Coming Back Wrong (Revenents in the Heart of Darkness)

> I’ve been trying to work out some issues this last week, mostly involving how the world is basically like “the Matrix”.
> The problem is not falling into a superiority complex, or, more precisely, the problem is performing finitude — attempting to perform a circle, or perform the fear of taking a step — the fear of success and progress.
> (This form of paranoia is actually very different from the “lucid paranoia” we spoke of months ago, in “The Danger of Reading” — this is my own error or my own progress.)
> This is such an old problem that it sounds like I’ve regressed — “true thinking only occurs when thought turns back on itself”.
> And, for all those philosophers who express so much skepticism, it seems as though they never reach the point of doubting themselves.
> So the setup is very old or banal, yet perhaps we have discovered a new way of approaching it, of performing this impasse.
> What interests me is the final few pages of the Heart of Darkness, where Marlow returns from Africa.
> He has become a very bitter person — (yet I’ve come to question the validity of my bitterness in the past few days…) — he expresses a loss of apetite, he can’t stomach “their awful food” or their “stupid sense of self-importance”.
> So we can definitely relate to that.
> But he expresses a surprise, when he goes to visit the Intended, he is suprised that certain things have returned.
> First of all, Kurtz himself — his voice, as the wind through the leaves seem to whisper, “the horror, the horror”.
> And, in a memorable final passage, he does make reference to the river, the Intended “spread her arms over the river, the infernal river of darkness”.
> And finally, what’s striking to me here, there is the return of a kind of pathos, as Marlow, who is not really someone open to empathy, finds himself struck by these bouts of “infinite pity”.
> For me, he is talking about the return of the subconscious, of all those things that we had once rejected.
> It’s as if everything were starting over again, it’s as if there were a loop.
> I have many drafts here, many of which deal with the return-with-a-difference of the subconscious, which we made a point to empty out.
> — a position that would certainly allow us to “laugh in faces of perfectly respectable people”, as Marlow said of himself — since we noted that the subconscious is a kind of grand illusion.
> — the subconscious is one component, actually, of “The Matrix”, it is that which we insist on finding everywhere, the ordering of cause and effect.
> So we would like to do without the subconscoius, but, at the same time, the subconscious always returns: why?
> It’s perhaps because of our condition of finitude — it’s how we experience and make sense of events. Without the subconscious we would simply be artificially suppressing the nuances of our experience.
> Yet we do not want to here be content with merely cultural analysis, but rather, it returns with a difference.
> Or perhaps we return with a difference too.
> For example, I actually wrote on Facebook the other day:

Paul De Man is easily the world’s most enigmatic dead philosopher. Despite being probably the most influential thinker of the 20c his name is never brought up by ‘intellectuals’, basically because he cannot be caricatured like supposedly ‘mysterious’ people like, say, John Nash or Bobby Fischer, who have basically become cartoon characters — there will thankfully not be any Hollywood or ‘indie’ movies about him. He devoted all his efforts to writing glorified book reports with almost no formal arguments, propositions, concepts, or anything resembling philosophy, relying instead on what appear to be humanistic tautologies. … actually, the applicable trope may be that he ‘came back different’: even in zen, there is the sense that the state one wanted to reach was not cartoony transcendance, and that the most rigorous acknowledgement of our finitude or the emptiness of our minds would cause one to behave no different, but somehow also very differently.There is a lot of pretension in how people who believe they have transcended carry themselves, you could say

> Let’s just regard this as an intersting narrative — but it speaks of Paul De Man as someone who has “come back different”, who avoids any kind of systematic and progressive development out of “paranoia” and instead focuses on criticism.
> So we come back different, but also, perhaps more importantly, the subconscious itself seems to come back differently — and this is the point of the final pages of the Heart of Darkness.

> This is just a setup, the question is, of course, the description of these figures, how they come back different, and how that relates to our understanding of the world as “the Matrix” (and the emptying out of the world) but I’m just going to stop here for now since it’s been so long since I’ve been able to even make a good start.


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