(Short) Essays without an Introduction: Heart of Darkness, first passages

Literature is the evocation of a time and place, it is memory, but not necessarily, perhaps, a time and place that you were physically at. But “real” memories are a pretension anyways, as many of us have come to realize. This thesis greatly simplifies how we read literature — although, indeed, it’s based on assumptions about truth, philosphy, etc. that are outside of the scope of this essay — I mean, it assumes certain sophisticated, and not naive, notions of why we need literature, it assumes a non-constructive model of philosphy and really behavior in general.

Now there seems, at first, to be a difference between literature and an actual place, as that which is evoked in the beginning of Heart of Darkness: the river. The effort there, in the beginning, by the narrator — I mean, where he sits on a yatch and reminesces about the history of exploration — should not be understood as sentimental. There is indeed the sense that it is really a far better understanding of exploration than more materialistic ones. But it does seem to differ from literature, I mean, this much is obvious, literature being words on paper and the historical memory being, perhaps, a kind of recurrence of some attitude, ie, in the sense of asking, you know, how many men in history have passed through this sea-reach.

Although, on a second analaysis, perhaps literature is the same way. It is not the communication of content. You know, so much must be known beforehand, so much must be shared, before any communication takes place — and communication is really just reference to things we already know, typically. Ie, communication is a way of activating elements in a shared memory — it requires familiarity. The space of familiarity I call the neighborhood — a suprisingly deep and central concept in philosophy, perhaps the concept of philosophy. Philosophy is not primarily the application of rules and reason but rather that yearning for an understanding of knowledge and our experience, most of it at least, as localized rather than universal. But memory lies at the border of familiar, in the (un)familiar, I mean, neither and both familiar and unfamiliar. With literature, too, what we do may resemble a kind of placid staring — as we await the clues that would offer us some pivotal insight into memory. This awaiting will bring us to the metaphysics of time and space.



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