“Wilderness” in part four of A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold discusses the evolution of nature at the hands of humans. I choose to write about this essay because of the connection humans have with the wilderness. I have always believed that nature and people have to work together to live harmoniously on this earth. The human race has used nature to survive for as long as they have existed. In today’s world people are using less and less of nature and more technology to industrialize the planet. This essay stood out to me because of the human aspect. Nature is not a separate part of our lives. Humans live and interact with nature every day. Aldo Leopold states in the essay “Wilderness”, “Neither can be prevented [changes to the world], and
American wilderness stories depict wild-nature as separate from human and as only pure and grand when it meets the criterion of being free from human intervention--emptiness. The components of these stories is really a recipe for constructing and embedding settler-colonial logics in the the minds of the citizenry. John Muir’s, My First Summer in the Sierra Nevada, does an effective job at achieving this. Just like Christopher McCandless in Jon Krakauer’s, Into the Wild, he fetishizes land that is free from human intervention, referring to the mountains, groves, and waterfalls as “glorious mountain sublimities” by which man’s “worldly cares are cast out, and freedom and beauty and peace come in” (Muir 11, 25). Quintessential dualism, he is segregating the human world from the non-human world; polarizing the relationship while acquiring the land for his own pleasure and therapy (Jacobs 28; Glenn 6).
In his 1995 essay “The Trouble with Wilderness,” William Cronon declares that “the time has come to rethink wilderness” (69). From the practice of agriculture to masculine frontier fantasies, Cronon argues that Americans have historically defined wilderness as an “island,” separate from their polluted urban industrial homes (69). He traces the idea of wilderness throughout American history, asserting that the idea of untouched, pristine wilderness is a harmful fantasy. By idealizing wilderness from a distance, he argues that people justify the destruction of less sublime landscapes and aggravate environmental conflict.
Throughout history there has been a constant, man’s desire to experience new things. Two men that come to mind are Chris McCandless and Henry David Thoreau. Both men shared a similar reason for traveling into the wild. The differences in their journey’s that led to McCandless’s death and Thoreau’s success is the preparation and approach to the journey’s. Even though Chris failed on his journey he still was very much like Thoreau wanting to leave society in search for enlightenment.
With human advancement, technology has taken on a life of its own. The current American society’s reliance on digital support has caused it to forget the importance of its humanity. The novelist, Wallace Stegner, wrote in a letter to argue for the preservation of the wilderness in order to help restore the spirituality and historical values of America, which he sent to David E. Pesonen, a research assistant for the Wildland Research Center at the University of California. His claim relays that the remaining wilderness needs to be preserved as much as possible because American society needs to remember and appreciate its ancestral roots. While he used primarily pathos as his method of persuasion, his argument lacks factual information and mentions minimal credibility.
Christopher McCandless, a 29-year-old dreamer, went on the journey of a lifetime to involve himself with nature and being truly independent. He had lived a life of privilege, made amazing grades in school, and even went to school at Emory College, getting degrees in both history and anthropology. Even though he seemed to have everything good going for him, it’s not the life he wanted. McCandless decides after law school to go deep into the “wild”, with no map, no resources. All he kept was a small journal and camera in which he captured and recorded all of his experiences in, allowing people for the rest of time to read and learn about his journey in his book titled Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer.
The Oregon Trail is “this nation’s longest graveyard” (National Park Service). The emigrants on the trail looked for a new life in America. Some emigrants went looking for religious freedom, others went for land and power. They were not prepared for the dangers and difficulties that the trail presented.
“Into the woods” by Cheryl Strayed is a not only a story about the journey to the inner on the Pacific Crest Trail, but also the journey to the inner of a human at the moment of facing a challenge. Through internal dialogues that disclose thoughts and detail descriptions using literary figures, the author achieved move our imagination to a crossing and allow us an understanding of her feelings. By making explicit a nuance of feelings Strayed let to the reader knows what is happening in her mind when is determined start a crossing that herself find difficult to believe, “It was absurd and ridiculously difficult and I was profoundly unprepared to do it.” Instead of pretend be a heroin, Strayed shows to the public her vulnerability as a human being with fears and doubts. The challenge of hiking the PCT (2,650 miles long between national parks and mountains, deserts, forest, rivers and highways)
The Alaskan Bush is one of the hardest places to survive without any assistance, supplies, skills, and little food. Jon Krakauer explains in his biography, Into The Wild, how Christopher McCandless ventured into the Alaskan Bush and ultimately perished due to lack of preparation and hubris. McCandless was an intelligent young man who made a few mistakes but overall Krakauer believed that McCandless was not an ignorant adrenalin junkie who had no respect for the land. Krakauer chose to write this biography because he too had the strong desire to discover and explore as he also ventured into the Alaskan Bush when he was a young man, but he survived unlike McCandless. Krakauer’s argument was convincing because he gives credible evidence that McCandless was not foolish like many critics say he was.
In the 2013 online article, “The Chris McCandless Obsession Problem”, author Diana Saverin describes the Alaskan wilderness travel phenomenon along with attempting to uncover the ‘McCandless Pilgrims’ “root of motivation. Sparked by the release of both Jon Krakauer’s and Sean Penn’s “Into the Wild”, numerous individuals pack their backpacks and eagerly step into their (sometimes newly-bought) hiking shoes and tramp into the Alaskan Wild to pay homage to their hero Chris McCandless. Filled with personal anecdotes and interviews, Severin’s Outside article takes a new approach Into the Wild commentary by directing attention to the lives McCandless’s story affected indirectly rather than critiquing on McCandless himself. In response to what appears to be a huge amount of troubled McCandless-inspired tramping stories, Saverin provides an unbiased rationale as a attempt to explain why so many are “willing to risk injury, and even death, to..visit the last home of Alaska’s most famous adventure casualty”. Saverin begins her article with anecdote- telling the unfortunate experience of young lovers and adept adventure seekers, Ackerman and Gros.
The journey that Walton goes on is one of pure discovery, involving adventure. He seeks glory and recognition to make a change on exploration, geography, helping the influence of his country. “I shall satiate my ardent curiosity with the sight of a part of the world never before visited, and I may tread a land never before imprinted by the foot of man. These are my enticements, and they are sufficient to conquer all fear of danger or death” (Shelley, 15).
Romanticism was a movement during the late 18th century that encouraged imagination, exploration, individualism, and emotion. From it derived Transcendentalism, one of the first movements to originate from America and which bore the first American philosophers. These movements are often present in many pieces of American literature and this is no exception in Jon Krakauer’s novel Into the Wild. The historic account retells the story of a young man named Chris McCandless, who adopts the pseudonym Alexander Supertramp and takes to the road, only to die of starvation in Alaska. On the surface it appears to be cautionary tale, but Krakauer literally retraces McCandless’ steps, talking to the people who Chris spoke with and even traveling to Chris’ final resting place.
Brown argues that White Americans who traveled west created “great myths of the American West” (Brown, XXIII). He contributes to the debate by providing several quotes and primary sources to support his perspective. Brown offers evidence to support the debate by quoting Yellow Wolf, who states, “The whites told only one side. Told it to please themselves” (Brown, 316). Debating previous White American narratives, Brown questions the reader’s knowledge of non-White histories of the West.
When thinking of the wilderness one might picture a scene from a camp site. Untamed dense forest, and endless jungle probably come first to mind and although this might be one meaning of wilderness, Mellor’s perception of wilderness and pastoral opens our thoughts on how we view the unpredictable and the known. In “Lure Of The Wilderness” by Leo Mellor, he shows the meaning of the unexplored wilderness and the surprises that come with the unknown, while humans try to tame what is wild and create a pastoral environment around them. Mellor’s writing helps understand hidden aspects in the short story “Wild” by Lesley Arimah, when Ada is blindsided with a plane ticket to visit her aunt in Africa. She travels to a place mostly unknown to her, besides the relatives living there.