"De-civilized" has meaning only in relation to "civilized" Kurtz was
once civilized but now is not, or less so.
"De-civilized" is like "defrocked;" not the same as uncivilized or
Sent from my iPod
On May 24, 2010, at 10:22 AM, Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Peter Montgomery wrote:
>> Eliot was a big fan of THE HEART OF DARKNESS.
>> Is Kurtz de-civilised?
> No! To be civilized is to be aware of oneself as related to The City.
> Kurtz's life would be unintelligible within a paleolithic or even
> neolithic culture. And while K's attitude towards the "natives"
> the Eurocentric use of "savage," his attitude towareds hmself, let
> the attitude of (a) the fictional narrator and (b) the story as a
> is biguous. Tos label Kurtz as "uncivilzied" is to justify Europe:
> It is
> not Europe that is committing genocide n the Congo but those savages
> have infected Kurtz with their savagery which then has rebounded on
> Now it may be that Eliot (the man) or Eliot (the poet of TWL) himself
> thought in these terms, of Kurtz or the woman in the narrow canoe as
> "decivilzied." Assuming that would add quite an interesting edge to
> poem but it would make Eliot the man worthy of the greatest contempt.
> (Ditto re Conrad.)
> "The horror. The Horror" Kurtz muttrs -- and perhaps that horror is
> analyzed in the history of such words as "pagan," "civilization,"
> "savage," "urbane," and other terms in which is embodied the
> valorization of The City (- Europe in the 196h c.) and "The
> Country" (=
> the rest of the world in the 19th-c). (My expositon here is jumbled
> since I'm explorginga what for me is new angle from which to look at
> consciousness arising from the savage (!) rampage of Europe across the
> world in the last 3 centuriesd. It is too bad Empson did not include a
> chapter on "savage" in his _Structure of *Complex Words_, for quite a
> bit of (terrifying) history is packed into the 'equations' as Empson
> called them which structure this term.
> Carrying this (even in its rough state here) back to TWL, we may see a
> sort of (unintended) savage (!) irony in that phrase which ends the
> I'll stop here for now.
>> Mr. Civilisation, he dead!
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "Carrol Cox" <[log in to unmask]>
>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Sunday, May 23, 2010 7:19 AM
>> Subject: Re: Mr. Eugenides
>>> Diana Manister wrote:
>>>> Yes dehumanized. De-civilized too, if you will,
>>> "decivilized" (which is also not Eliot's word) is an even more
>>> inappropriate metaphor than dehumanized. The behavior of the clerk
>>> only possible within civilization! For one thing, even in a
>>> pre-capitalist class societies she would not have been living
>>> alone or
>>> preparing her own meal. Those tins involved international commerce.
>>> Moreover, the entire episode presupposes the atomized social
>>> which appeared embryonically in the 175th-c (and Milton with amazing
>>> prescience grasped) and only fully (and only in England & the
>>> U.S.) in
>>> the 19th-c. They were only beginning to develop in France &
>>> Germany (and
>>> this enters into the causes of WW1).
>>> So whatever the young man and woman are or are not, they are highly
>>> civilized -- and surely Eliot had enough of an historical sense
>>> and was
>>> precise enough in his language (even the silent language of
>>> thought and
>>> intention) that he would never have seen these characters as
>>> de-ciivilized. These vague, sloppy categories introduced by readers
>>> rather than the poem trivialize the whole poem.