Monday, March 31, 2014

Recognizing the Work vs Recognizing the Author

On page 190, Dr. Boerhaave and Erasmus discuss their goals for their work and their personal ambitions. Dr. Boerhaave states that "It matters to me that I contribute my bit to our knowledge of the natural world. But not that people recognize me." Erasmus responds, "I'd like my work to be admired, but I hate my self to be singled out."I think this shows some of the fracture that has developed between Zeke and the rest of the crew. Zeke makes it clear that he has set out on this expedition to put his name on something and achieve personal glory. On the other end of the spectrum, both Dr. Boerhaave and Erasmus, the co-seconds in command, have joined the expedition to contribute to the understanding of the natural world, regardless of whether their names are attached to the findings. 

I think that this desire to name things using the names of the people who first discovered them is specific to the horizontal adventure. Yes, we have the Hillary Step on Everest, but we don't have the Herzog Glacier, or the Hornbein/Unsoeld Ridge or the Simpson Crevasse (too much?). I think Zeke's desire to embark on an expedition with the desire to discover something new to put his name on it points to the different mentalities of vertical and horizontal adventures. In vertical adventures, there is so much teamwork required to reach the summit that naming a first ascent after one person would be disrespectful to the entire team. In a horizontal adventure, yes a crew is involved but there is a clear hierarchy of commander, captain and others and the achievements are much more individual. This individuality gives expedition leaders the confidence and arrogance to name new discoveries after themselves. 


  1. This is a very interesting observation. I agree- to an extent. I agree that the act of actually naming something a pass or a sea is something that one only sees in horizontal adventure. However, I still think one sees the same "claiming" and glory-seeking in vertical adventures. Herzog and his men claim the first ascent of Annapurna in the name of France. Blum and her team claim it for women. You are right, naming it for France or for womankind is more inclusive than naming it after one person. However, though it is not exactly the same, I think the intent is the same across adventures and their narratives- to make your mark, to claim that glory.

  2. I liked this observation as well and agree with Bethany- when people summit a mountain they are claiming that summit for people, person, reason X, Y, or Z. Also, when people summit a peak for the first time they are essentially uncovering or discovering this uncharted territory, though it usually does not become named after them because of this. Horizontal adventures definitely have a focus on uncovering, claiming, naming people, places, and things in a way that vertical adventures are not dominated by.