Just when the new generation of dreamers in the fast-changing 90s needed a new hero, Jon Karkauer unearthed the story of Christopher McCandless and Into The Wild reigned the NewYork Times Bestseller list for 2 years. Almost a decade later, Sean Penn followed McCandeless' trail around Salton Sea in the California desert, Carthage, South Dakota, right to the interior Alaska and directed one of the most successful motion pictures.
The Fallen Hero Of A Generation
It was not just the story of a man starving himself to death in Alaska that caught attention of the people. The ones who read the book and watched the movie found their voices in Chris' words. It was a whole new generation uttering newer questions that needed answers.
Alexander Supertramp got us thinking about our false securities and material excesses that have now become synonymous to success.
For a generation that had newer demons to fight and could hardly relate to the erstwhile working theories of perfect life, Into The Wild became a movie that questioned everything about how we operate life rather than living it. Some critics did question McCandless' decision to live a life in the wild and raised questions about his unpreparedness but the idea of the documentation of the tragic end of McCandless' was beyond the end and beginnings. McCandless who was an avid fan of Tolstoy does quote these words by him,
"If we admit that human life can be ruled by reason, then all possibility of life is destroyed."
He gave in to live in the moment because he somehow understood that no one has a foolproof strategy to live a fulfilled life. We were born, fed and raised with the false narrative of fulfillment that supposedly came from family, education and career. What most of us recognize in 2016 as a 'quarter life crisis' (thanks to buzzfeed and the likes), Christopher recognized it within his own circumstances.
In the movie Chris' sister narrates the episodes of deteriorating relationship he shared with his family and she says,
"It was inevitable that Chris would breakaway and when he did, he would do it with characteristic immoderation."
We see Chris' characteristic immoderation in way too many individuals in the present day. It takes 20 years corporate slavery for some, monotony of being fed by buzzfeed or the toxic virtual world for others but they now wish to explore the newer dimensions of living life just like Alexander Supertramp, the hero of their generation.
"Rather than love, faith, money, fame and fairness, give me the truth." Chris quotes Henry David Thoreau.
In this quest, he rechristened himself as Alexander Supertramp and did everything he could to change his circumstances as an individual. His dream was to live in Alaska and the old bus on the Stampede Trail still stands at the same spot where Supertramp left it while he watched his slow death arrive. His jeans and a blanket are neatly folded and placed on the shelf inside the bus Fairbanks 142. Hikers who visit the spot often do it out of admiration to the cult of McCandless and their belief in his words,
"Core of man's spirit comes from experiences."
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