A Link and a Prayer

Just checking in to direct your gaze Blogfonte-ward, where Mitch H. has joined our Dark Knight/Heart of Darkness disccusion…

No time tonight for anything more than a quick note on nihilism in Conrad:

Mitch, I’ve never read Heart of Darkness as a “cautionary tale”… I think it’s one of the best accounts we have of a subjective encounter with the sublime. Personally, I find The Dark Knight Returns far less rewarding, because, in treating the sublime as an “abyss of nothingness” that the subject can dive into, if he/she so chooses (and Batman surely does), rather than an absolute barrier, that will either make or break the person who runs into it, Miller’s book offers nothing to a reader interested primarily in the relationship between self and Other (or self and world)…

DKR is almost entirely given over to a Nietzschean quest for solipsistic “mastery” (quite unneccesary, and, in my opinion, soul-destroying–because the soul cannot feel itself at all if it cannot feel the pull of another). I say “almost entirely” because I’m on the verge of coming up with a reading of this book that places Superman at its’ center–it may not come to much, but I think it’s the best point of entry for a person with my Kantian/ Kierkegaardian/ Edwardsean understanding of the sublime! I’m gonna sleep on it!

The weekend beckons!

Good night friends


  1. Eh, “sublime” in the sense you’re using it has always struck me as a word best suited to obfuscation. It isn’t ineffable, it isn’t divine, it isn’t profound, it isn’t beyond rationality, but it’s supposed to be a little bit of all of the above.

    I can’t get behind any reading of Heart of Darkness which buries the essential humanity of Kurtz in a monophysitism of sublimity. If Heart of Darkness was just about African abominations, however “sublime”, it would be a much lesser book. The virtue of the book lies in the story of a paragon of Civilization that became worse than barbaric in the darkness. Civilization was itself the monster eating the heart out of Africa.

  2. Mitch,

    I don’t think HOD is about “abominations” of any sort–and no way is it about Africa at all (which explains why Chinua Achebe’s “critique” of the book is the most asinine thing ever written!)…

    You have to understand where I’m comin’ from here–I take people like Berkeley (& Fichte) seriously, when they take subjectivity to the limit… on the other hand, I know from personal experience that there are things in this world that pose a visceral (as opposed to an intellectual) challenge to the Idealist position–I describe those things (always other people, as far as I’m concerned) as sublime, because they just cannot be accounted for in any rational way (we know nothing about what caused Kurtz to go round the bend, we aren’t meant to know, he is sublime, not “Africa”!!)…

    You seem to feel that “nihilism” is the worst problem a human mind can face–for me it’s solipsism… HOD is about Marlow’s encounter with the sublime, and his decision to live with contradiction!


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