Herzog, Torgovnick, The Couple in the Cage: comentarios de la clase

20 Feb

Aquí van algunas de las ideas de la clase. Ninguna es de una sola persona – he juntado en cada párrafo las ideas de varios. The next journal entry, on Conrad, is due Tuesday, February 26. You can write on any aspect of the novella you would like, or try out questions on HD from the Midterm Question Bank (that page is subject to constant refination and change until we actually do the midterm).

[1] Herzog estalla en una crisis cuando la jungla no le obedece. Marlow describe la selva en términos semejantes o peores a las que usa Herzog, pero no tiene la misma reacción (violenta) ante las experiencias malas en la jungla, y su opinión cambia. Intelectualmente Herzog es más consciente que Marlow – sabe que la cultura indígena tiene valor y que el (neo)colonialismo es malo – pero el que ve las cosas de una matera más compleja, ambigua (en vez de ambivalente), matizada, y deja que la selva trabaje en su conciencia, es Marlow.

[2] The natives, whom Herzog compares to lions, are not so untouched by Western culture as he would like to believe. . . . Furthermore, they have a (human) culture of their own. They are not just living by instinct – killing and eating – like lions.

[3] I think the fascination of the Westerner with the primitive is, in fact, a fascination with himself and his reaction to the primitive. Instead of endeavoring to see the similarities and universalities we share with them, Herzog dwells on the differences. He fails to see that his men are taking advantage of the prostitutes, not the savages. Any time Westerners invade “primitive” lands, it seems that we become far more savage than the savages would ever be. Being near the “primitive” brings out the savage in us. The most interesting thing about that is that this kind of savagery does not necessarily exist in primitive culture.

[4] It is apparent that the constant fascination with the primitive in Western culture requires evaluation not just of what Western culture consists of but also of how to differentiate it from the unknown lives of the “uncivilized savages.” . . . The Western desire to unwrap the secrets of the “primitive” is obvious, but it is less obvious why this is so important to us. The fact that we as Westerners try to place the primitive at the end of a spectrum (of the “human”) in relation to our society is itself quite daunting to “unwrap,” because much as we attempt to polarize there are similarities, blending, and other connections between “us” and “them.”

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Posted by on February 20, 2008 in Ideas, Plans


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