For my November film review I chose Into the Wild. The 2007 film itself is not remarkable in an artistic sense, but it remains a fair but watered down retelling of the true story of Chris McCandless, as depicted in the 1996 non-fiction book written by Jon Krakauer, an intelligent biographical account of Chris McCandless’ two-year trek through America and into the Wilderness of Alaska from 1990 through to 1992, where he met his end; penniless, alone, poisoned and dying of starvation in a hollowed out rusty old bus. It is this story that is interesting. I don’t wish to recite the complete story, one can read the book or watch the movie and google as they see fit, but I will comment on McCandless’ motivations and reasoning and legacy.
Chris McCandless was a young man from a well-to-do, upper Middle Class, East Coast family, he had grown up in an affluent suburb of Washington D.C. where is father ran a multi-million dollar consulting firm and was an ex NASA executive. Chris had excelled academically and had been a competing athlete through his schooling, he was well-liked, socially adapted and handsome looking. After graduating, with honors, from Emroy University where he had studied history and anthropology, he seemed set to go on to study Law at Harvard and indicated to his proud parents that he was thinking about doing just that. However there was another side to Chris that had always been present in him, in the very heart of Middle America, a member of the most indoctrinated and disoriented generation in history was unsettled and stirring, awakening.
Immediately after his graduation ceremony in the summer of 1990 at Emroy University with thousands of other young American future wage-slaves, flushed with the excitement of having completed their assigned task of narrowing their minds, and the rituals and trinkets they would receive from the authority for their dutiful behaviour; their superior ability to sit still in a chair for extended periods of time, regurgitate useless and false information, when to act like a sycophant and when just to shut up and say nothing! All contented in the affirmation that what awaited them was more servitude than they had already been subjected to, passing from one degree of servitude into another, a higher degree of servitude. ‘Graduation’ is literally a process of insensible movement by degree, slowly and with no feeling or perception, to be deprived of sensation, i.e. unconcious, unaware, an insensible transition, stages devoid of sense! This is what schooling is in our modern Western World and realized most effectively in America. The training of a slave; a slave should not think, should not be conscious, a slave must be devoid of genuine intuitive feeling and emotion, it must not sense reality, it must not use its natural senses, it must be insensible!
Chris did indeed feel something, he felt that this process was wrong, he sensed it was wrong, he sensed the screws tightening, the binds strengthening, the mind numbing, the senses bound in slow gradual atrophy, and this enraged repressed Chris knew it internally but outwardly he found he could only submit to its dominance, he was being conditioned by the protoplasmic nuclear family, the hypocrisy and falsity of social engineering and habitual meaningless rituals, by the centralized institutions of mass programing and desensitizing. Eventually Chris decided to rebel.
“So irrational, so oppressive, disrespectful and insulting that I finally passed my breaking point. Since they won’t ever take me seriously, for a few months after graduation I’m going to let them think I am ‘coming round to see their side of things’ and that our relationship is stabilizing. And than, once the time is right, with one abrupt, swift action I’m going to completely knock them out of my life. I’m going to divorce them as my parents once and for all and never speak to either of those idiots again as long as I live. I’ll be through with them once and for all, forever.” – Chris McCandless
An Aryan concept to wait and strike when the opposition is least prepared at the most unexpected time with no plan divulged, meeting deception with deception. Chris wanted to strike against the psychological foundations of the Middle Class nuclear family and the society which had bred it, a world of abstraction and shadow, security in material excess of his parents and peers, not because he could not handle the duties allotted to him in his life, but because he could handle them and better than most, thus he would not be seen as one who failed but one who deliberately and consciously decided to throw it all away, to trash it, smash his conveyer-belt to such an extent that is would be impossible to return to his previous life. He would forge a new life for himself unencumbered from the suffocating institutions of nuclear family and gradual desensitizing, culminating in servile wage-slavery, taking comfort only in materialism for comforts sake till death on the sacrificial altars of American Zion.
He chose to lose everything even himself, in a series of misadventures characterized by lack of planing, personal care and preservation. With his $25,000 college fund he decided to give it away, and burnt his final few dollars and licence, security number and all I.D., in a symbolic act of defiance and embarked on a journey across America to wander among the destitute and seek the desolation of natures expanses. He changed his name to ‘Alexander Supertramp’, his alter-ego, and did indeed live up to the name, tramping the highways, sleeping rough, displaying little concern for food or shelter. and defying all convention and conformity to entrenched social conditioning, mass behaviour patterns, regulations and institutions.
“All Hail the Dominant Primordial Beast! And Captain Ahab Too!” – Alexander Supertramp.
I guess the new Supertramp felt somewhat liberated, and strong, he wanted to escape the softening effects of suburban life, he wanted to be self-reliant and become stronger and less dependent, the opposite of what his previous life had required of him, in his own words;
“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 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.”
It’s a definite subversive statement against Middle Class America, although popular culture abounds with subversive attitude there were very few who were willing in the early 1990’s to forsake guaranteed middle class soft luxury and security and social conformity for a life of a lonely, penniless hitchhiker and part-time itinerate labourer feeding of the left-overs of society. At that time much like today young people imagine rebellion to be singing along to Guns N Roses recording, pouring beer down their throat and taking their pants off…Not that Supertramp could not socialize or party and drink or play music, he could play honky-tonk like anything, sink booze and dance like idiot as well, it’s not like that is difficult, anybody can do that, it’s just that it’s not rebellious, it’s social conformity. Alexander Supertramp was not a Revolutionary but he was rebellious. And that subversive rebellion does not come across in the film version of Into the Wild as much as in the book, the film tends to portray McCandless as a type of daydreaming, naive innocent, dwelling on his incapabilities rather than his capabilities, the film makes him out to be weaker and more timid and shy than he really was, from the book;
“Gallien asked whether he had a hunting license. “Hell no!” Alex scoffed. “How I feed myself is none of the government’s business. Fuck their stupid rules.”
McCandless held authority in total contempt and was not afraid to express this, he was quite fierce and vocal of his opposition to the established rule in all aspects of society, his holy hatred and determinations at revenge Captain Ahab style are explored in the book but non-represented in the film. In the Hollywood version the primordial Beast within the Supertramp is nullified.
“I think careers are a 20th century invention” – Alexander Supertramp
Yep, they are indeed, a post 1945 social engineering tool, ‘career’ is from the Latin medical term – Carus, meaning; Coma with complete insensibility; deep lethargy. That’s the next degree of ‘graduation’, once desensitized the slave is then assigned to mindless labour totally insensible resulting in a comatose state of deep lethargy, that’s ‘career’.
By defying entrenched law and material aspirations, McCandless opens the doors to the search for “Higher Laws” and ascetics. McCandless highlights Thoreau’s Walden; “When I had caught and cleaned and cooked and eaten my fish, they seemed not to have fed me essentially. It was insignificant and unnecessary, and cost more than it came to.” And it would be exactly this that would end up being the death of McCandless. He ends up in a conundrum, a bind, acting on the illusion that Nature alone can provide for a lone man, McCandless is caught in the trap of a nutrient deficiency, Nature is not providing enough to sustain him, not after all the energy is expended acquiring the food necessary to sustain himself, after a while McCandless is totally consumed with the search for and consumption of food, which is the total opposite of his so-called ‘spiritual odyssey’, his ascetic goals, and he begins to realize the futility of his position, which is by now hopelessly disoriented;
“The repugnance to animal food is not the effect of experience, but is an instinct. It appeared more beautiful to live low and fare in many respects; and though I never did so, I went far enough to please my imagination. I believe that every man who has ever been earnest to preserve his higher or poetic faculties in the best condition has been particularly inclined to abstain from animal food, and from much food of any kind…It is hard to provide and cook so simple and clean diet as will not offend the imagination; but this, I think, is to be fed when we feed the body; they should both sit down at the same table. Yet perhaps this may be done. The fruits eaten temperately need not make us ashamed of our appetites, nor interrupt the worthiest pursuits. But put an extra condiment into your dish, and it will poison you.”
McCandless underlines these passages, but in his own personal journal there are very few ascetic abstractions and metaphysical reflection, and as time goes on McCandless neither comments on the surrounding scenery or appreciation of Nature, his daily journal become almost entirely concerned with the search for food, listing what he ate and how much he ate, the journal becomes no manifesto for spiritual revolution as he intended but a mere tally for game killed and plants foraged;
“consciousness of food. Eat and cook with concentration…Holy Food.” – Alexander Supertramp
But you see it’s not really alter-ego “Supertramp” anymore, here in these photo’s, it’s “Foolish Recreational Hunter”, the onset of the ‘Lone-Wolf Syndrome (LWS)’. He was better off as a highway tramp and itinerant farm worker, agitating the lower classes, practicing civil disobedience, preaching against the hypocrisy and degeneracy of Middle Class America. It is in his dream of Alaska, a wild place away from corrupting society, that the young developing Aryan becomes totally disoriented, succumbs to the unfortunate propaganda of his institutional anthropology and history indoctrination of his University schooling, which he was supposed to rebel against, but all he is doing in Alaska is mixing the American fantasies of Jack London with evolutionary based anthropology. McCandless believes that the wilderness was man’s natural habitat, that humans ‘evolved’ from living in caves and hunting wild animals, the ‘noble savage’, that that is his original state in the purest sense, when in reality that is all lies. Humans never lived in caves, the ‘caveman’ is propaganda as is all of evolutionary tall tales. I could go into why humans never lived in caves, but I would expect that the reader should be able to figure out why. But McCandless couldn’t and that is why he ends up dead, if he wanted to go out into real wilderness and not some old bus on a disused mining road a couple of days walk from town, he should never of used his last $125 to buy a gun, to go recreational hunting, that’s not survival, that’s recreation, with $125 McCandless could have eaten like a king for three days in town then bought food rations, before trekking out for 1 week into the wilderness, eating all the way, then fasting for 3-4 weeks while meditating on the great beauty of wild Nature, instead of foraging for berries and roots and shooting at anything that moved, which only wastes huge amounts of energy that cannot adequately be replaced, plus stressing the mind and body. McCandless would have soon realized his spiritual revolution would soon turn outwards rather than inwards after a couple of weeks alone in the mountains, the Aryan is marked by his outward vision not his inward vision, the Aryan stands above the ruins of civilization and sees all, the Aryan need not flee lower life, lower life flees from the Aryan. McCandless could have developed this view and realized his full potential instead of succumbing to unfortunate propaganda programming. But none-the-less he was still one of the cleverest young men of his generation, who struck a well placed blow into the decaying heart of American Nuclear Middle Class Family culture, he showed he had no obligation towards it, he disregarded it and rejected it even though it led to physical hardship, pain, loneliness, hunger and eventually death.
Chris McCandless wanted to escape the poisons of modern, suburban, sedentary civilization, he ended up dying of poisoning in a semi-wilderness. The Aryan cannot escape the world, He/She is here to Change the World! What is the lesson to be learnt from the disoriented young Aryan Chris McCandless? DON’T FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS! AND DON’T SUCCUMB TO THE ILLUSIONS! DON’T BE DECIEVED!