Into the Wild - Book Group

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Richard + Jela
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Into the Wild - Book Group

Postby Richard + Jela » Tue Aug 29, 2006 3:49 am

Now that we have voted 'Into the Wild' by Jon Krakauer as our first read I am looking forward to seeing what others think about it.

As it's not a particularly long book I think that four weeks should ample time in which to read it and suggest therefore that we start posting our individual comments with effect from Monday September 25th.

I prefer to specify a 'posting comments date' so that everybody knows the time frame available for reading the book. We are then clear about the date after which comments may be posted. I know that some of you, like me, have already read the book but I think that it could spoil the enjoyment of the story if comments were posted whilst people may still be reading it.

Hope that this is ok with you all. Happy Reading!

Jela

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Postby KarenZ » Tue Aug 29, 2006 9:41 am

Jela,

September 25 sounds good! OK everybody...we have 4 weeks to read and/or re-read this book! :)

KarenZ
"Some people are born to make great art and others are born to appreciate it. It is a kind of talent in itself, to be an audience, whether you are the spectator in the gallery or you are listening to the voice of the world's greatest soprano. Not everyone can be the artist. There have to be those who witness the art, who love and appreciate what they have been privileged to see." -- Ann Patchett in Bel Canto.

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bonuela
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Postby bonuela » Wed Aug 30, 2006 8:32 am

Thanks to Karen, I got the book last night and started it right away. It grabbed me right away, and I look forward to learning some new vocabulary, but I'll get into specifics once we start discussing for real.

Karen, to express my gratitude.......


ELLIS PAUL IS AN INCREDIBLE SONGWRITER!!!!!!!
I let my music take me where my heart wants to go. ~ Cat Stevens

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Postby KarenZ » Wed Aug 30, 2006 8:51 am

Oh Bonnie.....what a way to start the day. You made me smile. :) Now I'm thinking bumperstickers with that rainbow declaration would be great. :)

Actually, it was thanks to the U.S. Postal Service.....a veritable enigma considering it took poor Patti ten days to get her EP lapel pins. The distance between Pennyslvania and Massachusetts didn't get shorter recently, did it? ;)

bonuela wrote:ELLIS PAUL IS AN INCREDIBLE SONGWRITER!!!!!!!


KarenZ
"Some people are born to make great art and others are born to appreciate it. It is a kind of talent in itself, to be an audience, whether you are the spectator in the gallery or you are listening to the voice of the world's greatest soprano. Not everyone can be the artist. There have to be those who witness the art, who love and appreciate what they have been privileged to see." -- Ann Patchett in Bel Canto.

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into the wild

Postby care » Wed Aug 30, 2006 10:22 am

i have read most of into the wild - i found it to be a good book but you definatly do have to learn some new vocab.
i'll read through it again and join in this book club thingy. :)

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Postby paddyinthepub » Wed Aug 30, 2006 10:30 am

The original magazine article by Jon Krakauer (sp?) :oops: had me hooked on Chris' journey and life story right away. It helped that Ellis' song was a prequel to my interest in his story. Now a movie directed by Sean Penn too!!! I believe the magazine article is easily linked to over in another thread on this forum.

That's for any of yous guys on the fence about this book club's first selection...it hooked me right away..and likely will you as well.

New vocabulary? Hmmn...now I'm really anxious to get started.
"once we're inside, it's a carnival ride" ~ ellis paul
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Postby Lauren » Thu Aug 31, 2006 9:01 am

I'm embarassed to say I got this book eons ago, and have yet to read it! :oops: Now I have the perfect excuse, though - count me in! I'm moving on Saturday (hence my recent board disappearance - packing frenzy) but as soon as I'm settled (and I've unpacked it, of course :shock: ), I'm cracking it open!

YAY!!!
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~Lauren

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Book Club

Postby shannon » Fri Sep 01, 2006 3:30 pm

Strangely enough I grabbed Into the Wild off my book shelf a couple weeks ago and re-read it........probably for the third or fourth time. always looking for someone to chat about this book with. Definately a must read. Can't wait to discuss. Happy reading!

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Postby KarenZ » Tue Sep 05, 2006 1:29 pm

How's everyone doing with the book? I'm about half-way through on my re-read. It's been 5 years since I first read it and it's like I'm reading it for the first time. Please don't start any discussion! I'm just curious about how we're all progressing. ;)

KarenZ
"Some people are born to make great art and others are born to appreciate it. It is a kind of talent in itself, to be an audience, whether you are the spectator in the gallery or you are listening to the voice of the world's greatest soprano. Not everyone can be the artist. There have to be those who witness the art, who love and appreciate what they have been privileged to see." -- Ann Patchett in Bel Canto.

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Postby bonuela » Tue Sep 05, 2006 3:53 pm

I'm already halfway through. I'm not sure, but I think I know how it ends. :P
I let my music take me where my heart wants to go. ~ Cat Stevens

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Postby JayceK » Tue Sep 05, 2006 9:23 pm

I'm done with the book for the first time. Thought it was fantastic and even though you sorta know the end the details are suprisingly interesting. I'm not trying to get into the discussion prematurely but if this story interests you, you should go rent the documentary Grizzly Man. I can draw soooo many parallels between Chris McCandless and Timothy Treadwell (the guy the documentary is about) it's not even funny. It's a wonderful documentary about a very misunderstood guy who lost his life as a result of his passion. Some think he's stupid, some admire him for following his dreams. Seriously go rent it... NOW!
"Better to have lived in hope than to never have lived at all!"

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Postby bonuela » Mon Sep 11, 2006 3:44 pm

I finished!! How is everyone else progressing?
I let my music take me where my heart wants to go. ~ Cat Stevens

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Postby SusanH » Mon Sep 11, 2006 3:53 pm

I just started today, but I like it so far.
Susan

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Postby Sue Ellen » Tue Sep 12, 2006 5:51 pm

I'm re-reading one of my favorite science fiction books, The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell. Then I will re-read Into the Wild; I just read it in July, so I'll probably be okay, but I want to refresh my mind.

Sue Ellen
"...I implore you, I entreat you, I challenge you to speak with conviction, to say what you believe, in a manner that bespeaks the determination with which you believe it, because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker, it is not enough these days to "question" authority, you have to speak with it, too."
Taylor Mali, "Like, You Know?"

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Postby KarenZ » Wed Sep 13, 2006 5:27 am

I finished re-reading Into the Wild over the weekend. Now I just have to look up about 50 vocabulary words. ;)

KarenZ
"Some people are born to make great art and others are born to appreciate it. It is a kind of talent in itself, to be an audience, whether you are the spectator in the gallery or you are listening to the voice of the world's greatest soprano. Not everyone can be the artist. There have to be those who witness the art, who love and appreciate what they have been privileged to see." -- Ann Patchett in Bel Canto.

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Postby paddyinthepub » Wed Sep 13, 2006 8:41 am

Karen and all others who read books on a regular basis. Just recently heard about this feature over at amazon dot com. It's a cool tool one can use to look up words in a selected book.

It's called : concordance


Heard of it...never used it.


Anyone else???
"once we're inside, it's a carnival ride" ~ ellis paul
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Postby EllisPaul » Thu Sep 14, 2006 8:47 am

Hey y'all--

I'm so glad you are doing this-- it's a quick and easy read. I hope you enoy it. I am refreshing myself with the writing in Into Thin Air as well, and I am reminded of the fact that he's just a brilliant writer.

You guys are are stretching this discussion board beyond the normal bounds into a real community-- one that can provide interesting growth for all participants. That is amazing to me...

I'll try to refresh myself on the book as well and chime in at the time the chat starts--
thanks again!
Ellis

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Postby shannon » Thu Sep 14, 2006 10:53 pm

I finished into the wild yet again....it gets better everytime!!!!! I am looking forward to discussion.

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Postby wendy » Tue Sep 19, 2006 7:36 am

It's now been almost a week since I finished the book, and a week until the discussion starts...

Never having been involved in a book-group before, can anyone tell me what to expect?

I'm into the second book since finishing Into the Wild (can't survive without something to read!) so find the details are fading, despite the fact that I'd read it before. I borrowed a copy from the library; do I need to go buy one so I can refer back to it during the discussion?
(interestingly, the library copy had various pencil notes in it and much underlining, none of which made much sense to me ;-))

And yes, I was reading with a dictionary by my side... :roll:
-wendy

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Postby KarenZ » Tue Sep 19, 2006 8:04 am

Wendy, good questions! Similar ones have been rolling around in my head. :) We'll let Jela answer with any guidance she can provide. Jela, will you toss out specific questions to ponder in advance? When the discussion begins? How does the book club you belong to usually work?

KarenZ
"Some people are born to make great art and others are born to appreciate it. It is a kind of talent in itself, to be an audience, whether you are the spectator in the gallery or you are listening to the voice of the world's greatest soprano. Not everyone can be the artist. There have to be those who witness the art, who love and appreciate what they have been privileged to see." -- Ann Patchett in Bel Canto.

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Postby Richard + Jela » Tue Sep 19, 2006 8:38 am

Hi - yes I'll pose a few questions just to get people started but do not want the discussions restricted just to considering my questions and want people to contribute their views and impressions about the book, the story, the characters, the writing style and so forth.

It's helpful to have a copy of the book handy while discsussions are taking place because you typically find that people bring out things that you have not considered, so it's useful for instance, to be able to refer back to a particular passage that you had perhaps not considered or had considered differently from that offered by another reader.

I know that when the story was first published people had very divergent views about CMcC and I'm anticipating that we might too.

Am so looking forward to kicking this off on Monday and can almost feel a physical desire from the positive responses received so far about the book group, to get going on this!

Jela

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Postby Sue Ellen » Tue Sep 19, 2006 9:34 am

As we begin discussion on "Into the Wild" should we designate the next book, or wait until we finish discussion on this one?

I love discussing books and look forward to hearing everyone's thoughts and feelings.

Sue Ellen
"...I implore you, I entreat you, I challenge you to speak with conviction, to say what you believe, in a manner that bespeaks the determination with which you believe it, because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker, it is not enough these days to "question" authority, you have to speak with it, too."
Taylor Mali, "Like, You Know?"

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Postby Richard + Jela » Tue Sep 19, 2006 11:13 am

I thought that we'd wait until we finished our discussions about 'Into the Wild' and then set up another vote based on Ellis' remaining book recommendations and choose the next one for the group to read.

With my other book group commitment and all the reading I have to keep abreast of for the University teaching I do, I think that I might get a bit overwhelmed and have too much to read if we go faster. Maybe I'm being selfish (?) but just want to do justice to everything which involves reading for me.

Jela

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Postby KarenZ » Tue Sep 19, 2006 2:16 pm

Sounds like a plan. :)

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"Some people are born to make great art and others are born to appreciate it. It is a kind of talent in itself, to be an audience, whether you are the spectator in the gallery or you are listening to the voice of the world's greatest soprano. Not everyone can be the artist. There have to be those who witness the art, who love and appreciate what they have been privileged to see." -- Ann Patchett in Bel Canto.

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Postby wendy » Wed Sep 20, 2006 7:01 am

Thank you, Jela,
that's the info I needed to know.
This should be interesting! :D
-wendy

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Postby Sue Ellen » Wed Sep 20, 2006 8:34 am

Sounds like a great plan. Thank you. Sue Ellen
"...I implore you, I entreat you, I challenge you to speak with conviction, to say what you believe, in a manner that bespeaks the determination with which you believe it, because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker, it is not enough these days to "question" authority, you have to speak with it, too."
Taylor Mali, "Like, You Know?"

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Postby KarenZ » Sat Sep 23, 2006 1:24 pm

Only 2 days until the first Ellis Paul Discussion Board Book Club begins! I hope everyone planning to participate has finished the book....or manages to finish reading this weekend! Looking forward to Monday! :)

KarenZ
"Some people are born to make great art and others are born to appreciate it. It is a kind of talent in itself, to be an audience, whether you are the spectator in the gallery or you are listening to the voice of the world's greatest soprano. Not everyone can be the artist. There have to be those who witness the art, who love and appreciate what they have been privileged to see." -- Ann Patchett in Bel Canto.

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Postby Richard + Jela » Mon Sep 25, 2006 4:16 am

'Book Group Discussion Day' has arrived and thank you all for your interest and positive comments so far.

To start the discussions I'd like to pose a few questions to get you contributing your thoughts but please also post your impressions and views on other aspects of the story, the content, the writing and the Author's observations.

Was Chris McC a fool, naive, arrogant, reckless, unfeeling or was he a romantic, an idealist, fearless, searching for something that was missing in his 'conventional' life?

How much of an impact, if any, did his relationship with his parents, particularly his father, have on his desire to give away his possessions and money, to create his alter ego 'Alexander Supertramp' and invent a new life for himself?

If you agree with his approach, how can you justify the worry that his absence, without any contact, caused to his family? He was said to be particularly close to Carine, his sister, yet made no attempt to keep in
touch with her.

[i]Do you think there was any significance to the passage he noted in the margins of 'Dr Zhivago' (page 188) 'HAPPINESS ONLY REAL WHEN SHARED' as he was coming to the end of his journey?


Had CMcC survived, what path would his life had taken? We can only speculate.

Krakauer's research is painstaking - tracking down what happened to CMcC, a young man on a journey into the wild, who did not want to be found, who gave false names and was reticent about his background must have been extremely challenging - why did the story of CMcC consume him so?

Does the addition of other stories about young men 'walking into the wild' add perspective or does it detract? How valuable was it to read Krakauer's own account of his Devils Thumb climb?

I am so looking forward to reading your posts.........

Jela

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Postby paddyinthepub » Mon Sep 25, 2006 6:58 am

Hey all, I know I said I was in ..it's just that I've not read the book yet, so I'll lay low until I've read it....hopefully soon and I'll catch up. The original magazine article on Chris McCandless written by Jon Krakauer was quite the read and hope to find the time to read the book.

Enjoy the discussion.
"once we're inside, it's a carnival ride" ~ ellis paul
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Postby wendy » Mon Sep 25, 2006 7:01 am

Wow Jela, that's quite a start! I'm going to have a hard time keeping to just one question at a time. They're pretty well inter-related.

Was Chris McC a fool, naive, arrogant, reckless, unfeeling or was he a romantic, an idealist, fearless, searching for something that was missing in his 'conventional' life?

I choose some from each group, or maybe a bit of all of them. My primary response to his behavior is that he failed to do his homework before heading out on that Alaska adventure. To assume that living in the sub-tropics beside the ocean for a month was proof that he could live in the wilds of Alaska is pretty darned arrogant, but it seems that he might have made it if only a few things had gone differently.

The need to "prove" things to yourself, your parents, whatever, is common. Obviously Jon K. did it, hence the inclusion of the Devil's Thumb tale. I suspect we all do that, one way or another. Mine was proving to myself that I had the skills to hike/camp in the mountains of Maine for a week by myself at about CMcC's age. Yes, it could have been a disaster, but I did the homework to weight the dice in my favor. I think that's where he fell down. Was it hubris? Stupidity? Impatience? Hard to tell; maybe some of each.

Enough from me for now. Someone else's turn!
Last edited by wendy on Mon Sep 25, 2006 11:53 am, edited 2 times in total.
-wendy

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Postby Sue Ellen » Mon Sep 25, 2006 9:20 am

That is quite a start Jela, thank you. I'm going to have to give these questions some thought before I jump in. Sue Ellen
"...I implore you, I entreat you, I challenge you to speak with conviction, to say what you believe, in a manner that bespeaks the determination with which you believe it, because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker, it is not enough these days to "question" authority, you have to speak with it, too."
Taylor Mali, "Like, You Know?"

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Postby KarenZ » Mon Sep 25, 2006 9:22 am

Jela, you've given us such terrific questions to ponder. I'll start off slowly.

First of all, I think Krakauer was consumed by Chris' story because he saw so much of himself in Chris. I'm sure Chris' story made him realize all the more how lucky he was to have survived his Alaskan mountain-climbing experience.

Yes, his research was painstaking and talking to those who knew Chris best - especially those he met along his journey - gives us lots of insight to what Chris may have been thinking and feeling. But we can still only speculate. I found myself more interested in reading Chris' own words to try to understand him.

There's one passage in particular that showed Chris' skewed view of happiness that I take issue with. It was in a letter he wrote to his 80-year old friend Ron Franz. He said:
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 damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future.


I think he was way off-base to think that security somehow negates an adventurous spirit.

More later....

KarenZ
"Some people are born to make great art and others are born to appreciate it. It is a kind of talent in itself, to be an audience, whether you are the spectator in the gallery or you are listening to the voice of the world's greatest soprano. Not everyone can be the artist. There have to be those who witness the art, who love and appreciate what they have been privileged to see." -- Ann Patchett in Bel Canto.

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Postby EllisPaul » Mon Sep 25, 2006 6:42 pm

Thanks Jela--
There is something about this kid, Chris McCandless, that is a reflection of a part of me that I still hold dear, and I am guessing he is a reflection of most of us at one point or another in our lives.

He was acting out, quite indulgently, in a massive geographical search to find some reliable sense of himself and the trust worthy building blocks of a personal philosophy.

It's that holy grail of self discovery, of "who am I?" He was on a quest. He chose nature as the canvas for his self portrait (in many ways I have chosen music and writing as my own. This way I can starve on Tin Pan Alley instead of on an abandoned bus in Alaska)

It's that universal search for identity that we all have to conquer at some point in our time on this planet, the thing that defines us apart from our neighbors, our society, apart from our parents, our economic status, our skin color, our sex, our sexuality.

It's the indivual search for the holy grail of the self.

And as all journey takers find out, it's the actual journey, rather than the destination that brings about the cup of wisdom. Chris was just about to come to this after 10,000 miles of wandering.

It was clear that Chris felt a need for detachment from his entire family. He didn't talk to them for years.

I suspect this was related to his father's betrayal (he had a hidden life with another family). I think this was part of Chris' quest. He may have become so offended by his father's affair and lies, that he started to deconstruct the very foundations of his father's life-- the white, upper middle class, 2.0 kids, suburban, capitalists, go to school, get a job, write a resume, go to college, work for the man, etc...

I think he was also tired of intellectualizing his disconnection from these things. He needed to live without them as well. Actions spoke louder than words for Chris, but he was screaming for a sense of freedom from the hypocrisy of the lifestyle his father and most of American society. he let his feet do the talking.

So he left. All of it. He literally went as far away from that life as a dirt road would take him.

The revelations in his later journals indicate to me that he came to terms with the idea that no man is an island, that we weren't meant to walk through life as loners. There is no joy in permanent isolation, and we need love to be complete human beings. It seems he was gathering some important lessons along the way.

What he missed out on by dying so young was learning the place of forgiveness in life. Of getting over the dramas and emotions and betrayals of the roller coaster ride that is part of every man's journey to self realization.

Had he survived the trip, perhaps no one would have listened. Maybe he would've written a book of some sort. I dunno. Regardless, I am glad his story has become ours, because there's a piece of him in all of us, and I was reminded of my own journey on several pages.

thanks again for choosing the book!
Ellis

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Postby shari » Mon Sep 25, 2006 8:31 pm

Yeah... what he said... :-)

I too was reminded of some of me. I had my own period of wandering this country and discovered much of what my core beliefs are today through that journey. And I would have to say that I was all of those adjectives and probably still am, though hopefully I tend more toward tempered these days. It made me smile to see a reference to Rainbow Gatherings...

Much of life (for me) is only real when shared, not just happiness. What this life gives us is an opportunity to know ourselves both as separate beings and in relationship to others. We need the spaces as well. It's the duality that we wrestle with. We are separate and inseparable all at the same time. It's one of the things that I wrestle with.

Karen, No. I don't think that a secure future necessarily stunts a truly adventurous spirit although that can be one of the perils - especially if you come to want to protect it by remaining still. Certainly security can be a huge motivator or at least a significant influence.

Jela, I love your question about Chris' responsibility to his parents and family. I'm going to have to let that one sit and come back to it.

I can't wait hear more of people's responses.... This is such a great thing!

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Postby KarenZ » Mon Sep 25, 2006 9:16 pm

If you agree with his approach, how can you justify the worry that his absence, without any contact, caused to his family? He was said to be particularly close to Carine, his sister, yet made no attempt to keep in
touch with her.


I cannot justify the fact that he sent post cards and kept in touch with friends he made along the way - people who he obviously knew cared about him - but would not extend the same courtesy to his family. Perhaps he was making them do an enforced "penance" which would have absolved them of their perceived sins had he returned. I do think he planned on returning and did not set out to kill himself. And, Jela, I think his writing HAPPINESS ONLY REAL WHEN SHARED was very significant....although I think what he really meant was LIFE is only real (enriched) when shared. IMHO, happiness isn't something you find. Happiness is something you know.

KarenZ
"Some people are born to make great art and others are born to appreciate it. It is a kind of talent in itself, to be an audience, whether you are the spectator in the gallery or you are listening to the voice of the world's greatest soprano. Not everyone can be the artist. There have to be those who witness the art, who love and appreciate what they have been privileged to see." -- Ann Patchett in Bel Canto.

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Postby Sue Ellen » Tue Sep 26, 2006 10:10 am

Wow, I had difficulty enough with wrapping my head around just one of Jela's questions...and now they've been some really intense (but very lengthy) replies. I'm going to have to work pretty hard to keep up, and still be coherent. I'm wondering if we might focus on one area, question at a time, and once that's fully explored move to the next...I think there will be repeating themes as we address questions, but I think a little redundancy is okay.

I do have thoughts, alot of them, about this book, the questions Jela posed, and the responses that have been shared, but I haven't yet been able to put them into coherent words, and will need to find some quiet time away from the minutia of my everyday life to write a cogent post. Perhaps tonight. :oops:

Sue Ellen
"...I implore you, I entreat you, I challenge you to speak with conviction, to say what you believe, in a manner that bespeaks the determination with which you believe it, because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker, it is not enough these days to "question" authority, you have to speak with it, too."
Taylor Mali, "Like, You Know?"

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Postby shari » Tue Sep 26, 2006 11:50 am

Well said, Sue Ellen - I am feeling the same way... perhaps we choose Question 1 for now?

My comments will come out in drips and drabs....please bear with me...

I am VERY excited about this thread.

Jela, those questions are so thought provoking.

Shari

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Postby Sue Ellen » Tue Sep 26, 2006 12:00 pm

That certainly helps me.

Sue Ellen
"...I implore you, I entreat you, I challenge you to speak with conviction, to say what you believe, in a manner that bespeaks the determination with which you believe it, because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker, it is not enough these days to "question" authority, you have to speak with it, too."
Taylor Mali, "Like, You Know?"

Richard + Jela
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Postby Richard + Jela » Tue Sep 26, 2006 2:23 pm

I am delighted or as they say in the north 'made up' with the quality of responses so far - please don't feel that you have to respond to every single question posed - just whichever one/s you wish and indeed do feel free to comment on other aspects that I haven't mentioned.

Also no need to post your comments all in one go - do post 'as and when' and on any relevant topic.

Thank you, thank you all for taking the time to read the book and your wonderful considerations upon the story of Chris McCandless. This thread is so stimulating and I'm so looking forward to reading more of your views.

Jela

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Postby Patti » Tue Sep 26, 2006 9:43 pm

I'll just pop in to say, I read the book a few years ago (because of Ellis's song) and really enjoyed it. I loved Into Thin Air also. I've lent my copy of Into The Wild to a few people and they all enjoyed it too. Right now I do not have my copy in my possession. I'll try to get it back so I can make revelevent comments to the questions asked!!

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Postby JayceK » Tue Sep 26, 2006 10:52 pm

I feel close to Chris because I have some similar thoughts and attitudes at this point in my life. In two months I'll be 20. As I read this book I remember just wishing I could go back in time, locate Chris on his journey, look him in the eyes as I grabbed his shoulders and say "I GET IT CHRIS..." It's like he felt that he was the only one with those thoughts. If he would have opened up, he probably would have found people he could share his ideals with. Maybe he finally realized this and that's what he was thinking when he noted that happiness was only real when it was shared. Is it regret? I don't know, we can only speculate. I admire Chris. So many people talk about their dreams and their passions and values. But so few actually live by them and take ACTION. I cannot justify the way he treated his family but it was obviously a choice he felt like he had to make. It's as if he thought reconnecting with his family would somehow make all his experiences on the road mean nothing.
"Better to have lived in hope than to never have lived at all!"

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Postby KarenZ » Wed Sep 27, 2006 12:32 pm

Does the addition of other stories about young men 'walking into the wild' add perspective or does it detract?


I really enjoyed reading Krakauer's stories of the other adventurers whose lives paralled CMcC. Chris' behavior didn't seem as unusual when compared to theirs. And it was especially interesting to read the comparisons found in Chris' journal writings and Everett Reuss' journal writings.

CMcC wrote: I'm going to live this life for some time to come. The freedom and simple beauty of it is just too good to pass up.

Everett Reuss wrote: The beauty of this country is becoming part of me. I feel more detached from life and somehow gentler...

It was interesting too to read the speculation regarding what happened to Reuss, since his body was never found....especially speculation that he "staged" his disappearance and is still alive somewhere...

KarenZ
"Some people are born to make great art and others are born to appreciate it. It is a kind of talent in itself, to be an audience, whether you are the spectator in the gallery or you are listening to the voice of the world's greatest soprano. Not everyone can be the artist. There have to be those who witness the art, who love and appreciate what they have been privileged to see." -- Ann Patchett in Bel Canto.

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Postby bonuela » Wed Sep 27, 2006 5:37 pm

I am no way ready to answer most of the questions. I'll be back after a quick re-read, but here are my immediate thoughts....


Had CMcC survived, what path would his life had taken? We can only speculate

I believe he would have continued on the same path. Had he survived this adventure, he would have only gone on until he met his end in some other equal way. Clearly he felt compelled to take increasingly greater risks.
I let my music take me where my heart wants to go. ~ Cat Stevens

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Postby paddyinthepub » Thu Sep 28, 2006 6:22 am

Hey guys, I 'squint' in, that is to say I look at this thread w/o my reading glasses on, just to ' see ? ' how it's going. Looks lively and hope to join in before too long.
"once we're inside, it's a carnival ride" ~ ellis paul
paddy

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Postby KarenZ » Thu Sep 28, 2006 2:20 pm

I can't help but think that had Chris experienced a close-call and survived, he may have returned home a changed person. The "close-calls" of life (that we've all experienced) often wake us up to certain truths. Like that we aren't immortal...although teens and young adults often think they are. I remember getting caught in a snowstorm driving home from college when I was 19 or 20 years old. I owned a car but couldn't afford new tires...and the tires on my car were just about bald. They probably would have been slippery on a wet road...but on the ice and snow they were like racing slicks. I made it almost the whole way home when my luck ran out. I did a double 360 in the middle of the road, the car thread a needle between two trees and I landed in somebody's front yard. The engine was still running, although I was barely breathing (from fright). Amazingly I didn't hit anything and I (and the car) was perfectly fine. I was nothing but lucky. But let me tell you....that experience is something I have never forgotten. You better believe I run winter tires on my car. Four of 'em. With studs. I am NOT kidding.

Chris simply wasn't as lucky. He missed out on alot by dying young. But if we believe in destiny, then maybe it was his destiny to die young. I can't help think about who live on the edge for a living. The Crocodile Hunter. Evel Knievel. They're a totally separate breed, I think. Or are they? Would love to hear your thoughts on how they are the same or different than CMcC.

KarenZ

EllisPaul wrote:What he missed out on by dying so young was learning the place of forgiveness in life. Of getting over the dramas and emotions and betrayals of the roller coaster ride that is part of every man's journey to self realization.

Had he survived the trip, perhaps no one would have listened. Ellis
"Some people are born to make great art and others are born to appreciate it. It is a kind of talent in itself, to be an audience, whether you are the spectator in the gallery or you are listening to the voice of the world's greatest soprano. Not everyone can be the artist. There have to be those who witness the art, who love and appreciate what they have been privileged to see." -- Ann Patchett in Bel Canto.

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Postby Sue Ellen » Thu Sep 28, 2006 9:14 pm

I am really enjoying reading all of your thoughts about “Into the Wild,” but I’m still forming responses. Before I tackle that, I wanted to share my general impressions. I think Jon Krakauer was able to paint a very vivid picture of Chris McCandless, and in the end I am left with the impression that Chris McCandless was a very privileged and fortunate young man. He was born in a time and place that allowed him to indulge his desires, apparently without real concern for those who loved him most. He had the privilege to simply disregard any responsibility to the feelings of others, and act on whim. I guess much of what he did could be considered courageous, pushing of physical limits and surviving by his wits, but for me, it all strikes me as extremely self-indulgent and in ways, very cruel.
For me, this book and Chris McCandless’s journey are superimposed on a book and another young man’s journey from the fact that I re-read “Night” just after finishing “Into the Wild,” another story of a very young man, on a very long walk, facing starvation, death, and the deep cruelty of which we humans are capable. The parallels to me are so surreal, and the contrasts in context and character so striking that I cannot disentangle to two books, and can only think Chris McCandless was extremely fortunate not to be born Eli Wiesel in Sighet, Transylvania in 1928.
Certainly Chris McCandless cannot be blamed for the circumstances of his birth, or what is, relative to many other parts of the world, a very privileged upbringing. And it impossible to quantify the pain caused him by what he considered his father’s betrayal. I just have difficulty reconciling his behavior toward his family, not necessarily his father, but especially toward his sister. And I find very little redeeming quality in his post cards to people he knew for only a short time. I think Karen touched upon this, and some others as well. The real adventure in life is navigating and surviving the vicissitudes of long-term relationships with family and friends, and facing and resolving conflict and differences that leads to true intimacy and connection.
"...I implore you, I entreat you, I challenge you to speak with conviction, to say what you believe, in a manner that bespeaks the determination with which you believe it, because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker, it is not enough these days to "question" authority, you have to speak with it, too."
Taylor Mali, "Like, You Know?"

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Postby wendy » Fri Sep 29, 2006 7:32 am

One thing keeps coming to mind here:
we (most of us, anyway) are forming our opinions of Chris McC while we are well past his age and have learned many lessons that he had yet to comprehend.
I wonder how much age/experience has to do with our views of him.


On another note, do you suppose he read any Herman Hesse (we don't hear of any in the book)? Many, if not most of Hesse's books seem based on young men trying to find their ways by rejecting their parents' worlds, one way or another...

It's been really interesting reading everyone's comments here. These are such complex, intertwined questions, it's difficult to stay focused on one at a time!
-wendy

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Sue Ellen
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Postby Sue Ellen » Fri Sep 29, 2006 8:40 am

There is a chance that if Chris McCandless had lived, had married and had children, he would have been less harsh with his father and been able to reconcile the decisions his father made, as well as how those decisions made him feel. As I said earlier, there is no way to quantify the pain he experienced through the relationship with his father.

Certainly at 40 I have a much different perspective on many things than I did when I was 24; However I do not think Chris McCandless's age excuses his behavior; I still think he was extremely fortunate to live in a place and time that allowed him the privilege to indulge his whims and feelings, and I am troubled by the pain his choices inflicted upon his family, especially his sister and mother.
"...I implore you, I entreat you, I challenge you to speak with conviction, to say what you believe, in a manner that bespeaks the determination with which you believe it, because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker, it is not enough these days to "question" authority, you have to speak with it, too."
Taylor Mali, "Like, You Know?"

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Postby KarenZ » Fri Sep 29, 2006 10:17 am

Wendy, that's a tough one. I don't know. Although our soon-to-be-20-year-old JayceK stated "I cannot justify the way he treated his family but it was obviously a choice he felt like he had to make."

Teens and young adults don't have the corner on foolish or thoughtless behavior. I was watching Storm Stories on The Weather Channel last night and there was a story about a middle-aged guy who nearly lost his life and had to be rescued when he decided to hike to the bottom of the grand canyon and back by himself. A combination of a dust storm and extreme heat that he hadn't planned on nearly cost him his life. He made it to the bottom was unable to make it back up...after 5 or 6 days his food ran out...he was mostly unprotected from the elements, etc. It was harrowing just watching the re-enactment. Luckily his wife reported him missing and park rangers found him in time. While being interviewed for the show he stated that the hardest thing for him to deal with was his embarrassment at having gotten himself into the predicament....and how awful he felt at what he put his family through. He also stated that he was a changed person... Naturally I was thinking of CMcC all the while....

wendy wrote:One thing keeps coming to mind here:
we (most of us, anyway) are forming our opinions of Chris McC while we are well past his age and have learned many lessons that he had yet to comprehend.
I wonder how much age/experience has to do with our views of him.


Sue Ellen, wow....thanks so much for sharing your thoughts regarding reading "into the wild" and "night" back to back. I can see how it would have been hard NOT to make comparisons. Intriguing and thought-provoking....

KarenZ
"Some people are born to make great art and others are born to appreciate it. It is a kind of talent in itself, to be an audience, whether you are the spectator in the gallery or you are listening to the voice of the world's greatest soprano. Not everyone can be the artist. There have to be those who witness the art, who love and appreciate what they have been privileged to see." -- Ann Patchett in Bel Canto.

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Sue Ellen
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Postby Sue Ellen » Fri Sep 29, 2006 12:01 pm

Wendy wrote:One thing keeps coming to mind here:
we (most of us, anyway) are forming our opinions of Chris McC while we are well past his age and have learned many lessons that he had yet to comprehend.
I wonder how much age/experience has to do with our views of him.


When is it reasonable to expect someone to act with common courtesy? Certainly you are right Karen, and teenagers/young adults don't have a corner on foolish mistakes. It is the total lack of courtesy to his family that continues to trouble me, in the sense of not contacting them, not leaving them information on his well-being, not even letting them know how angry he was. Even when urged to do so by people he met during his journey.

Sue Ellen
"...I implore you, I entreat you, I challenge you to speak with conviction, to say what you believe, in a manner that bespeaks the determination with which you believe it, because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker, it is not enough these days to "question" authority, you have to speak with it, too."
Taylor Mali, "Like, You Know?"


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