Heart of Darkness

Leon Let's pick up where we left off last time, or rather, let's 
     make one more effort to speak about the Heart of Darkness, 
     since last time we only gave an introduction
Leon My big insight recently has been this notion of the 
     'universality of sentience'...
Leon What this means is that we all basically think 'the same', 
     all sentient creatures ... 'the same' in the sense of -- 
     well, I don't want to go over this again, but the basic 
     argument is that animals are in general much more rational 
     and manipulative than we think
Leon And the consequence being that we need will need to stop 
     thinking about 'paradigm shifts', about how, for example, 
     langauge fundamentally alters the way we think (I don't 
     believe it does), or how certain beliefs or methods 
     fundamentally alter how we think -- I called it 'the 
     immutable sentience'
Leon Furthermore, I said, last time, "There is no beginning and 
     no end, because insights are less like portals and more 
     like chesspeices"
Leon What this means is that we should think of variances in 
     sentience, not as essential changes in nature (ie, portals 
     into new modes of existence) but rather as chesspeices, as 
     moments of complication, or tension -- ie, the way in which 
     chesspeices relate to each other, the way in which gambits 
     pile up, etc
Leon Perhaps we can consider the metaphor of 'the sun' here -- 
     that moment when we are held in fascination by these 
     chesspeices is a time of daylight -- and thus, we can even 
     of dusk and dawn...
Leon But at the same time, we shouldn't forget, in considering 
     the daylight metaphor, that we are *not* speaking of a 
     "time of play", of a time of fascination due to *complexity*
Leon We aren't speaking about a golden age of self-understanding,
      self-celberation, metaphorization, play, and bad faith
Leon Daylight is not the golden age
Leon But rather (and perhaps this is why "daylight" is not such 
     a good term) Marlow spoke of the 'dreamlike sensation' in 
     Heart of Darkness
Leon ... to simply declare the result I want to reach as a 
     formula, daylight is a time of stability within a massive 
     disruption, a cataclysm, the cataclysm of the collapse of 
     play, the collapse of "the golden age"
Leon If Heart of Darkness takes place within a time of 
     disruption ... the disruption of black culture by the white 
     colonists (Marlow spoke about villages being abandoned 
     alongside trade routes -- and obviously there is Kurtz) and 
     of the white colonial effort by disease, death, corruption, 
     etc.
Leon We need not be *too* specific I feel as to the nature of 
     this disruption -- I merely want to emphasize that it is a 
     time of the collapse of the golden age ... this notion of 
     the emptying out of play is essential to what I'm talking 
     about
Leon (And this is why we rely on the intelligence of animals -- 
     intelligence in the sense of the understanding of play, 
     basically
Leon I mean, taken literally, all mammals, pups, and all social 
     animals exhibit obvious modes of play
Leon And, although we have very little insight, usually, into 
     the behavior of adult mammals, there is certainly some 
     understanding of the importance of play within a human 
     "golden age"
Leon The Wordsworth poem, Boy of Winander, speaks of a boy being 
     disrupted in the midst of play by some kind of radical 
     insight
Leon ...
Leon In contrast, daylight is basically, as we conceive of it 
     here, a time of perpetual revolution
Leon It is a time when the emptyness of play holds us fascinated,
      as well a moment when this emptyness and cataclysm is 
     stabilized
Leon Kurtz was "but a ghost" by the time Marlow reached him, he 
     was "nothing of this world" but yet he can be considered a 
     stabilization of this cataclysm
Leon Indeed, the Russian attributes to him countless things -- 
     he said that they stayed up late at night, in the heart of 
     the jungle, talking ("well, he talked, I mostly listened") 
     about many things -- the meaning of life, the purpose of 
     man, "even love". But can't these countless things be 
     understood as something that we cling to in the midst of 
     this cataclysm, or this vacuum, left by the emptying out of 
     play?
Leon Indeed, the attitude towards Kurtz by the Russian speaks of 
     a kind of honesty -- that is, the Russian didn't consider 
     what he was saying as a "portal", a way to become new 
     things, as a kind of teaching, as a technical process, as 
     "rhetoric" (in the sense of a way to manipulate people), 
     but rather as the truth as such
Leon And though Marlow never listened to him talk, or even 
     bought into what he was doing at all, he still spoke of 
     "wanting to hear this man talk", of "talking to him", ie, 
     of having a heart of heart. Yet Marlow also said that he 
     was 'but a voice'...
Leon It is the time when the voice ceases to be a means of 
     communication or manipulation but becomes the expression of 
     the truth as such -- or at least, less mystically, of a 
     kind of honesty
Leon That was after all our perpetual complaint here: that 
     civilization was "nihilistic" in the sense that people were 
     attracted to things that made money *because they made 
     money*, in most cases
Leon It resembles a mail order scam where the person sends money 
     to receive a business oppurtunity only to be sent 
     literature describing the selling of get-rich-quick scams ..
     . so maybe even a kind of mail-order pyramid scheme, if he 
     does chose to follow up on it
Leon I sort of lost moment in religion when it became so 
     pragmatic, when it came to resemble a kind of pyramid 
     scheme -- "fitter, happier, more productive" as Radiohead 
     sayd
Leon err... the moment when I *realized* it was pragmatic, not 
     when it "became" pragmatic
Leon In contrast to this we speak of "truth" and "honesty" here, 
     which are words heavily loaded with moral meaning certainly,
      but which we would like to rather ignore
Leon I mean, we aren't saying that society needs to be more 
     honest, as if that were intrinsically a good thing, but 
     rather, that that time of honesty is a historical event, is 
     a time of daylight
Leon ... to sort of digress again, this is exactly the sort of 
     rhetoric that the Intended used at the end of the book in 
     describing Kurtz
Leon "I was happy once! Too happy! But now I will never see him 
     again."
Leon But Kurtz was "but a ghost", which suggests that what we 
     attribute to him could be understood in many ways
Leon Or also, that we have to read beyond the impasse of 
     formalism here -- I mean, we need to read past the 
     temptation to make an intellectual, black-and-white 
     distinction between Kurtz, in a formal sense, and the 
     society of nihilism
Leon Which is not to say that we can conceive of Kurtz in 
     countless ways, or even in other ways
Leon The thinking of honesty here is simply the positive image 
     that corresponds to the sense of cataclysmic shock
Leon Well, two things here
Leon (1) the origins of language and (2) the nature of this shock
Leon Regarding (1), I eventually want to make more grand 
     historical connections to this theory of daylight, and one 
     of the connections I want to seek is this notion that 
     langauge (and remember, sentience is basically unchanged by 
     language, the langauge capacity) arose during such a 
     cataclysm
Leon Now, for (2), the it's hard to say what came first, I mean, 
     it's hard to make a linear causal connection between shock 
     and the metaphysics of honesty (ie, Kurtz, above)
Leon Indeed, there is a sense that the shock occupies the same 
     space as the metaphysics of play, the soup of play, the 
     society of nihilism
Leon I wrote a few days ago that the history of civilization was 
     basically nothing but the history of crime, ie, of accepted 
     transgressions
Leon Play and crime are the same, we said, an enormous pyramid 
     scheme, where we kind of forget (or was it ever there?) 
     that sense of letdown when we realized how pragmatic 
     everything was
Leon Shock and emptying out is latent on and sort of built up 
     upon this system
Leon I mean, even for something like math or physics, for the 
     hard sciences or whatehver, there is still certainly the 
     sense of there being a pyramid scheme here -- as we are 
     building upon the works of others, theories of whcih we 
     have our doubts
Leon Kurtz arises as a latent possibility, a new way to live, a 
     new way to approach language within the familiarity of 
     criminality
Leon It is something that haunts our lives, you could say
Leon And this is basically what the metaphysics of honesty (and 
     we must not be caught at that impasse) is built upon
Leon ... the metaphysics of honestywill make scant mention of 
     the materiality of the voice but that becaus it has 
     forgotten its origins, in which case it is at once truth 
     and error -- I mean, truth in the sense of, a link to 
     history
TBC
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