“Adventure by itself is but a phantom, a dubious shape without a heart.”
Perhaps the core of this view lies in the unanticipated shape or ‘form’ which the word ‘adventure’ brings. The difference between the ones who searched for adventure in Conrad’s time (these are his words that I am quoting above) and us who live in the era of Google Maps and Google Earth is the fact that we ‘know’. The challenge then is to find the source of this anticipation and still preserve it in us so that we should not be affected by the fact that there is, indeed, “Nothing to be done” in our age. To face that concrete meaning that we have now built in our midst on the Internet and elsewhere and still find the “phantom” of the unknown, or even be beguiled by the fact that we are still on the fringes of what we call the ‘unknown’ – that is the journey. The “dubious shape without a heart” is the same heart which, should it plunge into it all, would become the heart of immense darkness and see the horror of it all.
The horror of the civilization is where Heart of darkness is more than likely a satire on adventure and a homage to the futile search for meaning of being human. The language is elusively searching for this centre of being which the civilization can no longer hold. It leaves us at the fringes of grasping at the aftermath of an encounter where the world has collapsed into a nebulous state of non-time and the vast colossus of the space in front of us is the nightmare of dimensions. Conrad captures it in the ‘darkness’. The adventure is a dark comedic description of this negotiation.