Monday, March 10, 2014

A new kind of "peak" and the impossibility of escape

In class we've discussed why people choose to climb. A few notes from class (paraphrasing's of Janelle wisdom) to guide this post: "let go of the every day in order to find ourselves...finding ourselves means we're always already lost...problematic" (02/25/14).

While the previous mountaineers we've read about may climb for personal reasons to escape society to some extent... this is the first piece we've read where we are really gaining an understanding of the life behind the climber. We have all the background information to analyze why escape, how escape...etc. The family history, the detachment, the career path, the way he is with women and love- this all accumulates to painting a picture for the reader of what he may be leaving behind when climbing.

In the other books we've read the first half has been spent gearing up towards the team reaching the summit of the mountain. Logistics, planning, setting up camps, is what leads us to understand the summit attempt. In contrast, in this book the first half is spent setting up the plot climax or "summit," which will presumably be the sanction on the Eiger expedition. The history of the characters, the time spent understanding the intricacies of Hemlock's private, social, and emotional life are contributing to the peak of the plot line not the physical summit. This illuminates the disparity perhaps between an adventure narrative and a fictional adventure narrative, where the plot peak is what guides us not the physical one.

While I haven't reached the part of the novel where Hemlock is on the mountain- I hope to understand the relationship between him on the mountain and the man he is in society and how they interact, separate, or become one... "Jonathan experiences a lightness of spirit and eagerness for the morrow that had, in the old days, been the core of his love for climbing. His whole being was focused on matters of rock, strength, and tactic, and the outside world with its Dragons and Jemimas could not force its way into the consciousness" (123). But inherently, with the objectives of this climb, the outside world will force it's way in at some point... will this ruin what climbing does for him forever? By forcing the two separate state-of-being's to meet...?

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