Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Similar to Claire's post, I wanted to examine the anthropocentric point of view that our texts seem to take. Specifically, I think Muir's take on this topic might help us get to the bottom of that ever-present question of "why adventure?" Why create dangerous situations for ourselves to endure?

"That a man should welcome storms for their exhilarating music and motion, and go forth to see God making landscapes, is reasonable enough; but what fascination could there be in such tremendous weather for a dog? Surely nothing akin to human enthusiasm for scenery or geology," says Muir.

Unlike in some other texts where the mountain is a metaphor for a horizon to be conquered, Muir instead focuses on the aesthetic value of nature; in particular, I liked the exhilarating music and motion of the storm. However, he believes that dogs do not recognize or seek this type of aesthetic pleasure, and are instead driven by basic animal survival instincts--why then does Stickeen follow him into the storm?

While I tend to be wary of taking this anthropocentric view of humans as a higher species, it does seem that his reasoning at least has some solid foundation.  As they traverse across the incredibly dangerous landscape, "Stickeen seemed to care for none of these things, bright or dark, nor for the crevasses, wells, moulins, or swift flashing streams...His courage was so unwavering that it seemed to be due to dullness of perception, as if he were only blindly bold."

Perhaps it is precisely because we are not strictly bound to our biological necessities that we have the passion for adventuring--however, for this very reason it is instead the dog, the "mere animal" that seems to have the best intuitive chance for survival under the conditions, and might make the best "little adventurers." 

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