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Monday, October 17, 2005

Dark of Heartness

Heart of Darkness; Conrad, Joseph (Jósef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski).
first serialised in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine in 1899

Set as a story within a story, Heart of Darkness recounts the journey to Africa and up the
Congo River by Marlow as a representative of a trading company and his fascination with
the long unmet ivory trader Kurtz. First published in 1902, "Heart of Darkness" could refer
to human hearts or to the heart of Africa, the Dark Continent.

The author made a journey to the Congo in the 1890s. This story partially reflects some of
his experiences there.

by Dagny

Web site copyright © 2003-2005 Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation — All Rights Reserved.


We went up the river on a razorblade, we trailed the savages’ blood in the crystal water behind us like tails. The ivory glowed radioactive in the night sky, calling to us greenly in the day air. The rifles spat ball bearings like a children’s straw, leaving the jungle like cheese, everyday harder than the last. At the end of the river he was waiting, where the water dried into a huge pile of tusks. I asked him why are there heads on sticks outside your house. He said, I love them so much, they are my children. I said who is that woman. He began to melt into a puddle. I pulled him to go, his children stopped me. He liquefied onto the ground. Now we could go. Savages with ball bearing holes adorning their bellies saw us off.

II. let's try again

We raced up the river at an imperceptible crawl, the boat chugging on like a bullet. I listened for the sound of the jungle. It makes two sounds, an insistent, sucking tone that draws you in devours you; and a contented heavy breathy sigh that tells you that you are insignificant in it’s existence. I knew where I was going, but I had no idea where it was. The boat fought the river, the river carried us where we wanted to go. You were waiting at the end, there was no doubt we would reach and find you. You were calling to us with your back turned to the river.

You became part of me before I even met you. But I knew you: I looked at you with the gaze of one looking upon a familiar face. I know everything about you. Your thoughts and words echo in my head louder than my own. If you did not recognise my understanding of you in that gaze, you did not show it.

I came to ask you questions but when I arrived you died. My heart was full of need and only you could fill it (the need, like my heart; already you). I searched your vacuous eyes and they told me nothing. They told me: Nothing. My heart was awakened on the journey to your house. But your mouth opened and it was a dark void.

The treasure was worth nothing, the savages were the ones on the boat. I looked to you, and saw no one.

A masterpiece of twentieth-century writing, Heart of Darkness (1902) exposes
the tenuous fabric that holds "civilization" together and the brutal horror at the
center of European colonialism. Conrad's crowning achievement recounts Marlow's
physical and psychological journey deep into the heart of the Belgian Congo in
search of the mysterious trader Kurtz.

(taken from The Literature Network)

III. one more time

The river swam along the shore. The river swam past the boat. The jungle walked away from us. Newtonian hyperspace – we stood still, the world moved around us.

How much can a person sweat? A hell of a lot apparently, if one is in the jungle. No breeze, no breath, as the jungle sucks the air from around you, pulsing in the heat. Cloth sticking to skin, and moisture coming out of every pore, a sheen on skin, droplets which stream off temples and jawlines. Air so heavy it seems solid (or liquid, it is so full of humidity).

Like the boat I existed in dreamy stasis. I breathe, it plods, and the landscape moves past us like a cinema backdrop. The others are aiming into the forest, but I am afraid they will puncture holes in the screen. The loud reports keep coming from the deck as they shoot, but I am praying nobody realises the jungle is a set. Don’t undo the illusion please, I say under my breath as the bosun steers on.

I am an explorer. I am a storyteller. I am the captain. I am a chess playing detective, I am killed in a swordfight five hundred years ago. I am flying high on the sound of the Ride of the Valkyries. I am going to shoot this young girl in the head because you did not listen to me. I am the captain and the direction, and yet I control nothing.

I follow the invisible string, the superstring theory, the Darthside blog force representation, the sharp tugging sensation in my chest just left of the lung. I follow, I am led, because You are tugging me, You are calling me. Your store of buried treasure is burning a hole in Your hand, the hand that You use to reach out to me. At every fork in the river I know which route to take, which water path will lead me to your door – it is whichever I choose. Our meeting is inexorable, as long as the idiots don’t blow a hole in the backdrop screen and shatter the illusion.

You are all I think about, day and night, gazing upon the frustratingly imperceptibly changing vista, or tossing and turning in the tepid heat of my bunk bed. I can picture your voice, I can hear your skin, I can smell your body in it’s savage or elegant decay. I can picture a year’s worth of conversation in the first hour of our meeting. Whatever you say to me when I reach will be what I remember imagining here.

Obsession? Never. I am not crazy, though I am mortally afraid that the illusions won’t last long enough for me to meet you. I don’t want to wake up in the sepulchre unfulfilled. If I sense myself rising from a dream I’ll plunge myself deeper. The jungle is laughing and my skin is like fire, but I am not going to give up. That, would truly be crazy.

When at last I stand at your shore, I’ll see the empty rounds that were your eyes, the hollow echo of your uncaring voice. A siren does not call to you to meet you, a siren only wants your downfall. There’s a house by the river, your seat is still warm but the rooms are empty. I am willing to share you with another, even if I have less of you than her, but you want neither of us, you only want to disintegrate before us, drama in front of your most enamoured audience. I begged you not to go as she shrieked madly at us both. In return you spoke rumbles and of a rich legacy of sensation. I’d cry at the end of the story but when you sank into the ground the invisible string tore my heart right out of my chest and into the ground with you.

Downstream was uneventful. I could not even feel my pulse.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

i'm sorry

zero degree temperatures. it gets worse at night. no shelter, no food, no fuel.

i'm sorry. i did nothing.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

the purest thing i have ever done

the purest thing i have ever done was to put a house on my back, pack a few sticks, and take a walk. We ambled over, my house and i, to the place where the sea meets the sky and land. i played in the water while my house watched itself, drifted floated till i lost the part of myself i didn't want to bring with me. I sat outside my house at the place where the sea meets the sky in the sound of not saying anything. I drank a little water, made a little fire, ate a little food. We walked over some rocky roads eaten by rivulets in the past. We stopped in a clearing, and I slept. I thought of everyone, and thought not to think of them. I dreamed of only the present as I slept. i did nothing. I did everything myself.

When i was hungry, i ate. When i was tired, i stopped. the purest thing i have ever done is to become a turtle.

that seems like a long time ago. but i'm going to do it again soon. i say i will. i wish i will.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

love it love it love it

how true.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

do it do it do it

would it pierce? is this just being bloody minded?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

i can see something in the middle distance

"Many days also find us sitting on hills or under sparsely
shady trees, sipping a little water, waiting, watching the
distance. I can see something in the middle distance."

[i heard it's bad luck to take a picture of yourself and your bike. you'll get into an accident with that bike if you do. does this count?]

".... sometimes you'll see us stopping at crossroads, while I get
down, raise mygoggles and examine the ground. At other times
we might stop near the crest of a hill, and I dismount and
scramble to peek...."