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Tagged with “edward said” (2)

  1. A Last Conversation with Edward Said, Part 2 | Christopher Lydon

    Might Johannes Brahms’ E-minor Sonata for piano and cello have charms to soothe the savagery of the Arab-Israeli conflict?  “No, I doubt it,” said Edward Said in our last conversation, with music, three years ago.  “But it could produce quite extraordinary configurations like the one last summer in Weimar,” with 80 young musicians from the Middle East

    taking master classes with Yo-Yo Ma and forming a new orchestra under the baton of Daniel Barenboim.  “Now I don’t think there’s any political fallout from that, except that it’s just a new pattern that I think has a role to play in providing models for different kinds of relationships between not just Arabs and Jews, but Arabs among themselves.  I mean, there were many Arabs who had never met other Arabs there, and for them it was an interesting encounter.   And it all came about because of this quite extraordinary power of a figure like Barenboim who is an amazing musician and a great communicator at the same time.”     In the second half of our conversation in April, 2000, Professor Said (who died two weeks ago at 67) spoke with passion about his improbable but intimate alliance with the pianist-conductor Daniel Barenboim.  “We both have a tremendous interest in the Middle East as a place of possibility–not because there are these separations but because there are these mixtures, you know.  Neither of us live there.  Daniel lives in Berlin and Chicago, and I live in New York, but the Middle East is important just as a place to go back to.  And it’s a place that’s interesting to us because of the incredible variety of lives there and cultures that it’s possible to excavate.  And I know from his point of view the discovery going into an Arab home, for example, which he did for the first time when we went to one in Ramallah a couple of years ago was for him a major adventure because, he said, in his own background growing up as a young musician in Israel in the ’50s he had no knowledge of what the Arabs were like, although they were living next door.  And one of the things he was interested in doing, for example, is learning Arabic.  And actually he made an announcement at a concert which he gave in Jerusalem, which I attended, a recital in which he said he was outraged that the program was in English and Hebrew but not in Arabic.  So that notion of dissipating boundaries that are usually, in the end, quite mechanical and not worth maintaining is very much a part of this.”  Listen here.

    —Huffduffed by grankabeza

  2. A Last Conversation with Edward Said, Part 1 | Christopher Lydon

    In the mourning for Edward Said, the preeminent Palestinian public intellectual in America, several alert listeners have prompted me to liberate a remarkable interview that Professor Said gave me three years ago.  Listen here.  To me the striking thing on rehearing it is the degree to which the warrior intellectual, the controversialist of Orientalism, also Culture and Imperialism and the long drive for Palestinian statehood, had become in recent years an ardent champion and practitioner of reconciliation.  I asked: had he not become almost the Rodney King of Jerusalem, pleading “can’t we all get along?”  He answered with a laugh:  “No, I’m still a militant intellectual.  My tone is very sharp, and I give and trade blows with people who disagree with me.  That’s part of the deal.  But I think there are other relationships and other avenues that I explore that are to me more interesting.”       Said’s relationship with music and his deep fraternity with the Israeli pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim are essential parts of the story which we’ll come to.  On Said’s death, Barenboim wrote: “The Palestinians have lost one of the most eloquent defenders of their aspirations.  The Israelis have lost an adversary — but a fair and humane one.  And I have lost a soul mate.”   That spirit of adventure in difference was the memorable core of Said’s conversation with me in April, 2000.  “You cannot live with ethnic and racial fear,” he said.  “And you have to find a way to live with The Other, given–and this is I think the most important point with regard to Palestine–two things.  Number One is that more than one people claim that place.  You can’t say it’s exclusively the right of the Jews or the Arabs.  Both of them have equal rights in my opinion in that place.  And Number Two, it’s too small a place to divide.  I mean: if you look at the area between Ramallah in the North and Bethlehem in the South, we’re talking about 20 miles, north to south, that contains about one million people, Arab and Jew.  It’s impossible to divide them.  So you either find them a way to live equitably together, each in his own way, of course.  But you cannot have one people with all the rights and the other without any rights.  That’s apartheid.”     Said was fiercely engaged as a writer and lecturer till the end.  His commentaries on the Iraq War, available online mainly through the London Review of Books and Al-Ahram Weekly, were essential to the big picture.  But of course he knew that he was living, for more than a decade as it turned out, under a death sentence from leukemia.  So he was persistently working to frame the big picture of his own experience and the epic lessons of his own times. That problem–living with the other–”has preoccupied me most of my life, intellectually and politically,” he reflected in our conversation.  “I think it’s the main problem.  I think fear and ignorance are the two main factors here–that somehow contact with the other will somehow threaten your identity; and second, I think we all have a mythological view of identity as a single thing that is basically intact and has to be protected.  I think that’s simply nonsense.  History teaches us that all of us are mixed, that every individual is made up of sevaral maybe competing strands, and that is to be cherished.  Rather than laundering out the strands that are competitive or contradictory, I think one ought to encourage them… well, in the way, in music, there’s this thing called counterpoint, where you manage the voices in a fugue and it makes it more interesting that there are more voices working together than less.  And I think the same thing applies in society.  And I think we’re moving gradually in that direction.”  Listen here.

    —Huffduffed by grankabeza