Saturday, July 11, 2009

Into the Wild

This song has been much on my mind lately. For one thing, it seems very appropriate to atmospheric conditions where I live. But it's also haunting. I thought so even before I found out that it was on the soundtrack to Into the Wild.

I haven't seen this movie yet, or read the book by Jon Krakauer, but the movie is in my NetFlix queue.

If you don't know the movie, it's about Chris McCandless, a young man who turns his back on this family and comfortable life and goes wandering off across country and eventually into the Alaskan wilderness, where the adventure goes awry and he ends up dying alone in an old bus.

Chris McCandless was at Emory when I was there. He graduated in 1990, I in 1988. I don't think I ever met him. I seriously doubt that he would have been in any crowd I hung around. I had (and have) very little patience with people who are wilderness junkies, endangering their lives climbing up mountains and going off on survivalist jaunts. I admire people who risk their lives for a cause - religious freedom, helping the oppressed. Adventurers - not so much. I read Krakauer's book about climbing Mt. Everest, and I thought everyone in it was nuts to risk death climbing a mountain for no reason other than because it ss there and has become some sort of icon for - what? Hell, I don't know why people want to climb above a height where they can breathe, particularly if we already know what is there. I suppose it is part of questioning your place in this world, wondering, isn't there something more, isn't there something beyond buy, selling and settling?

But this guy wandered off into the wilderness with no map and no compass and died because he didn't know there was a way to escape a mere 4 miles away, which he would have known if he had made any preparations whatsoever. I don't understand why anyone would romanticize that. But I want to see the movie because his was an unusual life, a misguided life, hubris followed by tragedy.


  1. This is more than I knew about the movie previously, so now I kind of want to see it.

  2. JP: And Emile Hirsch is kind of cute. I take a very shallow approach to these matters at times.

  3. I read the book, haven't seen the movie. I agree with you on both Krakauer books. Mt. Everest climbers are a mystery to me. Well, not really a mystery, they just seem stupid. The Alaska kid just seemed sad and confused.