Going away: The Dominant Strategy
Humans often question their reality. We share a common, physical reality and create mental realities within ourselves; these mentally created worlds are purely in our heads and can only be entered by the individuals who created them. Upon entering their mental reality, a person can experience what appears on the outside to look like a detachment from the common physical reality; they cannot consciously function in two realities simultaneously. Some people experience these detachments only briefly, and live most of their lives mentally focused on the physical reality. In “When I woke up Tuesday Morning, It was Friday,” Martha Stout attempts to explain the excessive mental detachment a number of her therapy patients experience, and the reasons for their prolonged escapes to their mental realities. In his Selection From Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer investigates the travels of a man named Chris McCandless, attempting to explain McCandless’s decision to escape into the Alaskan wilderness in an attempt to go as far away from modern civilization as possible. Juhani Pallasmaa argues that one’s senses have great effects on their interpretation of the reality they are in; his argument brings up the question of whether both author’s escapees did not simply feel a lack of belonging to the realities they were originally in, and therefore decided to escape. “Going away” is the escape method an individual uses to move from consciously being in an unsatisfying reality to being in a different, fulfilling one.s To understand this concept, we must first understand what a reality is. A reality is a unique set of surroundings one perceives around them. Pallasmaa describes how cities around the world have unique auras, claiming, “Every city has its spectrum of tastes and odors” (293). Pallasmaa’s declaration implies that during travel, one can determine when he has left one place he was in and entered a new one based on a change in the atmosphere around him. It can therefore be feasible that two people can see the same reality two slightly different ways, since things like tastes and odors are matters left to subjectivity. Krakauer’s description of the area McCandless died in is an example of the unique feel Pallasmaa claims each space has and an example of the way the same area can be interpreted two slightly different ways. While camping in Alaska near the bus which served McCandless as sanctuary, Krakauer expresses his displeasure with the atmosphere, noting that “There is something disquieting about this Gothic, overgrown landscape” (215). Krakauer finds McCandless’s shelter to be a place uninviting and strange. It is odd to observe that the very place that McCandless had decided offered him his blissful escape from the civilization he detested, Krakauer could not wait to get away from. Therefore, the same reality can be interpreted two different ways; while concrete things in the reality stay the same, and two different people will agree that the same rocks, trees, and clouds exist, the emotions the reality evokes in two people may be different. The aura a place gives off is not defined only by the reality’s physical appearance. Krakauer, for example, knows that a man died a terrible death near the bus in the Alaskan wilderness, and that changes the mood of the place incredibly for the author. These changes contribute to the reality as strongly as the area’s physical appearance, and complete the overall feel of the reality for the observer. In the physical world, an individual can only distinguish these types of features if they are “here” in the physical reality. In order to “be here,” a person’s mind and body must be aware of the same reality. Stout illustrates the way a man feels when he is “here”, noting that he “is awake, alert, and oriented to his surroundings” (388). Stout emphasizes that the man’s senses tell him that he is in the physical reality; he is mentally aware of the same place he is...
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