Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"I am Jack's wasted life."

  No, the title was not speaking of QBA's very own "Jack". Rather, it's a quote from the movie that is the topic of this essay. As promised, I bring you an essay on the philosophy I found in Fight Club. This ties with The Dark Knight for my favorite movie ever and, if pressed, I'd give this one the edge. Heck, I'll come right out and say it; Fight Club is my favorite movie. One of Jason's, as well. I had a conversation with a friend a few days ago explaining the meaning behind Fight Club and the absurdist connotations in the movie. (Absurdism is a philosophy which states that life, the universe, and everything inherently have no meaning. I suggest, for an introduction to absurdism, you check out The Stranger by Albert Camus. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature, and it's not necessarily the most entertaining book, but it's interesting.)
  This is a movie about an average everyman searching for identity in all the places he'll never find it. Material possessions ("I flipped through catalogs and wondered: What kind of dining set defines me as a person?"), diseases he doesn't have, clever and pithy remarks, etc. But suddenly, he meets this girl, Marla Singer, who is everything he is, and he doesn't like what he sees. And then a guy, Tyler Durden, one of the greatest characters to ever grace a movie screen, simply redefines everything he's ever believed and says to him that having an identity is completely overrated and that life is about finding happiness where it can be found.

I give you two example quotes:

"F*** off with your sofa units and strine green stripe patterns, I say never be complete, I say stop being perfect, I say let... lets evolve, let the chips fall where they may." - One of the first exchanges between Tyler and the narrator, Tyler talks about consumerism and how we are passive as a society, but, on a deeper level, by my interpretation, Tyler says that it's a pointless endeavor to try to define yourself, because nothing has any meaning. It's all about living in the moment and doing whatever it takes to make yourself happy in the moment, even to the point of hedonism. This is what the fight club itself is all about: taking control of your own pursuit of happiness and pleasure.
"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 f***ing khakis. You're the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world." - Tyler shows that the passive consumerism of our society, again, has been used for too long to try to find some meaning in a meaningless universe, again going back to the absurdism of the movie.

  Two quotes, my two favorites in the movie, actually, that I find really highlight the absurdism of the movie are:

"I felt like destroying something beautiful." - You'll probably understand this one's absurdist relations a tad more if you read The Stranger, but it's a great line in its own right. There's something about the idea captured in it of just giving in to destruction and pure, raw emotion that really gets me.
"On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero." - This sentiment goes beyond "Everybody dies." It's more along the lines of, "Everyone who has ever lived will die. Nothing in existence now will matter in time." There's nothing that could capture the meaningless of life, the universe, and everything better than that.
  The idea of this whole identity crisis being within the narrator is even more compelling. In the end, the narrator wins because the radical ideas of Tyler Durden go against the moral compass the narrator has been raised with and the society that he has been indoctrinated, more or less, to believe in, and so he takes radical measures to stop Tyler. It's striking, though, that the narrator effectively kills Tyler Durden at the end, having to go against the moral compass of the very society he's trying to protect to save it. He seems to be just as confused about his identity at the end, then, as at the beginning, but he's taken Tyler's message to heart; he doesn't care anymore. He's content to just be happy with his love for Marla Singer.
  Basically, we should learn from Fight Club that you'll be much, much happier in life when you stop thinking about things and learn to be content with whatever comes your way. Which might be why I'm miserable, seeing as how I write for a little blog called Questions, Bar Answers.

-Adarsh Nednur

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