19 January 2008

Said, Gramsci, and an 'inventory'

“The starting-point of critical elaboration is the consciousness of what one really is, and is ‘knowing thyself’as a product of the historical processes to date, which has deposited in you an infinity of traces, without leaving an inventory.” – Antonio Gramsci, Prison Notebooks

Edward Said quotes the above in Orientalism along with another important observation:

“The only available translation inexplicably leaves Gramsci’s comment at that, whereas in fact Gramsci’s text concludes by saying, ‘therefore it is imperative at the outset to compile such an inventory.’

The task of finding out, knowing and collecting an 'inventory' is important, especially in cases where it is made to appear to be insignificant, non-existent and unworthy of attention. A question of perspective, in this case, is also relevant. According to who is it 'insignificant'? And who should be kept in mind while compiling this inventory? The reason I mention this is because it gives me a perfect entry point into a project I wish to begin, and perhaps have already begun in some way, on this blog. And dealing with the above questions would be necessary before starting out. But more on that soon!


Mike said...

I think that's an awesome observation you make along with Said, and one that Derrida would be keen to agree with--though he perhaps might say that whats important about compiling an inventory is that it too leaves traces! Awesome.

Mike said...

... and indeed--I was going to say--I think that's what you're saying!

metaphysicallycomplicit said...

The fact that it[the portion quoted] came close to the Derridian 'trace' was why it caught my eye in the first place. I hadn't really thought about how the compilation too would leave traces. But you're right, of course.