I juf got punched.
In the feif.
Just kidding. Sorry, I’m a sucker for alliterations. It’s a Mongolian thing.
Anyway, today I wanted to talk about “Fight Club” by Chuck Palahniuk. You probably watched the movie or even read the book. Aside from the mind-blowing twist, which if you haven’t watched or read, I’ll try not to spoil, its philosophy touched many people and helped it become a cult over time. The ideas just makes you want to get mad, start an underground bare-knuckle fight club, or at least throw your mail-order catalog out the window. But some of the quotes are coming back to me and as a fan I felt like reflecting on the following two themes.
I’m not criticizing him, though. I’m a fan. I’m analyzing. You could say–see the headline?–fanalyzing. And if you think you can trademark this word, you can’t, because I just did.
1. You Are Not a Unique Snowflake
“You are not special. You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else. We’re all part of the same compost heap. We’re all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”
This one touches close at home. We all grew up thinking we’re special. But we’re not. We’re all same, and we’re all gonna die someday. But let’s focus here a minute. Sure we’re all same, but generalizing on the level of organic matter is a little too much, don’t you think? I mean, it would include plants, animals, fungi, and tardigrades, which are really different things. OK, within humans, we’re all same. Except, our genes are a mathematically exponential tree structure where a mother’s and a father’s gene. Even each conception is unique; its chromosome pairs are arranged by a magic lottery ball machine, so that the siblings are not clones.
So, the fleshes are pretty unique (well, of course there are coincidental similarities like Katy Perry and Zooey Deschanel). Even the brain. The wiring of our brains is so unique that it contains our whole identity. All our experiences, skills, memories are stored and made by the path of transmitters. They even came up with a new word to name the map–connectome. Ah, he probably meant the software–our mentalities. We’re all mass educated so we think the same things. Yeah, we are really all singing, all dancing crap of the world.
2. You Are Not Your Job
You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis.
This is a very acute observation. Your job, savings and car are supposed to express your status (wallet and the khakis are a little too much). He means we are obsessed with expressing ourselves through the products we use. In our modern society, there are products/services that people buy for status reasons, usually the more expensive and rarer, the better. Take Apple’s annual iPhone craze, for example. It’s ridiculous.
Then later I read this (quite literally) kick-ass motivational article. Here’s what David Wong from Cracked.com said about this quote:
Tyler said, “You are not your job,” but he also founded and ran a successful soap company and became the head of an international social and political movement. He was totally his job.
OK. David took the quote out of the context, or rather, he’s refuting the people who’s been using the quote of context. Chuck is saying, “Stop, get over your insecurity! Just any decent car will do.” But David is saying, “People treated you bad because you drive a jalopy? Suck it up, because that’s how the world works.” As you can see, these are subjective interpretations. But I think the difference is on whether the rejection of status-seeking, as advised by Chuck, actually leads to any rejection from others, as cited by David.
If it doesn’t, scoff at the new iPhones and have an actual life outside your job. In other words, don’t live behind your suit. Or better yet, get a new job, not for the sake of its status or prestige, but your intrinsic preference. But if you choose to become an artist instead of a lawyer and it does lead to rejections, that’s the reason you should fight for status, you know for survival and good life.
Now, let me ask you, dear reader. Chuck’s saying, “You’re not your job! You’re you!” and David’s saying, “You are your job! Welcome to the harsh world.” Which one of these ideas do you like the best? Which one of these would you like to uphold in your life? Let me know in the comment below.
If you’re from Mongolia, make sure to read my “Fight Club” book review in Mongolian.