Cover

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Contents

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p. vii

Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Introduction

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pp. 1-12

... is an inquiry into the concept of representation in the ancient Near East. The book is concerned specifically with the Assyro-Babylonian practice of combining writing and visual representation for the production of images as a form of essential presence or for what might be described as conjuring presence in an image. An essential presence in an image means that the image takes the place of the real or ...

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1. THE AESTHETIC AND THE EPISTEMIC: RACE, CULTURE, AND ANTIQUITY

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pp. 13-49

IN 1992 W. J. T. Mitchell wrote an article titled "Postcolonial Culture, Postimperial Criticism." In this essay he points to how the traditional cultural exports of Western empires—literature, history, philosophy, and the fine arts—tended to move in one direction only, from colonizer to colonized, and how these cultural exports supported the authority of the ...

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2. THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL ORIENT: DESPOTIC TIME AND THE TIME OF THE DESPOTS

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pp. 50-72

BY 1909 the importance of the production of knowledge for the British colonial enterprise in the East is neither implicit in political rhetoric nor subtly expressed. The necessity for the development of the discipline of Oriental studies was not thought of as that of an esoteric scholarly endeavor. In Lord Curzon's words it was "an imperial obligation . . . part of ...

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3 . ETHNOGRAPHY AND MIMESIS: REPRESENTING AESTHETIC CULTURE

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pp. 73-95

... that for societies in which high art does not exist, art arises in two specific domains: the first is in the realm of rituals, especially political rituals where power is legitimized by association with supernatural forces in representations, and the second is in the area of commercial exchange, where artifacts may be technically sophisticated, but such sophistication consists of the technological transformation of ...

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4. BEING IN THE WORD: OF GRAMMATOLOGY AND MANTIC

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pp. 96-120

They were chosen because the author wants to show that writing is always ethnocentric, that it is not separable from culturally specific concepts of reason or science. Mesopotamian writing, being considered the earliest by the majority of historians of language and philologists, makes the inclusion of an Assyrian prayer an ...

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5. SALMU: REPRESENTATION IN THE REAL

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pp. 121-148

The conception of the individual person as bipartite is explained thus as part of the larger ontological binary system of Western metaphysics that distinguishes between a signifier and a stable signified: "It is not a simple analogy: writing, the letter, the sensible inscription, has always been considered by Western tradition as the body and matter ...

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6. DECOYS AND LURES: SUBSTITUTION AND THE UNCANNY DOUBLE OF THE KING

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pp. 160-184

... of colonialist novels of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, Abdul Rahman JanMohamed has shown how it is a genre that does not so much depict a world at the outer limits of civilization as codify and preserve the structures of its own mentality: "Such literature is essentially specular: instead of seeing the native—it uses him as a mirror that ...

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7. PRESENCE AND REPETITION: THE ALTAR OF TUKULTI-NINURTA

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pp. 185-201

...visual representation was considered to be part of an entire semantic constellation. Like the ideogram in the script, the visual sign had the potential of referring to a chain of referents, linked to it and to one another by a logic that may escape the contemporary viewer but that could be deciphered in antiquity through hermeneutic readings. Such readings were obviously not accessible to a ...

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8. CONCLUSION: IMAGE, TEXT, AND DIFFÉRANCE, OR FROM DIFFERENCE TO DIFFÉRANCE

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pp. 202-210

... reality and representation have been seen as two logically and ontologically disparate things. One belongs in the realm of the essential real; the other is simply an imitation or an illusion and is thus secondary to the real. The first enjoys an originary superior identity—it is a real essence—while the second depends on ...

Notes

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pp. 211-218

Bibliography

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pp. 219-236

Index

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pp. 237-240

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 241-242

I would first like to thank John Baines and Stephanie Dalley for their invitation to present these ideas in their earliest form at the Oriental Institute, Oxford University, in 1994. Many of the discussions I had with colleagues in Oxford that year became incorporated into Chapter 6 and filtered into other chapters also, so that this first opportunity to discuss ...