Popular Culture Review 29.1 (Spring 2018) - Page 17

– after all, charging a corpse with vandalism did not seem very productive – not everybody remains convinced of his innocence, in particular Forsberg, who happened to come across Christopher McCandless’ bag pack, which had apparently been left behind by the police when they initially searched the bus. In McCandless’ pack, as shown by Ron Lamothe in his documentary (The Call of the Wild), there was a wallet which contained a driver’s license, a social security card and a birth certificate among other pieces of identification, as well as $300 in large bills. This naturally clashes with the idea Christopher McCandless forged for himself when he changed his name to Alexander Supertramp and declared his intention of leaving civilization behind in order to “walk into the wild.” It could be said that Christopher McCandless himself very consciously laid the foundation for the fictionalization of his character by pretending to be much more detached from materialistic and administrative realities than he actually was: one who truly wishes “no longer to be poisoned by civilization he flees,” as McCandless carved upon a piece of plywood left in the bus, would most likely not hold on to his birth certificate and even less to his social security card. As to the presence of the three hundred-dollar bills that accompanied such a wealth of “poisonous” pieces of identification, it is in complete contradiction with McCandless recorded statement that he had “burned all his money:” he obviously did not and the amount he kept would have allowed him, in 1992, to fly anywhere in the United States. As he changed his name to become “Alexander Supertramp,” and buried the legal proofs of Christopher McCandless’ existence in the most remote pocket of his back pack, McCandless was already establishing a fundamental binary opposition between what he was and what he wanted to appear to be: he was turning his back to civilization but keeping the return ticket safely toked away. The existence of his self-portraits is in itself suspicious, for it implies a constant link to the modern world, not only in terms of technology – the photographs would have to be developed in a lab – but also vis-à-vis the very notion of spectacle, as if McCandless had always been very conscious of the spectacular representation of his adventure, which undermines its fundamental nature: one cannot claim to embrace complete solitude in the wild while taking “selfies.” It has been said that McCandless intended to write a book of his adventures, however, his log and his two notes are written on pages from other books and we are only familiar with his previous journal through Krakauer’s book, Into the Wild. It seems that McCandless left very little in writing and obviously did not intend to practice while he was in the wild, although he did represent his attempted survival, emphasizing its most spectacular moments through self-portraits and an elliptical log, the meaning 17