Wednesday, November 03, 2010

A Man Doing Something You Don't Understand


julie said...

I love this. When I was a kid, my favorite stories where the Little House on the Prairie books, My Side of the Mountain, anything involving individuals surviving in the wilderness. I dreamed of living in a little cozy place on a mountain somewhere, and having the woods to myself. It'll probably never happen anywhere but my own mind, but it's good to see how others did it.

Sixty Grit said...

I've seen that film before - I understand what he did, but I know I couldn't do it.

Mother Effingby said...

Same here, Sixty Grit.

Unknown said...


SippicanCottage said...

At the risk of being mistaken for Barney Fife: Hey, Andy.

"I understand what he did..."

A man signed up for solitary confinement, and offered to build his cell. What he pointed the logs with is not really the big issue here. He's a quarter inch from the Unabomber, and yet, he's not. He has no "environmental" significance, and yet he is a hero to environmentalists.

He does not to my eye seem "understood." He is as interesting as a medieval hermit, though.

Eric said...

Interesting point about the Unabomber, but I must disagree--I don't think he's that close to the Unabomber at all. I don't get a feeling of rejection of society from him--he'd never have recorded himself if that was the case.

Medieval hermit is probably closer to it, and no, I don't claim to understand the guy. But I don't think he built a cell, either.

But it is clear to me that he knew what he was doing--He has a sure hand with the tools. He knew what he wanted to do.

Unknown said...

Don't misunderstand my clumsy intrusion as a shout of "me first!" or anything. I got a little excited and felt complimented to have posted a like item.

julie said...

A man signed up for solitary confinement, and offered to build his cell. What he pointed the logs with is not really the big issue here. He's a quarter inch from the Unabomber, and yet, he's not. He has no "environmental" significance, and yet he is a hero to environmentalists.

I guess it's in the eye of the beholder. All I've seen or know of the guy is that little clip, but it looks to me as though he's there not out of hatred for man nor the things of man, but for love of the wild. He's a mountain man - very much like a hermit, but with a few differences.

My family has a few mountain men. Four of my mom's younger siblings moved to Alaska. My uncle Mark built himself a little cabin in the middle of nowhere, though accessible by truck. One day when he was working on the roof, he fell off the ladder and broke his leg. Had to drive himself to the hospital over about twenty miles of rough dirt track.

He also worked the fishing boats for quite a few years.

Some people sit around and fantasize about pitting themselves against nature. Others just go out and throw themselves on her mercy, enamored of her untameable beauty and how she makes them fight a death match for every taste of it. Once she has their hearts, she never lets go.

Sixty Grit said...

He stated his goal as being one of seeing if he could live for a year by himself, relying on his wits and skills. I have the utmost respect for him, and he certainly possessed the necessary skills to survive. I really liked that story.

Solitude - it's not just for hermits, Thoreau and inmates anymore.

SippicanCottage said...

I find the guy fascinating too. Most people that want to be completely alone move to the city, though.

Sixty Grit said...

I hear that - I live in the suburbs and talk to my neighbors all the time.

But the scenery where he chose to live was awesome - much better than any city I have ever seen. We don't have views here, well, other than trees. Nor any water. Some wildlife, but that's mainly squirrels, snakes, birds, deer, cats and dogs.

He chose wisely.

xoxoxoBruce said...

I’ve watched the entire video many times, and like Julie, I have two uncles that did the whole Alaska bit from 1949 to 1989.
While I watch in awe of his fortitude and accomplishments, the length of time he spent out there would indicate more than proving he could do it. Doing some research on this guy, interviews with people that worked with him, or knew him, before this adventure, seem to feel he was a miserable son of a bitch that didn’t play well with others.

Sixty Grit said...

I can imagine that a person who would choose isolation as extreme as he did might be difficult to work with. As I say, he chose wisely, and certainly had some self awareness in addition to more than basic survival skills. Or, perhaps if he lacked self awareness, he responded to perceived pressure to go live somewhere far away from others. Either way, good on him.

julie said...

...he was a miserable son of a bitch that didn’t play well with others.

Ah. I stand somewhat corrected, then. I guess I can just echo Sixty Grit - good on him.

jwenting said...

I understand what he did, I understand why someone may choose to do it, but sadly my training and life experience leave me ill prepared to conceive even the raw basics of how he did it.

Nor does the physical state of my body allow me to do it even if I knew how (or else I quite possibly would...).

"He's a quarter inch from the Unabomber, and yet, he's not"

He's as far away from the Unabomber as one can get.
He doesn't reject society, but rather embraces independence.
The Unabomber rejects society while also rejecting independence.

Casey Klahn said...

I never thought @ the enviros liking this guy. But, I did exclaim when I saw you posting this, "that's on PBS!" I meant that in irony. My take on 99.9 % of environmentalists is that they have no idea of what roughing it I even need a joke for this? It is one of those painfully self-evident truths.

Someday I wish I could tell you about my grandpa, who hiked the wilderness beach 100 miles to find work in the Depression. He found work in a rough and tumble port where some would kill you for the price of tap.

He homesteaded, knew personally guys named "The Ironman" and basically makes modern man look stupid by comparison. It's a long shadow.

His gravestone keeps getting pushed over by the elk, and then the busload of Twilight fans comes around to laugh about it.

SippicanCottage said...

"His gravestone keeps getting pushed over by the elk..."

You just can't help yourself. Forever drawing pictures.

Joe said...

I have watched the entire PBS documentary on the man 20+ times. My wife groans when it comes on. Anyone who has wielded an axe or saw can tell you that he was one fit individual, and the work he had to do just to keep his tools sharp intimidates me. Greg's caption is indicative of his understanding that this is a man unlike anyone who is reading (or writing) this blog ... he is not like any of us (and certainly not like the Unabomber). The point for most of us would be "look at the cabin I built, I am so Jeffersonian". His was to live life unencumbered, and not in the pansy Walden way. No matter how "out there" we so-called "outdoorsmen" go, we're never far from a Dunkin Donuts. This guy left society at 51 and did not return until he turned 81. That's a man who doesn't care what any of us thinks, and that's just plain cool.