February 10, 2011

A Supplement To Understanding The Egyptian Phenomenon(Part Two)

This post is not to will people to understand the phenomenon in Egypt in a certain fashion. Rather it is to disclose a strategy to aid in the process of interpreting the time(history) that is unfolding before our very eyes. Once again, we address the texts of Edward Said, in the introduction to Orientalism Said gives a seemingly instructional description of the strategy that he employs to reveal the ways in which an individual positions himself towards the Orient during his investigation of Orient experience, reality, and an interrogation of dominant modes of thought towards the Orient. Said outlines two specific:

"principal methodological devices for studying authority here [they] are what can be called strategic location which is a way of describing the authors positions in a text with regard to the Oriental material he writes about, and strategic formation, which is a way of analyzing the relationship between texts and the way in which groups of texts, types of texts, even textual genres acquire mass, density, and referential power among themselves and here after in the culture at large"

Although Said is explaining how to use these methods to understand the authority of Orientalist texts, these principles offer an example of how to drown oneself, in a critical manner to analyze and interpret the ways in which understandings form and locate themselves into the general "culture at large". This reveals the opportunity to understand how events such as Egypt as well as the dominant(traditional) texts, and discourses that may distort such events "acquire mass and density". To begin, we can divulge further into these two ideas and how they are applicable to the movements taking place in the status quo. Strategic Location would advice us to examine the position from which the author produces his/her discourses, texts, and general ideas in relation to his/her subject. This has particular relevance to the Egypt situation. There has been an enormous media coverage that has produced, an almost infinite amount of articles, headlines, think tank reports, live video coverage, commentary, guest speakers, etcetera. All of these mediums of production have different authors, and motivations that manifest(or locate themselves) in the material they are producing. That means when being bombarded by different outlets of media one should try to keep in mind all of these different forces that constantly act on our attempts to process and make revelations out of the events that are happening in our time.

Strategic Formation is analyzing how these texts, and discourses gain power, and shape understanding about the subjects they address. Although Said is explaining this in the context of a genealogy it gives us insight (as mentioned above) to understand how the different texts about the situation in Egypt have attempted to exert their power in being able to produce knowledge about the situation in the form of reports, and solutions. This tradition of reifying knowledge production addressed in posts previous to this one show that this is not a new tactic but a tradition that has been constructed over time by a vast array of other texts, discourses, authors and so fourth. These authors formulate their texts by retrieving previous ways of producing knowledge about the Orient and applying and adapting it to a new situation to enforce this perpetual cycle of inheritance. So, along with being conscious of the authors positions towards the Orient when discussing it, we should also be aware of the power these texts have to formulate ideas about the Orient and why they are privileged with this ability. That is to say we should constantly analyze knowledge that is thrust upon(presupposed for) us and be attentive to the intricate relationships and implications it can have on a general understanding of the issue and to use these tactics to formulate ones own political will towards the position of the Orient.

In conclusion, we must analyze the protests that are taking place while we sleep in the comfort of our beds in the safe Western lands, that in a way can that can give adequate recognition of its" mass and density", that has created a fracture in dominant modes of thought, and of common ideas about the Orient. These methodologies hope to allow us to experience the true impact that these different movements have on the culture at large. We cannot allow this phenomenon to sink into the oblivion, slowly crippled by the numerous representations that seek to define, and essentially demolish the extraordinary spirit that lies inside the Egyptian population.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad i spotted this in the editor drafts lol. I greatly enjoyed this post.