Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Who is Kurtz?

Who is Kurtz?
by Gideon Burton
after a passage from Conrad's Heart of Darkness

I say a name that's hemoglobin red,
a talisman, a paradox, a charm.
I might as well attempt to raise the dead.
Can you perceive the man? Hence my alarm.
No wealth of words can say what can't be spoken,
absurdity, surprise, revolting tremors;
the circled squares, a dreamer's logic broken.
How can I speak what I can scarce remember?
Impossible to summon or preserve
the essence of a decade or a day;
whatever is the truth is bent in curves
that language will confess as it betrays.
     Our mind in isolation hosts our dreams;
     we live just as we dream, alone, it seems.

Photo: flickr - Baronvonhorne

From Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

He [Kurtz] was just a word for me. I did not see the man in the name any more than you do. Do you see him? Do you see the story? Do you see anything? It seems to me I am trying to tell you a dream -- making a vain attempt, because no relation of a dream can convey the dream-sensation, that commingling of absurdity, surprise, and bewilderment in a tremor of struggling revolt, that notion of being captured by the incredible which is of the very essence of dreams. . . . No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one's existence -- that which makes its truth, its meaning -- its subtle and penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live, as we dream -- alone. . . ."

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