September 9, 2003


"...and I remember my youth and the feeling that will never come back any more--the feeling that I could last for ever, outlast the sea, the earth, and all men; the deceitful feeling that lures us on to joys, to perils, to love, to vain effort--to death; the triumphant conviction of strength, the heat of life in the handful of dust, the glow in the heart that with every year grows dim, grows cold, grows small, and expires--and expires, too soon--before life itself."

Joseph Conrad

I found it in this article about anti-Americanism abroad (as opposed to at home, which also does exist unfortunately):

The Falseness of Anti-Americanism By? Fouad Ajami

It's a good defense of not just America, but of the modernization that is sweeping the world today. We are living in very exciting historical times, and freedom is spreading. This is a good thing, reason to celebrate (sad too, that this has to be spelled out). So, I confuses me when I see those who refuse to acclaim these good tidings both at home and abroad. Anyway, a hot potato. I don't want this blog to go super political.

This story from Conrad served this writer's purpose in rendering the voice of older cultures as they contend with modernity- our contemporary life here in the West, here in our artworld.

"A century ago, in a short-story called "Youth," the great British author Joseph Conrad captured in his incomparable way the disturbance that is heard when a modern world pushes against older cultures and disturbs their peace. In the telling, Marlowe, Conrad's literary double and voice, speaks of the frenzy of coming upon and disturbing the East. "And then, before I could open my lips, the East spoke to me, but it was in a Western voice. A torrent of words was poured into the enigmatical, the fateful silence; outlandish, angry words mixed with words and even whole sentences of good English, less strange but even more surprising. The voice swore and cursed violently; it riddled the solemn peace of the bay by a volley of abuse. It began by calling me Pig . . . ."

and then I searched and found the Conrad Story (I love the internet):

"I read for the first time 'Sartor Resartus' and Burnaby's 'Ride to Khiva.' I didn't understand much of the first then; but I remember I preferred the soldier to the philosopher at the time; a preference which life has only confirmed. One was a man, and the other was either more--or less. However, they are both dead, and Mrs. Beard is dead, and youth, strength, genius, thoughts, achievements, simple hearts--all die . . . . No matter. "

And in a short story of a sailor's youth, Conrad contrasts youth with the awareness of death that accompanies our later years. Therefore, the pull quote for the face of this post.

Posted by Dennis at September 9, 2003 6:30 PM

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