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Spies in ArabiaThe Great War and the Cultural Foundations of Britain's Covert Empire in the Middle East$
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Priya Satia

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195331417

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331417.001.0001

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The Failure of Empiricism and The Failure of Empiricism and How the Agents Addressed It

The Failure of Empiricism and The Failure of Empiricism and How the Agents Addressed It

(p.99) 3 The Failure of Empiricism and How the Agents Addressed It
Spies in Arabia

Priya Satia (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes how agents' experiences on the ground in the Middle East strengthened their antiempirical disposition. In particular, their orientalist vision cast the region as a land of lying natives and ineffable and unmappable topography. Their invention of an intuitive intelligence epistemology, supported by an impressionistic reporting style, at once solved their practical difficulties and fulfilled their spiritual longings and literary aspirations. As intuitive experts, key intelligence agents gained a reputation for genius and superheroic qualities, they took charge of affairs in the region during the war, and their intelligence style was concretized as a set of official tactics. The intuitive mode was also being espoused at home by novelists and other artists experimenting with new ways of knowing. The agents' literary output was part of this genre.

Keywords:   disguise, intuition, nomadism, mapping, orientalism, vision, desert, sublime, empiricism, immersion, Bergsonism

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