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"You can't breathe dead hippo waking, sleeping, and eating, and at the same time keep your precarious grip on existence." (2.14)
In an attempt at comedic relief, Marlow comments on the madness-inducing stink of rotting hippo meat.
"I own to you that just then I perceived - in a new light, as it were—how unwholesome the pilgrims looked, and I hoped, yes, I positively hoped, that my aspect was not so - what shall I say? – so – unappetizing: a touch of fantastic vanity which fitted well with the dream-sensation that pervaded all my days at that time." (2.14)
Marlow hopes his appearance is more attractive than that of the pilgrims, even though his better looks might get him eaten by his own cannibal aides. This displays his newly-forming madness. His vanity, as he puts it, is "fantastic" given the distressing situation.
"Were we to let go our hold of the bottom, we would be absolutely in the air - in space. We wouldn't be able to tell where we were going to - whether up or down stream, or across - till we fetched against one bank or the other - and then we wouldn't know at first which it was." (2.15)
Marlow knows that the world is going crazy around them. He knows that if he follows the manager’s orders and begins sailing again, everyone will lose their bearings in this devil of a fog. Up will become down, upstream will become downstream, and they will probably die. Here we see that, despite his surroundings, Marlow has maintained a certain degree of sanity.