There are some books that I enjoyed reading but for the heart of me could not really remember. I would claim to have read them but only the vaguest things about them run through me. Coincidentally, some of these books are from the same writer. More so, these books are short works that are either long short stories or short novels. And they say that brevity is a virtue.
I am not questioning Joseph Conrad. He is worthy of being called one of the greatest writers of his time. Although he didn’t have a chance to win the Nobel for not being able to fit in the vision of the institution, he still has something important to say.
So what was it that he was trying to say in one of his works?
I admit, I am quite reluctant to write something about this work. But since I have to follow the schedule, I will try my best to whack my brains out and figure things out.
I must be aging fast. My memory is waning. Really, this is an exception. Anyway, here are some of the things that I remember. There were white guys who came to Africa and introduced civilization to them. They made the Africans work. I don’t know what for. In one word: colonialism.
But surely, it isn’t only colonialism that the author wrote about. I don’t feel strongly for that subject, and I remember having strong feelings for it while reading the work. I may not remember character names, but I remember my eyes racing through the narrative.
Okay, I will use my powers of assumptions now. The book explores how dark the human soul can go. Not everything is as it seems. Beneath the surface, there is always something lurking there, something mean, something dangerous. Something that would explode at the slightest provocation.
What is the universe made of aside from sets of opposites? Light and darkness, fire and ice, good and bad, et al. Surely, the universe is governed with this law of universal balance. It is irrefutable because the absence of one of opposite is unimaginable. It would destabilize the order of things as we know it.
Like the universe, we have also have these sets of opposites. There is always something beneath us. That’s duality for you. I will stop now lest Conrad rises from wherever his grave is and bites my head off.
Good or evil, good or evil. I think people are born inherently good, but for some reason, we are tainted with this thing called original sin. I don’t want to go further than that because I don’t know my biblical passages, and since that is the case, which I strongly assume it to be, people are born inherently both good and bad. That’s the law of universal balance for you.
That does not mean though that we can either choose to be exclusively good or bad. For some reason, we always strive for the good path. It occurs naturally. We repress the bad. I think we have a natural cunning to discern what is good and bad, just like we know that killing others is not a very good thing to do. And since I stand to believe that we are both good and bad, we cannot take the bad stuff out of our system. The bad will always resurface every now and then. It is up to us to ward it off.
And our natural knowledge of good and bad, however expansive it may be, gets challenged a lot of times. The bad path is easier, so we give up on being good. Now that I think of it, the novel plays around it: struggling with good and bad, and more often than not, allowing the latter to trounce the former.
This is exactly the vision of the writer why he was not considered for the Nobel. There is always hope. The vision that the good will always win at the end is the quintessential hope that we should possess. Without it, what is there to live for?
Considering all these ranting and haywire thoughts, I now remember how depressing the book was. I remember reading it with a heavily pounding heart. I like it anyway. It reminds me of the ultimate virtue that we must all possess.