13 August 2008

Conrads description of a colleague of mine

He stood repulsive and smiling in the sudden silence. This clean white forecastle was his refuge;
the place where he could be lazy; where he could wallow, and lie and eat -- and curse the food he
ate; where he could display his talents for shirking work, for cheating, for cadging; where he could
find surely some one to wheedle and some one to bully -- and where he would be paid for doing all
this. They all knew him. Is there a spot on earth where such a man is unknown, an ominous survival
testifying to the eternal fitness of lies and impudence? A taciturn long-armed shellback, with
hooked fingers, who had been lying on his back smoking, turned in his bed to examine him
dispassionately, then, over his head, sent a long jet of clear saliva towards the door. They all
knew him! He was the man that cannot steer, that cannot splice, that dodges the work on dark
nights; that, aloft, hold on frantically with both arms and legs, and swears at the wind, the sleet,
the darkness; the man who curses the sea while others work. The man who is the last out and the
first in when all hands are called. The man who can't do most things and won't do the rest. The
pet of philanthropists and self-seeking landlubbers. The sympathetic and desrving creature that
knows all about his rights, but knows nothing of courage, of endurance, and of the unexpressed
faith, of the unspoken loyalty that knits together a ship's company. The independent offspring of
the ignoble freedom of the slums full of disdain and hate for the austere servitude of the sea.

-- "The Nigger of the 'Narcissus' "
Joseph Conrad 1898

1 comment:

  1. bummer about the colleague!
    blessings upon you Jonathan and your
    austere servitude of the sea!!!!