Title: Fight Club.
Author: Chuck Palahniuk.
Genre: Fiction, satire, philosophical fiction.
Publication Date: 1996.
Summary: The experiences of an unnamed protagonist struggling with insomnia. Inspired by his doctor's exasperated remark that insomnia is not suffering, the protagonist finds relief by impersonating a seriously ill person in several support groups. Then he meets a mysterious man named Tyler Durden and establishes an underground fighting club as radical psychotherapy.
My rating: 9/10
♥ That old saying, how you always kill the one you love, well, look, it works both ways.
♥ This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.
♥ What Tyler had created was the shadow of a giant hand. Only now the fingers were Nosferatu-long and the thumb was too short, but he said how at exactly four-thirty the hand was perfect. The giant shadow hand was perfect for one minute, and for one perfect minute Tyler had sat in the palm of a perfection he’d created himself.
You wake up, and you’re nowhere.
One minute was enough, Tyler said, a person had to work hard for it, but a minute of perfection was worth the effort. A moment was the most you could ever expect from perfection.
♥ Something which was a bomb, a big bomb, had blasted my clever Njurunda coffee tables in the shape of a lime green yin and an orange yang that fit together to make a circle. Well they were splinters, now.
My Haparanda sofa group with the orange slip covers, design by Erika Pekkari, it was trash, now.
And I wasn’t the only slave to my nesting instinct. The people I know who used to sit in the bathroom with pornography, now they sit in the bathroom with their IKEA furniture catalogue.
We all have the same Johanneshov armchair in the Strinne green stripe pattern. Mine fell fifteen stories, burning, into a fountain.
We all have the same Rislampa/Har paper lamps made from wire and environmentally friendly unbleached paper. Mine are confetti.
All that sitting in the bathroom.
The Alle cutlery service. Stainless steel. Dishwater safe.
The Vild hall clock made of galvanized steel, oh, I had to have that.
The Klipsk shelving unit, oh, yeah.
Hemling hat boxes. Yes.
The street outside my high-rise was sparkling and scattered with all this.
The Mommala quilt-cover set. Design by Tomas Harila and available in the following:
Eggshell or heather.
It took my whole life to buy this stuff.
The easy-care textured lacquer of my Kalix occasional tables.
My Steg nesting tables.
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. The 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.
♥ The phone rang in Tyler’s rented house on Paper Street.
Oh, Tyler, please deliver me.
And the phone rang.
The doorman leaned into my shoulder and said, “A lot of young people don’t know what they really want.”
Oh, Tyler, please rescue me.
And the phone rang.
“Young people, they think they want the whole world.”
Deliver me from Swedish furniture.
Deliver me from clever art.
And the phone range and Tyler answered.
“If you don’t know what you want,” the doorman said, “you end up with a lot you don’t.”
May I never be complete.
May I never be content.
May I never be perfect.
Deliver me, Tyler, from being perfect and complete.
♥ The first rule about fight club is you don’t talk about fight club.
I tell Walter I fell.
I did this to myself.
Before the presentation, when I sat across from my boss, telling him where in the script each slide cues and when I wanted to run the video segment, my boss says, “What do you get yourself into every weekend?”
I just don’t want to die without a few scars, I say. It’s nothing anymore to have a beautiful stock body. You see those cars that are completely stock cherry, right out of a dealer’s showroom in 1955, I always think, what a waste.
♥ In the real world, I’m a recall campaign coordinator in a shirt and tie, sitting in the dark with a mouthful of blood and changing the overheads and slides as my boss tells Microsoft how he chose a particular shade of pale cornflower blue for an icon.
The first fight club was just Tyler and I pounding on each other.
It used to be enough that when I came home angry and knowing that my life wasn’t toeing my five-year plan, I could clean my condominium or detail my car. Someday I’d be dead without a scar and there would be a really nice condo and car. Really, really nice, until the dust settled or the next owner. Nothing is static. Even the Mona Lisa is falling apart. Since fight club, I can wiggle half the teeth in my jaw.
Maybe self-improvement isn’t the answer.
Tyler never knew his father.
Maybe self-destruction is the answer.
♥ At the time, my life just seemed too complete, and maybe we have to break everything to make something better out of ourselves.
♥ So I hit him, a girl’s roundhouse to right under his ear, and Tyler shoved me back and stomped the heel of his shoe in my stomach. What happened next and after that didn’t happen in words, but the bar closed and people came out and shouted around us in the parking lot.
Instead of Tyler, I felt finally I could get my hands on everything in the world that didn’t work, my cleaning that came back with the collar buttons broken, the bank that says I’m hundreds of dollars overdrawn. My job where my boss got on my computer and fiddled with my DOS execute commands. And Marla Singer, who stole the support groups from me.
Nothing was solved when the fight was over, but nothing mattered.
♥ Hearing this, I am totally Joe’s Gallbladder. All of this is my fault. Sometimes you do something, and you get screwed. Sometimes it’s the things you don’t do, and you get screwed.
♥ Tyler only says this to make me feel better. The truth is I like my boss. Besides, I’m enlightened now. You know, only Buddha-style behavior. Spider chrysanthemums. The Diamond Sutra and the Blue Cliff Record. Hari Rama, you know, Krishna, Krishna. You know, Enlightened.
“Sticking feathers up your butt,” Tyler says, “does no make you a chicken.”
♥ Tyler says I’m nowhere near hitting the bottom, yet. And if I don’t fall all the way, I can’t be saved. Jesus did it with his crucifixion thing. I shouldn’t just abandon money and property and knowledge. This isn’t just a weekend retreat. I should run from self-improvement, and I should be running toward disaster. I can’t just play it safe anymore.
This isn’t a seminar.
“If you lose your nerve before you hit the bottom,” Tyler says, “you’ll never really succeed.”
Only after disaster can we be resurrected.
“It’s only after you’ve lost everything,” Tyler says, “that you’re free to do anything.”
♥ This is why I loved the support groups so much, if people thought you were dying, they gave you their full attention.
If this might be the last time they saw you, they really saw you. Everything else about their checkbook balance and radio songs and messy hair went out the window.
You had their full attention.
People listened instead of just waiting for their turn to speak.
And when they spoke, they weren’t telling you a story. When the two of you talked, you were building something, and afterward you were both different than before.
♥ Marla’s heart looked the way my face was. The crap and the trash of the world. Post-consumer human butt wipe that no one would ever to the trouble to recycle.
♥ “Disaster is a natural part of my evolution,” Tyler whispered, “toward tragedy and dissolution.”
I told the detective that it was the refrigerator that blew up my condo.
“I’m breaking attachment to physical power and possessions,” Tyler whispered, “because only through destroying myself can I discover the greater power of my spirit.”
The dynamite, the detective said, there were impurities, a residue of ammonium oxalate and potassium perchloride that might mean the bomb was homemade, and the dead bolt on the front door was shattered.
I said I was in Washington, D.C., that night.
The detective on the phone explained how someone had sprayed a canister of Freon into the dead-bolt lock and then tapped the lock with a cold chisel to shatter the cylinder. This is the way criminals are stealing bicycles.
“The liberator who destroys my property,” Tyler said, “is fighting to save my spirit. The teacher who clears all possessions from my path will set me free.”
The detective said whoever set the homemade dynamite could’ve turned on the gas and blown out the pilot lights on the stove days before the explosion took place. The gas was just the trigger. It would take days for the gas to fill the condo before it reached the compressor at the base of the refrigerator and the compressor’s electric motor set off the explosion.
“Tell him,” Tyler whispered. “Yes, you did it. You blew it all up. That’s what he wants to hear.”
I tell detective, no, I did not leave the gas on and then leave town. I loved my life. I loved that condo. I loved every stick of furniture. That was my whole life. Everything, the lamps, the chairs, the rugs were me. The dishes in the cabinet were me. The plants were me. The television was me. It was me that blew up. Couldn’t he see that?
♥ Tyler asked what I was really fighting.
What Tyler says about being the crap and the slaves of history, that’s how I felt. I wanted to destroy everything beautiful I’d never have. Burn the Amazon rain forests. Pump chlorofluorocarbons straight up to gobble the ozone. Open the dump valves on supertankers and uncap offshore oil wells. I wanted to kill all the fish I couldn’t afford to eat, and smother the French beaches I’d never see.
I wanted the whole world to hit bottom.
Pounding that kid, I really wanted to put a bullet between the eyes of every endangered panda that wouldn’t screw to save its species and every whale or dolphin that gave up and ran itself aground.
Don’t think of this as extinction. Think of this as downsizing.
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 sludge dumped a generation before I was born.
I held the face of mister angel like a baby or a football in the crook of my arm and bashed him with my knuckles, bashed him until his teeth broke through his lips. Bashed him with my elbow after that until he fell through my arms into a heap at my feet. Until the skin was pounded thin across his cheekbones and turned black.
I wanted to breathe smoke.
Birds and deer are a silly luxury, and all the fish should be floating.
I wanted to burn the Louvre. I’d do the Elgin Marbles with a sledge-hammer 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.
It was breakfast that morning that Tyler invented Project Mayhem.
We wanted to blast the world free of history.
We were eating breakfast in the house on Paper Street, and Tyler said, picture yourself planting radishes and seed potatoes on the fifteenth green of a forgotten golf course.
You’ll hunt elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins pf Rockefeller Center, and dig clams next to the skeleton of the Space Needle leaning at a forty-five-degree angle. We’ll paint the skyscapers with huge totem faces and goblin tikis, and every evening what’s left of mankind will retreat to empty zoos and lock itself in cages as protection against bears and big cats and wolves that pace and watch us from outside the cage bars at night.
“Recycling and speed limits are bullshit,” Tyler said. “They’re like someone who quits smoking on his deathbed.”
It’s Project Mayhem that’s going to save the world. A cultural ice age. A prematurely induced dark age. Project Mayhem will force humanity to go dormant or into remission long enough for the Earth to recover.
“You justify anarchy,” Tyler says. “You figure it out.”
Like fight club does with clerks and box boys, Project Mayhem will break up civilization so we can make something better out of the world.
“Imagine,” Tyler said, “stalking elk past department store windows and stinking racks of beautiful rotting dresses and tuxedos on hangers; you’ll wear leather clothes that will last you the rest of your life, and you’ll climb the wrist-thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Tower. Jack and the beanstalk, you’ll climb up through the dripping forest canopy and the air will be so clean you’ll see tiny figures pounding corn and laying strips of venison to dry in the empty car pool lane of an abandoned superhighway stretching eight-lanes-wide and August-hot for a thousand miles.”
♥ He says, “What you have to understand, is your father was your model for God.”
Behind us, my job and my office are smaller, smaller, smaller, gone.
I sniff the gasoline on my hands.
The mechanic says, “If you’re male and you’re Christian and living in America, your father is your model for God. And if you never know your father, if your father bails out or dies or is never at home, what do you believe about God?
This is all Tyler Durden dogma. Scrawled on bits of paper while I was asleep and given to me to type and photocopy at work. I’ve read it all. Even my boss has probably read it all.
“What you end up doing,” the mechanic says, “is you spend your life searching for a father and God.”
“What you have to consider,” he says, “is the possibility that God doesn’t like you. Could be, God hates us. This is not the worst thing that can happen.”
How Tyler saw it was that getting God’s attention for being bad was better than getting no attention at all. Maybe because God’s hate is better than His indifference.
If you could be either God’s worst enemy or nothing, which would you choose?
We are God’s middle children, according to Tyler Durden, with no special place in history and no special attention.
Unless we get God’s attention, we have no hope of damnation or redemption.
Which is worse, hell or nothing?
Only if we’re caught and punished can we be saved.
“Burn the Louvre,” the mechanic says, “and wipe your ass with the Mona Lisa. This way at least, God would know our names.”
The lower you fall, the higher you’ll fly. The farther you run, the more God wants you back.
“If the prodigal son had never left home,” the mechanic says, “the fatted calf would still be alive.”
It’s not enough to be numbered with the grains of sand on the beach and the stars in the sky.
♥ “We want you, not your money. As long as you’re at fight club, you’re not how much money you’ve got in the bank. You’re not your job. You’re not your family, and you’re not who you tell yourself. You’re not your name. You’re not your problems. You’re not your age. You are not your hopes. You will not be saved. We are all going to die, someday.”
♥ “I see the strongest and the smartest men who have ever lived,” he says, his face outlined against the stars in the driver’s windows, “and these men are pumping gas and waiting tables.”
The drop of his forehead, his brow, the slope of his nose, his eyelashes and the curve of his eyes, the plastic profile of his mouth, talking, these are all outlined in black against the stars.
“If we could put these men in training camps and finish raising them.
“All a gun does is focus an explosion in one direction.
“You have a class of young strong men and women, and they want to give their lives to something. Advertising has these people chasing cars and clothes they don’t need. Generations have been working in jobs they hate, just so they can buy what they don’t really need.
“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.
“We have to show these men and women freedom by enslaving them, and show them courage by frightening them.
“Napoleon bragged that he could train men to sacrifice their lives for a scrap of ribbon.
“Imagine, when we call a strike and everyone refuses to work until we redistribute the wealth of the world...”
♥ “Remember this,” Tyler said. “The people you’re trying to step on, we’re everyone you depend on. We’re the people who do your laundry and cook your food and serve your dinner. We make your bed. We guard you while you’re asleep. We drive the ambulance. We direct your call. We are cooks and taxi drivers and we know everything about you. We process your insurance claims and credit card changes. We control every part of your life.
“We are the middle children of history, raised by television to believe that someday we’ll be millionaires and movie stars and rock stars, but we won’t. And we’re just learning that fact,” Tyler said. “So don’t fuck with us.”
♥ This was something Tyler talked about, how since England did all the exploration and built colonies and made maps, most of the places in geography have those secondhand sort of English names. The English got to name everything. Or almost everything.
New London, Australia.
New London, India.
New London, Idaho.
New York, New York.
Fast-forward to the future.
This way, when deep-space exploitation ramps up, it will probably be the megatonic corporation that discovers all the new planets and map them.
The IBM Stellar Sphere.
The Philip Morris Galaxy.
Every planet will take on the corporate identity of whoever rapes it first.
♥ That old saying, about how you always kill the thing you love, well, it works both ways.
♥ The angels here are the Old Testament kind, legions and lieutenants, a heavenly host who works in shifts, days, swing. Graveyard. They bring you your meals on a tray with a paper cup of meds. The Valley of the Dolls playset.
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.