“Art is long and life is short, and success is very far off.”*
The last word is not said, — probably shall never be said. Are not our lives too short for that full utterance which through all our stammerings is of course our only and abiding intention? I have given up expecting those last words, whose ring, if they could only be pronounced, would shake both heaven and earth. There is never time to say our last word — the last word of our love, of our desire, faith, remorse, submissions, revolt. The heaven and the earth must not be shaken, I suppose — at least, not by us who know so many truths about either. My last words about Jim shall be few. I affirm he had achieved greatness; but the thing would be dwarfed in the telling, or rather in the hearing. Frankly, it is not my words that I mistrust but your minds. I could be eloquent were I not afraid you fellows had starved your imaginations to feed your bodies. I do not mean to be offensive; it is respectable to have no illusions — and safe — and profitable — and dull. Yet you, too, in your time must have known the intensity of life, that light of glamour created in the shock of trifles, as amazing as the glow of sparks struck from a cold stone — and as short-lived, alas! (Lord Jim)
Ninety-two years ago today Joseph Conrad died. Although it is fashionable to call him a racist these days, I have always liked Conrad’s books. Also, some good movies have been made based on them. One film I especially like is Swept From the Sea (1997) based on the short story “Amy Foster”.
It stars Rachel Weisz, Ian McKellen, the always appealing Vincent Perez, and the windswept coast of England. The story is emblematic of the author’s lonely life as an exile, so probably a good choice to watch tonight (or at least add to the list you are keeping of movies to watch at a later date.)
*Joseph Conrad, The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus’
The picture at the top of the page is the anchor-shaped Conrad monument at Gdynia, on Poland’s Baltic Seacoast.