Edward Said remembered

by Chris Bertram on October 25, 2004

In the Guardian, Daniel Barenboim remembers Edward Said .



Vance Maverick 10.25.04 at 11:47 am

It’s nice. However, it reminds me again of what I always found unsatisfying about Said’s writings on music. How could someone who wrote so clearly and tellingly about literature be content with mere appreciation when it came to music? It’s not that it’s impossible to write well about music (Charles Rosen comes to mind), but Said somehow didn’t hold himself to the same standard there.

Barenboim’s note, while honorable as sentiment, is likewise intellectually “light”, even confused. For example, mourning the decline of musical education (a very real problem, of course), he writes:

But, at the same time, there existed a widespread and growing incomprehension of the impossibility of articulating the content of a musical work.

So previous generations did better because they knew that musical content couldn’t be articulated? Why is it better to fail to articulate content than not to try at all?


Vance Maverick 10.25.04 at 12:19 pm

Sorry, mixed that up at the end. Barenboim seems to suggest that the new, ignorant generation has forgotten the impossibility of articulating content — thus, presumably, people must now be trying and failing, where before they wisely refrained.

At any rate, I haven’t read all Said’s musical writings. If some are more interesting, I’d welcome a pointer.


nnyhav 10.25.04 at 3:15 pm

It would seem that The Guardian is being hosed; not likely slashdotting, perhaps a ddos attack prompted by Operation Clark County, or, more likely, an antiScientology revue (appositely the only accessible snippet via GoogleNews of the Guardian article being: “The Barenboim-Said Foundation will open Ramallah’s first Music Kindergarten this autumn …”), or the following [1] (subsequently flushed with appypollylogy [2]), via Lilek’s bleat:

[1] On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod’s law dictates he’ll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr – where are you now that we need you?

[2] The final sentence of a column in The Guide on Saturday caused offence to some readers. The Guardian associates itself with the following statement from the writer.

“Charlie Brooker apologises for any offence caused by his comments relating to President Bush in his TV column, Screen Burn. The views expressed in this column are not those of the Guardian. Although flippant and tasteless, his closing comments were intended as an ironic joke, not as a call to action – an intention he believed regular readers of his humorous column would understand. He deplores violence of any kind.”

Then again, maybe it’s just something local. But these days, more likely a case of ‘quell the messenger’ … lot of it going around lately: (The Register and a coupla bookies last week, maybe even RNC …)


nnyhav 10.25.04 at 3:57 pm

Seems fixed now. Sorry for offtopicality.


nick 10.26.04 at 7:18 am

My own remembrance: I asked the last question at Said’s conversation with Christopher Cook in Hay last year, which by my reckoning was one of his last public events. (It’s about an hour in.)

He was talking about his work with Barenboim, and I picked up on his description of the orchestra projects and asked him, in the context of the forthcoming election, ‘how does the left defend a commitment to subtlety and complexity in politics — to nuance — in the context of an unsubtle, uncomplex political environment? By activity, he said. By activity outside the mainstream.

Looking back, there’s a curious prediction of the grassroots movement that came with the Dean campaign and MoveOn and ACT. And I’m profoundly sad that he never got to see it.

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