Our culture has made us all the same

Reviewing “Fight Club” by Chuck Palahniuk

Andreas Kirsch
May 25, 2018 · 2 min read

As I am gaining some experience in acute prolonged insomnia, I couldn’t resist the irony of reading Fight Club in my waking morning hours.

It is a very good book with some hefty writing and a good punch. The movie does not stray very far from it. Rewatching it, one notices that many lines are taken 1:1 from the book.

However, the book is much more obviously political than the movie. It is truly anti-consumerist, and it exposes the insanity and fakeness of the world we accept and live in. And, rightly so, you could say after reading it.

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 let ourselves be defined by our jobs and our possessions and get lost in the pursuit of things that won’t actually ever give us the happiness and peace they promise us. We keep chasing them and never realize the futility of our actions.

At the time, my life just seemed too complete, and maybe we have to break everything to make something better of ourselves.

More importantly, it asks the dreaded question of why people put up with all this. It offers fight clubs as a dead-end escape for the disenfranchised and disillusioned that feel that everything is absurd but do not know what to do with that feeling.

The powerless gain power by having nothing to lose:

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

This paradox appears throughout the book and is resolved for the reader by recognizing that we are all only voluntarily bound to man-made rules and laws. Many don’t ever realize that we are actually free.

Fun fact: Fight Club actually coined the modern use of “snowflake”:

You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else, and we are all a part of the same compost pile.

As this is an insomnia-inspired review, let me end with:

This is how it is with insomnia. Everything is so far away, a copy of a copy of a copy. The insomnia distance of everything, you can’t touch anything and nothing can touch you.

Andreas Kirsch

Written by

DPhil student at AIMS in Oxford; former RE at DeepMind, former SWE at Google; fellow at Newspeak House.

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