Date: 2017-01-30 02:36 am (UTC)
kore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kore
Like, Krakauer has spent a lot of time attempting to prove that one of the wild plants McCandless ate poisoned him, and that the book he had which said it was okay was wrong, and There Was No Way He Could Have Known.

Ohhh, the whole wild potato seed thing, and what poisoned him was a toxin! an alkaloid! no it was an amino acid! (I might have gone on, a long while back, on a Krakauer reading jag, and the Everest tragedy reading jag, and a McCandless reading jag, what an I say.) Krakauer's whole thing is that McCandless was poisoned, he didn't starve to death, and if he hadn't eaten the seeds he would have walked out and be alive today, which....just no. I really don't think so, he was just too isolated and starving and he couldn't have gotten out.

I think one reason Krakauer got weird about it is not just that Krakauer tends to get weird about these kinds of things, but in the original article that got expanded into the book, he theorized that McCandless mistook the sweet pea seed for the wild potato seed and ate that, so it was his own ignorance. Krakauer also had a similar problem when he very quickly wrote the original Outside article that Into Thin Air was based on, when he claimed he saw a guide (Andy Harris) alive long after the guy had probably walked off a precipice and died. He also really goes off on the Russian guide, to the extent they had numerous feuds online and in print too.

Oddly, I think in a way that Krakauer et al. live in a world that's somewhat kinder than the one I live in, because there seems to be an element of 'if you do it Right you will always be fine', along with 'and if something bad happens because you did it Wrong, it's your fault', whereas I'm more along the lines of well, sometimes when you do it wrong you get lucky and sometimes when you do it right shit happens anyhow.

Yeah, that gets really emphasized re Into Thin Air, because he wrote what became the definitive account very quickly and blamed the Russian guide and Fischer in it, and with McCandless there were a whole lot of people who judged him very harshly and basically said he was this airheaded hippie and it was totally his own fault &c &c. I actually feel a little sympathy for McCandless, because when I was a seventeen-year-old Tolstoy-reading high school dropout I wanted nothing more than to get a used van and travel by myself around America and go hiking a lot, and I think it's a really common fantasy a lot of kids have (they typically wind up going to college instead). He just absolutely wanted to force his dream to become reality, and he was living in the dream, he was all wrapped up in the idea of being a modern anarchist Thoreau or whatever. It was like he wanted to sever all his human ties, just disappear into the wilderness and become part of it. And he sort of did, just really really not in the way he wanted.
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