Unconventional Palestinian Vision
“I like the way a wise man build a story in an unconventional way.” This quote by Jim McKay is very striking, and if one was to be curious, continue reading. The way which an essay is structured makes a huge deal. In order to keep a reader invested and concentrated on the main point then the structure, or form, must be clear and organized. However, when writing the essay “States”, Edward Said takes a very unconventional approach to writing as he describes his life experiences after being exiled from his country as a Palestinian. His style of writing does not follow a specific pattern, nor does it follow anything that is conventional in a normal essay. Said uses this unique style of writing in hopes to show the characteristics of the life as a Palestinian. However, this style of writing is extremely difficult to follow. The essay jumps from place to place, which makes it hard for the reader to keep track of what is being talked about. Said believes that his use of unconventional writing is necessary in order to establish the “hybrid” style of Palestinian culture. Styles discussed will include things like the use of photos, lack of transitions, multiple genres, lack of and introduction and conclusion, and most importantly, no logical organization. Through the use of unconventional writing characteristics, Said takes the reader on a complicated journey to establish Palestinian “hybrid” way of life.
In “States,” Said includes multiple genres. The typical, conventional way of writing includes a focus on one genre. Said tends to switch back and forth between history and autobiography. When more than one genre is expressed, the reader may become confused by too much jumping around. For example, on page 548, Said is in the genre of history. He explains facts about the war of 1967 saying, “The 1967 war was followed shortly after by the Arab oil boom. For the first time, Palestinian nationalism arose as an independent force in the Middle East. Never did our future seem more hopeful” (548). In this quote, Said explains an important event in Palestinian life. This was important, because a glimmer of hope was beginning to show for Palestinian life. However, the start of the next paragraph just abandons what was being said in the previous quote. Said suddenly jumps into Palestinian life as being controlled and abandoned. He says, The stability of geography and the continuity of land—these have completely disappeared from my life and the life of all Palestinians. If we are not stopped at borders, or herded into new camps, or denied reentry and residence, or barred from travel from one place to another, more of our land is taken, our lives are interfered with arbitrarily, our voices are prevented from reaching each other, our identity is confined to frightened little islands in an inhospitable environment of superior military force sanitized by the clinical jargon of pure administration (548). Said is in a darker tone here. He is saying that Palestinians no longer have a value or worth. Everything that they do or will do is now in the hands of another higher power. This example of genre switch may confuse the reader, therefor making them unhappy. That is exactly what Said is trying to do. This, however, is not the only unconventional style used in this essay.
One of the biggest, and most obvious unconventional characteristics is the use of pictures in the essay. Unless this was a children’s book, the reader should not expect to see more than one picture throughout an essay. However, Said manages to use 29 photos throughout “States.” Said believes that these photos will help give the reader a better understanding of how life is a Palestinian. Furthermore, he says, The multifaceted vision is essential to any representation of us. Stateless, dispossessed, decentered, we are frequently unable either to speak the “truth” of our experience or to...