16 September 2007

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

At one point while reading Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, I got a sense that Chris McCandless did what most people never do. He followed his ideals and a path to see the world from a point of view many are afraid of: from within.

You have to admire a kid who came from a “well-to-do family who hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley.” Who “had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself.”

But then as you read on, that admiration gets a little wonky when, four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter.

What went wrong is interesting and you get many perspectives from people he interacted with and his own journals. Of course, one could say that he was a young man betrayed by his fathers past, or blame authors Jack London and Leo Tolstoy, two of his favorite authors.

Even Alaskans seem to hate London, who’s Call of the Wild has sent many people to the Great White North in search of themselves and adventure, only to discover that this life usually led to harsh conditions and many deaths.

Still, when you get to the point at which we learn why McCandless did what he did, you begin to wonder if it was more of a irrational act based on youth. Though extremely intelligent, I thought his “logic” was based on a faulty premise.

And there is the “supplies” he went with when he finally arrived in Alaska. While there was no conclusive evidence of what killed him, it is assumed -based on his journals - he died of starvation. It seems a dumb way to die when your suppose to be really smart.

A movie version is do this fall, and I can see why actor/director Sean Penn would be interested in such a subject, as he grew up in the sort freedom from reality that I think McCandless lived.

Plus, both have very big, but fragile egos.

1 comment:

kenny said...

Into thin air was pretty good.