Monday, February 18, 2013

     I spent the weekend reading Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air at every free moment.  I brought it took work. I read it in the car while waiting for my roommate at Syracuse Airport.  The whole time I was reading, I was simultaneously repulsed and enthralled, and ultimately compelled to keep reading.
    "Above 8,000 meters is not a place where people can afford morality."  This is horrifying, and yet also probably true, though as someone who can't make it up the climbing wall, I have never been anywhere close to an Everest-type situation.  Krakauer claims to be writing for himself, as a sort of catharsis  but his narrative is undoubtedly a public document.  There are a myriad of other ways he could have dealt with the aftermath of the Everest expedition, not all of which were equally public.  However, Krakauer's decision to deal with his grief by writing about a world we have no access to, and inviting our judgment of it, has consequences that reach far beyond the limits of his own psyche.  If the rules of our society don't apply on Everest, then it seems unfair to subject those present during the disaster to their condemnation.  Furthermore, Krakauer, as the narrator, constructs himself as the protagonist even as he's admitting his mistakes.  Thus, while his self-fashioning is understandable, it also strikes me as nearly as selfish as the attempt on Everest itself.

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