Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

While in the first year of Architectural School, our class was told a few time that to be a good architect, one must read the humanities. That I continue to do. Empathy is learned, turned on, and seeing through other eyes awakens it.


A friend turned me onto Joseph Conrad. My dad’s cousin was one who worked in the Congo helping the children for many years. So now I read Conrad. My dad’s cousin, Herbert Weiss, now old even told me the next book to read on the Congo. They both were born in Vienna Austria with a great education and understanding of colonialism.


A few takeaways from the book all in regard to the art of writing or the impulses to deal with the choices art provides:

  1. Know your art – how to manipulate your words, design, and events.
  2. Art is beyond all other greatness – it is a work for the Gods.
  3. Sympathetic consciousness of a common destiny – the art of fidelity to the right practice which makes great craftsmen, the call to honor, devotion to our calling, our idealism, rest firmly on Earth. Go with the spirit of adventure tied with the spirit of service. Risk is part of daily work. Create a steady fidelity to what is nearest at hand and heart. Go with the sense of immediate duty.
  4. The world of marvel contains enough marvels and mysteries. They act upon our emotions and intelligence in an enchanted state. This applies to the living and the dead in their countless multitudes.
  5. Act humbly to the conditions of art should carry a justification for every line. Art itself may be defined as a singles-minded attempt to render the highest kind of justice to the visible universe by bringing truth underlying its every aspect. It is the attempt to find in its form, in its color, in its light, in its shadows, in the aspects of matter and in the facts of life, what of each is fundamental, what is enduring and essential – their very truth of existence. The artist descends within himself to a lonely region of stress and strife, by choice, for the love of his craft. The artist appeals to that part of our being which is not independent on wisdom, to that which is a gift, therefore more enduring.
  6. All the truth of life is there: a moment of vision, a sigh, a smile - and all the return to an eternal rest.
  7. Liberty of imagination should be the most precious possession.
  8. A good artist should expect no recognition of his toils and no admiration of his genius. It is all for the promise of perfection. Let his thoughts dwell on the strength of his imagination amongst the things of this earth. Permanence of memory – “Take me out of myself – look for the light of imperishable consciousness.
  9. I am no slave to prejudices and formulas. My attitude toward subject and expression, angles of vision, method of composition will always be changing. I am free to express. I am not a slave.
  10. Approach the task at hand with the spirit of love for mankind.
  11. Use one’s abilities to as a means of conquering darkness.
  12. There is a singleness of intension, an honest concern for the right way of moving forward, a humble road ahead. It is a rule to stay out of the darkness. See everything clearly, even through the fog.
  13. Give your own personal visual perceptions a more complete autonomy. There is an intuitive response to visual sensations. What does each individual see? “A private view of reality”.
  14. The internal and external prevail at the moment of observation.
  15. One-man try’s to express his most inward impressions’. There is a chance to find oneself.
  16. The impression is the equivalent of the entire perception as man experiences it all with the powers of his being.
  17. Be liberated from the bonds and irrelevances of the purely circumstantial and go with larger ideas and attitudes.
  18. Expand moral awareness. Find the light in all our thoughts. There can be an inherent in their structure and purpose rather than just illustrative and functional. Find the origins of consciousness. Feel the events without being able to explain them.
  19. The Heart of Darkness points us toward such origins, in morality, language, and consciousness. Think of the primitive vs the civilized on all perceptions.
  20. We need to be prepared for this kind of perceiving before we arrive at our destination.
  21. There is an art to the shaping of consciousness. Self-revelations may come.
  22. Be aware of naked commercialization devoid of human concern. Be aware of the difference between fact and value. Restraint is part of the path. Locate the moral value within each experience.
  23. What we cannot embrace we reject, what we cannot love we hate. Reach for the insights and your self-discovery. Be free!


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