When I first read about Mallory and Irvine years ago — there was a plaque in a church to the latter, and I used to gaze at it as a child — I was fascinated and intrigued by the idea that two people could just vanish off the side of a mountain. The clouds came down, and when they disappeared, the climbers had disappeared too: a ghost story, really.
I’ve read enough about Everest since to get a sense of how unimagineably and breathtakingly vast it is: and now I think what strikes me, really, is that so little does actually vanish. Everything’s still there, of course; but the curious fact is that everything gets seen — it just doesn’t always get reported.
Tom links to a blog about Kit Williams’s Masquerade: a book that was published (1979) just as I was at my most judgmentally teenage and unimpressable. I didn’t like the art and I didn’t like the idea — and yet as a kid, I’d often spent hours poring over record sleeves or illustrations in books, the kind that seem to be nothing but detail, to piece together the implied totality of the secret. The 1954 Argo Under Milk Wood (feat.Richard Burton), for example (see below the cut); or the climactic humiliation scene from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (ditto), drawn by Pauline Baynes as if to encompass the entire lurid netherworld. Looking again at this images I don’t even know how my young eyes took in so much — so fuzzy and confused they seem now, and it’s not just my poor scanning, because what I do make out is nothing I don’t already know in my bones. Continue reading “lost worlds”