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SHAME VS GUILT (2)

Francis Ford Coppola, an Aries, made Apocalypse Now adapted from Conrad’s Heart of Darkness; the main actors were Marlon Brando, an Aries, and Martin Sheen, a Leo. The fiery signs are normally very receptive to the themes of Identity and Shame, Justice and Redemption.
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Joseph Conrad
the 3rd of December, 1857
3:30pm
Berdicev, Urkaine






There is also a strong Mercurial side in Conrad’s chart revealing his sharp intelligence, his writing skills, restlessness and curiosity for other cultures; he had Gemini Ascendant and Sun in conjunction with Mercury in Sagittarius; this also complicated the focus on his identity. Although his mother tongue was Polish he had to speak Russian as a subject to the Tsar; his second language was French, the lingua franca of the cultured Poles (as Chopin used to be). Saturn in Conrad’s 3th House (house of Mercury) made him struggle with languages and writing. So Jozef Konrad Korzeniowski (Joseph Conrad when he adopted the English nationality) spoke Polish at home, Russian in the street, he used to think in French and, later on, he wrote his books in English. He did not learn this latter language until he was a young adult; nevertheless, he became one of the greatest writers in English; a real phenomenon, but I think that his linguistic background was so emotionally entangled that English help him to put a sort of distance with his past. Conrad’s prose possesses a strange beauty, in spite of being a stylist (tight word structure) his words seem to create a mysterious open flow of energy.

We can talk about the strangeness and exoticism of his stories, but all his characters and plots were inspired by real characters and historical facts; as a sailor, Conrad visited and explored all those places and countries he talks about. Lord Jim (published in 1900), one of his masterpieces, is the perfect work to study the difference between Guilt and Shame.
        
Jim is a talented and charismatic British young man who has just become a first mate in the Patna, a ship overcharged with Muslim pilgrims travelling to La Mecca. A huge hole in the iron cask of the ship is discovered, the vessel is going to sink but there are not enough boats to save the passengers, so Jim and the rest of the crew decide to escape using the only available boat. Had the ship sunk, nobody could have known about the cowardice of this fact. In such a case, Jim would have felt mainly guilty for letting so many innocent people die. Guilt is associated to the transgression of a norm, it is a conflict between the Super Ego and the Id, between authority and instinct; the law demanded that Jim, in charge of the security of the ship and the passengers did anything to save people; so Jim disobeyed the law and allowed his instinct of survival make the choice for him.
        
However, the ship does not sink and another vessel rescues it with all the pilgrims; the authorities take Jim to a trial and he is stripped of his certificate of navigation command.  Jim is exposed and humiliated, Shame becomes the main topic of the story. One of the ingredients in Shame is to be exposed to public opinion; the other is the loss of control of our self image; the person feels naked in front of others, being publicly stripped of an insignia is actually a metaphor of being exposed naked. Jim allowed his fear decide, he thus betrayed his duty and lost control of himself in a critical moment of his life. But we have to insist, together with some other philosophers, that what matters here is not the fact of being seeing by others, the real pain comes from the fact that Jim has to see himself through other’s eyes.
        
Jim hides himself in a remote Malaysian island where the natives learn to admire and respect him, there he is called Lord Jim. He helps them and he becomes a hero, he ends up giving his life to defend the natives against abuse and injustice. What makes Lord Jim a hero is his self awareness, his act of transformation after discovering his real identity through Shame. Marlow, the narrator of the story, fascinated by Jim’s humanity and heroism, comments that ‘He (Jim) was one of us’; this phrase has become famous, it means that Jim was a human like any of us, that we all can be a hero if we learn to get to know ourselves and take the challenge of assuming our real identity.
        
There is a famous film adaptation of ‘Lord Jim’ directed by Richard Brooks, the leading role is played by Peter O’Toole (a Leo), it is not badly made but it is focused on the action and the adventures, the moral and philosophical exuberance of the novel is lost. So I recommend to read the book first to discover the metaphors and the deep and painful voyage of Lord Jim into darkness and then into light. It is an unforgettable experience. (the end)

Lord Jim: A Tale (Penguin Classics)

Joseph Conrad / Penguin Classics


In Japanese
SHAME VS GUILT (1)

by xavier_astro | 2012-09-15 00:00 | 心理  

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