I have a headache, like a pretty bad one and I hate it. Feeling ill lowers my motivation a lot, and I hate the feeling of losing time; when I’m ill it’s difficult to be creative and thankfully, I was still able to bring a laptop to bed and work on my writing for a fair amount of time.
I took two pills a while back, but I’m starting to feel relief after a while of listening to Liszt; maybe it’s the combined effect of both things. Music can be a real emotional burden for me, especially when I yearn for something new that touches my soul and I can’t find it, but more often than not, it’s just magic, a true spice to the dullness of the mundane life and even in my current situation, a real medicine for my pain.
I’m planning an episodic series about patients in a mental institution and I’ve been writing down the whole concept tonight, I seriously believe it’s gonna kick ass and I will publish it here first, then probably in Medium and I’m thinking Wattpad as well.
When it comes to how I organize my projects and thinking, I’ve had to find the freedom of being myself while also aiming to be more disciplined; it’s a thin line and a delicate balance that requires a lot of effort from me. I’ve already started writing a novel, another series on fantasy and now I’m developing this idea. But they’re very different projects in their scope and intention:
The novel is a psychological thriller that explores the nature of deviance and the idea of evil, from a systemic, cultural and philosophical point of view. It’s meant to be violent but also sophisticated and thought-provoking. It may take me a very long time to write it and have it ready, it will also be my first experience in formally publishing a book and so, it’s a rather complex project that I want to take my time to carefully complete.
The second project is a fantasy series that retells a lot of historical events from the perspective of a rather peculiar character. It’s a mockery to human stupidity and herd mentality while also an apology of the dissident, beautiful freaks of different ages. In doing this, it eventually starts becoming a cultural commentary of our time. This one I will release in episodes, and rather than aiming for a book or book series, I plan to make this story a social media experiment.
The third project, the one I’ve been focused on tonight, is an exercise in episodic story-telling and short story, but with a very challenging twist for me: it’s meant to be a “dramedy”, so a drama that deals with very painful and serious topics but it’s presented with a degree of dark humor. There are two special things about this latest project:
I will be able to talk about a very personal and relevant topic which is mental health; if you’ve read my previous articles, then you know I take this very seriously and I’m very supportive of people going through such hardship.
This is my most immediate project: I’m used to write blogs posts in a very free style, as well as some of my poetry; but I’ve never published stories before and I feel a terrible urge to do so as soon as possible. So it’s coming, very soon.
I’d like to write a lot more tonight, because there’s so much inside of me, sometimes I feel like my thoughts are a violent ocean contained in a rather frail vessel. And I’m OK with that, I am what I am, and I’ll work with it. I need to sleep so hopefully I’m in better health tomorrow.
So, as you may know, if you’ve read my blog before, I struggle with depression, like hardcore.
Now to me, depression is an unwanted life companion, it’s not something I expect to get rid of easily (I mean it’s been more than 20 years now since I started experiencing it), but in dealing with it I’ve learned one or two things and I felt like sharing some of these thoughts today. So BIG disclaimer: I’m not a therapist nor do I claim to have therapist superpowers, if you suspect you have depression, suicidal thoughts, excessive anxiety, or any other symptoms of mental disease, please do what you would do if you suddenly find an anomaly in your body: consult a medical professional.
This is the first piece of advice I’m providing today, there are SEVERE misconceptions concerning mental health, to this very day and age, it’s taboo for many people to even mention this. I don’t blame those who are afraid of speaking publicly about it, ignorance is very mainstream my friends, I’ve seen people on social media speaking very cruel things against depressive people and getting a lot of support because a lot of people who haven’t experienced it, simply don’t get it, they think it’s cheer weakness or lack of character. So find a competent professional to talk to, don’t just throw it out to the wind, and don’t ask for the “audience’s” advice on social media.
Secondly, please, please don’t make it religious: this is a health issue and science has found anomalies in the production of neurotransmitters to be associated with depression and other mental afflictions. I’m telling you this out of my experience, I spent many years in the past suffering intensely without medication because I thought this struggle needed more faith and fewer pills. As it turns out, both things have been super instrumental in helping me feel better and live a good-quality, productive life, not just one of them.
Thirdly, the doctors will always tell you to aim for a healthier lifestyle, and that feels annoying: but they’re right. Physical exercise is highly therapeutic, it helps you burn a lot of anxiety, helps you sleep better and of course, it helps you look better! Nothing wrong with feeling good about your aspect! Addictions are often very linked to depression, both as cause and consequence, it’s not unusual that a depressive person is also a very heavy smoker, as I used to be until very recently (I’ve quit for 3 1/2 months now). Other more “subtle” addictions like food or pornography are also reinforcers of anxiety since they give you quick and easy relief, but then start increasing your anxiety to consume them again. It’s very hard to deal with addictions, it hasn’t been easy to quit addictive behaviors but its totally worth the effort, my mind feels clear and I’ve found out I actually have more time, energy, and motivation to do things I’m interested in and I thought I couldn’t.
Fourth, learn to defend yourself. This may sound weird so give me an opportunity to explain it. Depression is an enemy, it’s a liar, that distorts your perception and requires you to buy its bullshit in order to sink you deeper and deeper. Yes, I’ve said before that it’s a medical thing, it is, but visualizing it as an enemy has helped me quite a bit; humans are naturally fond of stories and stories are full of archetypes. The villain or the personification of danger is actually instrumental in providing meaning to the hero’s story, villains move events, and cause courage and abilities to appear and so if you visualize depression as an external agent, an enemy, it’s harder to assimilate the thoughts it generates as if they were your own. Make it your own epic story of overcoming a powerful monster and saving your kingdom, it really is like that.
Right now, as I write this article, I’m defending myself. I’ve been feeling really bad and my only impulse is to sink myself under bedsheets, take my half bottle of Jack Daniel’s, and numb my mind with booze, just stay there in the dark feeling sorry about myself. Depression causes paralysis, and when you’re overpowered and paralyzed, that reinforces in you the thought that you’re powerless, useless, and unable to achieve the meaningful things you desire. Before ending there, it’s much easier to be preemptive in defending yourself and do it fast, not thinking too much about it. I came to my office to write a blog entry because I know that’ll get me started thinking about words, how to present the message, and how to help others going through this, and now that I’m done, I’m already thinking about a YouTube series of lectures for authors that I’ve been using to teach myself writing and I’m excited to start writing more stories.
See, I’m defending myself, I’m not what depression makes me feel but exactly the opposite.
Hello frens, I miss you, I’m taking a short break from my writing / content-creating activities, but wanted to take a few minutes to write a message for those of you who read me, for which I’m grateful.
So, I’ve struggled for many years (almost my whole life) with clinical depression; I’m not looking for sympathy, long gone are those days, I don’t need it.
But this blog is about me and my mind, and while there’s a lot in my mind that’s valuable and worth sharing, there’s also darkness, and I can’t always translate that into art or creative projects/impulses, unfortunately (if you read my poems, you’ll notice sometimes I get to turn these feelings into something beautiful).
So this is one of those cases in which I know I’m down, it’s going to take some time to get back on my feet, I’m not sure how long, and I just need to find shelter and let the storm pass. I’m finding much comfort in prayer, books, work, enjoying art, movies, and video games, as well as working out; trying to transform this into some “me time” or “maintenance time” for my busy mind. Doing the best I can with what I have, but I’m not in great shape to write deeper stuff that’s more demanding, than this small night journal. And I haven’t even been writing in the journal until today.
This will probably happen from time to time, but please know that this is just beginning and there will be jjosuminded for years to come! I’ll be back with more once I’m fully myself again.
Also, the ads you will see on this site currently aren’t mine 😦
WordPress.com is putting them cause I paid for the basic plan, so they’re the ones making money out of my blog; I get that’s the deal and I can’t pay for an upgrade right now, but I will ;). Bear with me in the meantime.
I’m still going to start the Cultural Deviants Coffee Club stream on Twitch and YouTube this week, so I’m saving my energy for that; check the details out here, hope to see you there, we’re gonna have fun I promise I’ll make it nice! 😀
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:
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 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.
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?
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.
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
Yes, yes it is that time my friends, “ground-zero”! Time to fulfill the promise I made in “Welcome to Fight Club” and start my 3-layered analysis of this mind-blowing movie. I know, I know I’m overly excited, so what!
So today, I will present to you what’s probably the most obvious dimension of the movie and that is, the mental state of our friend “narrator” around which the whole movie gravitates. I feel it has to come first because it impacts and links to any other commentary on culture, or society and definitely shapes the nature of the relationships between the characters.
So if you’re a hardcore fan like me, you know saying “narrator” is just an unstable guy having an episode is a seriously simplistic understatement to the wealth and depth of the content presented to us in this story. But before you judge too hard someone who does, let me just say in their defense that the “narrator” himself defines it similarly at the end of the movie, as he attempts to explain the current situation to Marla: “You met me at a very strange time of my life…”
So what’s up with this whole “narrator” thing?
–“Sure, why don’t we start at the very core? It’s not like it’ll end the charm too soon, will it?” LOL.
There’s an artistic reason and a psychological reason, why not only me, but a lot of fans of the movie call Edward Norton’s character “narrator”; now I’m writing this to whoever’s interested this is not segmented for-fans-only, after all, Tyler is a “man of the common folk”, the “all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world” a bucket in which it seems most of us (fans ar not fans) fit equally, in his vision of things.
But, I’m getting carried away here, the more obvious reason is that the movie is narrated by the protagonist, who would occasionally address the audience directly and explain things that are happening; the other reason which I find very eccentric is that throughout the movie, this character is never actually named; moreover, there are very intentional moments in which providing the name is avoided as if Palahniuk is mocking us in our own faces, I already spoke about examples of this in the first article, but indulge me with another one I noticed recently: Narrator’s condo just burst in flames, he picks up the phone and calls Tyler, Tyler asks “who is this?” do you recall narrator’s answer?
“…we met on the airplane, we had the same suitcase? the clever guy…”
I love it, the story author’s genius allows such a transgression to conventions to carry on all throughout the story, and you don’t even care and perhaps didn’t notice it the first time. I’m mentioning Chuck Palahniuk even when I mentioned this posts will take the movie as their only foundation, because of two reasons:
It’s his mind that brought us this masterpiece
I came to understand while preparing these articles, that the movie respects a lot of the original lines as they appear in the book
Having made that meaningless clarification, I come back to the original point, besides the artistic eccentricity this entails, there’s a deeper sense to the narrator’s anonymity, it’s precisely the quality of being anonymous and seemingly devoid of an identity that triggers the whole chain of events. So keeping this guy unnamed is a perfect homage to his struggle.
“You wanna see pain?”
So what’s his struggle you ask? Well, I’m glad you ask, this is why I’m writing this entire piece, to answer that very question; in short, our beloved narrator is suffering from a severe philosophical void in his life, he’s nothing, no one, his life is meaningless and the whole world around him is soaked in the same banality, life doesn’t make any sense at all and he’s just too aware of it for his own benefit. But here’s the worst part of the curse: while he’s aware of the condition and suffering from it intensely, he’s powerless, there’s nothing he can do to change the condition of his own life, and don’t even think the world around him.
Now, this manifests in different, more visible symptoms we learn about throughout the movie, insomnia being the key problem in the opening act, yet obviously surrounded by a deep dark depression appropriate to his existential suffering.
As it usually happens, he’s annoyed by the symptom and he’s not fully aware of the dimension of what’s going on inside his mind and soul (can’t really judge him, it’s so hard sometimes, isn’t it?), so he goes and sees the doctor about insomnia. And here’s where the title of this section gets his name, the doctor really reacts with the apathy and mockery ordinary people of our society usually reacts to mental and emotional suffering: “that’s nothing, you need to do some exercise and sleep better”; as narrator replies “I’m in pain”, the good doctor replies:
As an omen of what’s being triggered here, we see the first “subliminal” apparition of Tyler behind the doctor in a glimpse of a second, right in this scene. Now the big turning point here is, where most people would have taken the doctor’s suggestion for what it was: a rhetorical mockery of his patient’s complaint, our narrator actually decides to go to the testicular cancer group. A fateful decision.
Losing All Hope Was Freedom
You think you’ve seen it all in movies until you find yourself watching a guy becoming addicted to support groups, how crazier does it get? – A lot more.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, let me ask you, dear reader, have you ever been in a real-life support group? Lucky you, who can answer without anyone else knowing, I can tell you that I have. Support groups can be a true blessing, and I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending them to people who are struggling with addiction, disease, and other conditions; now, they do have their quirks of course, like anything, and such quirks make them a fertile ground for humor.
Now back to our character here, support groups aren’t necessarily anyone’s first choice for relief or socializing, they’re meant to help people undergoing very specific and tough situations. And so we can tell from the whole catalog Marla and the narrator start arguing about, negotiating which one each of them will keep.
So how is it that our tormented friend is able to recover his ability to sleep and enter a place of “peace” while engaging in these activities? Well, he explains it to us rather philosophically: “losing all hope was freedom”.
I find it very concerning, and very telling of the deficiencies in our society to address mental health properly, that a person with a clear pathology needs to find shelter among people with unrelated terminal illnesses or irreversible conditions. His expanded explanation could be: “by surrounding myself with people coping with loss, people who are hopeless about their condition I also feel like I can let go of any need to find a meaning, a reason, a motivation, an expectation from life; I can imitate that state of hopelessness and thus, let go of my anxiety and find it easier to live”.
That’s a primary, very compelling reason for him to become addicted to support groups; and isn’t just a few steps away from suicide? Think about it, when the proximity of death, and the thought process to accept it seems preferable to the anguish of dealing with life, I’d say we’re talking about rather deep depression. Now, interestingly enough, he’s not hopeless regardless of how he’d like to think he is, if he was hopeless he wouldn’t be in such a conflict, he wouldn’t be seeking to feel free, alive, and listened-to among the people in support groups. So there’s also that tension and contradiction, which is very natural and which leads to the next stages of his crisis.
But then, when relief seemed to be at hand:
Why? Why is Marla such a terrible presence in the support groups? It doesn’t have anything to do with being exposed, she’s also a tourist and doesn’t want to be exposed either; no, the problem is that she’s a mirror to him, she’s another desperate, sunk-in-darkness no one who’s constantly reminding him that he’s not really terminally ill, he’s not in acceptance of death, he’s a faker who’s borrowing from other’s the relief he can’t permanently find for his own condition. This sweet relief is now exposed as fake and temporary, doomed to fail.
In spite of the efforts to negotiate a way out, by getting rid of Marla and distributing attendance to support groups between each other, insomnia returns, and his small existential oasis is now invaded and ruined, by someone perhaps too similar to himself (which is something he would deny and despise, of course). There’s yet another subliminal omen of how Tyler’s appearance is close, right after confronting Marla for the first time (found this cool gif version of subliminal Tylers, the last one is the one I’m referring to here):
Honestly, it’s just that this post is getting way too long, and I will need to split it into parts. But I think this is a great moment to stop, because Tyler’s official introduction into the story is what’s next, and this is really the turning point; so thanks for reading me, and stay tuned for part 2 of “Fight Club in 3-D: The Mental Dimension”.