Monday, March 11, 2013

Man's Best Friend

     John Muir's Stickeen tells the story of a man and his dog who bond over the hardships they endure on an Alaskan adventure.  Stickeen and John are not originally close.  John sees the dog as an "Other" (for lack of a better term), who he cannot relate to because he doesn't display fear.  It is not until Stickeen shows fear that John begins to feel close to him: "His looks and tones of voice when he began to complain and speak his fears were so human that I unconsciously talked to him in sympathy as I would to a frightened boy, and in trying to calm his fears perhaps in some measure moderated my own. "
     Muir's anthropocentric worldview is common to many of the narratives we have encountered so far.  The climbers, like John, relate to the mountains and other surroundings only through their narrowly constricted human-centered lens.  It is this lack of a broader vision that often gets them into trouble, as was the case with Rob Hall, who "took more from the mountain than he gave".

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