🖋️ Jon Krakauer
📖 I read the original paperback.
These are summary notes of surprising information, written so I can better remember what I read.
The book in 3 sentences
Into the Wild in 3 sentences:
- A need to live by one’s own means as a real challenge, a manly thing to do, youthfull risktaking to the extreme: it’s only a challenge if success is not assured.
- Gets lots of criticism for not having sufficient “respect for the land” and knowledge of survivial, but he lived 112 days in the Alaskan wilderness with only a bag of rice and a gun. None of his critics have done that, and few could.
- RE: Sources of happiness; Chris was addiment that it came from mmore than just interpersonal, but then when he was in the bush he started writing “Happiness is only true when shared.” That’s a full about face on the merits of sharing the experience.
At first I resented the kid, as an astonishing number of people did, for his apparent HUBRIS. But I slowly realized he was so close to success, with such a razor sharp margin of error, he nearly made it work in astounding fashon. The kid was resourceful, determined, skilled, poetic at times. He cared.
The book was a captivating read, especially once I got to see the mertis of Chris’s preparation instead of resenting his risk taking.
Philosophy: Happiness is best when shared. Chris goes back and forth on this, and it depends on the person, but it carries weight.
I think he went into the Wilderness in part just to spite his parents and his mission was slightly suicidal because he didn’t care if he lived or died and wanted to prove his parents wrong either way. Actually, after finishing the book I think he was not suicidal, and very careful in his preparation, he just had huge ambition and it actually almost worked! He got unlucky eating those potato seeds that literally nobody really knew were poisonous during only a certain window of the growing season.
Page 64 talks about how he didn’t get along with his parents and wanted to prove those idiots wrong once and for all. So much of his mission seems driven by platitudes of youth: a desire to prove parents wrong (via risk taking), self-sufficiency and a romanticized notion of the land imprinted upon him by reading Tolstoy.
Chris McCandless (the subject of the book) read a lot of Tolstoy and emulated Tolstoy’s mission of giving up privilege to wander the destitute.
“Sometimes he tried too hard to make sense of the world, to figure out why people are bad to each other so often. A couple of times I tried to tell him it was a mistake to get too deep into that kind of stuff, the Alex got stuck on things.” p.19
“a world in which he felt grievously cut off from the raw throb of existence. p.22
Changed name from Chris McCandless → Alexander Supertramp (ahh the origins of the supertramp name).
It is the experiences, the memories, the great triumphant Joy of living to the fullest extent in which real meaning is found. God it is great to be alive! p.37
I’d like to repeat the advice I gave you before in that I think you really should make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may have previously never thought of doing or had been to attempt. p.55
But in reality nothing is more damaging to The Adventurous Spirit within a man than a secure future. p.56
Some fun vocab
Convivial: friendly, lively, and enjoyable. “a convivial cocktail party”
Asceticism: severe self-discipline and avoiding all forms of indulgence.