You’re not your Dang Khakis, or: A Short Review of “Fight Club”

fight club

I finally saw “Fight Club” all the way through.

It’s a story in the “escapist” genre, wrapped in pseudo-profound anarchist philosophy.

But don’t get me wrong, I love the escapist genre:

In a reflection of Joseph Campbell’s philosophy of myth, the main character in any escape story begins in a mundane setting. He is trapped by his surroundings and is often depressed or suicidal.

This is Campbell’s “ordinary life” phase.

Then comes the “call” when the hero is summoned by some circumstance or other, out of the ordinary life and into the world of adventure; in the case of “Fight Club” Edward Norton’s character meets the care free Tyler Durbin while traveling on a plane, and the two strike up a friendship. Durbin lures Norton out of the world of the ordinary, into an underground, vagabond scene. There, rough blue collar men, frustrated with the corporate world, fist fight away their frustrations in the basement of a nasty dive bar on the edge of town.

Of course, as per Campbell, the hero goes through a phase where he “denies the call”; this is played out by Norton, who tentatively and with much argument, comes to accept Durbin’s anarchist philosophy of life.

He eventually “accepts the calling” and “crosses the threshold”, passing from the mundane into the great adventure.

“You’re not your ****ing khakis” Durbin declares at one point – meaning, that one’s identity is not defined by all the little restricting chains in life: your job, your car, your clothes, your house, your wife, etc.  This is very similar to Rousseau’s “Social Contract” which begins, “Men are born free, but are everywhere in chains” – it’s a cry against the little, binding particularities that serve to define us and forge our identities.

As a “dissident rightist” I find parts of Durbin’s anarchist philosophy appealing, but at the end of the day, I don’t hate society (qua society), and I don’t hate chains – I just hate our current ones.

So, unlike Durbin, I don’t like the idea of destroying all order and instituting chaos.

Only sinners want to destroy Godly order and live life on their own terms; this sort of escape is evil and a shirking of our duty to take dominion over the Earth.  Men are supposed to build healthy, thriving societies, and women are supposed to maintain them.  (The man is the rock of the hearth, the woman is the heart of it).

As for Tyler Durbin’s chaos, no matter what the Marxists may think, it’s never a good state for society. We need order; we need chains.  Preferably the Christian, agrarian-based, Southern-fried kind.  Only in that sort of environment can a man fully attain “manhood” and become fully human.

Without it – we’re nothing more than Godless animals.

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6 Responses to You’re not your Dang Khakis, or: A Short Review of “Fight Club”

  1. toekneebelowknee says:

    I have seen some things happen since that movie has been shown & that is that tuff guy attitudes increased among many of the young that have no idea how to emulate a godly & masculine demeanor.
    Reactionary machismo (which is effeminate) increased in many.
    -tkbk-

  2. shotgunwildatheart says:

    Well, ironically … the kids who saw this movie and related to it, exchanged corporate culture for the Hollywood one. In both cases, they’re relying on non-Christian and non-European social mores to define them.

    Let them read Louis Lamour, Sir. Walter Scott, or C.S. Lewis, and emulate those characters and social mores instead.

  3. “rough blue collar men”

    Not only. The first time Jack and Tyler (Durden, not Durbin) fight with other guys (on Lou’s Tavern’s parking lot), there’s a white collar guy who raises his hand and says: “Can I be next?”.

    Later, during Tyler’s famous speech (“We are the middle-children of History, man”), he describes his fellows as “slaves with white collars”. Admittedly, the jobs he mentions (“pumping gas, waiting tables”) are not what is usually implied by “white collar.” But it is not “blue collar” either. An important aspect of Fight Club‘s critique of the workplace is that many (if not most) jobs don’t make any sense in the corporate world. Jack’s job is a typical example of fake (and evil) job.

    Maybe the best summary of this loss of work identification is Tyler’s enumeration while he is threatening the police commissioner:

    “Look, the people you are after are the people you depend on: we cook your meals, we haul your trash, we connect your calls, we drive your ambulances, we guard you while you sleep. Do not fuck with us.”

    • shotgunwildatheart says:

      You ever wonder what it would be like from the other way around? If Durbin was on the floor, and some alpha male oligarch was holding a knife to his balls?

      “The people you are after are the people you depend on! We build your logistical infrastructure, we provide you with your power, we organize the society you pilch off of. Do not eff with us!”

      • Well, it happens all the time, so why would they make a film about it?

        But I wouldn’t define our rulers as alpha. Quite the reverse, actually.

        By the way, they didn’t build the logistical infrastructure, nor the power nor the society. They inherited it, and they are currently destroying it.

  4. Mr. Palahniuk is an obvious nihilist… A symptom of decay, if you will.

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