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XI- HD, depression and PICS of the Congo. 
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Well DWill - have you got a mini biography of Conrad in your book?

He actually shot himself - but the bullet went straight through and did no damage. What must that do to a person?

Obviously gifted, but obviously what my mother used to call, Musical!!!



Fri Feb 08, 2008 10:57 am
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Post Re: XI- HD, depression and PICS of the Congo.
I would have more taken aback had the characters been exuberantly joyful.

When you figure all they'd seen, the depravity of people, both black and white, the violence, the 'darkness' itself - anyone would be depressed.

But then again, what were they expecting? They knew they were sailing into a primitive place, where nothing was going to be like life as they knew it.



Thu Feb 14, 2008 7:12 pm
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Post Great pictures!
Now I have to apologize for the length of this post. I found a passage in the book that I spontaneously came to think of when I saw the pictures of the river:

"Going up that river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings
of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were
kings. An empty stream, a great silence, an impenetrable forest. The air
was warm, thick, heavy, sluggish. There was no joy in the brilliance of
sunshine. The long stretches of the waterway ran on, deserted, into
the gloom of overshadowed distances. On silvery sandbanks hippos and
alligators sunned themselves side by side. The broadening waters flowed
through a mob of wooded islands; you lost your way on that river as you
would in a desert, and butted all day long against shoals, trying to
find the channel, till you thought yourself bewitched and cut off for
ever from everything you had known once--somewhere--far away--in another
existence perhaps. There were moments when one's past came back to one,
as it will sometimes when you have not a moment to spare to yourself;
but it came in the shape of an unrestful and noisy dream, remembered
with wonder amongst the overwhelming realities of this strange world of
plants, and water, and silence. And this stillness of life did not in
the least resemble a peace. It was the stillness of an implacable force
brooding over an inscrutable intention. It looked at you with a vengeful
aspect. I got used to it afterwards; I did not see it any more; I had no
time. I had to keep guessing at the channel; I had to discern, mostly by
inspiration, the signs of hidden banks; I watched for sunken stones; I
was learning to clap my teeth smartly before my heart flew out, when I
shaved by a fluke some infernal sly old snag that would have ripped the
life out of the tin-pot steamboat and drowned all the pilgrims; I had to
keep a look-out for the signs of dead wood we could cut up in the night
for next day's steaming. When you have to attend to things of that sort,
to the mere incidents of the surface, the reality--the reality, I tell
you--fades. The inner truth is hidden--luckily, luckily. But I felt it
all the same; I felt often its mysterious stillness watching me at
my monkey tricks, just as it watches you fellows performing on your
respective tight-ropes for--what is it? half-a-crown a tumble--"

When I read this passage again I could understand, in relation to the pictures, why Conrad was describing the river so depressingly. We watch the river and see something beautiful: untouched nature. But for Marlowe, stuck on that empty, quiet river, constantly threatened by the risk of getting stuck on shoals the nature is not something beautiful and positive. He is no tourist comfortably seated in an airconditioned bus. He feels like an intruder ready to be swallowed by the vast, anonymous jungle, drowned in the sluggish and shoal-ridden river or killed by anonymous "savages" lurking in the shadows (but seldom seen).

It's so easy with our modern outlook to forget how much of human history, even in Conrads time, that has consisted of a struggle against nature.



Wed Mar 26, 2008 10:22 am
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Sansom wrote:

Quote:
When I read this passage again I could understand, in relation to the pictures, why Conrad was describing the river so depressingly. We watch the river and see something beautiful: untouched nature. But for Marlowe, stuck on that empty, quiet river, constantly threatened by the risk of getting stuck on shoals the nature is not something beautiful and positive. He is no tourist comfortably seated in an airconditioned bus. He feels like an intruder ready to be swallowed by the vast, anonymous jungle, drowned in the sluggish and shoal-ridden river or killed by anonymous "savages" lurking in the shadows (but seldom seen).

It's so easy with our modern outlook to forget how much of human history, even in Conrads time, that has consisted of a struggle against nature.


Thanks for the excellent quotation and for your input Sansom-- it's true, especially in Europe there is no wilderness left-- I think of nature as places to go on (mainly signposted) walks between villages in France. Even in an part of France with no large cities like where I live "nature" is always close to agriculture.

I imagine it must be different in some parts of Sweden?

Oh, and Samson, seeing the quality of your postings, may I attract your attention to the discussion of McCarthy's No Country for Old Men
(in case you vanish for a few weeks and this is my one opportunity ;-) ) ?


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Wed Mar 26, 2008 10:59 am
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Post I'm flattered
Is it different in Sweden? Yes and no. I guess we do have, together with Finland and Russia, more vast stretches of nature than in the rest of Europe, but a lot of it is industrial forest - planted trees in straight lines for use in the wood industry. And with cell phones and the wolves almost extinct there's not that same feeling as in The Heart of Darkness of a looming danger.

Also, I live in southern Sweden and have only once, as a kid, visited Norrland, the northern part (half the country) which is more of a wilderness.



Wed Mar 26, 2008 12:16 pm
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Yes, that's very true, I think--Samson's observation that the beauty of nature may be conditional on our situation as visitors to the place. Marlowe was more apt to interpret the scene as threatening because in some ways it actually was. We (or at least I) sometimes glorify wilderness without considering the dangers people faced back when wilderness existed and could be confronted.

In this connection, I was surprised to read about a bear who escaped from a preserve in Germany last year. The story noted that wild bears do not exist in Germany (or perhaps anywhere in Europe). Amazing to me, since here, 60 miles from Washington, DC, it is not uncommon for black bears to be cited, even in the close DC subburbs when they for some reason wander in. But these bears are not a threat. I can not remember a single report of one attacking a human. That would not be true of the western grizzly, which is a creature to watch out for, or for the mountain lion, which can really be a predator on humans.

I love to travel around in the forests, and I favor shemes to reintroduce predators to areas of the West, but if I think about it, my experience would be altered if there was really a chance that I coluld be attacked out there. To put it simply, I might not go! It might be true that we who say we like nature want it to be on our own terms--or not truly natural.
Will



Thu Mar 27, 2008 9:23 am
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Quote:
The story noted that wild bears do not exist in Germany (or perhaps anywhere in Europe).


France reintroduced a few bears in the Pyrennees a few years ago. This is controversial, for the same reasons are the reintroduction of wolves were in US National Parks.

The bears did well, but our parks in France are small and the many herds of sheep very tempting. Mostly the sheep die because they get frightened on meeting a bear and fall into ravines.

So it's a complicated dance: I think farmers get some compensation from the government, but then from time to time a bear disappears and hunters are accused...
Over there (in South Western France) it's a sensitive issue.


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Thu Mar 27, 2008 9:33 am
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Post Yes
Sweden still have some wild bears and wolves, especially in the north. A couple of days ago a tree feller (is that what you call it?) was attacked by a bear. They are usually not attacking humans, but sometimes they become aggressive, especially when they have offspring.

We also have the same issue as southern France when farmers and Sami people kill bears and wolves. I don't know if you are familiar with the Sami people, but they are an aboriginal people who often have herds of reindeer and they live up north.



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Penelope wrote:
Ah, you see, I thought rhetoric meant - overstating and dramatising your argument in order to persuade people.

Some of our MP's (usually Welshmen) are accused of using 'pure rhetoric' to argue their case in parliament.

They have wonderful voices, usually, and Welsh is a delightful accent to my ears. You know - Dylan Thomas:- Rage, Rage against the dying of the light - is that not an example of rhetoric?


Hey! I hoid that!

(I am half Welsh - my mother was born in south Wales.)



Mon Mar 31, 2008 10:36 am
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Cheers Carley:

Cymru am byth! Wales for ever!

Y Ddraig Goch ddyry gychwyn The Red Dragon will show the way

I live about 1/2 hour by car from the Welsh Border.

Last year we went to South Wales for a holiday - Pembrokeshire -

You will like this photograph I took then:

If I can get it to come up:

http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/ff15 ... oke008.jpg

OK - you can see it if you click on it.



Mon Mar 31, 2008 1:32 pm
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I just wanted to correct my statement about black bears being harmless to humans. My wife, who works for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, reviews incident reports, and she tells me I'm wrong. A boy was killed by a black bear in the Smokies last year, and around here there have been a couple of attacks but no fatalities. The problems can occur when campers have food that the bears want. The problem is really habitat encroachment by us humans.
Will



Mon Mar 31, 2008 7:55 pm
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