Dave Pickford shares an essay from his new book Extreme Horizons. In this extract, he reflects on climbing trips to Oman and South Africa in an attempt to explore what makes climbing unique and how adventure storytelling can fail to capture the full meaning of an experience.
Perhaps the real reason is that it is through something like climbing I might come closest to that immense, inexplicable force at the heart of nature; to the sea-green discs of a leopard's eyes burning back at me under a star-emblazoned sky.
yeah ok. You might - or might not.
In Wales, you might come closest to the ..er.. sea-grey eyes of a feral goat
And I got banned from UKC for posting a quite innocent picture of a happy, but dead, whitetail deer I hunted last year. Blood is blood. I hope one day that it pours out of me. I should be old by then. I'm 71 now.
That's an interesting essay. Not sure I agree with some of the points discussed, but it was thought-provoking.
But I don't think the content of the essay is reflected in the title of the thread; climbing has many splendid aspects, but I don't think it's a 'paradigm of the human condition'. Whatever the 'human condition' might be is something for philosophers and though the tension between the experienced and personally remembered set against the recorded and published reflects a part of it, it's not all of it and certainly isn't a paradigm.
Or, of course, that might just be me. But thanks for sharing the essay, it got the brain cells working.
The title isn't misleading it's just plain wrong. Climbing can't be a paradigm of something else. Does he mean microcosm?
A paradigm is a set of ideas, norms or operating model in a social domain. In climbing something like a paradigm shift was the change from aid climbing to free. It doesn't really mean much outside of science or the history of ideas though.
And 'the human condition' is quasi-religious bollocks.
> And 'the human condition' is quasi-religious bollocks.
It’s a very vague term, but not bollocks if we take it to mean (as Wikipedia does) 'the characteristics and key events of human life, including birth, learning, emotion, aspiration, morality, conflict, and death. This is a very broad topic that has been and continues to be pondered and analyzed from many perspectives, including those of anthropology, art, biology, history, literature, philosophy, psychology, and religion.’ The trouble is that it’s so broad and abstract a term that it verges on the meaningless when used, as it often is, in making sweeping generalisations.
Other animals, most notably Chimpanzees, experience most if not all of those things, so I don't see how it defines us. I haven't heard the term used for ages - it seems to have gone out of fashion. I agree with your own comments!