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Into The Wild

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Adam Chamberlain

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"No man ever followed his genius 'til it misled him. Though the result were bodily weakness, yet perhaps no one can say that the consequences were to be regretted, for these were a life in conformity to higher principles. If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal, that is your success. All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself. The greatest gains and values are farthest from being appreciated. We easily come to doubt if they exist. We soon forget them. They are the highest reality... The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched."

(Henry David Thoreau, Walden, Or Life In The Woods, a passage highlighted in one of the books found with Chris McCandless' remains)

Luminary has long been one of my favourite episodes of Millennium's entire run, and I always felt it touched a part of me that yearns for the wilderness, my wanderlust. I can even draw parallels with one particular hike, several years ago, into the mountains of Glencoe from which I very nearly never returned.

More recently, I happened upon the book Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer by pure chance, as a friend lent me her copy with the promise that it would appeal. She was spot on and I was hooked within moments, moreover drawing immediate comparisons between Chris McCandless, a disaffected youth who abandoned every vestige of his former life, and Alex Glaser. Chris even renamed himself Alex Supertramp (although I have to say Alex Ventoux sounds far more poetic). McCandless gave up a promising academic career and almost all his worldly possessions for an adventure that took him to many of the wide open spaces of North America and ultimately to Alaska, where foolhardiness and misfortune finally put pay to his restless spirit.

Dixon has since confirmed that the similarities between McCandless and Glaser are no accident, and that in fact Into The Wild was the inspiration behind this remarkable episode, which remains for me one of the most affecting hours of TV, with Frank Black never more heroic. Many quotes from Chris McCandless' journal and highlighted passages from the books he carried with him are quoted as introits to each chapter as well as within the text itself, and the tone is very much akin to that of Alex Ventoux's journal, which I found most moving. The book is available in both the UK and the USA and comes with my very highest recommendation.


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