By applying Bloom’s ideas to a reading of
, we can
claim that Said is playing the role of a strong critic who misreads
Foucault in order to apply his ideas and add a layer of resistance
that is missing in the original context. Not surprisingly, Said faults
Foucault for a lack of “political commitment” within his work,
arguing that he is more interested in the mechanics of power as a
fetish than as an object to be opposed or resisted (Said, 2001: 77).
In other words, Foucault appears to be “more fascinated with the
way power operates than committed to trying to change power
relations in society” (Ashcroft & Ahluwalia, 1999: 72).
Consequently, his theory of power leaves no room for resistance
and becomes a “Spinozist conception” that “has drawn a circle
around itself, constituting a unique territory in which Foucault has
imprisoned himself and others with him” (Said, 1983: 245). Rather
than being trapped within such a system, Said “articulate[s] the
potential to resist and recreate” such power (Ashcroft & Ahluwalia,
1999: 72), which he does by reading Foucault’s theory of discourse
against the grain and thereby setting himself up as a “bad”
Foucauldian. This is congruent with his belief in humanism and the
worldliness of writing in general. Likewise, his “inconsistency” as a
theorist is consistent with his call for “non-coercive” knowledge
(Said, 2001: 80). For when theory or, for that matter, any form of
knowledge is no longer subject to the process of interpretation, it
becomes ossified into a form of ideology or, worst of all, theology.
Allow me then to return to the criticisms of Clifford and
Young, starting with the claim that Said fails to provide any
“alternative” to the phenomenon he sets out to critique. If this is
the case, then neither does Clifford nor Young. While Clifford
rebukes Said for applying “the tools of a Western theoretical
tradition to critique that [same] tradition,” he also fails to provide a
(1997: xxii). Likewise, I will avoid making any similar claims about the
relationship or rivalry between Said and Foucault.