Meru is the wonderfulterrifyingholyfuckwhatwasthating movie about rock climbers. My thoughts:
1. I don’t live the life of the body. I wish I could. Today, I’m a teaching assistant, a graduate student hoping to make it as an academic researcher and writer. I like my job, but there are many moments throughout my day when I stop and think, “I would trade a year of my life just to spend a day – one day – as a great swimmer or ballet dancer.” I would like to know what it means to move with grace and athleticism, to turn your body into a tool of your craft. The competition part doesn’t interest me. I would settle for a day as a mediocre dancer in a third-rate company, or a guy who places 8th in a decent swimming competition.
2. What does it mean to live in these rock climber’s bodies? Do their arms know different sensations than my arms? Does food taste different to them? When they place their hands on a mountain, do they feel what I feel when I place my hand on a book. I can only hypothesize. I can never know.
3. In our current political moment, we like to say, as a way of expressing empathy and humility, “I could never know what it’s like to be black” or “I could never know what it’s like to be gay”. My questions in point 2 interest me more.
4. Jon Kracauer is the movie’s man-who-lives-the-life-of-the-mind. He has the same role in the film Norman Mailer and George Plimpton have in When We Were Kings. He uses the word “dialectical” to describe the inner psychology of one of the movie’s heroes. In his talking head interview you can see a copy of Infinite Jest in the background. The rock climbers in the film have probably not read Infinite Jest. I doubt they use “dialectical” in their conversations. If I could do what they do, I imagine I wouldn’t bother reading Infinite Jest or anything else for that matter. I’ll never know this for a fact, because I will never be able to do what they do.