Fight Club in 3-D: The Mental Dimension – Part 2

If you recall, the last article ended with a semi-conclusion, so no harm in picking it up right where we left it! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please read this first.

Enter: “The Liberator”

How the rupture of a single mind into personalities came to happen or even how realistic the phenomenon that created Tyler Durden is in a real-life pathology, is really beside the point, and let’s be honest, going that route can probably spoil the magic. But regardless of what a psychiatrist could say about it (I would be very interested in hearing the opinion of such a professional by the way), I believe that the creation of an alter ego, and a very strong one at it is more common than we may want to acknowledge.

Tyler was really the last resort; I actually think very positively that the narrator created this character to help him, it’s tough though to think someone could be this lonely, and in this despair to be understood, that he had to break his consciousness into two.

Remember this is not entirely a chronological analysis, not a re-telling of the story, so I’m analyzing Tyler for what he is, not what he seemed to be when we first watched the movie.

Tyler is an emanation of a soul craving for power, the power to change its own situation, to understand a reality that was, for the most part, distressing and unbearable, and to take an active part in rewriting such a reality into something more meaningful. And that’s why Tyler is almost ideally strong, bold, rebellious, and even good-looking, precisely because he is that: an ideal; Tyler himself says it right in the narrator’s face:

Tyler: “All the ways you wish you could be, that’s me. I look like you wanna look, I fuck like you wanna fuck I am smart, capable, and most importantly, I am free in all the ways that you are not.”

That’s quite a confrontation! How many of us have at a certain stage of our life, been working on a Tyler of our own?

This is interesting to think about:

  • Ever had imaginary rewrites of past conversations? Like answering back to your boss, spouse, or parents (someone with power in your life), real upset, real powerful instead of shutting up the way you did, or even worst, saying something weak?
  • Have you ever gotten lost in fantasies where you look much better, or simply act like a true badass and awaken the admiration of everyone?
  • Ever fantasized to be someone so important that anyone who despised you would be ashamed and have no option but to feel powerless that they can’t stop your success?

Maybe you haven’t been in this situation, but then again, life is not equal for everyone. I have definitively been in such situations, and I do believe our mind is able to use resources such as fantasy to help us deal with otherwise unbearable situations. But then again, Tyler Durden is the extreme of this situation, he’s a fantasy to extensively desired, and worked in such detail by the frustration of our narrator, that it had to materialize, it had to become a savior and liberator.

Once again, nearing the end, Tyler’s defense is: “hey! you created me! I didn’t create some loser alter ego to make myself feel better”, oh dear, the genius of this writer.

Now, there’s a catch to it all, Tyler is so strong that he doesn’t just want to takeover occasionally, Tyler wants to become the materialized potential of the narrator and this causes a conflict because what he’s capable of, goes beyond what his weaker brother is able to accept. So the interesting thing is, that Tyler’s ultimate accomplishment is to bring back a narrator who’s no longer a weakling, but a challenger who can prove to be stronger than the alter ego. Now, this is almost a conclusion, but there’s more to see so let me backtrack a little and end this section with a contrast between these two characters:

  • Tyler is detached from material requirements; he ridicules the narrator’s “tragedy” of losing “a lot of versatile solutions for modern life”.
  • Tyler smokes, he offers the narrator a smoke and he says he doesn’t. How is this even relevant? Well, maybe our narrator had a “Marlboro-like” concept that tough men, real alpha cowboys smoke.
  • Tyler has no restrictions, he can insert pornography in family films, or urinate in the soup of bigwigs and get away with it.
  • Tyler uses pain as a tool, which makes him badass as no one; at the very core of self-preservation is not being physically destroyed, but this guy takes a brutal beating by “Lou” the tavern-owner, and still laughs at his face, or is able to cause himself a chemical burn just to get liberated from fear and the restrictions of the possibility of pain. How many of us could have experienced more freedom if we were more welcoming of pain?
Tyler: “you don’t know where I’ve been Lou, you don’t know where I’ve been, hahahaaha!”
  • Tyler despises the modern system and way of living, and is able to start disrupting it greatly; this means Tyler is not only a spectator, but he’s also the bringer of change, through chaos. He’s above the System that oppresses the weak, common men.
  • Tyler is straightforward, not shy, there’s no need to be shy when you’re someone like Tyler, you really say what you want and have everyone else fuck themselves.

Conflict

Tyler: “This is it, the beginning, ground zero…”

What is it with anti-heroes that after a while, you don’t really want them to “come around”? But everything has an end, I mean, after all, in real life ideals are not historically proven to prevail, and Tyler was an ideal.

There’s a conflict between the narrator and his savior, it’s a conflict that comes from the expanding chaotic nature of Tyler; it starts with a private street fight, becomes an underground club in a bar basement, branches out throughout the city and later throughout the country, start assigning tasks which as illegal, punishable activities, becomes project mayhem, targets the entire financial system as a first step to the attainment of Tyler’s ideal society, and in Tyler’s plans, it won’t stop until such a society is achieved. What does that society look like? Well, let’s allow him to describe it to us:

“In the world I see you are stalking elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rock feller Center. You’ll wear leather clothes that will last you the rest of your life. You’ll climb the wrist-thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Towers. And when you look down, you’ll see tiny figures pounding corn, laying stripes of venison on the empty car pool lane of some abandoned superhighways.”

So Tyler’s ideal is the destruction of what most people would call modern civilization, something like how the world in “The Walking Dead” looks like, minus the zombies. Tyler here seems to hint us to what some authors would call the neo-Luddite movement, you know who else thought similarly to Tyler?

Theodore Kaczynski a.k.a “Unabomber”

So give or take, the differences in style and execution, this is similar to Tyler’s profile, although Tyler being way more charismatic and having an army of angry men from all walks of life available to him, would have been infinitely more dangerous than the loner “Unabomber” who still manages to do enough harm to guarantee him life in prison.

Now, I don’t want to get into judgemental arguments here (courts have taken care of these matters already), I’m not a zealot, nor an apologist, but I’m also open enough to try to understand where these people are coming from, I feel they’re a big, red alarm about things in our society we should be paying more attention to. But, after the self-inflicted car accident, this is really what everything points to and Bob’s death is a big wake-up call to our narrator; he seems to be more absent than ever, Tyler’s gone, and he’s abandoned once more by his father figure of sorts. He feels something’s wrong and starts taking matters into his own hands until he’s confronted with the truth.

Showdown: “This Head Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us”

Well, when it comes to the story as presented by the movie, there is a huge crescendo from the point where the narrator is confronted by Tyler in the hotel concerning both of them being the same person; obviously, this triggers a frantic succession of events culminating in the final showdown at 1888 Franklin St.

Badass as Tyler is, and even with the relief he’s brought to the narrator’s life, it’s time to make a choice: become the “leader of a terrorist organization” as he attempted to tell the police and go with it until the last consequences, or somehow fight Tyler to become the personality in control of his mind. Tough call, yet as we know he chooses the second.

It seems our narrator has more respect for life than he’s been willing to show through the frustration of his discourse. Tyler has stepped on two boundaries:

  • Bob is dead: Bob’s death was a big shock, he realized the difference between his point of view where he saw people as people (recall the “his name is Robert Paulson” creepiness), whereas Tyler was growing an army of anonymous men, expendable and willing to die for a common goal.
  • Marla should die: “She knows too much”. Tyler had warned the narrator that he should not discuss his existence with Marla, after this actually happened Tyler’s mind is set on “tying up loose ends”. This is the final trigger that causes the narrator to desperately begin to attempt with all his might to destroy the upcoming Project Mayhem operation. More on this on the “Relational Dimension” part of the series, coming soon…

So yeah, there’s really a point of no return, and the movie begins by telling us so, repeated again at the end on the top floor of the 1888 Franklin St. building: “ground zero”.

Now, the epiphany concerning the narrator actually being in control is pretty much the point where Tyler is lost forever; I will not question the artistic decision of Mr. Palahniuk concerning suicide, let’s face it, the movie wouldn’t be the same with that extra weird sauce added at the very end with the guy having a fatal shot in his face telling Marla “everything is gonna be OK” and sending one of his minions to “find some gauze” for his wound. It’s weird and cool. But again, to me, Tyler is lost as soon as the gun moves to the narrator’s hand and he takes control over his renegade alter ego.

“Not my head Tyler, OUR head”

Fight Club is a weird story, it’s an amazing story and it’s written with unique style and genius, and equally brought to the big screen with excellence. And the funny part is, it’s not exempted from some degree of idealism, I mean, at the end of the day the financial credit records are destroyed, no one else dies, Tyler is defeated, and the narrator is a far stronger man than before (we could say he was able to integrate Tyler into his own personality while keeping it on check with his rationality), oh yeah and he keeps the chick (or so it seems).

So Tyler and Marla are triggers of a big conflict, and this radical conflict which is absolutely real and raw (almost lethal), ends up bringing up the man to his potential. Excuse me hardcore fans if I’m too optimistic but in the end, there’s a bit of self-improvement in Fight Club, “hitting rock bottom” seemed to have more bugs than expected but without it our narrator would have never come to know himself truly, and be at peace with his perception of life (or at least in better shape than he started).

-BIG PENIS-. (Sorry, needed to do this at some point). xD


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