Monday, March 4, 2013

Shakespeare and Survival

     Throughout the semester, we have discussed the tension between reading about adventures and actually going out and experiencing them.  The "man of thought" and "man of action" seem to be incompatible with each other.  Thus, it is perhaps surprising that in his harrowing attempt to return to base camp, Joe Simpson turns not to his knowledge of survival techniques, but rather to Claudio's famous soliloquy from Measure for Measure: "Ay, but to die, and go we no know not where;/To lie in cold obstruction and to rot;/The sensible warm motion to become/A kneaded clod" (153).  Yates' reliance on words he had not read in years demonstrates that art can be an important way for humans to process life experiences.
     Simpson further reflects on the centrality of art when he discusses his recovery from PTSD.  He says that writing the book and watching the movie were probably what allowed him to recover from the bout of panic attacks he suffered upon returning from Peru.  Simpson emphasis  on the way narratives have affected his life proves that though and action can, in fact, cohabitate

1 comment:

  1. It's interesting that art is therapeutic just as climbing is. Both provide an outlet for one's emotions and a way to escape daily life for a period of time. Both also require dedication and focus. I definitely agree that art is important for processing one's experiences, and this explains why some expeditioners choose to write books. Simpson went on to be a motivational speaker, which besides inspiring others can certainly be seen as a way to cope himself with the struggles he experienced (and he acknowledges this). Besides other reasons for writing that we've discussed in class such as exposing their experiences to the public, proving their accomplishments, or recounting harrowing tragedies, sharing one's story can be allow the author to make sense of what happened from an objective standpoint. Objectivity and processed thinking are also important in climbing; as we've read, a clear mind is critical for survival on a mountain. Writing also requires clear thinking about the story in order for the author to effectively convey his or her message.