I am back at City University tonight to examine Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild with the creative writing non-fiction MA students. It’s a dangerous read at this point of the year, when spring is on the way and holidays are on the mind.
For those of you who haven’t read/seen Into the Wild, it documents Christopher McCandless’ life; a young American who rejected human society in the early ‘90s and walked out into the wilderness. He died as something of a martyr to the wandering human spirit – and his story is enough to kindle a glimmer of adventure in the most homely of souls. Here is his manifesto, scrawled against a sheet of weathered plywood inside a rusting bus in the Alaskan bush where he would shortly die.
“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. Escaped from Atlanta. Thou shalt not return, ‘cause “the west is the best.” And now after two rambling years comes the final and greatest adventure. The climactic battle to kill the false being within and victoriously conclude the spiritual pilgrimage. Ten days and nights of freight trains and hitchhiking bring him to the great white north. No longer to be poisoned by civilisation he flees, and walks alone upon the land to become lost in the wild.“
Alexander Supertramp, May 1992
(And all that noted, I’m off to catch a train to London Euston).