I'm a street walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm
I'm a runaway son of the nuclear a-bomb
I have finally seen Fight Club. And while for most people, it was a revelation--the way The Matrix is a revelation for some people--for it me, it was a strange, confirming experience.
About a month ago, I was in the supermarket. I hate going, because I hate spending money on something so disposable as food. This sounds strange. I need food to survive, but I'd rather take the money and buy a CD/DVD/book. Why?
So I'm in the supermarket, trying to decide whether I really need those bagels or not. Suddenly, something blue and white catches my eye: on sale, there were sets of Blue Willow dinnerware. For $2.99 American, you can have a Blue Willow dishset: one dinner plate, one cup, and one saucer. Other dishes sold separately, but usually in a two-pack. So I buy four of the special sets, and two sets of a salad plate set, and two sets of a fruit/cereal bowl set. Now, I promptly brought them home and wrapped them in newspaper and put them in a box, for the day when I move out of my capitalist commune (I live with three other girls, none of whom are too big on the idea of sharing, unless it happens to be my stuff). Why?
I have every R.E.M., Replacements, and Nirvana album, and many bootlegs. I have rare books on Arthurian legend and Celtic mythology. I have hard-to-find films such as the government propaganda film Hemp For Victory from WWII. Why? I have more books, movies, and albums than I can count. Why? I have prints of various paintings. I have a faux-cherry wood computer desk, given to me by my parents. I am attatched to these things. Why?
Why do I have a job? Not a career, a job. Why? Because I have to pay rent. Utilities. Why? Because I wanted to move out of my parents' house. Why? Because I was tired of living with their rules. Why? Because I like to stay out late, and I don't want to be harrassed for it. Why? Because I like my lifestyle. Why? I don't know. I can't think of an answer. Yes you can.
I am the world's forgotten boy
The one who searches and destroys
Because I cultivate an image. Everything you do is the cultivation of an image. You do it because you like the impression people get of you. I cultivate the image of this wild girl who doesn't give a fuck. Who drinks, smokes, does drugs, has lots of sex. Whether this image is real or not isn't important (except to my liver and other organs). What is imporant is that the image exists.
Why? I don't know. Wait. I do know. When I was a kid, I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark. I saw Indiana Jones, the coolest, smartest guy in the world find rare items and fight Nazis. And he had a cool, hard-drinking girlfriend. I wanted to be that girlfriend, except I didn't want to be rescued, like she had to be.
I wanted to be Indy. I wanted to be a combination of the two characters. I wanted to be the girl, but I wanted to have adventures. To be cool, world-traveling, hard-drinking, sexual. This caused problems, not only due to a certain Catholic morality in my family, but also due to my being a girl, trying to transgress certain boundaries, which alienate me from men, from them wanting anything to do with me as more than a drinking buddy or quick fuck. (This does leave a girl lonely though I would drown it out.)
Honey gotta help me please!
Somebody gotta save my soul!
Baby detonate for me!
So, trying to live such a lifestyle, I pissed off my parents. Mind you, there was also a certain, um, scholarly aspect to all this. In traveling, I had specific goals in mind--certain spots had certain reasons for going, particularly places like Glastonbury or Tintagel in the UK. This was fine. Staying out late, well, that I could justify as studying a certain type of person. But I was that person.
And the things I own, do they go with this image? What I described above--rare albums (not just R.E.M.--also The Velvet Underground, other stuff I don't feel like cataloging), rare books, rare movies. I collect rare things. I am a cultural archaeologist.
So wait--you're talking about how Raiders of the Lost Ark changed your life, not Fight Club--where does Fight Club fit in all this?
I'll tell you.
Yesterday, Tim came over. He's sick. I nursed him. Now, my friend Carolyn had lent me Fight Club, which I had never seen, but which everyone I knew had seen, and I couldn't figure out why. Why would I want to watch a movie about a bunch of guys beating each other up?
Look out honey, 'cause i'm using technology
Ain't got time to make no apology
That is not what the film is about. But that is a brilliant piece of marketing. The ads, trailers, etc., promoted a fight film. Something along the lines of a Jean-Claude Van Damme film. Why would I want to sit through some piece of garbage like what they used to show in the Kmart employee lounge on Saturday afternoons? I can't imagine what people thought the first time they saw this film, this perfect postmodernist work. So Tim and I watched the movie.
Now, on Saturday, I had been in the anthropological museum at the University of Pennsylvania with my friend Kate, an art history major at Temple. So Kate and I both have an interest in religions; she's drawn to Buddhism (as am I), while I'm more of a druid-type. And so we debated the merits of both systems, and the possiblity of combining the two, the way the Japanese combine Buddhism with Shinto, also a nature religion like Druidism. Keep this in mind--combining a religion based on the negation of desire and self in order to obtain nirvana, with a nature religion based on the philosophy of becoming one with everything through the method of awen--divine inspiration and enlightenment.
Soul radiation in the dead of night
Love in the middle of a fire fight
So my mind has been running around with all these thoughts in my head. I hate my job, I hate my boss. I'm bored with life. I feel like a serf. I feel angry. I'm buying things because I want to subvert this anger, this alienation, this feeling of wasted potential, with an image I've been working on since I was ten years old. This image of a globe-trotting cultural archaeologist, this romantic drunk, this idea of being Patti Smith fronting the Replacements. Of collecting odd bits of existence, which only I have access to. And that is at odds with what I've been feeling is my real life--a college graduate who is doing a monkey's job, wasting her life and her money, alone and lonely.
Honey gotta strike me blind!
Somebody gotta save my soul!
Baby penetrate my mind!
That's all very fine and good. But a couple of things changed.
Like I said, I've been discussing things with friends, trying to keep my head together. And that's when Carolyn lent me Fight Club. At the same time, I met Tim, who is making me ridiculously happy. And so my life has been thrown for a very large loop. I began thinking. If I were to throw out everything I owned--even blow up my house, destroy it all in one fell swoop--who would I be? Would I be different? Would I be free from all restraints? I have a fear of my house burning down and losing everything I have, every sentimental scrap. But if I were to purposefully destroy everything, to take it upon myself to make everything new, would I be a different person?
Would this be a bad thing?
Because I'm starting to realize that every day you wake up, you are a new person. Every experience you have changes your life in some way. And every action has an equal and opposite reaction. At the same time, you are never severed from your past--I'm not five years old, but I can remember being five. And I need to stop wishing I was still five.
Now--those Blue Willow dishes are my ying-yang table. I want them, because they help define me. I bought them because they remind me of a teapot my mother has, and has had long since before I was born. It's sentimentalism, it's... But destroy that--and destroy all other things, destroy that which makes me feel like a serf, that which makes me angry--to move beyond the desire for material objects, or even just desire for things--destroy it all, and I will be a new person. It was worse when I worked at the mall--there I saw people who came every Saturday to buy more crap to fit into their houses, just so they had something to do with their money, do with their lives, give them status.
But is it enlightenment to destroy? Or just self destruction? Where do you draw the line? And do I even want to destroy certain things? Do I want to lose certain people? No. I'm not enlightened. But I want to be.
And if I was to die tomorrow, what do I wish I had always done? I don't know. I don't want to think about it, I guess. I don't know. But I know I don't want to die--because I know there are things out there I don't know yet. And I know I don't want to live for objects, but for people.
So Fight Club confirmed my nihilism, my desire to destroy what I have and break away from what is really a painful division of self--my good self, which I keep around the office, which pays the bills, which is a yes-man, and my bad self, which stays out, drinks, is promiscuous (don't worry, honey, you know my worst already). I see the Narrator and Tyler in me.
But in the end, it's a story of failure, isn't it?
You see, boys, this angst, this anger, this rage, this desire to destroy, isn't just in the hearts of thirty-year-old boys raised by mothers, abandoned by fathers. It's in the hearts of your girlfriends, wives, sisters, only you just don't see it. The boys don't realize that Marla Singer isn't the whole story. The boys are feeling castrated--they gotta strike out; the girls are feeling frustrated--they gotta shout out:
And I'm the world's forgotten boy
The one who's searchin', searchin' to destroy
And honey i'm the world's forgotten boy
The one who's searchin', only to destroy
The Pixies song was a great ending, but I'm just surprised that The Stooges "Search and Destroy" wasn't used.