Monday, February 4, 2013

The Power of Mountains

As others have said before me, one of the most enjoyable aspects of Herzog's writing is his vivid imagery. He goes to great lengths to depict not only his surroundings, but each of the key characters who are experiencing this adventure with him. On moment in particular that stood out to me comes in chapter 3: "We couldn't take off our special glasses-- the glare was too powerful for our tired eyes. The light which poured down the immense north face of the Tukucha Peak overwhelmed us" (Herzog, 25). I love how this quote characterizes the mountain as a beacon, a source of light. Even though the reader understands that the light is really the sun reflecting off the pure white snow, the way Herzog describes it as pouring down from the mountain makes it seem like the mountain is itself giving off this light.

The idea of mountains giving off light, like a second and perhaps even brighter sun, in my eyes casts them as deity-like. They do wield a certain power over us: why else would so many be enticed to climb them, or at least read about the adventures of others who have done so? We as humans feel some desire to overcome the power of mountains, to prove that we are powerful enough to conquer them. But there's a paradox in that, at least for me: I certainly feel proud of myself whenever I complete a hike, as if I've conquered the world, but I also feel a great deal of respect for the mountain, because it is the power of the mountain that brought me, quite literally, so such great heights.

1 comment:

  1. I really like the idea of the mountain as a sort of diety. Especially after we spent the class bashing Herzog's whole "colonial conquest" of the mountain and his treatment towards the native people, it's nice to take a step back and realize that Herzog does still respect the mountain, and does still appreciate the beauty, if sometimes terrifying beauty, it has to offer.