How Chris McCandless Died, An Update
February 11, 2015 10:17 PM   Subscribe

An update to an update to Into The Wild.
posted by deadbilly (54 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
I could have sworn Krakauer wrote this up somewhere else a couple of years ago and it was an FPP?
posted by discopolo at 10:26 PM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


It was; this is apparently an update to that.
posted by silby at 10:30 PM on February 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


The update is that Krakauer's previously breathless announcement of confirmation by a scientist was premature, because the scientist's finding was that the toxin in question was present and plausibly contributory, but by no means proven. Now Krakauer's found another scientist to identify a different toxin in the potato seeds that's likely responsible, and again, a scientist has signed off on it saying that it's normally present in that seed and at levels that are likely to have an effect.

On the one hand, "third time's the charm" is hardly a good argument; however, Krakauer's name is on a paper, with the second scientist and other's, that's being published in a peer reviewed journal, which ain't nothin':
Dr. Jonathan Southard, Dr. Ying Long, Dr. Andrew Kolbert, Dr. Shri Thanedar, and I co-authored a paper titled “Presence of L-canavanine in Hedysarum Alpinum Seeds and its Potential Role in the Death of Chris McCandless,” which will be published in the peer-reviewed journal Wilderness and Environmental Medicine in March, 2015.
posted by fatbird at 10:42 PM on February 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


The link to the previous article is in the very first sentence of the linked article.

Now Krakauer's found another scientist

It does appear that at least one of the co-authors is the CEO of Avomeen, the company which did the first analysis, and another is their senior scientist, so I don't think it's actually another scientist. It's just that now they're named in a paper.
posted by dhartung at 11:00 PM on February 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


The fiction that is Jon Krakauer's 'Into The Wild'

From earlier this year. The author, Craig Medred, is an...um...character, but the article is also an interesting counterpoint.
posted by timelord at 11:10 PM on February 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Why is this question being obsessed over so much? I saw the movie and admittedly was curious for a day or two afterward. I just don't see how it's all that consequential whether he died from poisoning or something else. Enough that this is still being breathlessly discussed nearly 20 years after the book was published.
posted by naju at 11:12 PM on February 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


Probably worth noting there is also controversy over Krakauer's account of the tragic 1996 Everest climb in Into Thin Air. Climber Anatoli Boukreev, who'd been criticized by Krakauer, offered a different account in his book Climb (as well as surprise at his portrayal in the subsequent made-for-TV movie, but let's leave that aside). I didn't think Krakauer's rebuttal in a later edition of his own book addressed Boukreev's criticisms effectively, but read them for yourself and decide. I know it's a different episode than the one described in Into The Wild, but it left a bad impression about Krakauer's reliability that's never gone completely away.
posted by mediareport at 11:14 PM on February 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


He died from being an idiot.

Full stop.
posted by madajb at 11:15 PM on February 11, 2015 [35 favorites]


Why is this question being obsessed over so much?

As our previous thread demonstrated, feelings about McCandless himself seem to have settled into 'that poor, brave fool' vs. 'that sad, silly fool', based on how one feels about hiking into the wilderness to survive. Whether McCandless was poisoned by seeds or simply starved to death is something that only Krakauer seems to really care about.
posted by fatbird at 11:21 PM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think, in a larger sense, people care because it's one of those fantasies people like to entertain. "Wandering into the Alaskan wilderness to give up all this stuff, man" is basically a more-realistic scenario than the zombie apocalypse-fetishizing for people looking looking for something livelier than their current life.

So the story then becomes "Oh, the poor dear who died because of a tragic accident, obscure poison in these seeds, how easily that could be me when I finally run off to be free of all my obligations" vs. "Christ, what an asshole."
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:35 PM on February 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Gosh. News flash. The poison in the seeds killed him shortly before he would have starved to death.
posted by happyroach at 11:50 PM on February 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


He died from being an idiot.

I'm an idiot but I'm not dead.


Yet.
posted by mazola at 12:00 AM on February 12, 2015 [11 favorites]


Where is everyone's sense of scientific curiosity? Some people saw a mystery and felt a need to solve it. We now know something that we didn't know before! Do we really need another reason?
posted by sbutler at 12:08 AM on February 12, 2015 [36 favorites]


So the story then becomes "Oh, the poor dear who died because of a tragic accident, obscure poison in these seeds, how easily that could be me when I finally run off to be free of all my obligations" vs. "Christ, what an asshole."

I got a little fighty in a thread on this a few years ago, when either Krakauer or someone else had written a feature length update, or something similar. I think there were three camps:
1) people who have done something roughly similar, or identified with such
2) people who think "rule breaking" is fine
3) people who think "rule breaking" is bad

For the most part groups 1 and 2 were arguing with group 3.
posted by MillMan at 12:41 AM on February 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yes, the reason this is still being argued over is because people have emotionally invested in various "stories" about McCandless that fit their worldview. You can see some of this here in this thread already.

"Chris died because he ate a toxin that he didn't know about (because the guide he was using claimed the plant in question was edible) and that made it impossible for him to forage for enough food to survive" is a very different story to "Chris went out into the wilderness and starved to death because he was an idiot". One lets you claim moral superiority (the unspoken implication being that of course you, sagacious individual that you are, would never do something so stupid), the other is "fate" and tells a story of how the individual is to an extent powerless against bad luck no matter how much fortitude they can muster. You can see how easily these two narratives feed into people's views of how the world "ought" to work.
posted by pharm at 12:54 AM on February 12, 2015 [25 favorites]


I think the interest in McCandless comes, in part, from just how damn charming he seemed to be, as portrayed in the film and book. He was a beautiful fledgling and wow, did he want to soar on his own particular updraft. But he failed in a heartfelt lonely manner. And now we recount his soaring and sad plummet almost as a morality tale.

Many other peope try to soar and many fail. And often others have to risk their own safety to collect those who have failed, and the failed live because of it. We don't recount and rehash their stories and argue about their stupidity etc. We often laud them for surviving even though their risk taking put others at risk. McCandless involved no one else in his fall. He fell alone. It must have been terrifying and, perhaps, strangely beautiful to have died like that, if you discount the pain. To have lived with such joy de vie, even for a short while, is to have truely lived.

I have sometimes felt like wearing a t-shirt that says: "I am McCandless. I have soared and not yet fallen. Give me time." Because I have the same urges as him. I have been as stupid as him with my life in far away places where no one may ever have known I had died. I would not have done what he did, in Alaska, because that is not my frontier but I have almost died in remote north Queensland which is.

McCandless was an explorer of the spirit. There are millions of us. Many of McCandless' middle class milieu may have turned to drugs or mechanical speed or sexual adventures to soothe their wonderlust. McCandless did what I would do, what I have done. He turned to nature and self-reliance and he misjudged,and he lost and yet he blamed no one but himself. That in itself makes him someone whose loss I myself lament.

In another thread, Eyebrows McGee reflected on the frontier-seeking drive within the north American psyche. Being the size of mainland USA, Australian culture and history also resonnates with the exploration of vast unknowns. And those vast unknowns are often the unexplored lands within ourselves that we find by exploring wild land beneath our feet.

McCandless is not a hero to me, he is a brother. Bred from a sense of connection to something so close, so inherent in everything, but so far removed from the family/social culture that people like he and me find ourselves born into. Star shaped pegs can't fit into square holes unless they make themselves so small that only their hearts and stumped limbs can fit. And then there is all those gaps, forever unfilled.

Some people think Christopher 'Alexander Supertramp' McCandlesss was stupid because he wasn't smart enough not to fail. Working under the 'this life ain't no dress rehearsal' model, I think he was smart enough to know that not to try was failure in itself.
posted by Kerasia at 12:55 AM on February 12, 2015 [43 favorites]


The above coment bears no relation to the concise topic of this post but is more a reflection on the question why people bother to talk about McCandless, yet again.
posted by Kerasia at 12:59 AM on February 12, 2015


timelord - Mildred wasn't kinder in 2013. He thought (and I guess I can see my way to agreeing with him) that it might be time to stop The beatification of Chris McCandless:

Enough with Krakauer and his mysterious poisons, isn't it about time to wash off the makeup Krakauer put on the corpse of the offspring of a very comfortable American upbringing and take a serious look at the boy-man beneath?

What you find there is not very pretty. It could leave many more than a little troubled that some schools in America actually encourage students to read Krakauer's eulogy to the bum, poacher and thief Chris McCandless as if his behaviors had redeeming value.

...

More than 20 years later, it is richly ironic to think of some self-involved urban Americans, people more detached from nature than any society of humans in history, worshipping the noble, suicidal narcissist, the bum, thief and poacher Chris McCandless.

I don't know about the poaching/thieving/bumming angle, but I think he has a point - this story resonates, and it's interesting to think about why that is. I think it pulls at a bunch of cultural threads - anti-government ideals, a romanticized state of nature, like a flipped Garden of Eden, Christian death-lust and body mortification, the Marlboro Man... it's a flying fuck you to the idea of civilization, obviously. It does feel a lot like a right-wing romance. (And a masculine one, too. It's hard to imagine many women willingly shedding all ties to others for this kind of dream. Not that it hasn't happened or wouldn't, but it doesn't fit what we're taught to do / value.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 1:07 AM on February 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think the hatred toward him, such as it exists, is a bit strange. He was a kid who came from an abusive background who went off to try to figure out how to live by trying out some ideas he had in his head. He ended up dying. His self-absorbed writings wouldn't look out of place for someone his age today. His method of death makes it somewhat interesting, but it's not an otherwise unusual story. Most of us work a similar dynamic; we tell ourselves stories about ourselves and the world, we rewrite the stories as we have life experiences, and we die with stories that are still just stories.

His poor behavior is maybe worth a few notes, but barking at him about it is also strange if you give an even cursory glance at how this culture is run. His primary sin was poor behavior that wasn't socially sanctioned. That's the angle the cartoon-y article written by Craig Medred takes - he didn't talk about smelly, pot smoking hippies, but maybe he should have just to work the trope.
posted by MillMan at 1:53 AM on February 12, 2015 [6 favorites]


I think there were three camps:
1) people who have done something roughly similar, or identified with such


In the introduction to the edition of Into the Wild I read, Krakauer makes it absolutely clear that he is in this camp, recounting his foolishly risky, though obviously nonfatal, attempt to climb some mountain in his youth.
posted by Gelatin at 3:34 AM on February 12, 2015


so, to recap:

narrative 1: Chris McCandless as a symbol of selfish individualism in which he places his own journey of self-actualization above his family and friends and dies in the wilderness, causing much grief, distress, and also probably stealing a bunch of food from people's retreats and emergency shelters in the process. this narrative sounds sanctimonious, which it can be, because it places some values on top of his, but these values are also important in understanding why so much shit is screwed up the way that it is here in the US of A

narrative 2: Chris McCandless as a symbol of triumphant individualism who gained a lot of skills in the process and who was trying so hard to find meaning in his life. this narrative is a quite a bit more romantic because it has a lineage of narratives of people who lived in cabins close to nature and prided themselves in self-sufficiency (eg Thoreau, etc). these narratives tend to be romantic and they tend to be powerful because it's a big part of US national identity (ie manifest destiny)

narrative 3: science!!!!!!!!! I love reading about science!!!!!!!!!!! and Krakaeur is pretty good at writing about science and the scientific process and I did not sense any snark at all when he was talking about how people expected him to come up with a sophisticated, peer-reviewed journal article in order to justify a piece of investigative journalism
posted by saucy_knave at 5:08 AM on February 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


Do we really need another reason?

Snark needs no reason.
posted by aught at 5:20 AM on February 12, 2015


Perhaps not a popular point of view, but Chris McCandless died because he wanted to die.

If a poisonous plant hadn't killed him, he'd have died of starvation or some other not-knowing-the-wilderness reason soon enough, and from all I've ever read/seen/heard about him he was fine with that --- maybe he wasn't classically suicidal, but he didn't give a damn if he lived or died, and indeed: he expected to die soon enough. That lonely spot out by the abandoned bus in Alaska was far from the first time he played risky games with his life (example: look into where and when he abandoned his car), it was merely the one that did, in the end, succeed in killing him.

Or in other words, maybe he didn't take positive steps to kill himself --- but he was quite willing to sit still and let someone/something else do it.
posted by easily confused at 5:48 AM on February 12, 2015 [5 favorites]


Let it go dude.
posted by repoman at 5:51 AM on February 12, 2015


I actually started thinking he was pretty lucky to not have been killed by a bear. Or dumb enough to try to start communing with bears like some folks, shudder.
posted by discopolo at 6:01 AM on February 12, 2015


I think there were three camps:
1) people who have done something roughly similar, or identified with such
2) people who think "rule breaking" is fine
3) people who think "rule breaking" is bad


I've done some crazy risky things, and I'm ok with rule breaking. I still think McCandless was a jackass and don't understand the attraction people have to him. The story and investigation is interesting, sort of like a police procedural is interesting, but in the end he's still a jackass who took on way more than he could handle and didn't get lucky.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:04 AM on February 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


Visiting the area years ago, I thought it would be interesting to check out the site. There's a fantastic place down that road called Earthsong Lodge that offers wilderness tours and even some guidance on visiting the McCandless bus. The people that built and run the lodge are very cool (and visiting their dogs is a blast). Here's what they had to say about the whole thing after the movie came out.
posted by Right On Red at 6:24 AM on February 12, 2015


I don't think this line of investigation is really very central at all to the real draw of McCandless's story, or the beautiful ambiguity with which Krakauer tells it.

But as a journalist I love the "mic drop" aspect here. "You think investigative journalism is worthless without peer-reviewed journal articles? OK here you go then…"
posted by oliverburkeman at 6:26 AM on February 12, 2015 [5 favorites]


Too often, people jump to conclusions based on scraps of data. This tale reminds us to dig deeper, and to make our work available for peer review.

To a layman, ODAP was the answer, especially with the molecular weight of 176. But skepticism gave that needed push to get to what seems to be the actual answer.
posted by Sceadugenga at 6:45 AM on February 12, 2015


I once worked on an drilling rig, where they had a saying, "There's a fine line between a hero and an asshole".
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:46 AM on February 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


To a layman, ODAP was the answer

By normal scientific standards, ID by just a single mass isn't considered more than suggestive, and really shouldn't have been over represented. It's not even really confirmation, let alone proof. As was the case here it's too easy to find an isomass compound which coelutes and get a false positive. The daughter ion analysis by ms/ms is a lot stronger, but I'd want to make sure with authentic standards too if I were going to court with this, say. But, on the surface, this looks pretty reasonable. I haven't had a chance to read the paper yet though.

Of course, the target is always moving, lc-ms/ms is now being replaced by high resolution ms which use isotope analysis to offer another dimension of differentiation . This is what is used to do really complicated groups like naphthenic acids, for example.
posted by bonehead at 7:16 AM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


The story and investigation is interesting, sort of like a police procedural is interesting, but in the end he's still a jackass who took on way more than he could handle and didn't get lucky.

Pretty much this. The part where McCandless poached a moose and then let 95% of it rot because he didn't know how to preserve meat is the most offensive thing. Cavemen could figure it out, but I guess McCandless was too busy Soaring On Wings Of Solitude to bother.

Besides, Richard Proenneke did it first and did it better.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:21 AM on February 12, 2015 [5 favorites]


I expect that readership of Wilderness & Environmental Medicine will be way up in March. One has to wonder if that consideration caused any bias in the "peer review" process. The journal looks to have been around since 1990 and I gather is published by Elsevier. It seems reputable, but then again, I am not a specialist in wilderness medicine and have no idea who reviews their papers or what their process is. So I'll wait for some more scientific corroboration before I bite into this plant, as it were.
posted by tempestuoso at 7:46 AM on February 12, 2015


I was gathering a head of steam to write out my SINCERELY! HELD! BELIEFS! about how [redacted] Chris McCandless was. And then I realized that, given my position, I'm not going to contribute anything to those who enjoy discussing and debating his actions and fate. And no one's going to convince me that he's not [redacted]. So I posted this instead and left for another thread.
posted by aureliobuendia at 8:13 AM on February 12, 2015



The story and investigation is interesting, sort of like a police procedural is interesting, but in the end he's still a jackass who took on way more than he could handle and didn't get lucky.

Pretty much this. The part where McCandless poached a moose and then let 95% of it rot because he didn't know how to preserve meat is the most offensive thing. Cavemen could figure it out, but I guess McCandless was too busy Soaring On Wings Of Solitude to bother.


Yeah I read the book and saw the movie and had the same reaction to the poaching and the thieving and the lying to his sister who clearly loved him. Also all the experienced wilderness people in Alaska who were in the book who told him he needed better/more equipment, a little more survival training, learn the routes better, etc.

It's not like option #1: BORING 9-5 FOREVAR! SOULESS EXISTENCE! or ROMANTIC ADVENTURER LIKE MCCANDLESS! SOUL BROTHER!

That's what really bugs me about this story and the breathless fans who think he's some sort of cultural hero for being ill prepared, spoiled and selfish. No one deserves to die alone like that, but it's kind of the definition of "brought it on yourself." He didn't even try to learn much about wilderness survival training. I would think real passion for ditching the traditional life and seeking out nature would involve some self education on how to live out there and respect for your fellow travelers, human and animal.
posted by zutalors! at 8:27 AM on February 12, 2015 [8 favorites]


I think there were three camps:
1) people who have done something roughly similar, or identified with such
2) people who think "rule breaking" is fine
3) people who think "rule breaking" is bad


Was there a camp that thought loaded false dichotomies led to more polarized arguments?
posted by 99_ at 8:43 AM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's been a while since I saw the film, but wasn't rejecting existing knowledge about survival part of his anti-civilization program? Something like, he was going to discover it for himself, using his natural reason?
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:47 AM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Just colossally arrogant, if so
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:48 AM on February 12, 2015


When you break society's rules, often you're "pushing boundaries", and may expect to be sanctioned in some way, or perhaps not.


When you break nature's rules, nature straight up kills you.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:56 AM on February 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


You know what I really like about Dick Proenneke? He was more self-sufficient than any of us, but he knew his limits. He'll build his own house out of trees he chopped down himself, but he buys a few bags of cement for the fireplace he builds out of river rocks, because that's what you need to do for a decent fireplace. He'll hunt and fish and forage for a lot of his food, but he still has supplies flown in because he knows you can't survive an Alaskan winter by yourself without either misery or logistical support. If you want to realize as fully as possible the dream of getting away from it all, you have to be humble enough to know when you can't do something all by yourself.

There's a very strong parallel between McCandless and Scott (of the Antarctic). Both had very romantic ideas about exploration of the unknown and the strength of human character, and both brought their death on themselves by not really caring about what can actually be done. Roald Amundsen was the real explorer. He found his limits, then figured out what he needed to do to accomplish his goal within those limits. Amundsen and his team were having a lovely ski trip back from the South Pole, actually gaining weight as they went, while Scott and his unfortunates were stumbling through the snow on foot and starving to death because Scott couldn't be bothered to put a flag on their supply depots.

McCandless is much more understandable, though, in my mind. He was a kid with a rough background and some vague pretty ideas who got caught on his mistakes. Scott should have known better, and he took others with him.
posted by echo target at 8:56 AM on February 12, 2015 [8 favorites]


Thoreau is a hell of a drug.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 8:58 AM on February 12, 2015 [8 favorites]


The fiction that is Jon Krakauer's 'Into The Wild'

From earlier this year. The author, Craig Medred, is an...um...character, but the article is also an interesting counterpoint.


Hmm, the link that timelord provides talks about potentially-toxic mushrooms? An alternative hypothesis worth ruling out?
posted by salvia at 9:06 AM on February 12, 2015


Last comment, sorry - I think what I find offensive about - maybe not McCandless, it's likely he wasn't well in some way or other, but about the currency his story has in the public imagination - is that it's a distorted and reductive vision of what it is to be human, one that has political implications. The idea that we can stand or indeed survive apart from each other, that we're not fundamentally social, that it's desirable or even possible to split ourselves from any vestige of human culture, that's some Florida shit.
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:26 AM on February 12, 2015 [5 favorites]


Okay, we have now analyzed the holy living fuck out of these seeds, and can state their chemical composition down to the fundamental building blocks of matter winking in and out of existence in the quantum foam. Do we have any hard evidence that McCandless actually ate the seeds? In sufficient quantity to be fatal? Over what time period?

I honestly don't understand what this is about, unless Krakauer has figured out that anytime he types the name Chris McCandless, someone pays him.
posted by Naberius at 9:38 AM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


I honestly don't understand what this is about, unless Krakauer has figured out that anytime he types the name Chris McCandless, someone pays him.

Agreed; it's all about Krakauer and and his need to be publicly right.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 9:43 AM on February 12, 2015


Can we put this level of effort into investigating the deaths of the kids who emulate the romantic journey of this star-crossed hero?
posted by Navelgazer at 9:45 AM on February 12, 2015


Although, thinking about it, 90% of the hate I instinctively feel for McCandless should actually be directed at Krakauer. McCandless didn't start a dumbass cult around himself or ask for people to kill themselves following in his footsteps or romanticize his decisions. That's all Krakauer, honestly.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:06 AM on February 12, 2015 [6 favorites]


I actually started thinking he was pretty lucky to not have been killed by a bear. Or dumb enough to try to start communing with bears like some folks, shudder.

I cringed at all the gushing I kept hearing about the scene in Wolverine where Logan and the Grizzly seem to be on some kind of terms. Some dumbass is going to think "yeah, that'll validate me if a bear decides I'm a bro", get mauled and then they're going to have to shoot the Grizzly. One of those two things will be a tragedy.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:35 AM on February 12, 2015


Do we have any hard evidence that McCandless actually ate the seeds?

I think he recorded eating them in his journals.
posted by thelonius at 10:39 AM on February 12, 2015


he did. McCandless also wrote that he thinks the seeds were killing him. also I believe they found evidence of him having harvested a bunch of them along with husks around the bus

I heartily encourage people to read the book. it's less romantic than the movie by quite a margin. the people who seem to be smitten with the manifest destiny part of McCandless always seem to be the people who have seen the movie but have not read the book.
posted by saucy_knave at 10:50 AM on February 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


Do we have any hard evidence that McCandless actually ate the seeds?

"To appreciate the brilliance of Hamilton’s investigative work, some backstory is helpful. The diary and photographs recovered with McCandless’s body indicated that, beginning on June 24, 1992, the roots of the Hedysarum alpinum plant became a staple of his daily diet. On July 14th, he started harvesting and eating Hedysarum alpinum seeds as well. One of his photos depicts a one-gallon Ziploc bag stuffed with these seeds. When I visited the bus in July, 1993, wild-potato plants were growing everywhere I looked in the surrounding taiga. I filled a one-gallon bag with more than a pound of seeds in less than thirty minutes.

On July 30th, McCandless wrote in his journal, “EXTREMELY WEAK. FAULT OF POT[ATO] SEED. MUCH TROUBLE JUST TO STAND UP. STARVING. GREAT JEOPARDY.” "
http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/how-chris-mccandless-died

Kind of an interesting smoking gun - it's not something Krakauer just came up with.

McCandles also wrote about not having much luck killing animals and having trouble crossing the river he had no trouble crossing before (which doubly sad, if you read the book...)

I'm not understanding the Krakauer hate - his first article for Outside magazine about McCandles was on a deadline, then he wrote the book, then more evidence slowly comes to light - what's not to like about this process? He doesn't state what he wrote in Into The Wild as anything but a theory. If anything Krakauer is simply be as meticulous as he can be, given the resources available. This should def. be applauded, rather than condemned.
posted by alex_skazat at 11:07 AM on February 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


FAULT OF POT[ATO]

how do we know that he wasn't eating his weed stash which some ruffian later stole from his body

John Krakauer, you revisionist bastard, how dare you not be a one man forensic team instead of a journalist
posted by saucy_knave at 11:12 AM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Chris McCandless as a symbol of selfish individualism in which he places his own journey of self-actualization above his family and friends

Why I find this version of the narrative obnoxious is that at least two of his siblings have since described his abusive childhood and their unhealthy family dynamics. Turns out he had real things to run away from you know? This probably takes the shine off him as a symbol of adventure or whatever too, but it should also prompt contemplation of the diversity of reasons one might go on adventures or idolize those who do.
posted by atoxyl at 12:06 PM on February 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


Or dumb enough to try to start communing with bears like some folks, shudder.

I love the part in "Grizzly Man" where a pilot, who has a very low opinion of Treadwell, harshly criticizes him for anthropomorphizing the bears, and then, a minute later, opines that the bears let him alone for years "because they could tell he was retarded".
posted by thelonius at 4:30 PM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


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