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faculty for representing, embodying, articulating a message, a

view, an attitude, philosophy or opinion to, as well as for, a

public” (1996: 11). This “vocation for the art of representing”

characterizes the intellectual, who “raise[s] embarrassing

questions,” “confront[s] orthodoxy and dogma,” and “break[s]

down the stereotypes and reductive categories” which are

“limiting to human thought and communication” (13, 11, xi).

Nonconformity, in a word, features in Said’s delineation of the

intellectual, a disturber of the status quo rejecting formulas,

clichés, or confirmations of what the powerful and

conventional say and do (23). Averse to being co-opted by

power, this nonconformist sides with the weak and

unrepresented, and delineates their suffering (22, 44). Said’s

intellectual, in short, is a representative figure with a

standpoint of her/his own; this independent figure performs a

public role as the conscience of society and “speak[s] the truth

to power” (xvi).

Said’s idea of the intellectual is in some respects similar to

Julien Benda’s in the classic

La Trahison des clercs

, in which

Benda laments the politicization of intellectuals in the early

twentieth century. Benda’s terminology of “clerc,” in the

medieval sense, means “scribe”

“someone we would now call

a member of the intelligentsia” (Kimball, 2009: ix). The

“clerks” are set apart from the “laymen,” those who crave after

“the pursuit of material interests,” whereas the clerks seek joy

“in the possession of non-material advantages” (Benda, 2009:

43). Benda’s “clerks,” in other words, are endowed with moral,

religious, and spiritual ideals; they take no interest in material

profits and say no to power

a portrait similar to Said’s,

despite the latter scholar’s more positive attitude toward the

intellectual’s involvement in public affairs. Like Said, Benda

also sees the clerks as the conscience of the people: thanks to

them, “humanity did evil for two thousand years, but honored

good” (2009: 44). At the end of the nineteenth century,