Popular Culture Review 29.1 (Spring 2018) - Page 28

be symbolized by the notion of “candle,” seeking to embrace the true light of nature by opposition to the false light of progress – that of the candle. That Chris McCandless would be oblivious to the interesting connotations of his name and preferred the pompous “Alexander Supertramp” is yet one more indication of his apparent lack of literary maturity.   The elliptical nature of McCandless’ log, which displays the same underdeveloped literary skills, has also greatly contributed to the construction of his legend. Most of the entries revolve almost solely upon the animals that were killed on that day, i.e., “39 – goose!; 40 – 2 squirrel [sic]; 41 – porcupine; 42 – porcupine ptarmigan,” and the only more detailed entries are those that describe the butchering and the loss of the moose in very direct terms. When added to the 25 entries left blank, this monotonous record seems to indicate that McCandless simply did not have much to say: his life was reduced to its most basic needs, the activity of the cortex and limbic system were severely inhibited and he was existing mostly at the reptilian level by merely attempting – and failing – to survive. Had his log been a real journal, Krakauer could not have appropriated the story so effortlessly, hence the legend of Christopher McCandless is, again paradoxically, a direct result of his inability to write little more than the names of the animals he poached. By picking and choosing among the only solid evidence at our disposal, that is the log and the proud safari hunter self-portraits McCandless left behind which, as a whole, reveal a rather unimaginative and disoriented mind, Krakauer chose to elaborate the much more attractive figure of a deep, courageous and determined young man, victim of a tragic error rather than of his own incoherence. The rest is not history: it is spectacle. The McCandless phenomenon is a tabloid fact blown out of proportions due to our eagerness to escape the dreary confines of our modern consumerist existence. We feel both angry and guilty to collaborate implicitl