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Uberdanken vom Everest

I cannot, and will not, overemphasize the importance of critical thinking.  Language is a weapon, and what’s more, it’s really the only weapon we have against near-constant attempts to control the way we perceive the world.  Approaching every sentence one encounters with rigor, applying keen analysis of every word thrown at you, is a habit that should always be encouraged.

However, like anything else, it’s possible to go too far with it.

I usually know when to back off of a deep read, and the specter of overthinking things is familiar enough that I usually know when to shoo it away.  Sometimes, though, the instinct kicks in and I find myself somewhat shamefully suspicious of what I’m hearing.  Case in point:  there’s a commercial in heavy rotation on Hulu, some mini-documentary by a car company that shows people doing amazing things (going into space, deep sea diving, etc.), to show up the car company’s innovative policies.  That part is easy-to-spot bullshit.  The part where I got carried away, though, was a segment where a woman comes on and says:

I am the first American woman to summit Mount Everest three times.

Immediately, my bullshit analysis software kicked in.  Well, I thought to my fat lazy self, something’s wrong there.  All of those qualifiers!  “First”, “American”, “woman”, “three times” — surely there’s some kind of linguistic con job at work there to conceal a lack of real accomplishment.  And it seriously took me about three minutes to become deeply ashamed.  Becuase, for crissakes, she could have said “I am the ninth Slovenian transgendered M2F to summit K2 one time” and it would still be pretty goddamn amazing.  She climbed Mount Everest THREE FUCKING TIMES, you tool!  And you’re suspicious of her phrasing?  This is what spending too much time by yourself does to you.

Mirrored from LEONARD PIERCE DOT COM.

Comments

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carbonunit
Dec. 7th, 2010 09:59 pm (UTC)
Not necessarily. What does "summit" mean? Does it mean climb from base camp, or visit the peak? Climbing Everest is a worthy achievement, but you could repeat the final push to the peak (with oxygen) 3 times and make this claim. Without oxygen, I wouldn't believe it. From base camp 3 times, you're a deity. But visiting the summit 3 times on a single expedition, you're disrespecting the other climbers if you make a claim like this. What was her name anyway?
krinndnz
Dec. 8th, 2010 04:17 am (UTC)
The far edges of human achievement are weird, interesting places.



I also suspect that if you climb Everest at all, you start going over whether you could have a "first Whatever" modifier. It surely must come to mind. First person from Illinois to the summit. First double PhD to the summit. First Congresscritter to the summit. Whatever. The set of people who've made it to the top of Everest is still small enough that you can almost certainly find something.


So I agree that the notable part there is "three times." Because holy blap, that is a lot of mountain climbing.
vito_excalibur
Dec. 9th, 2010 07:06 am (UTC)
But you caught yourself! This is why I like you. Well, this and the fact that you keep writing about new metal for me to listen to.
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Leonard Pierce is a freelance writer wandering around Texas with no sleep or sense of direction. If you give him money he will write something for you. If you are nice to him he may come to your house and get drunk.

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