Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008

"I don't want to achieve immortality through my work...' Woody Allen said, "I want to achieve it through not dying."


Neo-Nazi Jörg Haider dies, a knock for McCain as Sarah Palin is found guilty in Troopergate scandal and three rare white lion cubs are born in South Africa. The 11th October 2008 has been a good day for the world. It’s even sunny. I’m staying in catching up on university work but not before several hours of procrastination. Several hours I could have been out climbing. It’s 10 past 4 and I haven’t started work yet. Maybe I should just give up on ‘real life’? I think if I could somehow guarantee my tendons’ health I would. That said I’m quite enjoying my studies although there is a lot more work than I’m used to. I think I like it because I get to take three subjects at the moment which suits me because I’m not really too interested or disinterested in anything.
I was told the other day by a drunk girl following a bit of a binge that I won’t live forever. I was of course relieved, but it got me thinking about how much longer I’d actually like to go on living for and even, whether or not I’m that interested in living .
It can be hard to pinpoint the date of your future death or predict when you’ll be happy or unhappy with any degree of certainty but if I had to hazard a guess I’d say I can see myself continuing to enjoy life for about 15more years. I think that this will be followed by about a year of misery as I grow ever more dissatisfied with life and then le fin. It does however seem a bit ridiculous to say I have no aspirations to live beyond 37. 37 does seem quite young....well, not that young but I’m only 21. Perhaps the curious thing is actually the way that most people continue to want to go on living for ages.
I think people see a unit of time as a constant but our perception of time does seem to speed up. A year seems a lot shorter now than it did when I was 10. My perception of 15years is shaped on 15 lived years which might therefore be much longer than 15 future years. Maybe 15 more past years will actually take me up to old age and a timely death which I’m sure would make my loved ones a lot happier. But is an exponential descent into old age, hip replacements, flu jabs, global warming, a world of armed robots, intergalactic terrorists capable of hollowing out the moon and filling it with all the worlds water which they’ll then sell back to the world at an extortionate price, etc, etc, really something to celebrate? Wouldn’t it be better to just leave the party with good memories before it fizzles out?*
For someone who isn’t really that fussed about climbing but rather passionate about climbing ever harder things time becomes a drag. Climbing isn’t like Olympic sports where athletes train to a four year goal. Your ability is based on your most recent tick because climbing is largely non athletic (although extremely physical) and people are short sighted. It’s been 8months since I climbed something of personal significance and 14months since I’ve felt like I’m improving, largely due to injuries. Even a couple of years ago, the idea of going 8 months without climbing something harder than I’ve ever climbed before would have been unbearable. I suppose it’s the nature of the beast that the closer you get to your limit the harder it is to progress.
If you imagine a colorful city of ice that’s melting and as it melts the colors run into one another and the more it melts the more complex this becomes. It becomes increasingly hard to reproduce the image this creates accurately.
I think that the closer you push to your limit the more lasting satisfaction you get from it. All this said I’ve hardly climbed lately and I do miss it although it becomes increasingly difficult to reproduce the image I have of it in my head.



*I have been criticized by some of my friends for trivializing suicide but I think the world should change its outlook on this typically depressing subject. I see it as being a bit like social welfare; in an ideal world it would be unnecessary but it is a good thing that it’s there. I wouldn’t like to be committed to living for ever if by some cruel twist of fate I am immortal or indeed to live a lifetimes worth of agony and depression against my will. Perhaps building suicide into such a big thing is to trivialize mental health issues?
ps.I'm not suicidal.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Meta-climbing


Normally when I sit down at my computer I really do intend to do something productive, for instance uni work. It is however, pretty rare that I actually get around to it before checking my email half a dozen times, going around all the geeky climbing sites a couple of times and then scouring the blogosphere for snippets of wisdom. Today my favourite snippet was on stonecountry.blogspot.com where John Watson suggests that Dave Mac has created a new discipline within British mountaineering that could be described as ‘meta-climbing’. Meta being an area of study related to another subject of study, but going beyond it in some way.
John is clearly talking about Macleod’s entire approach to climbing, moving between disciplines with apparent ease. Whenever he returns to one he seems to up not only his own level but also Scotland’s level in that niche, pretty impressive really.
When Stone Country coined the phrase ‘meta-climbing’ the big news they were reporting was Dave’s recent ascent of Big Long Now(font 8b) in glen nevis. A 50 meter boulder problem! How queer. I can’t remember the last time I did a 50meter pitch on a route let alone a boulder problem. How can this possibly relate to say The Ace at stanage; a three move problem of a ‘similar’ difficulty only nothing’s similar about them. It’s like comparing a world record in long jump with one in middle distance running. It just doesn’t seem to mean anything calling it font anything. For sure a truly desperate link but to see it as a boulder problem seems to me strange. Why not call it a 9a route? I’d imagine it would be of more interest to sport climbers than boulderers. And so, if it’s not of interest to dedicated boulderers, who presumably have the best grip on bouldering grades, then its grade may as well not exist. This seems to draw some parallels to the problems of metaphysics where everyday language is used to attempt to describe a world beyond the limits of possible experience.
In many ways it seems a great pity that many of Macleod’s problems are so out of the way that other world class boulderers and sport climbers are never going to make it there to repeat them. They might be the hardest problems in the world but until glen nevis gets on the world map as a hardcore bouldering venue they seem to me to be of unknown value. Is Dave Graham going to visit when he’s over giving lectures?