“Out of Place”, de Edward W. Said

out of placeEdward W. Said (1935-2003), intelectual, professor de Inglês e Literatura Comparada, crítico literário e activista da causa palestiana, autor do livro “Orientalismo” e figura cimeira da teoria e críticas pós-coloniais, publicou “Out of Place” em 1999 numa altura em que a doença já lhe colocava a morte num horizonte relativamente próximo. Nasceu em Jerusalém mas possuía cidadania norte-americana. Estudou no Egipto e mais tarde nos E.U.A. onde viria a fazer a maior parte da sua carreira universitária. Em “Out of Place” escreve sobre os anos da infância e adolescência em Jerusalém, no Egipto e mais tarde nos E.U.A. Escreve sobretudo acerca do que é sentir-se e preferir ser um eterno deslocado num século XX marcado por conflitos, guerras e deslocações em massa de milhões de pessoas. (“With so many dissonances in my life I have learned actually to prefer being not quite right and out of place.” p. 295)

“What overcomes me now is the scale of dislocation our family and friends experienced and of which I was a scarcely conscious, essentially unknowing witness in 1948. As a boy of twelve and a half in Cairo, I often saw the sadness and destitution in the faces and lives of people I had formerly known as ordinary middle-class people in Palestine, but I couldn’t really comprehend the tragedy that had befallen them not could piece together all the different narrative fragments to understand what had really happened in Palestine. My cousin Evelyn, Yousif’s twin, once spoke passionately at our Cairo dinner table about her faith in Kawoukji, a name that meant nothing to me when I first heard it; “Kawoukji will come and route them,” she said with definitive force, although my father (to whom I had tourned for information) described the man with some skepticism and even disrespect  as “an Arab general.” (p. 114)

“(…) To me, nothing more painful and paradoxically sought after characterizes my life than the many displacements from countries, cities, abodes, languages, environments that have kept me in motion all these years. Thirteen years ago I wrote in After the Last Sky, that when I travel I always take too much with me, and that even a trip downtown requires the packing of a briefcase stocked with items disproportionately larger in size and number than the actual period of the trip. Analyzing this, I concluded that I had a secret but ineradicable fear of not returning. What I’ve since discovered is that despite this fear I fabricate occasions for departure, thus giving rise to the fear voluntarily. The two seem absolutely necessary to my rhythm of life and have intensified dramatically during the period I’ve been ill. I say myself: if you don’t take this trip, don’t prove your mobility and indulge your fear of being lost, don’t override the normal rhythms of domestic life now, you certainly will not be able to do it in the near future. I also experience the anxious moodiness of travel (la mélancolie des paquebots, as Flaubert calls it, Bahnhofsstimmung in German) along with envy for those who stay behind. whom I see in my return, their faces unshadowed by dislocation or what seems to be enforced mobility, happy with their families, draped in a comfortable suit and raincoat, there for all to see. Something about the invisibility of the departed, his being missing and perhaps missed, in addition to the intense, repetitious, and predictable sense of banishment that takes you feel the need to leave because of some prior but self-created logic, and a sense of rapture. In all cases, though, the great fear is that departure is the state of being abandoned, even though it is you who leave.” (pp. 217-218)

Edward Said, “Out of Place”, Vintage Books, 2000.