Reheating the Leftovers of Existence


Photo of Edward Said courtesy of BBC.

The idea of perspective resonates profoundly in Edward Said’s essay, “The Politics of Knowledge”. Throughout documented history, human civilization has shown to revolve around the shifting dynamics of existence. These human viewpoints are ever changing, as the familiar collides with the unfamiliar. As a result, divisions form between groups holding different ideologies. Conflict is therefore one predominant driving force for establishing the innumerable lenses by which humans see life through.

Most notably in the concept of empire, opposing human forces with differing notions of the world clash together with contradicting agendas and life styles. Likewise, Said’s essay follows upon a tangent of the human condition of individual interpretation. The importance of such a tangent is that, we as human beings, not solely scholars, reflect upon the past in order to build our understanding of the forces that put forth the motion of social development that affects humans up to modern times. With the intention of dissecting the experiences of various peoples in relation to the concept of empire, scholars such as Said either lean towards or away from categorizing perspectives that are amply scrutinized against those doomed to obscurity, while critically analyzing the effects of doing so. Ergo, prominence is inherently linked to importance, or so it is inclined to believe.

Under the light of this notion, those human experiences fallen to limited representation, though miniscule in the face of larger historical factors, unearth information that consequently broaden our knowledge of what catalyzed certain related events and how they altered the course of history leading up to our present day. Therefore, one group’s historical domination of attention does not garner nor gage importance, rather their monopolized position of power demands sole focus and is rewarded so, in turn overshadowing key components that put life into motion. In the same thread of empire, conflict is seen to be the greatest underlying factor that has shaped human interaction.

In essence, revisiting the past exhumes that which was originally dismissed for its lack of


Photo of Acropolis courtesy of Wikimedia.

immediate importance and instead highlight the essentiality of roles; therefore examining how opposing parties function to create progress or destroy progress in its tracks. In doing so we better grasp the fundamental building blocks of time that have affected our current lives and will extend into those of the future.


2 thoughts on “Reheating the Leftovers of Existence

  1. Great first thoughts for your blog! These are issues that we will be grappling with all year, and I will be very curious to see how you respond to Said’s arguments in Orientalism. It is a fundamental issue in the humanities! Also, although we aren’t reading it for class, I’d recommend the essay “Can the Subaltern Speak?” by the important critic and philosopher Gayatri Spivak.


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