Monday, March 20, 2017
But genes cannot explain the extraordinary rigor of Knight’s renunciation. Finkel plumbs the history of hermits for a similar case, considering Lao-tzu, the anchorites of the Middle Ages, the tomb-dwelling Saint Anthony, and India’s estimated 4 million sadhus, many of whom file their own death certificate before commencing a life of monastic bliss. He does not mention Christopher McCandless, the subject of Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, who lasted less than four months after disappearing into the Alaskan taiga, but McCandless had no cabins to break into. Finkel concludes as he begins, with the theory that Knight entered the forest because there was no place for him in modern society. “I wasn’t content,” Knight says. Before he left he was shy, socially inept, anxious. After, he says, “I was lord of the woods.”
What an utter load of old rubbish. A guy likes to be by himself in the woods and The Atlantic falls all over itself. Lao-tzu! St. Augustine! The desert fathers! Ok, so he went further than most people, but not further than many want to. The woods are nice, they're fun, and being alone in them is peaceful and you feel as if you really matter to someone, because you do, to yourself. Nearly everyone used to know this, and a lot of people still do. What do you think those guys pulling a boat and a few coolers of beer are going to do this weekend, or this week? Why are they counting the days until the next time they can get out? Queue up the breathless articles in the Atlantic about them.