10 True Facts about Chris McCandless

… or Alaska scores another point for natural selection

So, Into the Wild is in theaters. Another round of absurd romanticism about dumbasses who come up to Alaska and die in the wilderness is gripping the nation … or at least the denizens of it who secretly long to out-Walden Thoreau, whilst simultaneously out-macho-ing Grizzly Adams. Come to Alaska! Die a gruesome death! Live the dream!

It came to my attention while listening to public radio this morning that Sean Penn, in the tradition of all movie makers adapting real life to the big screen, seriously fucked some shit up in his dramatization of Mr. McCandless's utterly moronic death. So, here are 10 true facts about Christopher McCandless, and how not to die in Alaska during the summer ("true facts" as opposed to Hollywood facts and romantic rumors, you see …):

  1. He did not burn (or give away) all his money and throw away his ID and walk off into the woods to meet his mysterious and slightly romantic and spiritual fate. While he did give away his trust fund (which I'd basically respect him for if he wasn't otherwise such an obviously worthless twat), he had a wallet with $300 in cash and his ID in a hidden zipped pocket of his backpack. This indicates that he did in fact plan to rejoin civilization, presumably while still alive.
  2. He had a map with him. This map showed the Denali park road about 10 miles away from the bus where he stayed. It wouldn't have been an easy hike, but it was certainly doable … especially considering it's over 20 miles to get to the bus by the route he originally took. [Edit: This point is in question ... I have now come across one source saying he didn't have a map, and a mention elsewhere that he did. However, at the moment, I can't find the source saying he did have a map anymore. So, it may be that he was too incompetent to read a map, and it may be that he was stupid enough not to bring one. That certainly doesn't settle anything one way or another, but I did say "true facts" here, so I'm obligated to say I'm no longer sure on this point. However, his wallet was hidden, so maybe his map was as well?!][Added: I have since been given a link to a site with a photo of the Alaska Coroner's list of belongings returned to McCandless' family following his autopsy. On the list is "Road Map". See a copy of the photo below this entry, and a link to the documentary filmmaker's site where it is shown.]
  3. He poached a moose and let the whole thing rot. This means he was fucking stupid enough to hike off into the middle of fucking nowhere, thinking he would hunt to survive, without any fucking idea how to preserve meat.
  4. The bus is not actually sitting at the foot of breathtakingly beautiful mountains. The movie was filmed in Cantwell, well south of the true location of his death. The actual spot he died was a much less glamorous boggy Alaskan swamp … swarmed with mosquitos, with all the lovely mountains off on a distant horizon. But Hollywood couldn't let Alaska look drab, could they now?
  5. The river he crossed to get to the bus in the first place has a good seasonal run of grayling (fish). You can quite easily build a contraption that would basically allow you to scoop fish straight out of the fucking river. Or hey, you could even bring a fishing pole with you! [Added: See Alaska coroner's belonging list below. He did have a fishing pole. Even more baffling.]
  6. He tried to hike back out at one point, but noted that the water level had risen enough that he could no longer cross the river safely. This indicates that he wanted to get the fuck out of there when he was still well enough to hike 20+ miles back the way he came … remember the map , and the Denali park road only 10 miles in another direction from the bus? [may not have had a map]
  7. Less than a mile downstream on the river in question, there is a manual tram he could have used to cross. There is also a spot about a mile upstream where the riverbed "braids" and the water is much shallower … also a spot he could have crossed. He apparently walked neither up nor downstream while trying to cross. Even though, again … he had a fucking MAP!! [may not have had a map]
  8. There is no indication whatsoever that he ate anything poisonous. The wild potato seeds branded as toxic in the book turned out not to be poisonous at all. The book was published before the full lab analysis was completed. Also, he did not mistake the potatoes for wild sweet peas. He knew what he was eating.
  9. He left an SOS note taped to one of the bus windows saying he was injured and too weak to hike out and needed help (while his autopsy revealed no sign of injury). The SOS note was conveniently not shown in the movie.
  10. Fact is, McCandless was at the bus plenty long enough to starve to death naturally, and during the later stages of starvation, delirium, disorientation and physical weakness are severe (remember that he thought himself badly injured when he actually wasn't). This means once you reach the "tipping point" of starvation, as it were, you're unable to effectively hunt or forage any more, which greatly accelerates the final stages of death.

And that is that. There is nothing fucking romantic and wonderful about stumbling off into the wilderness and starving to death. What is great about the Christopher McCandless story is that it proves, in Alaska at least, natural selection is alive and well. McCandless was a fucking utterly stupid and reckless cunt, who actually had a history of doing ridiculous and reckless things that nearly killed him long before he dragged his fatally incompetent ass into the swamp lands of Denali park. He was asking to die as much as someone who decides they're going to climb Everest, alone.

Am I concerned about his family reading this and getting hurt and offended? Not particularly, no. They raised a fucking useless trust fund baby, who's upbringing was obviously catastrophically short on anything resembling common sense, and also managed to alienate him badly enough that running off to "become a man" in an abandoned bus in the middle of nowhere seemed like a better idea than staying in the safe little affluent world he was obviously better adapted to. If Christopher McCandless was utterly fucking useless at wilderness survival, his parents were apparently equally fucking useless at childrearing. The kid they never should have raised was retroactively unborn, and thank goodness it happened before he had a chance to spawn and raise even more useless stupid little cretins. The world has got enough shortsighted jackasses already, thanks.

Now that the movie has been released, perhaps even more fucking hopelessly stupid people will trek up there and graciously remove themselves from the gene pool as well. I'll be cheering from the sidelines, where I don't have to worry about starving to death with a rotting moose corpse at my feet.

• • •

alaska coroners list showing Christopher McCandless had a map with him
The Alaska coroner's list of belongings returned to the McCandless family. Courtesy of
Terra Incognita Films who produced an investigative documentary about the McCandless story.

[added 25 March 2008] Well, I finally watched the movie … you can see the follow up post here: "Where are you from, anyway?" Comments on this post are now closed.[/added]

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    Written by alphabitch. Posted on Tuesday, November 13th, 2007, at 3:47 pm.
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    138 Responses to “10 True Facts about Chris McCandless”

    1. becca00 said:

      *swoon*

      Love the writing. ;-)

      Here I was thinking that someone had actually done some legit–complete–research on the whole story and, it turns out, the guy was an idiot that wandered off on some idiotic romantic whim and very slowly offed himself. Whoops.

      I haven't read the book, but I wonder if they romanticized drinking from the streams and dealing with dysentery. Always a pleasant experience.

    2. alphabitch said:

      The book, apparently, does present a more balanced view of the story. I hear it covers his fuckups as much as it romanticizes anything. Sean Penn was apparently the one who went off the deep end presenting the whole fiasco as something admirable.

    3. vdentata said:

      I hadn't heard of this book or movie, and I read this r-nt before I read the film reviews.

      From Rolling Stone: "If you read the book and pegged Chris as a wacko narcissist who died out of arrogance and stupidity, then Penn's film version is not for you. If, like Penn, you mourn Chris' tragedy and his judgment errors but also exult in his journey and its spirit of moral inquiry, then this beautiful, wrenching film will take a piece out of you." (I think we know who they mean by the first "you", don't we…? ;)

      I find it slightly difficult to romanticize someone who set out on a journey of self-discovery by renaming himself Alexander Supertramp, but um be that as it may, it seems that people relate to McCandless's story because, no matter how badly he fucked it up by letting enthusiasm trump common sense, he was after something we'd all like to have, a reconnection with what's still wild and beautiful about our world. It does sound like Penn felt he needed to over-romanticize the guy in order to justify this desire, but don't the silliest of us, when faced with, say, the Grand Canyon, stand breathless and awed, if just for a moment? Um, but yeah, it's probably a bad idea to walk away from the daily grind without adequately preparing yourself for what you might encounter — in which statement is contained a critique of the adolescent romantic narrative movies like this try to sell us.

    4. alphabitch said:

      See, I have no problem with the romanticization (is that a word? haha) of the urge to reconnect with nature. There are people all over Alaska who moved from elsewhere, trekked out to the wilderness, built cabins by hand, using trees they harvested themselves, and lived without electricity or running water, hunting, fishing and foraging for their food.

      Some do that for a year or two, and move back closer to civilization. Some fall in love with the wilderness, and stay there the rest of their lives.

      Why not glamorize them? You want to make a movie about someone who traveled to Alaska to become one with all that is wild and wonderful in our world? Fucking fantastic! It's a worthy ideal! So, pick someone who SURVIVED.

      And for fuck's sake, if you're going to make a movie about one of the incompetents who go to Alaska and die, DON'T fuck with the facts in such a way to somehow make it look like it would have been different, if only it weren't for those pesky (non)poisonous wild potatoes …

      … unless you're secretly just trying to lure more idiots into the Alaskan backcountry to die. Who knows? Maybe Sean Penn is actually a very wily proponent of natural selection himself!

      (Oh, and I don't think McCandless died of *arrogance* and stupidity. I think he just died of plain old stupidity itself.)

    5. vdentata said:

      You want to make a movie about someone who traveled to Alaska to become one with all that is wild and wonderful in our world? Fucking fantastic! It’s a worthy ideal! So, pick someone who SURVIVED.

      We like our heroes tragic…

      And for fuck’s sake, if you’re going to make a movie about one of the incompetents who go to Alaska and die, DON’T fuck with the facts in such a way to somehow make it look like it would have been different, if only it weren’t for those pesky (non)poisonous wild potatoes …

      …but we don't like them too stupid. :)

    6. alphabitch said:

      So, why not stick with glorifying guys like Timothy Treadwell then … the ones who ran away to Alaska and almost lived their dream, save one tragic error at the end?

      McCandless is a poor choice of hero, even by dysfunctional, unrealistic American standards. ;-)

    7. davenz said:

      Nice ranting! Someone ha to take on this romantic "man-alone" bullshit.

    8. alphabitch said:

      Thanks … total derision is pretty much par for the course on that one in Alaska though. ;-)

    9. rotten kunter said:

      Gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling in my belly when I read this.

      Someone else has left his towel empty on the genetic pool's side. Darwin, I love you! Now come ov'rhere

    10. alphabitch said:

      @rotten kunter: LOL … nice to know Darwin still has a few cheerleaders out there. :-)

    11. spazzymcgee said:

      I'm reading the book right now, and Jon Krakauer doesn't BS around the fact that this guy probably should have been more prepared. I really want to see the movie, even though I have heard (not just here but from other places) that it's overly romanticized. I'm at a crossroads with this one though. Normally, I'd say, "Darwin, you've proven yourself again." But if you read the book, you really do have to admire the way Chris thought outside the box.

    12. Khris said:

      Chris was under prepared through is arrogance he would face the Alaskan nature and his spirit would be cleansed.

      This may have well happened through his death.

      Being from the Yukon, I had to pull a body from Lake this summer and although I cannot judge, I can say that people misjudge how unforgiving mother nature is. The lakes are dotted with graves from over a hundred years, see bennett lake

    13. alphabitch said:

      @spazzymcgee: See, I would admire the way Chris thought outside the box, if he'd survived … I don't see it so much as thinking outside the box in his case, as jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

      @khris: People seriously underestimate mother nature.

      Probably because there's damn little of her left in most of the world, so people think it's going to be like the little patch of woods outside town like they had at home, when up here it's woods with a little patch of town here and there.

    14. Kori said:

      u guys are fucking bitches. He was not a god damn idiot read the fucking book morons

    15. alphabitch said:

      @kori: I live in Alaska. Anyone who tries to pull the stunt he did, as horribly unprepared as he was, is a god damn idiot.

      Sorry, but that's just the way it is.

    16. Mike said:

      Something I thought I should mention….

      Sean Penn took a well written book and "ADAPTED" it for film. The key word word here is "Adapted". Going in, you know the story will be skewed. Clearly he is not stupid. He did graduate from college. He did get to ALASKA. I can't say I would do this, but what an amazing expierence it would be to do what he did.

      The movie did maintain what type of person, character Chris was. The steps that eventually took him to his grave were not all true. But this happens to ALOT of movies that are based on real people and/or true events. Welcome to Hollywood.

      I think people should see this remarkable movie. The music is amazing as well. How can you go wrong with acoustic Eddie Vedder!

      Thanks for reading.

    17. alphabitch said:

      @mike: "The key word word here is 'Adapted'".

      Yes, and he "adapted" it to a film with a slant that glorifies fatal stupidity. Which is what I take issue with.

      What an "amazing experience" to starve to death in an abandoned school bus because you're too incompetent to preserve meat, go fishing, or bring a fucking map. Sounds great.

      Maybe if I didn't live up here, and didn't understand anything about the reality of the situation he walked into, I could watch the film and get all misty-eyed about it. But profiting by glorifying stupidity just pisses me off.

    18. Katie said:

      This site definetly did not do their research. For instance there are many resources that Chris did have a map; but not as detailed as one would need. Also Chris did try to preserve the meat and when he was unsuccessful he let other animals scavenge it. The ID he had was issued in Nevada; where he was not from. I could go on and on. Some of this info is true but most of it is speculation without research. Such as wanting to film at the actual bus but the town felt the story was too controversially so they moved filming elsewhere. Let me know if you'd like exact resources. I think you should research yourself before stumbling across someone half hazardously written take on the subject.

    19. alphabitch said:

      @katie: Actually I did research it … to clarify the points you mention:

      McCandless tried to preserve the meat, but didn't know how. And it was rotting, according to his own diary, whether or not other animals were scavenging off it. (And by the way … you don't "let" other animals scavenge a rotting carcass up here. They scavenge it whether you want them to or not, unless you're going to sit and guard the thing night and day, and shoot anything that comes near it.)

      If he didn't bring a good enough map, or didn't have a map at all, or just couldn't read a map worth a fuck, it hardly changes the basic point that it's his damn fault he couldn't find his way out.

      Where his ID was from is completely irrelevant, so long as it was HIS ID. I'm not "from" Alaska, originally, but my Alaska ID works just fine anyhow. Even when I leave Alaska. It's amazing!

      Now, I *would* actually like to see a source that says the local community felt it was too controversial to film there. The only explanation I found for the change of location … while I was researching this piece … was that it was impractical to film at the actual bus site. And really, even if it WAS because of the local community, why not find a site that actually looks like the actual location? Believe me, Alaska has plenty enough boggy wilderness with mountains off in the misty far distant horizon. They didn't have to relocate to the foothills of the mountain range.

    20. Valerie said:

      Hey did you read the book. All of your facts are wrong. He went to work in carthage dumby. ALso he had a map not a very good map though. Oh yeah the river he had to cross had a manual tram but it was on the other side of the river!!! Can't always believe what you see in movies can you. He didn't starve to death he died of poison. the stupid plant once a year sends off a poison so that it can sprout new plants for the next year.

    21. alphabitch said:

      @valerie: First off, I didn't say anything about where he did or didn't work … second off, I already pointed out that I've found conflicting reports as to whether or not he had a map … third, the manual tram had to have some kind of cable across the river to pull it across. Can't think of any reason he couldn't have found a way to use the cable itself to help himself across the river … and lastly, you apparently didn't fully digest the part about how the final lab results on the "poisonous" plants showed that they weren't toxic enough to kill someone, but the book was published before the final lab results were available.

      Looks like you need to work on your reading comprehension skills, "dumby".

    22. alphabitch said:

      In fact, here is a photo of a manual river tram in Alaska: http://photo.net/photodb/photo?photo_id=20086

      It appears there are three cables that extend across the river …

    23. Schrödinger said:

      Alpabitch…please fuck off and die down a hole somewhere!

    24. alphabitch said:

      @Schrödinger: Um, no thanks! :-)

    25. sud said:

      alphabitch…u are a cheap motherf***er…go to hell…the movie and the music and the book…they all rock

    26. alphabitch said:

      @sud: Um, yeah. Sorry about that. I take it all back.

    27. Elliot said:

      Was the $24k a trust fund, or was it his savings from the odd jobs he picked up through college and high school?

      I've yet to see the movie, but from the reading I've done I know there was a time in my life that I could have taken the same risk and ended up the same way, through stupidity and overconfidence. I hope what people take away from this story is the amazing amount of freedom people have to do whatever they want, they just need to decide to do it.

    28. alphabitch said:

      @elliot: I don't know about the $24K … I did read that he gave away his trust fund, so maybe it was savings. Or maybe it was the part of his trust fund he didn't give away?

    29. BK said:

      Your a fucking idiot. Assuming the 10 Facts are true, that still doesn't change his experience along the way. He made mistakes, could you have made none while on your own in Alaska by yourself? He still touched the lives of the people he met on his journey and he shared his vision to them and indirectly to us. A true transcendentalist. I think he set out to escape from this hellish society that we have today and that he found what he was looking for. Unfortunately, one of the greatest minds in my generation died. You can go to hell sir.

    30. alphabitch said:

      @bk: If one of the "greatest minds of your generation" can't read a fucking map, I weep for future generations.

      Could I not have made mistakes if I were alone in the Alaskan wilderness? Moot point, given that the first mistake he made was going out into the middle of nowhere without being prepared. I would never voluntarily do something that stupid.

    31. BK said:

      @alphabitch

      The whole point of his journey was to go with almost no gear. He was testing himself. Of course you just sit there taking all of your luxuries for granted and flaming Mccandless for something he did intentionally. Probably some fat loser whose life is so pathetic that he can't hardly stand to go for a mile run let alone an adventure as Mccandless. BTW, you yourself said that he might have not had a map, so instead of assuming he did, quit using arguments that aren't valid. Im sure you wouldn't have lasted as long as him.

    32. alphabitch said:

      @bk: Almost no gear, I can respect. Almost no practical survival knowledge is another story.

      And at this point, I've heard more people say he DID have a map than not … but as I said in the original post, either he was too fucking stupid to bring a map, or too fucking ignorant to read one. No cool points gained either way.

      As for luxuries, I'm willing to bet you haven't ever lived in a house with no running water through an Alaskan winter, or had to repair your own car, outdoors at -30ºF? Believe me, I don't take *any* of my luxuries for granted.

      Oh, and I'm female. Hence the whole "bitch" part in the name.

    33. BK said:

      @alphabitch

      Lets make this debate civil now.
      No more saying how fuckng stupid Chris was or me saying that to you. Now that we continue on gentleman's terms. I personally see Chris as a visionary, though many such as yourself do not. You are right, I do live a secure life, but certainly not one of extravagance. But I spend a lot of time in the sierras backpacking in the spring and summer and therefore have a way to kind of relate to him seeing the beauty of the world and nature itself. I wish that I could lead the same adventure that he did, minus the death part :) . I will take it on faith that you don't take luxuries for granted, but I am still a bit skeptical based on your harsh analysis on Christopher. Have you lived in any of these scenarios that you have described recently? I have a hard time believing that to be honest and would prefer to stick to situations that actually happened. If you have done these, then I offer my apologies but am still skeptical. I actually came from a dirt poor famiy in Flint Michigan but then moved to California for College (thank god for scholarships) and experienced the Sierras for the fist time via a trip with friends. While Chris lived a luxury life in his early years, I can really connect to his love of nature and living frugally with my own, preferring to live "spartan" myself. I still stand my ground for Chris, thinking him as a visionary.

    34. alphabitch said:

      @bk: I spent my first winter in Alaska with no running water. It was -30 (or colder) for the better part of two months that year. I had to replace the ignition control module on my car in the driveway that winter.

      More recently, I had to replace my alternator belt when it was -10ºF, which wasn't nearly as much of a pain in the ass. It was -40 for a little over a week earlier this month, and I didn't even try to start my truck all week, because I damn well didn't want to do any repairs in THAT weather.

      And for the record, I currently live in a one-room log cabin, if that counts for anything … but it DOES have running water.

      So, apologies accepted. ;-)

      As for envying Chris' adventure, there's no reason you couldn't do the same, minus the death part. Bring a fishing pole, a GOOD map, and learn to preserve meat properly (so, bring a nice big bag of quick cure, or at least salt, along with your rice).

      If you brought a nice big cooler, you could just put meat in there, and then anchor it in a nearby river too … the water stays pretty damn cold all year 'round.

      I would think of Chris as a visionary, if he lived. As it is, I'm afraid I can not concur.

    35. windstone said:

      any of you are familiar with Zarathustra ??

    36. Becca said:

      @ windstone: Zarathustra? Yup.

    37. Quetzalcoatl said:

      Wow. First off this story, the life of Chris, is NOT about starving to dead in Alaska. Second and more importantly, I understand you alphabitch, you are a) envious, and b) afraid. More so the latter, bringing the former into play. Was he perpaired properly, likely not. I can not help but wonder how you (alphabitch) would do in New York or L. A. I am sure you would be lucky to last a week never mind months. The nature of the city would kill you (not that I'm proud of our society or it's cities). Take a deep breath and try to understand this, he (as do I and few others) do not look at things from only our own perspective, but from a perspective out side that of self. And what we see is ugly, uncomforatable, intollerable. So much so that while we want to belong (something Chris learned too late), we can not, we see where things are headed (again) and even to our own detriment, take a stand, hope and pray that others notice and become aware. I really don't expect you to understand this, and it's not because you are not intellegent, I am more than sure you could teach me things about surving up north, if nothing else. But you will not understand this because you only see things through your own eyes, and until you learn to see out of others, and even outside of individuales, you will never understand. Just as I will never understand how to survive in Alaska until I see things through your eyes and Alaskas. If all you can complain about is that he was unprepaired, I ask, have you never been unprepaired yourself? You are proud of your knowledge, but don't look down on others for there lack of understanding, there is much more you do not understand, that others do.

      A quote
      "The only thing overshadowing my intelligence, is my ignorance"

    38. Quetzalcoatl said:

      Oh I almost forgot. The movie isn't about death. It's about not being afraid of death.

      P.S. sorry it's late(yes late) and I didn't proof read

    39. windstone said:

      Zarathustra, however, looked at the people and wondered. Then he
      spake thus:
      Man is a rope stretched between the animal and the Superman- a
      rope over an abyss.
      A dangerous crossing, a dangerous wayfaring, a dangerous
      looking-back, a dangerous trembling and halting.
      What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal: what
      is lovable in man is that he is an over-going and a down-going.
      I love those that know not how to live except as down-goers, for
      they are the over-goers.
      I love the great despisers, because they are the great adorers,
      and arrows of longing for the other shore.
      I love those who do not first seek a reason beyond the stars for
      going down and being sacrifices, but sacrifice themselves to the
      earth, that the earth of the Superman may hereafter arrive.
      I love him who liveth in order to know, and seeketh to know in order
      that the Superman may hereafter live. Thus seeketh he his own
      down-going.
      I love him who laboureth and inventeth, that he may build the
      house for the Superman, and prepare for him earth, animal, and
      plant: for thus seeketh he his own down-going.
      I love him who loveth his virtue: for virtue is the will to
      down-going, and an arrow of longing.
      I love him who reserveth no share of spirit for himself, but wanteth
      to be wholly the spirit of his virtue: thus walketh he as spirit
      over the bridge.
      I love him who maketh his virtue his inclination and destiny:
      thus, for the sake of his virtue, he is willing to live on, or live no
      more.
      I love him who desireth not too many virtues. One virtue is more
      of a virtue than two, because it is more of a knot for one's destiny
      to cling to.
      I love him whose soul is lavish, who wanteth no thanks and doth
      not give back: for he always bestoweth, and desireth not to keep for
      himself.
      I love him who is ashamed when the dice fall in his favour, and
      who then asketh: "Am I a dishonest player?"- for he is willing to
      succumb.
      I love him who scattereth golden words in advance of his deeds,
      and always doeth more than he promiseth: for he seeketh his own
      down-going.
      I love him who justifieth the future ones, and redeemeth the past
      ones: for he is willing to succumb through the present ones.
      I love him who chasteneth his God, because he loveth his God: for he
      must succumb through the wrath of his God.
      I love him whose soul is deep even in the wounding, and may
      succumb through a small matter: thus goeth he willingly over the
      bridge.
      I love him whose soul is so overfull that he forgetteth himself, and
      all things are in him: thus all things become his down-going.
      I love him who is of a free spirit and a free heart: thus is his
      head only the bowels of his heart; his heart, however, causeth his
      down-going.
      I love all who are like heavy drops falling one by one out of the
      dark cloud that lowereth over man: they herald the coming of the
      lightning, and succumb as heralds.
      Lo, I am a herald of the lightning, and a heavy drop out of the
      cloud: the lightning, however, is the Superman.-

      1891
      THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
      by Friedrich Nietzsche
      Thus began Zarathustra's down-going.

    40. windstone said:

      takes balls my frinds, in the end life takes life no matter what
      your friend knew that

      http://philosophy.eserver.org/nietzsche-zarathustra.txt

    41. alphabitch said:

      @Quetzalcoatl: I'm neither envious nor afraid. And I've done just fine in London … although I've never been to New York (and don't want to go to LA). I actually love visiting cities, and I've lived in smaller cities before. I'm quite sure I'd survive, given that I wouldn't move to a big city until I had a job and an apartment lined up. ;-) Boy Scout motto: Be prepared. I may not have been a Boy Scout, but I think those two words contain a lot of wisdom.

      There is also a world of difference between seeing things from someone else's perspective, and agreeing with their ideas.

      @windstone: Will read that, and digest it a bit. :-)

    42. windstone said:

      @alphabitch

      readers-digest speakers-regurgitate.

      like big birds feed their cackling fur-less infants, there's a lot to learn in this small world, big man learn from small man, we learn from our ancestors, for millions of years. and the tough part is to learn to forget.

      anything u like candy for your eyes, only.

    43. Becca said:

      @ windstone: Personally, I'd hesitate to draw any parallels between Mr. McCandless and Zarathustra.

      First, Zarathustra's "going under" is more appropriately "going down" as he did into the valley from his mountain cave. The "going down" is to seek the fertile ground to sow his words–much like Christ did (I'm an atheist, but that was a more apt analogy for N.). McCandless, by reliable accounts, just went down, with no real declared purpose or legacy.

      Second, even if McCandless did intend to "go down" as did Zarathustra, Zarathustra's journey was not for self-destruction. Moreover, if we remain cognizant of the fact that Zarathustra is a vehicle for N.'s words, we have to take into context all of N.'s words. And we must then weigh the end of Mr. McCandless against the juxtaposition of "Build your homes on the slopes of Vesuvius!" "Above all, do not mistake me for someone else!" and "Beware lest a statue slay you."

    44. windstone said:

      yes Becca you are completely right and there's no point trying to sound as you are not.

      but i see a kind of faith in your words.
      You must agree with me when i say
      that you are as atheist as Friedrich Nietzsche was, maybe i forgot the influence of nihilist current and its Draconian measures.

      Please don't tell me that one to remember the words of Christ must quote the Bible from toes to heads… same goes to Nietzsche (but in a awkward way he do remember)

      (I consider my self as a agnostic person, and a free person even though man build laws and concepts to make some serious damage to ones mind and body. Also Consider that free association as the ultimate kind of freedom, i can draw any terms of comparison as i please only this way i can get near to the idea that moved him MCENDLESS in these particular case.(as you Becca and i Windstone know there are plenty more)

      Statues Slay Statues, man crave statues and they all get to be remembered even when they yield.

    45. alphabitch said:

      Dammit … I knew I should have read Nietzsche in college … hehe

    46. windstone said:

      @alphabitch

      Is never to late i just read F.N. in my late twenties. And got plenty more to reed

      greetings

    47. alphabitch said:

      True, true … and I still have a compilation volume on the shelf I never really dug into. Perhaps, perhaps. :-)

    48. stellarmouse said:

      I recently watched the movie Into the Wild and was quite haunted by it (at least half of which I attribute to Eddie Vedder). I'm not even sure why I am posting here as I am typically not the posting-board -type and I don't have anything particularly valuable to add to the discussion above, but I think maybe it's two things: (1) my need to understand why my mind keeps returning to the story of a man who acted so senselessly and selfishly and (2) the relatively no-nonsense approach of alphabitch which I appreciate greatly.

      I surely don't buy into the dribble espoused by bk, that McCandless’s anti-materialist, shrugging-off-the-chains-of-society philosophy is somehow visionary. (McCandless is not the originator of this idea surely, so I don’t really see how his belief could be considered visionary anyway.) Yes, seeing the problems/lies/unfairness in society is worthwhile. But choosing to address those problems by totally rejecting the idea of society? I don’t know. That seems a little histrionic and self-important to me. Incidentally, I disagree strongly with Quetzalcoatl that McCandless’ story is fundamentally about seeing the world from the perspective of others. In contrast the whole anarchist, anti-establishment idea is much more about rejecting the way others see the world than embracing it.

      Ultimately, I think this is a story about a guy who made mistakes and suffered and died due to those mistakes. There’s nothing particularly heroic or condemnable it in. The thing that makes this story worth telling (at least in the case of the movie) is the way it makes the human condition so clear, the way it shows us that we are social animals who at the end of the day always long for the companionship of others. For me, it’s worth recognizing the desolation I fell deep inside when I imagine this man dying alone with no one to witness his realization that he was fundamentally wrong when he said (at least in the movie), “happiness can not be found in human relationships.”

      As an aside, I would agree that it is condemnable for others to glorify his story in a way that might encourage others to emulate it. I guess whether or not any given telling of this story or other similar ones does that is a judgement call.

    49. alphabitch said:

      @stellarmouse: Ultimately, I think the whole thing is mostly sad … his parents did not raise him to be comfortable with himself in the world, and he chose a spectacularly bad way of dealing with it.

      The fact that the whole thing was glorified by the movie … well, that's just the disgusting part.

    50. stellarmouse said:

      @alphabitch: Yeah, well I can agree with that. I find it extremely odd that this story made it to the level of Sean Penn _wanting_ to make a movie about it. Some of the most bizarre things gather cult followings…