Christopher Mccandless: a Transcendental Philosopher

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Into the wild is a biographical drama and it is based on true story, telling us about an adventurer called Christopher McCandless. This is a cinematic masterpiece, where the main character denies himself of the luxury of an upper middle class family and dives into a lifestyle of nature and self discovery. This movie offers us an insight on how we construct nature, especially wilderness,as a place for self discovery, transcendence and an escape from society. Chris, the main character, hopes that wilderness is a place where he could finally escape his traumatic childhood and where he can embrace much simpler life.

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His final destination is the majestic Alaska, the ultimate adventure. For him being lost in the wild means experiencing a primal state through which he might find spiritual awakening. As many people I was touched by this movie and the story in general. It is quite inspirational and the main character can deeply interest you. Christopher decides to leave everything, no matter how much that cost, and who is he hurting. The two strong themes through the film are society and the wild. McCandless believes that wilderness is the absence of society. Despite his own belief, however his system of rules and the fact that he relied on a broken bus for his survival, show is that he is closer to civilization than he thinks.

Also, many of the bus scenes show airplanes flying in the sky, which is telling us that he has not quite left civilization. It makes us think about how wilderness is not as separate from society, as Chris believes and hopes. He wants to be as far as possible from people. In his conversation with another character from the movie, McCandless states: But you’re wrong if you think that the joy of life comes principally from human relationships. God’s placed it all around us. It’s in everything. In anything we can experience. people just need to change the way they look at those things. The other character in the conversation, Ron, believes that love and relationships can lead to meaningful life, while Chris is confident that experiencing some form of wild will bring the same result. He is certain that nature can help him find what he is looking for – self-awareness and peace. He thought that the lack of any human relations and the lack of civilization will help him reconnect with nature and find his true self. He has this own perception of the wild, where he can be free and independent. Chris also wanted to test how far into the wilderness he was willing to go. 22 years he was living based on the expectations of everyone, he decides that this is not the life he should be living. The familiar does not make him happy, even though he is both great student and athlete. This story reminds me of one of Kingsnorth’s essays, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, where just like McCandless, Kingsnorth wants to get away from his current way of life, or in his case the modern world, where the environment is the victim.

I withdraw, you see. I withdraw from the campaigning and the marching, I withdraw from the arguing and the talked-up necessity and all of the false assumptions. I withdraw from the words. I am leaving. I am going to go walking. However, with Kingsnorth, it seems more like moving on, while with McCandless is more like escaping reality. Still, both of them are relying on nature for answers and support. Kingsnorth states: I am going to listen to the wind and see what it tells me, or whether it tells me anything at all. Just like McCandless he thinks he will find answers in nature, or at least he is hoping to find them. They both seem to romanticize nature and wilderness, and have some negative thoughts about society these days. You can clearly distinguish the disappointment in humanity in both the Kingsnorth with his essay and McCandless from the movie.

McCandless has this idealistic view about the wilderness, you can see his eyes while he is talking about nature, more like if he was talking about something devine. Just by the way he is using his words, he seems to worship nature and its form. He appreciates it and feels safe when he is surrounded by it. Just be out there. Just be out there in it. You know, big mountains, rivers, sky, game. Just be out there in it, you know? In the wild. We humans often do not think we are part of nature, but Chris believes he is and he wants to be. We can say that nature is the often underrated and not appreciated enough. We seek comfort in the face of nature only when times are rough, but in the meantime we are not paying enough attention to it and how we are slowly destroying it. People like Kingsnorth and McCandless see the importance of nature and its benefits. Nature can be both scary and fascinating and we most likely depend on it. Our survival depends on nature, no matter how far technology evolves. We use nature’s sources, we are finding solutions to our problems in nature, it calms us down and gives us energy to keep going. Like McCandless, who had to take a break from everything and he thought that he can find peace in the wilderness. Nothing is greater than nature. It provides for us more than we can think about, more than we actually know about.

All through Kingsnorth’s essay we can clearly see how he grows and how he is at that stage where he decides to channel his energy to a whole other direction, since he is not satisfied with how his life turned out. Indeed with McCandless it is harder to observe or follow the change he is going through, since he dies couple of months after his adventure begins. Both of them want to find the thing they are looking for on their own, they want to be left alone so they can find their own peace. Both of them understand how, despite the fact we are humans, we can still connect with wilderness. We need to have good understanding on how we are far from superior and nature is more powerful than us. Throughout the film, we learn a lot about McCandless’s past and his mental state. The main character seeks a place where he can be free, when he can escape. The world he initially lives in is depressing and he is not satisfied. We meet multiple characters that are trying to bring Chris back to reality and that are trying to save him from his own angst, but he does not listen and tries to impart wisdom on them. Chris is rejecting society, while he is moving further and further north to the edge of civilization. He is trying to reconnect with nature, since he thinks we have lost that connection and we need to restore it. In nature, you focus more on your senses, something you can hardly do in the industrialized world we live in. Finding his purpose in life was his main idea, despite the fact that he knew that his life might be in danger if he goes on that path.

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Christopher Mccandless: a Transcendental Philosopher. (2019, Nov 10). Retrieved from