Reading Darkness 

Way back when, during my community college days, I took a literature class that changed my life. Yet, like most life changes, it wasn't something that I was aware of at the time. My primary motivation to go through college was to one: challenge myself intellectually in a way that I hadn't been challenged before, and two: get out of a job that I had hated. However, I discovered through the reading, and the writing, that not only did I enjoy reading literature and discovering what the stories had to say, but that I also enjoyed writing about them. Yes, this may be putting me squarely into nerd territory, but that's what happened.

The one story that I distinctly remember was Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. At the time, I was enchanted with the description of a man (Marlow) slowly encountering something mysterious, and maybe a little evil, and coming out of the experience somewhat changed--perhaps not drastically changed, but a little different nonetheless. Now several years later, in grad. school, it is once again an assigned text. This time, with a new perspective on my reading, I am seeing new things in the story. The evil I see Marlow encountering now is that of the Empire seeking after riches, but couching that desire within the supposedly noble mission of "civilizing" the natives. It is something that Marlow can barely confront. While I haven't finished this reading yet, and am better aware of the inherent problems viewing the story as a critique of imperialism, I am struck by how much I still enjoy this story. It's nice to see how my love of reading is still intact, even though my attitudes towards certain stories have changed.

08 February 2004
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