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402 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1993
"What new or newer kind of intellectual and cultural politics does this internationalism call for? What important transformations and transfigurations should there be in our traditionally and Eurocentrically defined ideas of the writer, the intellectual, the critic? English and French are world languages, and the logics of borders and warring essences are totalizing, so we should begin by acknowledging that the map of the world has no divinely or dogmatically sanctioned spaces, essences, or privileges. However, we may speak of secular space, and of humanly constructed and interdependent histories that are fundamentally knowable, although not through grand theory or systematic totalization. Throughout this book, I have been saying that human experience is finely textured, dense, and accessible enough not to need extra-historical or extra-worldly agencies to illuminate or explain it. I am talking about a way of regarding our world as amenable to investigation and interrogation without magic keys, special jargons and instruments, curtained-off practices," (311-312).
"This brings us once again to the question of politics. No country is exempt from the debate about what is to be read, taught, or written. I have often envied American theorists for whom radical skepticism or deferential reverence of the status quo are real alternatives. I do not feel them as such, perhaps because my own history and situation do not allow such luxury, detachment, or satisfaction. Yet I do believe that some literature is actually good, and that some is bad, and I remain as conservative as anyone when it comes to, if not the redemptive value of reading a classic rather than staring at a television screen, then the potential enhancement of one's sensibility and consciousness by doing so, by the exercise of one's mind. I suppose the issue reduces itself to what our humdrum and pedestrian daily work, what we do as readers and writers, is all about, when on the one hand professionalism and patriotism will not serve and on the other waiting for apocalyptic change will not either. I keep coming back — simplistically and idealistically — to the notion of opposing and alleviating coercive domination, transforming the present by trying rationally and analytically to lift some of its burdens, situating the works of various literatures with reference to one another and to their historical modes of being. What I am saying is that in the configurations and by virtue of the transfigurations taking place around us, readers and writers are now in fact secular intellectuals with the archival, expressive, elaborative, and moral responsibilities of that role," (318-319).
"[Bennett] was joined by Allan Bloom and his followers, intellectuals who consider the appearance in the academic world of women, African-Americans, gays, and Native Americans, all of them speaking with genuine multiculturalism and new know ledge, as a barbaric threat to 'Western Civilization.' What do these 'state of the culture' screeds tell us? Simply that the humanities are important, central, traditional, inspiring. Bloom wants us to read only a handful of Greek and Enlightenment philosophers in keeping with his theory about higher education in the United States being for 'the elite'… If every American student were required to read Homer, Shakespeare, the Bible, and Jefferson, then we would achieve a full sense of national purpose… This is an extremely drastic delimitation of what we have learned about culture — its productivity, its diversity of components, its critical and often contradictory energies, its radically antithetical characteristics, and above all its rich worldliness and complicity with imperial conquest anti liberation. We are told that cultural or humanistic study is the recovery of the Judeo-Christian or Western heritage, free from native American culture (which the Judeo-Christian tradition in its early American embodiments set about to massacre) and from that tradition's adventures in the non-Western world.
"Yet the multicultural disciplines have in fact found a hospitable haven in the contemporary American academy, and this is a historical fact of extraordinary magnitude. To a great degree, William Bennett has had this as his target... whereas we would have thought that it has always been a legitimate conception of the modem university's secular mission... to be a place where multiplicity and contradiction co-exist with established dogma and canonical doctrine. This is now refuted by a new conservative dogmatism claiming 'political correctness' as its enemy. The neo-conservative supposition is that in admitting Marxism, structuralism, feminism, and Third World studies into the curriculum (and before that an entire generation of refugee scholars), the American university sabotaged the basis of its supposed authority and is now ruled by a Blanquist cabal of intolerant ideologues who 'control' it.
"The irony is that it has been the university's practice to admit the subversions of cultural theory in order to some degree to neutralize them by fixing them in the status of academic subspecialties. So now we have the curious spectacle of teachers teaching theories that have been completely displaced — wrenched is the better word — from their contexts; I have elsewhere called this phenomenon 'travelling theory.' In various academic departments — among them literature, philosophy, and history — theory is taught so as to make the strident believe that he or she can become a Marxist, a feminist, an Afrocentrist, or a deconstructionist with about the same effort and commitment required in choosing items from a menu," (320-21).
Texts are not finished objects.Foucault's discourse is systems of thoughts composed of ideas, attitudes, courses of action, beliefs and practices that systematically construct the subjects and the worlds of which they speak. Foucault traces the role of discourses in wider social processes of legitimating and power, emphasizing the construction of current truths, how they are maintained and what power relations they carry with them. He later theorized that discourse is a medium through which power relations produce speaking subjects.
The man who finds his homeland sweet is still a tender beginner; he to whom every soil is as his native one is already strong; but he is perfect to whom the entire world is as a foreign land. The tender soul has fixed his love on one spot in the world; the strong man has extended his love to all places; the perfect man has extinguished his.And as Said said:
Criticism must think of itself as life-enhancing and constitutively opposed to every form of tyranny, domination, and abuse; its social goals are non-coercive knowledge produced in the interests of human freedom”.In summary “Speak Truth To Power”.
The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. What redeems it is the idea only. An idea at the back of it; not a sentimental pretence but an idea; and an Unselfish belief in the idea -- something you can set up, and bow down before, and offer a sacrifice to.He gives an example from Kipling’s Kim, where Kipling has the widow of Kula says, when a District Superintendent of Police walks by, that
These be the sort to oversee justice. They know the land and the customs of the land.which is Kipling’s way of demonstrating that natives accept colonial rule so long as it is the right kind.
They weren't like us and for that reason deserved to be ruled.Said’s resistance to this is by what he calls "the voyage in" , to
enter into the discourse of Europe and the West, to mix with it, transform it, to make it acknowledge marginalized or suppressed or forgotten histories.For example by rewriting these classics from the point of view of the colonized. This subtle movement beyond simple binary
refuses the short-term blandishments of separatist and triumphalist slogans in favour of the larger, more generous human realities of community among cultures, peoples, and societies.He refuses works that just promotes the nationalism of the oppressed,
to the theory of the absolute evil of the native the theory of the absolute evil of the settler replies.because it
reinforces the distinction even while reevaluating the weaker or subservient partner.so he avoids this binary opposition of east and west and this summaries his Worldliness. A dialogue between equals.
"Both Fanon and Foucault have Hegel, Marx, Freud, Nietzsche, Canguihelm, and Sartre in their heritage, yet only Fanon presses that formidable arsenal into anti-authoritarian service. Foucault, perhaps because of his disenchantment with both the insurrections of the 1960s and the Iranian Revolution, swerves away from politics entirely.”
No one today is purely one thing. Labels like Indian, or woman, or Muslim, or American are not more than starting-points, which if followed into actual experience for only a moment are quickly left behind. Imperialism consolidated the mixture of cultures and identities on a global scale. But its worst and most paradoxical gift was to allow people to believe that they were only, mainly, exclusively, white, or Black, or Western, or Oriental. Yet just as human beings make their own history, they also make their cultures and ethnic identities. No one can deny the persisting continuities of long traditions, sustained habitations, national languages, and cultural geographies, but there seems no reason except fear and prejudice to keep insisting on their separation and distinctiveness, as if that was all human life was about. Survival in fact is about the connections between things; in Eliot’s phrase, reality cannot be deprived of the “other echoes [that] inhabit the garden.” It is more rewarding—and more difficult—to think concretely and sympathetically, contrapuntally, about others than only about “us.” But this also means not trying to rule others, not trying to classify them or put them in hierarchies, above all, not constantly reiterating how “our” culture or country is number one (or not number one, for that matter).