الجمعة، 4 ديسمبر، 2015

Heart of Darkness.

I feel I should add something else here. I have often been interpreted as retrospectively attacking great writes and thinkers like Jane Austen and Karl Marx because some of their ideas seem politically incorrect by the standards of our time. that is a stupid notion which, I just have to say categorically, is not true of anything I have either written or said. on the contrary, I am always trying to understand figures from the past whom I admire, even as I point out how they were by the perspectives of their own cultural moment as far as their views of other cultures and peoples were concerned. the special point I then try to make is that it is imperative to read them as intrinsically worthwhile for today's non-European or non-Western reader, who is often either happy to dismiss them altogether as dehumanizing or insufficiently aware of the colonized people (as Chinua Achebe does with Conrad's portrayal of Africa), or reads them, in a way, "above" the historical circumstances of which they were so much apart. My approach tries to see them in their context as accurately as possible, but then -because they are extraordinary writers and thinkers whose work has enabled other, alternative work and readings based on developments of which they could not have been aware - I see them contrapuntally, that is, as figures whose writing travels across temporal, cultural and ideological boundaries in unforeseen ways to emerge as part of a new ensemble along with later history and subsequent art. so, for instance, rather than leaving Conrad's late-nineteenth-century work as-in all sorts of unforeseen proleptic ways-suggesting and provoking not only the tragic distortions in the Congo's subsequent history but also the echoing answers in Africa writing that reuse Conrad's journey motif as a topos to present that discoveries and recognition of postcolonial dynamics, a great part of them the deliberate antitheses-you have the radically different responses embodied in Tayib Salih's Mawsim al Hijra illal shamal and V.S. Naipaul's A bend in the River. These two works couldn't be more different from each other, but both are unimaginable without the structure of Conrad's prior imaginative feat to guide and then push them, so to speak, into a new avenues of articulation true to the vision of a Sudanese Arab's experience in the 1960s and that of a Trinidadian Indian expatriate a few years later. The interesting result is not only that Salih and Naipaul depend so vitally on their reading of Conrad, but that Conrad's writing is further actualized and animated by emphases and inflections that he was obviously unaware of, but that his writing permits.

Edward Said | Freud and the Non-European


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