An Open Letter to Joseph Conrad

By: Jess Holmes

Dear Mr. Uber-Goth,

I don’t pretend to understand the intricacies within the mind of any literary genius, but I’ve got to let it out...your endless pessimism is bringing me down.

Now as an IB geek, future English major, highly dorky bookworm, I don’t mind admitting that in the beginning, I found Heart of Darkness quite good. But I am over one hundred pages in now, and you have used the word brooding exactly seven million, four hundred and twenty thousand, six hundred and four times. If you call me an exaggerator, I will call you a hypocrite: There is a darkness in the air. There is a darkness in the wilderness. There’s a darkness in you. There’s a darkness in me. There’s a darkness in ALL of us....

Joseph, buddy, we get it. The world is encapsulated in a giant, brooding darkness. Or maybe your mind just is.

It’s not the wordiness. Honestly, give me Dickens any day. In fact your writing is quite eloquent. It’s just that I have been brooding over the grove of death that is your book for a week now, and I have been filling out the gloomy and confusing jungle that is Mr. Pulsinelli’s symbolism chart the whole time, and I would simply like you to enlighten us, Mr. Conrad, as to exactly what, in the name of the Almighty Uber-Goth, is this darkness? Racism? Nightmares? The human psyche? Sifting through pages and pages of impenetrable symbolism? For the love of God, Joseph, spit it out.

Your book is not only tiresome and’s downright depressing, and I’m sick of it. Why don’t you go for an afternoon walk in the sunshine? Buy an ice cream for Christ’s sake. Or if you can’t do that, go exploring through the African jungle, and with a bit of luck you’ll become one with the interminable miles of silence that it apparently takes you twelve pages to talk about.

Alright, I’m bordering on harsh. There’s some sort of brooding darkness in your heart, and I ought to show a little empathy or at least provide some constructive criticism. So, fine, here are a few ideas. Food for thought.

1. Stop reading Dickens. You’ll never be wordier than him, so don’t even try.

2. Buy a thesaurus and look up the following words: dark, impenetrable, brooding.

3. Stop referring to people’s faces as “masks of death.” There’s a reason you have no friends.

4. Don’t spend fifty pages trying to get us to fathom an ‘“unfathomable enigma.” It’s an enigma. And it’s unfathomable. You said so yourself.

5. Don’t capitalize Shadow. You’re not Wordsworth, and you’re not romantic.

And if none of that helps, try a little opium. It worked for Coleridge.

Happy Brooding,
Jess Holmes