Thursday, June 9, 2011

Climbing Mount Analogue


The gateway to the invisible must be visible. This is a cardinal rule of the Western imagination, that helps to express a crucial difference between the Western way of accessing other worlds and Eastern approaches (especially as misrepresented by Westerners) that discount imagery and dreams.

The statement comes from RenĂ© Daumal’s unfinished novel Mount Analogue A Novel of Symbolically Authentic Non-Euclidean Adventures in Mountain Climbing, first published – posthumously – in 1952. The opening is choice. The narrator publishes a “literary fantasy” - in the Revue des Fossiles, describing a location he has imagined as if it is an actual place. He then receives the following message:

Monsieur,

I have read your article on Mount Analogue. Until now I thought I was the only person convinced of its existence. Today there are two of us, tomorrow there will be ten, perhaps more, and we can launch the expedition.

In his original article, the narrator explored the symbology of the mountain as the path between heaven and earth. The problem is that today, thanks to explorers and mountaineers, the mystic mountains of the past that had recognized addresses (Mount Olympus for example) have become “cow pastures”.

Where do we find the World Mountain? He suggested: "For a mountain to play the role of Mount Analogue, its summit must be inaccessible, but its base accessible to human beings as nature has made them. It must be unique and it must exist geographically. The gateway to the invisible must be visible."

The novel makes the first literary use of the strange word "peradam", one worth adding to our vocabulary because it exactly defines something that adventurers in consciousness will know: a peradam is an object that is revealed only to those who seek it.

"The Ascent of Mount Analogue" by Remedios Varo. Illustration from the 1952 edition of the novel.

5 comments:

nina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Justin Patrick Moore said...

Peradam: A great word to add to our dream dictionaries!

Wanda said...

The visible gateway to the invisible can also translate into healing for body and mind. Daumal's novel - and statement - takes me to a woman's description of mountain climbing as a means for healing and much needed weight loss. The kicker was - she was climbing an invisible mountain made visible in her imagination. She went on-line, purchased the equipment, studied descriptions on how a climbing novice should prepare and then she searched the internet for a favorite "mountain." She chose a difficult one but chose one that was accessible to beginners. Then, in her imagination, she climbed that mountain each day in "real time," progressing one step at a time, until she reached the top. Her body responded with exceptional weight loss and muscle toning in the same way as though she had physically climbed that mountain.

So, although the climber's mystic mountain might not have taken her on the same symbolic journey between heaven and earth, it is a story, for me, of a magnificent use of the imagination using the visible for an invisible healing journey with incredible "visible" results.

nina4667 said...

Thanks for this post, Robert. And thanks for grounding it viscerally for me, Wanda!

Savannah said...

Thank you for this post, and for adding peradam to my dream dictionary! Just playing around with the word, on first reading that sounded a lot like paradigm to my ears which led me to remind myself in rhetoric a paradigm can refer to a fable or allegory, and in semiotics that would mean a class of elements with similarities. Seeing sparkles of truth refracted through a bundle of correspondences...