The River

Friday, November 18, 2005

Mountain of my misgiving's the old idea of man creating his gods and, shortly thereafter, proceeding to kill them. That's why they wanted Willard to stay once he'd done Kurtz. The whole journey upriver has been a descent into life itself. Life without the constructs of the civilized society we need if we're to survive. Civilization is the military boat and the river is life. Shit, at some point Willard tells one of his guys, "Never get out of the boat. Absolutely God damn right. Unless you were going all the way. Kurtz got off the boat. He split from the whole fuckin' program." How's that, eh? Nails my analogy to the mast as it were. It goes back to the insanity of all those left to survive when thrown beyond the pale of civilized norms and values. The guys at the bridge and the guys in the boat blowing away the sampan family. The freaks in Kurtz's camp... they were all behaving like teenagers on drugs. Golding's Lord of the Flies. They'd lost it. Their heads were cooked."

"So what's the answer?"

"Stay on the boat or accept Kurtz's fate."

"Which was death."

"Yeah, but only because he asked for it."

"Are you asking for it?"

"That's a 'dumb analyst' question Steve and you know it. Of course not. But it doesn't change my reality. You look at my story of my frigate. I served the South African apartheid state by serving on that thing. I felt the mundane and the ordinary in the messes and the communications room and on the bridge. But I loved being at sea. Not in the sea, because that's where we come from and go back to, but on the sea, sailing it, savoring it, feeling it, learning it, appreciating it. Not 'understanding it'. We can't. '...while each wave or swell is different, the sea has no face. It is impassive, indifferent, emotionless."

"You said that."

"You read my blog?"

"Heh.... So it was a good thing then, serving in the navy?"

"Only in the sense that I survived it. It's an analogy. You know what happened to that ship? Six years after I served on her, she and everything she represented, the state, apartheid, total onslaught, idiocy, capitalism versus communism, white versus black, and reason versus unreason, went to the bottom of the ocean. As I said, she took sixteen sailors with her. We had her in dry dock once and that was quite an experience. My old man told me how, when he first saw the Sphinx during the Western Desert Campaign, it was up to its neck in sand. Well, they dug it out and there it was, the crowning glory of a civilization several thousand years old. I looked at that frigate in the dry dock, long, sleek, battle-gray and mean, and I thought, 'Yeah, that's two thousand years of Western civilization.' Think about it, it's not a clueless observation."

-- Mike Golby


Full steam ahead?

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