Friday, January 11, 2008
Of course, to all right thinking people, the 'conquest' of Everest was the most appalling impiety. A mountain that is impossible to climb is much more edifying than one that is merely difficult. I could worship an impossible mountain. Sir Edmund Hillary demoted Everest to difficult. 'Well, George, we've knocked the bastard off,' he said when he returned to base camp. Exactly. But, I suppose, he was a hero of a time when the 'conquest' of the planet seemed like a good thing and when the old colonial idea of toppling 'false' gods was still alive and well. Mountains made good gods. William Empson wrote a great poem about the emptiness left after the toppling of the gods - 'Let us stand here and admit that we have no road.' Hillary was an alpha male, but it's betas like Empson who have the last word.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 8:04 am