View Full Version : Fight-Club

Monday, October 11th, 2004, 01:22 AM
This is a forum for discussing David Fincher's "Fight Club" (1999), a film adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's 1996 novel. The film stars Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, Helena Bonham Carter, Meat Loaf, and Jared Leto. Screenplay by Jim Uhls, cinematography by Jeff Cronenweth. We talk about the book as well as the movie. Got it? Let's yap!


Monday, October 11th, 2004, 05:49 AM
Joined as celticrevolutionary.

Monday, October 11th, 2004, 02:00 PM

Fight Club:
A Movie Against Capitalism and the Ethics of the Bourgeois

"We will sing of the crowds excited by work, by pleasure and by riot; (...) we will sing of the vibrant nightly fervour of arsenals and shipyards blazing with violent moons (….) we will sing of the multi-coloured polyphonic tides of revolution in the modern capitals; (...) we will glorify war - the worlds only hygiene - militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for women”
- F.T.Marinetti “Manifesto of Futurism”

It is not that they were bored with their lives, or that they were tired by the distress … no, they loved life more than all of these “good little people” with their innumerable masks, the tired souls, and the ethics of slaves. The world of FIGHT CLUB, where the "futuristic greatness” co-exists with the "primitive fury of violence", "alienation” with "freedom", the "sadness for the destruction of personality” with the "joy of the destruction of what destroys you".

Outside and beyond every social institution, state-coordinate, state and justice. There where the unnatural limits of urban society do not exist, there where the "natural" is re-defined by the pathways of violence, the individual finds again his lost personality within a new collectiveness, beyond the mass mediocre of everyday, ordinary people, there where life claims her rights from those who have stolen it … there where the culture of margin breaks with the sovereign culture of the bourgeois, there where the destruction of the existing status quo is the creation of the NEW MAN .There where the words of the eternal fighter Zarathustra are the unique rule: "live dangerously , this is the only joy".

Fight club is the despairing effort of the alienated individual to escape from the mould, from the stifling grip of urbanely structured society. The plot flatters nihilism, anarchism, even "fascism'"(seen as the glorification of violence), the "means" becomes the "aim", the aim is the violent claim for the transformation of society through the transformation of the individual person, the means - personal and collective violence - from self-destruction to the destruction of social institutions, of sovereign ethics, of the existing social and political system.

The voluntarism of Bergson, the nihilism and the inversion of Nietzschean values, the anarchism of Bakunin, the violence of Sorel, the communalism of Proudhon and perhaps even the cultural fight of Gramsi, elements that are jointly signed in Fight Club.

The wild cries that spring up from the hero remind us of the words of Gabriele D’ Annunzio: "All that exists today is nothing, it is waste, death that objects life. The first thing that someone should do today is to desecrate everything, one day I will go down onto the streets”.

And indeed the hero of Fight Club goes down into the streets, into the underground; he wrestles with the ethics of the bourgeois, the consumerism of modern society, and the mechanistic values that structure the social status. He scorns the social environment of which - up until the moment of his violent rising - he was a constituted "chosen" member, he ridicules the social hierarchies - derivative of every urban society - to which in the past he was subjugated to (cf. his boss in the workplace).

Suddenly he distinguishes himself and behind the glittery "windows" - there that up until yesterday he existed "blind" - today he revolts with all his being. Henceforth he walks on the fringe and he conceives what his fellowmen, in their blissful sleep, will never conceive: "you are not you, but your possessions, your couches, your office, your luxurious car, the things that you possess they possess you".

He claims with passion his future, all these things that were stolen by the past and his subjugation in the nefarious status and stripped of every appreciable cultural basis.

At the same time he tries to mould himself into a new person. He realises that violence constitutes a higher value, to the extent that he takes from it all those <<extreme moments>>, the moments of genuine freedom. In a dramatically self-destructive way that will later lead to the effort of the destruction of the social structures (into an order of a "terrorist" organization) he stigmatizes the cheap, vulgar and self-interested life of the modern bourgeois, while simultaneously elevatating the superior virtue of the "exceptional" which cannot be any other than the aggressive and the grandiose that is always deeply immoral - according to the taboos of urban society - and confronts "socially-enacted conformism" with the adventurous and wild beauty of the fight to the utmost. All this reminds us of those ironic grins of Marinetti and the movement of the Italian Futurists, before they were contaminated by the perceptions and practices of the "subsisting fascist" regime.

The roots of Fight Club can be found in an entire cluster of cultural, philosophical, political and social tendencies that are inherent as autonomous dynamics in Janus-faced modern urban society. In other words from alienation will come a beloved freedom and from death comes resurrection.

The hero isolates himself, slowly but firmly, from the sovereign ethics of the modern society. He envisions a new race of free-spirited men, established in war, loneliness and in great danger, with a type of polite perversion that finally and irrevocably releases them from the unnatural as much as the inhuman "Christian love for their fellowman". In other words our hero, as an anarchist, could not ever be a Tolstoyist! "The tragedy never dies" cries out with a passion, trying to escape from the well-established, poortasting and unattractive comedy-farce of urban life that is characterised by continuing compromise and subjugations of all kinds.

His actions aspire to destroy the social contract, basic pylon of every modern urban democracy. In a world that is becoming more and more conformist, impassable, in a world where new roads are no longer engraved but only the old are followed, in a world where people confine themselves with laws, written and unwritten rules, moral taboos and biases, the wild war between the social institutions and the members of Fight Club cannot be anything other than an affirmation life and a fight to the death.

"Those who do not defend themselves die, those who do not die are buried alive in prisons, in reform schools, in the shacks of the working districts, in the stone coffins of the blocks of flats, in the stifling kindergartens and schools, in brand new kitchens and bedrooms full of flashy furniture, bought on credit. Begin the armed resistance now! Create the Red Army!"
- Ulrike Meinhof, February, 1970, Red Army Faction (RAF)

The "Red Army”, of course, might not have been created in the movie, but nevertheless something proportional is created, the Fight Club, an army of rebels aiming mainly at generalised chaos, the socialisation of terror, the terrorisation of what for so many years terrorised them (vl. the drawing chaos). The battle is not based in legality, it clashes with the fundamental "values of the democratic" regimes, henceforth it is time for arms to speak.

The men of Fight Club are fighting a society that asks for respect whilst at the same time respecting nothing, they are fighting society with the same means that society also uses against the "mad", the "mentally ill ", meanwhile all these are creations of this society, and people are excluded or exterminated in prisons, in the mental hospitals and reform schools. The state, justice, legality, career, social elite and social hierarchies constitute the enemy, through the fight against them, the men of Fight Club will recover their lost humanity and the innocence that the managers, the life-style, the offices, and the luxurious furniture and apartments had stolen from them .The men of this terrorist organization are not simply a danger for public safety and order, they are something much more: they are dangerous for a society that wanted them to be successful employers of this or that enterprise, that made them wear suits and masks of beauty in order to cover their nothingness. They are dangerous for the society that dressed them in the worker uniform and left them to rot from morning until evening in the worksites , they are dangerous for those states who are spending billions on space programmes whilst at the same time millions of people on this planet are dying of hunger.

The axis upon which Fight Club is moving is violence and in order to be more concrete, the apotheosis of violence, as an answer to the violence of social institutions on the one hand and as a personal deliverance from the mediocrity of the average man on the other. This dual character constitutes the core thought of the movie.

The violence of social institutions beyond their bodily dimension (torture, pistols fired 'accidentally' by the police) do not cease to have a psychological dimension. The stress that fills modern man, the urban way of life, for the average bourgeois is channeled adversely into him or her by way of headaches, light-headedness, sexual disability, and dermal illness.

The men of Fight Club dared to change the stress of everyday routine into a hate for those social institutions which had accumulated over decades, bursting forth upon themselves and later on upon urban society.

The media creates factitious needs and alienates people (how I pity the body-builder who tries so hard to look like the luxurious posters, says the protagonist), legal exploitation and the enacted violence of the state that has a monopoly in exercising it. The police murder one of their companions (a member of Fight Club) illegally and anti-constitutionally, even for these rudimentary conquests of urban democracy, all of these examples make them more aware to become even more violent and it naturally bursts out in a dramatic way on the stone coffins - the blocks of flats - that will collapse one after the other in a shocking display of explosive power.

For the members of Fight Club “family” or “full name” does not exist, they live a double life because to be double-faced was also a mark of the society within which they grew. The identities of the constituted state are burned, they shape their own community in contradiction to the society: “they are a generation of men that were brought up by women”, “having lost every hope for the future they are really free", "they are the waste of history", “ television made them believe that one day they will finally become important but finally they become nothing”, “he who has lost everything is really free for real action”. They are the children that are breaking cars, taking wallets, threatening passers-by with arms, they plant bombs to destroy that which up until that moment rotted their souls. In this way they will revenge society for all those things that have deprived them. They will acquire all the precious experience that is needed for the “poetry of action”, the “joy of destruction”, and the “will of force”.

They would beat up Gandhi, if they could, he who represents pacifism and the utmost subjugation within the doctrine “turn the other cheek”. The men of Fight Club believe in the individualistic selfishness of Stirner, they fight a society generally and vaguely democratic, that already has died intellectually and now has decomposed materially, the corpse of this society stinks, they are also products of this society and they intend to push it towarfds its utmost consequence. They intend to bowdlerize it through "sin", to rebirth it through death and they are giving a new meaning to this society through raw violence.

They realize what the Greek poet Kariotakis had already realized during the interwar: “freedom will be bought by tradesmen and consortiums and Jews”. Thus they make the big step. They escape from the socially-acceptable view that is fictitious, they make their rupture with the institutions of state coordination; they rise against themselves, against the little bourgeois beast that hides in them.

"You are one common little man (...) you are afraid to look at your self and you despise your self, you are afraid of criticism (...) you stigmatize the great man as a type of criminal or as a psychotic. Because the great man contrary to you does not put as an aim of his life the money, or the socially-acceptable marriage of his daughters, or political career, or academic titles, or the Nobel prize. You call him insane and unsociable and you compare him with yourself, the model of < Normality >, the <homo normalis >”
- Wilhelm Reich, “Listen, Little Man! ”

At the moment of his violent awakening, the hero exists and conceives of a world “beyond good and evil”, beyond anything which enslaves the man either covertly or visibly in the sordid and dominating cluster of urban society. He must and he wants to live freely, immorally, violently, “self-destructively” - according to the bourgeoisie - away from the constitution of urban "democracy", legality and hypocrisy, away from the supposed kindness of his fellowmen, the structures of "liberal" society.

He knows that he cannot take himself out of society; hence he lives ostracised on the fringes of society. Henceforth he lives in order to destroy this society and replace it with a new one in which his place will be in the centre and not on the fringe .The members of Fight Club achieve great things in their own unique way, a poetic and ecstatic way of violence, self-organisation, self-determination of body and soul. They declare war on a world that has already declared war on human nature.

Their anti-sociality keeps pace with one deeply-developing communalism which is based upon the companionship and solidarity between all those who share the same hate and passion, the same distress and the same degree of disgust for the social environment and urban structures, the state and legality, the unadventurous life of the bourgeoisie.

In the world of Fight Club, the significance of the citizen does not exist upon the formal criteria of urban democracy, or, in order to be more precise, in Fight Club the citizen exists as such to the extent that he fights and he fights with any means, legal or illegal. The active man is not the one who votes and reads his newspaper to be informed as a means of shaping opinion and crisis. The active social subject reacts to "legal" processes of state and society, and its urban nature is considered and defined as negative by the members of Fight Club; consciously or unprincipled, organised or spasmodic, individual or bodily. In the society of consumption and of the death of ideologies, in the global-village of utmost seediness and the extermination of personality, where the "mediocre”, the "vile", the "celebrity" and the career reign, the men of Fight Club aspire through a "drawing CHAOS" to restore the order of the imperishable and eternal value of violence.

Therefore the terrorism upon which they embark characterises with its growth the degeneration of traditional forms of power (democratic or dictatorial). In the core of a society that lives only for comfort and safety, Fight Club testifies also that man is the only being in the world that dies and kills, inter alia reason, for ideas …

By Achilles Kritikos,
editor of the Greek national-anarchist magazine