Cyclone Road


Monday, November 17, 2008

In the last few weeks I've talked to several people about the show "Storm Chasers" on Discovery. I've only watched portions of one episode, not out of protest but because I was already consuming too much deep-fried TV, between political content and the Dallas Cowboys. So when people bring it up, I don't have any preconceived ideas. I mean, I know who's in it and the general narrative, but that's all. Anyway, their opinions of the show are positive, from lifelong, non-chaser friends to the Director of Freshman Composition who stopped me in the hall an hour ago. They love the plot and have a broader (and more positive) idea about chasers and chasing as a result. They sympathize with Sean (and Josh) and their troubles with the TIV, and think highly of the other chasers, too. For what it's worth, it seems like "Storm Chasers" is leaving a good impression. Maybe the Kansas sheriffs won't shoot us on sight next year.

On a more literary note, I mentioned last year Jon Krakauer's book Into Thin Air and how much of what he described about mountaineering could apply to chasing. Well, I finished another Krakauer book this weekend, Into the Wild, and recommend it as well. This is the story of Chris McCandless, who disappeared into the Alaskan wilderness in 1992 at the end of a two year, cross-country trek. McCandless wanted to separate himself from civilization to whatever degree he could and "live off the land," taking for inspiration writers like Thoreau, Muir, and Stegner. He was a smart guy, edited the school paper at Emory where he graduated with honors, but he made some big mistakes, too. His accidental death sparked a controversy between those who held opposing views of his trip.

Krakauer delves into the psyche of this intense and fascinating individual. As a mountain climber, he brings some insight to the spiritual side of adventures involving a degree of danger. I think some chasers will recognize much in McCandless similar to what sends us into the plains each spring.

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