Krypt3ia

(Greek: κρυπτεία / krupteía, from κρυπτός / kruptós, “hidden, secret things”)

The Cult of Chris McCandless

with 10 comments

Alaskans fault Krakauer for romanticizing McCandless, thereby encouraging others to model themselves after his life. Before the film has even been released, it has become common to blame Hollywood for further glamorizing a senseless tragedy. As Dermot Cole, a columnist for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, puts it, “To sell the story, they’ve made it into a fable. He’s been glorified in death because he was unprepared. You can’t come to Alaska and do that.”

Not to harp on this subject, but I find myself pondering this whole movie and ersatz movement surrounding this story. You see, I too have had those desires to “suck out the marrow of life” that Thoreau wrote so eloquently about. However, I have never been deluded to the fact that by birth in this age, I am nothing but a domesticated animal.

We all are in fact domesticated animals today I think. We want food, we go to the quickie mart and nuke a burrito. We need clothes, we go to Old Navy. We are, most of us in this country and many others, wholly divorced from the elements that forged our needs and desires so many thousands of years ago, to seek caves and make flint knives to kill and cut meat. As such, many of us would not survive in the harsh world of the Alaskan bush period. With proper planning though, and use of tools, one might live for a while, but without the real “gnosis” of how the wild works, we would inevitably end up dead.

It’s the realization of this truism, that separates the foolhardy and altruistic, from the ones who would survive because they planned things out a bit better, knowing that the “wild” is a harsh place where its kill or be killed. Chris McCandless I think, was too altruistic and young, to really have the knowledge that he needed to survive the tests he set before himself. In that, he was naive and in no way, even with the spirit he had of “living” he had in mind, was he a hero.

However, here we are… A major motion picture is coming out (I believe already in select release) and will inspire more insipid teen angst ridden youth, to seek out their inner Walt, or Henry David, and perhaps end up the same way or worse. Chris McCandless did “live” in his freedom I think. His wanderings and meeting the souls along the “path” surely is more of a life well lived I think, than many of us actually get to explore in today’s world. It’s just that, that I think people are grabbing onto and desiring, not the going into the wilderness to “test” ones self against the wild.

Misguided is what they are. Misguided even more so by the likes of John Krakauer, and now Sean Penn with this siren song of “God he lived!” in “Into The Wild” We all have those times when we feel that there must be much more to life, as we sit in our cubicle and realise that we are no more than domesticated homosapiens. It’s a sad revelation really, and we yearn for more.

I guess that what I am driving at is this; There is more to life, Chris discovered much of that in the people he met and the places he saw. Chris was young, and perhaps he was mentally unbalanced. Perhaps he was just too much a dreamer, but certainly, he was unprepared and inexperienced for such an undertaking as the wilds of Alaksa *EDIT* (I might remind you too, that he was not that far off the beaten path here. This site is a bit to hump back out of, but completely doable. This was not a 6 hour chopper flight into the dark territory here! Hell, he refused a map before going in!). Ask any Alaskan and you will hear the same thing, with a disdain in their voice.

So, all of you who go to see this film and walk out feeling that Chris was some kind of quasi Bodhisattva, think twice you domesticated chattel of modernity… Cuz if you try the same thing you are likely to be Grizz food.

CoB

Fifteen years after an enigmatic 24-year-old walked Into the Wild, the site of his death has become a shrine. As Hollywood weighs in with a portrait of the young man as a saintlike visionary, has the truth been lost? Inside the strange life and tragic death of “Alexander Supertramp.” –Matthew Power

Fifteen years have passed: 15 howling Alaska winters and 15 brief frenzied summers, and the ancient bus on the Stampede Trail still rusts in the wilderness, almost exactly as Chris McCandless left it. Twenty-two miles from the nearest road, shaded out by alder and black spruce on a moraine rise above a creek, the green and white WWII-vintage International Harvester looks surreally out of place, like an artifact from a vanished civilization. The bus doesn’t at first seem a likely time capsule of American mythology, a shrine to which people from around the world make pilgrimages and leave tributes in memory of a young man whom they see as a fallen hero. It doesn’t look to be the sort of place that would inspire a best-selling book, much less a major motion picture. But that’s exactly what it is.

Fireweed and wild potato grow up in the wheel wells. On the side of the bus Fairbanks 142 is still legible in paint that has been bleached and scoured by the seasons. A few bullet holes have starred the windows; whether they were fired out of anger or boredom is unclear. Other than that, the people who have made the trek out here, out of respect or superstition, have left the site largely untouched. The vertebrae of the young moose McCandless shot lie scattered. The bones, and a smattering of feathers, add to the spooky aura of a charnel ground. Inside, near an old oil-barrel stove, McCandless’s jeans are neatly folded on a shelf, knees patched with scraps of an old army blanket, seat patched with duct tape. And the bed is still there too, springs and stuffing bursting from the stained mattress, as if a wild animal’s been at it. The same bed where they found his body.

It was a haunting tale, capturing the imagination of the country. September 1992, deep in the bush of the Alaskan interior northeast of Mount McKinley, in an abandoned bus on a disused mining trail, the decomposed body of a man was found by a moose hunter. The remains weighed only 67 pounds, and he had apparently died of starvation. He carried no identification, but a few rolls of undeveloped film and a cryptic journal chronicled a horrifying descent into sickness and slow death after 112 days alone in the wilderness. When the man’s identity was established, the puzzle only deepened. His name was Chris McCandless, a 24-year-old honors graduate, star athlete, and beloved brother and son from a wealthy but dysfunctional East Coast family. With a head full of Jack London and Thoreau, McCandless rechristened himself “Alexander Supertramp,” cut all ties with his family, gave his trust fund to charity, and embarked on a two-year odyssey that brought him to Alaska, that mystic repository of American notions of wilderness, a blank spot on the map where he could test the limits of his wits and endurance. Setting off with little more than a .22 caliber rifle and a 10-pound bag of rice, McCandless hoped to find his true self by renouncing society and living off the land. But, as Craig Medred would note in the Anchorage Daily News, “the Alaska wilderness is a good place to test yourself. The Alaska wilderness is a bad place to find yourself.” No one ever saw McCandless alive again. Fifteen years later his story continues to resonate as a quintessentially American tale, and its hero has assumed near mythic status, blurring the lines between living memory and the creation of a legend.

When writer Jon Krakauer first heard McCandless’s story, he later told a reporter, “the hair on my neck rose.” Krakauer’s profound empathy for his subject and obsessive research yielded Into the Wild, a heartbreaking portrait that has sold more than 2 million copies and become the authoritative version of the McCandless story, around which all discussions are framed. In Krakauer’s telling, McCandless represents the human urge to push the limits of experience, to live a life untouched by the trappings of culture and civilization. Now that portrait has been taken up by the ultimate mythologizer: Hollywood. The film, to be released in September, was written and directed by Sean Penn and filmed on location in the many places McCandless traveled.

Woven through with the timeless themes of self-invention, risk, and our complex relationship to the natural world, the enigma of Chris McCandless is once again being debated, more vociferously than ever. Was his death a Shakespearean tragedy or a pitch-black comedy of errors? What impact has the tale and its renown had on our perception of Alaska? And perhaps most tantalizingly: Did Krakauer, and now Penn, get key parts of the story wrong?

From almost the moment he was found, the meaning of Chris McCandless’s life and lonely death has been fiercely argued. The debate falls into two camps: Krakauer’s visionary seeker, the tragic hero who dared to live the unmediated life he had dreamed of and died trying; or, as many Alaskans see it, the unprepared fool, a greenhorn who had fundamentally misjudged the wilderness he’d wanted so desperately to commune with. If the cult that has grown up around McCandless is any indication, we want the romantic portrait to be true: that he made a series of small mistakes that compounded in disaster. But the truth doesn’t always conform to Hollywood’s ideals.

The eerie quiet at the bus, broken only by the drone of mosquitoes and the rustling of alder leaves, would be more unsettling were it not for the presence of Brent Keith, a local hunting guide who has driven me out to the bus on his six-wheeled Polaris Ranger ATV. I feel relieved to have the burly 38-year-old Alaskan here, wearing a “Team Glock” hat and carrying a 10mm on his hip to prove it, plus a satellite phone and a six-pack of Moosehead behind the seat. On the way to the bus, a two-day hike from the nearest road, we spotted enormous bear tracks, and Keith had told me about dropping a charging grizzly from 15 feet away.

To reach the spot where McCandless died we forded two rivers, the Savage and the Teklanika, the latter milky with glacial till and running so high and swift it had come up to our seats when we plowed through, nearly drowning the air intake on the Ranger. As he steered into the rushing water, Keith had shouted to me over the straining engine, “You know what the state motto of Alaska is? ‘Hold my beer and watch this!’ ” An even fiercer torrent had prevented McCandless from hiking out when he tried to leave the bush in July of 1992.

On the way in we’d come across Kevin and Rob Mark, brothers from New Jersey, who were hiking two days back to the trailhead after staying a night at the bus. They had read Krakauer’s book and wanted to see if they could make it out on foot, to gain some sense of what McCandless had endured. “It was a great adventure getting out there, but crossing the river was terrifying,” Rob told me. They were both knocked down and nearly carried off in the swift icy water of the Teklanika.

A year younger than McCandless would have been today had he lived, Keith has a distinctly Alaskan viewpoint on his death, unsentimental and unswayed by romanticism. He points to a clear pool in a stream not 50 feet from the bus, in which dozens of foot-long grayling swim against the current. “You could practically shovel those out with a spruce branch,” he tells me. “And I just don’t get why he didn’t stay down by the Teklanika until the water got low enough to cross. Or walk upstream to where it braids out in shallow channels. Or start a signal fire on a gravel bar.” He peers inside the bus and shakes his head at what he sees as a greenhorn in over his head who had retreated to the only sign of civilization for miles when he realized he couldn’t make it. “Tough enough to live out here without trying harder,” he says. “We’re hard up for heroes if that’s what it takes — some guy who starved to death in a bus.”

The majority of Alaskans share some version of the opinion that McCandless was deeply out of his element. Medred, the outdoors columnist for the Anchorage Daily News, believes that he was suffering from schizophrenia and compares him to Timothy Treadwell, the unstable filmmaker and bear enthusiast who (along with his girlfriend) was killed and eaten by a grizzly in Katmai National Park in 2003. “McCandless didn’t need the wilderness,” he says. “He needed help.”

Alaskans fault Krakauer for romanticizing McCandless, thereby encouraging others to model themselves after his life. Before the film has even been released, it has become common to blame Hollywood for further glamorizing a senseless tragedy. As Dermot Cole, a columnist for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, puts it, “To sell the story, they’ve made it into a fable. He’s been glorified in death because he was unprepared. You can’t come to Alaska and do that.”

Butch Killian, one of the moose hunters who discovered McCandless’s body in September 1992, considered it just another day in the bush and doesn’t understand why such a big deal has been made out of the story. He told me he had never read the book and had no idea that it had been a bestseller, that thousands of people had felt a deep identification with Krakauer’s portrait of McCandless. “I don’t know what his problem was, but it wasn’t surviving. If he’s a hero, he’s a dead hero.” Killian doesn’t think that a visit to the site will provide many answers. “So many people have asked me to take them out there. What in the world would you want to go back there for? It’s nothing but an old bus.”

Old bus or no, Fairbanks 142 has become something of a reliquary, a shrine to which many have come seeking understanding: of McCandless, of the wilderness, of themselves. A memorial plaque to McCandless is screwed to the inside of the bus, bearing a message from his family that ends with the phrase “We commend his soul to the world.” Inside a beat-up suitcase on a table are a half-dozen tattered notebooks. The first entries, from July 1993, in red pen on paper yellowing with age, are personal notes from his parents. They visited the site with Jon Krakauer by helicopter. Krakauer also left a note: “Chris — Your memory will live on in your admirers. –Jon”

And those admirers came: The dog-eared notebooks are filled with hundreds of entries from pilgrims who traveled the arduous 22 miles out to try to feel some connection with the McCandless spirit. They came by snowmobile, dogsled, mountain bike, and mostly by foot, usually taking two days to hike the boggy, mosquito-plagued trail and ford the freezing rivers. They came from across the U.S. and from as far as Bulgaria, Finland, and the Czech Republic. They came because there was something about the story, and about Alaska, that drew them there.

Together the entries form a chorus of voices, some questioning, some praising, all trying to wring some meaning out of his story, and by extension, their own lives: I am 20 years old and feel a kinship with Chris . . . This is God’s country and a beautiful place to leave this world . . . We shouldn’t Romanticize or canonize him . . . What went on here, at this bus, transcends the ordinary and mundane . . . Chris was completely awake to life . . . for the first time in many years I am crying . . . Chris may have fucked up, but he fucked up brilliantly . . . he found the serenity of the spirit that most die without . . . pray for Chris’s critics . . . There is something about Alaska that changes you . . . You go your way — I’ll go your way too.

That last line, from a Leonard Cohen poem, was written by Sean Penn, when he visited the bus in August 2006. Penn had been trying to bring Krakauer’s book to the screen ever since first picking it up years ago. “The cover intrigued me so I bought it, went home, and read it straight through. Twice,” says Penn. “I started trying to get the rights from then on.” Ultimately he wrote the screenplay, directed, and helped produce the film himself, shepherding the movie through every step.

In an age of digital shortcuts and studio interference, Penn refused to compromise, insisting on filming in the places McCandless had been. Into the Wild takes place in Alaska, and it would be filmed in Alaska. It followed McCandless to locations as far-flung as the Salton Sea in the California desert and Carthage, South Dakota, where the film’s production crew doubled the size of the town. “It just felt like the only way to make the movie. That’s all,” says Penn. “It always felt worth the sacrifice.”

Alaskans often shake their heads at misrepresentations of their state in the media, and there is a fair bit of anticipatory skepticism about the movie. Dave Talerico, the mayor of Denali Borough (population 2,000, and roughly the size of Maryland), grew up in Roslyn, Washington, the stand-in for the fictional town of Cicely, Alaska, in the show Northern Exposure. So he wasn’t surprised when Penn decided to shoot the Alaska scenes 50 miles south of where McCandless actually died, in the tiny town of Cantwell, where the landscape conformed more readily to the Hollywood vision of the Last Frontier.

“What I don’t understand with all these books and movies,” Talerico tells me, “is why they don’t tell the stories of the people who survive. The ones who have forged a life here?”

Cantwell lies on the Alaska Railroad line just south of Denali National Park. Filming at the bus was too remote for the technical demands of a movie shoot; the Alaska Range lies low and distant on the horizon. Cantwell, by contrast, is right next to the buttress of mountains that form Denali’s foothills. It’s a picture-perfect vision of the Alaskan wilderness — a stark contrast from the grim, swampy, mosquito-swarmed site of McCandless’s death.

It was probably an inevitable irony that, despite its best intentions, a production from the lower 48 would have some of the same difficulties in the Alaskan interior as its subject. Wayne Westerberg, a friend, the recipient of the postcard in which McCandless announced that the boy was walking “into the wild,” was hired as a consultant and then as a union truck driver for the production. “There were lots of logistical problems shooting on location,” says Westerberg, a former grain-elevator operator who is played by Vince Vaughn in the film. “We had to drive through four feet of water just to get between base camp and the shoot. We swamped a lot of vehicles and brought a lot back to the rental company in pieces.” Then there were issues with the “wildlife”: the trained grizzly stuck on the wrong side of a river who nearly needed an airlift, reindeer not moving on cue, trained wolves that didn’t act wolfy enough.

Whatever the challenges, the resulting film is visually stunning, the landscapes of the American West and far north shot in epic scope and intimate detail, the soundtrack haunted by Eddie Vedder’s throaty growl. The part of McCandless fell to 22-year-old Emile Hirsch. To match McCandless’s sinewy, athletic build Hirsch worked out obsessively, losing 26 pounds before filming even began. During the course of production, as he paced McCandless’s descent into starvation, he shed another 15, in a chilling transformation. “By the end I was down to 115 pounds,” says Hirsch. “I had no energy at all. It changes everything about you: the way you think, the way you treat others, the way you are alone.”

Alongside a busload of famous actors (Vaughn, William Hurt, Hal Holbrook, Catherine Keener), the real characters and haunts of the American underclass have cameos, giving the film at times a documentary feel. At every encounter in his nomadic wanderings — from soup kitchens and train yards to the vast landscapes of the Grand Canyon and the Alaska Range — we see McCandless flitting through people’s lives, leaving them changed before vanishing. But whereas Krakauer showed both sides of McCandless — the hapless tenderfoot and the enlightened eternal seeker — Penn presents only the latter version. His McCandless is almost Christlike. It is a deeply mythic take on a character who is largely a cipher. Clearly, in Sean Penn’s eyes, Into the Wild is a story about something profound and universal in the human spirit, a longing for freedom and a pure connection to the natural world that’s been lost.

“I’m not trying to romanticize him,” insists Penn, who has little patience for McCandless’s critics. “There are few people in Alaska who have done anything comparable to what Chris did. We’re not talking about a week with another buddy and ATVs, hunting. This was 113 days, 79 of them by choice. And he did pretty damn well. Did he make mistakes? Sure. A lot of people do. But however many miles he needed to walk to become a man was up to him. So I think he did very well by any standard, including Alaskan.”

For both penn and krakauer, the mccandless story became an obsession. No one, save perhaps McCandless’s own grieving family, tried harder to understand his journey and, especially, his strange death, than Krakauer, who saw something of himself in McCandless’s youthful passion for risk and remote places. Into the Wild is laid out like a meticulous legal brief in defense of a human soul. There is a mountain of evidence with which Krakauer makes his arguments: interviews, journals, photographs, historical comparisons.

The book’s Sherlock Holmes moment comes near the end. Seeking to explain why McCandless grew sick and died so suddenly, Krakauer hypothesized that he’d unintentionally poisoned himself. To supplement his fortunes shooting squirrels, porcupines, and woodpeckers, McCandless had been eating the seeds of the wild potato, a native plant whose roots have provided food for the Athabascan people for centuries. Weakened and near death, McCandless had written “Fault of pot. seed” in his journal. The plant was not thought to be toxic, but, acting on a hunch, Krakauer sent some seeds found near the bus to the University of Alaska at Fairbanks for analysis. Initial results indicated the presence of a toxic alkaloid, one that Krakauer made much of, claiming that perhaps “McCandless wasn’t quite as reckless or incompetent as he was made out to be.” It was a small but crucial mistake. As Krakauer presented it, McCandless had been poisoned by a toxin that prevented his body from absorbing nutrients, leading to his starvation.

But the book was published before the seeds’ testing was completed by Dr. Thomas Clausen, the chair of the chemistry and biochemistry department at UAF. “I was hoping it was true,” says Clausen, in his lab on campus. “It would have made a good story. But the scientific results worked against my biases. I tore that plant apart. There were no toxins. No alkaloids. I’d eat it myself.”

Of course, this flies in the face of the McCandless that the public has embraced, and Krakauer’s take has survived subsequent reprintings of the book. Now a version of his theory has made its way on-screen. In Penn’s telling McCandless is poisoned by mistaking wild potato for a similar plant, wild sweet pea, though according to Clausen’s research that plant is equally harmless. Brent Keith, my guide, suggests it was poisoned mushrooms, or giardiasis from drinking untreated water.

There’s additional evidence McCandless needn’t have wasted away. In July, a month before his death, he attempted to hike out of the bush, only to be turned away trying to cross the Teklanika. He failed to anticipate the change in water levels as the summer progressed and snowmelt increased. But as Krakauer noted — and a 9,000-word piece by Chip Brown in a February 1993 New Yorker made clear — had McCandless searched a bit farther downstream he would have discovered a manual tram over the river less than a mile from where he tried to cross, a detail missing from the film. The tragic truth may be that he didn’t find a way out of the bush, couldn’t catch enough food to survive, and simply starved to death. But no one will ever know the truth.

With the mythology that has grown up around the story, it is easy to forget that McCandless was a real flesh-and-blood person, that those who knew him and loved him are still around. Westerberg, for example, has had his life transformed by their brief friendship. He picked McCandless up hitchhiking and gave him a job working at his grain elevator in Carthage, South Dakota. The boy told him his name was Alex, and they became good friends in the nearly two years before he left for Alaska. Westerberg was the one who helped identify the body.

I ask Westerberg if he feels as if the Alex he knew has been lost.

“Well, yeah,” he says. “All this shadows the original story and clouds it to a point.”

And what would McCandless have felt about all this? “I’m sure he’s sitting up there smiling. He liked to write all those diaries,” says Westerberg. “If he wouldn’t have documented it there wouldn’t have been a story.”

McCandless clearly believed in self-mythologizing, in the power of storytelling and self-invention. Had he lived, perhaps he would have gained enough perspective to tell the story himself, rather than leaving it for others to tell. As it is, he has entered the realm of myth, and myths are shaped by those who can make use of them.

Penn, for one, doesn’t feel conflicted by presenting McCandless’s life on-screen, despite the mysteries. “I think the things that are most important are there,” he says. “It was clear Chris made the decision to go back to the world. And he left an awful lot of clues, so you go with your gut. That’s what I did.” To criticize Hollywood for being Hollywood, for taking a real story and mythologizing it, is like telling a bear not to shit in the woods. It’s what they do.

With a year-round population of around 200 and winter temperatures that frequently linger at 40 below, Cantwell is tucked in the shadow of the icy vastness of the Alaska Range. Everyone I met there spoke highly of the movie people. The production, which used almost every available ATV in town and hired many locals, was the biggest thing to happen there since the railroad came through nearly a century ago.

Penn’s production company acquired a ’40s-era International Harvester bus from a junkyard in Fairbanks, identical to the one out on the Stampede Trail, and set designers modeled it into a dead ringer of Fairbanks 142. It sits now in the crowded yard outside Gordon Carlson’s house in Cantwell, not looking terribly out of place amid rusted machinery and old pickup trucks.

Carlson, a barrel-chested Athabascan who worked as a tribal liaison on the shoot, shows me around the bus. He chuckles through a handlebar mustache and offers an unburnished appraisal of McCandless: Another fool bit the dust. “We grew up here. You learn how to make a campfire when you’re a kid. This, I didn’t think much of it at the time. That kid’s mistakes started a long time before he got here.”

And what will happen to this bus?

“Not sure what we’ll do with it. Make it some kind of attraction. Maybe a cappuccino stand. I know that sounds like we’re profiting off someone else’s story, but you do what you have to do to survive here.”

Written by Krypt3ia

2007/10/01 at 21:51

10 Responses

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  1. Michael Crichton tells a story, I’m sure I’m mangling it, about when he was backpacking in Pakistan with a bunch of Westerners. They were a few days out of civilization when they came to a river. Their guide was very, very concerned and insisted on ridiculous precautions. They turned out to be unnecessary, and the guide was mocked a bit for being a worrywart. Crichton talked to the guide later and asked why he was so concerned over fording a river which was at its worst just a couple of feet deep?

    “You see a three foot deep river,” the guide said. “I see wet, slippery rocks, a broken leg, and me getting to carry some poor schmuck over dozens of kilometers of mountainous terrain back to civilization!”

    It is the luxury of the wealthy and affluent to romanticize nature. To people who actually have to live with it, nature is someplace you move away from as soon as you’ve got the rent money together.

    cipherpunk

    2007/10/03 at 00:36

  2. You completely missed the point.

    Danny Moore

    2009/08/14 at 05:57

  3. Obviously you feel strongly, so please do enlighten me as to the point I have missed Danny.

    crabbyolbastard

    2009/08/14 at 10:11

  4. […] in 2006-7 I posted an article and commentary on “The Cult Of Chris McCandless”, an article in Men’s Journal. It was an article […]

  5. This is absurd and so offensive. You have completely misjudged the ideals of a great man.

    Go get lost in the woods..

    Paige

    2009/12/03 at 15:35

  6. Lemming.. And the point is that I would “not” get lost and starve.

    crabbyolbastard

    2009/12/03 at 19:58

  7. I watched this movie again and decided to do another search on someone that I don’t necessarily consider a hero but someone that inspires me. And mind you I don’t know Chris, I only know what I read and see as accounts of his life, so they are to a degree mythical. But what inspires me was not his 5 months on the bus but his entire journey to get there. We are domesticated, by choice, and we forget most moments of our lives what it means to live. The Chris that I have come to know, real or not, is a Chris that to some degree I want to be, to be true and to live, to experience and enjoy the gift of life.

    So when people criticize Chris choices, call him reckless, I feel compelled to respond, you are criticizing him for deciding to live more in two years than most do in a lifetime. He died young and naive and he did so because of some recklessness no doubt, you can not be in your 20s and not be reckless, but he died living more than most ever will. So tragic but also wonderful. So actually, to some degree, Chris is a hero to me, a hero in the sense that when I think of him, I am re-inspired.

    Aaron

    2010/03/22 at 01:38

  8. People that criticize Chris is just what he did wrong and how he died. Unfortunately thats all they see, but what I see is a person that lived (even died) to accomplish his goal.Crazy or not, his goal was to live off the land in Alaska and he accomplished that in a certain degree. He didn’t stay on the safe side, he didn’t care what others think, and let nothing stop him. I admire his determination and will to do how he wanted to live. Are we not taught to pursue our dreams, but somehow took another path because theres an obstacle in the way. Chris McCandless didn’t let that happen and i think thats why alot of people admire him.

    Zach

    2010/05/31 at 06:25

  9. I was young and idealistic once, too, just like the other comment-leavers.

    Then I grew up. Y’know, I just read a bit about Mccandless, and its an interesting story. The boy did what he wanted, on his terms, and that’s inspiring but…he commited the grevious sins of not planning, not understanding, and not having a backout plan.

    In the end, youth and idealism lost out to nature’s brutal truths. That’s the lesson everyone who stumbles across this should remember. He wasn’t camping in the Poconos, he was lost in the wilderness.

    And he lost.

    adm.fookbar

    2011/01/04 at 03:09

  10. I`m really surprised how many americans agreed on McCandless .I dont understand that.You cheer a guy who didnt want to do something useful in his life,being driven only by his whim.All he wanted is to tramp,live like a bum,dont work for more than couple months,dont care about anything(incl. his own family),this is exactly what all hippies and tramps and bums are doing.Lets pretend what kind of society would we have in this case?Bunch of idlers,tramps,bums and hookers all over the North America,all of em are uneducated.Wow what a pleasure,right?Because they followed their goals in life to be free and do whatever they want.Dont make a damn hero out of this fallen man.
    P.S Moreover I think he was mentaly ill as well.

    Steve

    2012/03/15 at 01:38


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