Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dunn and the Armchair Adventurer

     Dunn is certain about the motivations of explorers and the benefits writing brings them.  However, he is less certain about the benefits for readers of adventure narratives.  He writes that “It is beyond the power of words or art to make anyone feel exactly as I have felt a-crossing the Alaskan tundra” (Dunn 8).  Dunn seems skeptical of the role of the arm chair adventurer, but I would argue that this is just another manifestation of his bias.  Even if we only have access to “stage rivers, stage swamps [and] property horses” (8), these representations still open up a world not always accessible to those without means such as Dunn’s.  Though he would like to close off this world to those not in his privileged group of explorers, this bias ultimately undermines the interests of this group.  He complains about the negative judgment of the exploring community, but denying the importance of the armchair adventurer only furthers this divide.  Jon Krakauer embarked on the adventure chronicled in “Devil’s Thumb” due to “primordial restlessness” and he writes about the experience seemingly to gain insight into his character, both Dunn-approved motives.  However, Dunn, in his class-induced blindness, misses the important third step where the reader, without direct access to an experience such as his or Krakauer’s, still comes to a greater understanding of both the author and his or herself.

1 comment:

  1. I can't say that I felt as much bias in Dunn's writing, but I think you make an interesting point. On the other hand, why publish his writing if he doesn't feel it's sufficiently beneficial for readers?