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Lecture 4

ENGA10H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: The Criminals, Starch, Plausible Deniability

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Deirdre Flynn

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Lecture 4:
“All falls down- what u going to do when it all falls down when we base our self-esteem on richess and when
we do ugliest thing in attaining these riches, we dig deeper in to a hole
DG digs deeper in to a hole
- When things falls down, he lashes out and destroys whatever threatens his sense of self based on
faulty belief system
Kurtz too lashes out and kills the Congolese as they threaten his ideal of “civilizing the savages”
Marlow is diff:
- His story is about travelling to congo and bringing back an ailing man: Kurtz
- Parallel to Conrad’s adventure at piloting steam boat and up the congo to transport an ailing agent,
who like Kurtz enroute. Conrad’s journal suggest he suffered depression etc
- Is a story full of digression and the style that mirrors the disorientation and confusion in marlow so
we too are confused and disoriented.
- In this voyage, marlow gots lost…in terms of his beliefs, understandings, his sense of self he had
visioned. He can’t stay comfortably numb.
- DG and Kurtz stay comf. Numb..they avoid feeling anything by seeking addictive dynamics…DG gets
addicted to first pleasure then opiates…he is first addicted to his role as a enlightened noble saviour
and civilized when this fails he then addicted to the aquisiton of ivory and the his quest for
more and more ivory, he gets numb
- Marlow feels everything…he is aware that this is profit-seeking venture. He doesn’t believe in the
pious speeches that are given as a reason company goes to civilize Congolese
- What breaks him is the stark greed and cruelty widespread in encountering Congolese…what
permanently alters him and by his account has reduced him to madness is how the well-being and
well-satisfaction of Europeans is made possible by profitable by the systematic torture and cruelty
inflicted on far away that others can remain blind to it…
- “No they did not bury me..passing through a passage that has no hope or desire..”
- Intruders” or people of his thought are acting so naturally..Henry “becoming natural is irritiating
pose that I know”..these peoplea re not posing..thats the only reality they know and rality they seem
to is not real at all…without the Congolese, their standard of living would be much diff and
the opportunities to feel good about themselves will be lesser.
- The people in Europe were told that the processing of harvesting rubber and ivory in Congo was also
the cause for improving the lives of the poor they felt good about the y
are giving back when they buy piano
- 5million Africans died in the 7 year period of “free state congo” when it was being used to harvest ivory
- Marlow sees the ugly portrait of the Europeans and that this hidden portrait is getting uglier: brutal
exploitation of labor AND greedy extraction of resources but it occurs so far away the the individuals
and European nations that benefit fromit can maintain plausible deniability so their sense of reality
remains safe..theri sense of reality is based on ideology nto reality :its based on their imagined
relationship not to their actual existence
- Marlow is brought closer to understanding his actual he is not locked in the
superstructure btu exposed to base structure
- When marlow was a kid he believed in the dominant ideology of the era <as a child, passion for
maps>> his excitement as a child that he will be abel to fillin these blanks with his certainty that he
will fill those putting his fingers on this map, he comes a master of all that he surveys..he
will be a centre and be the point on the map around which everything else orients..the father
anything is from him, the farther from the center it will be
- ^ mirrors one way of thinking about ourself in the world..the self is self-centred so the farther from
our understanding and interest some things is the more the blank and the more meaningless it
appears to be..he says the blankest spaces are the most interesting because it offers endless
opportunities..findign what he finds to find: himself..the biggest and blankest place: Africa
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- Congo has massive natural resources hence exploited, mined and seen lot of violence
- It had ceased to be a delightful mystery> by the time he sets out, he realizes that it has a name and
has a reality. the more is known, the darker it becomes
- Because it is darker to him, he doesn’t pretend to understand it all
- The uncertainty may be that thing that allows him to cme intact despite his confusion
- He doesn’t go in with a conviction ..yeat: the best lack all the conviction, the worst arefilled with
passionate intensity
- He is skeptical about the “white” patch: skeptical of whiteness as a concept as it signifies superiority,
it is associated with blankness and with capacity and right to write on the blankness and fill it with
oneself. Hence whiteness is a position not a racial charactersitic or ethnicity
- White are white in relation to ppl they are able to designate as black and what gives them that right
is their presumption of whiteness- is only the effect of nominating the other as dark.
- Binary: White vs black are mutually constitutive: cannot be white without black
- Those in power determine and establish these hierarchies..they do it unconsciously in a way that
functions on subjects unconsciously
Olympics ad; knowledge and power centred on the white man. H eis capable of maxing power of his
employees. Can only do so relative to subjects restricted of subjectified and objectified. These objects can be
racialized, and colonized
Prof think that racism is essential component of capitalism. Its necessary for functioning of capitalism.
Racism is necessary to invalidated the claims of massive number of people that needs to be exploied to
profit the few inexpense of others.
“the conquest fo the earth ..flatter nose of ourselves….” The conquest of the earth, which mostly means
the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves,
is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. What redeems it is the idea only. An idea at the
back of it; not a sentimental pretence, but an idea, an unselfish belief in the ideasomething you can set
up, and bow down before, and offer a sacrifice to.
Shattering demystification of the civilizing project as racializing and colonizing
Marlow sees the colonizers racialize and colonize the Congolese people, forced to serve as blackobjects of
knowledge that supports the myth of coherent self of white subjects
What kills Kurtz and breaks Marlow is NOT that some people are take advantage of others but What make it
a modern novel is the way the racism and exploitation are institutionalized. M finds refreshing how Romans
used to conquer territories, they made no pretext, they didnt pretend they were making anybody’s life
easier, they came in, conquered and enslaved you
What Mar is identifying is that the extent to which the exploited can be made to feel that they deserve the
exploitation and the extent to which the exploiter feels that they deserve to do the exploiting
What is destructive about racism is when it is internalized. Its systematic construction of hierarchies and
they dominate our reality, they sustain dominant’s subjects imagined relationship to his actual existence.
The dominant hierarchies are internalized as essential, natural things.
In reality , there is no such things as black and white. Both terms call each other into existence i.e mutually
There is always a superior term in a binary that creates power of superiority and inferiority hierarchy and
that hierarchy is imposed in a way that masked itself
What’s at stake: The imagined relationship of the white imperialist..the superioirity is maintained through
colonizing, enslaving and brutalising of the assumed inferior in this hierarchy
M sees the dynamic in play, he sees the own hierarchy on the colonzing of black people..the others that fall
outside of the mapping, the white subjects can only find themselves by destroying those who fall outside of
their mapping i.e Kurtz..ultimately, they fall apart themselves because the centre cannot hold
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