Adrenalin Porn

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Moby-Dick

If you look at vacation advertisements from the 1960s or 70s you will find people on beach/pool chairs, sipping martinis, maybe reading a book, maybe Moby Dick, the book they always wanted to read but never had the time to. The people portrayed in these advertisements smile a lot, they look tanned, time is their best friend.

No more. Just drive along the lakes of Carinthia (the rest of Austria is not much different, by the way). Nowadays it’s all action, adventure, risk, extreme. Adrenalin porn. Just add the word extreme to every activity you are trying to sell and you got yourself the perfect vacation advertisements.

Extreme biking, extreme water rafting, extreme water skiing, extreme air diving, extreme water rafting while bungee jumping, extreme biking while fighting a lion and drinking energy drinks, extreme jumping out of a helicopter on a skateboard while dancing the tango.

Sitting at the poolside is for losers. Your iPhone 7 Plus and your GoPro camera can capture action in slow motion, or panoramic view, or while riding, or jumping. They are action proof, they are water proof. You might as well use them.

So the beautiful Carinthian countryside, especially the areas around the lakes, are now one big action movie set or an amusement park on steroids. There’s an adrenalin rush to the whole area. Call it the GoPro generation, or maybe the X-Games-effect: people pushing the envelope of rational thought for a few moments of adrenaline soaked ecstasy.

What used to be a fringe activity became in the last few years embedded in mainstream culture. You don’t have to do an in-depth research; just drive around Carinthia and look at the street advertisements. Someone is trying to sell you an experience, a once in a life time adventure, an out-of-body escape.

The number of people climbing Mount Everest has rocketed since the 1990s. The proportion of women climbers is increasing too, up from about 16% in 2002 to 36% now. I have no idea about extreme sports practice in Austria, but judging from an unscientific field observation in Carinthia the number is high.

We have a lot of time, we need to fill it with something. In Moby Dick a group of sailors goes to the sea in search of whales. It’s their job, their livelihood. Ishmael, the narrator, is different. He is looking for adventure. Whaling is his version of extreme sports. (y)

Call me Ishmael. Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation.
Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.
(Moby-Dick, Chapter 1)

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