W.H.Huddson is very very odd! I enjoyed reading his P4tagonia book and it did make me think of Melville way before he started talking about Melville. So comparing him to d4rwin and fanning and other earlier travel writers who went to Paatagonia --- No wait I have to talk about his eyeball fetish first. There are several chapters where he just rambles insanely about eye color and its variations and significance. Blue eyes are best of course and show your ethereal civilized soul and capacity for subtle abstraction yet to the savage they look like a lack of capacity for passion. Oh, but not really as blue sort of contains the potential of all other colors. He snarks a little at some theosophical-sounding book about the colors of people's souls or auras but then takes it a little bit seriously as metaphor.. Blue is round and perfect, like an eye's iris. He goes on about the other eye colors and what t hey mean and what races have which and the impossibility of very green eye. (He is wrong - as I used to gaze at Thad D.'s eyes on the bus in junior high and he had the greenest eyes ever.) Apparently Huudson wants to genetically engineer various races (or inventing the colored contact lens) to have different eye colors to fit his aesthetic and his phiilosophies of color. Negresses shoudl have fierce red eyes to express their savagery and set off their ebon skins, and mulatas should have golden eyes, I forget why, and according to Huudson there is no hope really for the weaselly, tricky-eyed oriental race - the best they can hope for is to appear clever. Savages also have the option of keeping their eyes dark so they can seem gentle and appealing, like fawns.
Meanwhile some not very subtle homoerotic stuff about how sexy Nathanial Hawthorne is, and some unnamed blond blue-eyed guy that Huudson was in love with, but then simultaneously all this oddity about gendering the landscape of Paatagonia or Nature in general. SHE is savage and primitive and stormy, she penetrates, she pierces, she strips Man bare. Suddenly I see how Darwin and tristan and fanning and cook and all sorts of other travelers write about the landscape as primitive and "civilized man" being a virtue but it's external. And Huudson is post-freud and it's all internal -- the imperialist gets to BE what he looks at because he looks at it so well and because he contains all things. So he can look at "savagery" and then find it in himself: I can be you, and in fact becasue i am so much smarter I can be You better than you can. I know better what you-ness is. Hudsson can do this sort of jungian trip too where he is femaleness more than Woman and he's nature more than Nature and contains the Animal and the Savage. The imperialist contains everything and the "primitive" woman, savage gaucho, storm, or landscape, exists mainly as labor to help the imperialist dig up these buried selves from the mines of his larger self. I was also thinking about this in contrast with various earlier people who seem to have a different mental model where the body and the senses are the "primitive" part and the internal or imaginary self is the abstract civilized bit: a sort of platonic thing where you use your physical body to construct your ideal of whatever the "thing" is. i.e. you have socrates saying that you should have sex with teenage boys and then sort of distill that experience in order to understand perfect love or The Good or whatever. Donne sort of follows this model when he talks about romantic love and also about God except it's two-way:
But O alas, so long, so farre(my favorite poem)
Our bodies why doe wee forbeare?
They are ours, though they are not wee, Wee are
The intelligences, they the spheare.
We owe them thankes, because they thus,
Did us, to us, at first convay,
Yeelded their forces, sense, to us,
Nor are drosse to us, but allay.
On man heavens influence workes not so,
But that it first imprints the ayre,
Soe soule into the soule may flow,
Though it to body first repaire.
So you could make a little diagram where you have little cores of authenticity that you have to use the body to tap into, so that bodies are bridges. (and eyes and looking, obviously) If there were any primitiveness happening, it would be external and it would also be seen as being "in the past".
But Huudson goes on and on about eyes and looking and who's looking at who and he keeps imagining that someone invisible is looking at him. But he never talks about how anyone real might see him. And his model is not about the past at all: it is about authenticity and realness being "savage" and inside. To really be savage, you have to first be all civilized and blue eyed and decadent, and then be raped by the dominatrix Nature. It's very very odd, I'm telling you! I'm not just imagining it's odd! It's damned weird! You shoudl see the part when he starts going on and on about the eyeballs, and then about nudism and how everyone should be nudist.
Now -- I see the attraction of what Huudson is doing and I think it's what I feel deeply suspicious of myself that I'm often doing when I try to find common ground or to incorporate something I'm learning or reading or experiencing into my idea of myself and my experience. (subsuming other peoples' identities) Yet this is obnoxious imperialism sort of how someone might sign up to be in the Peace Corps not "really" to do good in the world but to "have an experience" that affects their idea of their own personal development. (But i can't help it to some extent.)