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Friday, May 28, 2010

Fight Club

Today, we're talking about Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk.  This book and the movie that resulted from it has become a cultural touchstone for generation X men.  The underlying theme is that modern life has made this generation of men a soft feminine generation.  Raised by our mothers and television we care more about our furniture and our bank account than we care about what really matters, but the existential truth is that nothing really matters.  It's an Oedipal complex writ large but where do you direct your anger when your father was never there?  With our basis needs assured we are left with nothing but our jobs where we do meaningless work so that we can stack our homes with meaningless stuff.

As those of you who have seen the movie know, the solution that the protagonist "Jack" comes up with is to develop an alternate personality called  Tyler Durden, start a revolution, and blow up all the big banks so that we can start over as a society.  Jack presumes that the world will become wild again, men will become men again and all will be well.    The book ends a bit differently from the movie in the movie Jack and Marla look over the new world as the cityscape goes up in smoke, in the book Tyler is disposed of by Jack shooting himself.  Don't worry though, Jack  survives and so does project mayhem.

Chuck was on Carson Daly the other night and in the interview he appears much more buttoned down than his Wikipedia entry suggests although writers usually are.  No matter how fantastic your celebrity gets or how much larger than life you are on the page, if you're going to keep writing successfully you need to spend hundreds of hours in solitude and so a certain amount of reticence is required to be built into your personality.

Is generation X a lost generation?  Perhaps, in fact the Blumenthal story from last week seems to indicate that men who live a quiet successful life in the world of cubicles are perhaps though of as lesser men.  Our masculine traditions have ceased to be passed down by fathers and are now passed down by blogs like the Art of Manliness blog.  While I don't think that the destruction of the world is a solution, I'm glad that Chuck gave me an opportunity to review my values.

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Hey I appreciate you leaving your thoughts behind! Be well my friend.