Teotonio R. de Souza, "Orientalism, Occidentosis and Other Viral Strains", in The Portuguese, Indian Ocean and European Bridgeheads, Festschrift in honour of Prof. K.S. Mathew, pp. 452-479. A portuguese version of the text is entitled Orientalismo, Ocidentose e Outras Viroses, in Cadernos de Ciência das Religiões, Nº 5, Lisboa, Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias, Abril 2001.
This essay defends multicultural diversity as heritage of mankind to be recognized alongside with the human rights. The author, a full professor at the Lusófona University in Lisbon and member of the Portuguese Academy of History, transmits a passionate defence of the cultures that the West seems to ignore and disdain in its march of globalization. Teotonio de Souza begins by pointing at the contents taught in the Portuguese universities as Contemporary Thought which begins and ends in the West, or at its best in the East of the West, whichdoes not go beyond the Mediterranean levant, representing the Greco-Roman roots of the European and anglo-american cultures. The author further points out that few in the West doubt about universal validity of their rational skills that serve them well to justify their biases, thusleaving us with the impression that the West retains the monopoly of thinking and representing the rest of the humanity. The essay analyses the Eastern thought, and presents briefly the critique of the West by K.M. Panikkar in his Asia and Western Dominance , which appeared as the first systematic criticism of the European colonial rule in Asia. It provokedknee-jerk reactions of the Western scholars who were not accustomed to listening to Asian voices. Even in Portugal, Júlio Gonçalves (of Goan descent), Secretary of the Sociedade de Geografia de Lisboa, published a review in the Bulletin of the Society, entitled Assim falou Sardar Panikkar, trying to draw a parallelism with the "madness" of Nietzsche's post-modernism! Panikkar representedvoices trained in the scientific methods of Oxford and other institutions that had been laying the rules for scientific research! The other Asian voice analysed in this essay is that of Jalal Al-i Ahamad, an Iranian anthropologist and novelist, author of Garbazadagi , or Occidentosis: A Plague from the West. He speaks of Occidentosis as of tuberculosis, or perhaps as an infestation of weewils which attack the wheat from the inside.
The bran remains intact, but it is just a shell, like a cocoon left behind on a tree. Like Panikkar he too regards the Christian missionary as vanguard of colonialism. Beside every trade mission around the world they built a church, and by every sort of chicanery they drew the indigenous people into that church. The third Asian critic of the West studied in this essay is Edward Said, better known in the West, where he lectured, for his denunciation of Orientalism, by which he seeks to to explain how Europe constructed the image of the East in order to legitimize its imperial activities and global domination. Orientalism conveyed more about the Europeans than about the East itself. It was a construction with field methods developed as colonial praxis. The essay comes to the conclusion, after analysing the thought of some of its more East-friendly thinkers, that western pluralism falls short of multiculturalism. What seems to prevail in the west is a globalizing monoculturalism.
The author chooses to conclude with a quote from Jung, who had discovered that there were other ways for the civilized human being to organize their lives without a slavish dependance upon thinking. In his essay What India can teach us? Jung wrote: We should thank God that there is still a man who has not learned to think, but has the ability to perceie the thoughts as visions or live things... the logic of India is interesting and it is fantastic, to see how pieces of western science co-exist ith what we would call suspersition. The Indians are not bothered by the contradictions that are apparently unacceptable. If they exist, it is the thinking that produces them, and a person may not be considered responsible for them. An Indian is not inerested in minute details of the universe. He is interested in understanding the totality.