Monday, March 3, 2014

Judgment and Critcism

I agree with what a lot of people have mentioned regarding the abilities of the Simpson and Yates - and the impending criticism that inevitably comes with those feelings of doubt. However, I’d like to challenge the idea of being critical of this book. I dove into it with an open mind and (relatively) clear head, attempting to read it without bias or judgment. As we’ve talked about in class regarding ever book we’ve read thus far, we tend to be critical, if not overly critical, of actions and writing styles (perhaps under the pretense that we – if experienced climbers and writers – could do better). That being said, there is almost no way I could imagine being in the situation Simpson found himself in and, maybe more importantly, the position Yates found himself in. They were faced with a life altering decision. My question is this: how can we be critical of this decision? While everyone has a right to be deterred by such a decision, should it be something that we, as relative “arm chair adventurers” criticize? With the lack of detail in Simpson’s writing style (compared to authors such as Krakauer and even Blum), I question whether we even have enough insight into the minds of the men to fully understand this decision and, thus, making a value judgment on it seems rather unfair.

1 comment:

  1. Sarah- I am glad that you brought this up since it reflects how I felt reading the book/the other books of this class. I'd like to venture that the nature of an adventure narrative is that we automatically start thinking "well, I could do better." Even Simpson himself says in the film of this disaster (as I mentioned in my blog post) that his thoughts about hearing of other people's disasters on that mountain led him to think "yeah, well I can do it. I'm better than them." While I think it is the natural response, I think the answer to your question of whether we can be critical is no. I thought walking with crampons would be easy until I had to do so at the Glen House. I thought that digging a snow cave wouldn't be hard until 45 minutes later when my arms were burning and we had only made space for two (to fit not so comfortably). So no, I don't think we can criticize choices made on the mountain, because we don't have enough experience. We weren't on that mountain, facing those awful circumstances. I can think about what I think I would do, but even then, I have no idea whether that would be true on the side of a mountain when my life was on the line.