The Internet Explodes My Brain Into Words About Fight Club, Gatsby, the Ocean, and Raging Bears
I’ve had this list of topics to blog about for the past few weeks that I’ve done nothing with. The problem (besides general laziness) is the list doesn’t really mean anything. Think about something long enough and everything just blurs together. The internet has that effect on me. I’m saying, “Screw the list,” throwing some words on this interweb machine, and seeing if I end up covering all the seemingly random things I’ve been thinking about.
First: I’ve been thinking a lot about Fight Club, both the movie and the book. Unlike most books and movie adaptations, these don’t seem to exist independently of each other because, despite their differences, the book and film are strikingly similar. I’ve been thinking about Fight Club a lot simply because they are fucking great works of art. In my undergrad, I wrote a number of essays on Fight Club, and each time I surprised myself with how badly I misunderstood it. God, I wanted to be Tyler Durden so badly. Who wouldn’t, though? Dude basically said, “Fuck the world, let’s start a pointless revolution!” and suffered no consequences, but I guess that’s a lot easier to do when you’re not a real person. Only after I realized that Tyler is essentially Fight Club’s villain did I really understand it. I say essentially because yes, the consumerism and masculine identities raged against in Fight Club are also villains. We shouldn’t want to be like Tyler Durden, but we shouldn’t want to be like Jack, Joe, Cornelius, Rupert, or whatever the narrator’s name might actually be. The point is to find a balance between the two (and their values), otherwise you end up like Heath Ledger’s Joker or at the top of a skyscraper watching buildings crumble on top of explosives you created:
What a beautiful ending. It’s perfect, really. It’s also beautiful and perfect because it’s a direct rip-off of this ending:
which is also beautiful and perfect because it’s a rip-off of Hemingway’s ending to The Sun Also Rises:
“Oh Jake,” Brett said, “we could have had such a damned good time together.”
Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic. He raised his baton. The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me.
“Yes.” I said. “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”
I also find it funny that the movie would take inspiration (however indirectly) from The Sun Also Rises when Chuck Palahniuk admits Fight Club is essentially an updated version of The Great Gatsby. Hemingway and Fitzgerald are sometimes inseparable in my head because of their friendship, which I imagine involved a lot of drinking, teasing, punching, maybe some tickling, and a ridiculous amount of passive aggression. For example, Hemingway might do something like write an essay about meeting Fitzgerald that may or may not be completely untrue and publish it in A Moveable Feast. The authors’ relationship may not have been so different than Tyler and “Jack."
Fight Club as an updated Gatsby has always intrigued me as well, and I think it’s because Tyler Durden is basically the antithesis of Jay Gatsby, even though both fragmented personalities were manufactured to pick up unattainable women. Rather than explaining Tyler would burn all the money Gatsby was so bent on acquiring, I’ll assume you all get it. Instead, I’ll point out how ironic it is that Fight Club initially reentered my brainspace because it suddenly began popping up all over my Tumblrverse. Tumblr (and the internet in general) is cause for all kinds of identity fragmentation.
People create online identities for a number of reasons, and some online identities are in no way related to the actual person. The internet makes it possible to present yourself in the way you want to be seen instead of the way you see yourself when, in reality, the truth is probably somewhere in between. I often wonder if people younger than myself negotiate these worldwide webs better than I do because the internet has always been confusing their mindgrapes. (Which is why I found the Frontline documentary "Growing Up Digital” interesting).
Who guys are in
fight club Tumblr is not who they are in the real world. Even if you told the kid in the copy center that he had a good fight you totally loved that picture he posted of dancing puppies, you wouldn’t be talking to the same man.
I don’t think I present a different image of myself to the online community than the one I present in person, but I could also be wrong. With me, it’s more a matter of withholding information. I self-censor in ways I normally wouldn’t while speaking face to face. (I don’t self-censor on the phone because I am almost completely unable to function on a telephone.) Interweb me is almost completely devoid of any mention of work, simply because there are few good things to say about my job. This is stupid. I say nothing about how unhappy my current job is in fear that prospective employers might see it and not want to hire me. If my current experience barely transfers to any other workplace, why should anything else? (That’s an exaggeration, and that declaration of hyperbole isn’t quite self-censorship but points out that I thought about not typing it). My current situation sucks so much that it’s hard to believe anyone when they tell me it gets better. But yes, I know they’re right.
Here’s a little nugget of information for you, internet, that not everyone in real life knows about me: I am crazy scared of water. Put me in the ocean, a lake, or even a pond, and I’ll have an anxiety attack. It won’t happen right away, though. The pleasure comes before the panic. Sooner or later though, I won’t be able to handle it. It’s hard to explain, but it feels a little bit like swimming through cement.
This video has been floating around the internet for awhile, and I could watch it a million times without easing any of the anxiety it gives me:
[Edit: This is a gif of the video. The embed no longer works for some reason. This gif adequately illustrates what I am getting at. The full video can be seen HERE.]
I both admire and fear everything going on in this video. It reminds me of a recurring dream I have that seems to come up when I am unhappy. In it, I jump off a cliff, and below me is ocean. That’s the whole dream: I jump, I fall, and I wake up scared as hell. It’s the type of dream stereotypical therapists in shitty movies ask about, and it’s the type of dream that is so stupid that stereotypical characters in shitty movies respond by telling the therapist he’s wasting everyone’s time. It’s also somehow become what I think about when I can’t sleep. It calms me down because I realize it reminds me that nothing is accomplished without taking risks. It makes me feel small, but like a small thing that aspires to be huge.
The internet is full of things that make me feel small in this pleasant way. I suppose that’s why we have Tumblrs and blogs and all the other stuff. Molly Lambert might agree, though she might use some different terminology. But the internet isn’t that different from the real world. It’s just a device that brings the real world to us. The internet does allow me to ramble on for 1000+ words about Fight Club and the ocean without making a whole bunch of sense. It’s easy to drown in the internet. My goal is not to drown, but to rise up like an angry ship eating monster bear.