Monday, June 22, 2009

The Last American Man

I recently finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert's "The Last American Man", a biography of mountain man Eustace Conway.

The book was interesting, but it wasn't quite all I hoped it would be. I was hoping to read more about Eustace's philosophies and experiences in nature, but I guess that'd be a book written BY him, not about him.

This was one of my favourite passages from the book:

"... only those who live in the wilderness can recognize the central truth of existence, which is that death lives right beside us at all times, as close and as relevant as life itself, and that this reality is nothing to fear but is a sacred truth to be praised."

That kind of thing really gives me something to think about because it's so at odds with our current cultural perception of death and shows how far removed our society has become from an understanding of the natural order of life. And although that understanding of the cycle of life and death is something I can try to understand intellectually, within our current culture, it is very difficult to appreciate and really feel the truth of this statement because we are so sheltered from the death of both our fellow humans and that which takes place perpetually to keep us fed.


  1. wow. that quote is amazing. I think I might check that book out.

  2. A very thought provoking post. I couldn't agree more with you about our society's view of death. It is almost taboo; something ugly not to discuss and to be avoided. Imagine how the average person would fare out in the woods for a month if they were to be totally self sufficient. Lots of deaths I'd imagine.