof the French is to stare and get excited at everything new. dependeduponcreatingthe very effect of an "outside. 1973) II. their stories would often evoke the peculiarexperience of the West by describingan individualsurrounded staredat.6The curiosityof the Europeanis encounteredin almost every subsequentMiddle Easternaccount. both men and women." of an "external reality" beyond all representation. staring at his dress and appearance. when one or two Egyptian writersadoptedthe realistic style of the novel and took the journey to Europe as their first topic. 13. Such curiosity is assumed to be simply the natural. they set up the stage in the form of a palace and portrayhim in person. 1982)." The MuslimDiscovery of Europe (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson. who had an uncontainable eagerness to stand and stare. 4 Vols. they dress someone in the clothes of the Persian monarchand then put him there and sit him on a throne. The "curiosity" of the Europeanis something of a theme for Orientalistwriters." wrote an Egyptian scholarafterspendingfive years in Parisduringthe 1820s.unfetteredrelationof a person to the world. BernardLewis. Elie Kedourie and Sylvia G. "a large numberof people would surroundhim. Haim. 1882). See Mitchell. al-A'mal al-Kamila. Towardsthe end of the nineteenthcentury. like an object and on exhibit. (Beirut: al-Mu'assasa al-Arabiyya li-1Dirasat wa-l-Nashr. eds. 816. in the first description of nineteenth-century Europeto be publishedin Arabic. for a critiqueof this sort of argumentand its own "theological" assumptions. al-A'mal al-Kamila. AN OBJECT-WORLD Middle Easternvisitors found Europeansa curiouspeople. Alain Silvera. 8 Tahtawi. emerging in Europeonce the "loosening of theological bonds" had broughtabout "the freeing of humanminds." explained one of the students. II.

al-A'mal al-Kamila. 4-5." It would have "nothing vague aboutit."" The effect of such spectacles was to set the world up as a picture. with al-Rumailaand the rest of the city beneathyou. . 13 "Les origins et le plan de l'exposition.In planning the layout of the 1889 Exhibition. The Khedive stayed in the imitationpalace duringhis visit and became a partof the exhibition. "as a gateway to the exposition and a noble preface. 121.An Orientalistof the same period."10 In a panoramaof Cairo. whichever he might have made the object of his studies." Entitled "Histoire du Travail. of original books. Orientalism(New York: Pantheon. receiving visitors with medieval hospitality. the Diorama. accounts of voyages. it was decided "before enteringthe temple of moder life" to set up an exhibit of all humanhistory. 1934). the Europoramaand the Uranorama." such as "the Panorama. a as able to feel himself transported if by enchantment Mongolian tribe or of the Chinese race. say. he found that the Egyptianexhibit had been builtto simulatemedievalCairoin the form of a royal palace. 3 (15 December 1889). and experienced. the differentkinds of spectaclehe describedwere "places in which they represent for the person the view of a town or a country or the like. maps." the display would demonstratethe history of humanlabor by means of "objects and things themselves.He hadplannedto establisha museumthatwas to be "a vast depot of objects of all kinds. a word for which its author knew of no Arabicequivalent. 165. "it is as though you were looking from on top of the minaretof Sultan Hasan.Besides the Operaand the Opera-Comique. the Cosmorana. 12 Cited in EdwardW. Histoire du regne du Khedive Ismail. 2 vols. 10 Tahtawi. II. I Ibid. "because it will consist of an object lesson. They arrangedit before an audienceas an object on display-to be viewed. of the greatFrenchscholar. 1978). for example.220 TIMOTHY MITCHELL Even Middle Easternmonarchswho came in person to Europewere liable to be incorporated into its theatricalmachinery. II. of drawings. wantedthe scholarlyportrayal the Orientto create a similarkind of object-world.When the Khedive of Egypt visited Paristo attendan earlierExpositionUniversellein 1867."13 9 Georges Douin. 18." or more fully "Exposition retrospectivedu travailet des sciences anthropologiques. Sylvestre de Sacy. The Arabic account of the studentmission to Paris devoted several pages to the Parisianphenomenonof le spectacle. Said.9 Visitors to Europefound not only themselves renderedup as objects to be viewed. (Rome: Royal Egyptian GeographicalSociety. he explained in illustration." it was said.in such a way thateach of these studentswould be into the midst of." 12 The world exhibitions of the second half of the century were arrangedto offer visitors the same direct experience of an object-world." L'Expositionde Paris de 1889. all offered to those who wish to give themselves to the study of [the Orient]. investigated.

Characteristic the with what an Egyptianauthor Europeans'way of life was their preoccupation described as intizam al-manzar. 14.the architecture iron and glass. the very streets of the 14 On Egyptian writing about Europe in the nineteenthcentury. The machineryof representation not confined to the exhibition and the was congress.By the last decade of the nineteenthcentury. 116. 2nd ed. the scholarly exhibit and the model. a place where Europeansrepresentedtheir history to themselves. and everything organizedto repreof sent." as anotherArab writer put it. see. They visited the new museums and saw the culturesof the world portrayedin the form of objects arranged underglass in the orderof theirevolution. they found the techniqueand the sensationto be the same: the countryside. to recall. the systems of classification.HadithIsa ibn Hisham. al-Istitla'at al-barisiya fi ma'rad sanat 1889 (Tunis: n.14 Such accounts devote hundredsof pages to describing the peculiar order and technique of these events. Arab Rediscovery of Europe (Princeton: Princeton University Press. encounteredtypically in the form of a model farm exhibiting new machinery and cultivation methods. as TheodorAdomo wrote.one encounterednot the real world of but only furthermodels and representations the real. on the theater. "which paid symbolic tributein the form of animals. a product of nineteenth-centurycolonial penetrationof the Orient. the display of new discoveries and merchandise. the organizationof panoramasand perspecof tives. Beyond the exhibition and the congress. Muhammad al-Sanusial-Tunisi. see IbrahimAbu-Lughod. 434. 1978). Colonising Egypt."'5 The Europein Arabicaccountswas a place of spectacle and visual arrangement. as several Egyptian writers explained. (Cairo:al-Maktabaal-Azhariyya. of the organizationof everything. 1963). Outside the world exhibition. Minima Moralia. alA'mal al-Kamila. and Tahtawi.. it follows paradoxically. the calculations of statistics. 15 Theodor Adorno. Voyageurset dcrivainsegyptiens en France au XIXe siecle (Paris:Didier. 1911).more thanhalf the descriptionsof journeys to Europebeing published in Cairo were written to describe visits to a world exhibition or an internationalcongress of Orientalists. 37. Anouar Louca. some largermeaning. 1891).p. 7-13. . II:119-20. carefully organized "to bring together the trees and plants of every part of the world. like the exhibition. Reflections From a Damaged Life (London: Verso. beyond the museum and the zoo-everywhere that nonEuropeanvisitors went. They were taken to the theater. And inevitably they took trips to the zoo. 1970). the lectures. on the public gardenand the zoo. the plans andthe guide books-in shortthe entiremachineryof what we think of as representation.the curious crowds of spectators. awfatra min al-zaman. for example. and Mitchell. the organizationof the view. Muhammad al-Muwaylihi. 180 n.THE WORLD AS EXHIBITION 221 Arabic accounts of the modem West became accounts of these curious object-worlds. Almost everywherethatMiddle Easternvisitors went. The Middle Easternvisitors spent afternoons in the public gardens. they seemed to encounter this renderingup of the world as a thing to be viewed.

1893). and to the extent to which. 18 International Congress of Orientalists. 1977). by their techniqueof renderingimperialtruthand culturaldifference in "objective" form. The model or display always seemed to stand in perfect correspondence to the externalworld-a correspondencethat was frequentlynoted in Middle Easternaccounts. non-Europeans encounteredwhatone might call. "The Age of the World Picture. Irshad. the visual effect of the street. Ibid." proclaimed the president of the 1892 OrientalistCongress at its opening session. 268."'8 The endless spectacles of the world-as-exhibitionwere not just reflectionsof this certainty. 817. 448. the travelerfrom the Middle East could describe this curious way of addressing the world increasingly encountered in modem Europe.. Alam al-din. in a world where truthhad become a question of what Heidegger calls "the certaintyof representation."19 from the accountsof Two aspects of this kind of certaintycan be illustrated the world exhibition. "The Age of the World Picture. THE CERTAINTY OF REPRESENTATION "England is at presentthe greatestOrientalEmpirewhich the world has ever known. it could be set up before him or her as an exhibit: as mere objects recalling a meaning or reality beyond. 19 Heidegger." 127. accordingto the way in which. I. 17 MartinHeidegger.. but.1900). but to the world conceived and grasped as though it were an exhibition. 98. once the funicular railway was built. a mere "signifier of' something further. In exhibitions.They were occasions for making sure of such objective truths. First. and Idwar Ilyas. arranged system of signification. Ibid. there was the apparentrealism of the representation. In Europe. One of the most impressiveexhibits at the 1889 exhibition 16 The "organizationof the view" is describedin Mubarak. (London: International Congress of Orientalists. This reality-effectwas a world renderedup to the individual.222 TIMOTHY MITCHELL modem city with their meaningfulfacades-even the Alps. His words reflected the political certainty of the imperial age. . the means of its production. 1008-42." in The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays (New York: Harperand Row. a particularrelationship between the individual and a world of "things themselves" that Europeansseemed to take as the experienceof the real. but how to rule. 1892. 35. or rather. declaringitself to be a mere object. the new funicularat Lucerneand the Europeanpassion for panoramasin Fikri.16 Everything seemed to be set up as though it were the before an observingsubjectinto a model or the pictureof something.the age of the world-as-exhibition. echoing a phrasefrom Heidegger. Mashahid Uruba wa-Amirka (Cairo:al-Muqtataf.17 exhibition here refers not to an exhibition of the world. the model farm outside Paris. "She knows not only how to conquer. 964. The exhibition could be read in such accounts as epitomizing the strange characterof the West: a place where one was continuallypressed into service as a spectator by a world ordered so as to represent. the age of World the world exhibition.Transactionsof the Ninth Congress. 2 vols.

and between the exhibit and what it expressed. al-Sanusi. the skins of wild monsters. The certainty of representation depended on this deliberate difference in time and displacement in space separating the representation from the real thing.THE WORLD AS EXHIBITION 223 in Paris was a panorama of the city. perfumes. always remained distinguishable from the reality it claimed to represent. encircled by images of the city."20 Second. We rubbed shoulders with the fellah. 123. The more the exhibit drew in and encircled the visitor. 1878). An Arab visitor described this as consisting of a viewing platform on which one stood. the medieval Egyptian street at the Paris Exhibition remained only a Parisian copy of the Oriental original. The representation seemed to be set apart from the political reality it claimed to portray. a palace richly decorated in the Arab style representedthe Middle Ages. surrounded by the display but excluded from it by the status of visitor.This sumptuousdisplay spoke to the mind as to the eyes. The representation of reality was always an exhibit set up for an observer in its midst: an observing gaze surrounded by and yet excluded from the exhibition's careful order. The separation is suggested in a description of the Egyptian exhibit at the Paris Exhibition of 1867: A museum inside a pharaonictemple representedAntiquity. filigree andcloth of silk and gold invite us to touch with our fingers a strangecivilization. 242. As we have seen. There was something paradoxical about this distinction between the simulated and the real. between the visitor and the exhibit. Even though the paint was made dirty and the donkeys were brought from Cairo. and about the certainty that depends on it. Thus two parallel pairs of distinctions were maintained. a caravanseraiof merchants and performersportrayedin real life the customs of today. L'Egypte. 1869). solid object "not differing from reality in any way. as the observing mind is set apart from what it observes. la Tunisie. It also depended on the position of the visitor-the tourist in the imitation street or the figure on the viewing platform. 20 Clovis Lamarre and Charles Fliniaux. 21 Edmond About. which seemed to materialize around him as a single. to the observing eye. it remained a mere representation. it expressed a political idea. yet. 47-48. the picture of some further reality. le Maroc et l'exposition de 1878 (Paris: Ch.21 The remarkable realism of such displays made a strange civilization into an object the visitor could almost touch. Potteryfrom Assiut and Aswan. al-Istitla'at. . Lefellah: souvenirs d'Egvpte (Paris: Hachette. as the mind (in our Cartesian imagery) is said to be set apart from the material world it observes. we made way before the Bedouin of the Libyandesert on their beautiful white dromedaries. All the races subject to the Vice-Roy were personified by individuals selected with care. the more the gaze was set apart from it. however realistic.poisons and medicinalplantstransport directlyto us the tropics. Delagrave. the model. Weapons from the Sudan. The images were mounted and illuminated in such a way that the observer felt himself standing at the center of the city itself.

should be read as a short additionalcomment on that sentence. in the sense that what commercialism offers is always the real thing. forming "a was city. AutobiographicalWritings(New York: Harcourt. indeed a world in miniature. as Derridasays. the bazaar stalls and the dancing girls was no different from the commercialismof the world outside. the real world beyond the gates turned out to be rather like an extension of the exhibition." Positions [Chicago:Universityof Chicago Press. but thatone paid for them." Reflections: Essays. as the IllustratedGuide to Paris could claim. with the global transformation the textile industry.'23 The commercial transformation of in turn. 104. This extended exhibition continuedto presentitself as a series of mere representations. and that the Egyptianpastries on sale were said to taste like the real thing.the Egyptians. there was much about the "real world" outside (in the streets of Paris and beyond) that resembledthe world exhibition. back at the Egyptian bazaar. that the donkeys were from Cairo. with high perimeter walls and monumentalgates. 22 Jacques Derrida.a labyrinththat. and the world itself began. gave way to the largerapparatus shoppingarcadesand department stores. each. as we say. individuallyowned shops. than as a kind of labyrinth. 23 Walter Benjamin. 5). and other Essays on Husserl's Theoryof Signs (Evanston: NorthwesternUniversity Press.22 But perhapsthe sequenceof exhibitionswas becoming at once so accurateand so extensive. therefore. Jovanovich. "Paris. This was the real thing. perhaps. that no one ever realized that the real world they promisedwas not there-except. As a result.At connected. the exhibitionscame to resemblethe commercialmachineryof the rest of the city.I will begin again inside the world exhibition. Part of the shock of the Egyptians came fromjust how real the streetclaimed to be: not simply thatthe paint was made dirty. The boundariesof the exhibition were clearly marked. as small. 14647. includes in itself its own exits. . with real money. This essay. 1978). representinga reality beyond. Despite the determined efforts to isolate the exhibition as of merely the perfect representation a reality outside. Capital of the Nineteenth Century. 1981]. in turn. This machinery. whose agriculturewas now being organized to supply the Europeantextile industrywith raw cotton.Speech and Phenomena. but. We should think of it. THE LABYRINTH WITHOUT EXITS To explore this labyrintha little further. The commercialismof the donkey rides. Aphorisms. as Middle Easternvisitors had continually discovered. Derridaonce remarkedthat all of his subsequentwritings "are only a commentaryon the sentence abouta labyrinth"("Implications: Interviewwith Henri Ronse. the other end from the departmentstore.224 TIMOTHY MITCHELL it was not always easy in Paris to tell where the exhibition ended. just as there was more about the exhibition that resembled the world outside.Brace. 1973). was rapidlychanging in places like London and Paris. too. this transformationextended to include such events as the colonizationof Egypt.of course. often based on of local crafts.less as an exhibition.

They walk from one corridorto the next. ously creating the effect of an "external reality' as itself a mechanism of power. in the most remarkable order.each leading into another. . they find long corridors. The critique of commodity fetishism uncovers the means of engineeringthe real as a mechanism of misrepresentation." with their merchandise "arrangedin perfect order. the two Egyptianswanderaccidentallyinto the vast. it tells the story of two Egyptians who travel to Franceand Englandin the company of an English Orientalist. The approachingpeople are merely their own reflections. The department stores were described as "large and well organized. they pass groups of people at work. indistinguishable from that of the exhibition.the machineryof commerce was becoming a furthermeans of engineeringthe real.Insidethe building. "The people were busy setting out merchandise. a critique leaves representation itself unquestioned.but each one ends only in a mirror. "The merchandiseis all arrangedbehind sheets of clear glass. with people approaching fromthe otherside. Its dazzling appearance draws thousands of onlookers. in terms of which we can experience what is called alienation. set in rows on shelves with everything visitors would remark symmetricaland precisely positioned.As they make their way throughthe corridorsof the building. am I making the argumentof alienation. setting up the formeras mere onlookers and endowing the goods with the distancethat is the source.. commercial worlds-in-miniature. gaslit premisesof a wholesale supplier. They turn down one passage." Non-European especially on the panes of glass. On their first day in Paris. inside the stores and along the gaslit arcades. Just as exhibitions had become more commercialized. one might say..sortingit and putting 24 Mubarak."24 The glass panels inserted themselves between the visitors and the goods on display. therefore. 268.it createsan effect called the real world. as at the exhibition.THE WORLD AS EXHIBITION 225 The Egyptian accounts of Europe contain several descriptions of these where the real world. The exhibition does not alienateus from the real world. of was something createdby the representation its commodities. I do not make the argumentof commodity fetishism. In revealing power to work throughmisrepresentation. Nor. Mashahid Uruba wa-Amirka.and opposes to it a representationof the way things such intrinsicallyare. Appearingin 1882. In drawingthis parallelbetween the exhibitionand the world of commerce. . Alam al-din. and then another. Something of the experience of the strangely alienatingworld of modem commerce and consumersis indicatedin the first fictional accountof Europe to be published in Arabic. 818. but it turns out to be a mirrorcovering the entire width and height of the wall. of their objectness. they see what looks like an exit. Turninga corer. Ilyas. and after a while begin to searchfor the way out.It continues to accept the distinction between a realm of representations the externalreality which and such representations ratherthan examining the novelty of continupromise.

it seems the world of representation being admiredfor its is dazzling order.on his very first day in a Europeancity. the two Egyptians realize they have lost their way completely and begin going from room to room looking for an exit. 817. Anyonewhowalked imagesappeared theglassmirrors. To draw out the colonial natureof these methods of order and truth. endless thoroughfare." a of There werea lotof peoplein there." Third. it has a remarkableclaim to certainty or truth: the apparent certaintywith which everythingseems orderedand organized. as I have previously 25 Mubarak. I have examined in detail." Eventually they are rescuedby the managerof the store. II. for anotherexample see Mubarak.Alam al-din. yet the suspicion remainsthat all this reality is only an effect. standing quite still. there is a paradoxicalnatureto this decidedness:its certaintyexists as the seemingly determinedcorrespondencebetween mere representations and the real world. how the . he had entereda cafe. the disconcerting experience with the mirrors undermines the order. An earlierEgyptianwriterrecalled a similar system of representational with mirrors." we are told. celebration a of the orderedworld of objects and the disciplineof the Europeangaze. like the world outside the exhibition. in the case of Egypt.27The Orient.26 mirrors.or stoodup seemedto be multiplied. 26 Tahtawi. 55-6. They stared at the two of them in silence as they passed. Thusthecafe lookedlike an open in. who proceedsto explain to them how it is organized. remainsinevitablya labyrinthwithout exits.there is what mightbe called its "colonial nature":the age of the exhibitionwas necessarilythe colonial age. pp. turs out to consist only of furtherrepresentationsof this "reality. satdown. pointing out that in the objects being sorted and packed. "But no one interferedwith them. despite reality. 27 See Mitchell. the produce of every country in the world is represented. 829-30. At the same time.I am now going to move on to the Middle East. since what was to be made available on exhibit was reality-the world itself. yet everythingthe exhibition promises. First.226 TIMOTHY MITCHELL it into boxes and cases. what seems its political decidedness. not leaving their places or interruptingtheir work. Perhapsthe world-as-exhibition ratherthan an interiordistinguishedfrom-and defined by-its exterior. There are three featuresof this world that I have outlined in the preceding pages. calculatedand rendered unambiguous-ultimately. understood it was all due to the peculiar In such stories. Arrivingat experience Marseilles.I realizedit was enclosedonly whenI saw severalimagesof myself in the and that effectof the glass." After wanderingsilently for some time throughthe building. "or came up to them to ask if they were lost.andwhenever group themcameintoviewtheir in whichwereon everyside. which he mistook at first for some sort of "vast. al-A'mal al-kamila. the age of world economy and global power in which we live.Alam al-din. Colonising Egypt. Second. street.25 On the one handthis story evokes a festival of representation.

was the great "external reality" of modern Europe-the most common object of its exhibitions. 1983). it is such a bewildering chaos of colours . (London: Michael Haag. Francis Steegmuller. The eyes were reducedto organsof touch: "each detail reaches out to grip you. was offering excursions to visit not exhibits of the East. new forms of communication. something that forms a structureor system. by considering what happenedto the individualnineteenth-centuryEuropeanwho traveled to the Middle East. when the reality was a place whose life was not lived. and the more you concentrateon it the less you grasp the whole. trans." Withouta separationof the self from a picture. who had launchedthe moderntouristindustryby organizingexcursion trainswith the MidlandRailway Companyto visit the CrystalPalace (the first of the great world exhibitions) in 1851. the transformation writing." The experience of the world as a pictureset up before a subjectis linked to the unusualconceptionof the world as an enframed totality. "What can I say aboutit all? Whatcan I write you? As yet I am scarcely over the initial bedazzlement . Then graduallyall this becomes harmoniousand the pieces fall into place of themselves. Flaubert in Egypt: A Sensibility on Tour. But the first days. it pinches you.and so on-all rested upon the techniquesof orderand truth that I am calling the world-as-exhibition. the reorderingof agricultural of production. moreover. The world arrangesitself into a picture and achieves a visual order. Subsequently. 79. unusualcolors.THE WORLD AS EXHIBITION 227 suggested." wrote GustaveFlaubert. . ." Flaubert'sexperience suggests a paradoxicalanswer to my question conmodem means of colonizing a country-new military methods. 28 Gustave Flaubert. or at least not yet. "in accordance with the laws of perspective. in otherwords. and unfamiliarsounds and smells. What could he write about the place? That it is a chaos of color and detail. The disorientingexperienceof a Cairostreet. By the 1860s. Thomas Cook. with its arguments in unknown languages. it becomes impossible to grasp "the whole. ."28 Flaubert experienced Cairo as a visual turmoil. each detail reaches out to grip you. . coming to terms with this disorientationand recovering one's selfpossession is expressedagain in pictorialterms. which refuses to compose itself as a picture. the rebuildingof cities. but the "East itself. in accordancewith the laws of perspective. by God." If Europe was the world-asexhibition.in a letterfrom Cairo in January1850. as if the world were an exhibition? THE EAST ITSELF "So here we are in Egypt. . This meant there was no distancebetween oneself and the view. systems of organized schooling. strangers who brush past in strange clothes. the great signified. is expressed as an absence of pictorialorder. what happened to Europeanswho went abroad-to visit places whose images invariablythey had already seen in pictures and exhibitions? How did they experience the so-called real world depicted in these images.My purpose here is to look more closely at what it means for the world to be an exhibition.

33 29 Mubarak. An Arabic-EnglishLexicon. since they took reality itself to be a picture?The real is that which is graspedin terms of a distinctionbetween a picture and what it represents. quite literally. "Kinglake." an Egyptianwrote. xvii. 33 Stanley Lane-Poole. M. 23. whose innovativeAccount of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians. 1908). "you see thousandsof Europeans travelingall over the world. the OrientalistStanley Poole. 31 Eliot Warburton. so that the pencil might almost restore it without a fault after the lapse of years. Although they thoughtof themselves as moving from the picturesor exhibits to the real thing. "Every year that passes.Flaubert in Egypt. "the most perfect picture of a people's life that has ever been written. 5th ed. "Memoir.228 TIMOTHY MITCHELL cering what happenedto Europeanswho "left" the exhibition. (Oxford:Oxford University Press. 8 vols."31 Flaubertwas preceded in Egypt by EdwardLane. and always scrupulously exact. 1908). .author of The Crescent and the Cross: or Romance and Realities of Eastern Travel (1845). they went on trying-like Flaubert-to grasp the real thing as a picture. 1835. rapid. Dent."32 "Very few men. reprint. writerswho traveledto the MiddleEast in the middle and Among European latterpartof the nineteenthcentury. . reprint. An Accountof the Mannersand Customsof the ModernEgyptians(London: Charles Knight. 1985). "thanks to the aid of this modem traveling companion. vii. efficient. almost mechanicalkind of certainty."30 The chemically-etchedcorrespondencebetween photographicimage and reality would provide a new. V. (London: Williams & Norgate. . 30 Flaubert. the OrientalistStanley Lane-Poole: a havepossessed equaldegreethe powerof minutely in describing sceneor a monument. s. thinkable. The objects stand before you as you read. and everythingthey come acrossthey make a picture of. in the words of his nephew. for which many of them actually it did.the writer wanted to reproducea pictureof things "exactly as they are. Like the photographer.v." 32 EdwardLane. by the plainsimpledescription.Alam al-din. 1863-1893. was a productof the same search for a pictorialcertaintyof representation. reprint: M. Dent. 308.London:J. pp. cited in The OxfordCompanion to English Literature." it was remarkedat the Institutde France. How could they do otherwise." of "the East itself in its vital actual reality. the results were expected to be "quite special in character." added his great nephew. or Traces of Travel Brought J. "29 When Flauberttraveledin Egypt on a photographicmission with Maxime du Camp. It was as though to make sense of it meant to stand back and either make a drawing or take a photographof it. .so nothing else would have been. 1980). one very frequentlyfinds the experience of its strangenessexpressed in terms of the problemof forming a picture. Beirut: Librairedu Liban. and this not by the use of but imaginative language. Homefrom the East (London. xii. 1844." in Edward Lane. published in 1835. The book's "singularpower of descriptionand minuteaccuracy"made it. describing Alexander Kinglake's E6then.

1978). 26. outside of which there was a large hill with a tower and military telegraph machine on top. in other words. This elevated position commanded "a most magnificentview of the city and suburbsand the citadel. 35 Cited Ahmed. where two more Bedouin would carry the Europeanon their shouldersto all four comers. "only for taking a peep at the town from a thing they call a 34 Leila Ahmed."35 These spots were difficult to find in a world where. . to see the view. The Genesis of British Egyptology. with the camera lucida. from which to sneak a panoptic gaze over a Muslim town. by having one such characterspend a day climbing the pyramidsat Giza. This requiredwhat was now called a "point of view": a position set apartand outside. to observe the view. he published the part dealing with contemporary Egypt. While in Cairo. The minaretpresenteditself similarlyto even the most respectableEuropeanas a viewing tower. Besides the military observationtower used by Lane. . 1971). 65." Lane wrote. Lane: A Study of His Life and Work (London: Longman. At the end of the century. Wortham."'complainedJeremyBenthamon his visit to the Middle East. in order to obtain the necessary viewpoint. and thus to constituteit as somethingpicturelike-as an object on exhibit. Edward Lane. "The mobbingI got at Shoomlo. was to create a distance between oneself and the world. He had plannedto publish the drawingshe made and the accompanyingdescriptionsin an eight-volumework entitled "An Exhaustive Descriptionof Egypt. be obtained. "Soon after my arrivalI made a very elaboratedrawingof the scene. Subsequently. From no other spot can so good a view of the metropolis . 1549-1906 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.but as a professionalartistand engraver. Edward W. Teams of Bedouin were organizedto heave and push the writeror touristguidebook in hand-to the top. such "objectivity" was not yet build in. but to set up the East as a picture. unlike the West.He called the camera had first traveled to Egypt in 1825 with a new apparatus lucida. The Great Pyramid at Giza had now become a viewing platform.34 or The problemfor the photographer writervisiting the MiddleEast was not to make an accuratepictureof the East. visitors to the Middle East would appropriate whateverbuildings and monumentswere available. an Egyptiannovel satirizedthe westernizingpretensions among members of the Egyptian upper middle class. The problem. ." but had been unableto find a publisherwhose printing techniques could reproducethe minute and mechanical accuracy of the illustrations.THE WORLD AS EXHIBITION 229 Lane did not begin as a writer. only One can copy or represent only what appears already to exist representationally-as a picture. rewritten as the famous ethnographic description of the modem Egyptians. EdwardLane lived near one of the city's gates. John D. a drawing device with a prism that projectedan exact image of the object on to paper.

writer or indeed colonial power. the seeing eye that made representation possible. 405-17. together with a blue or green veil and "coloured-glassspectacles with gauze sides. 160-61.38 The ability to see withoutbeing seen confirmedone's separationfrom the world. (Edinburgh: 37 Cf."36 Benthamcan remindus of one more similaritybetween writerand camera. 38 Murray's Handbookfor Travellers in Lower and Upper Egypt (London: John Murray. in its attemptto be detached and objective.one could see and yet not be seen. become invisible. Isa ibn Hisham. dressed (according to the advice in Murray's Handbook for Travellers in Lower and Upper Egypt. with a turban of white muslin wound around it" or alternativelya pith helmet. . Voyageurset ecrivainsfrancais en Egypte. 1977).230 TIMOTHY MITCHELL minaret . 1888). 2. 11 vols. and constituted. ideally. The photographer. outside the world or above it. The writeralso wished to see withoutbeing seen. 168. one sought to excise totally the Europeanpresence. "Many thanks for the local details you sent de me. already in its seventh edition by 1888) in either "a common felt helmet or wide-awake. To establish the objectness of the Orient. 195-238. in this respect typified the kind of presencedesired by the Europeanin the Middle East. ed. 39 J. The Colonial Harem (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. .. had it been betterthan it was. Malek Alloula. and of what it meant. The representation the of Orient. ing "But how the devil was I to have includedamong the walk-ons of the Op6ra these Englishmendressed in raincoats. has canceled any claims they might have had upon me for the dinner they gave me at the divan. 2nd ed. like the authoritiesin Bentham's panopticon. (Cairo: InstitutFrancais d'Arch6ologie Orientale. IV. 12. and Michel Foucault. A "wide-awake" is a low-crowned felt hat.to graspthe world as though it were a picture or exhibition. Jeremy Bentham.Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (New York: Pantheon. The point of view was not just a place set apart. Orientalism. The Complete Works." possessed the same invisible gaze. as a picture-realitycontaining no sign of the increasinglypervasive Europeanpresence requiredthat the presence itself. therefore. On the panopticon. Bowring. 191. would seek to eliminate from the picture the presence of the Europeanobserver. Indeed to represent something as Oriental. 1956). M.with theirquiltedcotton hats and their was green veils to protectthemselves againstophthalmia?"39 Representation not to representthe voyeur. Carre. a position of power.at the same time. John Tait. see Bentham. invisible beneath his black cloth as he eyed the world throughhis camera's gaze. . Said. 1986). who was supplyhim with first-handmaterialfor his Orientalscenariosat the Paris Opera.IV. CompleteWorks. it was a position from where. Ideally. 36 Muwailihi. 65-66. 1838-43). as Edward Said has argued. whether as tourist.37The ordinary European tourist." wroteTh6ophileGautierto G6rard Nerval in Cairo. 239. The analysis that follows is much indebted to Said's work.

more deserted.they were unable to find any point from which to take the picture." Within the labyrinthof the city. In Lane. to adopt their language. were built to accommodateand overcome. At the same time. . Like visitors to an exhibition or scholars in Sacy's Orientalistmuseum. depends upon the structureof the exhibition. and even more so in writerslike Flaubertand Nerval. the mosques fallen in decay and here and there a buildingin collapse. travelers wanted to feel themselves "transported . Michel Jeanneret. Vol I: Voyage en Orient (1851). abandonthe painterto his or tasks.. vii. "without interpreter."the real Orient.without interpreter companion. . On his first day in Cairo.ed. In fact experience." Here at last. 2 vols.41 40 Cited Lane. twisting street after another. and the erotic. Nerval decided "to have myself taken to the most labyrinthinepoint of the city. with their profusionof exotic detail and yet their clear distinctionbetween visitor and exhibit. into the very midst" of their Oriental object-world.on the other side of the canal from the main sections of the town." EdwardLane wrote in his journal of wanting "to throw myself entirely among strangers. . was to fulfill such a double desire." In the end they found themselves outside the city. Arabic-EnglishLexicon. which had not been built to provide the experience of an exhibition. They followed one crowded. the bizarre. and their dress." Agreeing to accompany him. 41 G6rardde Nerval. he also wantedto experience it as though it were the real thing. the photographer portraythe Orientalcity. and the streets became "more silent. . amid was able to set up his device and the silence and the ruins. their customs. something other and object-like. the desire to lose and to experienceit directly-a contradiction oneself within this object-world that world exhibitions. The Europeanwished to exclude himself in order to constitute the world as something not-himself. Oeuvres. looking without success for a suitable viewpoint. Gerardde Nerval met a French "painter"equipped with a daguerreotype. more dusty. eds. 172-74. There was a contradictionbetween the need to separateoneself from the and world and to renderit up as an object of representation."40 This type of immersion made possible the profusion of ethnographicdetail in writers such as Lane. Albert B6guin and Jean Richer. .THE WORLD AS EXHIBITION 231 PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION Yet this was the point where the paradox began. . until eventually the profusion of noises and people subsided. in this sense. 5. the desire for this immediacy of the real became a desire for direct and physical contact with the exotic. and producedin their work the effect of a direct and immediateexperienceof the Orient. and to "touch with their fingers a strangecivilization. The problem in a place like Cairo. "somewhere in the suburbs.who "suggested thatI come with him to choose a point of view. where Nerval hoped to immerse himself in the exotic and finally experience. (Paris:Gallimard 1952). and then wander off haphazardly.

"conceives of it as a totality intendedfor cognition alone. and James Clifford. They came from a place. In termsof this distinctionthe scholarcan grasp the world as an exhibition. .232 TIMOTHY MITCHELL Said remindsus that EdwardLane claimed to have found the ideal device for meeting this double demand:to immerseoneself and yet stand apart. 96. The distanceassuredby the deceptionis what gives his experience its "objectivity. 1977).. 160-64. 1983). thus assuring the readerof his absolute distance from the Egyptians. came to the Middle East from Europe.. with no sense of the historical peculiarity of this effect we call the thing itself. or the implementing of plans."43 I would add to what Bourdieusays that the anthropologist." The world is grasped. inevitably. one transfersinto the object the principlesof one's relationto it and. separatinghimself from an object-worldand observingit from a positionthatis invisible and set apart.makingit possible to observe them in their own presence without himself being observed. . Timeand the Other:How AnthropologyMakes its Object (New York: Columbia University Press. Unawarethat the Orienthas not been arrangedas an exhibition. as Said points out in a preface to the ethnographyLane carefully explained his deception to the Europeanreader. this directexperienceof the real. and experienc42 Said. At the same time. as participant-observer.see JohannesFabian. 2.Outlineof a Theoryof Practice (Cambridge: CambridgeUniversityPress. he adoptedthe dress and feigned of the religious belief of the local Muslim inhabitants Cairo. The dissimulation allowed him to gain the confidenceof his Egyptianinformants.addressingan object-worldas of the endless representation some furthermeaningor reality.Fromthere." and people's lives appear as no more than "stage parts . but also as used in painting or the theatre. a world as we have seen that was being set up to demandthis kind of cognitive maneuver. . the visitor neverthelessattemptsto carryout the characteristic cognitive maneuver of the modem subject. 1986). "42 The curious double position of the European. In order "to escape in strangers.any suspicionof . eds. (Berkeley: University of CaliforniaPress. ratherlike the tourist in colored spectacles or the photographer beneathhis cloth."in the sense of idealist philosophy. being a person who had no right exciting. "PartialTruths. His ethnographicwriting seems to acquirethe authorityof this presence. in other words." in WritingCulture:The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography. His device was to hide beneath a deliberate disguise. 11-12. as a representation. 105-141.. to intrudeamong them. Orientalism.like the touristand the Orientalistwriter. 43 PierreBourdieu. as PierreBourdieusays. in which ordinarypeople were beginning to live as touristsor anthropologists. On "visualism" in anthropology. James Clifford and George E. like the modem anthropologistor social scientist. in terms of a distinctionbetween the object-the thing itself as the European says-and its meaning." Lane explained. Marcus. makes it possible to experiencethe Orientas thoughone were the visitorto an exhibition.

able to stand apart as something distinct from a subject and grasped in terms of a corresponding distinction between representation reality.who lived in Paris writing his Orientalistscenariosfor the Opera-Comique championingthe cause of and Orientalistpainting. Orientalism's contradiction exemplifies the paradoxical nature of the world-as-exhibition. "Kinglake. Everythingis organizedas if this were the case. Since the Middle East had not yet been organized representationally. in an attemptto describe a typical Cairenestreetfor one of 44 Warburton. In this respect. He finally set off for Egypt in 1869 afterbeing inspiredto see the real thing by a visit to the Egyptian exhibit at the 1867 Exposition Universelle.of the Cairo they had dreamed of describing." . "Think of it no more!" wrote Nerval to Gautier. On the other hand.The exhibitionpersuadespeople thatthe world is divided into two fundamental realms-the representation the original. the text and the world. the realitythey sought there was simply that which could be pictured or accurately represented.THE WORLD AS EXHIBITION 233 of ing personhoodas the playing of a culturalstage partor the implementation a plan. In the end. the exhibit and and the externalreality. The first might be called Orientalistdismay. was the contradictionof Orientalism. they came to experience a "reality" that invariablythey had alreadyseen in an exhibition. THE ORIENT THAT ESCAPES This. They thought of themselves as actually moving from the exhibit or picture to the real thing.v. Visitorsto the Orient conceived of themselves as traveling to "the East itself in its vital actual reality.Europeans. ." Nerval explained. museums. exhibitions. . This was literallythe case with TheophileGautier. But reality. then. that which presents itself as an exhibit before an observer. dust-laden and dumb. Europeansin general arrivedin the Orient after seeing plans and copies-in pictures."44 But as we have seen.Europeansbroughtto the Middle East the cognitive habitsof the world-as-exhibition. as we have already seen with Flaubert and Nerval. Their purpose was always explained in these terms. This paradox produced two symptomatic responses. "I really wanted to set the scene for you here.Oxford Companionto English Literature. s. Gautierwas no exception.and triedto grasp the Orient as a picture. Not even the cafes looked genuine. found the task of representingit almost impossible and the results disappointing. The socalled real world outside is something experienced and grasped only as a series of further an representations. the Europeantried and to grasp the Orient as though it were an exhibition of itself. it turns out. and books-for which they were seeking the original. "That Cairo lies beneath the ashes and dirt . extendedexhibition." Nothing encountered in those Oriental streets quite matchedup to the reality they had seen representedin Paris. means that which can be represented.

XX.How far this went was illustratedby Gautier." In the end. . As he moved on towardsthe towns of Palestine. . I had no print. arranges itself around Marilhat's Place de l'Ezbekieh. I have seen so many places collapse behind my steps. was almost impossible."48 The Orient was something one only ever rediscovered. 882. and trans. Nerval rememberedCairo as somethingno more solid or real than the faqades of an exhibition or the painted scenery of a theaterset. 1880-1903). but "to make a scholarly as well as a picturesquemise-en-scene." Oeuvres completes. "rediscovers here much more than he discovers." the Cairo that could be represented. when he was finally inspiredto leave Parisand visit Cairoto see the real thing by the 1867 45 Gerardde Nerval. what do I have left from them? An image as confused as thatof a dream:the best of what one finds there. . only the Orient one finds in Paris. it is only in Paris that one finds cafes so Oriental. as a map one already of carriedin one's head. Eothen. 878-9. (Paris:Charpentier." Gautier. for his part."45 "To create imaginaryEgyptiansas they are usually seen in the theateris not difficult. I. "but . like stage sets."wrote Flaubertin Cairo. 883. as I approached of the Nile.therewas no change:they were as I had always known them." accurately representingthe Orient. I. 882. "Familiarto me always from days of early childhoodare the forms of the Egyptianpyramids. it is alreadynothing." His own map of Cairo. Pt. Theophile Gautier. "built with the materialsof A Thousandand One Nights. Verdi'sAida: The History of an Opera in Letters and Documents (Minneapolis:University of MinnesotaPress.234 TIMOTHY MITCHELL Gautier's Parisian stage sets. 46 Hans Busch. To be grasped as representationally. . he explained." "The attentiveEuropean. the Orient that escapes me. 883. 1978).. 878-79. 280. difficult indeed to erase even when he finds himself facing the reality. Oeuvres. wrote that if the visitor to Egypt "has long inhabited in his dreams" a certain town. he will carry in his head "an imaginary map. 187. another supplierof Orientaldetail for the Paris stage." wrote the Egyptologist MariettePasha. ed." wrote them from the banks AlexanderKinglake in Eothen. . "L'Orient. . Oeuvres. no picturebefore me. the simulation of what is itself a series of representations begin to with..the championof Orientalistart. . the pictureof something. it was inevitablyto be grasped as the reoccurrenceof a picture one had seen before. "I will find at the Opera the real Cairo. 2. can offer a satisfying spectacle. I alreadyknew by heart. a remark- able and violent painting.Flaubert in Egypt. "Just as well that the six months I spent there are over. . 33-36. 81."47 The second and more politically important responsewas thatthe Orientwas a place thatone "alreadyknew by heart" on arrival. in this case the opera Aida. and yet the old shapes were there. 48 Kinglake."46 Nerval's dismay led him to despair completely of finding "real Egypt. "I did not suspect the immensity of the details . as the reiteration an earlierdescription. I am literally losing my mind. . Flaubert. "Now. 47 Gerardde Nerval..

"Moreover I have no desire to see any place until after I have adequatelyinformedmyself from the books and memoires. 862. 2. Six weeks laterhe wrote again. Europeanmind. The problem is not the logic itself. of the Egyptian exhibit at the world exhibition. 50 G6rardde Nerval. the bulk of Voyage en Orient. saw more of the library than of the rest of the country." he explained. whose first chapter. it was mostly from Lane's Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians. a congeries of characteristics. Oeuvres." was a description."5l The "East itself" is not a place. Orientalism. but by its search for the certaintyof representation-for an effect called reality. but "a set of references. or a citationfrom someone's workon the Orient. Laterwriterswould then take themselves to the libraryof the FrenchInstitut in Cairo. 867. entitled "Vue generale.THE WORLD AS EXHIBITION 235 ParisExhibition. in great detail. despite the exhibition's promise. RobertGravesremarkswryly on this effect in Goodbye to All That. like so much of the literatureof Orientalism.turnedout to be a reworkingor directrepetitionof the "information" available in libraries. saying that he was leaving the countryeven though he had not yet ventured outside Cairo and its environs.Europeanslike EdwardLane had begun the drawingup of their "exhaustive descriptionof Egypt. but a further series of representations. inevitably. Such repetition and rework- ing is what Edward Said has described as the citationarynature of Orientalism: its writings added to one another"as a restorerof old sketches might put a series of them togetherfor the cumulativepicturethey implicitly represent. this problematicand a logic determinednot by any intellectualfailure of the unrecognizedlogic. L'Orient.what is represented is not a real place. 1. . to draw from and add to this body of description.Gerardde Nerval.50 As a result. thatseems to have its origin in a quotation." determinedto correct the earlier work of the French scientific mission's Description de l'Egypte. "I still felt 49 Gautier.49 of The representation the Orient obeyed. In Nerval's case.each one reannouncing the reality of the Orient. but the failure to recognize its paradoxicalnature. collecting the materialin Egypt he later published as Voyage en Orient. he wrote to his father that he had not even visited the pyramids. After two months in Cairo. He then publishedan accountof Egypt. 176-77. Pt. more than half way throughhis stay.or some bit of previousimagining. or an amalgamof all these. 51 Said. 91-122. when he disembarksat Port Said in the 1920s to take up a job at the EgyptianUniversity and is met by an English friend. but doing no more than referring backwards and forwards to all the others.or a fragmentof a text." The Orient is put together as this "re-presentation". his life's major prose work. It is the chain of references that producesthe effect of the place.

strange way the West had come to live. 191-92. such a system of truth. 1981). it follows. and the references in n. a furtherextension of that labyrinththat we call an exhibition. moreover. andthatthereareno realities." he wrote. anotherapparent instance of some Orientalism. 52 Robert Graves. Jacques Derrida.or copies and an orderof the original. "but knew thatI was in the East becausehe began talking about Kipling.nor am I Westernrepresentations saying thatthe "real Orient"does not exist. 53 Cf. "The Double Session. into the West and its Orientalexterior. The case of Orientalismshows us.236 TIMOTHY MITCHELL seasick. What mattersabout this labyrinthis not that we never reach the real.22. 265.53Whatwe suspectedin the streetsof Paris concerning this division is confirmed by the journey to the Orient: What seems excluded from the exhibition as the real or the outside turnsout to be only that which can be represented." Dissemination(Chicago:Universityof Chi- .how this supposeddistinction between the interior representationand an external reality corresponds to division of the world. but Eitherstatementwould take for grantedthe only images and representations. never find the exit. that which occurs in exhibition-like form-in other words. nor just an aspect of colonial domination.an orderof mere models.but partof a methodof orderandtruthessential to the peculiar natureof the modernworld. I am not saying simply that createda distortedimage of the real Orient. descriptions. 1960). continues to convince us."52 In claiming that the "East itself" is not a place. is not just a nineteenth-century general historical problem of how one culture portraysanother. this way into two: a realm of mere representations exhibitions and an externalreality. cago Press. Goodbye to All That (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. but that such a notion of the real. as though the world were divided in and a realm of the real.

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