The value of up-hill skiing

In Ignace Haaz & Amélé Adamavi-Aho Ekué (eds.), Walking with the Earth: Intercultural Perspectives on Ethics of Ecological Caring. Geneva, Switzerland: Globethics Publications. pp. 181-222 (2022)
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The value of up-hill skiing is double, it is first a sport and artistic expression, second it incorporates functional dependencies related to the natural obstacles which the individual aims to overcome. On the artistic side, M. Dufrenne shows the importance of living movement in dance, and we can compare puppets with dancers in order to grasp the lack of intentional spiritual qualities in the former. The expressivity of dance, as for, Chi Gong, ice skating or ski mountaineering is a particular innocence and lightness which is called grace. It is life without the burden of worries. Grace, in slow progression uphill on snow, is as dance for Dufrenne, it has the most central and specific aesthetical quality of life. Others compared dance to a landscape, a landscape is for the sight, what dance is for life, a symbolical space, different from a usual space, where utility and dependency are present. A mountain can be a space of experience of natural beauty. Aesthetical qualities can be closely related to function related qualities as when a climber needs to adjust his movements to the natural convex inclination of the rocks, and avoid slippery forms of inclination, present on the other side of the mountain. The natural object, the quality of the snow or the rock differ from the aesthetical quality of the style of ascent by the absence of neutralization of the object, in case of a purely instrumental approach. On the contrary, grace in the rhythm of the progression of ski climbers needs a difference of attitude, which is not only proper to the playing, and delimited by the conditions of that play, but as a contingency driven attitude, without signification as radical alterity, without any finality. First ascent of the Matterhorn succeeded from the Swiss side, and not from the Italian side because of the different inclination of the rock on both sides. Grace in dance as in martial art or mountaineering is allowing to perceive an autonomy of the expression, as the truth of the perceived object, it puts away a cognitive and practical orientation and replaces it by a new meaning as movement in the whole set of movements done by the climber. This replacement of the functional expression resembles that operated by the painter who chooses a color in the whole set of colors in a painting, or a shape in the whole set of possible existing shapes. Ref. Dufrenne, Mikel, (1989): The Phenomenology of Aesthetic Experience. Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy, trans. by Edward S. Casey, 1st publ. in 1953, Evanston: Northwestern University Press.

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Ignace Haaz
University of Geneva (PhD)


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