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chad
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The Heart of Darkness

I thought I'd start a new thread for "The Heart of Darkness." You can also find some of my posts under "Joseph Conrad."
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Lines and shapes: life after Gatsby

It's interesting that I left "Gatsby", written later than "the Heart of Darkness", where, the theme seemed to be lines becoming shapes, or shifts between dimensions. In the heart, Conrad expresses that shapes are actually lines, width and length, short and long dimensions. That is, you can flatten any shape into a line, or whenever, length beomes much greater than the width, the shape is actually a line.  All we are, and all we can be, are lines within lines, or shapes within shapes that sometimes appear to "curve into themselves" or comsume themselves. Points where they do so are often "inperceptible" and so, these points or areas are the dark or the grey areas that we do not understand.
 
Chad
 
PS-  The classics are always a little abstract- this is as complicated as "the Heart" gets. Also- blacks and whites hit each other, but what I meant to say was- that two shapes, two colors, the lines of Africa and Britain or France, or the shapes of civilization and Nature, whatever, were hitting each other and boucing back. Nothing was inbetween.  And you get the feeling of some kind of horrible void or no man' land where all you could hear was the sound of flies buzzing, etc....
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The heart shape

The heart, or something we send in a Valentine, appears to turn in on itself, representing love, but perhaps also symbolizes this "inside-out" turning phenomenon of Nature. The symbol is "frozen"-  that is, it goes no further.
 
Chad
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Love: Dracula whisperings

[ Edited ]
Love is something we discuss and the it is usually something we want to endure- whether love is eternal is arguable. BUT, I think the heart shape symbolizes its eternal nature- it will never consume itself, as Nature sometimes does, and as Conrad so writes. Moreover, Stoker felt that we tend not think of ourselves as entities from which forces emanate or attract-- maybe it tests your own beliefs about hypnosis or telekenisis. But, as human beings which have real physical forces, centripetal or centrifugal, it's sometimes difficult to delineate such forces. That is,  love is a force that exists, but it  is often indistinguishable from other forces. There has always been this "do you love me, love me not" characteristic of love, perhaps for the aforementioned reason...but just another way to think about it....what say you?
 
Chad





Message Edited by chad on 04-08-2008 11:59 AM
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Love continued

I thought I'd post some more thoughts about love- Kurtz talks about love with the Russian in the heart of the Congo, and, as many feel that love is the feeling that binds us and is our salvation, it would have to be something that holds civilization together; it holds the world together. So it follows that the heart shape is the line of civilization, or more broadly, civilization is humanity preventing Nature from detroying itself, or turning in on itself. So another question I had: Is love preventing what Nature does typically? Also, Kurtz falls in love with the African native and I felt that a new civilization would have been created on the basis of a new love in the heart of the Congo. Another interesting contrast is what Kurtz shared with the African woman vs. what he may have shared with his "intended" in London...
 
Good luck all! What a good book to end with- have to get ready for new summer!
Chad
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Re: Love continued

[ Edited ]
Just to make a little more clear: if we taike the heart, the valentine heart shape that is, and consider it to be a shape that turns in on itself, but does not do so completely, we have a shape which can also represent civilization. That is, civilization exists to survive- we do not want to destroy ourselves. And the question is: Does civilization prevent what Nature does naturally? Moreover, does love prevent us from doing what Nature does naturally? (if we take the heart shape as the universal symbol of love). This definately is a dark way to leave the novel, but the title is ,"The Heart of Darkness." And, in the end, Marlow lies for the sake of civilization, or love- whichever you prefer. And perhaps it's healthy to consider that true love might be at civilization's inception, or maybe it's something we still need to achieve....
 
Chad
 
PS- Kind of a "bittersweet" ending, I think.


Message Edited by chad on 04-13-2008 10:38 PM
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Marlow lies

Marlow lies to protect the reptuation of Kurtz, to respect the feelings of his "intended", and to respect those that have departed in general. Why? I would have also thought that Marlow lost all respect for civilization after being exposed to its atrocities in the Congo, except  that he was also exposed to the Congo's "wildness"-remember that he lost a member of his crew to a spear in the back. So the book ends in a "civiliized" setting with his intended wanting to know the truth, but unwilling to accept what the truth was. The room also had almost a "courtlike" feel to it- civilization is something that seeks to know the truth, but seldom can accept it. We often tell white lies, and more broadly, civilized societies often present a "glossier" image in order to survive....
 
Chad 
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Sparknotes

[ Edited ]
I was just doing a quick readof what others were saying about "the heart of darkness," and discovered that the story was about Belgian Imperialism. But I think, "Imperialism" in general. The company funded its operations with ivory and would probably export to any civilization which would find it to be of value-- would be my guess.
 
Chad
 
PS- What i just put up on the board previously is the correct way of reading it however....


Message Edited by chad on 04-15-2008 10:53 AM
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Ivory

Just thought I'd add: Piano keys were made of ivory, and, at the end of the story, Marlow finds himself in a room with a "glossy" piano and Kurtz's "intended." I was just perusing the web- I think the story is obviously about Imperialism, but also about the heart shape and Nature vs. Civilization conflicts, among other things. I did not find too much on the web, however.
 
Chad
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Economics and the heart

[ Edited ]
Economics is civilization's answer to partitioning "shares" to its people, "fairly"--other than going out and taking what I feel is mine. "Kurtz" means short in German and economics has difficulty compenstaing those who have been "shorted" or "shortchanged" in life. The questions are: will economics move everyone to justice and equality? Will inequities always exist? Is "equality for all" something we really want?
 
Chad


PS- sometimes I feel economics destroyed my "wild side."

Message Edited by chad on 05-01-2008 01:14 PM
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Rivers... one mo time

[ Edited ]
To Marlow, or Conrad, rivers would be the place where Nature "turns in on itself" or consumes itself. Or it could be any place where land meets the sea. Civilizations also meet at rivers. Marlow talks about the Romans who met the wild and early civilizations of the Thames, for example. Or rivers are where the Belgians meet the savages of Africa in the Congo. Civilizations consume others and form new ones, and, what is usually left is the river, where it all began....
 
Chad
 
PS- you might think if the earth as one shape wherethe rivers are the places where the world "turns in on itself. This pheneoemon is represented by the heart-shaped "valentine"- love has a whole new meaning. Remember that Kurtz discusses love with the Russian in the Congo...
 
 
 


Message Edited by chad on 05-05-2008 11:39 AM
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Love

[ Edited ]
Well, "The Heart of Darkness" is somewhat controversial for a myriad of reasons, but I did not find his view of the heart or love as something negative or entirely "dark." The heart shape is symbolic of love and the shape itself bisects itself a little bit and stops - the heart is frozen in time and will last forever, that is, it will not sonsume itself. We sometimes feel that love is something that lasts forever, as well.
 
My former point, and the dark one, was, that Nature bisects itself. In other words, it consumes itself. So, if we think of ourselves as a part of Nature, when we eat, we could always consider our consumption to be Nature bisecting, disecting  or "turning in on" itself-- however you want to phrase it. And, as mentioned, love is something that lasts forever, or is described as something that endures, but something that binds modern civilization, but which has etymological roots in perhaps Rome or Greece, and not in the darker regions of the congo. I love, and because I do, I am for your survival. I do not hate or kill, because I love. 
 
Which leads to the dark question: is love something that prevents Nature's renewal or Nature's way of bisecting itself to survive? Remember at the turn of the century, fewer wild regions existed, the world was becoming more boring, the lines were being welded together by modern civilization, or perhaps by love. Did we reach our current state of global warming with the same word used to hold ourselves together, that is "love." Is love "real" , or something that civilization uses--- Arrrghhh!! these were the controversial issues...
 
 
Hope that makes sense!!!
 
Chad
 
PS- Conrad, as Marlow, describes Kurtz as someone who, when he opens his mouth, might even swallow the earth. This can describe some men on our planet and I believe modern civilization prevents the dictator or the greedy CEO from doing this. That is, shares of the earth are distributed.


Message Edited by chad on 05-15-2008 12:56 PM
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short- kurtz

You could also consider kurtz to be the "short" in civilization's need for energy. He was gaining too much "power" in the Congo, and started affecting the comopany's profits. The sale of Ivory helped support mining operations.
 
 
Chad
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reputation

[ Edited ]
It is also, of course, about reputation. Not only reputation of the individual, but also of companies- "business reputation," and, more broadly, the reputation of a civilization- the best example might be"international" reputation of a nation. An individual, especially a woman, a company or a country must have some "gloss" in order to survive. Americans are often accused of having that superficiality, or that "Hollywood" gloss. But all countries must exhibit a favorable or more "civilized" veneer. And the question would be: is that "our inside", or is it truly who we are? Or can we blame ourselves for being phony or false, when we are merely trying to survive?
 
Chad


Message Edited by chad on 07-16-2008 05:18 PM
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black and white

[ Edited ]

I'm trying to find a good website that shows gradations of black and white that might help you to conceptualize... But shapes are represented by colors. For an example, civilizxation, it's shape, might be white and Nature or "the wild might be black.. and the two can consume each other at induction points- these places would be the grey areas or the heart of the wild, or possibly a river.....

 

Chad

 

PS- Mixtures of white and black appear throughout the story... things that have consumed themselves "once or twice" over.... C

Message Edited by chad on 07-22-2008 05:00 PM
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The word "love"

[ Edited ]

The word, "love," is an English word which has its own definition and meaning. "Love" is translatable in several languages, but it is arguable if the definition of the word is exactly the same in all languages. I'm not sure if the natives in the Congo had their own word for love, or if an equivalent word for "love" exists in so-named "primitive", or tribal communities which still exist. That is, is the word, "love," a product of modern civilization, or civilization itself? Did love exist during the "Age of Imperialism", for example? Again, controversial and, of course, dark....

 

Chad

Message Edited by chad on 08-04-2008 03:40 PM
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shapes: before we finally move on....

Remember that a shape loses its integrity against backgrounds of the same color- it fades into the background. A white circle looks glows against a "dark" background, we're able to see borders and lines more clearly. So, throughout "The Heart", we see out of place shapes of civilization against the dark backdrops of Nature, and vice versa. Language becomes increasingly importanct for survival in the Congo-- books "glow", for example. Whether you attribute the color white to civilization or Nature is arbitrary. But Marlow felt that, at least in the case of Kurtz, Nature won a round.

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Join me once again on the American classics board for a stimulating discussion of "Huck Finn!"

 

Chad

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Re: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

I think this board will be going away before too long.

 


chad wrote:

Join me once again on the American classics board for a stimulating discussion of "Huck Finn!"

 

Chad


 

 

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