Tuesday 11 March 2008

This bit from Lord Jim made me vomit a bit in my mouth:

Of Dain Waris, his own people said with pride that he knew how to fight like a white man. This

was true; he had that sort of courage--the courage in the open, I may say--but he had also a European mind.

You meet them sometimes like that, and are surprised to discover unexpectedly a familiar turn of thought, an

unobscured vision, a tenacity of purpose, a touch of altruism.

This doesn't help:

Such beings open to the Western eye, so often concerned with mere surfaces, the

hidden possibilities of races and lands over which hangs the mystery of unrecorded ages.

It took the whites forever to learn that the rest of us are human in the exact same way as them, didn't it? And I'm not convinced most of them really believe it, still. On the other hand, here's the sort of behaviour their unobscured vision, tenacity of purpose, altruism and courage in the open fosters. Not that we darkies are any different or better. And that's the point, isn't it? We're all fucked-up animals. In a vacant universe, on a cooling planet. The people who say it's only belief that makes us any beter are quite right, only the great question then is: belief in what?

Graham Greene's answer of course is a despair that is exalted by being an unforgivable sin in the particular religious system he embraces. Tricky bugger, huh?

Anyway. Thus and so. Freakish amounts of quiet, unassuming racism in Conrad. But one can detect traces of the same in Greene. All those bystanding natives in their own countries. All the terrible burden of a non-frosty climate on the white organism. And yet such moving novels. It really makes you wonder.

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