The duality of redemption

There is a connection I want to make before I pose the pose the question of how exactly Kurtz can redeem us, and how he can be redeemed — the mutuality of all redemption.

More than racist, I think, I think a much more fair charge to Heart of Darkness is that it is misogynist. Honestly, accusing HoD of racism is one of those things that immediately makes me bristle — being indicative of far greater problems than political incorrectness. But misogyny is definitely there, all the women just seem incredibly spacey or something. Yet his precise words are “another world” — they live in another world — rather than a direct derision, which I actually believe we should take as more than mere politeness. That is, I want to truely consider the other world of the women.

… basically, we have to remember that women are not young and full of hope. Women contain that paradoxical combination of maturity and innocence. They somehow seem to know, just through mere living or something, all those scary facts or attitudes that I didn’t find out until much later, and, at the same time, to have these fairly ridiculous notions of practical possibility — that’s the argument being made (which I agree with). This is the survivor hypothesis — that they are survivors, that we are survivors.

To be a survivor means, at the same time, to seek something else and our own redemption. We are after in both senses: after something, and after — after desolation, or after boyhood, I mean, when we are independent, we know that certain things just won’t work, we have found our own self-sustaining way of living in the world. This might resemble being addicted to drugs — that we find happiness in something and that we are content with it — that’s what being “after” means, being after naivete, or rather, being after a yearning for knowledge, a yearning for change.

That’s who I am right now, for example, I obviously have many questions, many things I want to accomplish, but I am content with what I do, I no longer want to become someone else. And yet I am at the same time far from even knowing myself. This confusing state where I am somehow, at the same time, content, static, and yet wildly uncertain, when my identity is pparadoxically at the same time uncertain and yet immobile.

Yesterday I had an interesting sort of mental experience, it consists of two parts. At first, as I was sitting there, writing in my notebook, it dawned on me, “suddenly”, with a shock, just how bad and sloppy my models of thinking, intellectual development, etc., were. I put “suddenly” in quotes here because this was not a kind of insight at the beginning of things but rather something that occured in the midst of a few days of lethargy … I mean, sort of like a particular implication or instantiation that is the analogue the a more general shift in attitude. Namely, I feel, the shift from being before a discovery to being after, in the sense above: perhaps it was simply the realization that I tended to still organize my models of the mind around some sort of “acheivement”, some ends — it was still a fundamentally teleologic model, which contributed to what I perceived, in that vision, as a shocking bit of naivete.

… because we are survivors, in the mind, too, I mean, our thinking is a combination of self-assurance and uncertainty. I want to find the truth but I want to find it in my own way. We seek our goals and solutions at the very same time that we seek a validation or redemption of our mental methods. So, it was not really that my mental models were too “metpahorical”, but rather that they were too teleologic — so that, upon reflection, what I was really seeking was merely a way to conceive of this sort of wandering or this sense of … groping about, mentally. I feel this to be related to what we called the “time bubble” in the previous entry, and also, it reminds me of that Keatsian line, from Ode to a Nightingale — “I cannot see what flowers are at my feet….”

I am still not quite sure if this is exactly a right connection… but, continuing on with the story, hours later, when trying to flesh out some ideas, I found myself going back to the terms that I had rejected earlier as naive, perhaps, again, because the problem wasn’t metaphor but rather teleology. I wish I had some good examples, but those concepts seemed to make a lot of sense, understood not as something focused around a discovery yet to arrive but rather as a way of living on. I will have examples shortly, when I’m less tired, but the point is that the reverse side of those naive concepts is the awareness of one’s own life, as related to the two senses of the word “after”.

Anyways, to tie the ends together, the point of all this is that redemption is perhaps precisely the process of dealing with this duality, the duality of being “after”: and this is something that Conrad recognized in women as well.

1) How does Kurtz redeem / the mutuality of redemption
2) The duality of the Intended’s reaching out after the river, as a seeking and a “pose”, a moment of self-expression


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