Popular Culture Review 29.1 (Spring 2018) - Page 15

Christopher McCandless into some type of transcendental hero will give us a unique perspective upon the mechanisms by which the society of spectacle recycles even its own negation. Facts The particulars of the story are well-known: on April 28 th , 1992, 24-year-old Christopher McCandless walked into the Alaskan Stampede trail with little more than a .22 caliber hunting rifle, 400 rounds of ammunition, a ten-pound bag of rice and a dozen paperbacks. He found refuge three days later in an abandoned Fairbanks City Transit bus about forty miles down the trail, where he stayed for the next sixty-seven days, tentatively living off the land until he decided to return to civilization. However, one of the rivers he had crossed on his way to the bus, the Teklanika, has swollen considerably due to rain and snowmelt and proved to be an insurmountable obstacle. Christopher McCandless then returned to the bus where he slowly starved to death for the next forty-six days. At some point, most likely towards the end, he taped a note on the bus’ door pleading for help. His body was found on September 6 th , nineteen days after his death, by no less than three unrelated parties who happened to come across the bus on that particular day – adding a touch of grim irony to the whole affair. All that Christopher McCandless seems to have left behind is an elliptic log of his Alaskan struggle, which is often referred to as a “journal” or “dairy,” but actually amounts to little more than bullet entries of usually one or two words, mainly relating which animal he had killed on that day, and a few rolls of camera films containing a series of self-portraits, many of them showing McCandless posing next to the body of a dead animal. The exact reason for his death has been the subject of extensive speculation: although Krakauer, the “official” biographer of Christopher McCandless, has insisted in several occasions  that McCandless ingested some poisonous indigenous Alaskan wild potato seeds which were not known to be toxic at the time, multiple analyses of the possible alkaloids and amino-acids contained in said seeds have proven highly inconclusive, and if these seeds are indeed not the ideal food for whoever is already going into “rabbit starvation,” their toxicity per se to the human organism has not been scientifically demonstrated. Another factor has come into play recently, in direct relationship with the vast quantity of mushrooms McCandless started to ingest on his eighty-ninth day in the wild. The pictures published in Back to the Wild (2011) show several specimens known for their toxicity and psychoactive effects, such as the Amanita Muscaria, the potential effects of 15