All entries for January 2008

January 03, 2008

New year – Does it mean anything?

The original title of this entry was/is 'New year - Does it mean anything?', it may or may not survive by the end.

On a purely time based level, entry into the New Year is neither here nor there, it simply means nothing. It’s about as significant in the same respect as a birthday, or Christmas (don't get me started... oh wait no one is bothered).

The point is though, that entry into the New Year does mean something, not particularly this one, although it may do for some, but each New Year means something to some people at least. A purely rational argument would be the fact that regardless of ones culture, the location on the globe or the language one speaks, celebrations of a new year occur in every culture all around the world and throughout every language there is a word describing the celebration. The idea is that if everyone is celebrating it, then there must be something we hold close to our hearts about entering a new age, a new time.

Time is a funny thing. It’s totally different to any other quantity one could ever imagine given an unlimited amount of it. A subtle difference. Unlike the number of apples in a basket or the distance down a road it is possible to walk, time is different. The difference is, you can't take some of it away, and it only goes in one direction. Even since the ancient Egyptians the notion of time has puzzled some of the greatest thinkers. Until recently (early 1900's) it was thought that time was absolute; everyone lived in the same time, and moved through it at the same rate. This of course is not the case; it is possible to demonstrate the effects of time dilation dependent on ones speed relative to other observers. Perhaps this is getting too deep. The point I am labouring over is although people perceive the rate of time differently, endeavours to move in the opposite direction are simply futile (it doesn't stop people trying though).

Perhaps just as the building blocks that make us who we are, governed almost completely (I use almost - leaving room for belief of course) by the laws of nature, there is engraved into our pre-birth memory or software; a definition and an idea about what time is and how it works. [Remember, time isn't something we have invented, it has always been there, we just know how to measure its behaviour, and out interaction with it. The most obvious interaction we have with time is the affect of ageing, there is no escape]. If this is so, the act of moving into the New Year should not be so much a celebration as much as a simple realisation, its inevitable isn't it? Of course not, did you know a year ago you would be reading this today? No, it didn't exist, and neither did you. You don't exist in the future; you are merely a thought process, a fabrication of intertwined memory structures in your brain. As we move into the New Year we celebrate life, celebrate being here, having the consciousness to realise your movement through the ongoing time line of life.

I wish you all the best of luck for this up coming year. It really won't be here in one year time.

The White Spider

3 out of 5 stars

This book I found truly fascinating. It starts with an introduction from Joe Simpson (author of "Touching the void"), and carriers on into the first section about the history of the north face of the Eiger in the Swiss Alps, of which this book is about.

I liked this book because it gave me an insight into the mind of a true mountaineer. I say mountaineer, what I really mean is mountaineers, my point is that they all seem to follow a similar mentality as described by Harrer. Shear determination is sort of the theme throughout the book which is portrayed by the endless list of personallities described throughout it. 

I have only rated this book mid-range because I feel it was a bit long winded. Without the detailed descriptions of almost every climb, or attempted climb, on the face, I can't imagine the book being as intriguing as it was to read. However, this aspect of the read did make it rather tedious at points and I have to say quite monotonous. Still, a few adventures recounted in the book are simply gripping, and has one literally sitting on the edge of a seat, reading as fast as possible to discover the fate, and sometimes tragic ones at that, of some of the bravest people to have ever lived. 

Not only does this book recount numerous accidents and such like, it also details from time to time the mentality of the climbers involved. This is the part I enjoyed the most; trying to understand the motivation behind such feats. At first I thought such a motivation was quite simple to understand, but after reading this book I now realise there is a lot more to climbing at this level, than pure exploration.

Overall a great read, I would recommend it to anyone who is into climbing or outdoor pursuits, or even those who enjoy reading about interesting people.

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