When did I ever meet Joseph Conrad?

He sure had me pegged. Did I meet him in my surreal existence in the alternate universe, perhaps in a bar in Hong Kong or Malaya?

"The majority were men who, like himself, thrown there by some accident, had remained as officers of country ships. They had now a horror of the home service, with its harder conditions, severer view of duty, the hazard of stormy oceans. They were attuned to the eternal peace of the Eastern sky and sea. They loved short passages, good deck chairs, large native crews, and the distinction of being white. They shuddered at the thought of hard work, and led precariously easy lives, always on the verge of dismissal, always on the verge of engagement, serving Chinamen, Arabs, half castes-would have served the devil himself if he had made it easy enough. They talked everlastingly of the turns of luck: how So and so got charge of a boat on the coast of China-a soft thing; how this one had an easy billet in Japan somewhere, and that one was doing well in the Siamese navy; and in all they said-in their actions, in their looks, in their persons-could be detected the soft spot, the place of decay, the determination to lounge safely through existence.

To Jim that gossiping crowd, viewed as seamen, seemed at first more unsubstantial than so many shadows. But at length he found a fascination in the sight of those men, in their appearance of doing so well in such a small allowance of danger and toil."


H/T to Expat @ Large for the idea.

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It's not easy being me-but the adventures I get to have- make it totally worth it. "One should respect public opinion insofar as is necessary to avoid starvation and keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny."- Bertrand Russell

0 thoughts on “When did I ever meet Joseph Conrad?

  1. Back in the day they had a name of their own. ABDA. I guess the lucky ones that didn't drown or get eaten by sharks had the good fortune to be taken prisoner off the sunk ships by the Japs. All things considered, I'd have preferred the sharks. I think everything of ABDA perished in battle with the Japs.

  2. Nah, you are on the wrong track Curtis – I think Conrad was writing about all the drifters and strays who accumulated in the Far East over many decades;
    ABDA (from Wiki):
    The American-British-Dutch-Australian (ABDA) Command, or ABDACOM, was a short-lived, supreme command for all Allied forces in South East Asia, in early 1942, during the Pacific War in World War II. ………
    ……Although ABDACOM was only in existence for a few weeks, and it presided over one defeat after another, it did provide some useful lessons for combined Allied commands later in the war.

  3. Actually, Lord Jim describes a time long before this. Those halcyon days when Shanghai had a huge foreign compound, the British were the masters of Africa, and Singapore, Hong Kong and India were under their proper owners. 🙂

    And yes being on Asian shores had its advantages……….”-)

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