I Am Jack's Social Commentary
The First Rule of Fight Club:
You do not talk about Fight Club.
The second rule of Fight Club:
You do not talk about Fight Club.
This is your life, and its ending one minute at a time. Look in the mirror, is that a life worth anything? Are you happy with yourself and what you've achieved? If you haven't achieved shit, then do you have the fortitude to rise above your pathetic excuse of an existence? Do you smile when you look at your reflection, or do you not bother looking at all? Not only that, what would make you happy? A fancy car? Six-pack abs? An Ikea catalog for bathroom reading material telling you about all the wonderful pieces of furniture you can buy? Maybe you can read about how to make yourself look better, eat healthier, work out every day, or you can go through your five-year plan as though that's the way to fulfillment. Afterall...that's what we're told is the way to fulfillment and happiness.
I'm a cynic.
I'm an asshole.
When I ask someone about who they are, they often answer with what they do or the things they own.
"He owns a Mercedes and a big house."
Congratulations, you told me nothing.
"He wears nice suits and has a chocolate Labrador that likes to chase cars."
Congratulations, you told me nothing. In fact I now know more about the dog.The fact is this, nobody knows who they are outside of the things they own. We're all just one big saturated mess, almost indistinguishable. Trying to say to someone why you're different is impossible to do, most try to find things they like and can share because that's how we become accepting of each other. We're really bombarded with a million different things that we're told to like or are the "next big thing." We follow the rules, stay off the grass and try on dozens of different shirts until we find one that says "this is me."
That's not you...that's a shirt.
So when I first came across a book of this philosophy, just one of many really, and the critiques that come with it, stripping it down to a voice of a generation, it's no wonder I found it so appealing. I already disliked a lot of things, this book and eventual film just made it all the more clearer why. It's a story about a man who is unhappy with where his life is going, and he makes sure to tell us why. It just so happens, his ramblings of life are a reflection of many other things on top of it all.
This is Fight Club, and we're about to break the first two rules.
Fight Club Rule #3:
Postmodernism and Deconstruction is the Only Way to Understand.
(A Look at Fight Club as a Whole)
"At the time, my life just seemed too complete, and maybe we have to break everything to make something better out of ourselves."
Fight Club can be classified under many genres. The book, as well as the film, incorporates several different elements to progress and tell the story. It contains humor, satire, action and drama, maybe even a romantic story if one were to read deeply into it (the film takes this angle a little further, and it works for the most part). All of these styles of story telling are bound up into one, giving a person much to take in. Even though all of these elements are a part of the story, Fight Club can most truly be classified as postmodernism. Postmodernism isn't an aisle found at the video store, nor is it a section in a bookstore, which would give reason why Fight Club is a hard movie and book to classify. Postmodernism gives emphasis on how things take place rather than what is perceived, and usually contains an omniscient third person narrator that provides fixed points of view, rather than being objective. Fight Club, in both the written word and the motion picture, perfects the purpose of postmodernism.
So, what is Fight Club about? Is it about fighting? Self help groups? Politics? How to become a man? Family values and fatherhood? Or maybe the dehumanizing effects of the consumer culture, which forms the backbone of the "American Dream." This is what makes Fight Club unique, it contains all of these principals. Movie critics claim Fight Club does nothing more than glorify violence and promote fascist male superiority, these are obviously individuals who can’t see past what is shown on the screen and have never read a page from the book. Then again, this is something that isn't made for them. There is a whole underlying meaning to the film that must be analyzed rather than watched. The novel has all of these things and the movie does as well, however in a somewhat different way. The book comes right out and tells, sometimes even preaches the point it wants to get across. It is there for you, on paper, to take its philosophy in all at once. The movie is more subtle; it keeps the narrative feel however many of the words from the book are represented either during a conversation or through visual metaphors. Because of its center on postmodernism, the movie offers a more complete experience and works better with what is intended. The book tells of so many different things, most of which are more appealing visually. What better way to represent the narration of the book than through the visual medium, following with the narrator’s thoughts, not actions?
Le'’s start with the way the film is represented. Unlike most movies, Fight Club is a film that does not simply show or tell the audience everything (again, postmodernism). It stays with the narrative that is presented in the book by the main character; we will call him "Jack" even though the name is "Joe" in the novel. While the book is a narration directly to the reader, the movie represents the narration through more than just words, but through visuals. The movie flows with Jack's thoughts. Sometimes his narration is accompanied by visual metaphors representing his feelings, imagination, or state of mind. When he is narrating about the bombs, you see them. When narrating about his apartment being blown up or the plane crash, you see it happening even though it really isn't. He is merely "thinking" or "imagining" these things happening, they aren’t really occurring. When meditating at the self-help groups or suffering through a chemical burn, you see where he is going and how he is feeling. When experiencing the chemical burn, “Jack” has quick flashes that represent his state of mind. There are cuts to the words in a dictionary he is trying not to think of (searing and flesh), cut to flames representing the burning sensation, and a cut to a calm green forest representing his attempt to block out the pain. In the book, it tells you what is going on and there are words representing his thoughts. Sections such as “You’re in Ireland” and “Guided meditation.” These phrases are now changed to the visual form. In the film the added visuals allow the audience to understand even more what he is going through.
None of these things are actually happening though. He doesn’t jump out the window and down to the parking garage and inside a van at the beginning of the film, he is not really in a cave with a talking penguin and he certainly isn’t in a mid-air collision. These are his thoughts represented by visual imagery on screen. The cuts and movement of the camera move with the pace of his thoughts. He can be thinking about one thing, then quickly about something else. The cuts of the film dictate the quick pace of his thinking, and the beginning of the film’s opening credits is a precursor to the rest of the movie. It starts in "Jack’s " brain and slowly comes out to show him with a gun in his mouth. In a sense, though, you never leave his state of mind. Through this, it still keeps up with the book’s narrative feel even though words may not be spoken. Tyler Durden is much like this, he doesn’t exist either. He is a visual representation of "Jack’s" imagination. He is no different than the plane crash or the penguin.
I found the film is more focused than the book on this main theme. The book seems to wander with rants, preaching, and little description of what is actually occurring. It's more a series of thoughts and stream of conscious writing. Many of the passages can be vague and sometimes misinterpreted. If focuses primarily on "Jack’s" state of mind and what he thinks rather than the action. The book also has sections that really add nothing to the story, such as Marla wanting the liposuction fat from her mother to have surgery on her lips. Due to sections like this being taken out, the viewer can focus more on what is (or isn’t) shown and the message can come across more clearly.
Fight Club is a one of a kind film. Every scene, word, character and shot holds some purpose in expressing its meaning and philosophy (such as the shot above, showing two men, with two doors in the center that swing both ways). Everything that could be expected from the book has been transformed to the screen in perfect fashion. With a book, you create with words. With a film, you create with words, motions, editing, lighting, directing, basically everything a book can’t do. The film has so much more to it than just the words given by the book, with a message that can be a difficult subject to address as well as present.
The movie is able to still have the postmodern feel of the book, utilizing subliminal imagery, Jack talking directly to the audience, and many jump cuts, but it is able to feel more centered and vigilant. Despite this, I’ve found that people either love Fight Club or hate it. It is not my place to criticize another’s opinion, an opinion is neither right nor wrong, but these are the people that don’t get "it." They want to sit back and be entertained, not lean forward and analyze. Because of this, the message of Fight Club can be lost is the shuffle of blood and vulgarity, causing some people to not understand it. The book forces the reader to analyze and take the message to heart, despite not being fully clear in some areas. However, if a person can pay attention to the film and try and notice things on screen and listen to the words spoken, the same message is there. The message is simpler than some may think, they just need to look for it rather than expect it to fall in their laps. It is ironic that some people in society can’t understand a film that is about them.
Now to one of the more interesting characters, Marla Singer. Marla, in all her drug-induced cynical glory, is actually a representation of normalcy. She acts as Jack’s anchor to the habitual world. After all, it is Jack, Tyler and all the space monkeys that are have the more serious and fanatical problems when compared to her. She, in a way, brings him back. Throughout the film, Jack shows Marla is always on his mind. She symbolically takes the place of the penguin as Jack's power animal, he considers calling her first after finding out about his apartment blowing up, and he does his best to protect her at the end of the film and the book. Even though Tyler claims another woman is the last thing they need, perhaps another woman in his life is what Jack needed all along.
There are some differences in how the film represents the content and how the book does. The book sometimes goes into little detail about certain things, which leads the filmmakers to embellish a little. Case in point, the book has a small sentence about the dream Jack has. All it says is, "I dreamt I was humping, humping, humping Marla Singer." The film, with little to go on, turned this short sentence into fifteen seconds of footage. This is something that often occurs. While the narrative is provided directly from the book, the screenwriter, director and producers of the film had to put images to correspond with it. This allows for many of the book’s words to be interpreted in a less ambiguous way due to there being visuals to compensate for lack of description.
Sometimes things that are more prevalent in the book don’t appear nearly at all in the film. "Valley of the Dolls" is referred to often in the novel, but the only reference in the film is when Marla is singing as she leaves the house on Paper Street. The reference is still there, but its importance is not as significant. Some things have to be sacrificed to keep focused on the story, but at the same time not degrading the objective of the text.
These things are minor, though. The core of Fight Club is not the little details as much as it is the entire scope and message it wishes to send. With that, Fincher and screenwriter Jim Uhls (with Palahniuk's consulting, I'm sure) succeed on every single level. The voice is purely Palahniuk, the visuals a kinetic and raw transport through space, time, thoughts and ideas all somehow making sense with the story it wraps itself around. Fight Club is a postmodern masterpiece in both paper and celluloid forms. It is a voice of a generation, a defining piece of art of an era, and I would go a so far as to call it one of the most important pieces of fiction ever written.
Fight Club Rule #4:
Adolescent Frustration and Anger is the Sum of the Parts.
"We don't have a great war in our generation, or a great depression, but we do, we have a great war of the spirit. We have a great revolution against the culture. The great depression is our lives. We have a spiritual depression."
Let's face it, Fight Club's characters don't exactly take the high-road. They're anarchists, juvenile and simply angry at everything. Instead of trying to work it out the way society thinks they should, they shout from the highest mountaintops. Like teenagers upset over their parents, they think, scheme and plan the best way to get back at them- only instead of breaking the house, they break the conformist society at its very core: destroying anything consumer related or socially popular.
It's a slow build. It's not one single thing that sets them off. It's a collection and series of things and events combined with neglect by society that causes escalation from them. Instead of getting noticed by buying stuff and having nice jobs, they take out their frustrations by being unpredictable and violent. If someone sees them, fine, but in reality they don't care if they get their names etched in stone, they want to break the stone into gravel. The Club members, as they say, are everyone and everywhere. They're still a part of our society, but when they take themselves to beating and destruction, they throw out all inhibition. They have that full release that, when you get older in life, becomes rarer and rarer.
Fight Club says the reason for that is because we become too consistent, too mundane, too sheepish, to understand who we are, what we really want. We're all pent up inside like a teenager, so why not release like one? For them, it's beating the hell out of someone. It's finding something to break. That's the first step, the adolescent-like anger and just being pissed, and using that anger to break it. Then it's about building it back up into something new. That's the dedication.
Then there's the wonder that is the Oedipus Complex, subtle in both the book and film but most certainly there as these young men consistently show disdain towards their fathers, the lack of parental involvement in their upbringing (or perhaps too much) and their wanting to mold their generation in such a way to separate themselves from those before, but more importantly to supplant themselves over those before as something completely different rather than stay with the conventions others expect. If that means blowing up the buildings, the foundations, their fathers before them built, then so be it.
Fight Club Rule #5:
Comodifcation and Consumerism is All Society Defines You As
(You are not an individual).
"You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else, and we are all part of the same compost pile... Our culture has made us all the same. No one is truly white or black or rich, anymore. We all want the same. Individually, we are nothing."
The most appealing and universally liked aspect of Fight Club is it's pure destruction and critique of our desire to buy shit. We buy a lot of things that we need, but more often we just buy things that we want. We buy the biggest TV, the nicest car, the best clothes, all in some feeble attempt to say "This is who I am."
What's worse is our society feeds off this desire of us to own stuff. Advertisers tell us what is best for our lives, we rarely make decisions for ourselves, and we spend more time trying to configure or homes to impress people than maybe working on our own social abilities. If someone sees that big house, they think they know you and that you must have done something really amazing to get it.
"You buy furniture. You tell yourself, this is the last sofa I will ever need in my life. Buy the sofa, then for a couple years you're satisfied that no matter what goes wrong, at least you've got your sofa issue handled. Then the right set of dishes. Then the perfect bed. The drapes. The rug. Then you're trapped in your lovely nest, and the things you used to own, now they own you. "
Jack is your typical run-of- the- mill guy who has a job and, what he thinks, is a good life. A foundation for a main character is wants and needs. Jack wants to make money, buy things and live in his apartment, he feels this is his purpose; he needs to realize he has to break away from his life and understand the true purpose of his existence. Deep down inside, he isn't happy although he thinks everything is fine. He needs to find a way to change his lifestyle, but he can‘t bring himself to do it directly. To accomplish this, he creates a person that represents everything he wants to be, instead of who he needs to be. This character is Tyler Durden. While some may argue that Tyler is actually who Jack needs to be, not want, the ending of both the film and book contradict it. In the book, creating Tyler did nothing but cause Jack to end up in an institution. Tyler did nothing for Jack in the movie other than bring misery. But it made him realize what he did need. His need is to have the company of another person. In the film, the final scene shows that Marla was actually what Jack needed, not wanted, as they hold hands and look out to the destruction of the buildings and, in turn, he found that Marla actually wants him, which is what they both needed. Everybody wants to feel wanted. That is what everybody needs.
"Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need."
Fight Club isn't merely a story about a guy with a split personality who gets into fights to help himself sleep. It is more a message than anything. Instead of leaving the theater or closing the book, Fight Club wants you to take something away from it. Its intention is for each person who reads the pages and sees the film to understand the purposes of life and what individuality truly is. Jack represents us, society, and how we all have lost something due to consumerism. We lost ourselves, but at least we have our sofas.
We are a capitalist society. That doesn't require us to be materialistic, does it? Comodification is the word used to describe, as basic as I can make this, how our material possessions represent who we are. What better way to feel wanted than to impress others with your possessions? Our narrator, Jack, is buying things to feel complete. As odd as that may sound, that's what he's been reduced to. He has nothing left except his pretty things.
Fight Club Rule #6:
The Lack of an Identity is Not Entirely Our Fault.
"For thousands of years, human beings had screwed up and trashed and crapped on this planet, and now history expected me to clean up after everyone. I have to wash out and flatten my soup cans. And account for every drop of used motor oil. And I have to foot the bill for nuclear waste and buried gasoline tanks and landfilled toxic sludge dumped a generation before I was born."
As you probably know, we are not given the main character's name once in the film or book. He only referred to as the "narrator" while it's Brad Pitt's character dubbed "Tyler Durden." We call him "Jack" because that's how we distinguish the personalities of the same person, here being Tyler Durden. That has to be because Tyler, the Pitt version, is what the Norton's Tyler wants to see himself as. He is not named because he is searching for that identity. Both are still Tylder Durden: one of reality and one of desire. This is yet another thematic motif: we have no identity.
As mentioned earlier, we're all one big saturated mess. We even have numbers gaging how many of us tune in to certain television shows. What's popular succeeds, therefore we look to become popular. This is molded by years of people saying that you can only be someone if you're popular to do so. It's there from the beginning in grade school. You had the popular kids in the cool crowd. Conform, that is how you find yourself.
Tyler says screw that. In fact, Tyler thinks the only way you can find yourself is to not conform. We lack something that defines us outside of pop culture and popularity in schools and success at work. In fifty years, when the books are written, how will those people judge us? We aren't the "Greatest Generation" that's for sure, in fact we're barely considered worthwhile outside of advancements in technology - but those are things, that doesn't tell us about who we are.
What's the reason for all this? Mankind has fucked themselves over. Tyler knows this, and instead of trying to "make-good" for all the screwed up thing going on, he takes a "fuck it" attitude. As mentioned under Rule #4, there is nothing left for us to define ourselves other than trying to correct everything that mankind has screwed up from the so-called "great" generations of the past. We can identify them as liberators, heroes, activists, artistic...well of course they are because they didn't have to constantly backpedal and correct all the mistakes. Those things weren't measured during those times, so those generations and the names we know now, their legacies and stories written, had the time to make things happen (good or bad, mind you). The past few generations should be called the "Clean up crew" generations.
Only that isn't the only identity we lack. It's also that of the individual. We look for groups and ways to feel a part of something. Fight Club tells us that we're just a little too dependent on that - noted by Jack and his wishing for acceptance in any group that will take him. If someone tells us something is good, we automatically assume its good and follow the herd. We tend to not make up our own minds ourselves, that's why film reviews, commercials and political pundits exist. It's why there are republicans, democrats, Christians...I could list any number of groups and you would automatically have a preconceived notion on what they are like, what they believe and how they act. You don't care about the people in them, if someone is classified as being in a certain group, you've already made up your mind. They like to talk, we want to listen, only they're ahead of the curve.
Fight Club Rule #7:
Perfectionism is Bullshit.
"The gyms you go to are crowded with guys trying to look like men, as if being a man means looking the way a sculptor or an art director says."
In the film, Jack and Tyler hop a bus. Glancing around, an advertisement gets Jack's attention. He nudges Tyler and nods towards it.
"Is that what a man is supposed to look like?"
They snicker and laugh at what they are being told; as cynical and pessimistic as their pseudo-philosophy allows. The laugh because they know that the so-called "perfect body" or being a "perfect person" is merely an ideal and a product of societal expectations. We don't laugh because we know it's true. We always want to be perfect at everything we do, and thus be accepted by society. Tyler and company throw that notion out from the very beginning because by accepting that perfection is not an option, you then come to appreciate and understand yourself that much more.
For example, let's take Bob "bitch tits" Paulson, in the film played by Meatloaf and in the book described pretty much as Meatloaf. He is absolutely not the "ideal" yet by the end of the story we come to understand how the "ideal" is not nearly as important as what truly is: his name was Robert Paulson, and he was a friend.
Going back to the idea of comodifcation, having a "perfect" home isn't about buying the pretty and ideal things like a ying-yang coffee table. That is furniture in a house, but it is not the defining elements of a home. A house can be complete garbage, Tyler himself finds one of such nature on Paper Street, but a home, as they say, is where the heart is. It doesn't look perfect, but it feels perfect. It's not going to be on the cover of Home and Garden, but is the place you're happiest at because wherever you are is home, not the cover of a magazine or pages from an Ikea catalog telling you what your home should look like.
Out of all the rules, I think this is the easiest to grasp because it's so direct in both the book and the film. Palahniuk and Fincher pull no punches and telling you that trying to be ideal is an absolute waste of time and asks "who is telling you what is ideal?" from the very beginning. We saw what trying to be ideal did to poor Jack, the next thing you know Tylder Durden is knocking at your door and blowing up your apartment. Deep down, we only want to be ideal because we're told to be, not because we really want to be. We want to find ourselves and be happy, sometimes being ideal and trying to look and act perfect does nothing but waste time and covers up our desire to find real happiness. Perfectionism is a comfort zone, thus perfectionism is bullshit.
Fight Club Rule #8:
Nihilism and Anarchy.
"I wanted to burn the Louvre. I'd do the Elgin Marbles with a sledgehammer and wipe my ass with the Mona Lisa. This is my world, now. This is my world, my world, and those ancient people are dead."
The book and film lament on our society and culture at every given moment. Jack, in his desolate life, is like many of us and sits idly by, another day, another cubicle wall, another dollar. In a film like "Office Space" we are given the exact same scenario, and maybe that's why people love that movie so much as well. We all have been there, have the jobs that causes ulcers and dreary mornings, relationships that are as pathetic as they are empty and lives that seem stagnant and superficial. You never question, you merely avoid. The solution: go against the establishment. Forget everything, all the rules and regulations that perpetrate our desire for freedom, even if we don't realize it.
If you don't know what nihilism is, it basically boils down to this: everything is a lie. Everything is false. There is no purpose despite our dreams and wishes that some day we'll know the answer to all our questions, our fates, and the meaning of life itself. Fight Club showcases Nihilism on every level.
Morally, it tells us there is no logic to our lives. We abide by the rules set by others long dead, yet they don't know us, our society, the way we live. They are dead, that's it, so why bother trying to live by their rules and laws? On a larger level, nihilism is usually associated with the notion that life is meaningless and that if we're all going to die there is no point to life in the first place.
Do this. Don't do that. Jack gets tired of all the rules. It sickens him. However, he can't freely admit it, he would feel shame and be cast out. Thus Tyler emerges and all that pent up nihilist attitude explodes into Jack's reality. It dominates, takes over and destroys. Sure, maybe life is meaningless. Tyler takes it one step further. If life is meaningless, then let's break it down. Perhaps then we can build it up into something that isn't meaningless and has a purpose. All those old rules and laws, all the debts of the world, all the consumerism and sense of materialism. Destroy it and live with no pulled punches and no inhibitions. If it works in a fight, it works in life. It's just a matter of taking that risk.
Tyler's solution is simple, and is previously brought up concerning deconstruction. Anarchy is the only true freedom. Only by being completely uninhibited do we understand what we need and want.
After that runs its course, then you can take your experience and life and understand it. Then you can understand what rules work and what don't. You also just might understand what gives your life meaning and what is merely told to you that is meaningful (such as found in Rule #7 where we are told how perfect we should be). You finally get to make your own decisions and make your own mind up on everything. From the clothes you wear to the rules you want to live by. Project that on to society, build from the ground up, and then you an find what truly matters as a whole to everyone and, in Tyler's mind at least, Utopia can be achieved.
Now whether or not you agree with that is your own decision, either way Tyler feels the only way you'll ever learn is to be shown, thus he plans Project Mayhem to break down the establishment. His first targets are fancy cars, adverts, Apple computers and supposed pieces of art that are just hunks of metal. These things do not matter, thus they must be destroyed. It escalates. Office buildings are torched, Project Mayhem becomes completely self-sufficient with no need of a leader, and eventually credit card buildings are crumbled to rubble.
Anarchy at its finest.
Anarchy is based more on reaction than it is action. From this destruction, a new order must be established - one that is focused solely on the individual, not mass consumer hounds or government officials. Anarchy isn't just destruction and disorder, it's about complete individual liberty. Destruction here is just a means to a end (those things are meaningless, as noted, so let's rid ourselves of them). As gone into earlier, we find our true being through destruction. So it all ends up like this:
Complacency -> Frustration -> Nihilism -> Anger -> Destruction -> Anarchy -> Reconstruction -> Tyler Durden
It's all laid in place, there are more people in Fight Clubs and in Project Mayhem than even Tyler knows, and they'll rise up to rebuild a better society as result. A society made of Tyler Durdens.
The Irony of it All.
"May I never be complete. May I never be content. May I never be perfect. Deliver me, Tyler, from being perfect and complete."
Despite the book and film's willingness to preach its ideology upon us, it still falls victim to its own criticisms it spouts and isn't self-deprecating in doing so. Project Mayhem is still planned and organized. It still has rules. It still has people conforming to its ideals and values. It's simply more twisted when compared to the establishment it critiques. These men still gather and plan to the last detail, they are still told what to do and how to act, there's even depictions of them throwing away their own conformist beliefs (the breaking) and being returned to the beliefs of Tyler and Company (the rebuilding).
Even by saying "believe in nothing" is still believing in something.
Despite that they think wearing clothes or being defined by your possession is pointless, how often are we reminded that they want scars? They want cuts, bruises. Their tattered clothes and bandages define them as much as a woman wearing designer fashion. It's not pretty, but it defines them. You take one look, and you know who they are. Look at Ed in this picture. That says quite a bit, and that's him as his most ruthless and mean-spirited.
The cycle of this will never end. You can't say "I don't believe in something" because you're still crying out your beliefs. Sure, you maybe go against the current and do something completely different, but once Fight Club turns into something bigger, it succumbs to the same flaws it tries to avoid. The narrator knows this, although perhaps a little too late as he finally realizes what he actually.
It's not merely irony, but bitter irony. It's easy to say you don't like something, maybe even easier to go against the establishment, but it can't escape the fact that to destroy the foundations before, you have to still build something that, most likely, follows the same formula. It's different, yet the same and one cannot escape the entire notion of belief and following. Even Anarchists have their beliefs, which essentially Fight Club becomes. The cycle will some day continue. Let's assume Tyler gets his way and society changes, in a decade, or maybe 100 years, another will rise up, critique the establishment and point out how flawed it is and how society must change. The group that would rise up against it would have the same ideology that Tyler preaches (and let's not forget, Tyler is still telling people how they should think and live while criticizing how he doesn;t like being told how to think and live). It's only until his own self-realization, and remembering what and why he came to be in the first place, does he come to understand his own flaws.
Towards individual self-realization, Fight Club works, but once it's reach exceeds it's grasp, it falls to the same problems it denounces and all you're left to do is put a gun in your mouth. Hopefully the bullet will miss your brain and you get the wake-up-call for yourself - the one you so often beg for society to have.
Fight Club Rule #10:
Maybe It's Just the Way we Are.
"I've met God across his long walnut desk with his diplomas hanging on the wall behind him, and God asks me, "Why?" Why did I cause so much pain? Didn't I realize that each of us is a sacred, unique snowflake of special unique specialness? Can't I see how we're all manifestations of love? I look at God behind his desk, taking notes on a pad, but God's got this all wrong. We are not special. We are not crap or trash, either. We just are. We just are, and what happens just happens. And God says, "No, that's not right." Yeah. Well. Whatever. You can't teach God anything."
There's one aspect of Fight Club that it doesn't necessarily admit to, but kind of implies: it's too late. Our social norms are set, rules and laws written. If you're born when they're around, you therefore must abide by them no matter how much you might disagree.
In a sudden act of revelation, Tyler comes to realize that maybe, just maybe, we can't do much of anything or change the world, but at least come to appreciate ourselves and the real things that matter. Perhaps going overboard is just unnecessary, worrying and trying to change not as important as simply appreciating the things in life that do matter to you, not because you're told they should matter but because you inherently feel they matter and they make your life worth living. In Fight Club, we see this in the final chapter, in the film, the final shot of Tyler holding Marla's hand.
As he notes, we just are...and maybe that's just enough to life for afterall.
"It's only after you've lost everything," Tyler says, "that you're free to do anything."
If Flight Club isn't the defining parable of its generation, then I don't know what is. Both the book and film are a reflection of the time and era they were written and shot respectively. Arguably, many of the elements are still pertinent today, such as the underlying cynicism of the world and the feeling of needing a cause to justify your existence. Many of the ideas Palahniuk and Fincher eventually express to us were always in the backs of the consensus mindset, especially amongst adolescence which Fight Clubs appeals most to. They take all these ideas and cram them, somehow, into one singular story. It's no wonder that older generations don't find Fight Club appealing at all, yet younger generations feel it speaks directly to them, to their own fears and problems as well as their pessimistic observations.
Yet there is one thing Fight Club does that isn't a rule at all, and as a result it destroys its own set of rules. Fight Club preaches hope. Sure, it may not be the path of hope and peace we want, but it showcases hope for the future: better people, a better society, a better life. At its heart, that's what it really wants to give us, even if it means breaking down the walls to do so and succumbing to the same cycle in another 100 years if need be.
I don't expect many to really agree with that, then again, I also don't expect many to agree with a majority of the observations mad here. Fight Club isn't just a "I don't give a fuck" story. it's telling us we should give a fuck, that us not being pro-active in trying to figure out how results in us having to resort to breaking down what we assume we know and rebuilding it anew. It's wishing for a better future and maybe finding meaning and happiness within it. Fight Club is about the process of doing so, and is only the means to reach that end.
If that's not hope, then I don't know what is.
And if hope comes in the form of Tyler Durden, face stitched, lip split and holding a bar of soap made from human fat, God help us maybe we should listen. He might just be on to something.