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Inmost heart

October 16, 2008

About that ending.  Many years later in 1878, the kid runs into the judge in whore-infested Fort Griffin, sees him drinking whisky in a bar, the sort of scene we all can easily see thanks to countless movie scenes; and like many times throughout the novel, the kid tells the judge that he’s crazy, “you ain’t nothin.”   The judge replies:

“You speak truer than you know.  Only that man who has offered up himself entire to the blood of war, who has been to the floor of the pit and seen horror in the round and learned at last that it speaks to his inmost heart, only that man can dance.”

Mistah Kurtz. Ahab. Colonel Kurtz.

The kid then finds solace with the whores and later opens the door of the jakes:

“The judge was seated upon the closet.  He was naked and he rose up smiling and gathered him in his arms against his immense and terrible flesh and shot the wooden barlatch home behind him.”

Later, a man opens the door of the jakes:

“Good God almighty, he said.

What is it?

He didn’t answer.”

And then the dead bear is pushed aside and the judge dances like some savage jungle Brando, saying he will never sleep, never die; he is the heart of darkness that wanders in this world on a perpetual upriver journey.  And the kid is raped and left for dead.  Or maybe the kid survives to wander the country boring holes by means of a strange two-handled implement, dowsing and divining his way across a strange map seeking alignment with an unseen and terrible meridian.

The horror.

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