Edward Said States Essay

Edward Said States Essay-11
But whereas Sartre did not hesitate to advocate political murder as both efficacious and cleansing, Said never identified with terrorism, however much he sympathized with the motives and sentiments that drove it.The weak, he wrote, should use means that render their oppressors uncomfortable–something that indiscriminate murder of civilians can never achieve.In this age of displaced persons he was not even a typical exile, since most men and women forced to leave their country in our time have a place to which they can look back (or forward): a remembered–more often misremembered–homeland that anchors the transported individual or community in time if not in space. In consequence, as Said tellingly observed just a few months before his death, “I still have not been able to understand what it means to love a country.” That, of course, is the characteristic condition of the rootless cosmopolitan.

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This was an ironic fate for a man who fitted almost none of the molds to which his admirers and enemies so confidently assigned him.

Edward Said lived all his life at a tangent to the various causes with which he was associated.

Edward Said was the idolized hero of a generation of cultural relativists in universities from Berkeley to Bombay, for whom “Orientalism” underwrote everything from career-building exercises in “postcolonial” obscurantism (“writing the other”) to denunciations of “Western Culture” in the academic curriculum. Radical anti-foundationalism, the notion that everything is just a linguistic effect, struck him as shallow and “facile”: human rights, as he observed on more than one occasion, are not “cultural or grammatical things, and when they are violated…they are as real as anything we can encounter.” As for the popular account of his thought that has Edward Said reading Western writers as mere byproducts of colonial privilege, he was quite explicit: “I do not believe that authors are mechanistically determined by ideology, class or economic history.” Indeed, when it came to the business of reading and writing, Said was an unabashedly traditional humanist, “despite the scornful dismissal of the term by sophisticated post-modern critics.” If there was anything that depressed him about younger literary scholars it was their overfamiliarity with “theory” at the expense of the art of close textual reading.

Moreover, he enjoyed intellectual disagreement, seeing the toleration of dissent and even discord within the scholarly community as the necessary condition for the latter’s survival–my own expressed doubts about the core thesis of Orientalism were no impediment to our friendship.

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ICUMSA is the only international organisation concerned solely with analytical methods for the sugar industry.For the Palestinians Edward Said was an underappreciated and frequently irritating Cassandra, berating their leaders for incompetence–and worse.To his critics Said was a lightning rod, attracting fear and vituperation.The reason for this was not that Edward Said was placid or a pacifist, much less someone lacking in strong commitments.Notwithstanding his professional success, his passion for music (he was an accomplished pianist and a close friend and sometime collaborator of Daniel Barenboim) and his gift for friendship, he was in certain ways a deeply angry man–as the essays in this book frequently suggest.Details of how the status of Methods has been established may be obtained by reading the relevant Proceedings.When Edward Said died in September 2003, after a decade-long battle against leukemia, he was probably the best-known intellectual in the world.But it is liberating: The world you look out upon may not be as reassuring as the vista enjoyed by patriots and nationalists, but you see further.As Said wrote in 1993, “I have no patience with the position that ‘we’ should only or mainly be concerned with what is ‘ours.'” This is the authentic voice of the independent critic, speaking the truth to power…and supplying a dissenting voice in conflicts with authority: As Said wrote in the Cairo newspaper Al-Ahram in May 2001, “whether Israeli intellectuals have failed or not in their mission is not for us to decide.This was a stance that many of his admirers from afar, for whom academic freedom is at best a contingent value, were at a loss to comprehend.This same deeply felt humanistic impulse put Said at odds with another occasional tic of engaged intellectuals, the enthusiastic endorsement of violence–usually at a safe distance and always at someone else’s expense.

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