The Office, Jungle Edition

I’m always wondering if today might be the day — whether, years from now, 4/10/13 will be something I look back on, wether 410 will be my lucky number, wether I will always take 4/10 off, etc.. That’s the condition in which I live, I guess — I’m always wating for that final breakthrough.

It’s gonna be a glorious day (Radiohead’s Lucky, one of my favorite songs)

I feel like I understood Heart of Darkness for the first time when I remarked, on Facebook, that HoD was “basically a grimmer version of The Office“. I finally realized how much it read like a Polish book, for example, I mean, from what I know of Eastern Europe — mostly through NHL superstars, I confess — the concern with work, a kind of vague annoyance, the kind of fraternity of work, a kind of unassuming discussion. It is very much a book about Marlow / Conrad, and about the how he finds himself. For the longest time I as reading it as if it could be understood as a revelation of truth independent of the author. Or maybe the book always both — as we perhaps implied in “The Inward Spiral”, always hovers in between these two.

— tangentially, I’m definitely more a fan of the foregin players than the Americans or the Canadians, they seem more like normal people. The Rangers just traded my two favorite players, Anismov and Gaborik, to the Blue Jackets, so I guess I’m a Blue Jackets fan now too — I’m really hoping they make the playoffs, though that’s somwhat unlikely. With the way they act it’s sometimes hard to believe that they make millions and that it’s just another day at the office. They definitely, I think, play up their role as entertainers or as these people living the dream, caught in moments of joy, etc. — Ovechkin is know is known for that I know. I imagine soccer to be very similar. This is how I play hockey too, it’s one of those semi-conscious things — I tend to overemote, emphasize teamwork, etc. — I’m like a clown in the rink, you know, with my exaggerations.

But Heart of Darkness is very much a book about Marlow, about his search for salvation or rmaybe self-awareness. It is indeed true that this seems to “narrow” the scope of our project but we’ve always suspected that talking in a grandiose way about the world as such was mere pretension or naivete. I realized years ago not to listen to liberals because in truth the problems of the world are a sum of personality problems.  And we have long yearned for that state where one can talk about the world by talking about literature, talking about the human within his finitude. Of course, we are still talking about the world — we are always double checking whether what we say applied to “all sentience”.  I have here scrawled in my notes, “FOLLOW YOUR NOSE”, reminding myself that the theoretical concepts we’ve developed apply in a pretty straightfoward way to HoD.]

The basic story here is very simple, Marlow joins a venture that he does not strongly believe in, and as a result finds hi identity in work, and becomes at times even a trickster figure. I have in my notes three examples of Marlow’s dedication to work: (1) Talk to, (2) Cryptography, and (3) Lie. In #3, for example, he plays a kind of trickster figure, leading somebody on, letting him believe that he was a representative of “the new generation” especially sent over from Europe to save the colony. The great pleasure he takes in this moment has to do with his ability to accomplish something apparently definite or concrete. #2 refers to the notes, scrawled in the margin of a book he found — he thought they were code but it was really Russian. The idea of “code” being something that one could eventually decipher, something that, again, on could work with. And, lastly, #1, his desire to “talk to” Kurtz suggests a kind of pragmatic problem solving.

Regarding the depths — the contrast to this superficiality of work, in which Marlow finds salvation — it is flat and perhaps dumb. There are a few examples of this depths, the flatness of the jungle, which always seems to “look at” Marlow, the “wall” or the “door” that is the manager’s countenance, etc., as well as maybe the depths of human stupidity. Throughout all this, Marlow emphasizes work not as a solution to these problems but rather as the possibility of salvation — Marlow is dedicated to pragmatism without being a pragmatist, then — his pragmatism is intensely spiritual — “Eastern European”, I said above.

What ends up happening, inevtiably, is that even this pragmatism becomes invaded. Instead of pragmatism being this little circle of light that one can disappear into, a place where one can be oneself and complain about the outside world, the light itself becomes dark this notion of hints of light, flashes of brilliance, and this is Kurtz and the Intended. The story is that of a self-discovery via work and negation that encounters this moment of unexpected sociality.

Next: The spontaneous arising of The Intended




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