In the Journal, “Dwelling Near in Mountains Farthest Apart: A Conversation” by Remmon E. Barbaza, Philosophy Professor at Ateneo de Manila, and Paloma Polo, Spanish Visual Artist, Paloma quotes Marc Bloch’s “The Historian’s Craft”;
“Man spends his time devising techniques of which he afterwards remains a more or less willing prisoner.”
As quoted, Bloch’s text simply worries me. In his statement the word “techniques” mildly implies all that man is capable of. All the actions, all the thoughts, all the emotions, everything man can be, everything man can do is a technique. It is a huge sweeping statement that I have a hard time swallowing. There is a bit of rebellion in my gut that wants to deny Bloch’s claim. The term “willing prisoner” too denotes a negative vibe that when heard, instantaneously voids hope. It rings sad in the ear, like The Song of the Nibelungs, the story that tells of the dragon-slayer Siegfried, how he was murdered and how everyone died in the end. It is a cynical approach to life, it is romantic, filled with victories and adventure, but tragically bound for failure. No one wants a dark and gloomy demise. It is taking me a while to clear a path for my understanding of the term “willing prisoner.” How can I avoid the dark precepts of being a prisoner and instead interpret it as freedom. If we infuse what we do with tremendous passion or with an emotional degree unfathomable by any means, are we still prisoners or are we set free? When there is expression beyond words, when there is only movement and the vast space we let ourselves be in, are we not free? It gets harder and harder to define the line between being a captive and being free. It blurs and in as such I am compelled to believe there is no difference at all.
The pursuit of clarity can be a very busy occupation. It doesn’t stop in an instant and can surely be a topic of long discussions. What I instead propose is to just let it be. Maybe the better approach will be to ask our inner selves, “Am I happy?” Then perhaps all becomes better and pieces fall into place beautifully.
My climbing has taken me so far to this date. I hold a high regard for what it means to me. All I need to do is look back and see how it has shaped me into me and I am quickly happy and at peace. Maybe it’s even true that I am a willing prisoner to my climbing and it has at one time or another given rise to certain dilemmas. In the end, though, we are who we are and we do what we do. We are the product of the dreams we try to live, even for a short while. What is most tragic is if we deny ourselves the freedom we deserve, to let lose what is buried deep in each of us. It doesn’t matter if we fall flat on our face, it doesn’t matter what others might say because as Nietzsche once said, "What is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil."
The following are photos from my trip to Ceuse, France. It is highly considered as one of the meccas, if not the mecca for climbing. The strongest climbers in the world have visited Ceuse one time or another. Chris Sharma’s first ascent of “Realization”, the world’s first highly publicized 5.15a, has solidified even further Ceuse’s reputation for hard climbing and has given it even a mystical aura that draws climbers from all over the world.
I’m lucky to have found myself on the hour-long hike up its steep slopes. The many days of climbing gained me new friends. The cold wet nights at camp have tested my resilience to unforgiving conditions sometimes imposed by nature. I’ve learned to live frugally on bread and fruit. I’ve had wine and cheese in solitary nights at times. I fell on a 6b slab but on-sighted a 7c on my last climb on my last day when I felt so tired. I fell silent when I shouldn’t have when I found myself standing close to a pretty French climber. I learned new words I can’t use today and I’ve filled my eyes with awe of why I love climbing outdoors. It’s hard to say I am a prisoner to my climbing. I’ve found love in climbing and it has set me free.
|Massif de Ceuse|
|A pauper's dinner, with herbs de provance|
|Could be Shadowfax?|
|The "Cascade" Sector|
|View from the "Cascade"|
|Bad boys from England|
|Didn't know she was famous|
|Going to see "Realization" - 5.15a|
|The first few holds and the incline of "Realization"|
|A day off at Gap|
|After a cold rainy night|
|View from the campsite in the early morning|
|A cold rainy day at Ceuse. Time to go to Ailfroide for bouldering.|
|Starting the 1-hour hike up Ceuse|
|Last day at Ceuse, Last climb at Ceuse, moi onsighting "Vagabond" - 7c, cheap thrills|
|My immediate family in my trip to Ceuse.|