Scott and all his companions died in a desolate blizzard only miles from a cache of food and safety. As Ruth Mallory quoted about her husband George, “I know George did not mean to be killed; he meant not to be so hard....”.
A phrase said to have been written by Julius Caesar after a short, successful war in Turkey: I came, I saw, I conquered.
This line links to the preceding sentence; “This adventure was just one of those scratchy heartbeats on the line of my life.” Systolic and diastolic refers to the pressure of the suction in, and the pumping out, of the flow of blood in the heart. The image links the jagged shape of a heart monitor to the peaks and troughs of a mountain range and hence suggests by contrast that life on the plane, devoid of risk, is approximate to flat-lining.
The futility of escapism is beautifully described in Robert Frost’s poem Escapist – Never:
His life is a pursuit of a pursuit forever
It is in the future that he creates his present
All is an interminable chain of longing.
One of the working titles for the book was Life Without a Map. Other working titles included The Ninth Circle (p156); The Iceman Cometh (p54); A Penguin’s Egg (p247) and The White Road (p243).