Last week, Adam told you he likes to talk about grades, moves, and hard routes. That’s mostly because he’s a pompous jackass. I’d love to tell you he’s wrong, that I’ve never partaken in such an egregious activity, and to write pages of vituperative invectives and condemnation. Unfortunately, I can do neither. Rather, I feel bound by conscience to provide an ontological framework which both defends and supports Adam’s directionless ranting.
Imagine for a minute, talking about baseball, but never mentioning a score. Or day traders talking shop but saying not a word about money. Or drag racers who never bring up their time slip. Imagine Ludacris never telling you how many records he's sold. Counting and keeping score is as old as man. In fact, it turns out that humans are essentially born understanding basic math, and we've been fine tuning it for millennia. From roman numerals, to arabic, counting systems of base three, 20, 80 and 10, to double entry book keeping and the invention of zero, humans have been obsessed with counting. We count cows, camels, dollars, gold nuggets, chicken nuggets, socks, and stocks. If you can imagine it, guaranteed there is way to count and quantify it. Climbing is no different. But for some reason, climbing is uncomfortable with its counting and score keeping. It's natural for everybody else, why not us? Counting climbing is anathema, as though the very invention of the numbers had been foisted upon us by some vile infidel, intended to defile the Sacred Craft, to turn the Craftsmen from the True Path and dissuade from the True Way and Purpose.
huh? sounds ridiculously religious doesn't it? But what other reason is proffered to a spraylord like me who claims he likes keeping score? “That's what is so exceptional about climbing, it’s not like all those things, it’s not about competition and keeping score.”
“It's not about the numbers.” “That's not the point of climbing.”
Not the point of climbing? What, exactly is the point? It is as if climbing had been granted a holy teleological charter with divine purpose. As though climbing were so special and unique because it had been sent down from the heights of great Olympus in order that man may transcend mind body and nature and become at one with the cosmos and ascend to a deeper understanding through cathartic adventure. I don’t know where these ideas come from, but it’s as if there were this giant cult of climbers who follow the teachings of the Purpose Driven Climber. Indeed, throwing around all these hefty words like purpose and exceptional sounds eerily reminiscent to the old doctrine of Manifest Destiny, that illbegoton and (hopefully) abandoned idea that the great experiment of democracy springing forth in America was meant by Providence to serve as a beaconing Shining City on a Hill, that it’s purpose and destiny was to expand, civilize and Christianize from Sea to shining sea. The empires of Rome, Britain, even the Nazis used similar excuses of National Exceptionalism for the dastardly deeds they committed in their quest for expansion.
I submit that there is no point to climbing. It’s an activity that you and I just happen to find more engaging than cribbage, quibbage and car racing. It’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on. You’re running around squeezing rocks because you can't find any tits to squeeze. I like to squeeze and I like to keep track with numbers. You might not. Whatever. You can tell me I'm wrong. But I'll call you a Nazi.