Study Guide

Fight Club Man and the Natural World

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Man and the Natural World

NARRATOR: When deep space exploration ramps up, it'll be the corporations that name everything. The IBM Stellarsphere. Microsoft Galaxy. Planet Starbucks.

Since our world is pretty much discovered and colonized with people on all seven continents, the "natural world" as we know it is starting to extend to space. But our narrator lets us know that unlike the explorers of the past, explorers of the future will be bankrolled pawns of corporations. Corporations are people too, right?

TYLER: I make and sell soap. The yardstick of civilization.

Tyler is unique in that he doesn't buy soap (which would be caving into consumer society) but he makes it, and he uses a primitive technique of rendering fat. Fat he steals from lipo clinics.

TYLER: Why do guys like you and I know what a duvet is? Is this essential to our survival in the hunter-gatherer sense of the word?

Tyler wants to return to the past, one in which men live off the fat of the land (pun intended) instead of doing their hunting at Bed Bath and Beyond…even though it really is the happiest place on earth

TYLER: What are we then? […] We are consumers. We are by-products of a lifestyle obsession. I say, never be complete. I say, stop being perfect. I say, let's evolve. Let the chips fall where they may.

Tyler thinks that capitalism is unnatural. Men weren't meant to be consumers. They are meant to be hunters and providers. Hunting for sales on Cyber Monday isn't even close to the same thing.

NARRATOR: By the end of the first month, I didn't miss TV. I didn't even mind the warm, stale refrigerator.

The Paper Street house is practically like living in the woods (Paper is made from wood!). It's the very definition of roughing it, often dealing with the elements leaking in and no electricity.

TYLER: Tell him. Tell him the liberator who destroyed my property has realigned my perception. […] Reject the basic assumptions of civilization, especially the importance of material possessions.

All the things Tyler wants our narrator to reject are things imposed upon him by "civilization." He wants to return to a primal state of being.

NARRATOR: I felt like putting a bullet between the eyes of every panda that wouldn't screw to save its species. I wanted to open the dump valves on oil tankers and smother all those French beaches I'd never see. I wanted to breathe smoke. […] I felt like destroying something beautiful.

Even though Tyler is all about a return to the environment, our narrator wants to destroy it. What's that about? Well, part of the primal human instinct that they seem to be fostering here is one of destruction, whereas conservation is more of a sophisticated human construct. The primitive thing to do is to destroy, not to create.

TYLER: In the world I see, you're stalking elk through the damp canyon forest around the ruins of Rockefeller Center. You'll wear leather clothes that'll last you for the rest of your life. You'll climb the rich, thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Tower. And when you look down, you'll see tiny figures pounding corn, laying strips of venison in the empty carpool lane of some abandoned superhighway.

This is Tyler's ultimate post-apocalyptic vision, one that brings society full circle and back where we started.

TYLER: If you erase the debt record, then we all go back to zero.

And this is how Tyler plants to achieve that vision of his. Erasing the debt record doesn't just send society spiraling out of control (would it?), but it also erases the responsibilities of capitalism as we know it.

NARRATOR: This is it. The beginning. Ground zero.

By the time we get to this line, we've already seen this scene: our narrator with a gun in his mouth. So the line serves the double meaning of bringing us back to the beginning of the movie and letting us know we're about to see Tyler's plan take place—one that's bringing society back to the beginning.

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