Apocalyptic Futures: <i>Heart of Darkness</i>, Embodiment, and African Genocide

Russell Samolsky

in Apocalyptic Futures

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780823234790
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823241248 | DOI:

Series: Modern Language Initiative

Apocalyptic Futures: Heart of Darkness, Embodiment, and African Genocide

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This chapter examines Heart of Darkness' apocalyptic drive to power by establishing a dialectic of “hollowing out” and “filling in” as the mechanisms by which the text incorporates the African genocide into its textual field in a radical inflation of its technique of delayed decoding. It considers the Kurtz/Marlow pairing as the text's meditation on its future reception and performs the political intervention of setting a limit to the power of this text to consume mutilated bodies. Using Freud's analysis of the uncanny, the chapter turns the text's incorporation of African genocide back on itself, releasing an ethical counter-history. What the incorporated bodies now call up is the repressed memory of colonial genocide in the Congo, which is overwhelmed by its will to power over the Rwandan genocide. The chapter concludes by analyzing Heart of Darkness in relation to contemporary discourse on messianism.

Keywords: African genocide; apocalyptic drive; Congo; Conrad; delayed decoding; Freud; future reception; Heart of Darkness; incorporation; messianism

Chapter.  21620 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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