“The Shaman”

William Deresiewicz on Harold Bloom:

At a certain point during my sojourn at the institution, I started to develop the Heart of Darkness
theory of the Yale English department
. Conrad’s novel is about
colonialism and racism and the shadowed reaches of the human heart, but
it is also a dissection of bureaucracy. My first clue came when I
realized that my chairman was a perfect double for the manager of the
Central Station, that creepy functionary who has “no genius for
organizing, for initiative, or for order even,” who “could keep the
routine going—that’s all.” But what clinched it was the recognition of
the role that Bloom played in the paradigm. Bloom was Mr. Kurtz.
(Marlow, broken by his African ordeal, was any number of my senior
colleagues, their souls crushed by the tenure process. The
“pilgrims”—that pack of hopeful fools who set off into the jungle in
pursuit of a chimerical fortune—were the graduate students.)

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