An amusing side note before beginning:
I attempted to read Joseph Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness in high school a few years back whilst on a serious reading kick. I was totally excited, went out, bought the book, sat down in the late-spring sunshine in my favourite reclining chair…. and got 3 pages in before giving up because I litterally had no idea what I was reading.
Fast forward nearly 3 years, and while I still don’t really have a clue what Conrad’s well-spoken robots are talking about in this book, I managed to get a bit further than 3 pages in. Woohoo.
No, in all seriousness I have actually really enjoyed this book. I love the existential and almost nihilistic outlook that marlowe has on the mission and basically life in general. One passage, whilst pretty sexist and insulting, really stood out for me if we apply it to more than just women (come on Conrad, stop being so old fashioned). This passage is from the scene where Marlowe visits his aunt for the last time and she has a very ignorant and positive look on imperialism:
“It’s queer how out of touch with truth women (read: most people, not just women) are. They live in a world of their own, and there had never been anything like it, and never can be. It is too beautiful altogether…” (79)
While this quote is obviously not true with regards to women, it did remind me of the old saying ‘ignorance is bliss’. One must wonder, if we still to this day commit ourselves to a certain extent of willful ignorance to what goes on around the world. Maybe not everyone, but there are still a shocking number of people who when asked their opinion on current world affairs will reply in a manner similar to that of Marlowe’s aunt.
Another point on my train of thought with this book is the significant parallel to De Beauvoir’s idea of “the other”. It really clicked with me after Rob Crawford’s lecture today that the concept of the other can be applied to more concepts than that of man & woman.
Anywho, I guess my main question is more along the lines of what aim does Marlowe’s character have by assuming this sardonic point of view on Belgium imperialism? We all know irony-fueled cynics get us nowhere (just look at how useful Hipster’s have been to improving our society), but perhaps Conrad meant to illustrate with this cynical, nihilistic way of writing his character that we, until the end of time are doomed to witness and propagate the evil of human nature, as it is ingrained within us.. I sincerely hope not, for that would be mighty depressing if true.
Finally, continuing with last post’s tradition, here’s what I have been reading to the last few days:
A nice way to lighten up after Heart Of Darkness.. haha.