Last modified on 2 December 2014, at 14:19

Edward Said

Edward Wadie Said (November 1, 1935September 24, 2003) was a literary theorist, critic and Palestinian activist.

SourcedEdit

  • Ideas, cultures, and histories cannot seriously be understood or studied without their force, or more precisely their configurations of power, also being studied.
    • Orientalism (1978)
  • The Orient that appears in Orientalism, then, is a system of representations framed by a whole set of forces that brought the Orient into Western learning, Western consciousness, and later, Western empire.… The Orient is the stage on which the whole East is confined. On this stage will appear the figures whose role it is to represent the larger whole from which they emenate. The Orient then seems to be, not an unlimited extension beyond the familiar European world, but rather a closed field, a theatrical stage affixed to Europe.
    • Orientalism (1978)
  • It isn’t at all a matter of being optimistic, but rather of continuing to have faith in the ongoing and literally unending process of emancipation and enlightenment that, in my opinion, frames and gives direction to the intellectual vocation.
    • Preface to 25th anniversary edition of Orientalism (1994), p. xv
  • The prevailing situation of criticism ... This has given rise to a cult of professional expertise whose effect in general is pernicious. For the intellectual class, expertise has usually been a service rendered, and sold, to the central authority of society. This is the trahison des clercs of which Julien Benda spoke in the 1920s. Expertise in foreign affairs, for example, has usually meant the legitimization of the conduct of foreign policy and, what is more to the point, a sustained investment in revalidating the role of experts in foreign affairs. The same sort of thing is true of literary critics and professional humanists, except that their expertise is based upon noninterference in what Vico grandly calls the world of nations but which prosaically might just as well be called “the world.” We tell our students and our general constituency that we defend the classics, the virtues of a liberal education, and the precious pleasures of literature even as we also show ourselves to be silent (perhaps incompetent) about the historical and social world in which all these things take place. ...
Humanists and intellectuals accept the idea that ... cultural types are not supposed to interfere in matters for which the social system has not certified them.
  • The World, the Text, and the Critic (1983), pp. 2-3
  • The intellectual origins of literary theory in Europe were, I think it is accurate to say, insurrectionary. The traditional university, the hegemony of determinism and positivism, the reification of ideological bourgeois “humanism,” the rigid barriers between academic specialties: it was powerful responses to all these that linked together such influential progenitors of today’s literary theorist as Saussure, Lukács, Bataille, Lévi-Strauss, Freud, Nietzsche, and Marx. Theory proposed itself as a synthesis overriding the petty fiefdoms within the world of intellectual production, and it was manifestly to be hoped as a result that all the domains of human activity could be seen, and lived, as a unity. ...
Literary theory, whether of the Left or the Right, has turned its back on these things. This can be considered, I think, the triumph of the ethic of professionalism. But it is no accident that the emergence of so narrowly defined a philosophy of pure textuality and critical noninterference has coincided with the ascendancy of Reaganism.
  • The World, the Text, and the Critic (1983), pp. 3-4
  • Every single empire in its official discourse has said that it is not like all the others, that its circumstances are special, that it has a mission to enlighten, civilize, bring order and democracy, and that it uses force only as a last resort. And, sadder still, there always is a chorus of willing intellectuals to say calming words about benign or altruistic empires, as if one shouldn't trust the evidence of one's eyes watching the destruction and the misery and death brought by the latest mission civilizatrice.
    • Orientalism (2003), "Preface (2003)"
  • [An elaborated culture has a] density, complexity, and historical-semantic value that is so strong as to make politics possible... Gramsci's insight is to have recognised that subordination, fracturing, diffusion, reproducing, as much as producing, creating, forcing, guiding, are necessary aspects of elaboration.
    • Quoted in Richard Middleton, Studying Popular Music (Philadelphia: Open University Press, 1990, ISBN 0-335-15275-9), p. 248
  • Theory is taught so as to make the student believe that he or she can become a Marxist, a feminist, an Afrocentrist, or a deconstructionist with about the same effort and commitment required in choosing items from a menu.
    • Culture and Imperialism (1993), Chap 4, Sect 2
  • The history of other cultures is non-existent until it erupts in confrontation with the United States.
    • Culture and Imperialism (1993), Chap 4, Sect 2
  • The central fact for me is, I think, that the [role of the] intellectual... cannot be played without a sense of being someone whose place it is publicly to raise embarrassing questions, to confront orthodoxy and dogma (rather than to produce them), to be someone who cannot easily be co-opted by governments or corporations, and whose raison d'etre is to represent all those people and issues that are routinely forgotten or swept under the rug.
    • Representations of the Intellectual (1994)

External linksEdit

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about: