Edward Said States Essay
Implausibly, this witty and cultivated man was cast as the very devil: the corporeal incarnation of every threat–real or imagined–to Israel and Jews alike.To an American Jewish community suffused with symbols of victimhood he was a provocatively articulate remembrancer of Israel’s very own victims.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.The “Professor of Terror,” as his enemies were wont to characterize Said, was in fact a consistent critic of political violence in all its forms.Unlike Jean-Paul Sartre, a comparably influential intellectual for the previous generation, Said had some firsthand experience of physical force–his university office was vandalized and sacked, and both he and his family received death threats.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.
Methods are recommended for Tentative (T) approval by ICUMSA in the first instance.Orientalism, his controversial account of the appropriation of the East in modern European thought and literature, has spawned an academic subdiscipline in its own right: A quarter of a century after its first publication, it continues to generate irritation, veneration and imitation.Even if its author had done nothing else, confining himself to teaching at Columbia University in New York–where he was employed from 1963 until his death–he would still have been one of the most influential scholars of the late twentieth century. From 1967, and with mounting urgency and passion as the years passed, Edward Said was also an eloquent, ubiquitous commentator on the crisis in the Middle East and an advocate for the cause of the Palestinians.What concerns us is the shabby state of discourse and analysis in the Arab world.” It is also the voice of the free-standing “New York intellectual,” a species now fast approaching extinction–thanks in large measure to the same Middle Eastern conflict in which so many have opted to take up sides and identify with “us” and “ours.” (To its lasting credit, Columbia University withstood considerable internal and public pressure to censure or even remove Said because of his public interventions on the Palestinians’ behalf.) Edward Said, as the reader of these essays will discover, was by no means a conventional “spokesman” for one party in that conflict.The Munich daily Süddeutsche Zeitung headed its obituary of Said Der Unbequeme–“The Uncomfortable Man.” But if anything, his lasting achievement was to make others uncomfortable.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.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.Work is carried out under various Subjects each headed by a Referee.ICUMSA is the only international organisation concerned solely with analytical methods for the sugar industry.