I think I’ve found my new favourite book.
I bet you weren’t expecting that. I know that I wasn’t, certainly – I haven’t even finished it yet.
Into the Wild is tragically beautiful, and alternately will screw with and linger upon your mind. I’ve got the feeling that it will continue to linger with me for at least six months, until I’m compelled to read it again. I’ve had possibly the most intense form of influence, with an existential crisis in the middle of Mass (Catholic school perks) making me doubt my existence, the consciousness of others (do they consciously live? do they know how fantastic it is that they are alive?) and the existence of God. I then decided that God’s existence was highly unlikely, the fact that we were talking and singing to a deity that was probably invented to fill a gap in humanity’s lives was a ridiculous notion, and would therefore reconsider my faith.
All of this because of the story of Christopher ‘Alexander Supertramp’ McCandless.
McCandless had set off to the Alaskan wilderness to find himself, to prove to himself that he could live off of Nature’s provisions – nobody truly knows for certain. This is because McCandless’ 30kg body was later discovered in a discarded bus that he had been using as a base camp.
This book is brilliant because it’s true. McCandless was alive, he actually did these things, he lived. Although the power of Krakaeur’s writing (and the sheer thoroughness of his investigation into McCandless’ life) is a major factor in my love for Into the Wild, I cannot stop thinking about the idea of McCandless being a living, breathing, eating, thinking human being, and his love for life and experience shines through the pages. It was worse when I saw the photos that he had taken – I had the misfortune of buying one of those movie promotion copies, and I was compelled to see what he looked like – because I was knocked over at how real everything is. Mountains, ice, wilderness, McCandless’ gaunt frame and face and emotive eyes and the fact that he was actually experiencing the scenes depicted in those scant snapshots. I can’t seem to shake that notion away. I don’t think I want to shake it.
Please, please read Into the Wild. On a personal level, it has reignited my wanderlust, blown my mind with said existential crises, and stressed the importance of experiencing, rather than existing. That’s the most important messaged that’s been conveyed to me. I don’t want to live my life curled in bed, typing, listening to Radio 4 (my favoured position right now). I want to live, I want to learn, I want to realise that I don’t need all these possessions and societal status and a steady job and a steady husband and two children. I don’t want to be dictated to by the media.
I want I want I want.
Please, just read it. It’s revolutionary. Read it, and spread it. We all need to be more conscious, personally and socially. Living.