Monday, April 29, 2013

Some Random, not Entirely Connected, Thoughts on Endurance.

I feel like “What’s you’re favorite season” is a pretty common question, particularly when you’re a kid. I’ve never really known how to answer that. I would typically just say summer, because I could justify it with the age-old “Because there’s no school!!!” answer. But as I sat outside on our beautiful Thursday afternoon, my eyes shut and my face tilted towards the sun, I decided my favorite season is the change of seasons. Think about it: spring sunlight is only welcome because it follows the cold months of winter. Even spring rain has the advantage of washing away the snow, but once the snow is gone we’d rather the rain stop. When it does, and summer roles around, we’re thankful for that. But then it starts to get dry and humid, so we’re grateful when autumn roles around for the cooler weather. But then it gets to be too cold, and we start to think “It should only be this cold when there’s snow on the ground!” Then we get our wish. At least, this is how I feel year round. I’m not trying to say that our enjoyment of one season is dictated only by our being tired with another, not in a the-grass-is-always-greener kind of way, but rather that I appreciate every season at its birth, when it functions to usher in the new.  

Sorry this is so late, but I had a very busy afternoon after class on Thursday and by the time I was free I'd completely forgotten! I remembered today, and by then it just made sense to tag my seasons analysis on to my regular weekly post. So, on to Endurance.

As Nicole notes bellow, the Endurance is itself treated like a character in the text. Not only is she personified in the first chapter with emotions and sensations of pain, but the author grants her a longer description of her physical attributes than any of the actual human participants in the text. This is a perfect example of the non-human objects discussion that was introduced last Thursday. Yet on the note of what is and what is not a character, I found it interesting that at the start of the text, when the author lists the men who set out with Shackleton, he labels them "Members of the Imperial Trans-Atlantic Expedition". In our other texts when such lists were presented, the names were labeled as "Characters" or "Dramatis Personae". Thus the crew members appear as real men, not merely constructed characters. This may have been a choice by Lansing to emphasize what he points out in the author's note: that this book is the compilation of the journals of multiple men, real men who lived and experienced what we are about to experience for ourselves as armchair adventurers. This is different from the likes of Krakauer and others, who placed himself at the center of the events and made assumptions of his fellow climbers in order to drive home a rather sensationalized point.

Lansing's use of the crew members' journals to compile a narrative of the events is thus structurally similar to Tabor's Forever on the Mountain. However, I found the two texts to be quite different stylistically. As we discussed extensively in class, Tabor's account is very scientific. He presents facts, and attempts reasonable assumptions based on those facts. Lansing's style has more emotion behind it. He attempts to give his reader a detailed sensation of how it felt to be onboard the Endurance, or venturing across constantly moving ice floes. I personally greatly appreciated this, and found this account to be much more enjoyable.

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