Edward Wadie Said, 1935-2003

Four years ago today one of the brightest lights of the intellectual and moral realms was extinguished. Here’s an homage by Mahmoud Darwish writing in Le Monde Diplomatique in 2005:

SaidNew York. Edward awakes while dawn slumbers on. He plays an air by Mozart. Tennis on the university court. He reflects on thought’s ability to transcend borders and barriers. Thumbs through the New York Times. Writes his spirited column. Curses an orientalist who guides a general to the weak spot in an eastern woman’s heart. Showers. Drinks his white coffee. Picks out a suit with a dandy’s elegance and calls on the dawn to stop dawdling!

He walks on the wind. And, in the wind, he knows himself. No four walls hem in the wind. And the wind is a compass for the north in a foreign land.

He says: I come from that place. I come from here, and I am neither here nor there. I have two names that come together but pull apart. I have two languages, but I have forgotten which is the language of my dreams. I have the English language with its accommodating vocabulary to write in. And another tongue drawn from celestial conversations with Jerusalem. It has a silvery resonance, but rebels against my imagination.

And your identity? Said I.

His response: Self-defence . . . Conferred on us at birth, in the end it is we who fashion our identity, it is not hereditary. I am manifold . . . Within me, my outer self renewed. But I belong to the victim’s interrogation.

Were I not from that place, I would have trained my heart to raise metonymy’s gazelle there . . .

More here. And see also brilliant remembrances of Edward Said at 3QD by Akeel Bilgrami here and Asad Raza here. My own post on the first anniversary of Edward’s death is here, and contains links to tributes by many others.

And this is David Price in CounterPunch:

EdwardsaidHow the FBI Spied on Edward Said

In response to my request under the Freedom of Information Act, filed on behalf of CounterPunch, the FBI recently released 147 of Said’s 238-page FBI file. There are some unusual gaps in the released records, and it is possible that the FBI still holds far more files on Professor Said than they acknowledge. Some of these gaps may exist because new Patriot Act and National Security exemptions allow the FBI to deny the existence of records; however, the released file provides enough information to examine the FBI’s interest in Edward Said who mixed artistic appreciations, social theory, and political activism in powerful and unique ways.

Most of Said’s file documents FBI surveillance campaigns of his legal, public work with American-based Palestinian political or pro-Arab organizations, while other portions of the file document the FBI’s ongoing investigations of Said as it monitored his contacts with other Palestinian-Americans. That the FBI should monitor the legal political activities and intellectual forays of such a man elucidates not only the FBI’s role in suppressing democratic solutions to the Israeli and Palestinian problems, it also demonstrates a continuity with the FBI’s historical efforts to monitor and harass American peace activists.

More here.