The first time I saw Fight Club, I really didn’t like it. I didn’t like the violence. I didn’t like the cult nature of mayhem causing humans-as-drones pissing and jizzing into peoples’ meals and then suing the restaurants over it. I didn’t like how clearly it describes how desperate so many people are for meaning, belonging, and feeling. I saw it as a celebration of everything wrong about humans and something that would be misunderstood as “anarchists” (which really means without rulers, not the violent property destroying thugs in the movie). I was taking it all too literally. Watching it again now, many years later, I see deeper into the script and the commentary it makes about the path to enlightenment or coming into direct experience with truth and the process of shedding untruth along the way.
I also appreciate how it sheds all fear. In a twisted, perverse way you might even call it a love story.
This is your life and it's ending one minute at a time.
We all are going to die. Some of us go further to realize we may not even exist beyond our own consciousness. Just as “Jack” is confused about Tyler, what if the I Am is confused about Luke Stokes?
I watched Fight Club today while also finishing Jed McKenna’s Theory of Everything. I also watched Bliss which has a similar disturbing “your reality is not real” flavor to it.
Some more thoughts about Fight Club. The whole story is told with very few named egoic identities. Tyler Durden (not real), Robert Paulson (made more real after dying and no longer being a character), the Narrator (“Jack”?), and Marla Singer. The whole movie with all those characters and those are the only named ones. Marla, among all that misdirected angry boy missing his father rage, is the key. Most men need a woman or they act like savages.
Was I asleep? Had I slept?
Is Tyler my bad dream, or am I Tyler's?
JACK: You are a voice in my head.
TYLER: You are a voice in mine.
Where do our thoughts come from which form our actions and identity?
You just had a near life experience
Why do we need serious events in our lives to shake things up and cause true transformation?
Narrator: You had to give it to him: he had a plan. And it started to make sense, in a Tyler sort of way. No fear. No distractions. The ability to let that which does not matter truly slide.
Why are we so afraid, and why do we get so upset about things which are truly meaningless?
TYLER: …working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of the history man, no purpose or place, we have no Great war, no Great depression, our great war is a spiritual war, our great depression is our lives…
Why do so many people struggle to find purpose and meaning?
And finally… The chemical burn scene. I now view this as a metaphor of facing the full pain of ego death and letting go completely from anything that isn’t true. A direct experience. Maybe that’s reading into it a bit too much, but that’s what I got from it. He’s letting go of his fear of pain, death, and, importantly, not choosing to escape into avoidance.
TYLER: This is a chemical burn.
The saliva shines in the shape of the kiss. Tyler pours a bit of the flaked lye onto Jack's hand. Jack's whole body JERKS. Tyler holds tight to Jack's hand and arm. Tears well in Jack's eyes; his face tightens.
TYLER: It will hurt more than you've ever been burned and you will have a scar.
JACK (V.O.): Guided meditation worked for cancer, it could work for this.
TYLER: Stay with the pain, don’t block this out.
Tyler JERKS Jack's hand, getting Jack's attention…
TYLER: Look at your hand. The first soap was made from the ashes of heroes. Like the first monkeys shot into space. Without pain, without sacrifice, we would have nothing!
JACK (V.O.): I tried not to think of the words "searing" or "flesh."
SHOT OF A FOREST, IN GENTLE SPRING RAINFALL. RESUME:
TYLER: Stop. This is your pain, this is your burning hand. It’s right here!
JACK: I’m going to my cave. I’m going to my cave, I’m going to find my power animal.
SHOT OF INSIDE THE ICE CAVE - ON MARLA, LYING NAKED UNDER A FUR COAT, TURNING HER HEAD TO LOOK TOWARDS US. RESUME:
TYLER: No! Don’t deal with it like those dead people do. Come on!
JACK: I get the point!
TYLER: No what you’re feeling is premature enlightenment.
SHOT OF INSIDE ICE CAVE - NAKED MARLA PULLS JACK DOWN ON TOP OF HER - JACK KISSES HER - CIGARETTE SMOKE COMES FROM HER MOUTH - JACK COUGHS. RESUME:
Tyler SLAPS Jack's face, regaining his attention…
TYLER: This is the greatest moment of your life, man! And you’re off somewhere missing it.
Jack, snapping back, tries to jerk his hand away. Tyler keeps hold of it and their arms KNOCK UTENSILS off the table.
JACK: No I’m not!
TYLER: Shut up. Our fathers were our models for God. And, if our fathers bailed, what does that tell us about God?
Tyler SLAPS Jack's face again…
TYLER: Listen to me. You have to consider the possibility that God doesn't like you, he never wanted you. In all probability, He hates you. This is not the worst thing that can happen...
JACK: It isn’t…?
TYLER: We don’t need him. Fuck damnation. Fuck redemption. We are God's unwanted children? So be it!
Jack looks at Tyler -- they lock eyes. Jack does his best to stifle his spasms of pain, his body a quivering, coiled knot. He bolts toward the sink, but Tyler holds on.
TYLER: Listen. You can run water over your hand and make it worse, or -- look at me! -- or you can use vinegar and neutralize the burn.
TYLER: First you have to give up. First you have to know, not fear, know that some day you’re gonna die.
JACK: You don’t know how this feels!
Tyler shows Jack a LYE-BURNED KISS SCAR on his own hand. Tears begin to drip from Jack's eyes.
TYLER: It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.
Tyler grabs a bottle of VINEGAR -- pours it over Jack's wound.
TYLER: Congratulations. You’re one step closer to hitting the bottom.
I was especially struck by the part where he references dealing with it “like those dead people do.” I’ve once heard of monks referred to as dead players in the game as they already detached completely through their meditation and separation from the day to day realities of life.
Today was an interesting day finishing Jed’s book and watching this movie with fresh eyes. I’m still processing it, but wanted to post these specific lines because they spoke to me and they are part of my processing.