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Why men are no longer wild Our sense of adventure died with Chris McCandless

(Into The Wild)


September 9, 2022   7 mins

Chris McCandless had been dead for two weeks when a pair of hunters stumbled upon the abandoned bus he had been using as a makeshift shelter near Alaska’s Denali National Park. A note taped to its door read:

ATTENTION POSSIBLE VISITORS.
S.O.S.
I NEED YOUR HELP. I AM INJURED, NEAR DEATH, AND TOO WEAK TO HIKE OUT OF HERE. I AM ALL ALONE, THIS IS NO JOKE. IN THE NAME OF GOD, PLEASE REMAIN TO SAVE ME. I AM OUT COLLECTING BERRIES CLOSE BY AND SHALL RETURN THIS EVENING. THANK YOU,
CHRIS MCCANDLESS

McCandless had starved to death. His corpse, partially decomposed and huddled in a sleeping bag, weighed less than 70 pounds.

At the time, 30 years ago this week, McCandless’s story became the object of fascination — and not long after that, backlash. His life was either an inspiring example of indomitable American spirit or a nauseating waste of privilege and opportunity; his death was either a tragic accident or an idiotic, avoidable bit of foolishness. The debate surrounding Chris McCandless’s place in the national narrative was itself a sort of American tradition: for as long as this country has romanticised its wayward sons, there have also always been people eager to poke holes in the stories we tell about these men, or in the ones they attempt to tell about themselves.

Henry David Thoreau, the original society-escaper who sought a deliberate life in the forest, was savaged posthumously in 1865 by James Lowell Russell, who suggested that the author of Walden was nothing more than a late-coming poseur to the life for which he became famous: “Till he built his Walden shanty, he did not know that the hickory grew in Concord. Till he went to Maine, he had never seen phosphorescent wood, a phenomenon early familiar to most country boys. At 40 he speaks of the ceiling of the pine as a new discovery, though one should have thought that its gold-dust of blowing pollen might have earlier drawn his eye. Neither his attention nor his genius was of the spontaneous kind. He discovered nothing.”

This sentiment survived to be reprised, more succinctly, in the words of one 21st-century Tumblr user: “Just a quick reminder that Thoreau’s mother did his laundry for him and that Christopher McCandless starved to death.” The lumping-together of McCandless with Thoreau was inevitable, and not just because the latter was a major inspiration for the former: here was an expression of the timeless desire to take these icons of male self-sufficiency down a peg. Today, the mention of either man tends to elicit a snarl — but the bulk of the anger is saved for McCandless, fuelled by a contemporary media ecosystem that keeps finding new ways to tell his story.

John Krakauer’s 1993 book Into the Wild — and the 2007 film based on it — were accompanied by fierce debates over the foolishness of McCandless’s Alaskan venture, the insufficiency of his survival skills, the lethality of his ignorance. The most scathing criticism came from Alaskan citizens who suggested that this story revealed nothing about the difficulties of surviving in the wild and everything about the idiocy of its protagonist, who was not only woefully unprepared for his trip but couldn’t even tell a moose from a caribou. (Side note: He could, actually.)

But lately, the controversy surrounding McCandless as a mythological figure is no longer an accompaniment to the story; it is the story. On the 15th anniversary of McCandless’s death, Men’s Journal published a story titled “The Cult of Chris McCandless”, an examination of the young man’s legacy in and around the wilderness in which he perished. One gets the sense that there’s still little sympathy amongst Alaskans for McCandless’s death, and the quotes from locals range from pitying to contemptuous. (One local guide sneers: “We’re hard up for heroes if that’s what it takes — some guy who starved to death in a bus.”)

There’s also the matter of the bus itself, which was removed from its wilderness location to the Museum of the North after too many Into the Wild stans managed to injure or kill themselves attempting to visit it. And when McCandless’s sister released a memoir, The Wild Truth, in 2014, revealing that her brother had been fleeing not only the pressures of conventional society but a hellish home life ruled over by their controlling, abusive father, it was received less as additional context to his story than a debunking of it: McCandless wasn’t a latter-day adventurer, he was a spoiled trust-fund kid with daddy issues.

Today, the controversy that swirls around McCandless is less about the man himself than about how he’s remembered, and by whom. To even see his story as heroic is increasingly difficult; the iconic, romantic image of the pioneer going his own way, riding the rails in search of adventure or retreating to the forest to live off the land, has been overtaken in the contemporary consciousness by the fearful spectre of Men Going Their Own Way™. In 2022, the independence and self-sufficiency required to live outside society’s margins just seems weird, and maybe a little bit threatening, especially to the apartment-dwelling urbanites who cluster around the knowledge economy and drive the national discourse (their brief, failed pandemic-era forays into country living notwithstanding).

The guy who hunts his own food, chops his own wood, and builds his own home, is a suspicious character: a little too trad, a little too in-your-face masculine, probably a Trump voter. And the guy a step beyond that, the one who doesn’t just paint outside the lines but wants to buck the system entirely? There’s something really wrong with him. He’s no pioneer; he’s a misanthrope, a deadbeat, an incel. He’s the Unabomber — or the Joker. And in a world where so much of life is, or can be, lived online, he’s dangerous. The unhappy young man who wants to turn his back on society seems just as likely to turn on it, snarling, weapon in hand. We’re afraid of men like this, and we’re afraid of the people who admire them.

In the years since the publication of Into the Wild, John Krakauer has advanced several theories about McCandless’s cause of death, all of which were met with interest but also eagerly debunked by those invested in recasting McCandless as a feckless idiot. However, by the time Krakauer discovered the most conclusive evidence yet that the potato seeds McCandless had been subsisting on contained a little-known amino acid that can cause paralysis and death, the desire to knock McCandless out of his position in the pantheon of American trailblazers had superseded any interest in the truth about his life, and death. Krakauer, writing in The New Yorker in 2013, seemed to understand that this ship had sailed: the new information, he wrote, “is unlikely to persuade many Alaskans to regard McCandless in a more sympathetic light, but it may prevent other backcountry foragers from accidentally poisoning themselves”.

What Krakauer didn’t mention is that another man following in McCandless’s footsteps — accidentally or otherwise — is equally unlikely. The story of McCandless’s retreat from society and subsequent death in the wilderness is singular, the stuff of American legend. It is also, in all likelihood, the last of its kind. In the 30 years since McCandless abandoned most of his worldly possessions and embarked on a new, unmoored life as a modern-day vagabond, the twin marches of development and technology have made it far more difficult to get lost, disconnect, disappear. There are fewer uncharted paths to take, fewer places to hide from the ubiquitous reach of surveillance cameras, satellites, or cell phone towers reaching out to ping the device in your pocket.

But more than that, the space we used to hold as a society for people who wanted to live outside it — young men driven into the wilderness by boredom, desire, derangement, or an unquenchable thirst to test their own limits — is vanishing too. McCandless wanted to escape: from society, from obligation, from the shackles of pretence and politeness and convention that keep us at a distance from the animal inside. One of his favourite quotes from Thoreau was about the emptiness of modern life: “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth. I sat at a table where were rich food and wine in abundance, an obsequious attendance, but sincerity and truth were not; and I went away hungry from the inhospitable board. The hospitality was as cold as the ices.”

In the digital age, that desire to escape — to live deliberately — has evolved and split into a series of disparate threads. The notion of eschewing money, fame, and love in order to live truthfully feels especially paradoxical in the age of social media and remote work, where young people — and young women, particularly — can live the footloose and unfettered life of a nomad with relative ease and in the public eye. Instead of solitary vagabonds roaming the world unnoticed, we have the attention economy and its #vanlife influencers, broadcasting their adventures to a rapt audience of millions. They’re not looking for truth; they’re looking for sponsors.

What would today’s world make of a young man like McCandless — and what he would make of it? Perhaps, with his tendency toward grandiosity and self-mythologising, he would have amassed a following in his quest to flee from convention. Perhaps the quotes he scribbled in his journal would have been repurposed as Instagram captions: “Two years he walks the Earth. No phone, no pool, no pets, no cigarettes. Ultimate freedom. An extremist. An aesthetic voyager whose home is the road.”

Or perhaps, with the internet at his fingertips, his frustration at the insincerity of most people — and the anger stemming from his abusive upbringing — would have driven him down a rabbit hole and into the arms of some online community or another. The MRAs. The DSA. The Men Going Their Own Way, turning their backs on society together.

What seems clear is that the path he did walk — into the wild, alone, without fanfare or even saying goodbye — has all but vanished from the landscape. And while there are reasons why this is a good thing (it is much harder to disappear and starve to death in the wilderness than it used to be), there is also something lost in the way that 21st-century life makes it so impossible for us to get lost, to be alone, to turn away from all the chirping, beeping, blinking things that demand our attention every hour of every day. Most of us can’t bear to sit quietly with our thoughts for five minutes, let alone months on end. Most of us have neither the desire nor the knowledge to stay alive without a sprawling safety net of modern conveniences. And far from seeing McCandless as a hero or a legend, an adventurous spirit with good intentions who met an unfortunate end, too many of us have lost the ability to see the value in his journey at all.


Kat Rosenfield is an UnHerd columnist and co-host of the Feminine Chaos podcast. Her latest novel is You Must Remember This.

katrosenfield

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Aaron James
Aaron James
1 year ago

I lived this life he was playing at. 16 years I lived in camps, 4 in the bush, 5 in a school bus, 5 out of a backpack,, couple in a van, hitched will over 50,000 miles. I lived broke almost always, just off what I could make.

I turned 40 living in a remote bush camp, I had been alone 5 months with my dog as company when I turned 40 and thought this was not something I could do more of. The thought of being poor when old was unacceptable.

Being some hard man, living on the road, living hard – it is acceptable sort of, when young, people think it pretty wild, but when old and broke – it is pathetic.

I finished out the season there (I harvested scarce wild gourmet foods for a market which exists for them) and went to the city and began working two full time jobs, 84 hours a week, 5.5 years without a break, doing construction – you are physically hard in that life…. and made a lot of money, invested and saved it, and rejoined the real world mostly. I did the school bus years after, but they were in a very nice bus, and I worked most of the time living in it. It sits in a yard looking reminiscent of the scene – but even though not driven for a decade, and not rusty, it kind of has a look of settling into the ground and never will move again.

I would have been in a remote Alaska camp when he was…. It seemed a fair number of people were living rough in the wilderness – but then doing it we see each-other, we happen on each-other. Like the snow leopard is never seen, yet it knows where all the other snow leopards are – it is same with all the fringe groups, they see eachother wile they are all invisible to the normal people. You just can identify others in your weird world.

It was rough, living rough, having to make some kind of survival money living that way – and I really have no idea why we did it. I was a dropout from teen years, dropped out onto the road, and just kept going back to it. I would settle a wile, and then I just had to go, and I would….. I guess I was addicted to the road, I think a lot could be said why – it is a very complex thing – as it is really about as rough a way to live there is. Really it is endless tedium. That is the main state. No electronics then, no books much, solitary about half the time, so no one to talk to….Just sit there, stand, lay, walk – just nothing…..I would think a lot, but that is hard without someone to be talking with, to think just sitting there, on the ground, nothing to do, it is really hard. Then you are physically uncomfortable a great deal of the time, but you get used to that – the solitude you learn to tolerate, but it can be so strong it just envelopes you totally….

I think a lot of why I did it was misguided macho. People would think it cool that you just lived out of the pack – just drifting, just living rough. I saw a very great deal indeed – more than would be imagined – out there, all over, you see a lot – you live in nature, cities rough, and always amongst the fringes of society – you hear a lot of stories… You have a lot of stories – things happen to you a lot. So you sometimes get around the normal people and you laugh and talk and tell them all kinds of amazing stories (true ones) they never would have – and they think it cool – they think you tough to do what they never could – and I think that fed my ego a lot. That I was just tougher than 99% of people (not only is it physically hard – it is even mentally harder). I was a real ‘character’ – I was that, and I guess I liked that, sort of micro-celebrity maybe in a one on one way.`

Anyway – I have seen a great deal of the world – lots of time outside USA too, lots of time really getting to know situations and peoples and things outside of regular Middle Class reality. That is kind of it – you discover there are millions of realities. What we think is The Reality is not, they exist layer on layer, many occupying the same space.

The street person lives in a totally different reality than the resident working one. The addicts exist in a different reality (And I was down with them a great deal) The cult members, the ex-cons, the broken people, the different ethnics, religions, the Fringe – then when you get in the bush and in really remote and anchient places, even physics are not the same reality as where people live and have made it modern.

Anyway – rambling on – but I lived the scene…… I know his ilk, the life…..odd days – different life …..

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago
Reply to  Aaron James

Good to have you back

Oscar Wolfe
Oscar Wolfe
1 year ago
Reply to  Aaron James

Did the road life for a couple summers when I was young–eight weeks out on both occasions. The physical discomfort, as you mentioned, is tolerable but the isolation was definitely the thing that made me eagerly embrace middle class society again, despite its many faults. I can’t imagine doing this as an older or even middle aged male.
It would be interesting to poll those who have “lived the life” about their opinion on someone like McCandless. I think most of us would give him high marks for naivete and stupidity since we quickly learn that minor issues on the road can be life threatening without the usual comforts of urbanity to shield us.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  Aaron James

Sanford Artzen I presume?

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

I thought the same. Or Galeti Tavis?

james goater
james goater
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

I think you’re both correct. Unmistakable style and autobiography.

David B
David B
1 year ago
Reply to  james goater

All the wiles

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  james goater

Agreed!

Laney R Sexton
Laney R Sexton
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Can someone clue me into who Sanford and Galeti are?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Laney R Sexton

A robust commentator from the very inception of UnHerd, who has been absent for the last few months.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Aaron James

You forgot to mention your idyllic days fishing on the ‘Slough Cut’.

Aaron James
Aaron James
1 year ago

My last six months have not only been more crazy than any I have had, but seem to just get weirder every week. I could sit with Candide and tell of my six months past and he would understand….One crazy catastrophe is overcome and the next one is arriving…never had anything like it….

””I should like to know which is worse: to be ravished a hundred times by pirates, and have a buttock cut off, and run the gauntlet of the Bulgarians, and be flogged and hanged in an auto-da-fe, and be dissected, and have to row in a galley — in short, to undergo all the miseries we have each of us suffered — or simply to sit here and do nothing?’ That is a hard question,’ said Candide.””

The third option is the one they finally take, to work, to stop fighting amongst themselves and devote one’s self to working on one’s garden (metaphorical garden) I am beginning this I hope, although the trip wires, banana peels, tiger trap pits, wasp nests, flash floods, which seem to be positioned on my path lately need to relent just a bit, so I may get to my serious work, and find contentment through exceedingly hard, yet productive, work – I am close to beginning a very big job – although it seemed Fate itself was out to stop it…..just unbelievable…..

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Aaron James

and hope your mum is still going strong !

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Aaron James

Good to have you back, for a moment ‘we’ thought the dreaded vaccine might have got you!

Walter Egon
Walter Egon
1 year ago
Reply to  Aaron James

So you’re back 🙂

THE MAN WAS A LIAR TO ME
THE MAN WAS A LIAR TO ME
1 year ago
Reply to  Aaron James

You sound like an old jaded cynic who, though was ‘off the grid’, could never escape the trappings of wealth. The other thing is, I don’t believe you. Sure, you went for a walkabout, but you couldn’t escape your material heart, your egotistical selfish nature. I say this as someone who lives in the woods near the burbs (I write this in a library); has so done for a long time. It beats doing construction and parroting a life lie.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago

What do you mean “in the woods near the burbs”?

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
1 year ago

The author is judging young men by the words written by other men and women working in media.

Young men haven’t changed. What has changed is the diversity of those working in media. Metropolitan in background, living metropolitan lives with very narrow whims and obsessions. Media is overwhelmingly a self-selecting group (publication here being dependant on publication elsewhere, for example) and the result is a group of people who may not look the same as each other but do think and behave the same.

This article wasn’t intended to be an examination of media, but indirectly it does shine a light on the lack of real diversity in media.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Yes, well put. It seems to me the media’s main purpose is to pour scorn, destroy reputations, question motives, kill heroes. I found Kat’s article to be surprisingly sensitive and thoughtful and hope the author will continue in this vein.

J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

I agree with the author’s main argument that men who live outside society are viewed as a threat by the social media opinion makers and the urban elite. At the same time, however, I do believe that McCandless is a poor example of male self-sufficiency. I’ve read Krakauer’s book and McCandless does appear to have been exceptionally badly prepared for this adventure and naive in the extreme. Tolkien told us that not all who wander are lost. I would add that some who wander really are lost.
Another person of McCandless’s era was Timothy Treadwell who decided to live with Alaskan grizzlies. He recorded his adventures and there’s plenty of footage on the internet of him approaching grizzles and even stroking them. Despite their fierce reputation the bears were remarkably tolerant, until one wasn’t. Treadwell and his girlfriend were eventually eaten alive by a large male grizzly. It’s hard to conclude he was anything other than a fantasist living out a bizarre sort of dream.
A better example of truly adventurous male spirit is Richard Proenneke, a former diesel mechanic/shepherd/carpenter who built his own cabin from scratch in Alaska and lived there largely self-sufficient for forty years (he did have occasional visits and supplies of some food items). He was a well-grounded adult who possessed the skills to make his dream a reality, although no doubt the naysayers will find a way to tear his reputation down if they want to. Here’s a link if you’re interested.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jG3fUIoXQ5A

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Proenneke truly was one who built a solo, mostly self sufficient life in the wilderness. Read his book One Man’s Wilderness, a classic with lots of photos.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago

We are a tribal species. Much like a troop of chimpanzees, the alpha males get to the top by building political alliances as well as brute strength and other displays of competence.

As Aaron says above, there is societal kudos given to the type of self sufficient, “goes his own way,” Outlaw Jose Wales type character, but the real value of that to the individual is when he returns to society. Had McCandless survived he would have built both the self confidence that comes from self reliance, and the backstory, to have been happier and more conventionally successful when he returned.

Certainly he would have been a better man than the bottom feeders aggressively dissing him from the safety of their screens.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Well said. As a man I get great satisfaction from thinking about the trips I took in the backcountry – some of them very physically challenging. It does help ground you and make you happier – especially when you are stuck behind a desk or otherwise engaging in less the than exciting necessities of daily living.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

it is a pity that Chris M did not choose a yacht in which to leave the madding crowd – much adventure, probably would have lived

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago

In Canada the backcountry is outside of cell coverage and one of the great joys of going there is disconnecting. We do a weeklong backpack each summer and no one can reach us. I do a solo trip each year and spend a night out there by myself – it is beautiful and a little scary – that is the point. Sadly – this is changing with Starlink and satellite technology. I suspect that as I get older and even grumpier I will leave leave all communication devices behind so that at least the world can’t reach me. I read the book about Chris McCandless and I admired him for doing something different. If everyone waited until they were an experienced backcountry traveller no one would ever get out there. He just got unlucky.

Paul Rodolf
Paul Rodolf
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

I took a “gap year” between HS and University, best two years of my life! Go out in the world and discover yourself.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Rodolf

Weird that someone would give you a red mark.

Will Rolf
Will Rolf
1 year ago

I was a bit taken aback my the implication that it is dangerous for young men to become involved in men’s rights groups or MRAs. When women out number men in university by 50%, out earn men by 15-20% in the under 40 demographic and men are still kept out of their children’s lives by sexist courts all while men are constantly chastised in the media for their ‘privilege’, one might think that becoming involved with MRA groups is a rational, healthy response.

Johnny West
Johnny West
1 year ago

I just don’t think it’s true that “society” takes this view. Certainly my circle doesn’t and although none of us have been as hard core as McCandless, most of us have had mini-adventures of one kind or another, and tend to start from a positive PoV about such things. My wife bumped into McCandless on the roadside all that time ago when she was hitching in the West… she said he was very gentle. I would agree that risk aversion has grown massively in a way that is unpleasant and actually unhealthy. I do open water swims from time to time… across the Bosphorus, across the Nile, ice dipping in winter. Each time you do a swim like that, you check it out – figure out an entry point, exit point, what the currents are. But I have given up trying to persuade most people that doing something which carries a *tiny* amount of risk which you have weighed carefully is not necessarily irresponsible. For far too many people it all just gets lumped into the “crazy” category, and the result is a society that is far too fragile.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Johnny West

It’s nice to have some things that can’t be explained. And why should they? Maybe that’s the frustration for those critical.

Last edited 1 year ago by Brett H
Kirsten Walstedt
Kirsten Walstedt
1 year ago
Reply to  Johnny West

Open water swims are another thing I really want to get into! I lived in Santa Barbara for all of 2021 and was so envious of the all the open water swim clubs they had there. Envious because I need to get back into much better shape and work up to oceans swims. They have an annual swim from the Channel Islands to Santa Barbara in the middle of the night! I think it is 18 miles.
I agree that not all of society takes the narrow view the author attributes to them. In fact, I think there is a growing “unplug” movement and a lot of people are deciding the corporate world doesn’t suit them.

Paul S
Paul S
1 year ago

I went to Christopher’s bus along the Stampede Trail in Alaska. It took three attempts and all my savings. I lived in a tent in a small town called McCarthy for 4 months afterward. Best adventure of my life.

Jorge Espinha
Jorge Espinha
1 year ago

I usually like Kat Rosenfield articles but this one will be the exception. There’s no mystery surrounding McCandless, he was simply unprepared. Every year men and women die, killed by nature because they were simply to survive. It happens with the unfit tourists trying to climb Everest or idiots that ignore that water in Australia can be the difference between life and death. On top of all the obvious mistakes (obvious for a non-expert), McCandless apparently had severe psychiatric problems. Therefore I don’t understand what exactly the McCandless story illustrates. Men and women of all ages engage with nature. Some quite dramatically, like the contestants in “Alone”. I really don’t see the point. You might don’t know them, but that’s an entirely different article waiting to be written.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Jorge Espinha

“McCandless apparently had severe psychiatric problems.”
What does that mean? Apparently? Is that the explanation for everything that went wrong? What of all the explorers of the past, did they have psychiatric problems, and if so what relevance is it? What is it you don’t understand about the story?

Last edited 1 year ago by Brett H
Jorge Espinha
Jorge Espinha
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

He was in Alaska without proper clothing and very few skills that would allow him to live in the wild. He also didn’t know where he was. Any one of those factors is enough to kill you.
I read claims that he had serious mental problems. Depending on the seriousness of a psychiatric condition it could endanger the life of the patient. Some people call him just plain stupid due to the 3 factors I listed at the beginning of my reply. I don’t want to call him that, he was according to many accounts a sweet and bright kid. But what he did was incredibly foolish and a psychiatric condition sheds some light on the events.
In my opinion, there was nothing noble or romantic about his actions.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Jorge Espinha

“I read claims that he had serious mental problems.” 
No, the psychiatric conditions (claimed as you said) do not explain anything. There is nothing noble or romantic claimed about any of this. I don’t know if you’ve lived like this at all, even for a short time, but if you had surely you would understand.

Last edited 1 year ago by Brett H
Jorge Espinha
Jorge Espinha
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

I take medication for depression everyday. However I neglect to feel offended every time mental health is mentioned. I also can’t speak for everybody that has mental problems the same way I don’t represent people with brown eyes. Thousands of people live in the streets of SF and LA and defecate in the sidewalks , and most of them have mental problems. Now you can feel offended all you like but it will not change reality and it will not make you specialist in all things concerning mental health.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Jorge Espinha

I’m sorry, but I can’t work out what you’re getting at or how you conclude I was offended. My comment was that I don’t think it was a psychiatric problem behind his acts. However after some personal reflection over the last few days I think I do understand McCandless, and it’s nothing to do with anything mentioned here.

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
1 year ago
Reply to  Jorge Espinha

I don’t think he had psychiatric problems (at least any more than the rest of us). He was just naive.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Jorge Espinha

What went wrong was absurdly simple: he didn’t have a map that indicated a bridge he could cross the river on. Otherwise he did alright and was ready to leave.

Steve Looney
Steve Looney
1 year ago
Reply to  Jorge Espinha

My experience was more that noone is prepared out there for what out there can bring. Particularly when out there solo–as a few I knew liked. You think so, then that little slip and the ankle gives, the food gets snatched, a five-day storm moves in and you argue, split up and take the wrong route back….And nature has its way. McCandless was on an adventure, pushing limits, searching. That qualifies for praise. He messed up a bit and didn’t check in at the REI in Fairbanks, but even the best do too. and all have issues too….
Great piece Kat!!! p.s. Don’t worry! That crazy spirit of adventure and appetite for risk is real strong, not lost and being expressed so many ways in so many places.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Looney

“That crazy spirit of adventure and appetite for risk is real strong, not lost and being expressed so many ways in so many places.”
Yes, that’s how we got where we are.

Jim R
Jim R
1 year ago
Reply to  Jorge Espinha

McCandless’s lack of preparation was actually integral to his plan all along. As Krakauer wrote: “In coming to Alaska, McCandless yearned to wander uncharted country, to find a blank spot on the map. In 1992, however, there were no more blank spots on the map—not in Alaska, not anywhere. But Chris, with his idiosyncratic logic, came up with an elegant solution to this dilemma: He simply got rid of the map. In his own mind, if nowhere else, the terra would thereby remain incognita.” That decision (among others) was of course his undoing. He couldn’t escape when he got sick because the river became impassible. If he had a map he would have known where the bridge was and could have easily walked to safety.

Angus Melrose-Soutar
Angus Melrose-Soutar
1 year ago

Heroes are sometimes flawed. One might say that heroes are always flawed. Facing the enemy, outnumbered and outgunned, may be heroic but it can hardly be called sensible. The sensible thing is to run away, as far as you can, as fast as you can.
Going to live in the wilderness is an adventure that might be fatal. In our all electric houses we have moved some distance away from what would have been normal a hundred years ago; outside toilets, cooking on a range, and oil lamps for lighting. From that normal to living in a wilderness is a much smaller jump than it is from a high rise condominium.
I lived in a garden shed for a few months while working on a farm. No lighting, no toilet, no running water. That was as close to a wilderness as I want to go unless I can take all the comforts of home with me.
People still do it. Men and women. Because they can. Or because they think that they can. It is considered not too unreasonable for people to climb the Matterhorn or The Old Man Of Hoy. I can understand the concept, even though I get dizzy – and frozen with fear- on the second rung of a ladder.
Those who do such things are cut from the same cloth as those who invent wheels, steam engines, pneumatic tyres and radar.
We ought not denigrate those who push the boundaries of what can be done; we should tip our hats, not thumb our noses.

Jim R
Jim R
1 year ago

There are many different levels to this story, which is why it captivated so many people. While not every man feels the need to live in the wild, men (and some women) do have a need to take risk and do get spiritual benefit from testing themselves in extreme environments. The fact that a mistake could kill you is not a bug – its the point. I’m also reminded of Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” and the ‘running of the bulls’ – which of course inspired many men to travel to Spain to engage in that extremely dangerous event. I don’t think that need has changed – even if the expression of it is evolving. Like most men, I don’t find the women in my life, as much as I love them, fully understand this need / desire. But the more thoughtful ones at least recognize that it is a part of us and refrain from trying to shame it away.

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim R

I do understand that desire and have felt it deeply. Being female I never got all the way out there the way a guy would. However, I am very proud of my one night solo hiking-camping trip in the wilderness behind Anchorage. There was a strong earthquake in the morning and I heard rocks falling and looked up to see two Dalls sheep above me.

Kirsten Walstedt
Kirsten Walstedt
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim R

I am female and I have that desire as well, though maybe not to the ‘running with the bulls” extent. I love taking long hikes in new territory and not deciding in advance which way I will go. I’d love to get some land somewhere and grow my own food and try to live as self-sufficiently as possible. I have a huge desire to learn all sorts of manual skills and crafts, to learn to build and make things for myself instead of buying them, from food to clothes to furniture. I used to sail as a child and I want to get back into it. I’d love to sail around the world.

Julie Lynn
Julie Lynn
1 year ago

Agreed. Not sure why this article (and many of the comments) imply that the desire to strike out, seek adventure, and be self-sufficient is solely a male thing. Plenty of women feel this too.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim R

going to sea in small boats does it for me – and many others – you can go for long and as far as you dare – some around the planet. Every day someone is either contemplating or actually in the seaworld paring it down to its bare essentials and thereby having that living in/with nature experience – and there is far more unspoiled sea than land on this planet…

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago

What seems clear is that the path he did walk — into the wild, alone, without fanfare or even saying goodbye — has all but vanished from the landscape.”
Hardly true. If anyone would step out of their high rise flat and travel throughout America, as I have done, it would become apparent that there is much, much more land to get completely lost in than there is urban development. And in every last State, including Rhode Island.

Kirsten Walstedt
Kirsten Walstedt
1 year ago

It’s not that I feel contempt or judgment for McCandless, but that there are so many better examples of people, mostly young men, who broke away from the expected life and went off on their own. The entire 19th century and settlement of the West attracted this type of person. Immigrants arrived at Ellis Island with little English and few dollars, and somehow made their way across most of the country to hew a life out of the wilderness with their bare hands. There were no roads, (for a long time) no railroads, no guides. Lewis and Clark are two of my heroes and inspirations.
The 60s were full of these types as well – Jack Kerouac, Ken Kesey, and a huge cohort of the youth of that time who went off to live in communes, teepees, or go on the road indefinitely.
The issue with McCandless is not that he turned his back on society and “went his own way.” It was that he did not do the preparation he needed to in order to make a success of it. The impulse to escape modern society was not foolhardy. His lack of research, education, and practice of wilderness survival skills was. And that’s what makes him a poor role model. Following in his footsteps could endanger your life.
Why not follow one of the independent types who spent the time to learn survival skills, to learn the terrain they will be entering and its conditions, to make sure they have enough tools and supplies to feed and shelter themselves? Does it somehow diminish one’s freedom if you don’t leave in a flurry of emotion without having done any preparation?
Lots of people, young and old, are still dropping out today. They are trading in houses for RVs, achieving their dreams of hiking the Appalachian or John Muir trails, going to live “off the grid”, starting sheep farms, sailing around the world alone, etc. This is going on all over the place, so you can’t really say this type of person is extinct. In fact, there seems to be a whole movement now of “going back to the land” and leaving corporate America.

David Jennings
David Jennings
1 year ago

I will leave to others the debate Kat identifies and which continues in this Comment section. I only wish to thank Kat for yet another thoughtful article exceptionally well written. An example of her talent?: “They’re not looking for truth; they’re looking for sponsors.”

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
1 year ago

Back in the days of my travelling youth, I came across a few men and women seeking to test themselves – to contend with reality outside of their comfort zones – in all manner of ways. Some prepared, others not.
There is a recent film (“Land”) starring and directed by Robin Wright that tells the story of a bereaved mother who buys a cabin in the wilderness but is woefully unprepared and ends up at death’s door, but is saved by a local hunter also suffering bereavement. The film is a study in tragedy but Wright’s character seems to be inspired by McCandless.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago

In retrospect I don’t think this article addresses the “Wild Man” at all. What it does do is muddy the whole issue. There are really two kinds of “Wild Men. The people who have the skills and knowledge to go out there and survive. Hunters, for example, who understand the terrain, the weather, the animals, survival skills, and so on. These people are still out there and still finding the wilderness to be wild. Some of these people may live permanently away from what we regard as civilisation. They might seek this life in different forms: hunting, mountaineering, sailing and many others. I assume they like the challenge. But they also have an attachment to the forms they love, the skills and the knowledge. They’ve always found a sound, and binding connection from an early age with those skills and knowledge.
McCandless was not one of those people. He could find nothing to connect to, nothing to hold him in one place, or form satisfying relationships with people, nothing to bind him to the skills and knowledge those others acquired. So he moved, and kept moving, from place to place and idea to idea. In the end it’s about luck and he ran out of it.
To me this seems to be a personality type. They can appear to be arrogant, because they don’t relate in the way others do. If there’s anything masculine about it then it might very well be someone on the very lower end of the autism spectrum, which seems more prevalent in males. But I’ve met many girls like this when I was younger. Harder for them to get out there, but not necessarily absent.
I think the article completely misses the complexity of these people. Unfortunately Jon Krakauer’s can’t help but tell the story from his own perspective. He has no idea who McCandless was because he’s nothing like him, so he projects. In a way he’s created the myth of McCandless.

Julie Lynn
Julie Lynn
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

Exactly – it’s a personality type rather than some intrinsic quality of maleness. My daughter is autistic and has some similar qualities to what you describe. Independent, happy to wander alone in the wild. Arguing that it’s solely to do with wild, rugged maleness is a fallacy.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Julie Lynn

Thankyou.

Gavirio Vicuta
Gavirio Vicuta
1 year ago

There’s quite a difference between being mentally challenged and challenging yourself in nature or otherwise. It’s beyond me why this fool’s stupidity is still celebrated. Now it’s being written here as a laughable demarcation point, i.e., BMc and AMc
 Furthermore, men are stunted now by ideological emasculation from statist collectivism which leads to societal pussyfication
 How can one be a so-called wild man when you can’t even be a man to begin with!

Last edited 1 year ago by Gavirio Vicuta
Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Gavirio Vicuta

I’m confused by your comment. “Men are stunted 
 by ideological emasculation 
” But you fail to understand why “ this fool’s stupidity is still celebrated”. Or is it a comment on the times?

Last edited 1 year ago by Brett H
J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

.

Last edited 1 year ago by J Bryant
Jorge Espinha
Jorge Espinha
1 year ago

Wild Men. Is an odd concept in post-hunter-gatherers societies. In the western part of Euroasia, only Scandinavia and the Russian empire possess wilderness. European farmers lived most of their lives within geographic circles with very short diameters. The only wild men were soldiers, highway men and fishermen. The rest had incredibly hard lives but very little contact with the wild, except maybe the odd encounter with a wolf if you were a shepherd. America’s exploration reinserted thousands of European settlers into the wilderness. Soon only a minority of the Americans lived close to the wild. My question is when did we have an inflation of wild men?

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Jorge Espinha

the sea is the last wilderness if you want it to be…

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 year ago
Reply to  Jorge Espinha

Maybe it’s not just the literal interpretation of wild,have you read any Robert Bly?

Jorge Espinha
Jorge Espinha
1 year ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

No, I haven’t. But if she meant “hard” why not use that word? Additionally she writes about McCandless and he went to Alaska in search of “the wild”. We are a very domesticated species and have been like this for a long time.

Sam McGowan
Sam McGowan
1 year ago

There are outdoorsmen and then there are wannabees. Chris McCandless falls among the latter. He is typical of readers of OUTSIDE, for which Krakauer wrote, except he tried to make a life out of it instead of being a weekend or monthlong “warrior” eating freeze-dried food and drinking purified water. True outdoorsmen don’t live in high rises in Manhattan and go hiking in national parks during their vacation, they live in the outdoors and make their living from it. They are hunters, trappers, fishermen; not hikers and backpackers. They live it, they don’t write about it. They were (not are because none are left) in the tradition of the Long Hunters who went into the wilderness of Kentucky and Tennessee and stayed for years then only returned to civilization to sell their pelts to make a little money to buy more provisions. They were completely self-reliant and resourceful at a level far beyond the city dwellers and farmers back in civilization. Chris McCandless was none of this. Neither was Henry David Thoreau or Ralph Waldo Emerson. Nor is Jon Krakauer.

Michael Keating
Michael Keating
1 year ago

there is also something lost in the way that 21st-century life makes it so impossible for us to get lost, to be alone, to turn away from all the chirping, beeping, blinking things that demand our attention every hour of every day.” Not impossible. Where there’s a will there’s a way. That statement might be more revealing of the author’s mind set.

Kirsten Walstedt
Kirsten Walstedt
1 year ago

When I imagine winning the lottery and the first thing that I would do, I always picture myself throwing away my cell phone. Riches mean you no longer have to obey an electronic leash.

Alice Rowlands
Alice Rowlands
1 year ago

He would only be able to keep his phone connected with internet access and electricity supplied by a solar panel. It would be possible as long as he had a good connection so there would have to be a tower nearby and if he could afford to buy a fully equipped van.
He would have to bury his human waste because it can be lethal to wildlife. He would obviously have to set up camp near a good water supply and take care not to contaminate that supply. He would need plenty of dry kindling for his fire and some form of electric heater for the sub-zero winter months also some form of hot plate/kettle/microwave once the firewood ran out in the depths of winter.
He would need some means of heating water for washing himself and his clothes and bedding unless he became one of those hardy cold water people. But there is a temperature below which getting into a body of water can be lethal.
He would have to be a proficient hunter, gatherer and gardener and know how to safely prepare wild meat, tell poisonous berries and mushrooms from non toxic ones, he’d need a deep freeze for his meat plus butchering skills. He’d have to know how to protect his vegetable patch from the wild animals that would eat it.
He would need a first aid kit and medical supplies. He would need to be able to call 911.
To really live away from civilisation is incredibly risky and difficult and requires specialist knowledge and skills. Thoreau had his meals delivered to him every day and his laundry collected and delivered clean and ironed and he was not really in the wilderness at all but just a half hour by carriage from his home. He could easily go home and take a good hot bath whenever it suited him.

Alice Rowlands
Alice Rowlands
1 year ago

He would only be able to keep his phone connected with internet access and electricity supplied by a solar panel. It would be possible as long as he had a good connection so there would have to be a tower nearby and if he could afford to buy a fully equipped van.
He would have to bury his human waste because it can be lethal to wildlife. He would obviously have to set up camp near a good water supply and take care not to contaminate that supply. He would need plenty of dry kindling for his fire and some form of electric heater for the sub-zero winter months also some form of hot plate/kettle/microwave once the firewood ran out in the depths of winter.
He would need some means of heating water for washing himself and his clothes and bedding unless he became one of those hardy cold water people. But there is a temperature below which getting into a body of water can be lethal.
He would have to be a proficient hunter, gatherer and gardener and know how to safely prepare wild meat, tell poisonous berries and mushrooms from non toxic ones, he’d need a deep freeze for his meat plus butchering skills. He’d have to know how to protect his vegetable patch from the wild animals that would eat it.
He would need a first aid kit and medical supplies. He would need to be able to call 911.
To really live away from civilisation is incredibly risky and difficult and requires specialist knowledge and skills. Thoreau had his meals delivered to him every day and his laundry collected and delivered clean and ironed and he was not really in the wilderness at all but just a half hour by carriage from his home. He could easily go home and take a good hot bath whenever it suited him.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago

“manliness”
Definition required.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

“six foot of hanging lean, balls the size of grapefruit, and enough hair on his arse to knit two Navajo blankets”.

Jorge Espinha
Jorge Espinha
1 year ago

Why do we have hair in that place? It’s a hindrance.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Jorge Espinha

To remind us of our origin as a species of African Ape perhaps?

Audrey Masalehdan
Audrey Masalehdan
1 year ago

Not being male or young, I don’t struggle personally with these issues but I would urge those of you who do to read: The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven by Nathaniel Ian Miller

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago

What issues?

andy young
andy young
1 year ago
Steven Somsen
Steven Somsen
1 year ago

The longing is clear but the response is immature. The quest for maleness is to begin with an inner quest where you connect to your inner core. Good sources of support are this and this. And from there you move out in the world, earn your income to be independent, create a mature relationship with a female, and find and live your purpose.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Steven Somsen

Self promotion.

THE MAN WAS A LIAR TO ME
THE MAN WAS A LIAR TO ME
1 year ago

Last edited 1 year ago by THE MAN WAS A LIAR TO ME
Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
1 year ago

Thoreau wrote Civil Disobedience and was a rather profound philosopher. He influenced Gandhi, Malcolm X, and MLK. He wasn’t just some guy who went into the woods. LOL. He specifically argued for disobedience towards an unjust state (this is largely why he is so savaged. It isn’t because he went into the woods 170 years ago). As Western civilization returns for another round of fascism his thoughts have largely been memory holed. Along with Patrick Henry, Thomas Paine, and Thomas Jefferson. Who we are only supposed to know as hateful white supremacists in new woke society.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dennis Boylon
James Rowlands
James Rowlands
1 year ago

“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth. I sat at a table where were rich food and wine in abundance, an obsequious attendance, but sincerity and truth were not; and I went away hungry from the inhospitable board. The hospitality was as cold as the ices.”
So “men are no longer wild”
.
I am sorry to burst your bubble. Men are in competition with other men and the markers for success and place in the hierarchy are what they have always been, money, status, physical fitness and confidence. Pretty much in that order.
Living in a bus in the middle of nowhere to my mind is an attempt by a loser to not be judged by other men. It is no different to a fat gamer in his mum’s basement. Other men find them wanting and so they opt out and pretend it is a virtue. It is not, they are running away away from from competition and manliness. They don’t want to be found wanting so they opt out.
There is nothing to admire here. Just an idiot who wasted his life dying in a bus in the wilderness. No different from a many other failed men.
A wild man is a man who is successful and reckless. He will be respected by other men and will be seen as a man to admire.
Men like Candles are not respected by anyone. But they could change that and their lives, if they had the character and determination to do so.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

His name is McCandless.
“Other men find them wanting .. “
A pathetic statement in the extreme, 

James Rowlands
James Rowlands
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

He is a loser Brett. Pathetic excuse for a man. Like basement gamers
. You don’t happen to sit in your mum’s house playing computer games all weekend?

Andy Aitch
Andy Aitch
1 year ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

Better then to be high-fiving fellow high achievers in the gym: the hard-of-thinking seem to occupy both poles of opinion – as usual…

James Rowlands
James Rowlands
1 year ago
Reply to  Andy Aitch

It works

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

“It works”.
What does that even mean?

Karl Juhnke
Karl Juhnke
1 year ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

A man does what he wants to do rather than follow the expetations of others. However his expectations of himself are
bound up in his love for others and the effect his behaviour has upon them and the planet. In other words he is life giving rather than life taking. Yes, you should be physically and mentally strong and be able to fight using either or both if need be as unfortunately there are those out there who confuse integrity, tolerance, openess and patience with weakness and need reminding of that fact. Plenty of people who are sucessful in the mainstream have obtained their positions through giving in to their character flaws and use that position to look down on and intimidate those they see as below them. Take the pandemic response for instance.

R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

Being obsessed with social status sounds far more feminine a trait than masculine. A man doesn’t act out to get respect from other men. That sounds like Mexican cartel machismo.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

“acting out” is always to get attention; whether that be admiration or opprobrium depends on what the acting out consists of.

James Rowlands
James Rowlands
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

You think the guy gets to be head of the drugs cartel by being weak ?
or indeed pleasant


Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

No. He gets there by being a thug.

James Rowlands
James Rowlands
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

Exactly. In this case a better and more ruthless thug in competition with other ruthless thugs.

Jim R
Jim R
1 year ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

That’s kind of the myopic ‘alpha male’ perspective. But there can only be one alpha in the tribe – the other males either die trying to be the alpha, bide their time until the alpha stumbles, or they find a different expression outside of the tribe, engaging with nature and trying to forge himself, like steel in a blast furnace, into something stronger. McCandless was looking for that different expression of manliness as many of us do from time to time.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim R

I don’t believe it’s a different expression of manliness. I don’t think it has anything to do with that.

Jim R
Jim R
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

Have you read Krakauer’s book? He’s a young man coming of age, really struggling with childhood demons and to find his own path in the shadow of a successful ‘alpha’ father. It’s a version of the Oedipal Complex that’s part of every boy’s maturation. He rejects the conventional ‘alpha male’ model his father represents quite explicitly. As Krakauer wrote: “So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”

James Rowlands
James Rowlands
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim R

He is his own Alpha. He leads no one except his imagination, but he is the Alpha man all men crave to be.
I do accept that living like this will make a difference for him in the long run. Men will give him some respect, whereas before he probably would have none.
this does set him apart from the gamers in that respect

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

You too, James, with your Alpha theories.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim R

It’s a version of the Oedipal Complex that’s part of every boy’s maturation 
 “

A Freudian theory. Still disputed. But obviously if your a Freudian you agree. But it remains a theory. Hardly enough to explain the actions of young men.

Jim R
Jim R
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

You don’t have to be a Freudian to recognize that boys have conflict with their fathers that peaks in adolescence. It’s all described quite well in the book that you didn’t read.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim R

So you feel you have a complete understanding of a man having read a book about him?

Jim R
Jim R
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

No – my proposition is that someone who reads a book about something knows more than someone who doesn’t. I guess your proposition is that you just know stuff magically.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim R

There’s no disputing the friction. I’m questioning the whole Freudian Oedipal Complex theory, which I’m sure you know, is still disputed. I don’t agree that you can have a catch-all theory for human behaviour, whether a writer said it or not.

Jim R
Jim R
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

You don’t read very carefully do you? I said “a version” of the Oedipal Complex. Freud and many many others have talked about boys’ conflicts with their father in these terms. Freud’s actual Oedipal complex theory is really beside the point, and the controversies around it are not really relevant here.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim R

“He’s a young man coming of age, really struggling with childhood demons and to find his own path in the shadow of a successful ‘alpha’ father. It’s a version of the Oedipal Complex that’s part of every boy’s maturation.”
But you did say this was the struggle. My feeling is that’s just too easy as a way of defining why he went into the wild. So I don’t see why you now say it’s beside the point. If it’s beside the point then what is the point?

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim R

You contradict yourself here.
First you say McCandless’s action were driven by an Oedipal Complex, then you say the basic core of man’s’ living spirit is his passion for adventure. The last makes more sense than some Freudian theory, but it’s still not the answer.

Jim R
Jim R
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

Again very poor reading skills. I didn’t say his actions were “driven” by the Oedipal Complex. I simply described it as part of the kids’ struggles. And the ‘alleged’ contradictory remark wasn’t mine – it was a krakauer quote. You are one seriously disagreeable individual. Some say that’s a masculine trait too by the way.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim R

I assumed you quoted Krakauer as a way of supporting your position. If not then what do you think it was?

Jim R
Jim R
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

Ok, but then for whatever its worth, I don’t believe you read Krakauer’s book. I recommend it highly.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim R

Just a little heads-up here: the book is not the man, anymore than the map is the country.

Last edited 1 year ago by Brett H
Jim R
Jim R
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

You didn’t know the man or read the book. Exactly what are you bringing to the table?

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim R

It’s quite clear what I’m bringing to the table. If you’re unsure read my comments again with a bit more attention.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim R

“You didn’t know the man”
And you do?

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim R

“McCandless was looking for that different expression of manliness as many of us do from time to time.”
Just to be clear, this is where we disagree. You think it’s all about ideas of masculinity. I don’t. I say this from personal experience. There was no Alpha male in my family, no desire to prove my masculinity. And yet, for awhile, I chose something similar to McCandless.

Last edited 1 year ago by Brett H
Jim R
Jim R
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

There are masculinity issues involved here – women don’t tend to behave the way McCandless did. That doesn’t make it ‘all about’ masculinity – but its part of the discussion. Maybe your definition of masculinity is limited to ‘alpha-ness”. If so you are just arguing with your own constructs.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim R

Just an open question to everyone here, but particularly you; is everything a man does masculine because he’s a man, like everything a women does is feminine because she’s a women? Or can a man do something that’s not masculine?

Jim R
Jim R
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

That’s a silly question. Everyone is well aware that masculine and feminine traits are generalizations and not fixed rules. There are many exceptions.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim R

Women do plenty of things like this: sailing solo around the world, for instance. Why do you think they do this?

Last edited 1 year ago by Brett H
Jim R
Jim R
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

I think you are just misreading things to be disagreeable. If you look at my earlier posts I explicitly made the point that some women share these traits. They do not appear exclusively in all men and they do not appear in only men. But they do appear much more often in men – hence we associate them with masculinity. The exceptions do not disprove the rule because the rules are actually just generalizations.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim R

Do you think women do them for different reasons than men?

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim R

“hence we associate them with masculinity. â€œ
Could this be an error, to consider such actions as masculine purely because of association? Is it not possible there are reasons that have nothing to do with masculinity and that McCandless may have acted for those reasons and nothing to do with the associative theories applied to him. Just because he has such a father does not necessarily mean his actions in this were driven by his relationship with his father.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim R

“There are masculinity issues involved here â€œ
McCandless was looking for that different expression of manliness 
”
This is what we’re debating and I’m disputing.

Last edited 1 year ago by Brett H
David Ackland
David Ackland
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

The film seemed to show how McCandless was trying to escape something more than find something. Perhaps those who thrive in the Wild have already found thus take good care of keeping it.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  David Ackland

The film and book are developed by people who work at a remove from the truth. it’s an interpretation moulded by their own personality.
It seems to me not so much about escaping as that there’s nothing there. But there are things out there that offer something to that individual, like attempting to reduce the space between themselves and reality, or living out an idea or philosophy. It’s not realistic. It’s the state a particular personality lives in.
Those who thrive in the wild are different animals. They’ve moved gradually towards it developing skills and knowledge that enable a long term relationship with the wild. They don’t have to leave to go somewhere, they were always there.

Last edited 1 year ago by Brett H