Monday, February 24, 2014

One of the things that I am enjoying about Touching my Father's Soul (though I could see myself getting tired of in the future) is the constant comparison between Jamling's expedition and experiences, and his father's. One of the things that strikes me is how closely Jamling tries to imitate the actions of his father; he carries loads, he works well with both the expedition members and the sherpas and he does his best to find the spirituality that his father had late in life. One of the reasons that I think the comparisons focus so intently on the spiritual similarities is because of the vast differences in gear, tactics and motivations between the 1953 and 1996 expeditions. While the younger Norgay acknowledges these differences, he focuses more on the deeper meaning of his climb in the context of trying to reconnect with his father.

I have learned more about Buddhism in the first half of Touching my Father's Soul than I have in the previous three books combined. Obviously this is because of the authors perspective but it explains a lot of the motivations and rationale behind many Sherpa decisions on past expeditions; the burning of Juniper before setting foot on the mountain and the deep superstitions that prevented Sherpas from rescuing Beck and Yasuko on the South Col. The deep connection that Sherpas feel with the Himalaya and especially Miyolangsangma raise even more questions about the commercialization of Everest and the Sherpas' role in supporting it. Despite his desire to connect with his father and follow in his footsteps, Jamling is a member of an expedition with "non-pure" motivations and for me this brings up a conflict that Jamling has yet to address.

1 comment:

  1. I also found Norgay's comparisons to his father's journey highly interesting. I felt that this comparison provided Norgay with a deeper motivation to climb, rather than just to summit. For me this view of the mountain, as a means of connecting Norgay to his father rather than an end in itself, was much more appealing than just a challenge to surmount.

    I also was interested in very interested in the spirituality of the Sherpas. The constant prayer and religious symbolism by the Sherpas was much more visible than in our previous readings. May 10th and the days that followed, it was interesting to see how Sherpas who were removed from events turned to spirituality to aid those stuck up on the mountain. However, I was highly skeptical of the omens, like the crows, and the Lamas' premonitions. That part of the story seemed too perfect and constructed.

    While I recognize it is somewhat irrational, Learning that Norgay did not write the narrative himself is somewhat unsettling. Since learning that much of the religious symbolism and imitation of Norgay Sr.'s experiences feel manufactured. While I recognize that Norgay could have written the exact same text I feel oddly deceived and this book feels like much more of a commercial endeavor.