I’ve read this book three times in my life and I’m sure I’ll read it again in the future. It’s a short book, and what I like most about it is the way it is written. It’s action-centered, in the sense that there’s a-lot of action verbs and present tense and action-filled scene cutting to action-filled scence. Because of this, some people have called it a very “masculine” book, and I suppose that if you consider reflective books—the ones where there’s a-lot of thinking and remembering and feelings going around—feminine books, then this is the complete anti-thesis of that, and you could call it masculine.
Because it’s an action-centered book, you never get bored. It’s written abstractly, in the sense that there’s barely any structure to the plot, almost as if you were dreaming it instead of reading it, which works because the Narrator does dream up an alter ego for himself and a-lot the scenes with this alter ego do take place in his imagination.
The second thing I like most is Tyler Durden, said narrator’s alter ego. If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, which is improbable because the movie is a cult classic and you’d have to be hiding under a rock or have very dissimilar tastes in stories to mine if you haven’t seen it yet, then sorry for the spoiler. Now, moving on…
Tyler Durden reminds me of two things:
1. A Buddhist Monk
2. Shiva the destroyer
He reminds me of a Buddhist monk because he has decided to give up on all material posessions, disattaching himself from everything that doesn’t matter, everything that is fleeting, and focus on one thing: Destroying himself.
Which leads me to the second point.
I’ve never really equated the concept of destruction presented in this story to the concept of destruction of the nihilistic philosophy. Nihilism is the belief that nothing matters because ultimately, everything dies. Everything fades, and nothing remains.
However, the concept of destruction presented in Fight Club is different. For example, there are lines in the book that say:
“The first step to eternal life is you have to die.”
“It is only after you have lost everything that you are free to do anything (also in the movie).”
“I’m breaking my attachment to physical power and possessions because only through destroying myself can I discover the greater power of my spirit.”
See, this isn’t nihilism. This is something else. This is destruction in its purest form, destruction as sacrifice, destruction in order to lead to another thing: Renovation. Tyler Durden wanted to destroy the credit system and send the world into a dark age once again, but not just to create chaos and anarchy, but to force people to break away from their materialism and their empty, empty lives.
The population would be decimated, yes. People will start killing each other off for food and land and whatever else they need to survive, and perhaps a-lot of knowledge would be lost and civilization would collapse, yes. All this and more would happen, and there would be chaos and anarchy and violence and war and destruction, destruction, destruction.
Just like the men destroyed each other during their fights, humanity would destroy each other on a world-wide scale.
But what then?
Then comes the renovation. The earth would heal, for starters. Less humans means less contamination, and ultimately, more space for everyone to live off the resources that exist. More space, less contamination, no credit system, living off the bare minimum, all of this was Tyler Durden’s dream of an ideal world, a world disattached from material posessions and focused on living, feeling, understanding, rather than wanting, possessing, owning.
Shiva the destroyer is part of the Hindu trinity. Brahma is the creator of everything in existence, Vishnu is the one that conserves existence, and Shiva is the one who renews it. He renews existence when it has grown stale and purpose-less, and what better way to do this than to destroy it?
You can see Shiva in natural disasters. The Ice Age, for example, that I’m sure destroyed the modus operandi of humanity all those years ago to give way to a new one. You can also see Shiva in Tyler Durden. The destroyer. The renewer. The one who doesn’t care about things that end, like the physical body, and only cares about things that will last forever.
But what lasts forever?
The story never says. I think it’s up to you to make up your own mind.