“Men hard to manage, but easy to inspire”
Joseph Conrad, “The Nigger of the Narcissus”
I read Joseph Conrad in Münich airport when I realize that I (again) is on a plane containing technicians and commuters living in Graz working in Münich. This time they are headin’ back. Some weeks ago I got contacted by the Grazer artist Mirjana Peitler who is currently working in the automotive field telling me that she had exactly the same observation. On the return flight the workers are a bit more emblematic wearing their cooperate jackets.
Conrad seems to pin point the situation. He was obsessed with his Prefaces and “The Nigger of the Narcissus” is no exception:
The artist appeals to that part of our being which is not dependent on wisdom; to that in us which is a gift and not an acquisition—and, therefore, more permanently enduring. He speaks to our capacity for delight and wonder, to the sense of mystery surrounding our lives; to our sense of pity, and beauty, and pain; to the latent feeling of fellowship with all creation—and to the subtle but invincible conviction of solidarity that knits together the loneliness of innumerable hearts, to the solidarity in dreams, in joy, in sorrow, in aspirations, in illusions, in hope, in fear, which binds men to each other, which binds together all humanity—the dead to the living and the living to the unborn.
It is hard to read Conrad. You have to read him really slow. The loneliness and emptiness in everybodys eyes (mine included), the lost empathy on the transit bus towards the small airplane flying over the alps.
Coming from Manchester Without Walls meeting. On the last day I had a few hours to stroll around the city center. WHSmith Books in stacks like pizza trays, retro-book-dvd-record-t-shirts store where modernity has died. Biographies of Bowie, McCartney, Lennon and more. Urban Outfitters scented candles – yellow is this years colour. Jehovas in groups of men and women chatting with one another handing out flyers a about paradise.