Saturday, February 24, 2007

Heart of Darkness

This book has been coming up a lot lately, which is either coincidence (is there such a thing?) or a sign of a collective consciousness that I am tapped into. Take your pick. The first time was on a podcast which has mysteriously disappeared from iTunes. It is (was) a BBC-produced program called "In Our Time," and featured a panel discussion among experts on a particular topic every week. Recently it's been the Jesuits, Karl Popper, Archimedes, and most recently, Joseph Conrad's book Heart of Darkness. I have never read it, but it is apparently on the required reading lists of high school and college classes everywhere. Even my roommate, who is a self-confessed non reader, has read it. It's best known for being the seed of the plot to Coppola's epic Apocalypse Now.

So I resolved to read it after listening to a fascinating discussion on the BBC podcast (where'd it go?). Then it came up with my roommate Chris at the bar talking about movies. Now, on this week's "On The Media," (another podcast from the NPR program) it comes up again. Apparently G.W. says he's recently been reading about King Leopold of Belgium. This is relevant because it was Leopold that was in power Belgium's colonialization of the Congo. Joseph Conrad's book is thought of (although he denies it) to be to some degree based on a trip he took on a boat into the Congolese interior, which at the time was a land of mystery to Europe. Leopold's colonialization involved slavery and genocide, and he waged a sly but ultimately unsuccessful PR campaign to cover up the ugliness of the situation. Seems relevant to G.W.'s situation to me.

Link to On The Media
Link to In Our Time

P.S. In Our Time's podcast is unavailable due to "rights issues" according to the website.


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