Friday, February 29, 2008

Into The Absurd

Christopher McCandless, a recent college grad, angry at man's inhumanity to man, gave his life savings to feed the hungry, renounced materialism, and journeyed to Alaska in 1992. He died there in Denali National Park that summer from a tragic mistake.

That's the portrait the public is told of McCandless, first in a book by Jon Krakauer then in a recent movie, "Into the Wild," by that well known intellectual Sean Penn.

Before the pretentious intellectual narcissism took hold

I saw "Into The Wild" last weekend. My eyes were rolling like a slot machine's dials within 10 minutes, so heavy-handed was the leftist propaganda. (Learning about the joys of renouncing materialism is so much more meaningful when it comes from a Hollywood millionaire like Spicoli). Bored to tears with the torrent of leftist cliches, I took out my cell phone and began reading Web pages and sending text messages.

However, the elements of the story interested me, so I wanted to find out the truth behind McCandless. The real story is quite different from Penn's fanciful description, aided by Krakauer's wishful imagination.

McCandless' noble gift of $24,000 to Oxfam came from a trust fund. Yup, Christopher McCandless, disdainer of materialism, was a trust fund baby. How perfect.

McCandless died of starvation, not by mistakenly eating poisonous plants --
an invention of Krakauer for which an autopsy found no evidence.

And McCandless could have walked to safety at any time -- had he only brought a map. But infatuated with romantic nonsense about the wilderness from reading Jack London, McCandless didn't bother. Actual Alaskans generally aren't sentimental, and think of McCandless as a fool. They've seen too many folks from the Lower 48 come to Alaska thinking of it as some romantic refuge of wilderness and a place to reinvent themselves. Such folks are running away from themselves and like McCandless, find the reality doesn't match their dream.

As one Alaskan was quoted as saying in Men's Journal:

"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."

Here's another unsentimental take on McCandless

that kid had been alot of places and done alot of things in his short life but what it boiled down to is that he was a bum counting on the helping hands of others to get him out of tight spots. when there was no one there to bail him out he died, he obviously had zero skills needed to survive in the wilderness, he didnt even make the summer.

And another:

Krakauer makes a reference at the end of the book about how he thinks maybe McCandless wanted to find a blank place; that maybe he wanted to just disappear and come back with a story that no one else had. The problem with that is we've explored this world. As Krakauer says, there are no more blank places. Maps exist for a reason. That he considered nailclippers a necessity, but not a map...well, it's silly. A map would have ultimately saved him. Nailclippers just made sure his hangnails were taken care of. It's like he lacked the common sense he needed to have a real, true adventure, which made him a walking death wish instead. Bury the damn map until you need it to get out. At that, even with a map, you're still in the wild! What's the difference? He died never knowing that he wasn't even anywhere that wild...with cabins and highways within basic walking distance.

An instructive movie could be made of those facts: Trust-fund baby's narcissism, pretentious leftist intellectualism, ignorance of the wilderness, and callous disregard for family, leads to his death. Not the kind of movie that would have affirmed the certitude of leftist pseudointellectuals like Sean Penn and soft-headed McCandless acolytes. It would, however, have been true.

Today, Spicoli shows his profundity by cuddling up to leftists the world over.

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