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"He has to live in the midst of the incomprehensible, which is also detestable. And it has a fascination, too, that goes to work upon him. The fascination of the abomination - you know, imagine the growing regrets, the longing to escape, the powerless disgust, the surrender, the hate." (1.11)
Marlow describes man’s hate of the unknown and the incomprehensible. However, this unknown world has a certain dark attraction, the "fascination of the abomination" as Marlow calls it. Man, Marlow claims, is drawn like a magnet to that which he does not understand and may grow to hate.
"Mind," he began again, lifting one arm from the elbow, the palm of the hand outwards, so that, with his legs folded before him, he had the pose of a Buddha preaching in European clothes and without a lotus-flower […] (1.13)
Marlow is described in positive imagery, as the Buddha, a figure that has come to represent enlightenment, truth, and reconciliation with the world. Yet, despite this supposed knowledge, his tale is "inconclusive."
[Marlow]: "Mind, none of us would feel exactly like this. What saves us is efficiency--the devotion to efficiency. But these chaps were not much account, really. They were no colonists; their administration was merely a squeeze, and nothing more, I suspect. They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force--nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others. They grabbed what they could get for the sake of what was to be got. It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind--as is very proper for those who tackle a darkness. The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. What redeems it is the idea only. An idea at the back of it; not a sentimental pretence but an idea; and an unselfish belief in the idea." (1.13)
Marlow undermines everything he just said about the nobility and good intentions of the explorers and condemns colonization as an evil exploitation of the weak. He dismisses the explorers as mere robbers and murderers, men who were going about their business blindly. This evil is masked, he claims, under the strength and conviction of a good, pure idea. But the reality, he finds, is very different from the supposed intention.