Conrad: The Power of Human Expression

“The point was in his being a gifted creature and that of all his gifts the one that stood out preeminently, that carried with it a sense of real presence, was his ability to talk, his words–the gift of expression, the bewildering, the illuminating, the most exalted and the most contemptible, the pulsating stream of light or the deceitful flow from the heart of an impenetrable darkness.”

Conrad, Joseph. “Heart of Darkness.” New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company Inc., 1923. 47.

Marlow’s disappointment in not being able to encounter Kurtz is understandable. He personifies expression as something almost unearthly, powerful even, and inherently imbedded in humans. In this case, a lack of presence leads to a lack of dialogue, so not being able to converse with a rumored brilliant mind appears to him as a great loss. The “light” and “darkness” in all individuals, after all,  can only be adequately shown through interpersonal–or, obviously, written–means.