I don’t give compliments
I share observations.
Make of them what you will.
– O.D. ©2022
Art by: Vetyr
“Honesty without kindness is cruelty. Kindness without honesty is manipulation” – Bryan Reeves
I don’t give compliments
I share observations.
Make of them what you will.
– O.D. ©2022
Art by: Vetyr
“Honesty without kindness is cruelty. Kindness without honesty is manipulation” – Bryan Reeves
Hugh Year: 673
Hugh stared outside the window of his complex. He could see the night sky and the city of Polais, an epicentre for all noteworthy Sovereigns in the Kingdom of Kohlgraäd. There was an unspoken tradition in Polais, the taller your building was as a Sovereign, the richer you came across as. A useless tradition from the consolidation period.
In person, no one acknowledged this, it would come across as silly. But in secret, new scaffolding would be placed as Sovereigns looked to stay ahead of their rivals. Soon, Hugh’s view would be gone as Sovereigns continued to compete.
Government airships flew in the distance; their floodlights running surveillance in and around Polais’s many districts. Hugh could even see smoke from a series of industrial complexes far off on the horizon and a few pipes from ryne refineries.
The factories and refineries were far enough for any Sovereign with vested interests to monitor in safety, but they weren’t near enough to be an immediate health hazard.
Hugh smiled, being a Sovereign had given him many opportunities, many benefits.
He wondered though, why had he decided to stay in one of the most expensive cities on the Cradle? With his fortune, he could have gone anywhere.
Maybe the purchase was meant to be a statement; to others and himself. Or maybe Hugh was just bored and needed an excuse to spend more glaze on things he didn’t necessarily need.
Hugh was paying more attention to things he already knew about the Cradle and himself, it helped him stay focused, especially when he started feeling overwhelmed.
Hugh could see shades of himself on the glass window in front of him, the greying hair and the wrinkles. He was a little over forty, yet every time he looked in the mirror, he felt and looked sixty. He wasn’t as attractive as he used to be, not as energetic and not as in shape.
Perhaps he had just chosen a boring city for his retirement. The novelty of being a Sovereign had worn off in his thirties.
“Hugh, are we going to talk about it?”, Rim said, she lay on one of the couches in a long, sleeveless, high slit white dress; it was adorned with a thin line of diamonds on the waistline. She had crossed her legs such that her thigh was deliberately exposed through the slit. Her outer thigh had a Sovereign tattoo, proof of her belonging.
Rim’s Farsidian blue skin glittered with gold, she was wearing her favourite golden flaked perfume from the Fairlight Isles. The one she used every time she had a business meeting or a negotiation. She knew its effect, she knew exactly what she was doing. “Hugh?”
“What do you want me to say, Rim?”, Hugh exhaled. “There are certain things you don’t just do. I thought we agreed that -”
“We did”, Rim emphasized, gently. “It was a mistake. I didn’t want to hurt you. You know that, right?”
Hugh stayed silent. The encroaching darkness outside had turned the glossy window into an unmarked black mirror; he could see a reflection of Rim behind him. Her Farsidian goldenrod eyes were focused and unerring. She had even worn the hairpin he had bought her the previous year in Zohm, tying her black hair into a knot.
“Come on Hugh, at least look at me.”
“You finally wore the pin”, Hugh said. “The irony. Today, of all days.”
“I wanted to surprise you. I just didn’t think that… you know.”
“That I would catch you?”, Hugh said dryly.
“That’s not fair. I didn’t do it for him”, she looked away briefly, focusing her eyes on the door behind her, and then she looked back at Hugh. “I promise. It was for you.”
Hugh turned around to face Rim. “Was he good?”
Rim tilted her head and pursed her lips as if to imply, You don’t want to know that.
Hugh moved in closer and sat on a couch across from Rim, it was divided by a glass table that had a stubbed cigar, an open packet of blue stone and a variety of wines and whiskey. No human could ingest blue stone without burning their insides, that was Rim’s. The wine and whiskey were unopened.
Hugh picked up the leftover cigar, noting how it had been smoked by Rim’s visitor. “He got comfortable. How was he? Everything you hoped he would be?”
“Hugh …”, Rim sat up on her couch and tapped gently on the space beside her. “Please. Come closer so we can talk.”
She paused. “He was, okay. I guess.”
“Is this because I no longer make time for us? You felt lonely. Is that why you did this?”
“No”, she fiddled with her nails. “Nothing like that.”
“Can you at least tell me his name?”
“I didn’t really, get a name.”
Hugh nodded out of habit.
“Hugh, listen — If it’s any consolation, I didn’t plan on you finding out. The Kings’ Union was supposed to go for another five hours and if you hadn’t left the venue prematurely …”
“Is that supposed to make me feel better?”
“No”, Rim said. “But it’s the truth.”
Hugh looked past Rim, behind her was the door into their bedroom. “So you said he’s still in there?”
Rim bit her lower. “Yes. Please don’t get angry.”
“No promises”, Hugh grunted, heavy shoulders as he stood up. “Looks like it’s time I dealt with him.”
“Hugh, I’m the one who messed up. You don’t have to. I’ll take care of him. You can come and see for yourself; nothing I’ve said is a lie”, she let out her hand, encouraging Hugh to hold it.
With a resigned sigh, Hugh held her hand as she led him into the bedroom. It was dark in there.
Hugh switched on the light, and on the white carpet right beside the bed lay the body of a middle-aged man. He was wearing a faded suit and his head was covered in blood.
Years as a Kohlgraäd Regulator helped Hugh deduce that the man had been struck by a blunt object. And now he lay on the ground bleeding; drenching his area of the carpet in a dark crimson. He looked like an underground Prospector trying to parse off as a Sovereign, sophisticated. Hugh had seen many of his kind whilst serving the Government. The man’s right hand had a smudgy Sovereign tattoo. It was pathetically fake.
“Well?”, Rim said. “Are you ready to give me your verdict?”
She hadn’t been lying. There was nothing inventive about the setup. It all looked sloppy and unimaginative. “You were right. Nothing special happened. It’s almost depressing”, he opened a nearby wardrobe, their equipment was untouched.
“Babe”, Rim said. “I didn’t use any of it. I wouldn’t do that without you.”
“I suppose I might have overreacted. When you said I shouldn’t come in here I expected the worst. That you had decided to have fun without me.”
Rim cupped Hugh’s face gently in her hands, ensuring his eyes met hers. “As I said before, I wanted it to be a surprise. I wanted you to see that I’ve been paying attention, I’ve been learning. But, well, he tried to escape and …”
“You took care of him”, Hugh smiled. “I’m proud of you.”
The middle-aged man woke up, panicked but unable to move. He was paralyzed. His eyes darted everywhere in confusion; oscillating between Hugh and Rim.
Rim pushed Hugh on the bed, helping him unbuckle his belt. She removed her underwear and went on top of him, holding his hands down firmly as she swayed her hips, directing him inside her. She let the pleasure wash over her, Hugh was immersed as well, his frustration from earlier vanishing just as quickly.
From her position, Rim could see the paralyzed man on the ground looking at her, unable to move; with no choice but to be a viewer. Something about that just worked for her.
That’s right. Rim thought as she moaned. Look at me, look at me like that. Like you thought I was yours. Like you could ever lay with me. You filthy fuck.
She began moving her hips faster. Pressing Hugh deeper.
Don’t die, don’t die. Not quickly.
Not before I …
– O.D. ©2022
Art by: moonworker1
If you’re curious, this story takes place in the universe of my upcoming book. It’s an action-packed adult fantasy novel that takes place in a world called Cradle. The title of the book I’ll share at a later date.
I’ve done so much world-building for this universe that I considered doing some experimental writing. As I said before, it’s an action-packed adult fantasy novel and yet what I shared in this post does not evoke that same tone.
This is more along the lines of an adult fantasy thriller. And that’s the experiment.
I want to see how many tones I can organically bridge in the same universe using the rules that apply to everyone living within it.
So I might write a horror story in a different part of this world and maybe even a short comedy. For anyone interested in reading my book, or even those who aren’t, these self-contained stories will be easily digestible. There will be no cliffhangers and none of the characters featured here will appear in the book so it’s completely spoiler-free.
It’s literally just a high-resolution window into different parts of the world.
(It would be such a waste to have this huge world only to follow a specific set of characters without exploring what else it has to offer)
The point here is to have fun, I hope you enjoy it 🙂
Don’t be offended;
– O.D. ©2022
Art by: wlop
I should start off by saying I feel innate joy. A joy I haven’t felt in years.
A lot has been going my way of late, so when you hear everything else I have to say in this post know that it’s me wrestling with different thoughts.
(Edit: actually, I should say what comes next is stuff I’ve been reading on and thinking about; discussions in the comment section are welcome)
These vibe checks will help me come clean about all the things I think about without necessarily making entire posts for each one of them.
Think of this as one big status update with all the juicy bits; in case you’re curious about what I get up to.
A DETOUR TO ACE VILLE
Being an asexual is something else, man. I’ve seen insecurities fly out of ladies who expected me to ask for sex on a first date.
I’ve seen insecurities fly out of men who thought I was doing some reverse psychology on the ladies.
These are just some of the negatives that come with being asexual. The benefits however are insane.
For example, I have a high appreciation for good fashion in men and women. As odd as it might sound, I also know the difference between a good make-up artist and a bad one — has to do with growing up around many sisters. But other than that, I am able to look past all of that and see who you are.
If someone has a nice body, I don’t get aroused sexually. To describe the feeling I get, it’s a little like seeing a beautiful sunset or an aurora. It’s aesthetically pleasing, but I don’t want to do anything physical with it.
I’d like to believe it’s helped me stay incredibly open-minded about people. Because I know how annoying it is to be misunderstood. The quality of good listening is depreciating rapidly ladies and gentlemen.
And I refuse to be a part of it.
That’s what narcissists want to hear. They don’t even know what they’re winning at.
Are they winning at their delusional games? Life?
That reasoning sounds about right; because only a moron believes they “win” by overpowering others. Only a moron believes life has winners and losers — a scarcity mindset to spiritual fulfilment that carries roughly the same energy as toddlers fighting over crayons in a pencil case.
Narcissists are the type of children that decided to taste their own faeces one day because they were convinced each slurp would taste different. I pray to God they stopped when they tasted the first one, wouldn’t put it past them to still be sampling.
I would ask “For how long?” narcissists plan to manipulate their way through relationships with family, friends or lovers. But the only thing I’ll be getting at the end of that is either rage or sophist arguments. A cocktail of mental ineptitude I don’t nearly have the bandwidth nor patience for.
People often ask me why I talk about narcissists so much. It’s because I grew up with them.
I know the damage these people inflict, especially on young people. I won’t name drop family members, not out of respect — god no. If I could, I would expose every single one of them for the world to see. But because they’ll get narcissistic supply from it, I’d rather not. They’ll misinterpret all of this as a jab at them when all I’m trying to do is inform others so they don’t have to go through the same thing I went through.
Once you know you’re not alone in dealing with people like this, it becomes easier to see the patterns and you’re more likely to seek help which is an absolute win in my opinion.
A GREEK ROAST
René Girard said, “Man is the creature who does not know what to desire, and he turns to others in order to make up his mind.” i.e “people don’t know what they want”
There are two interpretations to this statement (let me know in the comments if there are others):
To begin with, a majority of people don’t know what they want because they haven’t taken the time to explore themselves. To see their strengths, their weaknesses, what brings them shame, what brings them joy and accepting all of it. Most people prefer to keep that hidden and get angry when it’s brought up, even when the intention is to understand, not hurt.
Second, people at their core may not know what they want because desire is mimetic. And that’s no one’s fault. You can say you want to be an astronaut because you saw one and it inspired you. That’s not a wholly original thought. In many ways, you were given what to want, and what to think about what you want. You weren’t the first person to think that very thought.
Before that, you likely had no idea what you wanted. And you could just as easily change your mind if what you want doesn’t mesh well. Or if you’re inspired by something else.
I think the first interpretation works well for those looking to be part of relationships. You can’t be romantically involved with someone who doesn’t know what they want. Because in the end, it will fall on you to make and keep them happy. And that, my friend, is a heavy burden.
I think the second one can be used in many places but I would direct it toward my fellow artists. Plato argued that art is mimetic. He believed that the ultimate reality existed in the realm of ideas and that art was a poor imitation of it.
He uses the example of a chair: So a carpenter thinks of a chair, in the realm of ideas and he manifests it in reality by making a wooden chair. An artist sees this chair and makes a painting of it. Plato’s main argument with his theory of mimesis centred around how things like poetry and art are twice removed from reality and by that very notion, they add no value or teachings.
Cool story bro, but I disagree… and so did Aristotle.
Aristotle countered Plato by mentioning how poetry is not a simple reflection of reality, much like a mirror. He added that:
“Art cannot be a slavish imitation of reality. Literature is not the exact reproduction of life in all its totality. It is the representation of selected events and characters necessary in a coherent action for the realization of the artist’s purpose.
“He (the artist) even exalts, idealizes and imaginatively recreates a world which has its own meaning and beauty. These elements, present in art, are absent in the raw and rough real. While a poet creates something less than reality he at the same time creates something more as well. He puts an idea of the reality which he perceives in an object. This ‘more’, this intuition and perception, is the aim of the artist. Artistic creation cannot be fairly criticized on the ground that it is not the creation in concrete terms of things and beings. Thus considered, it does not take us away from the Truth but leads us to the essential reality of life”
My word, what a burn. But Aristotle wasn’t done roasting his mentor lol
“Plato again says that art is bad because it does not inspire virtue, and does not teach morality. But is teaching the function of art? Is it the aim of the artist? The function of art is to provide aesthetic delight, communicate experience, express emotions and represent life. It should never be confused with the function of ethics which is simply to teach morality. If an artist succeeds in pleasing us in the aesthetic sense, he is a good
artist. If he fails in doing so, he is a bad artist. There is no other criterion to judge his worth”
“Morality teaches. Art does not attempt to teach. It merely asserts it is thus or thus that life is perceived to be. That is my bit of reality, says the artist. Take it or leave it – draw any lessons you like from it – that is my account of things as they are – if it has any value to you as evidence of teaching, use it, but that is not my business: I have given you my rendering, my account, my vision, my dream, my illusion – call it what you will. If there is any lesson in it, it is yours to draw, not mine to preach.”
I think that’s a good way to end this post.
The past informs the future and the future informs the past. There is no present.
God, I love being a poet!
– O.D. ©2022
Art by: Vetyr
Girard, “Generative Scapegoating”, in Robert G. Hammerton-Kelly, eds., Violent Origins: Walter Burkert, René Girard, and Jonathan Z. Smith on Ritual Killing and Cultural Formation, p. 122
When you live outside space and time
History and the future exist within a bubble —
A repository — from there you get to pick a single moment
Grip the remote and press “resume”
Easy to do when you already know how it concludes.
Once we’re born, we start dying.
My role as a poet is to make sure you enjoy the trip;
And if I do it exceptionally well
You may even start looking forward to it.
Death is the limitation of our interpretation and understanding.
We live in the world as it watches.
Unfasten the ribbon that contains our four-dimensional reality,
The only way to open a gift without harming it;
And when you take a peek you’ll notice a mirror
You’ve always been an integral part of it.
I hung my demon and turned it into a trophy — a warning.
Each moment I wake, I become newly discovered.
Shiny object syndrome, for unrepresented spirits,
The new kid on the block in the realm of darkness and light.
Altered Carbon how they want me as their sleeve.
Desire is mimetic, but I warn people to avoid trying to mirror mine
I carry enough soul to possess all parts of the trolley problem.
Skeptics doubt miracles, all the while looking past the irony of being alive.
Our universe has always been the best embodiment of every genre
From romance to comedy.
To oligarchy power motives and drunk dial confessions;
Even those that curse the world for not being fair and failing to meet our expectations
And here I am …
Just glad to be here.
– O.D. ©2022
Art by: Vetyr
I got this message in March but I kept postponing lol
Happy to be here, I’ve seen myself grow as a person and as a writer. And I’ll keep growing.
A few highlights include venturing into Spoken Word poetry and working on my emotional intelligence. None are perfect, but that’s not the point. I can safely look back to the person I was a year ago and say “Yeah, I’m glad I worked on that.”
It sometimes scares me how little I react to aggression and toxicity. The feeling is now so foreign to me. I respond instead. It’s magical, to be honest.
This has always been my safe space. And it couldn’t have been that way without those I choose to call friends (you know who you are fellow spirit guides 😉 ).
I hope you enjoy my work just as much as I enjoy writing it. And if you don’t, that’s okay lol it’s not for everyone.
Thanks to everyone who supports what I do. I appreciate you ❤
We write on!
– O.D. ©2022
I promise, I’ve changed …
The subtitle. I know I can get a little crazy, but I promise I’ve heard you every single time you’ve said you’re hurt. It will be different this time. I promise.
I don’t know who lied to you, but you don’t have any autonomy — not when I’m around.
You can say you have a will of your own and I’ll pretend to agree, to pacify. You need to understand that I know what’s best for you — not you.
Whatever line you draw is made for me to cross. Now that I say that out loud, your line kind of looks like a finish line; you know, like in a race. You can’t blame me for doing what comes naturally.
Make lines for me to cross.
I Will Complain, Complain, Complain …
And you will listen.
Good friends offer empathy in droves, and so should you. It’s why you’re my friend. You’re supposed to make me feel good about myself absent honesty and truth.
And don’t tell me your solutions, I can fix these things I’m complaining about. I just need you to listen. If what I’ve said so far hasn’t made it clear; I know better, so don’t tell me what to do.
But listen to what I have to say.
This isn’t bitterness, it’s divine vengeance.
Everyone I’m angry at and complain about is wrong. There’s not a single person I’ve ever been angry at who was in the right. That’s just how it is. It’s difficult being me, knowing all the things that I know.
My philosophy is to get revenge whilst the iron is still hot.
What I feel is real, and if someone makes me feel attacked, I will attack them back.
I’m not manipulating you, I’m pushing you in the right direction.
Don’t think you know what’s best for you, come on now. As long as you stick by me, everything will be fine. I will discourage you from pursuing your dreams if they don’t include me because you won’t get far without me.
I say that because I care; keep me close. Involve me in everything for your own safety.
I know I sometimes say mean things when you don’t involve me in what you’re doing. It’s because I’ll be feeling hurt, and I’ll be trying to make you see reason again. There’s no world without you needing me.
I’m the victim here.
I’m owed everything I never got. The world has never been fair to me. If I had all the opportunities I see others getting, I would be in a much better place. I just know it.
In the meantime, keep encouraging me. Keep telling me how I’ll make it one day. I can’t do that myself.
You’ve had a bad day?
You can be so self-centred, do you know that? Not everything is about you. We all have bad days, but that doesn’t make you special.
Speaking of bad days…
Remember that story I told you the other day? I have an update — get ready, it’s a long one 😀
Don’t tell me the truth, not when it hurts.
I would tell you about the shame I try to keep buried, but you don’t need to know about that. Just don’t trigger me and we’ll be fine. I keep these things to myself to keep you safe. You wouldn’t be able to handle my rage and dark past.
Don’t you dare leave me.
Not unless you want to be another anecdote on a long list of people who have let me down. I’ll make sure to mention how you hurt me even though I’ve never done anything to hurt you.
Please don’t leave me 😦
I was overreacting when I said all of those things. I’m just passionate, you know that. Please don’t misinterpret my actions (Re-read the first point to know how serious I am about all of this — about you)
– O.D. ©2022
Art by: LukasFractalizator
The message here is simple. “F*ck narcissists”
When someone gives you pain
Don’t focus on the why —
Focus on the what.
The why is irrelevant
They did what they did. It’s done.
There is no shortage of answers
You already have what you need.
– O.D. ©2022
Art by: Vetyr
Emotional abuse often leaves victims ruminating over what they might have done wrong to the abuser. Victims are left trapped, trying to imagine all the ways they could have fixed things.
I’m here to tell you that’s not your job.
If Steven steals your candy even though you told him not to, don’t get sucked in by the why. Motivations are flimsy, moldable and easy to manipulate.
Getting to the true motivation behind Steven’s actions requires a level of trust that’ll already be missing by that point.
Look at the what; that’s empirical evidence. None can deny it.
I believe knowing the why is the cherry on the cake, not entirely necessary — but in many ways aesthetically pleasing.
The why is neatly packed closure. And we don’t always get closure — in this way, I believe closure is a luxury.
Some people have a series of behaviours that can’t be explained. And it’s not your job to try and fix them. Just leave.
FIGHT CLUB is a movie that came out in 1999 and was directed by David Fincher. The movie centres around an unnamed narrator suffering from amnesia. The narrator is not satisfied with his life until he meets a soap maker who goes by the name “Tyler Durden”; they quickly form a friendship.
One night, both men start a fight club, as that’s happening, the narrator finds himself embroiled in an unconventional relationship with a woman named Marla Singer.
However, as time goes on, the narrator starts to notice that everything is not as it seems. The Fight Club is getting out of control. He is forced to make a choice.
Disclaimer: Keeping in mind that this piece is not in any way claiming to be the definitive interpretation of this movie, I thought to share a quote with you before I begin:
“A Great anecdote doesn’t leave people speechless, it leaves them competing to tell a better version of the same thing”
Also because I see a lot of debates regarding this movie. I’m not here to debate, but I’m more than willing to exchange and critique ideas.
FIGHT CLUB and Gender politics
Saying that FIGHT CLUB is all about gender politics is in many ways a regressive approach. There is far more going on here, I believe. Far more than the appraisal of penises and vaginas; something girl bosses and incels can’t seem to look past.
Yes, there are parallels, I’ll admit that. But I believe that’s stuff anyone can find at the shallow end of the pool. It goes deeper ladies and gentlemen.
Anti-Consumerism In FIGHT CLUB
When we see the narrator at the beginning of the movie, he is trying to buy a new item in a long list of items he uses to “identify” himself. He believes what he buys for his apartment should be an indication of his character. That if someone were to walk in, they should know exactly who they’re dealing with; simply by looking at his possessions.
And despite him having all these material possessions he finds himself unfulfilled and haunted by insomnia. Something is missing, and no matter how many material possessions he owns, they only serve to alleviate the void he feels temporarily. Because he still has to go back to work the next day, eventually being forced to feel the same void again — purchase a new item. Rinse and Repeat.
The fact that the movie identifies this as a starting point is highly indicative of the material culture we find ourselves in. There’s a new piece of tech or furniture every other year, and I know people who lose sleep over it. The absence of said material items makes them feel like they have nothing when they’re in a room full of plenty.
It’s classic shiny object syndrome. I believe the movie’s narrative speaks against relying on material possessions; they only serve to alleviate our emptiness, but it doesn’t solve the problem (at least not in the long-term).
Death of the EGO
You are not what you own. In many ways, you’re not even you without people validating it. I’m not a writer until I tell people I’m one or if they see me writing or reading a story. But that shouldn’t discourage me.
I should be a writer because I love it, not because I want people to notice.
The thing about the ego is, when it’s not regulated, people tend to go to great lengths to be perceived a certain way even if it means deceiving. All to build a false exaggerated self; because it would be too painful to admit otherwise.
FIGHT CLUB teaches us to kill the ego. The movie kinda goes over the top with the narrator and Tyler Durden staying in a rundown house that’s barely holding itself together. But I believe the general idea still stands (obviously take care of your health and don’t be reckless).
There is power in being content. Finding success within ourselves and not from the admiration of others; at least that’s my philosophy and interpretation.
You hear stories of attention seekers on Tik Tok, IG or Twitter every single day. I’m not sure if we can even call it ego anymore; people are going to great lengths to be noticed; even at the risk of their own bodies and soul.
Hegel’s Dialectics (Idealism)
According to German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel, it takes three steps to reach a synthesis or a higher level of truth. First, there’s the thesis, then the anti-thesis which serves to find contradictions in the thesis and then finally the synthesis.
With this in mind, if the war on masculinity is the thesis, Fight Club’s unhinged violence is the antithesis.
When I say “war on masculinity” I mean it’s no longer considered safe to be a (gentle)man without risk. Without it being perceived the wrong way.
For example, you can, on instinct, open a door for a lady and have it interpreted as you trying to hit on her — which obviously isn’t true. In most cases, it’s simply being considerate of others. I would do that for anyone but I have to risk it being interpreted the wrong way.
My favourite is offering to foot the bill and getting a passive-aggressive response because I was “assuming the lady could not pay for herself” (These are just a few of many examples). If you’re curious, this happened during my birthday with a cousin of mine a while back. I just felt sorry for the waitress — having to endure that behaviour.
To be a “man” in this day and age is to behave in a way that pleases the present and accounted for company. This means, being protective around the ladies who enjoy being protected, being submissive to the ladies who enjoy being in control and being sensitive to — you get the gist of it.
And I’m not talking about a man who is pursuing romance, I just mean general behaviour. I find that a little baffling I suppose.
So it’s now more politically correct to be a chameleon, ever-bending to the will of those that are present. Admittedly, this leaves a lot of people in the dating scene frustrated. This is why you have the Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW) movement as well as the Red Pills (not mutually exclusive). Two groups who are just kinda done with everything, unwilling to bend to the ever-shifting demands of society and being forced to fit into what women deem to be “True Masculinity”.
It’s funny because, despite FIGHT CLUB seeming like it’s in full support of these movements, I believe it speaks against them; with a subtlety though. Tyler Durden and the narrator break free from the system, start FIGHT CLUB and give in to their primal urges/aggression, free to do their own thing right?
However, at the end of the movie, the narrator realizes how he broke from the system was still a consequence of the system’s design; he was never truly free.
He still had to break away from his alter ego Tyler Durden, another product of that same system. Because Tyler Durden was everything the narrator wasn’t (at least in the narrator’s mind), a more handsome, more charismatic go-getter with all the answers. A true paragon of masculinity. A false ideal planted by the same system he hates, so yeah, he was free physically, but not mentally.
I believe the movie speaks to how all these movements like MGTOW are illusory and not the solution. The narrator has to find a way to break from the system, not giving into aggression (but not discarding it entirely either, but more on that later) and form a revolution. To find a synthesis. A “controlled” revolution, if you will.
This may also be speaking to the internal and the external revolutions we have to take control of; to take back our agency.
What’s with all THE SOAP?
Tyler Durden has a small-time company called Paper Street Soap Co. A Capitalist enterprise that produces soap out of fat stolen from dumpsters at liposuction clinics. Durden then sells that soap to retailers as a high-end product without them knowing its means of production.
It’s obviously a direct shot at consumerism but I believe there’s an element of irony to it as well. That No matter how much you may hate the system. You still have to use the system to beat the system.
Not sure if the movie references this but I believe this enterprise is how Durden and the narrator fund their entire operation.
Kinda like the show Black Mirror. In how the show has to use technology to expose the dangers of relying on technology.
I thought that was a nice touch.
The Dangers of Craving A Messiah
I may be reaching, but I believe there’s a commentary on the dangers of radical change and the allure of charismatic leaders in times of crisis. The desire for a messiah, someone with all the answers i.e. Tyler Durden.
All change is subject to potential — or perhaps even inevitable — corruption. This corruption can be seen in how all the men that start joining FIGHT CLUB become drones incapable of individual thought, not unlike the beginning of the movie when the narrator was a thoughtless drone in their office. It’s like the problem replicated itself in a different environment.
All fight club members begin wearing the same clothes, spending every waking moment listening to Tyler Durden’s continued philosophizing. They become a small fascist camp, in many ways, tied together by a common cause; Project Mayhem and Tyler Durden’s unbound wisdom and charm, of course.
It’s easy to interpret the movie as saying “F*ck everything, go hardcore!” and “Men, take back your power!” but I believe it’s actually speaking against that. The dangers that come with group-think and believing firmly that you’re in the right.
At some point, even well-meaning movements take on a life of their own and can morph into something potentially disastrous for everyone involved. This goes beyond Men vs Women.
What, you think everyone who put Hitler into power expected him to do what he did? Some people simply saw someone promising to bring Germany back into the conversation. Someone with answers to their problems. Yeah, that turned out well didn’t it …
You’ve got self-help gurus by the truckloads telling you how they’ll help get your life in order. Now I’m not saying all of them have bad intentions, all I’m saying is they shouldn’t be your oxygen. They shouldn’t be your messiah. Or god forbid, your Tyler Durden.
Above all, I think FIGHT CLUB is a cautionary tale that continues to be relevant today. It simply used surface value concepts to convey a deeper message/philosophy.
I love how in the end, the narrator kills Tyler Durden (in his mind of course) finally freeing his mind and holding hands with his lady friend as they watch all these presumably corporate buildings collapse as Project Mayhem unfolds. I believe that to be the synthesis.
And despite our primal desires being a potential danger to everyone around us (if left unchecked). We should not lock them away entirely. Psychoanalyst Carl Jung often talked about integrating our shadow selves (the parts we don’t like) into who we are. There are parallels with Buddhist Zen principles of personifying your weaknesses, emotions and not shunning them or being afraid of them. To be willing to understand one another.
In the case of the narrator, instead of giving in to his aggression (Tyler Durden) he tamed it and channelled it elsewhere, where it was more useful. It’s important to note then that the aggression was not entirely useless as it helped the narrator overcome a nightmare of his own making.
I believe this synthesis speaks to us as well. That we (humanity) are not each other’s enemies. The systems that try to sever our bonds and our spiritual connections are the real enemy. Because even those in power are slaves to those systems and continue to fool themselves into thinking they are in control. And as we try to take our power back, we should be careful not to replicate the problem. We should move forward with wisdom, using history as our repository — our guide — for invaluable lessons that will help mold our future.
This movie is not unlike The Great Resignation you see today, only viewed from a different lens. Something is happening to the world, and I for one am excited to see where it takes us.
Thanks for reading.
Jung, C.G. 1938. “Psychology and Religion”. In Psychology and Religion: West and East, Collected Works of C.G. Jung 11. p. 131.
Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich (2018) . The phenomenology of spirit. Cambridge Hegel Translations. Translated by Pinkard, Terry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Chugh, A. 2021. What Is The Great Resignation? An Expert Explains. Available at: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/11/what-is-the-great-resignation-and-what-can-we-learn-from-it/ . Last accessed 20 April 2022.