have reluctantly come to believe thatnthis tendency has grown to a veritablen(albeit still partially underground)nflood-tide in our time. Underlying it isna deep-rooted belief on the part ofnmany Western intellectuals that theirnown traditions are spiritually bankrupt,nand that one must look elsewhere forninspiration — China, Japan, India,netc. A strong current in this type ofnthinking is a belief that Chinesenthought, for example, is actually morenadvanced than the Jewish and Christiannreligious traditions because it isnbased on striving for harmony, whereasnJewish and Christian creeds arentension-ridden. Buddha’s tranquilnsmile is preferred to the rabbi’s sternnvisage, or to Christ’s agonized expressionnas He hangs upon the cross.nOne might, of course, trace thisnmentality back to the philosophes ofnthe Englightenment, whose visionnof a harmonious, humanistic nearparadisenin distant China was the intellectualnequivalent of the chinoiserienthat was so modish in the 18th-centuryndecorative arts. There is no mistakingnthe bitter hatred in those men for whatnVoltaire called I’infame (existing socialnconditions? the Church?), which lednin turn to a yearning for a better worldnsomewhere else. As it was no longernpossible, apparently, for serious thinkersnto imagine such a world in Heaven,nit had perforce to be located somewherenon earth. Reports of China andnearly translations from the Confuciannclassics seemed to indicate that Chinanmight be that golden land. The psychologicalnprocess involved foreshad-nFor Immediate ServicenChroniclesnNEW SUBSCRIBERSnTOLL FREE NUMBERn1-800-435-0715n28 / CHRONICLESnILLINOIS RESIDENTSn1-800-892-0753nows that of the “political pilgrims” of anlater century so brilliantly analyzed bynPaul Hollander. (Unlike some Russophilesnin the 1920’s and 30’s, modernnsinologists do not have the excuse ofninadequate or distorted knowledge; onnthe contrary, their knowledge of Chinanis accurate and highly detailed, whichnunderscores the degree to which thenidealization of other cultures is thenresult not of misinformation but rathernof willfullness.)nIt would, I think, be a mistake tontrace this complex of ideas still furthernback to the great medieval travelersnlike Marco Polo. Marco Polo et al.nwere indeed fascinated by China—butnthey never questioned an axiomaticnfaith in the primacy of Western civilizationnfor them. What is new in thenphilosophes is the use of China as a foilnagainst which to criticize Western civilization,nnot merely in superficial detailsnbut in quite fundamental ways.nThey can, therefore, be seen as layingnthe foundation for a later “Orientalism”ndiametrically opposed to that describednby Edward W. Said in hisnprovocative and controversial book Orientalismn(1978). Said identifies whatnhe considers to be the hidden agendanof much Western scholarship on thenEast (his primary concern is with thenIslamic Orient, although his book hasnstimulated highly emotional debatenand even invective among sinologistsnand japanologists)—namely, a desirento facilitate or justify political dominationnof the Orient by Western imperialism.nLittle does Said seem to realizen(or perhaps he does but is simply notninterested) the seductive power of thenopposite phemomenon: Orientalists sonfar from desiring to dominate the Orientnthat they are in fact ready tonsurrender to it—spiritually.nNowhere in Leys’s book does henopenly advocate such a position. Butnin his otherwise excellent discussionsnof Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) and PerenHue, there is an unmistakable implicationnthat the Western missionarynenterprise was ultimately “absurd”n(Leys’s own word) because it was facento face with a culture at least the equalnof its own, and perhaps even superior.nOne senses Leys’s delight in contemplatingnthis very absurdity and hisnfurther personal belief that modernnWestern man would be well-advised tonlearn from the traditional Chinese.nnnWhat we are to learn from them isnapparently the “religion” of “harmony,”nbest embodied for Leys in thenmagnificent tradition of Chinese landscapenpainting.nIn taking such a position. Leys atnonce ignores certain quite unharmoniousnaspects of Chinese religious practicen(e.g., the ecstatic and devotionalntendencies in Pure Land Buddhismnwith its startling visions of heaven andnhell, to say nothing of Chinese folknreligion, in which the literati werenoften participants) and aligns himselfnwith the Aestheticism whose role inn20th-century Western intellectual lifenwould be hard to overestimate. Ultimatelynan outgrowth of Romanticismn(itself linked in various ways with thenEnlightenment), Aestheticism substitutesnart for religion and hence thenartist for Cod. A 1983 article in Apollonby David Park Curry clearly documentsnthe close relationship betweennthe Orientalist enthusiasm of collectorsnlike Charles Freer and artists likenWhistler and Aestheticism in fin densiecle America and Europe. The connectionncontinues in Leys.nBut to the extent that Leys leans innthis direction, is he not actually part ofnthe real problem (like the China Experts)nrather than the solution?nWhether Westerners idealize thenworld “over there” politically (as thenExperts have done, following in thenfootsteps of the philosophes) or aestheticallyn(as Leys seems to be doing), theynare still participating in the willfulnrejection of our society, a rejection outnof which such ideologies as Marxismngrew in the first place! The modernnintellectual likes to believe that hisnalienation is a natural outgrowth of thenmoral hollowness of his own society.nIronically, the quintessential modernnChinese intellectual, Lu Hsiin (LunXun, 188I-I936), about whom Leysnhas some intelligent things to say,nrejected traditional Chinese culture fornmany of the same reasons that Westernnintellectuals have rejected Western traditions.nLike them, he looked elsewherenfor the answer. So as Westernnintellectuals have looked East, LunHsiin looked WestlnIs it not possible that intellectualsnactually carry the responsibility for ournown alienation? Have we not chosen it,nby repudiating the age-old foundationsnof Western civilization? Is not Leys’sn