Getting away from it all - is it possible? Is it feasible to flee that mutually oppressive support system more commonly known as "Society" in any real sense? About 3 years ago I've had my own modified and highly diluted version of escape. It was the best time of my life (pictures on Flickr). A much braver man than I went all the way and paid for it with his life.
His name was Christopher McCandless. A strong willed young idealist, he seemed to have felt uncomfortable in the modern American culture. This, and his admiration for the like of Jack London and Thoreau, have led him to become a sort of a drifter, moving between different jobs and places at will, living as autonomously as possible. Finally, he realized his long lived dream for an "Alaskan Odyssey" and lived in seclusion in a deserted city bus for a few months. There, he eventually succumbed to either food poisoning or malnutrition and died.
His story inspired a book by Jon Krakauer titled "Into the Wild", which was eventually adapted into one of my favorite films in 2007, bearing the same name. The soundtrack of that film is the beautiful and haunting debut solo by Pearl Jam main vocalist, Eddie Vedder.
I went on my "great" adventure before I've found out about McCandless' fate, so I didn't go to that last bus park site to pay respects. Instead, I am left to wonder how much self-sustained and independent we can actually be. As Lewis Hyde said, even famed Thoreau wrote his "Walden" thanks to the generosity and assistance of his friend Emerson, so there was no absolute self-reliance there. So, is the need to break away doomed from the start? Perhaps this take is a little too adversarial, over emphasizing the individual. Perhaps, in a closer view to Hyde's, just as the "Genius needs to tinker in a collective shop", as an open and receptive individual who creates and operates on the existing common basis, it is the everyday man that lives in a similar web of influences. McCandless' tragedy then is compounded by the lost potential to interact, by realizing that the power and uniqueness of the individual are not the only standing qualities he may have to offer, but also his openness and the willingness to learn and to teach.
I woke up this morning with "Society" in my head. Perhaps I should keep it playing.