Virtual Orientalism/Imagined Dualism (VO/ID) Expansion: Examining the Mechanisms Behind the Objectification of Zen as an Aesthetic Style

Virtual Orientalism/Imagined Dualism (VO/ID) Expansion: Examining the Mechanisms Behind the Objectification of Zen as an Aesthetic Style

Aya Kamperis (Independent Researcher, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7180-4.ch004
OnDemand PDF Download:
No Current Special Offers


In Virtual Orientalism, Jane Naomi Iwamura extends Edward Said's theory through an analysis of the US post-war visual culture to trace the genealogy of the icon of the East she calls the ‘Oriental Monk'. The aim of the chapter is to explore the appropriation of the notion of Zen, particularly its application and exploitation as an aesthetic ‘style', and the mechanisms behind such phenomena. The chapter extends Iwamura's thesis to elaborate on the function of the Virtual Monk to question the development of its ontology in the contemporary world of neoliberalism and social media to introduce the concept of VO/ID, which has been deployed by capitalist corporations to market Zen as a lifestyle product/service. It offers an insight into the process of identification within the framework of orientalism, that is, the way in which the Self and the Other come into being, and offer Gen as a possible solution to the VO/ID expansion.
Chapter Preview


Do you know that even when you look at a tree and say, `That is an oak tree', or `that is a banyan tree', the naming of the tree, which is botanical knowledge, has so conditioned your mind that the word comes between you and actually seeing the tree? (Krishnamurti, 1969, p. 25)

Edward Said’s concept of Orientalism is defined as the system of thinking employed by the West to continue colonial domination over the East. The foundation of Said’s seminal book, Orientalism, was that the West has historically held the power of representation over the East, arguing that the Western academic and state discourse produces the homogenous and exoticised Oriental Other in order to identify itself in opposition as superior, civilised and modern. Central to Said’s argument is that such rigid fixing of identity is detrimental, or ‘insidious’ as described by Iwamura, to the Orient, claiming that it prevents integration or equality.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Oriental Monk: A personified representation of the Orient.

Orientalism: The projected image of the Orient.

Gen (?): The experience of an intersubjective Ma and the dynamic response to the Ma.

Ma (?): The presence of a meaningful space/time interlude.

Occidentalism: The projected image of the Occident.

Virtual Orientalism: The manifestation of Orientalism in the visual media.

VO/ID: The paired concept of Virtual Orientalism and Imagined Dualism.

Imagined Dualism: The belief in the essentialist dichotomy of the Self/Other, East/West and/or Male/Female.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: