Thursday, February 24, 2011

Chris McCandless, an ignorant human being and a precarious survivalist

Chris McCandless is described as an idealist and a nature enthusiast but others see him as being arrogant or mentally disturbed. He isn't the only one of his kind either, "I've run into several McCandless types out in the country. Same story: idealistic, energetic young guys who overestimated themselves, underestimated the country, and ended up in trouble. McCandless was hardly unique; there's quite a few of these guys hanging around the state, so much alike that they're almost a collective cliche. The only difference is that McCandless ended up dead, with his dumbassedness splashed across the media" (Krakauer, 71). Chris tried to live up to an expectation of himself that he derived from literary works by authors like Jack London, Mark Twain, and Leo Tolstoy that he became "...enthralled by these tales, however, that he seemed to forget they were works of fiction" (Krakauer, 44). He was chasing this dream or fantasy where he would somehow invent his own story that seemed to come right out of a Jack London novel. The fantasy led him straight to Alaskan Bush where you wouldn't describe Mother Nature as forgiving. He chose to go to one of the harshest terrains in the country unseasoned with the arts of hunting, scavenging, and just plain surviving under such conditions. Chris McCandless was unprepared in more ways than one, "why would anyone intending to 'live off the land for a few months' forget Boy Scout rule number one: Be Prepared? Why would any son cause his parents and family such permanent and perplexing pain" (Krakauer, 71). His parents had to I.D. his shriveled, decomposed, sixty seven pound body and "Virtually no subcutaneous fat remained on the body, and his muscles had withered significantly" (Krakauer, 14) who in the right mind would think that this is okay? Maybe all or none of these things led to his death but one thing is for certain this young twenty four year old boy who had his whole life ahead of him, his death could have been prevented.


  1. I never read the book, but after watching the movie I couldn't stop thinking about Chris/Alex for days. How he went out to follow his vision of living in freedom, detached from all society and human culture. He reminded me a lot of another tragic figure: Grizzly Man. The movie/documentary that Werner Herzog did about Timothy Treadwell was equally thought provoking to me.

  2. How is he being selfish when his parents paroled the course of his life? For 3/4 of his life he did what other people wanted him to do and whether he was inexperience and unprepared has nothing to do with it. He was inexperienced and unprepared because he has been conditioned to live in a completely different society, one that is 100% different than the way Mother Nature intended. He doesn't have a mental problem, he's inspirational and ballsy for being so self sufficient and for once doing what makes him happy not others. He's just higher up on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs then most people which people like you Jessica Duling will never understand and will never have the luxury of experiencing. You should stop being so judgmental of the way others want to live their life and just keep yourself concerned with your own life. "Alex" is an inspiration to so many people and one of the reasons he did what he did was because he hated the way humans treat each other, your comments are unnecessary and not insightful what so ever. He was and still is unique in that fact that he contributed a great deal of his life to making others happy which is very selfless and then was brave enough to just do what he wanted to do, not too many people have that luxury in today's society and he gave others the inspiration to do what their hearts wanted. He also spread wisdom and happiness to others on his journey that have changed lives for the better. You're also very ignorant, Jessica, if you don't think each person is unique...maybe you like to blend into the background and follow trends but Alex really had his own visions that no one else can share or even begin to understand and it doens’t make him crazy for wanting to live a simple life of beauty, happiness, and unique surroundings that is the life and soul of how humans came to be. Don't forget that humans started out living and fending for themselves in the wild, with homemade clothing, weapons and taking only what was NEEDED from the earth. You are so detached from your own roots that it's really sad you can sit there and criticize someone by sitting on your ass with your face glued to the computer screen. I suppose you could say the same about me but I volunteer, I'm a social worker, I adopt, I plant trees, I don't drive a vehicle, I'm a vegan, I sit outside on my free time, I recycle, I do what I want to do and I think every person is beautiful no matter what they look like, no matter what choices they make in life as long as it only concerns them. With this I'm hoping to open your mind a little and I was somewhat offended by the comment you had posted and really felt the need to say something. Alex is a true inspiration and if you don’t think so that’s just fine but do not go tainting a good man’s name who’s courage and wisdom in 23 years will far exceed the courage and wisdom you’ll learn in your lifetime.

    1. The problem is...he didn't intend to die. The fact that he perished is his failure alone and sets an irresponsible and dangerous example. Imagine if he were alive today, along with all he could have accomplished. I'd like to think he would reflect back on his ignorance and propose if he had the chance to do it all over again, he wouldn't. He didn't do what he wanted to do, which was to survive in the wilderness...and live on.

  3. I agree with Jessica Duling totally. Unfortunately there are many stories like this all over the world. A Japanese journalist tells the story about a Japanese man, 22 years old, who died in the African desert in 1955:
    “…he sent me a letter saying: “I need 5 camels (to cross the desert) but I could buy only one because I don’t have money". Crossing 7000 km of African desert with only one camel! He was found dead next to his dead camel. I went to visit his mother in Setagaya. Sitting neatly in a small room, the mother responded like the focus of the mind was far away, completely perplexed. It seemed he was living with his mother. I felt deeply regret. I should have stopped him.”
    These are not stories of courage or wisdom but of dumbassedness and reckless.