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Lord Jim; chapters, 6-10 
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Post Re: Lord Jim; chapters, 6-10
tbarron wrote:
My sense is that in the reckoning of the elderly helmsman, to acknowledge that the white men on the Patna ran away because of fear would have been to impugn the courage of all the white men in the court room, which could have been dangerous for him.

Excellent point and I think quite true. The helmsman would have been fearful anyway, out of his element in a court room and having to testify and then on top that the whole process is run by white men and that the 'accused' are white, really a no win situation.

My reading has slowed over Christmas but I have made it to Chp15 and will continue to the bitter end!!! :shock: Actually, I am enjoying Lord Jim, but I find Conrad often uses a lot of words to enlighten us on the darker recesses of Marlow's mind (and others) and I find myself skim reading and getting lost and then I have to go back and reread to pick up the thread.



Thu Dec 27, 2012 2:14 pm
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Post Re: Lord Jim; chapters, 6-10
giselle wrote:
tbarron wrote:
My sense is that in the reckoning of the elderly helmsman, to acknowledge that the white men on the Patna ran away because of fear would have been to impugn the courage of all the white men in the court room, which could have been dangerous for him.

Excellent point and I think quite true. The helmsman would have been fearful anyway, out of his element in a court room and having to testify and then on top that the whole process is run by white men and that the 'accused' are white, really a no win situation.

My reading has slowed over Christmas but I have made it to Chp15 and will continue to the bitter end!!! :shock: Actually, I am enjoying Lord Jim, but I find Conrad often uses a lot of words to enlighten us on the darker recesses of Marlow's mind (and others) and I find myself skim reading and getting lost and then I have to go back and reread to pick up the thread.

The bitter end! Good for you. I know what you mean about getting lost in Marlow's ruminations. It's hard for me to be patient when the delays in advancing the plot are so extended. I read somewhere that Marlow summarized his purpose as an artist as simply "to make you see," and he does make an extraordinary effort to do just that, whether it's the physical scene or the mental landscape.



Thu Dec 27, 2012 8:37 pm
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Post Re: Lord Jim; chapters, 6-10
The discussion between Marlow and Chester about Warpole Island and guano in Chp14 reminded me how bird guano was an important product at the time, even of strategic value worth fighting over. It is an amusing discussion and it may be that Chester is on to something. I don't know if Warpole had/has significant deposits of guano but I wouldn't be surprised. I checked it out on Wikipedia and most of the shoreline is steep cliffs, doesn't look too accessible, but there is a 'small plain' on the eastern side. I found this NY Times article from 2008, which shows how significant guano was and still is, and some description of life as a guano worker then and now. It is interesting that Chester thought Jim would be an ideal candidate to take charge of his hypothetical workers on Warpole. I suppose, in Chester's view, Jim has nothing to lose, not even a reputation.

Peru Guards Its Guano as Demand Soars Again

The New York Times

Surging prices for synthetic fertilizers and organic foods are shifting attention to guano, an organic fertilizer once found in abundance on this island and more than 20 others off the coast of Peru, where an exceptionally dry climate preserves the droppings of seabirds like the guanay cormorant and the Peruvian booby.

On the same islands where thousands of convicts, army deserters and Chinese indentured servants died collecting guano a century and a half ago, teams of Quechua-speaking laborers from the highlands now scrape the dung off the hard soil and place it on barges destined for the mainland.

“We are recovering some of the last guano remaining in Peru,” said Victor Ropón, 66, a supervisor from Ancash Province whose leathery skin reflects his years working on the guano islands since he was 17. “There might be 10 years of supplies left, or perhaps 20, and then it will be completely exhausted,” said Mr. Ropón, referring to fears that the seabird population could be poised to fall sharply in the years ahead. It is a minor miracle that any guano at all is available here today, reflecting a century-old effort hailed by biologists as a rare example of sustainable exploitation of a resource once so coveted that the United States authorized its citizens to take possession of islands or keys where guano was found.

As a debate rages over whether global oil output has peaked, a parable may exist in the story of guano, with its seafaring treachery, the development of synthetic alternatives in Europe and a desperate effort here to prevent the deposits from being depleted. “Before there was oil, there was guano, so of course we fought wars over it,” said Pablo Arriola, director of Proabonos, the state company that controls guano production, referring to conflicts like the Chincha Islands War, in which Peru prevented Spain from reasserting control over the guano islands. “Guano is a highly desirous enterprise.”

Guano is also an undeniably strenuous enterprise from the perspective of the laborers who migrate to the islands to collect the dung each year. In scenes reminiscent of open-pit gold mines on the mainland, the laborers rise before dawn to scrape the hardened guano with shovels and small pickaxes.

Many go barefoot, their feet and lower legs coated with guano by the time their shifts end in the early afternoon. Some wear handkerchiefs over their mouths and nostrils to avoid breathing in guano dust, which, fortunately, is almost odorless aside from a faint smell of ammonia. “This is not an easy life, but it’s the one I chose,” said Bruno Sulca, 62, who oversees the loading of guano bags on barges at Isla Guañape, off the coast of northern Peru. Mr. Sulca and other workers earn about $600 a month, more than three times what manual laborers earn in the impoverished highlands.

Peru’s guano trade quixotically soldiers on after almost being wiped out by overexploitation. The dung will probably never be the focus of a boom as intense as the one in the 19th century, when deposits were 150 feet high, with export proceeds accounting for most of the national budget.

The guano on most islands, including Isla de Asia, south of the capital, Lima, now reaches less than a foot or so. But the guano that remains here is coveted when viewed in the context of the frenzy in Peru and abroad around synthetic fertilizers like urea, which has doubled in price to more than $600 a ton in the last year. Guano in Peru sells for about $250 a ton while fetching $500 a ton when exported to France, Israel and the United States. While guano is less efficient than urea at releasing nitrates into the soil, its status as an organic fertilizer has increased demand, transforming it into a niche fertilizer sought around the world.

“Guano has the advantage of being chemical-free,” said Enrique Balmaceda, who cultivates organic mangoes in Piura, a province in northern Peru. “The problem is, there isn’t enough of it to meet demand with new crops like organic bananas competing for what’s available.”



Mon Dec 31, 2012 7:42 pm
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