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“The first rule of Fight Club is, you do not talk about Fight Club.
The second rule of Fight Club is, you DO NOT talk about Fight Club.”

And that is exactly what I plan to do, seeing as Fight Club itself is only the smallest of ideas in this insanity-inspiring novel.

Overview: Fight Club is an establishment conceived by the protagonist(unnamed) and one Tyler Durden for disaffected strangers to meet and use extreme physical agression as a vent for their dissatisfaction.All its members have a common contempt for societal organisation and yet are forced to deal with high society through their jobs and everyday lives. This gives birth to the more retaliatory idea of Project Mayhem, the fundamental concept behind which, is that all existing social sturcture must be broken down before one that is satisfactory to “all” can be built. This book examines the worst of humanity, but somehow manages to be entirely too believable and therein lies its real allure.

Themes:
The first several chapters of Fight Club that deal with the foundation of it and the atrocities that everyday people are capable of, while being graphic and disturbing, bring nothing particularly new to the table. A few chapters into the story, it becomes apparent that Palahniuk is a genius for his writing style- the brilliant use of repetition, the dark/sardonic humour and the non-linear progression of the story..all of which add to the general chaos. But ‘fight club’ the concept i.e., the idea of  ‘externalizing’ a problem -not to solve it necessarily, but to redirect the individual’s attention to another demanding but physical problem- is not especially original. So, while I enjoyed the style of writing, I kept asking “Where is the ‘dark, anarchic genius’ that the description promises?”. A few more chapters in, and I began to get my questions answered.

“You do the little job you’re trained to do.Pull a lever.Push a button.You don’t understand any of it, and then you just die.”

“My father never went to college so it was really important I go to college. After college, I called him long distance and said, now what?My dad didn’t know, so he said get a job.When I got a job and turned twenty-five, long distance, I said, now what? My dad didn’t know, so he said, get married.I’m a thirty-year-old boy, and I’m wondering if another woman is really the answer I need.”

From these excerpts and several others, it seems that existentialism drives the original, more simplistic fight clubs. The arguments that Tyler offers against consumerism and uneven distribution of wealth are plainly extemist, but what makes them so fascinating is that (oddly enough) they do offer some insight into the conception of  the Democracy. The common man’s resentment for this (perceived?) communal elitism accounts for his willingness  to partake in fight club, but of course, it gets much bigger than that.

“… another new fight club rule is that fight club will always be free. It will never cost to get in. “We want you, not your money. As long as you’re in 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.”

“It’s only after you’ve lost everything, that you’re free to do anything.”

“Maybe self-improvement isn’t the answer, maybe self-destruction is the answer.”

“Generations have been working in jobs they hate, just so they can buy what they don’t really need.”

“Disaster is a natural part of my evolution, toward tragedy and dissolution.”

The anarchy aspect really sets in with an offset of Fight Club, Project Mayhem- the Arson Committee (Mondays), Assault Committee(Tuesdays), Mischief Committee(Wednesdays), Misinformation Commitee(Thursdays)- all founded upon the same derision towards mainstream society.

“What Tyler says about the crap and the slaves of history, that’s how I felt. I wanted to destroy something 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.”

Project mayhem transforms Fight Club from a place of mindless escapism to a sinister organisation with a very defined object of hatred–consumerism. It is made possible through its members’ sense of failure for not having achieved success (which, unsurprisingly, they choose to define based on the very same consumerist values they oppose), and is the unifying factor that gives Fight club the numbers it needs to truly tear apart the fabric of society. I have to confess, though, that I’m not entirely convinced that this alone would give Fight Club the kind of membership (in terms of numbers) that it is described as having towards the end of the book, wherein the protagonist literally cannot get away from them.

*The protagonist: He is difficult to comprehend for about 2/3rds of the book, and it seems as though all the strange things he describes and the unusual narrative style are meant to be palatable simplybecause he is a bit twisted, but the last third of the book clears it up beautifully. We also never learn his name, which is interesting because this truly makes him ‘everyman’, struggling to find fulfillment. He is a person of no significance– until Fight Club.

Bottom-line: Poignant, satisfying plot-wise,  great writing style and brimming with ideas. Must read.

Miscellany:

*I actually wrote this at least a week ago, and then completely forgot about it.

* Belated Christmas wishes to everyone! ( And happy New Year in advance– just in case!)


 

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Fight club is the invention of Tyler Durden, projectionist, waiter, and dark, anarchic genius, and it’s only the beginning of his plans for violent revenge on an empty consumer-culture world.

This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.  ~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club, Chapter 3

This book was one of the few in recent times, that I read in one sitting. Its brilliantly written with short concise prose and language that just hits you. There are so many ideas in one sentence than there are in full chapter of some other books.

Its written in the form of a first person narrative, except it’s more like disjointed thoughts and experiences that connect together by this one thing, Fight Club.

We’re designed to be hunters and we’re in a society of shopping.  There’s nothing to kill anymore, there’s nothing to fight, nothing to overcome, nothing to explore.  In that societal emasculation, this everyman is created.  ~David Fincher, director of Fight Club

 The story introduces you to the narrator, who is one of these everymen. He is frustrated with his life and feels helpless in trying to change it. It is at this point that Tyler Durden explodes into his life.

Tyler Durden is one of the most intriguing chracters that I have ever read. He is opinionated, rash and enigmatic. Tyler invents Fight Club to help these men who feel powerless to take control of their lives and to do something, even if it is bashing someone’s head in or getting the crap beaten out of you.

After a night in fight club, everything in the real world gets the volume turned down.  Nothing can piss you off.  Your word is law, and if other people break that law or question you, even that doesn’t piss you off.  ~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club, Chapter 6 

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.  ~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club, Chapter 3

“It’s only after you’ve lost everything,” Tyler says, “that you’re free to do anything.”  ~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club, Chapter 8 

Tyler believes that the complete destruction and anarchy was the only way to clean up the mess he felt that we, as a society had made.

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.  ~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club, Chapter 16

A sort of fun explosive is potassium permanganate mixed with powdered sugar. The idea is to mix one ingredient that will burn very fast with a second ingredient that will supply enough oxygen for that burning. This burns so fast, it’s an explosion. ~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club, Chapter 22

 I had far too much fun reading these little tips on making explosives and all the other tools you would need to achieve what Tyler had dreamed. I love the quotable-ness of this book!

The author is unapologetic about the way in which he expresses his opinions. The characters are even less so. I absolutely enjoyed every word that was written in this book, even the afterword. I want to now read Lullaby and possibly Choke, by him.

I am also planning on watching the movie soon. The casting is interesting. I think Brad Pitt would have done Tyler justice and Helena Bonham Carter seems perfect for Marla. I’ve only ever seen Edward Norton properly on Modern Family and possibly, The Illusionist but I don’t really remember him.

This book is about one idea, and it expands it until its breaking point. Tyler Durden is the personification of this idea. I don’t want to say anymore, since I feel that going in blind would be the best approach to this book. All I can say is,this book will stay with you,whether you like it or not. If you read anything, read this. I can’t recommend it enough!

May I never be complete.  May I never be content.  May I never be perfect.  Deliver me, Tyler, from being perfect and complete.  ~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club, Chapter 5

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