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jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"Into the Wild" on 08/24/2013 16:50:17 MDT Print View

No doubt McCandless ended up way out of his depth and acted irrationally, or stupidly if you prefer. But McCandless had been acting in pretty bizarre and sometimes dangerous ways well before he ended up in Alaska. To me, it's pretty apparent that he was (not) working through pretty serious psychological issues throughout his journey. He was a disturbed kid trying to nullify his past by reinventing himself on the road while cutting off contact with his family/friends/school back home. Of course this could never work. I think that all of this has to be at least a factor in any judgement of his actions. McCandless needed psychological help. Failing that, it's no wonder that he continued making a series of completely irrational decisions in Alaska. He was driven by an irrational agenda.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: "Into the Wild" on 08/24/2013 17:11:40 MDT Print View

"McCandless needed psychological help. . . . he continued . . . in Alaska. "

Jeffery, That describes so many people who moved up here!

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
And the winner of the Decennial Darwin Award for Alaska is..... on 08/24/2013 18:25:17 MDT Print View

A. McCandless

B. Treadwell

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"Into the Wild" on 08/24/2013 18:45:30 MDT Print View

David: lol!

It's a thin line between crazy and happy. I believe that's the state line of Alaska.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
psychological on 08/24/2013 21:07:45 MDT Print View

"needed psychological help"

That describes the majority of americans.

My employer of 5000 people is self-insured. We pay our own actual healthcare costs, just have them administered thru Blue Cross for 10% or so cut.

Anyway so they review them with us every year.

#1 expense......psychoactive drugs.

Edited by livingontheroad on 08/24/2013 21:08:29 MDT.

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: And the winner of the Decennial Darwin Award for Alaska is..... on 08/24/2013 21:10:30 MDT Print View

@Tom

Treadwell.......now there is someone a bit "off".

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: And the winner of the Decennial Darwin Award for Alaska is..... on 08/24/2013 21:27:17 MDT Print View

I think Treadwell is more "off" than McCandless

But they both would have survived if they had left a week or two earlier

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: And the winner of the Decennial Darwin Award for Alaska is..... on 08/24/2013 21:32:39 MDT Print View

"Treadwell.......now there is someone a bit "off"."

I think both were manifestly more than a bit "off".

That said, my Darwin comment was meant to refer only to their exceptional creativity in ensuring that their genes would not be passed on to future generations. I'm sure they were both decent, well meaning young men. Treadwell in particular, as presented in Grizzly Man, had an almost childlike sweetness about him IMO, but natural selection in the wilderness is a demanding mistress, and both failed to measure up in the end.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"Into the Wild" on 08/24/2013 23:41:33 MDT Print View

M B: actually "the majority of americans" don't do anything even remotely like the things that McCandless did. One of the points of Krakauer's book is to explore a kind of behavior that is very rare and often dangerous. The point that I was trying to make is that people judge McCandless as if he were just a normal but stupid kid who got in over his head. But there's more: He was courting suicide many times throughout his journey to Alaska. That's not the same thing as taking your meds and going to work or school--which he could have done and probably should have done! That's certainly what the "majority of americans" do but he was well beyond that. Something very dark and neurotic was mixed in with what he also felt at times to be his liberating journey. Again, the obvious fact that he was highly disturbed should be factored in to our assessment of his behavior. He was engaged in a vigorous battle with his own depression/despair, what have you. That seemed to be the point of his whole crazy enterprise. I think that this is more what Krakauer was interested in, and it's what makes the story compelling. That it ended badly shouldn't surprise us but that's not the point. To dismiss the story because McCandless 'didn't know jack about being in the Alaskan wilderness' represents a certain failure of imagination on the reader's part. It certainly ignores everything about Mccandless' story prior to his last days.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: "Into the Wild" on 08/25/2013 07:02:47 MDT Print View

"To dismiss the story because McCandless 'didn't know jack about being in the Alaskan wilderness' represents a certain failure of imagination on the reader's part. It certainly ignores everything about Mccandless' story prior to his last days."

Very well said Jeffrey.

People seem to be entirely missing the point that this book is not a 'how-to' about living in the Alaskan wild, but the story of a very troubled person and his tragic path.

Now let's all go criticize Captain Ahab for being a self-obsessed curmudgeon that was willing to risk all of his relationships and the lives of his crew over some stupid whale. He really should've realized he was becoming unfit for duty much sooner and turned the command over to Starbuck or Ismael. Some people.

Edited by xnomanx on 08/25/2013 07:15:21 MDT.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife
"Into the Wild" on 08/25/2013 08:51:47 MDT Print View

Fact is stranger than fiction.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"Into the Wild" on 08/25/2013 09:53:34 MDT Print View

Craig, I was thinking of Moby Dick too. Or Romeo and Juliet: two dumb kids die in love tryst. Old married couples wag their fingers: they got what they deserved.

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Re: "Into the Wild" on 08/25/2013 10:08:13 MDT Print View

Hmmm. Trying to compare an over romanticized fool to a work of fiction? Right. Not buying that.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
re: Into the Wild on 08/25/2013 11:46:10 MDT Print View

Jeffrey, great comments about the book and movie. I found the book fascinating because it was a mystery: Krakauer knew the end and worked back, wondering how someone like McCandless got to that end. "The Last Season" by Eric Blehm is a similar book, though maybe not as good. The movie was different, about how we need human relationships to survive.

For me, the central point of the movie (which I found very moving) was that "vigorous battle" that Jeffrey mentions above, maybe not with depression, but probably with despair, with the feeling of being lost: in his family relationships, in his suburban upbringing, in finding meaning in his life. It seemed (and maybe only because Sean Penn framed the story this way) that the most important moments in his life was not what happened in Alaska but before, in his relationships with Hal Holbrook's character and Catherine Keener's character and how those connections contrasted so starkly with the connection he had with his parents. To quote another movie: "No man is an island." Come to think of it, maybe "Into the Wild" and "About a Boy" are bookends to the same theme.

Once he got to Alaska, I agree with Buck and others. Reckless with his own life and reckless with the emotions of those who loved him.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: re: Into the Wild on 08/25/2013 11:57:03 MDT Print View

So we are to be moved by someone who faced adversity and succumbed to it?

I prefer to celebrate those who overcome adversity and succeed.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Into the Wild on 08/25/2013 12:11:02 MDT Print View

Oh, I don't celebrate him. Just an . . . interesting story. I can read about Captain Ahab, too, and think about that character but not celebrate him.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Into the Wild on 08/25/2013 12:28:02 MDT Print View

Ah, but Ahab was a fictional character who Melville used to explore the psychological and philosophical angles of a tragic hero, just like Oedipus in Greek literature. There is a difference between character flaws (Ahab and Oedipus) and those like McCandless who perhaps are mentally ill.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"Into the Wild" on 08/25/2013 13:18:25 MDT Print View

I think it's significant that McCandless kept finding substitute parents during his time on the road. In the book as well as the movie these people really cared for and bonded with McCandless. They seemed to sense his need and tried to help him. But then McCandless would cut them off and move on with no further contact, just like he did with his own family.

By the way it's been years since I read this book; I hope that my recollection of it is accurate.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
wild on 08/25/2013 16:11:58 MDT Print View

never saw the movie
Read the book many yrs ago

I did not have the impression McCandless was mentally ill at all

I think he was searching for something within himself, that he believed self deprivation would bring. He was looking for enlightenment of sorts. Very similar to thru hiking btw.

In the end, his journal showed that he was considering a normal life, getting married, etc when he returned to society. He had a plan. He wasnt that wacko, just a bit. I think he was sick and maybe despondent then though.

We are all pretty bizarre really if you look really close.

Edited by livingontheroad on 08/25/2013 16:15:25 MDT.

Tim Zen
(asdzxc57) - F

Locale: MI
Re: "Into the Wild" on 08/25/2013 17:29:43 MDT Print View

In the book, Krakauer included his own story of his obsession with climbing the Devil's Thumb. It was this section where Krakauer makes an effort to explain why Chris did what he did.