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1. Aims of the Dissertation:

In this dissertation, my main purpose is to address Edward Said s secular criticism in relation to his two works namely Orientalism (1978) and Culture and Imperialism (1993). Said conceives of his criticism as critical consciousness. It is a theoretical work that addresses itself to the real world and is antagonistic to former traditions, particularly formalists and post-structuralists.1 Art and literature within formalist and post-structuralist schools of criticism are not tainted by political and historical discourses and practices -- art as an autonomous realm. Said departs from the Kantian disinterestedness of art and proposes his secular criticism.2 Secular or worldly criticism of Said is indebted to the

notion of secular history as formed by the Italian philosopher Giambattista Vico (16881744) in The New Science (1725), a historiographic study that influenced enormously Said until his death. Said builds his criticism upon a Viconian and humanist notion that history is made and unmade by human beings: ...historical knowledge based on the human being s capacity to make knowledges, as opposed to absorbing it passively, reactively and dully (Said 2004:11). Secularism, for Said, is the founding pillar and the basis of any serious study of literary works and cultural theorizing. The real world for Said constitutes the domains of the actual human societies (Said 1983:162). Thus, Said objects to textuality as a mode of literary criticism. Textuality from a Saidian point of view is the dissociation of texts and representations from history and the worldly character of cultures. His worldly criticism rested upon a central tenet: any non-material and unworldly reading is unintelligible. Texts
1 2

Particularly Jacques Derrida and Roland Barthes. Accrding to Sledon [t]he separation of art as an autonomous practice has its roots in Romanticism, (especially Kantian) (1989:3- 4).

and representations are fundamental to the creation of history and culture. The subject matter of literary criticism is also extra-literary; it is an approach antagonistic to technical criticism and the close reading of the New Criticism disciples (I.A. Richards). Thus we are dealing with literary criticism rather than literary theory. Technical criticism is qualified by Said as functionalist and opposed to the attempt to go beyond the theory as a prevailing literary critical practice (Said 1983:2). One eminent instance of textual criticism to which Said objects is Jacques Derrida s concept of diffrance. According to Said, Derrida s mise en abime dispenses with the human agency envisioning the text as already having internal coherence; in other words, a textual fetishism -- the text imagined as working alone within itself (184). In Literature and Literalism, (Jan 1993) Said likens contemporary art criticism to dogmatism. If art and literature are not religion, then criticism is not religion either. Said argues that criticism as a sort of scientism and a rigorous technical activity is the end of criticism. Criticism as a critical consciousness copes, in the Saidian enterprise, with the theory-oriented paradigms. In fact, the secular criticism is the questioning of intellectual allegiances and the gods of theory that Said found in Formalist and Structuralist practices. Instead, Saidian criticism pays little attention to the text s internal and formal operations, and far too much to its materiality (Said 1983:148). Another influential and particularly related topic to Said s secular criticism is the secular intellectual. This is what forms my second aim in this dissertation. It is to tackle Said s secular intellectual as related to his secular criticism. The project Said advances is to humanize the critical activities by putting emphasis on the role of the critic and intellectual. The intellectual as devoted to the pursuit of academy as well as politics, social affairs, conflicts and that are naturally not discussed by traditional intellectuals. According to Said, there is a dialectical relationship between the individual and the social. Throughout his

critical corpus, Said insists on the ability of the individual to reject tradition from a critical consciousness point of view. This is a necessary exercise to roam between academic scholarships and disciplines on the hand and to resist discipleship and uncritical academic solidarity on the other. Just as the text and criticism are worldly, the intellectual operates with networks of affiliation. It is the relationship of identification through culture and society. An affiliative paradigm breaks free from the constraints of ivory-tower positions of the traditional academics and intellectuals. Bill Aschcroft notices that criticism for Said is personal, active, entwined with the world (2001:32). Theoretically, this intellectual is the exact opposite of a cleric. To add, if criticism is a humanist enterprise, then the ideal intellectual for Said ought to be a humanist. In advancing the notion of agency, Said draws from various intellectual figures and practices. Noam Chomsky is a case in point. It is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and expose lies (Chomsky: Feb1969). This role finds its echoes in almost all of Said s writings, and is manifest amply in the bulk of his political literature.3 In many instances, Said acknowledges Chomsky s productive role in his own intellectual formation. The objective, then, is to look for the most visible and important Chomskyan inspirations in Said s notion of the intellectual. To confront power is a prerequisite attitude in the Saidian formula of an engaged and committed intellectual as opposed to the treason of the clerics and the professional cast. Hence, more active roles are ascribed to the intellectual who, Said claims, has the same attributes of the author. When major debates are oriented towards the apocalyptic death of the author, (Barthes 1977) Said envisions a discussion of the author and the secular intellectual within the same framework -- that of their roles as similar. How the role and the notion of the author are to be seen and discussed as an intellectual? Said criticizes the structuralist s

Power, Politics, and Culture: Interviews with Edward W. Said, ed. Gauri Viswanathan (NewYork: Pantheon Books, 2001).

absence of the subject writing. In settling the contrast between the structuralist and Saidian conceptions of the author, I will discuss the Foucauldian author-function, for, as Said writes
during the last years of the twentieth century, the writer has taken on more and more of the intellectual s adversial attributes in such activities as speaking the truth to power, being a witness to persecution and suffering, and supplying a dissenting voice in conflicts with authority. (Said 2004:27)

To further elucidate the Saidian secular criticism I also aim to show how Said uses both conceptually and methodologically the tools of traditional humanism in order to provide alternative approaches and reading of a humanism that is self-reflexive and selfclarifying. Through his secular criticism, Said shows how politics and imperial ideologies are articulated in literary and cultural forms. Said s Orientalism (1978) is read by critics as the work that sets the tone for the colonial discourse analysis.4 Orientalism as a scholarship, Said claims, dispenses with humanism as centered on the agency of human individuality as breaking free of the constraints of the historical and social thrust and stands on fetish-like or abstract notions of collective identities and binarism: the West (ern) and Orient (al). Said uses Foucauldian discourse to show how knowledge about the Orient and Islam are accompanied by powerful historical process colonial rule.

It is in this regard that Said s criticism could amount to a materialist criticism by urging us to view the text as a dynamic field rather than a static block of words (Said 1983:157). It is a criticism that debunks the colonialist discourses inherent in Orientalism and the stereotyped, racist representations of the non-Europeans. Orientalism (as epistemological domains and as an institutional scholarship) for Said is produced and reproduced by rules (what can or cannot be said): its predominant strategy is to create

See for instance (Ahmad 1992). Productive discussions of the influence of Orientalism on the post-colonial studies in Edward Said: A Legacy of Emancipation and Representation (Iskander, Adel and Hakem Rustom eds. 2010). And particularly Hafez Ramzy s Edward Said and Contemporary Arab Culture: 170-190, and Edward Said and Anthropology by Nicholas B. Dirks from the same volume: 86-101.

subordinated subjects in its very conceptual space. In an interview, Said insists on developing a humanism that invents new modes of studying cultures and counterattacking the highly regulated discourse of Orientalism.5 In turn, the new methods are in conflict with the essentialist and uncritical systems of thought he demonstrates as determinative of Orientalism. It is for the critic to unlearn the inherent dominative mode of approaching

Orientalism (Said 2003:333). That is to say, the critic needs to be aware of the monolithic or vague entities such as the Orient and the West. From another perspective, the texture of Orientalism could be seen as a counter-history in which knowledge is far from being objective or innocent but inextricably connected with power operations. It also explores in a crucial but complex feature the relationships between Western culture in general and imperialism. This is the major influence of Said s Orientalism on colonial discourse. In Benita Parry s words, colonial discourse is to construe the colonized as a racially

degenerate population in order to justify conquest and rule (Aschcroft et al.1995:41).

2. Structure of the Dissertation:

My paper is composed of three chapters. The first chapter is entitled


and its Affiliations: Alternative Approaches. It contains four main sub-sections and will deal with Edward Said s secular criticism and humanism in relation to textual criticism or unworldly criticism (Derrida s diffrance, etc). The first is entitled text and criticism. In it I shall dwell on the arguments that Said posited so powerfully to dislodge the filiative reading of Western literature. In section two dubbed literary criticism: filiation or

affiliation, the approach is purely comparative. I have found it useful then to elucidate Said s notion of filiation by instrumentalizing a famous filiative schemata of literary

Interview with Said: Orientalism, Arab Intellectuals, Reviving Marxism and Myth in Palestinian History .

studies, namely Northrop Frye and his Anatomy of Criticism (1957). Most important then is the criticism Said advances in order to conceptualize new approaches to humanism. Section three is dedicated to the secular nature of culture Secularizing Culture. What

informed much of Said s criticism is his opposition to any sacred definition of culture. For it is to normalize submission and to obfuscate the potential of contestations and change. Culture is a discourse of power and however hegemonic it is, there is always a space to transgress, Said asserts. In the fourth section secular criticism and humanism, I shall demonstrate how Said s secular criticism is no other than a humanism, particularly in his posthumously Humanism and Democratic Criticism (2004). Said proposes an alternative academic pursuit for literary criticism, cultural theory and the humanities generally. The second chapter is entitled The Secular Critic and the Saidian Intellectual and it contains three sections. They examine three main themes: the Saidian intellectual, the influence of Chomsky and the type of the author that Said theorizes. It focuses on the Saidian model and function of the intellectual and the critic. The secular intellectual is to cope with former academic loyalties and to leave the ivory tower to engage in urgent and local political and social discourses. The secular world enables the intellectual to challenge the orthodoxy, the status quo and the dominance of the discourse around him -- what Said calls the worldliness of the intellectual. The oppositional and secular intellectual could better be seen, to my mind, when we trace back Said s own intellectual pedigree, Noam Chomsky for instance, as a seriously crucial element to the notion of the intellectual and the opposition to power and injustice. This is why the second section is entitled Edward Said, Noam Chomsky, and the role of the intellectual. Finally, what are the characteristics of the author that Said expanded in his works as an intellectual and a critic totally impatient with the structuralist and post-structuralist theorizing? How different Said s author is from that of Barthes s for example?

The third chapter is dubbed Secular criticism as cultural resistance, and it contains two sections. In the first section, I will show the extent to which Said s basic presuppositions in Orientalism might rightly be dealt with as a materialist criticism in the Foucauldian sense. One instance of such a criticism is the post-colonial. Many critics debunk these arguments as tautological in Said s case: his humanism as irreconcilable with Foucauldian discourse and Niethzschian historicizing. But my argument in Orientalism and the postcolonial is that in debates related to Orientalism and Western representations of the Other, Said, of course, draws from the humanist tools, particularly close readings of canonical texts and works, and instrumentalizes Foucauldian discourse without being contradictory to his own definition of humanism. In this context, Ahmad criticizes Said as inconsistent and reduces Orientalism to a work of amateurism. In the same vein, Orientalism as discourse is not in contradiction with the author s main objective which is to stimulate and endorse analytical thought in foregrounding new ways of reading and studying cultures: the raison d tre of the post-colonial studies. By the same token, in the second section called criticism and empire, our concern is to demonstrate from a Saidian point of view how humanism has to do with imagining alternative readings of history and fiction. It is a project, I think, enormously persuasive to the post-modern theory and particularly similar to that of Linda Hutcheon s, though Said regards the postmodern as hugely limiting to the intellectual realms of inquiry and he rejects theory as thought-stopping. Humanism, Said thinks, is the ultimate resistance

to barbarity and injustices. It is a resistant intellectual preoccupation and a peculiar cultural resistance to culture as imperialism. In discussing all the above-mentioned themes, I will adopt a Saidian perspective secular criticism. It is a Saidian reading of Said in a sense. The choice is due to the influence of such a criticism on agent individuals in thinking about literature, culture and politics as

interdependent. That is to say the critical consciousness as an indispensable condition for the critic s task. And the conceptualization of cultures as sites of resistance as against accommodation and academic theoretical surmise. Secular criticism is also skeptical about different theoretical paths like deconstructive and Marxist criticisms given their determinism and incapacity to offer a critique of modern European cultures particularly imperialism and to engage critically with humanism.

Chapter I: Worldliness and its Affiliations: Alternative Approaches

1. Text and Criticism

We can say that today s writing has freed itself from the dimension of expression, referring only to itself but without being restricted to the confined of its interiority, writing is identified with its unfolded exteriority. Michel Foucault What is an Author?

In this chapter our concern is mainly Said s worldliness as a strategy that denies the detachment of the study of text from its circumstance and reality. Worldliness is to question almost all orthodox literary traditions. Said s notion of worldliness stems from the recognition of the limitations of the theories (Said 1983:241). And far from being a fullyfledged and comprehensive tool of reading, worldliness allows the constant questioning of the functions of criticism and the roles of the critic. There is a typical attitude of Said when criticizing the functionalist discourse criticism as coming to its unfortunate limitations: the text is imagined as working alone with itself,

as containing a privileged, or if not privileged then unexamined and a priori principle of internal coherence (1983:148). Said, then, proposes a revolt against the somewhat

mystical and disinfected subject matter of literary theory (3). Literary criticism is not to be satisfied with idealizing and essentializing texts, to prevent them from being self-consuming artifacts and to preserve the special kind of cultural objects [they] really are (184). The mystification of literary texts is what Said calls the functionalist attitude. In the same vein, David Lodge qualifies the modern literary criticism as the establishment of cognitive theory of literature, that is a concept of the work of literature

as an object of public knowledge, containing within itself why it is so and not otherwise... 9

(Bergonzi 1970:372). To undo such a theory, Said insists that interpretation of text is a many-sided and unending thing that can never be settled once and for all (Said Jan1999). He, thus, gives more importance to the activities of reading and writing. Literary criticism is far from being a religion and to do justice to the activity of criticism, critics, when studying the history of criticism are to understand the history of literature critically 6. In other words, they do so without regulated sets of interpretation and production. To study literary texts critically is in reality to conceive criticism as a discipline that gives notice to its history as a discipline (Said: summer 1987). And if literary text inhabits a much contested cultural space, then its criticism could be but of political and historical nature.7 The relations between literature and history are to be considered. Texts and representations have to be seen as fundamental to the creation of history and culture (Loomba 1998:40). To study a text is to move into and out of it, challenging, then, the claim that literary criticism deals only with language in its rhetorical and poetic aspects. Said persuades us to view the text as a dynamic field, rather than a static block of word (1983:157). In The Problem of Textuality: Two Exemplary Positions, (summer 1978) Said criticizes the Derridian diffrance: that textuality is subject to certain instability is in Said s view an impasse. Textuality reduces the reference to the endless play of generated significance - La diffrance:
By textuality Derrida means largely what the structuralists mean by that term. Any thing that can be known will be articulated as a text within a system of differences that exist, in Saussure s description, without positive terms (without a centre ), textuality is subject to a certain instability. [t]extuality will always be in progress and unfinished - and undecidable. (Con Davies and Schleifer 1996: 151)

Derrida s mise en abime is an agnostic doctrine Said argues ( The Problem of Textuality ). Such a reading method negates the effectiveness and the purpose of criticism. The oft-quoted Derridian il y a pas d hors texte reduces the world, culture, history and
6 7

Ibid. Ibid.


philosophy to a mere galaxy of texts. The principle of differentiation -- in language there are only differences, -- the freeplay of the sign (Derrida 1968), operates on what Said calls quasi-theological terms.

The Derridian differences are

produced effects


without positive terms -- presence .9 That is to say, meaning as deffered endlessly. In M.H.Abrams s estimation, Derrida s meanings are reduced to a ceaseless echolia, a vertical and lateral reverberation from sign to sign of ghastly non-presences emanating from no voice, bombinating in a void (Lodge ed. 1999: 246). Then, only a systematic method can cope with this undecidability and the repetitively allusive meaning, Said writes (Said: summer 1987). Moreover, the worldly character of the text shapes its signification. The text s position in the world is the relation between textual and non-textual elements that constitute the discursivity of the text within an order of discourse. The Foucauldian discourse is a set of practices rather than structures. An order of discourse is the set of patterns in which power is exercised the relationships between the play of power and the production of knowledge

(Brooks 1997:50)10. A text is historicized by its language, and repetition as a process or a strategy that orients and constrains its interpretation. The main argument of Said is that texts do not only represent the world but actually are in the world:
[w]orldliness, circumstantiality, the text s status as event having sensuous particularity as well as historical contingency, are considered as being incorporated in the text as infrangible part of 11 its capacity for conveying and producing meaning. (Said 1983:39)

To add, as a discourse formation in Foucauldian terms, the language of a text signifies reality by giving reference to objects of this very reality -- knowing that language is not reality; words are not interchangeable with objects ( Said: Jan 1993). The

(Easthope and Mc Gown eds.1992:114).

Ibid. See (Said 2003:3- 4) for discussion of the Foucauldian discourse theory as instrumentalised by Said. 11 In Always on Top (Mar 2003), Said argues that is inconceivable how rewriting history, the task of the post-colonial writers and critics could be without a sense of revising imperialism and colonial archives as events. See also (Aschcroft 2001:22).


referentiality of language and texts as already fulfilling a function, a reference, or meaning in the world, is affirmed in Saidian tradition. Then he goes on to undermine any dissociation between the world and the text by asking how works reach out and hold on to other works, institutions, in historical moments, in society (Salusinszky 1987:136). We might arguably say that, in Saidian analysis, cultural texts and literary works are related to ownership and authority. The text s components are its language, its culture, and reading. Affiliation is to skeptically investigate and recreate the bonds between texts and the world, bonds that specialization and its institutions of literature have all but effaced (Said 1983:175). The texts negotiate the world, act upon, exclude and negate other texts. Texts are but ... system of forces institutionalised by the reining culture at some human cost to its various components (Said 1983:53). This is why Said objects to Derridian textuality which he considers as the antithesis of history, on the one hand (4). On the other, it illustrates the impossible match between the academy and the wider public. Furthermore, it estranges the public and political domains from their subject matter. In Said s formulation:
[t]extuality is considered to take place, but by the same token it does not take place anywhere or at anytime in particular. It is produced, but by no one and at no time. It can be read and interpreted, although reading and interpreting are routinely understood to occur in the form of misreading and misinterpreting.12

If reading and writing are merely technical and systematized, then, the critical enterprise is an impasse -- no beyond the method. Criticism ends when the critic justifies the famous expression: interpretation is always misinterpretation. Not only is the

function of criticism reduced to nil but also the critic s intervention and work are denied any effectiveness. M.H.Abrams puts the ambiguity more curtly: [i]f all criticism (like all history) of texts can engage only with a critic s own misconstruction, why bother to carry on the activities of interpretations and criticism? (Lodge ed. 1999: 246)




It is to cope with the indecidability of meanings or the Derridian interplay of significance ad infinitum (Derrida 1967). Saidian textuality is to envision literary texts as worldly enshrined in social and historical circumstances. And presumably, criticism is within its articulation, its struggles for definition (Said 1983:51). Beyond the lifeless reading model -- il y a pas d hors texte [no beyond the text] -- criticism, which is a cognitive activity (a form of knowledge), cannot consider its domain as solely the province of the text. In addition, considering the text as an event is a priori an affirmation of its capacity of conveying meaning. If to be inventive and creative, criticism ought to be openly contentious (Said: summer 1987). In other words, criticism is the humanizing of texts. Said s lesson is that if literary, but also cultural texts are worldly, a historic discursive practice[s] as he puts it, then, criticism is part of this discursivity (Said 1983:51). Said agrees with Foucauldian criticism: The text is a process that alludes to its historical will to be visible and has its place. What Said calls the worldliness of the text (and the critic, the subject of the next chapter) is what can be traced back to his early writing. In Joseph Conrad and the Fiction of Autobiography (1966), Said claims that in almost all of Conrad s oeuvre, the speaking subject is situated and the attempts of analysis begin to be comprehensible when taking into consideration this situatedness. The fiction of Conrad according to Said is of personal and existential qualities. That is to say, Conrad s narratives are unfinished but always on the making, cementing a link between the writer and the readers. The author is not the center of the meaning. The life of the seaman and that of the novelist are inseparable. He [Conrad] opposed analysis, authorial interpretation, because he believed that reality could be formulated only in terms of actions (Said 1966:43). This argument further justifies the impossible separation of literature, history, and in the same line, criticism. Conrad s


imaginative works on Africa were not anathema to his imperial setting and environment, Said claims. In Orientalism, Said makes this point clearer. Though literature and culture are routinely considered to be dissociated from politics and history ...[they have] regularly seemed otherwise to me, and certainly my study of Orientalism has convinced me...that society and literary culture can only be understood and studied together (Said 2003: 27).


2. Literary Criticism: Filiation or Affiliation

[W]e cannot separate literature from other kinds of social practice, of thought or of method in such a way as to make them subject to different laws. Raymond Williams

In studying modern intellectual history and Orientalism, which he regards as a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient, Said outlines two patterns of relationships between the individual mind and the world: filiation and affiliation. Filiation, Said argues, is the mere natural continuity between one generation and the next (1983:16). It presupposes a set of norms that seeks its way through perpetual justification to exist. Edward Said s analysis of Lawrence, Joyce, Pound, and T.S.Eliot illuminates the continuity of a tradition by filiation.13 Individual talents are studied and revered, for they represent the collective will. The literary works, within European thought are exclusive and their sacred quality functions as type of discourse. They are conceived as children of the same family. The filiative relationship shows the West s incapacity to envision or imagine new and plural ways of conceiving human relationships. It establishes the transhuman and the worldless. It belongs to the realm of nature and religion.
[t]he curricular structures holding European literature departments make that perfectly obvious: The great texts, as well as the great teachers and the great theories, have an authority that compels respectful attention not so much by virtue of their content but because they are either old or they have power; they have been handed on in time or seem to have no time, and they have traditionally been revered, as priests, scientists, or efficient bureaucrats have thought. (1983:23)

The natural links within the humanities are speculative and not matters of exclusion and inclusion: European and non-European. The structures of knowledges change and so does the study of literature (criticism). Instead, [n]ew cultures, new societies, and emerging visions of social, political, and aesthetic order now lay claim to the humanist s attention, with an insistence that can no longer be denied (Said 1983:21). Crossing the boundaries



between the disciplines for thought and different approaches to human experiences and cultures is what Said suggests. In turn, they will question European culture s conception of itself as one grand hotel in the words of Jim Collins, or the uncritical and constant research of centre/origin. One of the proponents of filiative reading of Western literature is Northrop Frye and his widely debated systematic theory of criticism in Anatomy of Criticism (1957). Frye s Anatomy, as indicated in the Introduction, is to be regarded as interconnected group of suggestions which, it is hoped, will be of some practical use to critics and students of literature (Frye 1957:3). From the very beginning, we notice the narrow scope of criticism as a top-down acquisition rather than a constant questioning of the activity of criticism itself, as Said argues. Criticism, according to Said, is skeptical and reflectively open to its own failing (1983:26). The elements of the filiative ethos are to decide what is and what is not the domain of criticism. Thus, the interest of criticism as a science as well as an art comes from the a priori literariness of a subject field called literature. In total opposition, Saidian criticism is to position the activity itself between culture and system: criticism as [t]he inevitable trajectory of critical consciousness [that] is to arrive at some acute sense of what political, social, and human values are entailed in the reading, production and transmission of every text.

On the other end of the spectrum, Frye conceptualizes a theory of criticism as a set of principles applicable to the whole of literature and accountable for every comprehensive type of critical procedure. Here is the shadow of T.S.Eliot s essay The Function of Criticism. The system Eliot has in mind does not recognize the peculiarity of an artist (generally a poet), unless in a tradition. Frye s function of criticism implies a view of literature as a scientific corpus, explicable from within and isolated from other disciplines,




for it contains exclusively disengaged elements. criticism runs as follow:

The argument of Frye for a scientific

It may also be a scientific element in criticism which distinguishes it from literary parasitism on the one hand, and the superimposed critical attitude on the other. The presence of science in any subject changes it character from the casual, to the causal, from the random and intuitive to the systematic, as well as safeguarding the integrity of the subject from external invasion. (1957:7)

To systematize the study of literature is to exclude non-literary elements and to explicitly indicate that literary criticism can by no means be related to a politico-religious color filter. In Theory of Literature (1956), the two authors (Ren Wellek and Austin Warren) grimly advance a thesis which says that it is impossible to unite poetics (theory of literature) with criticism (evaluation) unless in the presence of finite literary works (the great canons), schemes, criteria and categories. In turn, this union, the two authors continue, allows the emergence of some system of concepts, some points of reference and some generalizations. Frye s Anatomy is the embodiment of this project with its theory of modes, theory of symbols, theory of myths, and theory of irony. Even more, Frye

emphasizes the organic complicity already existent in humanistic scholarships. The authority of Western humanistic scholarships comes not only from the orthodox canons of literary monuments handed down through the generations but also from the way this continuity reproduces the filial continuity of the chain of biological procreation (1957:24). It is no accident that Aristotle s biological structures appeals to Frye. A criticism or an ethical criticism (Warren and Wellek 1956:246) where non-European and equally non-literary substances are deposited away from the humanistic scopes. From a Saidian point of view, to consider literary works as properly an artistic object is to dismiss what is vital and interesting. The affiliation is to make sense of literary works in their historical and contingent nature. The critic is to connect ... [the literary oeuvres] to other disciplines in order to apprehend the social, historical, and political surroundings 17

constraining [their] raison d tre (Said 1983:26). The huge disagreement between Said s criticism and Frye s, is, I think, due to the interpretation of the concept of representation. For the former, texts and cultures represent the world and the other cultures within a play of power. For the latter, consciousness. historical fictions are not constructed out of historical

Historical fictions tell us nothing about a period of history, but are

exemplary; they illustrate action, and are ideal in the sense of manifesting the universal form of human action (Frye 1957:84). It is safe to argue, then, that criticism as Said thinks is a combination of writing and reading the integrity, the complementarity and interdependence of texts, literary works and their cultural manifestations. In doing so, it is for the critic and the interpretive community to resist the tendency to work out a simple and autonomous theory of criticism. It is almost tautological to conceive a systematic criticism. By definition, criticism, for Said, is critical consciousness and doctrine is its enemy. Frye s model of criticism, in total opposition, is a handed-down critical discipline, a purification of literature and its criticism because it pays too much importance to the texts formal operations. [T]he main goal [of interpretation], Said says, is to create in your students a critical consciousness... (Salusinszky 1987:146). Being theoretically godless, Said stimulates his readers to reconsider their philosophical stances and foundations, for the world that academics are speaking of is only abstract domain or fiefdom in Said s word. Theoretical virtuosity is but a critical inertia and political quietism. It does make out of itself the world. Said himself embodies the idea of affiliating with schools of criticism, philologists and intellectuals such as Leo Spitzer, Erich Auerbach, Antonio Gramsci and Michel Foucault without being uncritical of their ideas and suppositions. The affiliation with the ideology and society enables the critic and the intellectual to pursue their oppositional stances as a constant work of the critical consciousness. Perhaps, the long lasting legacy of


Said is the technique of trouble that he calls affiliation. Said evokes the idea that says: to make criticism is to acknowledge that it must have a future. Accordingly, criticism is a changing platform of ideas and orientations which collegiality and lax filiative appropriation of systems would only inhibit its progress and sophistication. In other words, affiliation rejects the authority and the comfort of the curricular. Even though Said was affiliated with Foucauldian structuralism, he was uneasy about Foucault s amoralism and found in Chomsky s epistemological radicalism an authentic and humane intellectual position.
The history of thought, to say nothing of political movements, is extravagantly illustrative of how the dictum solidarity before criticism, means the end of criticism. I take criticism so seriously as to believe that, even in the very midst of battle in which one is unmistakably on one side against another, there should be criticism, because there must be critical consciousness if there are to be issues, problems, values, even lives to be fought for. (Said 1993:28)


3. Secularizing Culture

Saidian criticism rests on a constant questioning of the discursive formations within societies. The critic is to view culture as a hegemonic discourse, and given the secular nature of this very discourse, there are always possibilities for alternative analysis non-

coercive knowledge of cultures. Michel Barett points out in The Politics of Truth: From Marx to Foucault (1991) that culture as discourse is in fact relations of power (Brooks 1997:49-50). Culture, nevertheless, and whether it is colonialism, imperialism or Zionism, gives space to a critique that connects it to the world and to the shared, lived and intertwined histories of oppressors and oppressed. Here is what Said plainly qualifies as the eminent feature of all cultures. In U.S.: A Disputed History of Identity (Sep 2004), Said points out that
[n]o culture is understandable without some sense of this ever present source of creative provocation from the unofficial; to disregard this sense of restlessness within each culture, and to assume that there is complete homogeneity between culture and identity is to miss what is vital and fecund.

Cultural theory emerged as one of the polemical areas where different views of society, politics, race, history and other not less complex categories struggle for a definition. It all ends in setting schools of analysis and conflicting perspectives. What Thomas Bender calls the cultural turn is that every analysis becomes cultural. Said s concern is how cultures have been produced, possessed and consumed (1993:9). One could assert that he proposes a universal definition of culture. Culture, for Said, is hegemonic and dominating. Said defines it as a system of values saturating downward almost everything within its purview15. Nevertheless, his cultural analysis is totally antagonistic. In an interview, Said declares that: I find myself instinctively on the other side of power.

In fact there is much of truth in



Ibid. Joan Smith, Cultures Aren t Watertight: Interview with Edward W. Said, Guardian, 10 December 2001.


this. That is to say on the side of criticism and the dismantling of this power being constantly its victim. The oppressive criteria of culture as theorized within the Anglo-Saxon world provoked doubt in Saidian critique. The tradition, from Mathew Arnold s Culture and Anarchy to Raymond Williams s Culture and Society, as William Hart (2000) thinks, played a central role in shaping Said s cultural criticism. What Said objects to in this tradition, though he agrees with much of what Williams writes, is the quasi-religious authority of culture. Culture is religion in the sense of being conceived as a system of authority. Arnold s culture, for instance, is of repressive nature and it is longing for the incarnation within a state. Of course, culture, within this framework, is exterior to the state hence the correspondence is inevitable. The state or national culture is the collective ego of the community. Said qualifies the best that has been said and done as a moral concept. Culture for Arnold becomes a trope for atavistic religious ideas and commitments such as nationalism, Orientalism, and imperialism, according to Hart. For the former, culture is secular in being the negation of the religious; for the latter it is almost religious (Hart 2000:26-27). The notion of a secular culture is the exclusion of religious foundations of it. This is what we may call the worldly turn of culture. Secularism is an epistemological blueprint and a political vision, according to Said. Cultural criticism is the other of the religious criticism because Said and Arnold disagreement turns on the proper relationship between religion and cultural critique (19). Arnoldian culture replaces the decline of religious thought by a more scientific Christianity as Hart notices. It keeps its moralistic basis that Said criticizes in Challenging Orthodoxy and Authority (1993:303-325). What justifies my claim is that Arnold s functional culture is a diagnosis of social upheavals through what Hart calls Arnold s gospel of culture. The critique of culture, then, is an apologia critica. Like culture, criticism in the Arnoldian


sense, is the quest of perfection. [S]uch disinterestedness eschews the critique of its own procedures in favour of a pedagogic imperative of disseminating what is self-evidently the best that has been thought and said (Con Davies and Schleifer 1992:48). In total contrast, and drawing from Noam Chomsky s reconstitution of ideology, Said disagrees with the conception of culture as a pharmakon (cure and ill), because it rests on hierarchical grounds and racial evaluations. It is about setting the boundaries of identity. Said s culture recognizes the discourse sensitive nature existent in any worldly culture. The real relations of society do not exist isolated from their cultural and

ideological practices. The interconnections between the ideological and the social practices determine how people thought, lived and spoke in Said s words (Brooks 1997:50). Said rejects any definition of culture as having pre-existing essence or in a pristine state. Culture in Arnold s tradition, by opposition, is religious and authoritarian. It is an apology for an oppressive state in the words of Said. It is this very notion that sets Saidian critical consciousness in opposition to Arnoldian religious and Manichean consciousness. Secular culture is by definition skeptic to religious matters and authority. It is a secular process that wards off the appeal to the vague abstractions and the extra-human components of a sacred and moralistic culture. In fact, Said s culture is a suspicion of Arnold s. Culture, whether imperialism or colonialism, defines its enemy. Nevertheless it always is accompanied by a critique that connects it to the world of power and politics, as Said thinks. Said s culture is a site of contest inspired by Raymond Williams s residual and emergent cultures. Williams s formulation that however dominant a social system may be, the very meaning of its domination involves a limitation or selection of the activities it covers, so that by definition it cannot exhaust all social experience which therefore always potentially contains space for a social institution and alternatives intentions is the hub of Saidian culture (Said: Sep 1985). Any culture is far from being a homogeneous block.


Cultures are not water tight as Said puts it. To add, culture provides elements of resistance to its hegemonic discourses. Said plainly qualifies this resistance as the eminent feature of all cultures. In The Uses of Culture, Said critiqued Samuel Huntington s thesis of the clash of civilizations on the basis of this notion of culture as always providing spaces for

contestations (Said 2000: 104). To purify culture, from a Saidian point of view, is an intellectual laxity. Cultures operate not monolithically but are in fact changing and constantly in a state of metamorphosis. What is interesting in studying cultures and civilizations is not the way they are unchanging essence but the various mixtures and hybrids that...compose cultures and civilizations (Said 2000:140). Elsewhere, Said

evaluates the clash of civilizations as the clash of ignorance because it does undermine the discontinuities and disruptions that characterize any culture on the one hand and identifies culture with identity, on the other. To perceive culture and identity as facts of nature, unchanging, or transmissed from one generation to another, is ahistoric. In addition, [i]t is fundamentalism, not analysis of culture.... (142). In the same vein, Huntington relies on notion of civilization identity, the founding pillar of labels such as Islam, West,

Confucianism (Said: Oct 2001). It is a belligerent kind of thought, Said argues, and that fortifies the state and its power while ignoring the dynamics of each culture (Said Oct2001). If culture for Arnold is to combat rebellious elements in society, it is an arsenal of values and canons against impurity for Huntington. Said goes further and elucidates the uncritical appropriation of a pure and isolated culture and qualifies its manifestations as wary, coercive and with violent effects. In Ideology of Difference, (1985) Said writes that the Palestinians are considered to be different, a murderous race of mindless fanatics. Difference is a crucial issue central


to many recent theoretical and interpretive discussions.


This insight feeds into Saidian

perception of Western culture as defining its enemy and its Other. From a Western lens, other cultures are conceived through the perspectives of pathology/or therapy (Said 1993:303). Accordingly, Said debunks Bernard Lewis s arguments in What Went Wrong? Western Impact and Middle East Response (2002): Islam as antagonistic to the modern nation-state and democracy. Lewis s account is belligerent. It culminates in a violent and arrogant as well as superficial definition of Islam as anti-modern, anti-American and antirational. It construes absurdly reductive passions, simply because it rests on governability and on a striking binarism of right and wrong defined by power and not having it (Said: Jul 2002). It follows that Said views Islam and West as inadequate banners to a genuine and complex study of culture. Said defies the vague abstractions and the abuse of giant entities (Said: Aug1996). Culture, traditionally conceived as ideas of good and evil, belonging and not belonging, is highly problematic for Said.
...The development and maintenance of every culture require the existence of another different and competing alterego. The construction of identity-for identity, whether of Orient or Occident, France or Britain, while obviously a repository of distinct collective experiences, is finally a construction - involves establishing opposites and others whose actuality is always subject to the continuous interpretation and reinterpretation of their differences from us. 18


See also for analysis of difference and Otherness related to the Palestinian question in Propaganda and War (Sep2001). 18 (Bov ed. 2000:69).


4. The Secular Criticism and Humanism

In Secular Criticism (Said 1983:2-3), the author debunks what seems to him the four prevailing literary practices: practical criticism, academic literary history, literary appreciation and interpretation and literary theory. His main argument is that these realms are divorced from their real connections with power....

On the contrary, Saidian notion

of culture considers fields of knowledges as presupposing and constituting power relations. In what follows, I will first focus on what criticism is for Said, and second on the extent to which secular criticism yields and reaches to other varieties of criticism, mainly

materialist criticism

with its declared Foucauldianism. Then, I shall point out the

similarities between Saidian criticism and the later school of cultural analysis. Secular criticism as humanism , Said argues, is the ultimate criticism. So what are the

characteristics of Saidian humanism? And how can one assess Saidian criticism as humanism? Said s Worldliness or the circumstantial reality of the text and the critic is foundational to the activity he calls affiliation. Affiliation is to study and to recreate the bonds

between texts and the world, bonds that specialization and the institutions of literature have all but effaced (Said 1983: 175). In other words, affiliation is to critically read literary works and culture as phenomena in the world. By definition, affiliation is critical consciousness. Thus, every act of interpretation is to connect literature to other disciplines in order to apprehend the social, historical, and political surrounding its raison d tre (26). It is in this sense that affiliation dispenses with the specialization. Accordingly, affiliation as a critical consciousness is to constantly undo the theory. To quote from Said:
Criticism in short is always situated; it is skeptical, secular, and reflectively open to its own failing. This is to say that is value-free. Quite the contrary, for the inevitable trajectory of



critical consciousness is to arrive at some acute sense of what political, social, and human values are entailed in the reading, production and transmission of every text. To stand between culture and system, is therefore to stand close to a concrete reality about which political, moral, and social judgments have to be made and if not only made, then exposed and 20 demystified.

Criticism, as described by Said, reaches for the various cultural domains surrounding the works of criticism and interpretation. Criticism as such is not doctrinal or a theoretical position. Texts of all kinds are the vehicles of politics in so far as they mediate the fabric of social, political and cultural formations. It is in this sense that Saidian criticism provides critical reading with knottier design and a move away from the disillusionment of modernism. In the same vein, Said s criticism collides with Raymond Williams s argument that we cannot separate literature and art from other kinds of social practice, in such way to make subject to quite special and distinct laws (Brannigan 1998: 1). What Williams calls cultural materialism (Williams was the first to coin it in Marxism and Literature) is a method that privileges power relations as the important contexts for literary and cultural text productions and interpretation. In New Historicism and Cultural Materialism (1998), John Brannigan defines cultural materialism as [e]xplor[ing] literary texts within the context

of contemporary power structures texts always have material function within power structures literary texts behave in a direct and meaningful way within contemporary social and political formation (1998:17). Secular criticism to Said is the recognition of the social role of literature and the crucial function of the critical intellectual in assessing literature and society alike. Said asserts that reading critically is but the awareness of the political circumstances surrounding the text, the reader and the author. It is a criticism that challenges the ideological vision

implemented and sustained not only by direct domination and physical force but much more effectively over a long time by persuasive means , the quotidian process of hegemony very




often creative, inventive, interesting and above all executive analysis (Said 1993: 109).

yields surprisingly well to

To add, Said instrumentalized Foucauldian discourse, for Foucault s scholarship, generally, and according to Said, is ironic, skeptical, savage in its radicalism and amoral in its overturning of orthodoxies, idols, and myths, as Yumna Siddiqui says in Edward Said,

Humanism, and Secular Criticism (2005). The Foucauldian side of Said is all the more manifest when acknowledging the obligation to orient criticism toward the working of institutions and uncovering the structures of domination. In Orientalism, Said states his indebtedness to Foucault s discourse:
[w]ithout examining Orientalism as a discourse one cannot possibly understand the enormously systematic discipline by which European culture was able to manage and even produce the Orient politically, sociologically, militarily, ideologically, scientifically, and imaginatively (Said 2003:3)

Foucault takes a more prominent and controversial role in Said s conception of secularism. Orientalism, for instance, arises from a critique of the human sciences, and the obligation to develop a more worldly account of the human condition in Western society (Foucault s discourse as the eminent example of this endeavor). It is the anti-humanism of Foucault -- Man is a construct and no longer the central meaning. Said also sheds skepticism about the enunciative modalities that shape Orientalist scholarship.

Enunciative modalities, as used by Foucault are rules of discursive formation that determine who speaks, the authority with which they speak, and the institutional site from which they speak (Hart 2000: 66). Discourse exerts its social force in almost all-

encompassing network and obtains its greatest force when diffuse and determines what is acceptable as knowledge (Foucault 1972). Discourse, then, is not merely what is exchanged in communication, but has a powerful material effect. This is to say, it is as subject to the forces within society.


Yet, Said departs from Foucauldian capillary power. An individual can have efficacy in society. In his analyses of Orientalism, authors are considered as individual scholars but amidst a tradition, too. They participate in the representation of the Orient. on the Orient Every writer

assumes some Oriental precedent, some previous knowledge of the Orient,

to which he refers and on which he relies (Said 2003:20). Orientalists draw from the predecessors, the historical a priori or what Foucault calls archive or the library of the libraries. Said s secular criticism, then, allows a greater role for the individual intervention in discourse. Said states that unlike Foucault, to whose work I am greatly indebted, I do believe in the determining imprint of individual writers upon the otherwise anonymous collective body of texts constituting a discursive formation like Orientalism (2).

Accordingly, Foucault s knowledge/power is a crucial element of analysis to what Said calls the textual attitude of traditional Orientalism. In Orientalism, Said elucidates how power relations are never possible without domains of knowledge which presuppose and constitutes power relations. That is to say an Orient imaginatively conceptualized gets its birth once the Orient ceases to exist. Texts create not only knowledge about the Orient as reality, but its very reality as Said puts it. In a Foucauldian mode, Said relates knowledge of Islam with control and political hegemony. If knowledge of Islam was associated with control, with power, with the need to understand the mind and ultimate nature of a rebellious and somehow resistant culture as a way of dealing administratively with an alien being at the heart of expanding empire, especially those of Britain and France, it becomes a national security concern in America after the Cold War (Said: Jun 2002). Said goes further and argues that debates of Islamic threat and terrorism are part of a discipline managed to control populations and not to illustrate objective facts (Said: Jun1986). Elsewhere, this discipline is qualified as the blind arrogance, its key elements was imperial perspective, that way of looking at a distant


foreign reality by subordinating it in one s own gaze (Said: Jun2003). Such a disclosure ( terrorism ) and its practitioners share common assumptions and systems of thought and signify that something of an ideological order exists. The same argument is found in Said s analysis of Heart of Darkness. Conrad s Heart of Darkness allows no alternative view than that of the colonizer s, Said argues (Said 1993:186). It rejects representations outside its own closed discourse. In a short essay entitled Through Gringo Eyes: With Conrad in Latin America, (Apr 1988) Said suggests a strategy of reading that resists imperialist ideologies: [a]ll Conrad can see is a world in which every opposition to the West only confirms its wicked power (Said 1993: 277). By the same token, Said relates Bernard Lewis s What Went Wrong? Western Impact and Middle East Response (2002) to the rush to know about Islam and Muslim cultures in the post 9/11 America. Lewis s account, Said claims, feeds into a violent and arrogant definition of Islam as anti-modern and anti-America. Lewis s version is then qualified by Said as absurdly reductive passion, simply because it rests on a binarism of right and wrong defined by power and not having it (Said: Jul 2000). 21 Against this system of representations which operate according to a dominant structure of regulations, Said proposes a bifocal reading of history and literary texts. He calls it contrapuntal reading. Contrapuntal reading, Said writes, must take account of both

process, that of imperialism and that of resistance to it (1993: 11). It is about new, noncoercive and oppositional knowledge. The new knowledge is to acknowledge what has been excluded. To read the cultural archive contrapuntally and not univocally is to practice criticism as a process against a systematic or method-bound thought. It also is a dynamic movement towards a platform where dominated and dominant, imperialist apology and anti imperialist resistance are discussed together. Contrapuntal reading amounts to the

See also Orientalism: An Exchange where Said riposted to Lewis s The Question of Orientalism in The New York Review of Books (29) Aug 12, 1982.


destabilization of the monovocal discourse (Orientalism, colonialism ). Thus, capturing the consolidated vision of this very discourse as a continuous enterprise regulated from within, with its own terms (Said 1993:75-76). That is why, I think, Said s contrapuntal reading has as a foundation Foucault s notion of new history. In the Introduction to The Archeology of knowledge (1972), Foucault defines what he calls the new history, which he argues is emerging from the history of ideas, history of science, of thought, of literature, of philosophy. The new history is in contrast to the structures of the history proper or the history of historian. It is concerned with

discontinuity and rupture, the moments of mutations, transformations and difference. It is to destabilize the history of a given discourse (e.g. the novel, the travel writing, ethnography, sexuality ). Foucault lays out the contours of the new history as such:

The problem is no longer of one tradition, one of tracing a line, but one of division, of limits; it is no longer one of lasting foundation, but one of transformations that serve as new foundations, the rebuilding of foundations. What one is seeing, then, is the emergence of a whole field of questions, some of which are already familiar, by which this new form of history is trying to develop its own theory: how is one to specify the different concepts that enable us to conceive of discontinuity (threshold, rupture, break, mutation, transformation)

(5) What Said calls humanism is indebted, I think, to the emergence of a whole field of questions (Foucault). For what is crucial to humanistic thought , even in the very act of sympathetically trying to understand the past, Said argues, is that it is a gesture of

resistance and critique, on the one hand (Said: Jan2000). On the other, it is to turn back criticism to the world. It is a humanism that connects human principles to the world in which we live as citizens. Said was interested in human endeavor and history , in all that was made by human beings , not by supernatural forces, and thus in what can be changed by human beings (Ghazoul: Dec 2003). This intellectual activity is to overturn orthodoxies, idols and myths. It is in this respect, I think, that a Foucauldian scholarship is committed to


controvert the dynastic role thrust upon him [the intellectual] by history or habit (Bov ed. 2000: 67).22 Within Saidian tradition, the challenge of intellectual life resides in the dissent against the manufacturing consent. By virtue of this dissensus, Said s humanism could be considered as the criticism of religion and dogma, in turn, an aspect of the philosophy of the Enlightenment. The legacy of Enlightenment is the belief that the rational, secular, critical pursuit of knowledge can lead to human emancipation and progress as Yuman Siddiqui tells us while discussing Said s humanism and secular criticism (2005). Said believes in the Viconian principles that man is the measure of things. A great deal of human will and agency are prerequisite to the practice of humanism according to Said. Action resides in the individual. Saidian humanism is the pursuit of inquiry and creation. In Humanism and Democratic Criticism (2004), Said defines humanism s horizons as about neither withdrawal nor exclusion.
[Q]uite the reverse: its purpose is to make more things available to critical scrutiny as the product of human labor, human energies for emancipation and enlightenment, and just as importantly, human misreading and misinterpretation of the collective past and present. (22)

Thus, it is the failure of the old humanism that urges scholars and committed intellectuals to think of a new humanism free from its Eurocentrism towards liberationist

ends (Said 1993:33). The whole project of writing back to empire is based on a conviction of human agency to negotiate historical experiences, to imagine and to provide alternatives to the current state of affairs and official History. There is a dialogic relationship between the cultural discourse of the colonized and oppressed and that of the empire and metropolis. Said points out the possibilities of being critical of humanism in the name of humanism and that, schooled in its abuses of Eurocentrism and empire, one could fashion a different kind of humanism that was cosmopolitan and text-bound that absorbed the great lessons of the


In Criticism between opposition and counterpoint, the author states the figures that inspired the oppositional work of Said (Bov ed. 2000).



(Said 2004:11). From Saidian perspective, it is for the secular and humanist

intellectuals to reflect upon those possibilities. In her article Edward Said and Islam, (Dec 2003) Ferial J. Ghazoul offers thought that justifies the claim that criticism in Saidian tradition is the criticism of dogma and religion. In the spirit of Vico s world of nations , and drawing from New Science, Said argues that [t]he secular notion that historical world is made by men and women, and not by God Hence Vico s notion of sapienza poetica, historical knowledge based on the

human being s capacity to make knowledge, as opposed to absorbing it passively, reactively and dully (Said 2004: 11 italics in the original). From a Nietzschian perspective, Said s secular criticism is iconoclastic for it breaks with the domains of the divine and the modern divinities of the gods of theory, nationalism and the state worship. Said is interested in what is humane in criticism -- humanizing criticism.


Chapter II: The Secular Critic and the Saidian Intellectual


Worldliness and the functions of the Saidian Intellectual

The following chapter addresses one of the major characteristics of the intellectual within Saidian tradition the intellectual s worldliness. I will equally discuss the roles of

the intellectual as envisaged by Said. Worldliness as defined by Said is the provisional and contingent grounds [which are] the only ground we have. It is about the historical

knowledge and world as made and unmade by human beings, a principle to which Said adheres completely. Accordingly, Said conceives himself as a foundationalist.23 It is the worldliness that makes possible any intellectual efficacy in social affairs. Accordingly, the secular intellectual opposes cultural dogma, confronts doxa (religion) and raises embarrassing questions. The dissent of the intellectual is to dispense with the ideological, national and filiative interests. This figure distrusts power and goes beyond the easy certainties provided by our background, language, nationality (Said 1994: xi). The Saidian intellectual is someone whose work is shaped by where it takes place, whose interests it serves, how it jibes with a consistent and universalist ethic, how it discriminates between power and justice, priorities what it reveals of one s choices and

(Said 1994: 89). The critic and the intellectual, just as the text and criticism,

operate in networks of affiliations. He is also meant to subvert the status quo and the conventional, to draw attention to the ambivalences of dominant discourses and the suffering communities as well as to the prevailing injustices. The aim of the intellectual work, in the


Said also elaborates the idea of human being as making their own history while discussing Vico and Ibn Kaldoun in Making History: Constructing Reality (Said 2000 :244-248) .


Saidian enterprise, is to advance the cause of liberty and human knowledge. It is for the intellectual to represent the collective suffering, to witness the hardships of peoples and to keep their memory. The intellectual is constantly critical of power apparatuses and conventional spirits. Among his roles is that of universalizing the crisis and humanizing the suffering of his own people and others. It is to represent and incarnate a message and a vision to a public. In Speaking Truth to Power, part of The 1993 Reith Lecture, Said defines the intellectual as a humanist whose
main function is to project a better state of affairs, one that corresponds more closely to a set of moral principles peace, reconciliation, abatement of suffering certainly in writing and speaking, one s aim is not to show everyone how right is, but in trying to induce a change in the moral climate where by aggression is seen as such, the unjust punishment of peoples or individuals is either prevented or given up, and the recognition of the rights and democratic freedom is established as a norm for everyone, not invidiously for a selected few.24

In addition, the Saidian intellectual is, in his own words, an amateurist figure antagonistic to the priestly and abstruse professionalism. Instead, what Said calls the amateur critic opposes the cult of the expertise, cultural dogma and policy intellectuals. This figure of the intellectual for whom no worldly power is too big and imposing, as Said points out. (Said 1994: 8). Said refers to French intellectual.

Amateurism is the opening

of public spaces for practical criticism. And according to Said [t]he cult of expertise has never ruled the world of discourse as much as it now does in the United States where the policy intellectual can feel that he or she surveys the entire world (Said 2004:123). The humanism of the non- expert and the oppositional intellectual is to develop a critical language capable of doing two things. The first is to unveil the constituted power which is a political task, given that to be critical of domination is to be oppositional. That is to say, to situate truth as resistant to power and be able to establish a range of sites of resistance and sites of opposition, inside and outside the academy. Here is an allusion
24 25

(Said 1994). See Said s view of Pierre Bourdieu and Jean-Paul Sartre as exemplary public intellectuals.


to Foucauldian assertion that when there is power there is resistance (Brooks 1997: 134). Second, the role Said ascribes to the intellectual could equally be seen as Foucauldian. The intellectual, Said writes, is dialectically, appositionally to uncover and elucidate to

challenge and defeat both an imposed silence and the normalized quiet of unseen power (Said 2004:135). The Saidian intellectual, I think, is also the genealogist that Foucault describes in his Lecture: 7 January 1976. By genealogy Foucault means the painstaking rediscovery of struggles together with their hierarchy and all their privileges of a theoretical avant-guard were limited (Foucault 1976). The contest between powerful systems of representation and interests and others less powerful is the essence of the analysis of power as representation and domination. The attempt to speak in the name of the silenced is what Foucault calls a return of knowledge or the insurrection of subjugated knowledges of struggles and that leads to a dissent genealogy with an emancipatory potential (Foucault 1976). From the same perspective, the concept of the permission to narrate that Said elaborates is an endeavor to a new history. And we may see its similarity with Foucauldian return of knowledge.

Two more reasons may explain the supposed affinity. First, to seek freedom and the right to choices (culturally, politically, and economically) is a priori justification of the local, discontinuous, disqualified, illegitimate knowledge (Foucault 1976). What Said demonstrates in The Question of Palestine (1980), for instance, is to reverse the consensus comprehension of the history of the Palestinians dispossessions and Diaspora and to represent the Palestinians quest for recognition as a colonial situation on the one hand and the urgency to conceive the political process as one of a decolonization instead of a supposed peace process on the other. Second, the question of Palestine for Said is essentially a contest between an affirmation and a denial

memory (Ashcroft 2001:

The Exchanges Edward Said-Micheal Walzer (Hart 2000:187-199).


119). Memory (that of a colonized people) is a moral resistance to the effects of narratives centralizing power deployed in terms of struggles, conflict and war. It is in this perspective that Said encourages the efforts made by the Israeli and Palestinian revisionist historians and claims that the historiographic project (the post-colonial project generally) has just begun. The second function of the critical language is cultural. We need, Said states, a language of appreciation, care and attention that will be a rejection of religious and orthodox values (Bov ed. 2000:71). In other words, to envision alternative models of knowledges and critical inquiries based on what Said names critical humanism. What critical consciousness at bottom [is] if not unstoppable predilection for alternatives (Said 1983: 274). Critical consciousness is imaginative and neither an adversial alternative to power nor a dependent function of it (228). Human begins, critically proceeding, can provide and imagine alternative models of society and future that power and paranoia cannot (Said: Mar 2001). Moral vision and humane democratic values are the

weapons of the oppressed. The criticism as critical consciousness is to cope with the state of moral powerlessness and defeatism on the one hand, and to transform the passive consciousness on the other (Said 1983: 247). Then, it is no coincidence that Said admires figures such as Frantz Fanon and JeanPaul Sartre. Sartre, for instance, has courageous positions on Algerian war of

Independence (1962-1965) and Vietnam War and vehemently advocates popular struggles (e.g. La Cause du Peuple, Les Temps Modernes ).27 Universal intellectuals, musicians and artists such as Yehudi Menuhin and Daniel Barenboim, are, according to Said, inspiring models.28 Barenboim is the co-author of Musical Elaborations (1991) and co-founder of The


Although Sartre was a legendary figure for Said: ( [O]ne admired Sartre for the efforts he made to understand situations and when necessary to supply solidarity to political causes, ) he held ambiguous account of Sartre s pro-Zionist stances. See Sartre and the Arabs: Footnote (May 2000). 28 See for instance Said s essays: Barenboim and the Wagner Taboo (Aug 1999) and Music of Men s Lives (Mar 1999).


West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. Both of the cited musicians acknowledge the crimes of the Israeli state and espouse the course of coexistence. The role of the intellectual, Said goes further, must be guided by a sort of romantic idealism. From another perspective, in Representations of the Intellectual (1994), Said articulates the idea of an intellectual as an outsider, and exilic. The solitary condition allows the intellectual to grasp more than one vision or one optic. The intellectual exile is also in permanent opposition to the conventional consensus. [E]xile, for Said, is a model for the intellectual who is tempted and even beset and overwhelmed, by the rewards of accommodation, yea-saying, settling in (Said: Jul 1993). We could safely argue, then, that criticism in exile is to think in terms of survival, and rising beyond the national, ideological and ethnic lines as well as the violence and the dehumanization of other peoples experiences. Nationalism and jingoism put solidarity and passion before critical consciousness and saying the truth. What is more interesting, Said says in an interview with Jacqueline Rose, is to look beyond identity. Speaking truth to power is a recurrent theme in Saidian tradition and I will tackle it in relation to Noam Chomsky as a model of the intellectual that inspires Said. Said embodies the model of the intellectual he describes, a trope-cum-figure. It is widely manifested in his life- long cause the Palestinian question. Criticism before solidarity is the guiding

mantra for the intellectual in order to transcend the political tribalism. He took critical positions of the functioning of the Palestinian liberation Organisation (PLO), as well as of Yasser Arafat and his entourage. Said opposed The Oslo Accords and qualified it as the Palestinian Versailles. When discussing the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, Said was

committed to the universal values against the ineptitude of the government of Arafat. It is, Said argues, a corrupt, an incompetent and an autocratic government. Said, constantly


questions Arafat leadership,29 the American mediators and Israeli negotiators on matter of accountability and clear political and moral responsibility (Said 2000:3-7). Said relates the peace process to the rectification of the Palestinian Authority. A trenchant criticism voiced against the authoritarian party of Arafat, Fatah, and by the same token, the rival Hamas movement -- a silent majority of the Palestinians is neither for the authority s misplaced trust in Oslo (or for its lawless regime of corruption and repression) nor Hamas s violence (Said: Jan 2002). Said s opposition to the Oslo Declaration of Principles is due to what seems to him as a betrayal of a just and moral cause. The PLO and Arafat turn out to be policing entities in the hands of the occupation forces or enforcer as he puts it. There is a failure to recognize that [o]ur defence against unjust policies is a moral high ground and then promote understanding of that position in Israel and the U.S., something we have never done (Said: Oct 2001). The recognition of the Palestinian rights to exist and their catastrophic plight are the central points for the resistance and the future state. The question of Palestine, Said claims, is a contest between affirmation and denial. The Zionists claims to Palestine are further consolidated by Arafat s regime and greed for power and privilege. It is more constructive, then, to delineate Said s writings on Palestine from anti-colonial and liberating perspectives. Faithful to his secular criticism, Said sees hope in the emerging new secular nationalist current (Al-Mubadara)...with true

independence and popular status (Said: Jan 2002). The tendency of historians, philosophers and intellectuals to abide by restricted political and epistemological lines has its misfortunes, knowing that a political doctrine is misleading to the pursuit of committed intellectual, for it serves power than it does for truth. If you are a humanist, Said says in an interview how can you say that there are universal rights, but only for white people, and not for coloured people, or the lesser people, that they


See A People in Need of Leadership (Sep-Oct 2001).


are only for Jews, and not for Arabs, only for Catholics and not for Protestants, and viceversa (Said 2007).30 As a case in point, one could think of Said s critical stances on what is referred to as revisionist or post-Zionist historians in Israel. They are supposed to examine the official narratives of the state of Israel. Said shows how erroneous such revisionism is. In New History, Old Ideas (May 1998), Benny Morris, an Israeli historian and critical voice, seems reluctant to acknowledge the evidences he gathered in studying the birth of Israel, according to Said. It is about the wiping out of the map the Palestinians in 1948 and the massacres committed by the Israeli forces. This is what Said calls old ides in doing new history. The lesson here is this: ...a significant change in the main lines of Zionist ideology cannot occur within the hegemony of official politics, but must take place outside that particular context, that is, where intellectuals are more free to ponder and reflect upon the unsettling realities of present day Israel.

In other words, if Zionism continues to be

unquestioned, the historical study will be systematic, political and uncompromising. Instead, Said suggests a scholarship that is based on humanist principles of common future, survival and coexistence. The real challenge is to think our history [Palestinians and Israelis] together and to acknowledge the other s sufferance .32 The Israelis and the Palestinians are, in Said s estimation, communities of suffering and the only realistic outcome of the present conflict is to live in a binational state. Affiliation (as discussed in section 2, chapter 1) and as Said indicates, is a sophisticated reading of Gramsci (Said 1983:174). Behind this interest lays a conception of truth that resembles Gramsci s: the truth must never be presented in a dogmatic and absolute form as if it was mature and perfect. Truth, because it can spread out, must be adapted to the historical and cultural conditions of the social group in which we want it to spread, Gramsci argues (Jenks 1993:82). The oppositional knowledge that Said describes could be
30 31

Said s interview in Postcolonial Text. Ibid. 32 Ibid.


traced back to Gramsci s philosophy in his most valuable contribution to Marxist theory: the exercise of ideology, hegemony and the urge for an active and resistant cultural politics. Said s analysis of Orientalism as a pattern or regime of truth that is hegemonic sets him in line with the project of defying the cultural consensus not only because hegemony alters our knowledge of the world but also for it creates a new ideological soil and determines a reform of knowledge, a philosophical fact according to Gramsci (Jenks 1993: 83-84). Hegemony for Gramsci is the term used to describe the way in which a dominant class or a group in society makes compromise, forges moral and intellectual (cultural) leadership and establishes the state institutions as well as social relations accepted by the dominated in order to manufacture a consensus. It is the bourgeoisie that acquire and maintain the submission of the dominated classes.33 Hegemony, in brief, is the arrangement of domination. Gramsci questions the functioning of the social and cultural laws that maintain a political system. This in turn feeds into Saidian criticism that disturbs the conventional, the status quo and narrow view of human world. Saidian intellectual might be considered as Gramscian in that he/she is not a mover of passion but actively participating in social matters. The organic intellectual, Said believes is much closer to the reality than anything [Julien] Benda gives us, particularly in the late twentieth century (Hart 2000:119). The organic intellectual, in Gramscian terminology, is an individual fully engaged to the causes of the working classes and who can grasp the ideological manifestations of the class conflict. This figure is generally galvanized by what we refer to as social justice, totally opposed to the state ideology and who plays a key role in defining the cause of the working classes. Said himself could be qualified as an organic intellectual in being a supporter of his own people s cause.




Antonio Gramsci, and drawing from Benedotto Croce s analysis of historicism (History of Europe in the Nineteenth century), commented that philosophical thought must not be conceived as evolution from one style to another but rather as pense de la ralit historique, that is to say as a thought of historical reality (Gramsci 1978:24).

Accordingly, it is for the intellectual to represent the collective suffering, to witness the hardships of peoples and keep their memories. It is also about representing issues and peoples that are suppressed or forgotten. This is what Said names the representation of the intellectual which is the manner in which he defends a cause or an idea in society (Said 2004:6-7). Said, by the same reasoning, views the organic intellectual as autonomous from the power relations or what Gramsci calls hegemony. Organic intellectual is a partisan of a particular cause (Hart 2000: 119). In addition to Gramsci s concept of the organic intellectual, Said relies on Benda s view of the clerks to construe what is contradictory to his Gramscian inspiration of the nature and function of the intellectual. In The Treason of the Clerics or La Trahison des clercs (1928), Benda prefers a religious connotation to describe intellectuals. Clerics realm is above the pandemonium of ordinary life. However, the quest of knowledge and justice, naturally attributed to them, is betrayed. Clerics, Benda says, began to play the game of political passions (Hart 2000: 118). They act on the basis of their collaboration with power in propaganda model rather than out of principles. The equivalents of the clerks are what Chomsky calls the new-mandarins or the secular priesthood (first used by Isaiah Berlin). In the following chapter, I will draw attention to the similarities between Said s and Chomsky s conceptions of the intellectual as speaking truth to power. At bottom, this function is typically Gramscian. What Gramsci offers most compellingly by his critique of the traditional intellectual is, Said says in an interview with Social Thought, to make the truth prevail and to


understand the way in which we can live together as human beings.

Thus, Said s

oppositional intellectual is both Gramscian and humanist. On Gramsci s view, the intellectual is a universal function outside the professional activity (Jenks 1993: 84). The mode of the intellectual, Gramsci writes, can no longer consist in eloquence, which is an exterior and momentary mover of feeling and passions, but in active participation in practical life, as constructor, organizer, permanent persuader, and not justly simple orator (Jenks 1993: 84). The relationship between the individual and the social world, as we can see, is that of power -- a relationship of opposition. There is an interesting Gramscian tone in that perception. The oppositional intellectual or the organic intellectual is the ideal figure to constantly keep troubling that consensus [collective passions, nationalism, and class interest] and to introduce a kind of critical and political reflection that is too often lost, Said asserts.34


See Said s interview with Social Thought.


2. Edward Said, Noam Chomsky and the Role of the Intellectual

It is the responsibility of the intellectual to speak the truth and to expose lies. Noam Chomsky

The focus of this chapter is on the extraordinary resemblance between two intellectuals who have shaped the humanities in many ways: Edward Said and Noam Chomsky. Known for his professional work on linguistics (particularly his generative grammar) and philosophy as well as his writings on social and political issues, Noam Chomsky advocates a conception of the intellectual and his roles that influenced Said. Both share a distrust of the cult of experts or what Chomsky calls the manufacturing of consent. Said s worldliness brings about recognition of the connection between areas of studies, academic criticism and political affairs. In fact, academic knowledge constitutes a kind of ideological and political rationale for the imperial policy, U.S. mainly. Second, both of them agree on the responsibility of the intellectual to insist upon the truth historical perspective (Chomsky: Feb 1967). To resist the collaborations of the intelligentsia, Chomsky claims, intellectuals must confront the doctrines of state religion (democracy, republican values, national security, and patriotism). The main task is for those who stubbornly seek freedom, there can be no more urgent task than to come to understand the mechanisms and practices of indoctrination (Mc Gilvray ed. 2005: 239). The treason of the intellectuals is what Chomsky and Edward Herman call propaganda model. This concept refers to the control of thought by freedom and consent meticulously manufactured. The consent works more effectively in free societies and rather than setting a single party [a vanguard party] line to be followed, the [and] to see events in their


institutions of indoctrination set the boundaries of acceptable opinion, setting the terms of discussion Chomsky would add (237). Experts form a new class that operates within the dominant social and political systems. Chomsky points out that they arguably are servants of the power structure (Chomsky: May 2001). As a privileged class, experts, academics and intellectuals, betray their moral responsibilities in tacitly choosing to support the interest of the dominant system and state power. Addressing the same issue, Chomsky declares that
[t]hose who actually do have a valid claim to such special competence have a particular obligation to make very clear to the general public the limits of what is understood at any serious level; these limits are typically very narrow in matters of significance in human 35 affairs.

Beyond moral truisms, there is no scientific explanation for thinking that opportunity confers responsibility. Intellectuals have a sort of opportunity, according to Chomsky.

Said likewise, is uneasy about the separation of the academic careers and the social affairs. A tenet he found inexistent in the functioning of the professional and the technical enterprises. The Professionals tend to advance the interest of their governments uncritically but self-consciously. As Said demonstrates in Orientalism, there is a responsibility to transform or unlearn the categories of understanding one s culture and the Other s. And it is through a critique of the experts (Orientalists, for example), that a human perception of culture becomes non-coercive. The discourse of the mainstream journalists and intellectuals feeds into the easy comforts and acceptance of a mass culture attitude. In total opposition, Said prefers a critical position that resists the cultural flow and clich-ridden perceptions of the individual and society at large. Liberal left intellectuals in America, for example, and according to Said, betray their so-called progressivism by tolerating imperial policies of the governments, in addition to the social oppression and the muteness regarding U.S continued support of despotic regimes around the world and Israeli colonialism.




It is the moral bankruptcy of the experts and state functionaries that brings about submission and desolation. Liberal democracies, Said indicates, commit genocide and ethnic cleansing just as pariah states and unpopular regimes. In total opposition, the Saidian intellectual is to resist through memory and universalism.
The first duty is to demystify the debased language and images to justify American practices and hypocrisy. There can be resistance without memory and universalism. If ethnic cleansing is evil in Yugoslavia as it is, of course it is evil in Turkey, Palestine, Africa, and elsewhere If war is cruel and deeply wasteful, then it is cruel whether or not American pilots bombing from 30.000 feet and remain unscathed. And if diplomacy is always to be preferred over military means, then diplomacy must be used at all cost. (Said: Jun 1999)

It is a resistance to sordid military and economic policies by advancing his (the intellectual) principles in the public order of things (Hart 2000:118). Thus, in a

Chomskyian twist, Said disagrees with the collegiality and constraints that thrust upon the intellectual. To add, it is the excessive conformity and the management of public opinion that needs to be questioned (Chomsky: Aug 2007). Another issue that relates Said s thought to that of Chomsky s is the function of the intellectual as speaking truth to power. In Speaking Truth to Power, (Jul 1993) Said raises the fundamental question about the responsibilities of the intellectual:
[i]s the intellectual galvanized into intellectual activity by primordial, local, instinctive loyalties one s race, or people, or religion or is there some more universal and rational set of principles that can, and perhaps do, govern how one speak the truth? What truth? For whom and where?

As indicated earlier, the affiliate loyalties, those that arise by virtue of worldly alliances, Said claims, are the main tenets. The intellectual as breaking free of the constraints of textual tradition or disciplinary approaches is what said engages his readers to reflect upon. Said envisions an intellectual function that transcends ides reues as well as challenges the cultural slumbers. It is a universal vocation that copes with traditional discourses. The oppositional endeavor of the Saidian intellectual derives from a perception of criticism as opposition (Social Thought). Furthermore, in Representations of the Intellectual (1994), Said writes: [t]his figure of the intellectual as being set apart, someone 45

able to speak the truth to power, a crusty, eloquent, for whom no worldly power is too big and imposing (8). Then, Said s intellectual is a sort of an ideal persona who acts on the basis of his principles and morality rather than his personal national or ethnic interests. In Ideology of Difference (1985), Said shows how anthropological studies of

Palestinian culture are part and parcel of a colonial strategy that seeks to justify the rule of force. The dichotomy of Jews and non-Jews is the standard parameters of the study. They [Palestinians], Said writes, are considered to be different, a murderous race of mindless fanatics. Difference is a crucial issue, central to many recent theoretical and interpretive discussions.

Zionism, we could infer then, turns Palestinians into non-people

or into terrorists. Knowledge as such is basically ideological and political. In the same vein, Arabs are portrayed in the U.S. media as either oil suppliers or potential terrorists, Said claims. Little effort is shown to bring the truth about matters of human significance as Chomsky puts it. Intellectuals are to avoid the ides reues that reduce the complexity of the human community to a facile formulation of the West and the Orient or us and them. Said emphasizes this moral truisms. In other words, individuals are able to begin to break free of tradition and to start a-new. In this respect, Said s attempt in Orientalism is to interrupt an objective scholarship that, according to him, provides doctrinal hegemony and works extensively with the aims of imperialism. In the same vein, Chomsky visualizes the intellectual as primarily a dissent against the dominant ideology. Inspired by libertarian socialism, particularly that of Wilhelm Von Humboldt (Mc Gilvray ed. 2005: 232-233), Chomsky elaborates a definition of human nature as about imagining alternative social realities or models with ethico-political consequences.37 The individual is perceived as having potentialities to inquire and to create

36 37

Ibid. The interesting Foucault Chomsky debate as reviewed by William Hart (2000) is comparative. Hart sees Chomsky as deriving his notion of human nature from a political commitment point of view. Foucault, in total disagreement, is suspicious of a priori human nature drawing from Nietzschian risk of error (128).


what Chomsky calls Cartesian common sense.


Accordingly, Chomsky s intellectual is

to oppose unoriginal and manipulated ideas of human freedom and knowledge. In his view, what is the least discussed in capitalist societies, is the question of the responsibilities of the individual.
I m always uneasy about the concept of speaking truth, as if we somehow know the truth and only have to enlighten others who have not risen to our elevated level. The search for truth is a cooperative, unending endeavor. We can, and should, engage in it to the extent we can and encourage others to do so as well, seeking, to free ourselves from constraints imposed by coercive institutions, dogma, irrationality, excessive conformity and lack of initiative and imagination, and numerous other obstacles. (Chomsky: Aug 2007)

As we can see, Chomsky understands the speaking truth to power dictum as a collective exercise. And it could be explained by the importance of the category of audience to him. Said, in turn, highlights the obligation of having an audience. In effect, Said would agree with the act of revealing the truth as best as one can, about things that matter, to the right audience (Mc Gilvray ed. 2005: 281). Thus, it is within society that the individual acts. Said, as we have seen earlier, conceives the intellectual world in the same manner. This is to say, an intellectual world as containing two poles: the intellectual and the social world.




3. The Saidian Author

Narratives and narrations are predominant themes in Said s oeuvre. Post-1976 Said was an intellectual devoted to speaking on behalf of the Palestinians. In Permission to Narrate, (Dec 1984) and many other essays, one can find not only a committed voice recording the tragic plight of his people but also an author. At least, Said would say, history will not go unrecorded. To narrate from a Saidian perspective is to need no permission. Power oppresses the other side of the truth. This is to say, those who cannot make their own history (Palestinians, for instance). The major function of narration, within Saidian tradition, is to represent the already unrepresented, forgotten or simply misrepresented. Said attributes the role of imagining the alternative history and writing back to the Caribbean, Asian and African writers, (Said: Sep 2002).39 This is what Aschcroft calls to interpolate the master discourse of history (Aschcroft 2001: 101). The writer is always in a process of negation and construction of history. History, according to Aschcroft, as any concept within the discourse of modernity, confirms the advanced and civilized West over the primitive, premodern and alien colonial societies.40 The committed author is the ideal intellectual for Said. The author becomes involved in activities formerly given to the intellectuals as speaking truth to power, being a witness to persecution and supplying a dissenting voice in conflicts with authority (Said 2004: 27). The function Said attributes to the author, who in turn becomes intellectual, makes clear that literature is an experience we can learn from. It has the potential of inscribing a country or region s experience in a global discursive agenda. The distinction between intellectual and author is no longer necessary since they both act in the public

See for instance The Politics of Knowledge and Said s discussion of Ghassan Kanafani s Men in the Sun (summer 1991). 40 Ibid.


sphere dominated by globalization Their public role as writers and intellectuals can be discussed and analyzed together (Said 2004:129). Naguib Mahfouz, a Nobel Prize and an Egyptian writer, Said claims, embodies this model. Mahfouz, Said argues, possesses the intellectual and the literary means to communicate overlapping view of his country, and inscribe his country s memory, the political and social realities and experiences for wider audiences (Said: Dec 2001).41 In addition, the realism of Mahfouz is more interesting when considered as guided and organized around non-abstract, liberal and worldly principles. And like Zola and Solzhenitsyn, Mahfouz is a prolific writer, one intimately tied to the history of his time.

Thus the author is not to escape the necessary opposition to the regularities of

meanings. He is, in the words of Foucault, against the role of the regulator of fictive (Foucault 1969). In the same line, Said construes Mahfouz s novels as containing a contest between the deployed power and the obligation to defy this very power and its effects (Said 2004: 135). Said finds it inappropriate to distinguish between writers and intellectuals can be discussed together (143). By the same reasoning, Said considers literature as a mean through which individuals seeking social justice, economic equality and above all recognition. It is this quest for freedom that leads one to a desire for articulation as opposed to silence (129). Intellectuals and writers have something to do with cultural production and the capacity for organized learning and thought. Writers such as Octavio Paz, Nadine Gordimer, Said argues, testify to the function of intellectual as taken by writers. The said function is first to present alternatives and other perspectives on history than those provided by the combatants on behalf of official memory and national identity (Said: Sep 2002). To my


In Towards a Science of the Text, Terry Eagleton formulates similar comprehension of the function and elaboration of the author. The author, in Eagleton s view, will not dispense with history for it is the ultimate signifier of literature, as it is the ultimate signified (Newton ed. 1997: 171).



mind, Said conceives the author as an agent provocateur, criticizing dogmatic and narrow view of human history. It is in this respect that the Saidian author is an intellectual. Said s conception of the author is antagonistic to that of the structuralists and poststructuralists. Roland Barthes s apocalyptic tone in The Death of The Author (1977) is a case in point. In this essay, Barthes departs from a criticism of the classic author, which he argues, has never paid any attention to the reader; for it, the writer is the only person in literature. For Barthes, classical criticism concentrates on a littrateur, a bourgeois subject and undermines the multiplicity of meaning that a text, by announcing the death of its author gets its birth .The meaning is present only in the absence of an author. Barthes writes that [t]he text is hence forth made and read in such a way that at all its levels the author is absent.43 The author, then, is no more than the instance writing. In other words, an author is a pure linguistic entity. The human agency is devoid of any substance and reduced to nil. In Barthesian formulation and to structuralists generally, the author must be overthrown in order to continue in the path of a never-ending readership then dismantling the secret and ultimate meaning of a text. Barthes concludes his essay by stating that for [the author] is to mix writing, to counter the ones with the others, in such a way as never to rest on any one of them.

The figure of the author could equally be seen from a Foucauldian perspective. Foucault formulates the theme of the author in relation to discourse. The Foucauldian author has a certain mode of existence -- the author-function. Literary discourse, for instance, could not take place if not endowed with the author-function, Foucault says (Foucault 1969). Nevertheless, Foucault gives a traditional definition of an author who produces a text, a book, or a work and who acquires some importance, for he governs and commands more than his domain. This author regulates the mode of circulation, attributes and appropriates
43 44

Ibid. Ibid.


certain discourses in certain cultures. Foucault writes that the author-function is the mode of existence, circulation, and functioning of certain discourses within a society.45 Foucault suggests four characteristics indispensable for any examination of the author-function. (1) The author-function is always conceived by a series of specific and complex operations. (2) Its consequences are never constant in all cultures and

civilizations. (3) The author-function gives birth to several positions. (4) The authorfunction is inseparable from the juridical and institutional system that contains, produces and articulates the discourses (Foucault 1969). The third characteristic is certainly the most interesting. It generates possibilities and rules for the formation of other texts -- what Foucault calls founders of discursivity (e.g. Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud). The

founders of discursivity design a particular discourse and the possibilities of infinite discourses, in Foucauldian sense. Said shows in Orientalism that scholars exist within a discourse and a tradition, their individual imprints are visible. Foucault, in contrast, thinks that the particular individuality of an author (the writing subject) is canceled out (Said 2003:23-24).




Chapter III: Secular Criticism as Cultural Resistance

1. Orientalism and the Post-colonial

The book s [Orientalism] central arguments about the interdependence of the political and the cultural dimensions of Orientalism and their effects on literary works provided a dramatically new insight in mainstream literary criticism. It has since proved to be the key sources of inspiration for much later work by others in the fields of literary and cultural theory. Valrie Kennedy

The origins of post-colonial theory can be traced back to Said s Orientalism (1978), an impressive scholarly account not of the Orient itself but of how British and French scholarship had constructed the Orient as Other.

Orientalism is now explored as a

crucial and complex feature of the relationships between Western culture and imperialism. Tracing Said s writing, anywhere you find yourself dealing with the Orient, empire and a critique of empire. The examination of the post-colonial theory can be dealt with in tandem with Said s opus. This section addresses two sets of problem, each of them related to Orientalism. The first, is the what extent to which Said s Orientalism particularly, and Said s cultural criticism more broadly, can be read as a historical and materialist

criticism? The second, is to examine how Saidian humanism is constructive or relevant to fields of scholarship such as the post-colonial studies and the post-modern theory (ies)

Stephen Slemon defines



[a] critical enterprise[s]


heterogeneous subject[s] and as oppositional forms of reading practice (Ashcroft et al.


In Representation and Liberation: From Orientalism to the Palestinian Crisis Bill Ashcroft maintains that Edward Said s Orientalism changed the way the world thought about the relationship between the West and its others. Possibly no other work of the twentieth centuryhas had the impact of this text, which has been lauded and attacked for three decades (Iskander, Adel and Hakem Rustom eds. 2010:291).


1995:45). This is briefly to state the best framework in order to indulge into a controversial field. Seen as such, post-colonialism, whether literary, political, socio-economic and above all cultural, is an object of desire for critical practice.

This leads us to envision post-

colonial theory as a critical enterprise that includes more than literary criticism as the only available critical discourse.48 Colonialism is both a set of political relations and a signifying system, one

with ambivalent relations (Ashcroft et al. 1995: 49). The set of political relations are regulated by Said s thesis in Orientalism: the discourse of Orientalism as a system of knowledge is a colonial discourse. Said writes that Orientalism is an enormously systematic discipline by which European culture was able to manage and even produce the Orient

politically, sociologically, militarily, ideologically, and imaginatively during the postEnlightenment (Said 2003: 3). The play of power is amply clear in this quotation. Power for Foucault is not something that is acquired, seized, or shared, something that holds on to or allows to slip away; power is exercised from innumerable points in the interplay of nonegalitarian and mobile relations (Malpas and Wake eds. 2006: 60). Said incarnated the critic that Foucault speaks of in explaining the different series that made history in terms of the ways in which power is produced, deployed and harnessed for particular interests (61). Said brings colonialist discourse to a unitary origin. [T]he intention of colonialist power Said believes is to possess the terrain of its Other. (Aschcroft et al. 1995:48). That is to say Orientalist/colonialist discourse is a collective notion identifying us Europeans as against all those non-Europeans. The point is that our concern with colonialism, within post-colonial theory of course, must be directed towards a critical reading of its mechanisms of assujettissement, the investment of representations and its different historical and
47 48

Ibid. Post-colonial criticism does not only refer to l hypallage - a literary form that includes other modes of writing (Alter Studies). See Jean-Marc Moura (1999:1-6).


cultural operations. This is what Slemon calls the political efficacy of Orientalism [Said s] within colonialism (Aschcroft et al. 1995: 47). And this efficacy is helpful to fully comprehend Said s thesis when considering what Foucault means by assujettissement -the interconnection of savoir/pouvoir or knowledge/power. Foucault thinks that [i]l faut plutt admettre que le pouvoir produit du savoir qu il n y a pas de relation de pouvoir sans constitution corrlative d un champ de savoir qui ne suppose et ne constitue en mme temps des relations de pouvoir (Le Point Hors Srie 17:75). In other words, It is necessary to and that there is no power relation that

admit first that power brings about knowledge

does not constitute simultaneously knowledge in turn supposing and constituting power relations. Foucault focuses on assujettissement on the individual level (sujet/individual) or the individual s relations to regulations (champ politique / political domain). Western societies, Foucault argues, are regulated according to Jeremy Bentham s Panopticon type of prison. Visibility and surveillance are what characterizes the development of what Foucault calls regulated societies. Assujettissement is channeled through the automatic functioning of power and vice-versa (Malpas and Wake eds. 2006: 237). The Orientalist discourse, according to Said at least, produces a monolithic Orient very similar to Foucault s Panopticon-like power. The effect of Panopticism is the construction of individualist societies already in constant regulations by prevalent discourses of power and autoregulation. Similarly, the Orient is kept under constant surveillance by Orientalism. Orientalism as a complex apparatus is a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient (Said 2003: 3). That is why it is of a political interest and is ideologically-inspired. Being an apparatus, Orientalism is an enclosed system and impervious to reality and representations.


Said instrumentalised Foucauldian discourse to illustrate the historical and worldly working of texts in Orientalist epistemology and scholarship. Discourse for Foucault constitutes the objects of knowledge, social subjects and forms of self, social

relationships, and conceptual frameworks (Fairclough 1992: 39). Objects of discourse are not fixed entities but rather discursive formations. Moreover, there are rules that govern and shape a given discourse. In others words, there are rules that constitute and determine a practice. This is the power of discourse which is in Foucauldian terms the ordering of objects (Brooks 1997:50). For the present context, the Orient, in Saidian semantics, constitutes the object of discourse, which is Orientalism, by analogy to Foucauldian objects of discourse. I do mean that Foucauldian objects of discourse are embedded in given discursive formation (Fairclough 1992:41). A discourse is a system of statements or noncs -- formations within and by which the world is or can be apprehended. It follows that the discussion and analysis of Orientalist texts from a mise en discoure perspective is but the investigation of the relationships between those texts and the rules constraining their discursivity. For no text exists independently of others, but actually positions itself, reject, or draws from predecessors. A text is a being in the world, an event (Said 1983:31). As a discourse formation in Foucauldian words, the language of a text signifies reality by giving reference to objects of this very reality. Said affirms the referentiality of language and texts as already fulfilling a function, a reference, or meaning in the world. And when texts draw from or negate others, they are exercising power. [T]heir effectiveness, in some cases even their uses, are matters having to do with ownership, authority, and the imposition of force (Said 1983:48). A text is historicized by its language. In a Foucauldian mode, Said attacks the power within a text in order to unveil the paradigms of the play of power and the production of knowledge. To do so, Said is


suggesting a secular criticism that presupposes the affiliation of the text and the critic with the world -- their locatedeness. The texture of Orientalism might then be read as a counter-history and that knowledge is far from being innocent but profoundly connected with power operations. This is literally the definition of colonial discourse theory. Colonial discourse in Benita Parry s words is to construe the colonized as a racially degenerate population in order to justify conquest and rule (Aschcroft et al. 1995: 41). Said s intention in his opus is explicitly a political statement. His project is to demonstrate how knowledge about the non-European was under structures of hegemony and maintaining power over them. Orientalism is a Western episteme. Said shows how Orientalism as knowledge and as power -- Foucauldian discourse --, is a colonialist discourse that invents European self as opposed to non-European other . It is helpful to quote Said at length:
During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the Orientalists became a more serious quantity, because by then the reaches of imaginative and actual geography had shrunk, because the Oriental European relationship was determined by an unstoppable European expansion in search of markets, resources, and colonies, and finally, because Orientalism had accomplished its self-metamorphosis from a scholarly discourse to an imperial institution. (Said 2003:95)

Said used Foucauldian founders of discursivity to show the highly regulated possibilities of a given discourse. There are pre-existing units of information that

compose an Orientalist text -- what Said named Flaubert s catalogue of ides reues (Said 2003:94). In doing so, Said was learning from Auerbachian style, that is to say, the choice of texts and narrative methods, in addition to the master-texts on the basis of which Said s Orientalists discourse is analyzed. In turn, this analysis gives birth to what Said (2003:156) calls Orientalists textual attitudes: [w]hat was this operation, by which whenever you

discussed the Orient a formidable mechanism of omnipotent definitions would present itself as the only one having suitable validity for your discussion? This operation is the bookish


tradition of textual attitudes. Texts that contain not only the discourse and the historical a priori or archive that regulate them but also the very reality of the subject discussed. We could infer then that Said s objection to Orientalism as a discourse rests on his humanist formation. He demonstrates that broad categories such as Orient, West, and

Occident are imaginary notions -- less a fact of nature than it is a fact of human production... or what Said dubs elsewhere imaginary geography (Said 1985). They are major elaborations of geopolitical boundaries, inherent in Orientalism as authority and as epistemology. In A Drift in Similarity, (Oct 2001) Said shows how the traditional

Orientalist discourse dominates humanities in the wake of the twentieth century. The famous argument of Samuel Huntington that the clash of civilizations will dominate world politics is based on an essentialist view of history and culture. Not only do modern Orientalists share all the orthodox perspectives of [classical] Orientalism, they also spare themselves

the troubles to investigate the internal dynamics and plurality of every civilization [and every culture] (Said 2003:104). The Orient is the Orient as it has been Orientalized and essentialized. Like modern Orientalists, Huntington and Bernard Lewis neglect, not to say being myopic to, Said argues in A Drift in Similarity
the fact that the major contest in most modern cultures concerns the definition or interpretation of each culture, or for the unattractive possibility that a great deal of demagogy and downright ignorance is involved in presuming to speak for a whole religion or civilisation. No the West is the West, and Islam is Islam.

Orientalists and Huntington theses are ahistoric. They allow little space to read the discontinuities and disruption within cultures and histories. Fixed and vast abstractions such as civilizations and identities help us understand nothing. The cornerstone of Saidian legacy is to perceive change as human history and human history as made by human action. Such a principle is antagonistic to shut-down, sealed-off entities that have been purged


of the myriad currents and counter-currents that animate human history


History is in

flux and contains wars, conquests but also cross-fertilization and sharing. Cultures and civilizations are composed not only of discontinuities and disruptions but also various mixture and hybrids (Said 2000:140).50 Said was preoccupied with the form and boundary of the historiographic discourse manifest Orientalism. society, languages, Manifest Orientalism is the various stated views about Oriental literatures, history, sociology (Said 2003: 206).



positivity of Orientalism as a science is what Said calls latent.


Orientalism operates simultaneously with the latent. There is an affiliation, continuity and interdependence or what Said calls discursive consistency (Bentley ed. 1997: 629). This discursive consistency demonstrates the hegemonic nature of the Orientalist discourse as well as [the] political imperialism [that] governs an entire field of study, imagination

and scholarly institutions -- in such a way as to make its avoidance an intellectual and historical impossibilities ( Said 2003:14). To put it otherwise, Orientalist scholarship is an enunciative modality: within the Western archive, the Orient as an object of discourse. Here is the argument that Said makes about modern Orientalism.
The Orient existed as a place isolated from the mainstream of European progress in the sciences, arts, and commerce. Thus whatever good or bad values were imputed to the Orient appeared to be functions of some highly specialized Western interest in the Orient. This was the situation from about the 1870s on through the early part of the twentieth century (Said 2003:206)

Said s Orientalism is to trace the interplay between the production of knowledge (Orientalism as apparatus) and the exercise of power. The knowledge of the natives produced by the Foucauldian discourse explores structures of thinking which were

manifest in literary and artistic production, in political and scientific writing and more
49 50

Ibid. Said qualifies Huntington s thesis of the clash of civilizations as fundamentalism and not an analysis of culture, see The Uses of Culture (Said 2000:139-143). 51 Ibid.


specifically, in the creation of Oriental studies (Loomba 1998:47). The French historian Henri Grimal argues that between 1920 and 1940, the idea of an indigenous population with aspiration to nationhood and self-government was qualified by European politicians as stranger to these natives (Grimal 1985: 29). From the same perspective, Chinua Achebe, in his essay Colonialist Criticism, (1974) shows a similar understanding of this knowledge, for the polarization of distinction between the Western and the African goes hand in hand with controlling understanding being a precondition for control constituting adequate

proof of understanding (Aschcroft et al. 1995: 58). To bring about non-coercive and non-dominative knowledge is what Said suggests. This new knowledge is to resist the silenced orient or colonized as produced by a discourse (Orientalist) highly saturated by

the politics, the considerations, the position and the strategies of power (Said 1985). To put it otherwise, it is to make of Orientalism as an area of study or a colonial discourse a critical and resistant enterprise that reflects on itself. Said s project was criticized by various literary and cultural critics. Among the trenchant critics of Said s Orientalism, we find Aijaz Ahmad. The latter debunks the fundamental axes of Orientalism: the anti-humanism of Foucauldian discourse and Said s avowed humanism. Ahmad writes that
Said tries to achieve between that humanism [Auerbachian] and Foucault s discourse theory, which no serious intellectual would want to use simply as a method of reading and classifying canonical books because the theory itself is inseparable from Nietzschian anti-humanism and anti-realist theories of representation. (1992:146)

Said s Orientalism is not a theory per se but a methodology of reading and analyzing the many strategies by which Orientalists shaped an Orient. Said stands for an

Orientalism that is critical of itself. Saidian Orientalism is the move from a disciplinary knowledge to a critical scholarship -- the creation of new objects for a new kind of knowledge (Said 1985). As Hart claims, authors both produce and are produced by


discourse, both use and are artifacts of the language that they use (2001:67). As a matter of fact, it is Said himself who thinks that Nietzschean anti-humanism and anti-realist theories of representation are arguments against prevailing Orientalist discourses and

representations --

the truth in language

(Said 2003:203). Representation is almost

impossible for Said, at least when it comes to Orientalism as a system of representation framed by a whole set of forces that brought the Orient into Western learning, Western consciousness, and later, Western empire.

To add, Saidian humanism, as used in Orientalism is a critique to open up the fields of struggle, and to introduce a longer sequence of thought and analysis to replace the short bursts of polemical, thought-stopping fury that so imprison us (Said: Aug 2003). This is briefly to counter Ahmad s objection to what is seen as the major shortcomings of Said s attempt to work out a methodology using two contradictory and irreconcilable concepts. It is precisely humanism centered upon agency of the individual and human subjectivity that Said urges us to consider in reading the secular world and history lacking in the history of Orientalism as a discourse in the Foucauldian sense. As I said before, the texture of Orientalism is mostly read as a counter-history since Said writes that I have tried to show

the insinuations, the imbrications of power into even the most recondite of studies.

It is

the knowledge/power relations within Orientalist discourse that frame Western interpretations of Otherness. Critical and humanist thought are to challenge authoritative statements which determine who can speak and who cannot. It is for this very reason that Said, as Hart rightly argues, rejects the view that there is a pre-discursive, pre-Orientalist Orient, an authentic Orient beneath the ideological distortions of Orientalist discourse. This is the Nietzschean Said who wants to liberate the Orient from the misrepresentations of Orientalism (2001:75).
52 53

Ibid. Ibid.


Ahmad also objects to Said s use of Foucauldian episteme in Orientalism, for, after all, the argument runs, it is a Western discourse. A discourse, according to Ahmad, is an epistemic construction that is not only un-Marxist but also un-Foucauldian idea

(1992:166). Given that for Said, the subaltern, the voiceless can always speak, it is fair to argue that, within the framework of imposed discourses such as Orientalism and colonialism counter-Orientalism and anti-colonialist discourses can take place. What Bill Ashcroft calls the interpolation of history is a strategy which involves the capacity to intervene, to interject a wide range of counter-discursive tactics into the dominant discourse without asserting a unified anti-imperial intention, or a separate oppositional purity (Ashcroft 2001:47). By the same token, counter-Orientalism can be embedded in a Western episteme Orientalism. Said repeatedly argues that Orientalism is not an attack on Western

capitalism or creating the image of the West as evil as Bernard Lewis infers in his The Question of Orientalism, (1980) or as Ahmad conceived it as promoting and championing nationalism. Counter-Orientalism is to rethink the modern West from the perspective of the Other, to go beyond Orientalism itself and unsettle the established binarism and opposition between the orient and the west, Said asserts. (Bov ed. 2000:195). Said uses the humanist style to construct a possibility of speaking about the Orient free from domination, coercion, distortion, free from We-They and Us-Them configurations. We need Said writes to concentrate on the slow working together of cultures that overlap, borrow from each other, and live together in far more interesting ways (Said: Aug 2003).

Ashcroft s reading of Foucault s discourse as not seamless and totalitarian is constructive for the endeavor to go beyond coercive discourse. It allows intellectuals to cast doubt, being reflective and resistant to this very discourse. Said, likewise, endorses the idea of conceptualizing the agency of human individuality and subjective intuition as central to his secular and Viconian history. Hegemony is not impervious to resistance because it does


not prevent individual action. This is the first step to resist the silencing effects of Orientalist representations. In the same line, Ashcroft defines what he dubs interpolation as the transformative energy of post-colonial discourse to envision the colonial subject not as a tabula rasa but as interpellated by ideology, discourse or language -- sites of power, which in turn forge an opposing discourse of rejection and separation. Resistance Ashcroft deduces need not necessarily mean rejection of dominant culture, the utter refusal to

countenance and engagement with its forms and discourse (Ashcroft 2001:47). Western cultural institutions via Orientalist discourses create the Orientals. Said writes that there is no Orientalism without Orientalists and Orientals (Said 1985). This demarcation is less a fact of nature than it is a fact of human production (Ashcroft 2001:38). Human agency is a strategy meant to interpose, to intervene, to interject a wide range of counter-discursive tactics into the dominant discourse without asserting a unified anti-imperial , or a separate oppositional purity (47). Here it is helpful to keep in mind

Said s critique of nationalism and cultural purity as pathological to liberationist movements. Said suggests that we need to concentrate on the slow working together of cultures that

overlap, borrow from each other, and live together in far more interesting ways than any abridged or inauthentic mode of understanding can allow (Said: Aug 2003). The subaltern and the other do not exist in some pure space outside the dominant discourse. More, cultures referred to as colonized and colonizers -- dominant/dominated are not separate but always intertwined. Ahmad discredits Said s Orientalism for it is inscribed in the structure of idealist metaphysic and that there is an unfinished European identity at the origin of history and shaped this history thought and its texts (Ahmad 1992:167). On the contrary, Said explicitly states that far from being a metaphysical notion, European identity and non-European identity ' as inscribed in modern Orientalism derive from secularizing elements in eighteenth century European culture (Said 2003:120).


Manifest and latent Orientalism are essentialist topicalities and not necessary corrective of Occidocentrism as Ulrike Freitag observes for Said dispenses with the task of

representing an Orient. Said s reading is deconstructive. It is in this sense that what the Syrian philosopher Sadok Jalal Al-Azm names an Orientalism in reverse is a reductive approach for in no instance does Said provide a model of approaching alien cultures from a nativist perspective but urges for an endeavor to relate the tumultuous dynamics of contemporary history and to show the insinuation of power inside the so-called objective scholarship (Bentley ed. 1997:629). The mere fact of being methodologically Foucauldian erodes any essentialist result, on the one hand. On the other, the humanism that Said speaks of contains the principle of its own self-criticism and self overcoming. Perhaps this is what Said means by using

humanist critique to open up the fields of struggle and to use one s mind historically and rationally for the purposes of reflective understanding (Said 2003: xxii). In addition, Said s humanism must now be seen from the perspective of the present state of humanities which seems to be moving towards eschewing essentialism and emphasizing the contingent. In the same vein, Thomas Bender argues that Edward Said draws attention to the danger of collapsing the social into the text; there is little or no effort to bridge the gap between

academic theory and the local polities of everyday life -- an evident characteristic of contemporary scholarships in the humanities (Deadalus winter 1997:28). Said once writes that the one thing we owe to history is to re-write it. This idea collides with what Ashcroft terms the most strategic and powerfully effective mode of cultural resistance -- the transformation of history (2001:83). History, and according to Ashcroft, as any concept within the discourse of modernity, confirms the advanced and civilized West over the primitive, pre-modern and alien colonial societies. Likewise, Orientalism could be seen as a Western historiographic elaboration that needs to be


challenged. Said elaborates this notion of resistance in terms of challenging the enunciative authority of Orientalism. In other words, contestatory voices emerge adopting different versions of the shared histories and revealing the limitations of the discourses. Ashcroft puts it more clearly.
Interpolation is not so much re-writing ; inserting the marginal histories that have been excluded (although this is an important tactic), but writing back. The model for this is counter-discourse, which is not a separate oppositional discourse but a tactic which operates from the fractures and contradictions of discourse itself. (Ashcroft 2001:102)

Said s methodology in Orientalism contributes to the analysis of the many strategies by which the colonized have engaged imperial discourse and studied the ways in which many of these strategies are shared by colonized societies, re-emerging in very different political and cultural circumstances. Thus, we may rightly say that Orientalism is a transformative attempt to develop a way of addressing the cultural production of those societies affected by the historical phenomenon of colonialism (Ashcroft 2001:7). Saidian critique of Orientalism, then, is a post-colonial engagement to write back and re-write history. It also raises the major questions for the self-representation of the colonized peoples -- Orientals: how history might be re-written, how it might be interpolated [?] (15)

Said alludes to the feminist, ethnic and black studies as similar to the envisaged Orientalism. [T]heir point of departure, Said writes, [is] the right of formerly un-or mis-represented human groups to speak for and represent themselves in domains defined politically and intellectually, as normally excluding them, usurping their signifying and representing functions, overriding their historical reality (Said 1985). Likewise, Adams and Tiffin show that post-colonialism has two archives. One contains writings in societies affected by the subordinating power of European colonialism - that is to say, as writing[s] from countries or regions which were formerly colonies of Europe. The other is a paradigm of discursive practices, resistance to colonialism, their contemporary forms and

colonialist ideologies and practices, and above all 64

subjectificatory legacies

(Adam and Tiffin eds. 1992: vii). Orientalism and post-

colonialism as such, defy the control of discourse. And the control of discourse is the control of representation. The post-colonial interpretation of history refuses to leave European history intact, a history that renders any other history uninteresting, non-existent and marginal. We may see Ashcroft argues, [that] post-colonial histories giving rise to various counter-narratives may also contest the disciplinary boundaries of history as well (2001:99). Counter-narratives are to inscribe post-colonial experience into the history of the metropolis/center and to reject history because of its imperial narrativization of the past known that [n]arration is the quintessential form of customary knowledge, to borrow from Jean Franois Lyotard (Malpas and Wake eds. 2006:27). This is what Ashcroft calls to interpolate the master discourse of history which is [t]he dominant feature of post-colonial experience, indeed the major lesson it teaches, is the efficacy of engagement (2001:101 italic in the original). Said speaks in terms of the voyage in, which is to enter consciously into the discourse of Europe to transform it, [and] to make it acknowledge marginalized or suppressed or forgotten histories (Said 1993:261). To transform history is the crux of the post-colonial as experiences, and most importantly as (a) way(s) of talking about those experiences. The post-colonial is a form of talk about the essential experience of oppression; of invasion; of domination These involve

various forms of material experience, located in their specific historical and political environments (Ashcroft 2001:13 italic in the original). It is essential to remember the contribution of Said s analysis of Orientalism as a cultural apparatus and that in the end is all aggression, activity judgment, will to truth, and knowledge (Said 2003:204). In the above analysis I resisted the notion of post-colonial theory, and prefer the usage of post-colonial criticism mainly for two reasons. First, because criticism (literary and cultural) is not the self knowledge of the text or history an instrument or passage to


the truth of a text [or history], but a transformative labor which makes its object appear other than it is (Eagleton 1986:10). Terry Eagleton s transformative criticism of a text that cannot be independent of history is a valuable instrument in relating text to ideology. Said calls it the study of culture and empire. Second, the post of post-colonialism refers to an ongoing engagement with the effects of colonialism, epistemologically called colonial discourse theory. That is to say that post as a concept, evidently, represents

transformation and change and not merely space-clearing gesture. Such a theoretical perspective is in total disagreement with Kwame Anthony Appiah, when viewing that the post in postcolonial, like the post in postmodern is the post of the space-clearing gesture [is] not concerned with transcending with going beyond coloniality (Aschcroft et al.

1995:119). The two posts according to Appiah are blind to issues of neo-imperialism, neocolonialism and cultural imperialism. In total opposition to Appiah s argument, post-colonial criticism(s) is a (are) counterdiscourse (s) to monological and monovocal construction of power and authority. In other words, the post-colonial endeavor establishes various fertile sites of political insurgency and mobilization. Narrative is replaced by irony, a post-modern notion, and there are similarities between the post-colonial criticism and post-modernism as we shall see in the discussion of the Saidian influence on the post-modern debate. The two enterprises, the post colonial criticism and the post-modern cultural debate, are considered as emancipatory politics and challenging meta-narratives. (e.g. Nationalism, Marxism ) The post-colonial studies developed with national and regional challenges to European and Euro-American claims to the normative and institutionalized culture. What Thomas Bender calls the cultural turn includes intellectual tendencies, such as the colonial discourse theory, subaltern studies, black studies, bring the study of culture to the fore. It is one of the most important and


emancipatory of all twentieth-century contributions to knowledge in the social field (Deadalus; winter 1997:25). A constructive and positive conception of the post-colonial helps characterize the metamorphosis or the stagnation of the relationships between the Empire and its peripheries. It could also allow us to identify the new relations and depositions of power which are emerging in the new conjuncture [the age of transition from Empire to post-colonialisation] (Chambers and Curti eds. 2001:170). And here it is necessary to learn the lesson of Lawrence Grossberg when discussing the limits of the post-colonial studies as built upon nolonger useful binaries or simple geographical dichotomies Metropolitan/Peripheral, Local/Global. beyond identity.
55 54

First/Third, Centre/Margin,

Said in an interview, puts it as follows: to go

To go beyond the politics of identity is what I think Said means by how the process of imperialism occurred beyond the level of

examining and asking

economic laws and political decision in parallel to the imperial national culture and works of arts (the novel particularly) (1993:12). The need here is to see the experiences of the Empires as historically overlapped and intertwined (14). The post-colonial activity is critical and a problematizing force. This in turn asserts that culture, and by the same token, the study of culture and imperialism are not inert or separate and their connections are dynamic and complex. The post-colonial critic is to adopt a conception of culture which is neither unitary nor monolithic or autonomous for cultures actually assume more foreign elements,

alterities, differences, than they consciously exclude (Said 1993:15). This is central to emancipatory movements set upon a consciousness of multiple and interlocking

oppressions in the words of Anna Yeatman (Brooks 1997:105). Nationalism has been historically proved not to be appropriate to social and intellectual change. The desire for an

54 55

Ibid. The conjuncture and the emerging new conditions are amply discussed by Ashcroft (2001:206-225).


authentic identity, generally related to nationalism, is an ideal but also misleading, according to Said (Said: Jun1993). Then, the inventory of various strategies that have to be employed to expand our comprehension of the way cultures with their worldly affiliations disturb the classic notion of a national culture as a protective enclosure. It is central to deepen our awareness of

the way the past and present of the imperial encounter with each other. Such an idea is proposed by Said in a study of connecting empire to secular interpretation (Said 1993:39). For the post-colonial critic, nationalism is nothing but the treason of the intellectuals. The culture of nationalism is actually invested in imperialism and in modernism, the very entities that post-colonialism and post-modernism are to dislodge.56 To add, the post-colonial criticism is to link geography and literary history. Also, to interpret and re-interpret the imperial cultural archive differently and geographically. The contemporary global system according to Said, or the conjuncture in the words of Ashcroft, obliges the critic to go further than theorizing and reading within the centre/margin binarism. The new lenses are: intertwined histories and overlapping territories. The overlapping territories are the spaces where national cultures advances for overseas domination and faced by the opponents of imperialism that fought over the same terrain, contested the same history. And drawing from Raymond Williams s notion of resistance to dominant cultural which is always enshrined in this very domination, Said argues that just

as culture may predispose and actively prepare for the overseas domination of another, it may also prepare that society to relinquish or modify the idea of overseas domination (1993:200). This vantage point allows us to interpret the imperial cultural archive

differently and geographically. For the post-colonial critic, such consideration permits to envision interpolation of history and critical resistance to consensus-history as functioning

In A Study of History (1961), Arnold Toynbee s main thesis is that the history of the West is shaped by two determinant forces: nationalism and industrialism.


within pluralistic and heterogeneous anti-colonial social and representational practices. The struggle over and about history within a dominant culture is what Linda Hutcheon calls postmodernist doubleness. It is in this regard, that Hutcheon s analysis of post-

modernism, I think, has parallels with Saidian and the post-colonial criticisms.


2. Criticism and Empire

Almost all contributors to the postmodern debates agree on crucial idea which is: the modern conception of knowledge has always been closely related and connected to the desire for control. The primary motivation of postmodernism is philosophical and epistemological -- what Jean-Franois Lyotard calls the delegitimation or the question of legetimation of knowledge.

Michel Foucault writes that the modern philosophy is not

about a thinking subject but mainly the suppressing of knowledge from emerging. The paradigm of inquiry, then, shifts from the search of truth to what Foucault calls the ordering of objects or the rules of discursive practices. The hub of the Foucauldian discourse theory is that any discourse exerts social force in almost all-encompassing networks and obtains its greatest force when diffuse on the one hand and determines what is acceptable as knowledge on the other (Foucault 1972).58 The postmodern enterprise is a critique of modernism, its theoretical traditions and an obsession with its own possibility of production because [h]ow we know is finally more important than what we know to put it in the words of John Carlos Rowe (Greenblatt and

Gunn eds. 1992:182). There are various possible discourses of knowledges and narrative representations that destabilize the boundaries between the text and the world, the natural and the cultural. Every act of representation, if ever possible (according to Said and Foucault), of past and present, is ideological. In Linda Hutcheon s analysis, postmodernism is a style of representation where total history is de-totalized. It is a site of a de-naturalizing


See Narratives of the Legitimation of Knowledge and Delegitimation of Lyotard of Lyotard in (Easthope and Mc Gowan eds. 1992:185-195), and (Nicholoson ed. 1990:21-26) for discussion of Lyotard s The Postmodern Condition. Frazer and Nicholson write that [p]ostmodernists are to seek inter alia, to develop conceptions of social criticism which do not rely on traditional philosophical underpinnings. (21) 58 Foucault s Discourse of Language (1972).


critique and a constant suspicion of doxa in cultural representations (fiction, for instance). In other words, it is an examination of modernism, its theoretical traditions and its obsession with its own possibility of production (Hutcheon: 1989). What Hutcheon refers to as postmodernist doubleness is the realm where the struggle over and about history is conceivable. It is in this perspective that Saidian criticism could be considered as a postmodern enterprise that urges critics to view criticism as an activity that reflects on itself. We are of the connections, not outside them, Said argues, is a fundamental tenet

for the post-colonial and postmodernist critics (Said 1993:55), it leads to oppositional truthclaims. The postmodernist practices and experiences are to be identified and shaped by tools other than those of the Enlightenment rationality. The postmodern as a discourse of domination, in Hutcheon s view, acknowledges the inevitability of existence of power structures in any social relation (Hutcheon 1989: 4). The cultural project of the

postmodernism that Hutcheon offers is a valuable tool to question, for instance, the overlapping experiences of the colonized and the colonizer. From such a lens, any account of modernism and modernity that excludes the dynamics of empire is in itself modern. That is to say, Eurocentric. Modernist cultural domains are influenced and shaped by imperialism -- the great fact of English history as Said puts it. This is what we may call a resistant postmodernism the primary questioning of empire and its cultural formations. In Said s estimation, culture and imperialism are not inert and their connections are dynamic and complex (Said 1993:14). Postmodernism, then, is where imperialism confronts its

opponents (its victims). Said calls it the overlapping of histories. And his endorsement of a binational state solution to the Palestinian and Israeli conflict could be read in the light of this reasoning. Said draws attention to the necessity of having a narrative that counter the consensus and the dominant histories.


In the same vein, Hutcheon does see in Salman Rushdie s Midnight s Children (1981) a confrontation between what she calls the totalizing impulse of Western-imperialistic modes of history-writing and the Indians models of history (1989:62). This representation is self-consciously fictive and indisputably historical. It also challenges the impulse to totalize history on the one hand, and rejects the partial tragedy of resistance in Said s words, which is establishing a pre-imperial culture. In the latter scenes of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) and against the nicely polished looking glass called nationalism, Joyce represents the two-edged impact of colonialism on culture and linguistic purity in the modern nation. Likewise, Said proposes a simultaneous awareness both of the metropolitan and of those other histories against which dominating discourses act. To put it simply, it is the emergence of different narratives. For Linda Hutcheon, [t]he postmodern fiction exploits and yet simultaneously calls

into question notion of closure, tantalization, and universality that are part of those challenged grand narratives (1989:67). The Saidian equivalent is the reading of the retrospectively and heterophonically with

canonical work of the imperial period

suppressed and imperialized traditions. In addition, Saidian criticism, in treating literary works not as autonomous confine but rather as a domain central in being critical and secular, have similarities with Huthcheon s historiographic metafiction. The two activities major

aim is to be subversive of consensus. Historical meaning may thus be seen today as unstable, contextual, relational and provisional terminology, it is cotangential. If postmodernism is politically ambivalent and that its critique coexists with an equal powerful complicity with the cultural dominant within which it inescapably exists, then Said s description of C.L.R James, George Antonius and Frantz Fanon contributes to the discussion (Said 1993).Within metropolitan culture, the cited intellectuals and scholars (Hutcheon 1989:64). To use Saidian


disputed and challenged the authority of empire on cultural grounds. They are by no means to be seen as stepping outside the Western cultural tradition. In the same line, Said draws our attention to the liberating imagination of independence itself, which he found stunning in Rushdie s Midnight s Children (1981). Said writes that
[T]he interventions of non-European artists and scholars cannot be dismissed or silenced, and these interventions are not integral of a political movements, but in many ways the movement successfully guiding imagination, intellectual and figurative energy reseeding and rethinking the terrain common to whites and non-whites (Said 1993:212)

In America, Said argues, the consensus history is defied by counter-currents incarnated by the civil rights movements, Afro-Americans struggle for recognition of the slavery experience, identity and equal economic status, in addition to anti-war resistance ,not to forget the Indian-Americans centuries-long dispossession and extermination. These counter-memories eclipsed by the series of the narrathemes pressure the critic to consider the nation [America] as not united (Said: Mar 2003). Within master history, lesser and minor stories emerge. This is the very reason for a postmodernism that stands on reflexivity and historicity, [and] that at once inscribes and subverts the conventions and ideologies of dominant cultural and social forces (Hutcheon 1989:11). In Palestine, The National

Palestinian Initiative (NPI) or Al-Mubadara, Said insists, is the embodiment of a new secular nationalist current [which] is slowly emergent. That is to say, and in opposition to

the prevailing narratives, the said political party orients the debate towards the politics of citizenship and reverence of democratic practices and human values that are worldly, popular and combative rather than the authoritarian discourses of Fatah and Hamas, according to Said (Said: Jan 2002). From another vantage point and known that postmodernity is a political theme (Malpas ed. 2001:145) and that postmodernism cannot be but political, the politics of identity or the possibility of post-colonial identity in the words of Simon During

(Aschcroft et al.1995:125) are postmodern in being resistant, oppositional and emancipatory. 73

The interpellation of culture by empire finds its echoes in residual modernism that obstructs the dynamics of counter-narratives and counter-memories. It functions as the formal inclusion of the different groupings within the modernist discourses of

emancipation and universalism. Edward Said s Out of Place: a Memoir (1999) is, according to Mona Anis, an attempt to write back, or counter-narrate. It is a refusal to be silenced (Anis: Sep 1999). Elsewhere, Said writes that it is always for the Palestinians to prove that they were there, and that they have narratives and stories. It is for the victim to imagine a resistance.59


Said explains the reasons behind writing his memoir and defends himself against besmirching in The Hazards of Publishing a Memoir (Dec 1999) and Defamation, Zionist Style (Sep 1999).



My concern in this dissertation is to tackle Saidian themes. To project some thought on Said s huge legacy, I think, one is to first examine recurrent concepts such as: worldliness, secularism, and secular intellectual. Secularism meant for Said the negation of the sacred history and that human beings are capable of negotiating, making and

unmaking their history through the cumuli and (re) interpretations of knowledge. Worldly criticism is non-sacred and this very character allows dissent, opposition and alternative models of inquiry. It is fair to argue that, as it is the case within Marxist literature, Saidian criticism is a criticism of religion, the interruption of the orthodox and traditional view of human society and culture. All traditions are repressive, according to Said. Human knowledge must then be oriented towards constant questioning of his past and present. And it is in this regard that secular criticism is an emancipatory humanism. Humanism is an act of resistance as Said maintains. Said advocates a sobering criticism of humanism towards a non-coerced and new humanism. The actual environment of Said s humanism is the world of dominance, injustice, and human peril. The humanist path of self-clarifying and continuous research of enlightenment is an ideal for the intellectual. Secular criticism, in literary fields, is to read texts as events in the world, as having to do with the domains of politics and society. Antagonistic to famous schools of criticism which Said affiliated himself with in his earlier career, namely New Criticism, he views the dominant literary practices as detached from history unworldly, and thus sterile and

intellectually confining. What is more interesting is to investigate the dynamics within and outside the provinces of the texts. This is the main Saidian objection to textuality. Derridian il n ya pas d hors texte, for instance, stands as the ultimate antithesis of Said s 75

worldliness of the text. Not only for it treats the world as myriads of texts but also because it dismisses and occludes the critic s agency. Critics are not obliged to align themselves with schools but to resist and defy theory as the perfect paradigm of research. Those gods (theories) that always fail. Systematic and filiative considerations of literature (Western) as exemplified by Northrop Frye s Anatomy of Criticism is the ultimate case. Though widely discussed in order to engage critically with his work, the mentioned key concepts are, to my mind, indispensable for students to grapple with substantial issues regarding Said s elaboration of the intellectual and his agency within and outside the academy. The intellectual figure is, Said claims, to oppose the status quo and conventions. Said goes further and qualifies him as an amateur who disrupts the cult of the

profession. The intellectual incarnates a moral message and a critical voice. To do so, his position is necessarily marginal and he cannot be co-opted by power. Said, in addition, envisions the speaking truth to power motto as essential to the intellectual enterprise, drawing from the work of Noam Chomsky. In the same vein and in relation to the oppositional role of the intellectual, astounding similarity exists between Edward Said and Noam Chomsky. Both of them agrees on the moral obligation to cope with the expertise laxity and urge for a representation of the intellectual as a controversial and committed function. To add, Said argues that intellectuals and authors are, given the social and public roles they share, to be discussed in similar terms. That is to say, to speak on behalf of the silenced and the oppressed. The third chapter deals with the critical importance of Orientalism and its influence on the post-colonial studies. My thesis is that cultural criticism is a cultural resistance as it is evident, within Saidian tradition generally, and the challenging of hegemonic disciplines. The study of the Orient qua the Orient is shaped by the colonial rule and the uncritical texts of the Orientalists. It draws attention to the politics of knowledge. As a secular humanist,


Said suggests a humane examination of the other s culture. Though Said acknowledges his debt to Foucauldian discourse theory in Orientalism; he seems to envision the future of criticism as peculiarly anti-Foucauldian for the essentialization of the anti-essentialization of power and its historical nature. My research paper is also intended to show how Said seeks secular spaces, histories humanely constructed and interdependent. The text s and the intellectual s worldliness are considered as a mode of re-inscribing man into history. Such a perspective enables the intellectual activity to be inseparable from self-criticism. This notion is the foundation of contemporary theorizing, particularly the postmodern criticism. There is no transcending of the particularities of the historical and social system as Hutcheon finely formulates it (Hutcheon 1988:189). Saidian worldliness could also be seen as inscribed in the Crocean legacy. Croce s philosophical thought, according to Antonio Gramsci, must not be conceived as evolution from one style to another but rather as pense de la ralit historique (Gramsci 1978:24). The intellectual makes the world his home, as Said claims inspired by his life-long experience with Erich Auerbach s philology. He is to problematize discourse: spatial or geographical and rhetorical practices prohibitions inflections, limits, constraints, intrusions, inclusions,

(Said 1993:318). The task of the secular intellectual collides with the

postmodernist questioning of the ideological power enshrined in aesthetic works and art works. Said, and drawing from Williams s notion of the emergent culture, writes that [n]o social system, no historical vision, no theoretical totalization, no matter how powerful, can exhaust all the alternatives or practices that exist within its domain. There is always the possibility to transgress (1991:55). Criticism, thus, is a site of contestation over meaning, cultural power, political and social change. It is no coincidence that Said defies the anti-humanist endeavor of schools of


criticism such as Marxism and Post-Structuralism that essentializes knowledges, and pushes it away from the public domains. Theory as a total entity is an oppressive paradigm for humanistic research. It depoliticizes history and identity then leaves them to state and authoritarian interpretations and manipulations.


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