post-coloniality edward said: (1993). culture and imperialism. new york: alfred a. knopf. two...

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  • Post-Coloniality

    Edward Said: (1993). Culture and Imperialism. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

    Two Visions in Heart of Darkness

  • Post-Coloniality Edward Said

    Any one with even a vague consciousness of this whole [interrelations between East and West] is alarmed at how such remorselessly selfish and narrow interests - patriotism, chauvinism, ethnic, religious, and racial hatreds can in fact lead to mass destructiveness. The world simply cannot afford this any more times.

  • Post-Coloniality Edward Said

    (vital national interest) The wonder of it is that the schooling for such relatively provincial thought and action is still prevalent unchecked, uncritically accepted, recurringly replicated in the education of generation after generation.

    We are all taught to venerate our nations and admire our traditions: we are taught to pursue their interests with toughness and in disregard for other societies.

  • Post-ColonialityEdward Said

    A new and in my opinion appalling tribalism is fracturing societies, separating peoples, promoting greed, bloody conflict, and uninteresting assertions of minor ethnic or group particularly.

    Little time is spent not so much in learning about other cultures the phrase has an inane vagueness to it- but in studying the interactions, the actual and often productive traffic occurring on a day-by-day, and even minute-by-minute basis among states, societies, groups, identities.

  • Post-ColonialityEdward Said

    One significant contemporary debate about the residue of imperialism the matter of how natives are represented in the Western media- illustrates the persistence of such interdependence and overlapping, not only in the debates content but in its form, not only in what is said but also how it is said, by whom, where, and for whom.

  • Post-ColonialityEdward Said

    Was it not true, ran their (the Western) new evaluation, that we had given them progress and modernization? Hadnt we provided them with order and a kind of stability that they havent been able since to provide for themselves?

    Dismissed or forgotten were the ravaged colonial peoples who for centuries endured summary justice, unending economic oppression, distortion of their social and intimate lives, and a recourseless submission that was the function of unchanging European superiority.

  • Post-ColonialityEdward Said

    Only to keep in mind the millions of Africans who were supplied to the slave trade acknowledge the unimaginable cost of maintaining that superiority.

    The thing to be noticed about this kind of contemporary discourse, which assumes the primacy and even the complete centrality of the West, is how totalising is its form, how all-enveloping its attitudes and gestures, how suddenly find ourselves transported backward in time to the late nineteenth century.

  • Post-ColonialityEdward Said

    This imperial attitude is, I believe, beautifully captured in the complicated and rich narrative form of Conrads great novella Heart of Darkness.

    This narrative is connected directly with the redemptive force, as well as the waste and horror, of Europes mission in the dark world.

  • Post-ColonialityEdward Said

    Conrad want us to see how Kurtzs great looting adventure, Marlows journey up the river, and the narrative itself all share a common theme: Europeans performing act of imperial mastery and will in (or about) Africa.

    What saves us is efficiency the devotion to efficiency. 7

  • Post-ColonialityEdward Said

    What redeems is the idea only. An idea at the back of it; not sentimental pretence but an idea; and an unselfish belief in the idea something you can set up, and bow down before, and after a sacrifice to 7

    Something like an emissary of light, something like a lower sort of apostle. 14

  • Post-ColonialityEdward Said

    Heart of Darkness works so effectively because its politics and aesthetics are, so to speak, imperialist, which in the closing years of the nineteenth century seemed to be at the same time an aesthetic, politics, and even epistemology inevitable and unavoidable.

    [Kurtz] He is a prodigy, he said at last. He is an emissary of pity, and science, and progress, and devil knows what else 30

  • Post-ColonialityEdward Said

    He began with the argument that we whites, from the point of development we had arrived at, must necessarily appear to the [savages] in the nature of supernatural beings- we approach them with the might as of a deity, and so on, and so on. 61

  • Post-ColonialityEdward Said

    Conrads realization is that, like narrative, imperialism had monopolized the entire system of representation.

    One argument allows the old imperial enterprise full scope to play itself out conventionally, to render the world as official European or Western imperialism saw it, and to consolidate itself after World War Two.

  • Post-ColonialityEdward Said

    My purpose was to stroll into the shade for a moment; but no sooner within that it seemed to me I had stepped into then gloomy circle of some Inferno. 19We penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness. 43 1We were wanderers on a prehistoric earth, on an earth that wrote the aspect of anh unknown planet. 43 1The prehistoric man was cursing us, praying to us, welcoming us who could tell? 43 1We could not understand, because, because we were too far and could not remember, because we were travelling in the night of first ages, of those ages that are gone, leaving hardly a sing-and no memories. 44 1

  • Post-ColonialityEdward Said

    My purpose was to stroll into the shade for a moment; but no sooner within that it seemed to me I had stepped into then gloomy circle of some Inferno. 19

    We penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness. 43 We were wanderers on a prehistoric earth, on an earth that wrote the aspect of anh unknown planet. 43

  • Post-ColonialityEdward Said

    The prehistoric man was cursing us, praying to us, welcoming us who could tell? 43 We could not understand, because, because we were too far and could not remember, because we were travelling in the night of first ages, of those ages that are gone, leaving hardly a sing-and no memories. 44

  • Post-ColonialityEdward Said

    Westerners may have physically led their old colonies in Africa and Asia, but they retained them not only as markets but as locales on the ideological map over which they continued to rule morally and intellectually.

    He was useful (the savage that was the fireman) because he has been instructed. 45

  • Post-ColonialityEdward Said

    He began with the argument that we whites, from the point of development we had arrived at, must necessarily appear to the [savages] in the nature of supernatural beings- we approach them with the might as of a deity, and so on, and so on. 61

    The assertions of this discourse [European superiority] exclude what has been represented as lost by arguing that the colonial world was in some ways ontologically speaking lost to being with, irredeemable, irrecusably inferior.

  • Post-ColonialityEdward Said

    The second argument is considerably less objectionable. It sees itself as Conrad saw his own narratives, local to a time and place, neither unconditionally true nor unqualifiedly certain.

  • Post-ColonialityEdward Said

    They were conquerors and for that you want only brute force nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others. They grabbed what they could get and for the sake of what was to be got. It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind as is very proper to those who tackle a darkness. 7

  • Post-ColonialityEdward Said

    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, us not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. 7

    Conrad does not give us the sense that he could imagine a fully realized alternative to imperialism: the natives he wrote about Africa, Asia, or America were incapable of independence, and because he seemed to imagine that European tutelage was a given, he could not foresee what would take place when it came to an end.

  • Post-ColonialityEdward Said

    Since Conrad dates imperialism, shows its contingency, records its illusions and tremendous violence and waste (as in Nostrodomo), he permits his later readers to imagine something other than an Africa carved up unto dozens of Europeans colonies, even if, for his own part, he had little notion of what that Africa might be.

    Hadnt been told in all the tones of jealousy and admiration that he (Kurtz) had collected, bartered, swindled, or stolen more ivory than all the other agents together. 58

  • Post-ColonialityEdward Said

    All Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz; and by and bye I learned that, most appropriately, the International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs had entrusted him with the making of a report, for its future guidance. 61

    To return to the first line out of Conrad, the discourse of resurgent empire proves that the nineteenth-century imperial encounter continues today to draw lines sand defend barriers.

  • Post-ColonialityEdward Said

    An important ideological shift occurred during the 1970s and 1980s, accompanying this contradiction of horizons in what I have been calling the first of the two lines leading out of Heart of Darkness.

    One in the radicalism of poststructuralist thinkers such a Lyotard or Foucault.

  • Post-ColonialityEdward SaidIn both Lyotard and Foucault we find precisely the same trope employed to explain the disappointment in the politics of liberation: [] there is nothing to look forward to: we are stuck within our circle.

    After years of support for anti-colonial struggles in Algeria, Cuba, Vietnam, Palestine, Iran, which came to represent for many Western intellectuals their deepest engagement in the politics and philosophy of anti-imperialist decolonisation, a moment of exhaustion and disappointment was reached.

  • Post-ColonialityEdward Said

    One began to hear and read how futile it was to support revolutions, how barbaric were the new regimes that came to power, how this in an extreme case- decolonisation had benefited world communism.

    Enter now terrorism and barbarism. Enter also the ex-colonial experts whose well-publicized message was: these colonial peoples deserve only colonialism or, since we were foolish to pull out of Algeria, India, Indochina, and everywhere else, it might be a good idea to reinvade their territories.

  • Post-ColonialityEdward Said

    A second consequence, the second line leading out of Conrads narrative form; in its explicit references to the outside, it points to a perspective outside the basically imperialist representations provided by Marlow and his listeners.

    The less imperialistically assertive possibility offered by Heart of Darkness [] is expressed by largely through formal devices.

  • Post-ColonialityEdward SaidThe horror! The horror! 86 I like to think that my summing up would not have been a word of careless contempt. Better his cry- much better. It was an affirmation of moral victory!

  • Post-ColonialityEdward SaidThat is why I have remained loyal to Kurtz to the last, and even beyond, where a long time after I hear once more, not his own voice, but the echo of his magnificent eloquence thrown to me from a soul as translucently pure as a cliff of crystal. 88

  • Post-ColonialityEdward Said

    What Kurtz and Marlow saw was in fact a non-European world resisting imperialism so as one day to regain sovereignty and independence, and not as Conrad reductively says, to re-establish darkness.

    Conrads tragic limitation is that even though he could see clearly that on the level of imperialism was essentially pure dominance and land-grabbing, he could not then conclude that imperialism had to end so that natives could lead lives free from European domination.

  • Post-ColonialityEdward Said

    As a creature of his time, Conrad could not grant the natives their freedom, despite his severe critique of the imperialism that enslaved them. Now [post-colonial writers] can truly read the great colonial masterpieces, which misrepresented them but assumed they were unable to read and respond directly to what had been written about them, just as European ethnography presumed the natives incapacity to intervene in scientific discourse about them. END

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