between the see-er and the visible

Early January. What does it mean to have a project?

I want to call this a curve of possibility. This experience occurred on the project I was on today as I added a move to what was already an existing problem.

‘I really don’t know if I can do it. So much seems to go against me, today I rolled some skin on my tip, just arranging my fingers on the right hold, and I hadn’t even pulled on. Below is a clip, this proves I can do this move. I look at this clip to prove to myself that I can. Yet in all the tries I’ve only ever done this move once. Conditions need to be good; this is rare, skin needs to be good, the crimps are small, very small. The sand levels change, this is a big issue, as the move from the ground feels a bit different every time. But these are all excuses; it is possible, yet time and motivation ebb away. I ask myself why I’m not more psyched, extracting energy seems impossible, maybe its my diet, my weight, my mind, maybe it’s the abstinence from wine or maybe it’s the…’

I want this process to tip into the possible; ‘I want this problem to be  8A’. The holds are horrible and small, the moves long to more small holds, then to slightly bigger small holds then it all ends and doesn’t even top out. What a strange thing to be doing.

A session later. I have done the move, once more, yet it still seems still like a long way to go to actually doing the problem.

Climbing down into the ‘bowling alley’, the personal history of the place strikes me. I’ve been coming down here for years and this current project is the culmination of all that time. The LTP, Le Temp Passé, seemed a pretentious name at the time, now its seems prescient. At the time of climbing LTP (2002) I was adding a lower start to the existing and prosaically named ‘crimp problem’ this used to be 6c in old money (UK tech grade), so I guess about 7A  (FA of this problem is unknown). My addition was to start in the triangular pocket and move left onto the crimps of the original problem; I gave this V8 at the time, which fits with a current consensus of 7B. Last year I started this problem a little to the left, doing a move before putting my right foot up onto the triangular pocket, this avoids the pocket as starting handhold, which is good because its often wet. It also seemed like an independent line as it starts further left and goes straight up the wall finishing high. I called this ‘Madeleine’ and gave it 7B+, though it might be harder, possibly 7C. This then opened up starting a hold lower and moving into Madeleine. I’d only ever looked at this start as a fantasy; yet it became a reality in a shockingly fast manner. In January 2015, I pulled on and stayed on. If I could pull on, I should be able to move, it was a revelation. So this leaves me with a project that is now very possible, albeit one that destroys my skin and has holds so small it takes a real effort of will to try the thing.

From a phenomenological perspective Merleau-Ponty describes a moment such as the one described above as being:

between the see-er and the visible, between touching and touched, between one eye and the other, between hand and hand a kind of crossover occurs, when the spark of the sensing/sensible is lit, when the fire starts to burn that will not cease until some accident befalls the body, undoing what no accident would have sufficed to do…’[1]

 For me meanwhile I wait for the confluence of tide, wind and a feeling of lightness and desire.

[1] Maurice, Merleau-Ponty, Eye and Mind, Merleau-Ponty’s ‘Essays on Painting’, The Merleau-Ponty Aesthetics Reader, Ed, Galen A, Johnson, USA, North Western University, 1993, p.125.

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