Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage

“From studying the outcome of past expeditions, he believed that those that burdened themselves with equipment to meet every contingency had fared much worse than those that had sacrificed total preparedness for speed.”

Imagination, one of the wheels of literature, is never absolute. It is, after all, taking place in/by a human, and thus bound to be a reflection of a particular mind. History, culture and future all go through a body before being splashed into the text. But maybe even more important, because of its immediacy, is the position of the writer itself: a man, sitting in front of a desk, struggling with his thoughts in active meditation. A body, essentially made to move and explore and attack, founds itself static, dominated by mind. The expression of that repressed desire is inevitable; there is hardly an inventio more spontaneous than travel and adventure; it is the desire of movement affecting the imagination.

Reading adventure is a pleasure for similar reasons, we are both calm and warm in our chairs (even better if it’s raining outside, as it makes us feel even safer), while also in some way experiencing movement, the new, discovery. It tickles both of our deep desires for safety and exploration at the same time. In the edge of that pleasurable contradiction we can spend hours, just as under the almost burning shower.

(Eventually books erode, and then El Quijote begins, and then Faust begins.)

But what if I told you that the story that you are reading actually took place? You can then leave behind all that heavy baggage that you carry when reading fiction—the goggles, the masks, the pikes—and travel even lighter. You will get less tired, there will be less things to worry about. All the fiction struggle would eventually seem so unnecessary, as just history itself, the acts of fellow humans, can fill and surpass our imagination. But only, if… the story is good.

And by Holy Probability!, you will struggle to find a story more impressive than Shackleton’s trip to Antartica.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *