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Stuart
02-19-2005, 02:39
I was quite struck by Christopher McCandless (aka Alxander Supertramp) as depicted in the book Into the Wild. I recently read an essay published online regarding Chris which purports him to be arrogant to the point of a fatal flaw. Iím not sure I ever had that impression in reading about him. I saw him as a radically idealistic young man with the guts to act upon his ideals rather than to shuffle them aside as some many of us do.

Anyway the essay has me thinking:

1. Was McCandless ďarrogant," the premise of the paper.

2. Was Chris unwilling to accept help from others?

3. Did Chris think that he was the only one intellectually capable to converse on his level thus indicating arrogance?

4. Did Chris hope the Alaska trip would ďchange him to exist in society,Ē a supposition of said essay?

5. Did he view the Alaska trip as terminal (my thought) in one way or the other, maybe not ending with death or maybe so, but nonetheless evidenced by his written statements to friends along the lines of ďThis is the last time you shall hear from meÖĒ and another comment along the lines of an if-I-survive statement.

Anyway, at the outset here Iíll say I felt an immediate affinity to this young man and his beliefs which he had the guts to act upon and in the end for which he paid the ultimate price. He was a seeker and rather than push it aside as many of us do, accepting to stay comfortably plugged into social convention he made a stand for an alternate way.

If you have read the book, you know there is one photograph in it. Within the first few pages of the book is a self-portrait McCandless shot in which he is seated in a chair leaning back against the abandoned bus which served as his final camp and the place of his death. I am not sure exactly at what point that photo was taken, not sure the book says, but in searching ďAlexander SupertrampĒ on the net I came across an Alaskan guide company that has mimicked this photo apparently with their proprietor sitting in the chair, against the bus just like McCandless. This rubs me wrong and while unintentional Iím sure it seems a bit disrespectful. Iím not going to announce the link to the world, Iím sure you can find it and if you want the link Iíll send it to you.

Lone Wolf
02-19-2005, 08:21
He was a dumb*** pure and simple. Good thing he didn't breed.

MileMonster
02-19-2005, 09:04
Wolf, with a response like that the thebackpacker.com's Trail Talk recruiting department will be contacting you any minute. You'll fit right in. LOL!

The Old Fhart
02-19-2005, 09:17
This was a idealistic person with some serious mental problems as the book pointed out. If you read the book you realize if he had taken a map with him he could have crossed the stream (that prevented his escape) on a bridge that just a short distance from where he died in that bus. He was also unaware that the plants he was eating were actually hastening his demise.

There is a big difference between a well prepared person who goes into the wild with a plan and a unprepared person who is just courting disaster. Click here (http://www.dickproenneke.com/) to see the story of Dick Proenneke who went to the wilds of Alaska and live there for 35 years alone. He documented his life in "Alone in the Wilderness," a video that has been shown on PBS and I bought. I would highly recommend this video (or the book) and his logical approach to McCandless' haphazard and disastrous trip.

Stuart
02-19-2005, 09:43
Kind of expected that answer and I see that side of it too. But at least is can be said that this guy neither bought in nor sold out, which is admirable despite where you align with his philosophical views. But I wonít argue that point because I am more interested in validating the above viewpoint as well. So adding that to the scope, what in particular dumb*** qualities did McCandless have that lead to his so deservedly out of the gene pool?

In all seriousness:

1. The rift with his parents, the likes of whom he did not contact over the two year period. His inablity/unwillingness to reach out to those closest to him.

2. His rejection of social norms. Particularly his penchant for living meal-to-meal at times. I think there is a contradiction in his disdain for money and his acceptance of it at the same time. He both works for it and burns it. At any rate his stance on property and money was quite extreme, much further than Iím willing to take itÖ much further.

3. His lack of preparedness and the risk inherent in his endeavors. Again far beyond what I would accept. Iím surprised he didnít end up in a ditch somewhere long before Alaska. Or done in by one of his pre-Alaskan adventures.

I donít at all disagree with L. Wolf. I think there is validity to that view as well. I may relate to McCandless at a visceral level, in that I relate to some of the feelings he had toward societal ills and conventions which most of us simply accept and become callused to or at least make the attempt to become callused to.

One thing that struck me was that it didnít seem that his family had affinity to who he was or what he represented, maybe he represented nothing but stupidity or a fractured grasp of reality. I wonder if there is any understanding or commanality there. Hmmm.

Kind of expected that answer and I see that side of it too. But at least is can be said that this guy neither bought in nor sold out, which is admirable despite where you align with his philosophical views. But I wonít argue that point so because I am more interested in establishing the above viewpoint as well. So adding that to the scope, if anyone cares to elucidate a thought, what in particular dumb*** qualities did McCandless have that led to his so deservedly out of the gene pool?

In all seriousness:

1. The rift with his parents, the likes of whom he did not contact over the two year period.
2. His rejection of social norms. Particularly his penchant for living meal-to-meal at times. I think there is a contradiction in his disdain for money and his acceptance of it at the same time. He both works for it and burns it. At any rate his stance on property and money was quite extreme, much further than Iím willing to take itÖ much further.
3. His lack of preparedness and the risk inherent in his endeavors. Again far beyond what I would accept. Iím surprised he didnít end up in a ditch somewhere long before Alaska. Or done in by one of his pre-Alaskan adventures.

I donít at all disagree with L. Wolf in so much as I think there is validity to that view as well. I may relate to McCandless at a visceral level, in that I relate to some of the feelings he had toward societal ills which most of us simply accept and become callused to.

One thing that struck me was that it didnít seem that his family had affinity to who he was or what he represented, maybe he represented nothing but stupidity or a fractured grasp of reality. Hmmm... To me it all was an intriguing story....

A final note, along the lines of Wolf's dumb*** sentiment is that is exactly what I thought at the conclusion of Jenkins' (I think) Walk Across America. It's been quite a few years so I may have the name and title wrong. Anyway I am sure there are many that would take issue with that, but is is I've never been so let down in the outcome of a journey than that. It worked for him I guess. If I turn into a Southern Baptist at the end of a long hike please somebody drop me off in Alaska in an abandoned bus.

Okay I'm done with this longwinded whatever... just trying to promote a little discussion.

Stuart
02-19-2005, 09:54
This was a idealistic person with some serious mental problems as the book pointed out. If you read the book you realize if he had taken a map with him he could have crossed the stream (that prevented his escape) on a bridge that just a short distance from where he died in that bus. He was also unaware that the plants he was eating were actually hastening his demise.

There is a big difference between a well prepared person who goes into the wild with a plan and a unprepared person who is just courting disaster. Click here (http://www.dickproenneke.com/) to see the story of Dick Proenneke who went to the wilds of Alaska and live there for 35 years alone. He documented his life in "Alone in the Wilderness," a video that has been shown on PBS and I bought. I would highly recommend this video (or the book) and his logical approach to McCandless' haphazard and disastrous trip.

Thanks for the information and link. I'm not sure I agree with "serious mental probelms" and I think the suposition of the book is counter to that, though you may be correct.

It strikes me that like you mention his inexperience may have cost him in not bringing a map.... but then I also wonder what his intentions where for that trip? There was certainly a finality in his written tone and I wonder if he meant that finality to be shorter than longer or longer than shorter. I don't think he was coming back form that.

Anyway digressing from the point of inexperince and being ill prepared, it often strikes me how experinced people are also prone to these type oversights... such as the man in the Smoky Mtns this winter whom was snowed in on the trail for days, suffering frostbite and in a grave situation.... he had been hiking and rescuing people for years, yet he went up solo in the winter with no shelter in his pack because he was headed to Tricorner or somewhere thereabouts. Hmmm.... how would a tent have impacted that situation? Point being I'm surprsed at all levels the risk people take and the things they overlook, experienced or not.

Thanks for the reply. I'll check out the link.

Percival
02-19-2005, 15:49
This guy heeded nature's exit call, and fortunately mankind didn't interfere. Unlike with David Dimwitte, who was also on his way out before intermeddlers got in the way. We have too much dead wood in our gene pool and society. More should follow the example of this one.

The Old Fhart
02-19-2005, 16:42
Stuart-ď I'm not sure I agree with "serious mental probelms" and I think the suposition of the book is counter to that, though you may be correct.ĒI have to admit that my saying he had "serious mental problems" doesnít really express what I meant to say. You have admitted the possibility that his trip to Alaska trip was terminal and talk of ďa fractured grasp of realityĒ so you are also saying he had problems. My point was that, although he wasnít a raving lunatic, I really think that his thought processes crossed the line between what most people would call sane and what could be defined as mental problems. My using the word "serious" is possibly leading to the confusion. I do feel that his problems were serious enough to cause him to act is such an irrational manner that these problems eventually lead to his death. I think the article in Backpacker and the book make this pretty clear.

I also think that Chris McCandless was a highly intelligent person that had that certain fire that make us admire a lot of what he did. Many of us dream of just chucking it all and going to live in the wild. Dick Proenneke did this in a very sane and logical manner but Chris McCandless tragically died following a dream that was flawed from the start. I believe a lot of people would admit that many of the things McCandless did were totally illogical given his knowledge. I consider him neither an idiot or a fool.

hungryhowie
02-20-2005, 01:33
The story of Alexander Supertramp has always been facinating to me. I've read it numerous times (though not in a year or so), and find that people either love it or hate it. They either think of Chris as a hero or an idiot. Myself, I think of him as a hero, and a victorious hero at that. He escaped society, survived against wretched odds in the bush, but bad luck and poor planning (not that I would have expected him to plan the alaska outing) took its toll.

I have a mountaineer friend who is very much a part of society, but almost died in the bush when his appendix ruptured. He was 30 miles from Fairbanks, and alone, but dragged himself back. They didn't know if he'd live or not. Stuff happens. Luck governs much. If I could choose a place to die, the woods would be it.

-howie

LionKing
02-20-2005, 02:35
I thought he had some cool ideas and some great adventures, but it doesnt change the fact that he basically died of stupidity.

I find no fault in his wish and desire to get away from some of societies crap, and some people arent lucky enough to have people close to them who have a single idea of what they are about. He was alone, so it was easy for him to be alone, that part I understand...even with friends and family, not everyone can have a clue as to what is going on inside of a person, even the most healty and well adjusted can breakdown...thats life in the big woods, but again...he died of stupidity.:datz

Stuart
02-20-2005, 09:48
You have admitted the possibility that his trip to Alaska trip was terminal and talk of ďa fractured grasp of realityĒ so you are also saying he had problems.

Not arguing at all... thanks for the reply.... but just to clarify my intended meaning, if I have implied that I thought McCandless had mental problems I have done so unintentionally.

I'm wondering if the tone of finality in his final communcations did relate to a terminal intent or maybe reflected a perception of risk? Hmmm... I don't know. It is pretty clear that he was not a peace with his end. He clearly hoped to escape death, which likely indicates he was not a suicidal person and maybe bolsters the idea that if he did have a terminal design it was for longevity alone in Alaska.

It would have been interesting had he kept a long and detailed journal.

Anyway, I appreciate everyone's response to this topic. Keep em coming if you'd like. Thanks.

Mountain Dew
02-21-2005, 02:28
You openly insult Southern Baptist, but fail to realize that one of the founders of this site is Baptist as well as many others on WB. I take great offense to this. Perhaps you would share with us in detail why you hate Southern Baptists so much. Rather than ask what it is you have against us I'll simply point out a few other obvious points.

You have an unhealthy "affinity" for a kid who often walked into the *woods unequiped, ill prepared, and without basic outdoors knowledge of survival. You claim that he had the guts to act upon his beliefs which in the end cost him his life. BS.

He was just arrogant, ill prepared, and "common sense" stupid enough to get himself into a situation he couldn't get out of. It is often the case that the mentally ill can't and don't see themselves as sick. Somebody that has an affinity for this kind of person is one to keep an eye on.

LW said it perfectly ! I'm glad that idiot didn't add to the gene pool. To bad we can't say that for a few others.

Blue Jay
02-21-2005, 10:26
One minor point. That book was written by an author who is not known for sticking to facts. His books are often clearly fictionalized. Making judgements on someone who cannot defend himself or where no other witness is available, is not always logical. Yes the guy screwed up, who can say they've never done so to a lesser extent? At least he died out there instead of in front of the TV or under an SUV.

steve hiker
02-21-2005, 22:05
I just read the book, and this guy definitely had a death wish. He wasnít as directly sewer-sidal as Hunter S. Thompson or others who put a gun to their head, but he knowingly put himself in a situation where there was a good chance he wouldnít come out alive.

Just before he went into the Alaska bush, he sent a postcard to a friend that said "This is the last you shall hear from me Wayne. Ö If this adventure proves fatal and you donít ever hear from me again I want you to know youíre a great man. I now walk into the wild." He made several other references in his journal to the possibility of his death, as well.

So he walked into the Alaska backcountry in April with nothing but a 10-pound bag of rice, a rifle but no shooting or hunting skills, and a book on edible plants. He was a bright kid who admitted knowing the odds were against him, and he accepted the real possibility that his trip would "prove fatal."

In July he tried to walk out and back to civilization, but the trail was impassable then due to a raging glacial river that had been narrow in April when he hiked in. So he turned around and went back to his camp. (He could have crossed a few hundred yards downsteam, but due to his decision not to take a map, he didn't know about it.)

Then a few weeks later, he unwittingly ate wild potato seeds that had turned poisonous with the advancing season, grew weak, and died. Just like he contemplated.

Stuart
02-21-2005, 23:29
You openly insult Southern Baptist, but fail to realize that one of the founders of this site is Baptist as well as many others on WB. I take great offense to this. Perhaps you would share with us in detail why you hate Southern Baptists so much.

Mountain Dew,

I do not hate Southern Baptists, however my views are very much opposite of those Southern Baptists whom I know, many of my family being Southern Baptist. I understand how my statement is offensive to you and I should have been more considerate in wording of my feel for the Jenkins book. I think that you are right and I was wrong in making that statement here in the manner that I did. My apologies.

Stuart

Stuart
02-21-2005, 23:31
One minor point. That book was written by an author who is not known for sticking to facts. His books are often clearly fictionalized. Making judgements on someone who cannot defend himself or where no other witness is available, is not always logical. Yes the guy screwed up, who can say they've never done so to a lesser extent? At least he died out there instead of in front of the TV or under an SUV.

This is a good point and I recall that in the foreward the author does state that he does take some license in this regard.

steve hiker
02-22-2005, 02:14
Krakauer does not state that he fictionalized anything. The book is composed almost entirely of tracking down what happened to McCandless (Alex Supertramp's real name was Chris McCandless) based on hard facts. For example, the postcards he sent to his friends, an interview with the truck driver who drove him from Fairbanks to the Stampede Trail that he followed into the wilderness, quoting from McCandless's journal, and tracking McCandless's wanderings during the time before he went to Alaska including correspondence and interviews with those who came in contact with him.

By and large, the book appears to be an objective reconstruction of what happened to this guy, and what was going through his mind based on his own written and spoken words.

Krakauer does state in the introductory note, however, that he is not a detached writer. "I won't claim to be an impartial biographer. McCandless's strange tale struck a personal note that made a dispassionate rendering of the tragedy impossible." There is a difference between an inability to be dispassionate about a subject, and fictionalizing it. I just read this book, and Krakauer was able to stick with the facts when speaking of fact, while interjecting some of his own speculation about what was driving this kid to his own death. There is no confusion of the two in the book, however.

Caleb
02-22-2005, 05:07
It was a fully countenanced suicide. He was looking for a way to transcend his own existence, a way to create a reality for himself separate from the physical imperatives of his birth. Failing this, he died. I tell you though, if anyone was going to figure out how to live on 10 pounds of rice for six months, or find a way to levitate or to jump 50 feet, or talk to squirrels, it would have been Chris C.

cjcobb
02-22-2005, 05:35
It wasnt suicide. This was an unfortunate event that shouldnt be idolized nor put down. It is half Thoreau and half ignorance. After I read the book a few years ago i was drawn to Chris. He had qualities and beliefs that represented this generations frustrations with the world that we were to inherit.

steve hiker
02-22-2005, 06:20
It wasnt suicide. This was an unfortunate event that shouldnt be idolized nor put down. It is half Thoreau and half ignorance.
Oh? Then how do you explain this:


Just before he went into the Alaska bush, he sent a postcard to a friend that said "This is the last you shall hear from me Wayne. Ö If this adventure proves fatal and you donít ever hear from me again I want you to know youíre a great man. I now walk into the wild."

Stuart
02-22-2005, 07:03
Krakauer does not state that he fictionalized anything. The book is composed almost entirely of tracking down what happened to McCandless (Alex Supertramp's real name was Chris McCandless) based on hard facts. For example, the postcards he sent to his friends, an interview with the truck driver who drove him from Fairbanks to the Stampede Trail that he followed into the wilderness, quoting from McCandless's journal, and tracking McCandless's wanderings during the time before he went to Alaska including correspondence and interviews with those who came in contact with him.

By and large, the book appears to be an objective reconstruction of what happened to this guy, and what was going through his mind based on his own written and spoken words.

Krakauer does state in the introductory note, however, that he is not a detached writer. "I won't claim to be an impartial biographer. McCandless's strange tale struck a personal note that made a dispassionate rendering of the tragedy impossible." There is a difference between an inability to be dispassionate about a subject, and fictionalizing it. I just read this book, and Krakauer was able to stick with the facts when speaking of fact, while interjecting some of his own speculation about what was driving this kid to his own death. There is no confusion of the two in the book, however.

There ya go... that's what I mean. Did the author say that he did take some license in stating McCandless' feelings at times based upon his own experiences at that age. I'm going from memory.

Caleb
02-22-2005, 09:16
It wasnt suicide. This was an unfortunate event that shouldnt be idolized nor put down. It is half Thoreau and half ignorance. After I read the book a few years ago i was drawn to Chris. He had qualities and beliefs that represented this generations frustrations with the world that we were to inherit.
what Chris did was tantamount to being dropped off in the middle of the ocean without a flotation device. he knew he would need some sort of quantum shift in reality to stay alive (ie learning how to walk on water) but he also knew there was a decent chance he was seting himself up to die. He had a remarkable ability to adapt or shift reality, so he wasn't ever fatalistic, but in Alsaska he rolled the dice and came up short, an outcome possiblity that he understood.

The tragedy is that he had he made it, forever strengthened in his approach to life, success would have accurued to him in just about any venture he could imagine. C

JoeHiker
02-22-2005, 11:35
McCandless postcard was not a suicide note. It was a reflection of the very possible eventuality that he might not survive. The man wanted to live on the very edge of survival and was cognizant of the fact that he was greatly increasing his chances of dying. His previous experiences living "on the edge" in the lower 48 had not prepared him for the Alaskan wilderness but the fact that he was aware of this and went anyway does not make him suicidal or crazy. He did try to go home and he did post a note begging for help.

Back to the original post, one question didn't make sense to me:


3. Did Chris think that he was the only one intellectually capable to converse on his level thus indicating arrogance?
I've read Krakauer's book a couple of times. Yes he was foolhardy, angry, and a bit arrogant but I don't ever recall McCandless or Krakauer expressing the feeling that nobody else was "intellectually capable of conversing on his level". He might have felt that way toward his parents, but not the world in general.

On another note, while I know that Krakauer has a reputation for being a bit arrogant and he wrote both this and (of course) Into Thin Air from a very personal point of view, the man does "stick to facts" as far as I know. Blue Jay, if you have an example to back up your statement to the contrary, I'd like to hear it.

Caleb
02-22-2005, 16:04
McCandless postcard was not a suicide note. It was a reflection of the very possible eventuality that he might not survive. The man wanted to live on the very edge of survival and was cognizant of the fact that he was greatly increasing his chances of dying.
Well I guess we disagree on what constitutes suicide. I think intent is heavily expressed in our actions, and I think suicide can be unintentional in the respect that suicidal behavior can exist without a specific suicidal intent. Is playing Russian Roulette suicidal? A person may not intend to die, may in fact feel powerfully capable and lucky, even able to discern threads of opportunity and safety invisible to others, but if a person chooses to play Russian Roulette, or any other game where the odds do not favor success, I don't have a problem calling that suicidal. C

White Oak
02-22-2005, 17:53
McCandless postcard was not a suicide note.
.
Looks pretty suicideal to me. Telling a friend that its the last time you'll ever hear from me, and if I die remember you're a good dude.

Mags
02-22-2005, 18:28
Don't think he was suicidal; he was just like many men in their late teens/early twenties:
A little cocky, a little idealistic, sure that nothing bad would happen to him.

Before he ate the seeds in question, he wrote in his personal journal more or less that he was ready to move on. If he had survived he'd be one of the many people who did some crazy and reckless things in their early 20s then who laugh about it later and filter out the bad parts of their experience.

I honestly don't think he meant to kill himseff; he just went on an adventure that he was woefully unprepared and ignorant about. There was a good chance he would have survived and we would not be having this conversation about him now.

God knows I did some stupid things ten years ago (my girlfriend says I **SAY** stupid things nowadays, but that's another story. :D) that while did not leave me to die in Alaska somwhere it could have caused some unfortunante events. Just like most of us.

Anyway, I don't think he meant to kill himself. He just rolled the dice one too many times and came up short.

Blue Jay
02-22-2005, 19:52
Krakauer does not state that he fictionalized anything. Krakauer does state in the introductory note, however, that he is not a detached writer.

No, he didn't state that in "Into Thin Air" either. If you read the book by the real hero of the story on Everest, the Russian, Anatoli (spelled wrong), you'll find a completely different version. Krakauer and facts don't mix very well, he's a story teller. Nothing wrong with that, just don't get carried away believing everything he writes.

Jack Tarlin
02-22-2005, 22:07
The work Blue Jay mentions is the late Anatoli Boukreev's 1998 book, "The Climb." It is excellent.

ga>me>ak
02-22-2005, 23:47
I don't think he went to the woods to die,but, stuff happens. Before he went out, he studied up on survival skills,etc. He spent a month or so at the university studying up on edible native plants. The plant he was eating does not allow your body to absorb nutients from anything you eat. You could eat all day and still starve to death. Even Native Eskimos confuse this root with the edible root. Always wondered why someone hasn't studied this root and used it for weight loss. Eat all you want and still waste away :-?

JoeHiker
02-23-2005, 12:20
No, he didn't state that in "Into Thin Air" either. If you read the book by the real hero of the story on Everest, the Russian, Anatoli (spelled wrong), you'll find a completely different version. Krakauer and facts don't mix very well, he's a story teller. Nothing wrong with that, just don't get carried away believing everything he writes.
Never having read Anatoli's book, I can't comment on what he says. But it sounds to me like Krakauer and Anatoli disagreed on what the facts were. Perhaps Anatoli and the facts don't mix very well.

MOWGLI
02-23-2005, 12:55
Perhaps Anatoli and the facts don't mix very well.

Didn't mix - not don't mix. He is dead. He was killed in a climbing accident a few years ago.

By the way, there was quite a storm of controversy about the events that took place on Everest. There are always two sides to every story, and since I don't think anyone from WB was up on the mounatin that year, we'll never know what the "real truth" is. Will we?

steve hiker
02-23-2005, 13:04
In "The Climb," Boukreev explains what happened on Everest from his perspective. I've heard that Krakauer cast much of the blame for the tragedy on Boukreev in "Into Thin Air," but after reading Boukreev's account, I don't see that at all. Unfortunately, you almost never hear of Boukreev's excellent book, since Into Thin Air gets all the publicity.

As to Into The Wild (about McCandless), however, Krakauer does seem to make a genuine effort to stick to objective facts.

rickb
02-23-2005, 15:34
Someday someone is going to make a movie showing how different people view the same situation form very different perspectives. Perhaps in an exotic setting in another age.

While its old news, there is plenty of stuff on the net to remind us that there was a whole lot of debate over the Everest tragedy. At a minimum, I think Krakauer believes in his version of the truth, and wrote a great book regarding McCandless's life.

This was from a quick google.

http://archive.salon.com/wlust/feature/1998/08/14featureb.html

Jack Tarlin
02-23-2005, 15:34
No, JoeHiker, YOU and the facts don't seem to mix well.

One of the key things you discover in Boukreev's book is that while Krakauer was lying stoned in his tent and pretty much useless, Boukreev was making repeated efforts to save people's lives.

Read the book, Joe, and then feel free to comment. Right now tho, your comments about a very brave man, now dead and incapable of defending himself anymore, are pretty ignorant.

The Solemates
02-23-2005, 16:09
Just would like to note that I have read Into the Wild, but since Into Thin Air keeps popping up, which I have also read, additionally I have read:

The Climb by the late Anatoli Boukreev
Left for Dead by Beck Weathers
Climbing High by Lene Gammelgaard

all of which deal with the 1996 Everest tragedy, so I would say I am somewhat informed of the ordeal. With that said, I think it is foolish to take sides on such an issue. Each person has their account of what took place, each mixed with a certain amount of disallusion that life at 28,000 feet can bring. Its not worth arguing over here.

Jack Tarlin
02-23-2005, 17:44
I agree with you; it's been done to death elsewhere.

All I was saying is that it's pretty silly to speculate on whether or not an author has his facts straight when one starts a post by acknowledging that one hasn't bothered to read the book in question: It's kinda hard to fault a guy's facts or statements if you haven't a clue as to what he actually said.

And in that the poor man is now dead, it's all the more important that people attempt to get a handle on the facts before making idle speculation about a guy no longer capable of speaking for himself.

rickb
02-23-2005, 18:04
I don't think Boukreev's tragic death much changes the probability that he would defend himself here.

Jack Tarlin
02-23-2005, 19:00
Geez, Rick, do you HAVE to be so snotty so often? And do you practice, or are you that smug every day?

No, I don't suppose Boukreev would've checked in here, even were he able.

My point was that I found it distasteful to speak ill of folks who can no longer speak for themselves.

Sorry if you think there's something wrong with that.

rickb
02-23-2005, 19:19
"My point was that I found it distasteful to speak ill of folks who can no longer speak for themselves"

Thanks for the clarification, Jack.

And here I thought you were b-slapping a joehiker for posting a objectively true and rather non-judgemental statement.

Rick B

SavageLlama
02-23-2005, 21:56
In short, Supertramp was a kook but he wasn't suicidal. Damn potato seeds!

Have you heard the country tune about Alexander by Ellis Paul? Unintentionally the funniest song ever. Give it a listen at Amazon...

"The Ballad of Chris McCandless"
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00006IK48/qid=1109208218/sr=2-2/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_2/104-3106983-5203157
(scroll down to song samples)

Spirit Walker
02-24-2005, 10:49
Reading the original article in Outside magazine, I thought Chris was an idiot. But after reading the much more detailed and sympathetic book, I realized that Chris was not that different from a lot of long distance hikers I know who have chosen to leave the middle class lifestyle in which they were raised to live an alternate existence. Like us, he wanted to live a simple and adventurous life. How many multiple thruhikers come from homes that are not that different from Chris' and now live in near poverty as they raise money for their next hike? How many of us yearn for more adventure, more wilderness, living more on the edge?

I don't think Chris' note was proof that he was suicidal - simply realistic. When we went to Alaska, I had the same kind of thoughts - small plane through the mountains, backpacking in grizzly country, long drives on rough highways, yep better make sure the will is updated before we go. Same thing with the CDT. I am realistic/fatalistic enough to know that stuff happens in backcountry areas.

Not having a map was really not a good idea, but my impression of it was he wanted to get a feeling for being in real wilderness. Chris would never have done a thruhike, for example, because it is much too civilized, there is too much information and assistance out there for the hikers. We drove past the area where he died last summer and I was surprised that it was not far off the highway between Fairbanks and Denali -- in other words, in order to get a true wilderness feeling, he had to work at it a bit. Smart, no - but understandable to those of us who really yearn for the real thing.

JoeHiker
02-24-2005, 11:14
No, JoeHiker, YOU and the facts don't seem to mix well.

One of the key things you discover in Boukreev's book is that while Krakauer was lying stoned in his tent and pretty much useless, Boukreev was making repeated efforts to save people's lives.

Read the book, Joe, and then feel free to comment. Right now tho, your comments about a very brave man, now dead and incapable of defending himself anymore, are pretty ignorant.
Whoa Jack, I'm not trying to pick a fight with you. Did I really deserve that bitch slap? Go back and read what I wrote. I wasn't disrespecting Boukreev or anyone else. I was merely saying that just because one man's account disputes that of another man's does not inherently make either one of them more credible.

Basically what I heard BlueJay say was that Krakauer made things up because someone else had a different version. That's it.

Well how do we know that Anatoli didn't make things up and that Krakauer wasn't closer to the truth? Or how do we know that each man reported exactly what happened as best he knew?

It's not like I've gone and researched every available account on what happened up there. I'm not making any claim about either man. I'm certainly not saying Boukreev is a bad man. I'm saying I don't know and merely comparing two sides of the story is not compelling evidence, no matter what each man says.

There is nothing in one account of any tale that inherently makes it more "true". If there are several other sources that back up Boukreev and disagree with Krakauer than I'd certainly lean that way. But by themselves, they are just two sides of a story

JoeHiker
02-24-2005, 11:47
Someday someone is going to make a movie showing how different people view the same situation form very different perspectives. Perhaps in an exotic setting in another age.
Are you referring to Rashomon by Kurosawa? I'm guessing you must be (so perhaps I'm densely pointing out the obvious) but I wasn't sure

Blue Jay
02-24-2005, 18:32
Basically what I heard BlueJay say was that Krakauer made things up because someone else had a different version. That's it.


No, I did not say Krakauer made things up because there are different versions. Krakauer makes things up because he is a story teller and makes his living telling stories. True or not he could care less, he's out for the money. Boukreev might not even have written his book if he had not been slandered by Krakauer. Don't get me wrong he makes up great stories. My point was and is only that you cannot make judgements on a persons life due to someone who is making money telling his story. If he makes up things when he is at an event, he surely will and did make them up when he was not even near the bus at the time and never even met the guy. Fiction based on fact is just that, not actual fact.

JoeHiker
02-25-2005, 04:02
No, I did not say Krakauer made things up because there are different versions. Krakauer makes things up because he is a story teller and makes his living telling stories. True or not he could care less, he's out for the money.

How do you know. What on earth is your basis for that judgement? Getting paid to tell what you saw does not make your account any less credible.

[qutoe]Boukreev might not even have written his book if he had not been slandered by Krakauer.[/quote]
Did Boukreev not get paid for HIS side of the story? Should I disregard his account for that reason? Of course not. Boukreev had his own reasons for writing his book that went beyond money. If what Krakauer wrote was true, he had ever motivation to rebut it in print, regardless.


If he makes up things when he is at an event, he surely will and did make them up when he was not even near the bus at the time and never even met the guy. Fiction based on fact is just that, not actual fact.
What exactly now did Krakauer invent that he did not identify as his own invention?

Krakauer seems to have done a hell of a lot more research about his topic than DeWalt/Boukreev. He interviewed far more of the people involved.

I've already heard about Krakauer's somewhat arrogant nature. My sister in law used to know him well so I've heard the stories of his... shall we say "personality defects". But playing loose and fast with the truth was not one of them. The one thing that struck me about the man was that he seemed fanatic about identifying both his sources and his own failings in this journey. Based on the Salon.com articles, he certainly seems to have done a hell of a lot more research than DeWalt and interviewed far more of the people involved.

Obviously I need to read DeWalt's book to make a more complete judgement. As I mentioned previously, I am NOT condemning Boukreev by any means and I am not saying his account is wrong.

Regardless what we have here is another Rashomon. But your statement about Krakauer "making things up" needs an explanation. SO far, I don't see that he "made up" anything at all. What specifically are you talking about?

JoeHiker
02-25-2005, 04:04
(My apologies for the disjointed and repetitive nature of the previous post. Oh for an edit button in this forum!)

Charlie Brown
02-25-2005, 12:44
Getting back to the original subject of this thread, Chris McCandless aka Alexander Supertramp (Although Into Thin Air is a great book too). I just finished reading the book for the first time two days ago, and can really relate to it. There is a lot of talk regarding suicide or not. Some say the postcards suggest it was suicide while others use the plea for help as evidence he wanted to live. It is my opinion that Chris McCandless went 'into the wild' to come to terms with Alex Supertramp (i.e. kill AS).

If you analyze the situation, the postcards to Westerberg and Burris were signed Alex (if I am remembering right), while the SOS plea was penned as Chris McCandless. Alex Supertramp was Chris's second life and it can be seen throughout the book that Alex is a very different person than Chris. Alex was the philosopher who was looking for the meaning of existence while Chris was the real person looking to go back to civilization but was stopped by the river, or was it Alex holding him back. If he really wanted out, he would have searched for a way.

So, in the end, Alex and Chris became inseparable. Chris went into the woods to end the Alex part of his life, which he did, but ended up losing Chris too.

Blue Jay
02-25-2005, 18:25
Getting paid to tell what you saw does not make your account any less credible.

It certainly does, people will write anything for money. Krakaur was not in the bus and neither was anyone else who he "researched".

What exactly now did Krakauer invent that he did not identify as his own invention?

THE ENTIRE BOOK, again he was not in the bus. The entire book was based on hearsay and inuendo from others who WERE NOT ON THE BUS either. I hope you don't read Steven King, you'll think there are evil cars and monsters everywhere because Mr. King did his research.

But your statement about Krakauer "making things up" needs an explanation. SO far, I don't see that he "made up" anything at all.

I'm sure Mormons will love his new book "Under the Banner of Heaven" where he slanders an entire religion. You bring new meaning to the word gullible.

Blue Jay
02-25-2005, 18:28
Sorry I screwed up that last post. My answers to Joe got stuck in with his quotes. No way to edit.

kentucky
02-25-2005, 18:41
Well I will put mt 2cents worth in the pot I think He was crazy in the first place trying to live out their like a mountain man with very little skills besides plant books to live off and well even I have done pretty ignorant things but a living dog is better than a dead lion:dance kentucky

rickb
02-25-2005, 20:17
"You bring new meaning to the word gullible."

I wish I remembered the detail in the books I read and the names of movies, too. I remember the ideas behind Rashoman more than the movie itself, but couldn't imagine a better real life parallel. Here is a good link that doesn't prove anything (what's the point) but is interesting none the less. I have always made it a practice to give away the book I've enjoyed. Now I feel like a chump, because the ones in this thread would most certainly be worth visiting again.

http://archive.salon.com/wlust/feature/1998/08/cov_03feature.html

After revisiting some of this stuff, I can see how a person who invites risk in the way a mountaineer does became attracted to McCandless once he got into the story. What I can't figure out is how in heck Krakauer was motivated to dig into the details of what on the surface wasn't much of a tale at all.

Blue Jay
02-25-2005, 22:58
What I can't figure out is how in heck Krakauer was motivated to dig into the details of what on the surface wasn't much of a tale at all.

Because it's a flat out great story and a great book. Like Paul Bunyan and the Blue Ox or Peter Pan which were also based on real people. He turned an obscure guy into a legend. Fiction just does not often get any better than that. He even get some people to believe it's true. That's the mark of a great story teller.

JoeHiker
02-26-2005, 03:14
I'm sure Mormons will love his new book "Under the Banner of Heaven" where he slanders an entire religion. You bring new meaning to the word gullible.
Well, one of us does, anyway.