Long Live Hybridity

On Edward Said, Freud and the Non-European
Introduction b Christopher Bollas
Response by Jacqueline Rose
Verso, 2003


In Jacqueline Rose’s eyes, Edward Said’s reading of Freud’s Moses and Monotheism is “[a] political parable, then, a model of reading, but no less powerfully, as I see it, a lament.” [67]   Said is surely appreciative of Freud as when he  notes, “Freud is a remarkable instance of a thinker for whom scientific work was, as he often said, a kind of archeological excavation of the buried, forgotten, repressed, and denied past….His work is all about how life history offers itself by recollection, research and reflection to endless structuring and restructuring, in both the individual and the collective sense.” [27]  Said sees how Freud unwittingly provides a model of identity for us, now, in the 21st  century, based on the reading of Freud’s late work, Moses and Monotheism.

He gleans from Freud’s text— “Moses—founder of Judaism but an unreconstructed non-Jewish Egyptian none the less. Jahveh derived from Arabia, which was also non-Jewish and non-European” [42]—and links this to the contemporary scene in the Middle East where a different kind of more monolithic identity  is being constructed: “Out of the travails of specifically European anti-Semitism, the establishment of Israel, in a non-European territory, consolidated Jewish identity politically in a state that took very specific legal and political positions effectively to seal off that identity from anything that was non-Jewish. By defining itself as a state of and for the Jewish people, Israel allowed exclusive immigration and land-owning rights there for Jews only, even though there were former non-Jewish residents and present non-Jewish citizens whose rights were attenuated in the case of the latter, abrogated retrospectively in the case of the former.” [43-44] Read the rest of this entry »