Monday, 12 May 2014

REVIEW: Hunting the big cat

Chasing the Phantom: In Pursuit of Myth and Meaning in the Realm of the Snow Leopard by Eduard Fischer Singing Dragon (2014) €14, ****

THE snow leopard of the Himalayas is elusive and mysterious; the species is endangered, with a mere 4,000-6,000 adults still roaming the wild – although how they managed to get that number, given the fact that it is legendarily difficult to actually find one of the creatures, is anybody's guess.
Eduard Fischer is a risk-taker, a skier of dangerous snows, a solo climber of mountains. He's been on a spiritual quest since he was a child, looking for the ways and means with which to rise above the bustle and hassle of the modern world. In a past life, he was probably a hermit, one who sought peace and stillness and direct connection with the Divine outside of society, perhaps at the top of one of the mountains he continues to climb.
Any quest one undertakes is a journey into the depths of the self. We are in the realm of metaphor right from the off, which Fischer makes sure we know, by telling us, perhaps one time too many.
His attention to detail is breathtaking, and for one like me, who would be utterly surprised to find herself trying to trek up even a lesser Himalaya, this is a priceless account of a part of the world I will never see.
The symbolism of the lone cat is a powerful one, and in Fischer's hands, goes beyond that of the macho loner who needs no one; rather, we have a contemplative masculine tone which is powerful, unexpectedly tender, open to learning, and whilst still holding a healthy sense of self, humble in the face of this divine planet upon which we reside.
One Evening in Paris by Nicolas Barreau, Translated by Bill McCann St Martin'sREAD MORE

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