I’ve been meaning to blog on ‘Fight Club’ for quite some time now. I first saw this movie three years back, and my dalliance with this piece of art has lived on since. I’ve lost the count as to how many times I’ve seen it. To be honest, no ‘Fight Club’ fanboy can talk about the movie without sounding didactic . And, I fear if I continue to ramble on this, it might sound gibberish. Hence, I force myself to finish the blog in 1 hour.
To be honest I haven’t read the book, and I had bleak expectations from the movie. I wasn’t really startled when I finished watching it for the first time. I confess, I was a tad bit confused by what I had seen. Yes, the storyline was good. Presentation was subtle. But, nothing really stood out. And like a lot of other movies it was reduced to a distant memory in my brain.
Time went by and I was a sombre soul during the summer of 2010.Desolate times arrived with the onset of monsoon. For no reason whatsoever I found myself watching the movie again, as the first showers of monsoon rattled my window. And then, after the second watch came my moment of enlightenment. This isn’t your every day movie. It comes with a soul, the roots of which lie in nihilistic values.
Let’s delve deeper.
Fight Club isn’t for people who carry a ‘normal’ stance on life. It is a bombardment of philosophy, a school of thought far different from anything a movie can offer. This movie is for those ‘square pegs in round holes.’ For people who are bent towards a rebellious disposition.
Tyler quote 1: “We are byproducts of a lifestyle obsession….I say never be complete, I say stop being perfect, I say let… lets evolve, let the chips fall where they may.”
How are we not byproducts of a lifestyle obsession? Who defines about things in vogue? Are we just consumers in the grand scheme of things? Why do people have to define clothing sense? Whatever happened to free-will? Why need a sofa when I’m comfortable sitting on a mattress? Those designer dresses cost an arm and a leg and look like shit at the same time, why buy them?
The heart of this discussion between Tyler and the narrator lies in the ‘free will’ and ‘forced by society’ conjecture.
Tyler quote 2 : “The things you own end up owning you.”
Tyler calls for the inherent need of setting oneself free. This movie was released in 1999.Hence, it is a reflection of the corporate culture prevalent in the late 90s, where-in, the whole generation was leading a mechanical life and chasing hollow dreams. It carries an anti-capitalist subtext throughout.
The basic idea of the movie is ‘liberation by isolation’. People felt saved after a fight. In our reality, a fight club is not feasible but we are in an age of declining masculinity. We are too normal for our own sake. Going for salsa classes is not what men inherently like. What if salsa had no women? Would men be interested? This doesn’t apply to football or basketball. Men would go and play a game regardless of the conditions placed.
Ask yourself. If you would fight a celebrity who would you fight?
I’d fight Rahul Dravid. Not for personal vendetta nor that I hate him. But I’d like to see what a perfectly normal guy would do in a fight.
Any historical figure?
Gandhi. Considering he gets a rage. Who wouldn’t want to see the conclusion of that scenario?
The finest moment of Fight Club appears after an hour into the movie. The bastion of nihilism, as I’d like to put it. Tyler burns the narrator’s hand with lye(a chemical).
Tyler quote 3 : “Without pain, without sacrifice, we would have nothing. Like the first monkey shot into space.”
Tyler quote 4: “Our fathers were our models for God. If our fathers bailed, what does that tell you about God?”
Tyler quote 5: “You have to consider the possibility that God does not like you, never wanted you, and in all probability, he HATES you. It’s not the worst thing that can happen.”
Tyler quote 6: “Fuck damnation, man! Fuck redemption! We’re God’s unwanted children, SO BE IT!”
I personally think, the montage of these quotes can be best summarized like this.
Fight Club is essentially atheism against materialism. But it is not atheism against God. God does exist and he is not, as Freud has put it an ‘enormously exalted father’ or simply, the nuance that God is not great makes sense.
If God is omnipotent, why would he not create a perfect world? How can anyone gain gratification from watching the world suffer? According to the movie, God is a sadist, he is not somebody who should be elevated to positions of respect nor should he be condemned. God is to be left alone, he created you and does not care about you, like a vagabond father. Why would God invent the idea of death? If you were God, would you want your creations to fade out? The people who worship you are to be reduced ashes, why so? Sometimes I feel God has to be professional, like a surgeon cannot show love towards his patients, in the same way God created the universe and forgot about it. God and his repertoire of ideas and reasoning aren’t perfect and you shouldn’t station yourself on a moral highground by respecting him out of fear nor should you hate him for that. God is perverse. God is fallible. Metaphorically, God is human. Hence, we need to forget about divine punishment for a sin and deliverance from evil and carry on with our lives.
I reiterate, these are not my personal beliefs but things I could deduce from the movie. I say this carrying the risk of sounding like a polemic, I maybe wrong but you can’t totally dismiss the argument mentioned above. If you found the above idea interesting, I’d recommend the works of the three masters of the ‘school of suspicion’. Friedrich Nietzsche on Übermensch, death of god et al. Karl Marx in general and Sigmund Freud on psychoanalysis and being polymorphously perverse.
Looking at it from a normal perspective, the movie has to be among the best there ever will be. Screenplay is exceptional, it is one of those mindfuck movies with Memento, Inception albeit with a reduced intensity. It advocates anarchy, helps you connect with your twisted mind. This movie will grow on you. Brad Pitt’s finest performance till date, Edward Norton is the soul of the movie. The intermittent hints dropped regarding the climax will amaze you.The author of the book found the movie better. The subtlety of the story combines with Flincher’s eye for direction to create a marvel. It tells you that personal gratification is everything and you are the centre of universe. It preaches narcissism and nihilism, has disdain for everything normal, your outlook on life might be questioned. Go watch it, if you haven’t. If you didn’t like it, you’re too normal for Fight Club. I’d like to conclude with one of Tyler’s question, his quote and his speech
Tyler’s question: “How would you feel about your life, if you die right now?”
Tyler’s quote: “You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis. You’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.”
“Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”
[Tilt your screen]