Means and Motives: The Mystification of Mountaineering Discourse

Jon F. Gordon


Mountaineers rely on technologies both to make the ascent of mountains physically possible, and to aid in structuring representations of ascents as the means of subjective consolidation. Insofar as they are cyborgs, they are incapable of purity (of either means or motives); and, insofar as they are unwilling to recognize their impurity, they are perpetuating a system of dominance. This essay will examine the agonistic relation between discourses of purity and discourses of technology in three mountaineering texts, with the aim of showing their interconnectedness and irreconcilability. While mountaineering seeks to affirm agential subjectivity, it mystifies the motives for doing so, covering over impure motives by representing pure ones.


Mountaineering Literature; the Liberal Subject

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