On Meaning

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  • Conrad’s intention.
  • In the center is Kurtz’s “The Horror; the Horror”;
  • Marlow’s telling of the story;
  • Then the audience on board the ship who have listened and reacted to the story;
  • The outer circle is the community of readers/critics of Conrad’s novel who interrelate;
  • Finally the story’s meaning to the larger society.

On Meaning

haloRecently I have been listening to audio books in the gym while I work out. It helps to pass the time in an other wise boring activity (row, row, lift, lift). Currently I am listening to a fine reading of Conrad’s “The Secret Sharer”. It is a fascinating story. [BTW, the best free source for audio books]

In his “Heart of Darkness” Conrad has his narrator say:

“The yarns of seamen have a direct simplicity, the whole meaning of which lies within the shell of a cracked nut. But Marlow was not typical (if his propensity to spin yarns be excepted), and to him the meaning of an episode was not inside like a kernel but outside, enveloping the tale which brought it out only as a glow brings out a haze, in the likeness of one of these misty halos that sometimes are made visible by the spectral illumination of moonshine.”

What do you think this comment says about the meaning of “yarns” in general?

[In the picture the halo around the moon is where the meaning is to be found.]