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Thursday, November 8, 2007

One Candle Less

Finally, someone has “said what somebody has needed to say for a long time.” Thank you, Craig Medred (Anchorage Daily News, 11/4/07), for noticing that the emperor is wearing no clothes and daring to say it. The peerless Mr. Medred has penetrated to the essence of Timothy McCandless, the hapless hero of the book and movie, “Into the Wild”. For those of you who are not familiar with his story, Timothy was a young man who went into the wilderness to find himself, taking only a bag of rice for sustenance, and never came out again. This was apparently enough of a recommendation for him to become the subject of a best-selling book and a Sean Penn movie. It has taken Craig Medred to recognize that McCandless was not the adventurous Everyman portrayed, but just a plain old everyday schizophrenic. As evidence of McCandless’s not-normalness, Medred points to the note he left behind explaining that he went into the wilderness to stage “the climatic battle to kill the false being within.”

Good work, Medred. You’ve unmasked another false hero and revealed him as the the “poor unfortunate prone to paranoia” that he truly is. You’ve shined a beacon into the darkness.

But don’t stop there. I think you should turn your astute powers of perception and your background in psychology (I trust you have such a background, given your diagnosis) on other half-wits foisted off on us as heroes.

Take Ulysses for example. Man, what a whitewash job that was! That guy was clearly delusional. I mean, how many cyclops have you ever seen who could eat two men in one sitting? Not to mention old U had an anger problem, skewering his wife’s suitors when he got home...he’d been gone for twenty years, what did he expect? And talk about a deadbeat dad. He left when his son was a toddler and came back to find him grown. Do you think he was sending child support during all that time? I think not.

Next example: Jesus. Off he goes into the wilderness to wrestle with the devil for forty days. Did he take a compass, a sleeping bag, a thermos of water that could be turned into wine? Any real Alaskan would have taken liquid refreshments and at least one gun if he was headed into devil country. Not Jesus. Shoot, he didn’t even take a bag of rice. And as for wrestling with the devil, who saw him do that? You really think that skinny guy with the beard could have beaten a devil? No way. Goes to show, he was a pathological liar with a megalomaniac personality disorder. Probably overcompensating for the instability of his childhood.

Oh, let’s not forget Francis of Assissi. I hear that guy was not only crazy, but smelly as well. Of course, he didn’t have a Wal-Mart handy that he could pop into for a bottle of dandruff shampoo and some herbal conditioner. But still, he could have found a pond to dunk in once and awhile, if he didn’t have a few screws loose. And talking to animals? I mean – that’s kooky. Especially when you’re exchanging recipes for creme brulee.

You won’t want to overlook our own favorite misanthrope, Henry David Thoreau, who clearly was missing some marbles. He was like the original greenie, mooning over trees and lakes and birds and stuff, and he didn’t even hunt. Talk about a loser. Hiding out at Walden Pond because he was a total failure in the real world. A tax evader, too. They should have kept him locked up when they had him, maybe in a padded cell. With a dull pencil and a piece of paper, though – that guy could come up with more bumper stickers than anybody else in history. You know what they say, God gives special talents to his special children.

Well, I could probably come up with more subjects than that, Craig, but these few should keep you busy for a couple of weeks. After that, well, maybe you could get Sean Penn to do a story on your life. It’d be nice to watch a movie about somebody whose wiring is working right. Might be a little boring, but as you say, “a good writer can always make something up.” I'll take it from the expert.


Jim Misko said...

Stephanie--I don't know what you drink at night but these are wonderful, funny, gotta-have comments on books you've read. When and IF you ever finish the book you're writing I want to buy the first copy at full retail, no discount price and signed as well. If you write this well at 1:46 a.m. think what you could do at 3:30? I'm gonna read it one more time before I pour a Scotch. It's wonderful. Alaska Jim Misko

Jim Misko said...

Stephanie--I don't know what you drink at night but these comments are absolutely engaging, funny, head-shaking and they are posted at 1:46 AM. I hope you do your serious writing after midnight because this is gotta-have stuff and if you EVER finish the book you claim to be writing, I want the first copy and I'll pay you full retail no discount price. Love it all day long. Alaska Jim Misko

Sonya S said...

I agree with Jim. Medred may have met his match here. You have an acid wit and are clearly a demanding reader whose reviews are not only compelling and useful, but unusually honest. SUBMIT your writing to a publisher. Now. Now. Now.