Sunday, June 21, 2009

Thought for the Day: Edward Said on the Oppositional Task of the Critic

Were I to use one word consistently along with criticism (not as a modification but as an emphatic) it would be oppositional. If criticism is reducible neither to a doctrine not to a political position on a particular question, and if it is to be in the world and self-aware simultaneously, then its identity is its difference from other cultural activities and from systems of thought or of method. In its suspicion of totalizing concepts, in its discontent with reified objects, in its impatience with guilds, special interests, imperialized fiefdoms, and orthodox habits of mind, criticism is most itself and, if the paradox can be tolerated, must unlike itself at the moment it starts turning into organized dogma.

Edward Said, The World, the Text, and the Critic (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1983), p. 29.