"Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who've ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off."
Tyler addresses the men in the basement of Lou's Tavern after admonishing them for breaking the rules of fight club. New members have joined the club, indicating that the existing members have been talking about fight club and breaking its first two rules. In this short monologue he encapsulates the feelings of a generation that believes it was raised on the notion that it would achieve success and greatness inherently. Having realized that this greatness was not their destiny, they have become angry and unmotivated. Tyler specifically blames mass media for creating this illusion. His generation was raised to regard normal everyday existence as somehow substandard or not flashy enough. Despite this, he sees potential in these men. He sees that what they can offer is being wasted on a society that values and chases material possessions.
"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."
Tyler says these words to Jack/the Narrator after Jack/the Narrator learns that he and Tyler are the same person. He outlines the reasons Jack/the Narrator created the persona of Tyler. Jack/the Narrator did not feel that he could change his life on his own and felt trapped by it. Consider the added layer cast on this line by the fact that it is spoken by actor Brad Pitt. He could very well be addressing his audience, commenting on how celebrity is viewed and valued.
"In the world I see - you are stalking elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rockefeller 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 Tower. And when you look down, you'll see tiny figures pounding corn, laying strips of venison on the empty car pool lane of some abandoned superhighway."
Tyler lays out his plans to Jack/the Narrator, his vision for a new world that will come into existence after Project Mayhem achieves its goals. This pre-agrarian hunter-gatherer model disposes with the comforts of modern living as well as its trappings, such as jobs and advertising. Tyler does not seem to take into account the negative aspects of his vision, such as how disease or famine may affect the members of this society.Tyler also does not clarify how this will be achieved or how such a massive upheaval in society could come to pass without resistance or risk to human life. What does seem to be sure is that Tyler will be this new society's leader.
"Our fathers were our models for God. If our fathers bailed, what does that tell you about God? Listen to me! You have to consider the possibility that God does not like you. He never wanted you. In all probability, he hates you. This is not the worst thing that can happen."
Tyler addresses Jack as Jack's hand is burning from the lye Tyler poured on it. Tyler again returns to the theme of the men's fathers. Here, he makes an intellectual leap to applying his negative feelings for his father to include God. Tyler sees God as a malevolent creator, a being who could even despise his children. He feels that God is not necessary and that time spent by human beings trying to gain God's attention or acceptance is time wasted. In Tyler's mind, God does not care. If society concerns themselves with what God would think of their actions, they will never be independent of some type of parental figure and therefore will never be free.
"This is your life, and it's ending one second at a time."
Jack/the Narrator states this in a voiceover over a montage sequence in which we see him traveling for his job. He is at the airport, waiting to board a flight, unsure of what time zone he is, dealing with minutiae of daily modern life. In this one simple line, Jack/the Narrator pinpoints the existential nature of his life. He can feel his life passing by, devoid of any meaning. Jack/the Narrator directly addresses the specter of death and its inevitability. Rather than seeing this as purely negative, he uses it as a call to arms. Instead of letting your life passively float by, he wishes to be an active participant in it and actually live it. He wonders what that would be like.
"We're consumers. We are by-products of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don't concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy's name on my underwear. Rogaine, Viagra, Olestra."
Tyler highlights some of the misplaced values he sees in modern society as Jack/the Narrator listens, taken in by Tyler's charisma. As he will throughout the film, Tyler attacks mass media and advertising as contributing to this disconnection from everyday reality. People don't see or simply are not as concerned about actual problems. They'd rather discuss celebrity gossip than something unpleasant like inequality or crime in their world. In Tyler's opinion the experience of our everyday existence is dictated more and more by these obsessions than it is by our own hand.
"I can't get married - I'm a thirty-year-old boy."
Jack/the Narrator explains to Tyler how unready he feels to take on adult life. He and Tyler bond over the fact that their fathers were largely absent figures who contributed little to their upbringing. As a result both characters feel they were unprepared for their roles as men. They are unsure of what 'being a man' would mean and intimidated by the thought of having to settle down at some point and raise children of their own.
"It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything."
Tyler utters these words to Jack/the Narrator after burning his hand with lye. This is part of Tyler's philosophy of "hitting rock bottom." As Tyler uses the term, he means it as stripping away all that is unnecessary and useless to reach the true self. Rock bottom equals freedom. To get there requires overcoming one's self-imposed limitations and fears. Tyler exposes Jack/the Narrator to the worst pain he's ever faced as a means to putting Jack/the Narrator on the path towards his true self. Jack/the Narrator must look past this pain while simultaneously accepting it.
"When the fight was over, nothing was solved, but nothing mattered. We all felt saved."
Jack/The Narrator comments on the spiritual aspects of fight club. The men experience a rekindled sense of self and masculinity after fighting. They feel all the things they do not miss in their regular everyday lives. Jack/the Narrator acknowledges that fighting wasn't about solving anything directly. It is just a tool to achieving a greater sense of self and allows the men to cut through to finding a sense of purpose.
"Tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of Raymond K. Hessel's life. His breakfast will taste better than any meal you and I have ever tasted."
Tyler says these words to Jack/the Narrator as Raymond Hessel runs away in terror. Jack/the Narrator asks Tyler pointedly what he hoped to achieve by terrifying this innocent man. Tyler reveals that his goal was to instill in this perfect stranger a sense of purpose and ownership over his own life. By threatening to kill Raymond, Tyler gives Raymond a new perspective on his life. It could end there, behind a convenience store, or he could become motivated and make something of it. Tyler envisions that Raymond will awake in the morning with renewed vigor and a new view on the world. He does not, however, concede the possibility that Raymond may be terrified beyond reason or that he might take action out of fear instead of self-interest.
Fight Club (Film) Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Fight Club (Film) is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Tyler offers a way for men to reclaim their masculinity and identity. His followers feel emasculated and unable to understand their feelings. Through advertising and social manipulation, they have lost the ability to understand what it means to be...
This is a paradox of sorts. I think that Tyler was trying to start a movement where men can discover themselves but in doing so they lose their identity to the movement itself. Their use of violence to change the world results in violence becoming...
This is a pretty involved topic. Fight Club presents the argument that men in today's society have been reduced to a generation of men that do nothing themselves, but have become anesthetized with watching others do things instead. Masculinity...