WRECK PARK

Art By Johanna Povirk-Znoy

WILLIAM
SPANOS

Resistance and the Coming Community: Retrieving Edward W. Said’s Culture and Imperialism

History has forced the status of outlaws upon both, [conscious] pariahs and parvenus alike. The latter have not accepted the great wisdom of Balzac’s “On ne parvient deux fois”; thus they don’t understand the wild dreams of the former and feel humiliated in sharing their fate. Those few refugees who insist on telling the truth, even to the point of “indecency,” get in exchange for their unpopularity one priceless advantage: history is no longer closed book to them and politics is no longer the privilege of Gentiles. . . . Refugees driven from country to country represent the vanguard of their people—they keep their identity.

---Hannah Arendt, “We Refugees,” in The Jew as Conscious Pariah

  Edward W. Said’s Culture and Imperialism was published in 1993 in the immediate wake of the implosion of the Soviet Union and the euphoric representation in the United States of that disclosive occasion, most notably by the neoconservative ideologue Francis Fukuyama as an epochal event that announced “the end of History.” By this spectacular locution—the title of his inordinately popular book, published in 1993, the same year as Said’s—Fukuyama, harnessing Friedrich Hegel’s dialectical theory of history to the American exceptionalist ethos, meant not only the terminal point of the essential dialectical logic of historical temporality, but also the end of the Cold War and the decisive and finalizing global triumph of American capitalist democracy over the threatening menace of Soviet Communism.

  At the time of the publication of Said’s Culture and Imperialism, however, most commentators, pro and con, taking their cue from his earlier overdetermination of the Orientalist history of the West, particularly at the end of World War II, focused on the implications of this revolutionary occasion for the relationship of Europe to the Orient. I will suggest, however, with the Cold War, which is the mis en scène of his writing the book, in mind, that, though Said focuses his many-sided diagnosis of contemporary history largely on the West and the Orient, this “West,” as his multiple references in Culture and Imperialism to America’s perennial predatory “errand in the wilderness” must include the United States or, more precisely, a globalized exceptionalist America. Read in this retrieved context, Culture and Imperialism comes to be understood as, indeed, a revolutionary intervention that changed the terrain of the critical theory of Western modernity in many crucial ways by perceiving a number of early anticipatory and late, actual manifestations of the end of World War II, not simply as the triumph of Western democracy over fascism as virtually all the official histories of the war did. It also, with the post-war excesses of American exceptionalism in mind, interpreted these manifestations “contrapuntally.” I mean by this formulation a liminal point in the development of the idea and practice of the West that bore eventual witness to the decline of the Western nation-state system and its perennial imperial project and the emergence of the globally destabilizing postcolonial initiative of hitherto colonized Arabic peoples.

  From this temporal distance, Said’s provocative book could be re-encountered a quarter of a century later as a suggestive, deliberately errant meditation on a number of indissolubly related, central Saidian themes that, since the last decade of the twentieth century—the end of the Cold War and the United States’ globalization of its exceptionalist ethos, particularly after 9/11/01--have become extremely prominent in contemporary secular criticism: the affiliated matters of Orientalism, Western modernity, the textual attitude, hegemony, culture, the exilic consciousness, the figure of the refugee, the voyage in, the waning of the nation-state system, the advent of globalization, the play of counterpoint, among others. Since, however, such an intervention would require far more space than this limited venue allows, I will, by way of a now unfashionable “close reading” of a brief section of the terminal chapter of Said’s text, focus my symptomatic commentary on the disclosive liminal point of his account of the narrative logic of the historical nation-state / imperial project. I mean specifically Said’s unprecedented contrapuntal genealogy of the predatory historical narrative that ends in the annunciation by the United States of the “end of history” and the triumph of capitalist democracy. I am referring to the phenomenal passage of the final section, “Movements and Migrations”1 of the concluding chapter of Culture and Imperialism aptly entitle “Freedom from Domination in the Future,” in which Said meditates in an acutely resonant, I would say visionary way if that word were not hopelessly corrupted by the reifying structural dynamics of Western metaphysical thinking on the epochal consequences of the demise of traditional Western imperialism at the end of World War II.

  What immediately strikes the reader in returning twenty years after the publication of Culture and Imperialism to this opening close of Said’s contrapuntal genealogy is its striking anticipation of the history of the post 9/11 era that bore witness to the United States’ spectacular (“shock and awe”) preemptive intervention in the “rogue states,” Iraq and Afghanistan, in the name of its arrogant exceptionalist “errand in the [world’s] wilderness” and that culminated in the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States and his jeremiadic annunciation of his will to recuperate the hitherto declining status of the American nation and the binary logic of belonging inhering in its apotheosis of rigid borders and impenetrable walls, and its criminalization of foreign intruders, now, however, as the sound bite—“Make America Great Again –-printed on his ubiquitous red baseball cap testifies, as (dangerous) farce. I not only mean Said’s revisionary identification of culture—the truth discourse of the Western nation-state under the aegis of capitalism (what Antonio Gramsci called “hegemony”)--with the political economy of imperialism. Rather, as my all too brief reference to Trump’s paranoid commitment to sealed borders and the banning of migrants is intended to testify, I also mean Said’s revolutionary interrogation of the identitarian binary (Us and them) logic of belonging of the Western nation-state

2.

  The passage of Culture and Imperialism to which I am referring, as it brings Said’s suggestive errant narrative of the perennial “benign” Western imperial project to its disclosive liminal point in reversing the traditional Base/superstructure model that privileges empire over culture, begins starkly but with acute precision by way, not incidentally, of references to the theorization of the liberating potential of the nomadic post-modern condition by poststructualist thinkers, especially Paul Virilio and Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari:

Precision, concreteness, continuity, form—all these the attributes of a nomadic practice whose power, Virilio says, is not aggressive but transgressive. We can perceive this truth on the political map of the contemporary [post-World War II] world. For surely it is one of the unhappiest characteristics of the age to have produced more refugees, migrants, displaced persons, and exiles than ever before in history, most of them as an accompaniment to and, ironically enough, as afterthoughts of great post-colonial and imperial conflicts. As the struggle for independence produced new states and new boundaries, it also produced homeless wanderers, nomads, and vagrants, unassimilated to the emerging structures for institutional power, rejected by the established order for their intransigence and obdurate rebelliousness. And insofar as these people exist between the old and the new, between the old empire and the new state, their condition articulates the tensions, irresolutions, and contradictions in the overlapping territories shown on the cultural map of imperialism. (332)

At this inaugural stage of the passage, Said, as his precise rhetoric makes starkly clear, is emphasizing the immediate consequence of the self-de-struction of the Western imperial enterprise: the precipitation of a global demographics in which the coerced unity of the nation-state begins to disintegrate, thus disclosing and making visible the hitherto invisible--strategically obliterated--figure of the migrant or refugee as the very visible and spectral global norm. It is a diagnosis, not incidentally, that Hannah Arendt prefigured in her great book, The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951) by way of identifying the "stateless person" produced by the catastrophe of World War II as the new paradigm of the global human condition. This precipitation of the nomad as the representative figure of the post-war world constitutes the most obvious consequence of the fulfillment of the logic of belonging of the Western nation-state / imperial project. It is, indeed, as Said will not let us forget, "one of the unhappiest characteristics of the age." But, paradoxically-- and precisely because of the painful precarity of this exilic/nomadic condition-- it is also fraught with positive potential. In short, at this liminal point of the historical itinerary of that binary imperialist logic, the world, in Said's suggestive recurrent language, becomes an "in-between" world, or, to put it in terms that clarify the worldly consequences of this precarious condition, an interregnum in which the old world--imperialism and the nation-state system that sponsors it--is dying (though not dead) and a new world which is struggling to be born.

  The positive potential of the figure of the emigré hinted at in the above paragraph is the burden of the following sentences of the liminal passage of Culture and Imperialism I am interpreting. It is the potential of resistance, but not, it is important to emphasize, the Friend/foe mode of opposition sanctioned by the Western tradition, in which the abject weak (foe) revolt against the strong (Friend) on the stable and confining model of frontal combat, a resistance of the unarmed oppressed invariably doomed to crushing and decisive defeat by the highly armed master. On the contrary, the mode of resistance enabled by the dislocating or exilic condition--the in-betweenness--of the interregnum has its effective existential source in the very nomadic character--the spontaneous and erratic mobility--of the estranged and oppressed. Said writes:

There is a great difference, however, between the optimistic mobility, the intellectual liveliness, and the "logic of daring" described by the various theoreticians on whose work I have drawn, and the massive dislocations, waste, misery, and horrors endured in our century's migrations and mutilated lives. Yet it is no exaggeration to say that liberation as an intellectual mission, born in the resistance and opposition to the confinements and ravages of imperialism, has now shifted from the settled, established, and domesticated dynamics of culture to its unhoused, decentered, and exilic energies, energies whose incarnation today is the migrant, and whose consciousness is that of the intellectual and artist in exile, the political figure between domains, between forms, between homes, and between languages. From this perspective then all things are indeed counter, original, spare, strange. From this perspective also one can see "the complete consort dancing together" contrapuntally. And while it would be rankest Panglossian dishonesty to say the bravura performances of the intellectual exile and the miseries of the displaced person or refugee are the same, it is possible, I think, to regard the intellectual as distilling then articulating the predicament that disfigure modernity--mass deportation, imprisonment, population transfer, collective dispossession, and forced immigration. (332; my emphasis)

Said concludes this paragraph on the alienated and estranged perception--"counter, original, spare, strange"-- of the nomad enigmatically by adding: "From this perspective also, one can see 'the complete consort dancing together' contrapuntally," a paradoxical locution that yokes by violence a phrase from T. S. Eliot's "Christian" poem, Four Quartets, and a counter term derived from the post-modern atonal initiative in music, into a discordia concors. I will return later to Said's enigmatic and seemingly gratuitous addition that this liminal in-between perspective also enabled the perception of the “complete "'consort danc[ing] together' contrapuntally." At this juncture, it is necessary to amplify the implications for the alternative mode of resistance against power Said intuits as inhering in the exilic condition.

  From this deracinated perspective--this consciousness of the condition of being in-between or simultaneously inside and outside--in other words, the estranged exilic intellectual, who, like Gramsci's "organic" version, is the consciousness of the mass of unhomed humans who populate the new post-war world, is not only enabled to perceive what the dominant at-homed or insiders are necessarily blind to by their "benign" familiar (“filiative,” in Said's language) insight: the contrapuntal degradation and violence inhering in the binary logic of belonging of the nation-state and, as Americans have perennially and put it, of its the imperial "errand" contrapuntally, the intellectual and artist in exile is enabled to imagine a novel, ungrounded formless form of resistance precisely in the ec-centricity, the nomadic condition, of the lowly deracinated, the very abject condition that earned them their status as the stateless vagabonds, that is, in the proleptic contrapuntal language of Theodor Adorno that Said quotes in what follows, as the "afterthoughts"-- of the "'administered world'," in other words, as those who don't count in a world where what counts is determined by those reifiers who not only count but do the counting:

The past life of emigrés is, as we know, annulled, says Adorno in Minima Moralia, subtitled Reflections from a Damaged Life (Reflexionen aus dem beschadigten Leben). Why? "Because anything that is not reified, cannot be measured, ceases to exist or, as he says later, is consigned to mere "background." Although the disabling aspects of this fate are manifest, the virtues or possibilities are worth exploring. Thus the emigré consciousness--a mind of winter, in Wallace Stevens's phrase -- discovers in its marginality that "a gaze averted from the beaten track, a hatred of brutality, a search for fresh concepts not yet encompassed by the general pattern, is the last hope for thought." Adorno's general pattern is what in another place he calls the "administered world" or, insofar as the irresistible dominants in culture are concerned, "the consciousness industry. (333)

In thus disclosing contrapuntally the hitherto invisible reality that authorized the administered society's binarist truth discourse, Adorno, Said adds, goes on to say that the estranged marginalized condition of the emigré--this "mind of winter"-- not only provides a place of refuge for the nomadic refugee; this ec-centric place of refuge --this de-centered zero zone, as it were--also provides this deracinated figure with a viable because unreified and unadministered (errant) language of resistance:

There is then not just the negative advantage of refuge in the emigré's eccentricity; there is also the positive benefit of challenging the system, describing it in language unavailable to t hose it has already subdued: "In an intellectual hierarchy which constantly makes everyone answerable, unanswerability alone can call the hierarchy by its name. The circulation sphere, whose stigmata are borne by intellectual outsiders, opens a last refuge to the mind that it barters away, at the very moment when refuge no longer exists. He who offers for sale something unique that no one wants to buy, represents, even against his will, freedom from exchange.” (333; my emphasis)

Said acknowledges that Adorno's articulation of the potential for an alternative mode of resistance in this passage from Minima Moralia is "minimal." But, returning to the pervasive question of language, he adds that a few pages later Adorno expands the possibility of freedom inhering in the estranged errant words of the refugee “by prescribing a form of expression whose opacity, obscurity, and deviousness--the absence of ‘the full transparency of its logical genesis’--move away from the dominant [structuring metaphysical] system, enacting in its 'inadequacy' a measure of liberation: ‘This inadequacy resembles that of life, which describes a wavering, deviating line, disappointing by comparison with its premises, and yet which only in this actual course, always less than it should be, is able, under given conditions of existence, to represent an unregimented one’” (ibid).

  What is especially noteworthy about Said's Adornian explication of the refugees' enabling "inadequate" "wavering," and "deviating" language is its remarkable similarity to the dislocated and dislocating language of Herman Melville's Bartleby in his great proleptic short story, "Bartleby, the Scrivener." In that story, we recall, Bartleby responds to his "benign" Wall Street boss's call to copy a legal document by saying unexpectedly, "I would prefer not to." And, in thus refusing to be answerable to his boss's interpellating call, the scrivener tacitly calls the "hierarchy by its name, " and , in so doing, dislocates the caller from the position of command he normally inhabits.

  It may seem like an imposition on Said's Adornian elaboration of this alternative mode of resistance to invoke the figure of Melville's scrivener at this telling juncture in his argument. But I would like to think that Bartleby, though visibly absent in this particular context, is an invisible presence in the passage I am commenting on. This, however, I suggest, is not wishful thinking. Said refers to Melville's Bartleby in various other places in his texts, most notably in this last chapter of Culture and Imperialism, where he speaks of the spectral mass uprisings of the 1980s "outside the western metropolis," in anticipation of his Adornian reading of the new unregimented resistance endemic to the "mind of winter" of the estranged emigré:

[T]hese mass protests have all challenged something very basic to every art and theory, the principle of confinement. Tone governed people must be counted, taxed, educated, and, of course, ruled unregulated places (house, school, hospital, work site), as Foucault argued. . . . The unresolved plight of the Palestinians speaks directly of an undomesticated cause and a rebellious people paying A very heavy price for their resistance. And there are other examples: refugees and "boat people," those unresting and vulnerable itinerants; the starving populations if the Southern Hemisphere; the destitute but insistent homeless who like so many Bartlebys, shadow the Christmas shoppers in Western cities; the undocumented immigrants and exploited "guest workers" who provide cheap and usually seasonal labor. Between the extremes of discontented, challenging urban mobs and the flood of semi-forgotten, uncared-for people the world's secular authorities have sought new, or renewed, modes of governance. (327)

In thus invoking the figure of Bartleby shortly before his extended Adornian analysis of the emigré, Said suggests that the erratic scrivener is a spectral presence in his wide ranging mind whenever he speaks the “deviating” (errant) truth to power. This is no minor matter when the historical realities of the sustained history of America's sordid and devastating exceptionalist interventions in the Third World during and after the Cold War are recalled. I am referring above all to the American juggernaut's invasion of Vietnam in the late 1950s to oppose the effort of the Vietnamese to gain their independence from foreign Western colonial powers and to its spectacular destabilizing unending "war on terror," in the wake of al Qaeda's bombing of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 9/11/01.

  To consider the United States' intervention in Vietnam first, it is impossible at this juncture of Said's diagnosis of the alternative mode of resistance enabled by the coming to its liminal end of the logic of belonging of the Western nation-state and its imperial project not to recall the nomadic strategy of the Vietcong, usually but erroneously referred to as "guerrilla warfare," in its war of liberation against the neocolonial American invaders. For it was precisely its nomadism--this dislocated and dislocating refusal of an apparent hopelessly weak body of native rebels to be answerable to the traditional Western concept of war--that metamorphosed the predictable terrain envisaged by the "undeviating” beginning-middle-end narrative of the American war machine into an unfathomable and baffling "quagmire." I mean by this American narrative the traditional, pre-visioned structure (as on a map) of warfare between two unevenly opposed forces that inevitably ends in a decisive battle in which the most materially powerful side of the Friend / foe divide invariably triumphs. And by "quagmire" I mean the dissolution and consequent decimation of the enormous regimented power of the American war machine caused by the fluid and unpredictable ("de-viating") hit-and-run tactics of the nomadic Vietcong insurgents, the dissolution and decimation that eventually ended, not in the United States' decisive victory, but in its abject and ignominious withdrawal from Vietnam.

  Similarly, though more overtly, this Bartlebyan trope is proleptically pertinent to America's unending post-9/11 "War on Terror." The leaders of the dominant political class of the United States, from George Bush Senior and George Bush Junior, through Barack Obama, and, most recently and frighteningly encompassing, to Donald Trump--all seemingly impervious to the patent lessons about modern regimented power disclosed by the Vietnam disaster--have been utilizing in an increasingly incremental way an extreme version of the exceptionalist narrative logic of the American war machine in conducting their "war on terror" in the Middle East. I am not only referring to the spectacular "shock and awe" tactics, reminiscent of the desperate final phase of the juggernaut strategy of the United States in Vietnam--its total "war of attrition"-- the strategy of the spectacle that, in its awesomeness was intended to strike the spectators dumb, that is, to rob them of their speech, the sine qua non of the authentic democratic polis. As in the case of the massive and indiscriminate B-52 bombings in North Vietnam that replaced the indiscriminate “search and destroy” missions in South Vietnam after the Tet Offensive, this liminal American strategy of the spectacle--reminiscent, not incidentally, of the horrific fire-bombing of Dresden and the dropping of nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in World War II--far from silencing the Arab enemy, self-destructed. In its massive and indiscriminate killing, the United States’ liminal “war of attrition” disclosed to the world--not only to the Arabs of the Middle East, but also to American citizens and the citizens of America's allies--the inordinate violence hidden below the benign language of the American exceptionalist ethos and its redemptive errand in the world's wilderness.

  In thus disclosing the dark underside of the language of exceptionalism, the spectacular ("shock and awe") American military practice in the post-9/11 Middle East--this liminal occasion of the historical itinerary of its administered and regimented identitarian binary logic--also, at least symptomatically, activated, as in Vietnam a half a century before, a nomadic—errant, differential, non-identitarian, and unregimented--thinking and language that, like Said's damaged Adornian emigré and Melville's enigmatic Bartleby, turned the very weakness of the weak in the face of a materially powerful master into potent strength.

  Understood in terms of the foregoing commentary on the emergent novel mode of resistance that yokes Said's Adornian reading of the volatile global demographics of the post-World War II with the enigmatic figure of Melville's Bartleby, it will be realized that this affiliation is not as arbitrary as it might seem at first glance. What needs to be added to suggest the viability of this affiliation is the proleptic role that Melville's Bartleby the scrivener's refusal to be answerable to the dominant culture's subjecting interpellative call played in the articulation of the dismantling task, or, in Giorgio Agamben's affiliated terms, of the "revocation of every vocation," of the contemporary "artist and intellectual in exile, the political figure between domains, between forms, between homes, and between languages." I am referring to the inordinately heuristic use to which Melville's Bartleby figure has been put by contemporary “worldly” intellectual theorists by a significant in a critical secular effort to think a new and effective "inadequate" mode of resistance adequate to the extremely uneven balance of cultural and political power that prevails in the current democratic capitalist world. These include such prominent post-postmodern critical secular intellectuals as Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt, Maurice Blanchot, Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt, Giorgio Agamben, Gilles Deleuze, Alain Badiou, and Slavoj Žižek, among others, all of whose lives were, in some degree or other, damaged by the depredations of the administered society.2

  However diverse their emphases, what these recent exilic intellectuals have remarkably in common is precisely the acute awareness--"counter, original, spare, strange"--of the globalization of the figure of the refugee and their concomitant refusal, instigated by the dis-locating exilic condition of the interregnum, to be answerable to the assumed truth of the regimented narrative of the dominant nation-state culture. Which is to say, the Bartlebyan "I would prefer not to" that dislocates the dominant master and renders his interpellative call, which normally produced the subjected subject, inoperative. (It is no accident that in a recent interview, Žižec is seen wearing a black t-shirt on the front side of which the phrase " I prefer not to" is printed in white letters.)

3.

  But the articulation of an effective unregimented mode of resistance against domination is not the only potential Said finds to be intrinsic to the exilic in-between time precipitated by the waning of the nation-state and its imperial project. The other paradoxical possibility of the interregnum, that however tentatively he intuits, is, as the term itself makes manifest, the coming of a new, revolutionary polis, one that is "grounded" in the very figure of the de-identified refugee produced by the self-de-struction of the nation-state.

  This inevitably brings us back to the enigmatic single sentence Said appends to his articulation of the estranged, contrapuntal perspective of the exilic artist and intellectual: "From this perspective also, one can see 'the complete consort dancing together' contrapuntally." On the surface, as I have previously noted, this sentence, which paradoxically quotes a phrase from T. S. Eliot's late Christian poem "Little Gidding" (Four Quartets), seems as though it were an afterthought. But when it is recalled that Said had earlier quoted the longer passage in Eliot's poem from which he takes this phrase, a remarkable sea change occurs. In this effort to articulate the deep meaning of psychological estrangement and to prepare for his introduction of Virilio's and Deleuze and Guattari's dislocating nomadic thought, Said writes:

"All things counter, original, spare, strange": Gerard Manley Hopkins in "Pied Beauty." The question is, Where? And where too, we might ask, is there a place for that astonishing harmonious vision of time intersecting with the timeless that occurs at the end of "Little Gidding," a moment Eliot saw as words in

      An easy commerce of the old and new,
      The common word exact without vulgarity,
      The formal word precise but not pedantic,
      AThe complete consort dancing together.

Virilio's notion is counter-habitation: to live as migrants in habitually uninhabited but nevertheless public spaces. A similar notion occurs in Milles Plateau . . . by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. (331; emphasis in orginal)

Despite its brevity, then, this enigmatic sentence relating an apparently harmonious theological image of the polis to a radically dissonant secular one in a discordia concors that Said appends as a seeming afterthought to his analysis of the new unregimented mode of resistance against domination is fraught with revolutionary political meaning. For in thus yoking these uneven binary opposites by violence, this discordia concors renders the traditional political meaning of each term ("Us and them," in Said's usual language) inoperative (Jean-Luc Nancy: "désoeuvrée;" Giorgio Agamben: "inoperosita"). In this new onto-political dispensation, in other words, both agonistic terms of the identitarian binarist (Friend / foe) logic of belonging of the old nation-state remain, but the binary no longer works in the hierarchical violent and predatory way it worked in the past. As Said's deliberate addition of his musical metaphor of the play of counterpoint to Eliot's "complete consort" strikingly suggests, in this polis struggling to be born in the interregnum, rather, these perennially uneven antagonists (produced primarily by the imperial depredations of the West) are now stripped of the uneven power conferred by the old identitarian logic of the nation-state. And, as in the case of the West and the Orient and, more specifically, the Zionists and the Palestinians, whom Said invariably has in mind, they enter into an unending loving strife (Auseinandersetzung), which always already enriches instead of diminishes their human potential.

4.

  It is in the foregoing plural way--his persuasive articulation of an incipient unregimented--active passive--mode of resistance of the invisible and silent weak against the visible and vocal strong and of a consequent coming polis of identity-less identities in the final pages of Culture and Imperialism that persuades me a quarter of a century later to conclude that Said's untimely meditations on the uneven power relations in the waning years of the twentieth century are in fact more pertinent to the present global occasion than they were then at the time he was writing Culture and Imperialism. I mean by this present occasion, specifically, the ominous paranoid liminal effort of the recently elected president of the United States, Donald Trump, who, in the face of the destabilizing millions of Syrian migrants seeking refuge in the West, including the United States, from a land torn by a civil war that had its origins in a predatory Western imperial initiative culminating in the United States' exceptionalist invasion of Iraq, would re-impose by spectacular military might the ideological borders and practical walls intrinsic to the logic of belonging of the dying nation-state. It is this profoundly proleptic existential contrapuntal insight into the potential for effective resistance and for the coming polis, symptomatically disclosed by the waning, if not the complete disintegration, of the nation-state and its imperial project at this liminal conjuncture in the "development" of its binarist logic, that Edward W. Said decisively discloses in the concluding pages of Culture and Imperialism. It is also, I suggest, this proleptic disclosure that constitutes his essential, which is to say, abiding, legacy to humanity in the last ditch reactionary age of Donald Trump that would "Make America Great Again."

William V. Spanos


End Notes

1 CI, 326-336. Subsequent references will be made in-text.

2 See, for example, Blanchot, The Writing of Disaster (1986), pp. 17 ff; Agamben, The Coming Community (1993), pp. 34-36, and “Bartleby, or On Contingency,” in Potentialities (1999), pp. 243-271; Deleuze, “Bartleby; or, the Formula,” in Essays Critical and Clinical (1997); Negri and Hardt, Empire (2000). pp. 203-204; Žižek, “The Violence of Subraction,” in In Defense of Lost Causes (2009), p.409). See also the chapter entitled "'Benito Cereno' and 'Bartleby, the Scrivener': Reflections on the American Calling’” in my Herman Melville and the American Calling: The Fiction After Moby-Dick, 1851-1857 (2008), pp. 105-166.