Friday, December 21, 2007

The Wisdom of Fight Club

Fight Club was one of those cult movies where either you got it or you didn't. I found it to be one of the most amazing movies that I have ever seen and the book is excellent as well.

It may seem strange to find wisdom in a movie superficially about disaffected men of questionable sanity beating the hell out of each other, but I definitely did.

The movie is full of quotes, many of them perhaps distasteful to some, that are replete with insight. Zen Buddhism is often associated with such quotes, which by attacking certain sacred cows, often in a seemingly profane way, help liberate our minds from a conventional and incorrect way of thinking.

(I am adding this at a later point, but it struck me to see whether or not I am the only one to see the Zen aspects of the movie and I note that recent works exploring these very concepts (and the closely related Taoist ones) have recently been published:

The prophet in Fight Club, played by Brad Pitt, is a character named Tyler Durden. One of the more remarkable things about the 2 disc DVD was a sort of rap song done by the Dust Brothers with lyrics spliced together with some of the more powerful quotes by Brad Pitt and in his voice, from the movie. It sounds corny but the effect is to smack you in the face with some of the themes of life dealt with in the movie.

Here are the lyrics to the "song" "Tyler Durden":

And you open the door and you step inside
We're inside our hearts
Now imagine your pain as a white ball of healing light
Thats right
Your pain, the pain of self is a white ball of healing light
I dont think so

This is your life
Good to the last drop
It doesnt get any better than this
This is your life and it's ending one minute at a time

This isnt a seminar
This isnt a weekend retreat
Where you are now you can't even imagine what the bottom will be like
Only after disaster can we be resurrected
It's only after you've lost everything you are free to do anything

Nothing is static
Everything is evolving
Everything is falling apart

You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake
You are the same decaying organic matter as everything else
We are all part of the same compost heap
We are the all singing all dancing crap of the world

You are not your bank account
You are not the clothes you wear
You are not the contents of your wallet
You are not your bowel cancer
You are not your grande latte
You are not the car you drive
You are not your fucking khakis

You have to give up
You have to realise that someday you will die
Until you know that
You are useless

I say, let me never be complete
I say, may I never be content
I say, deliver me from swedish furniture
I say, deliver me from clever art
I say deliver me from clear skin and perfect teeth
I say you have to give up
I say evolve, and let the chips fall as they may

I want you to hit me as hard as you can (x2)
Welcome to fight club
If this is your first night - You have to fight

Here are some uncoupled excerpts of some of the wisdom from the book and movie:

"It's only after you've lost everything, that you're free to do anything."

This is your life and it's ending one minute at a time.

May I never be complete. May I never be content. May I never be perfect. Deliver me from being perfect and complete.

Only after disaster can we be resurrected.

Maybe self-improvement isn't the answer.... Maybe self-destruction is the answer.

I want you to do me a favor. I want you to hit me as hard as you can.

Fuck damnation, man! Fuck redemption! We are God's unwanted children? So be it!

First you have to give up, first you have to *know*... not fear... *know*... that someday you're gonna die.

Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.

You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You're the same decaying organic matter as everything else.

The things you own end up owning you.

I don't wanna die without any scars

Our fathers were our models for God. If our fathers bailed, what does that tell you about God?

Listen to me! You have to consider the possibility that God does not like you. He never wanted you. In all probability, he hates you. This is not the worst thing that can happen. We don't need him!

I felt like putting a bullet between the eyes of every Panda that wouldn't screw to save its species.

Fuck what you know. You need to forget about what you know, that's your problem. Forget about what you think you know about life, about friendship....

Hitting bottom isn't a weekend retreat. It's not a goddamn seminar. Stop trying to control everything and just let go! LET GO!

We're a generation of men raised by women. I'm wondering if another woman is really the answer we need.

We are all part of the same compost heap.

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 fucking khakis. You're the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.

The Christ in Christmas?

Under the Julian calendar of the Roman empire, the Winter Solstice fell on December 25th.

As the shortest day of the year, December 25th had a special significance as a time of rebirth, given that it was the day when the days began getting longer. Accordingly, ancient peoples in Europe often marked the Winter Solstice with ebullient festivals, such as the one honoring the Invincible Sun. Although the early Church (and later groups like the Puritans) attempted to ban the celebration of the Winter Solstice, ultimately, they gave in and attempted to graft a Christian meaning upon it, which wasn't too hard since the Christian God Jesus also was highly symbolic of rebirth.

Placing the celebration of Christ's birth on the Winter Solstice set things up nicely to coincide with placing the celebration of his death and resurrection during the Spring festivals, aka Easter (from the word for the old German moon goddess and related to the modern word estrogen), which often celebrated the death and rebirth of the spouse of the moon goddess.

The Julian calendar was later superseded in the middle ages and the Winter Solstice fell back to around the 22nd day of the year, although December 25th continued to be the date upon which the pagan winter holiday/Christmas continued to be observed.

So the next time one of those fundamentalist busybodies talks about "putting the Christ back into Christmas," tell him that Christ never was in Christmas to begin with and to get their own holiday.