The film ” follows, to some degree of accuracy, the archetypal paradigm of the apocalyptic guidelines discussed in English 3910. Specifically the movie mostly deals with the genre of the personal apocalypse. Thus, following suit in relation to such works as ‘Lancelot’, ‘The Violent Bear it away’ and ‘Apocalypse Now’. ‘Fight Club’, essentiality contains the basic premise of these works, that is the purging of one’s identity through extreme measures and crisis; to ultimately arrive at a personal revelation in the end. Like ‘Apocalypse Now’, the audience is lead by narration to give a reflecting insight into the apocalyptic journey of young professional named Jack. Jack works a regular nine to five office job for an insurance company and suffers from insomnia.
He finds his cure in attending support groups for the mortally afflicted. One of the first groups he attends is a testicular cancer group and discovers, through an exercise referred to as “pairing up” (to share brotherly emotion with your fellow mortally afflicted), that crying with and hugging these people makes him feel better. He, although he does not have testicular cancer, is spiritual impotent and this group allows him to fill that void in his life. He gets addicted to this, and begins attending different support groups everyday, his faking becomes his foma, he knows like the, that his new “religion” is lies. “I didn’t say anything,” he explains as he forges a series of diseases. “They always assumed the worst.” Nonetheless, his search for tears and experiencing other people’s pain gave meaning to his identity.
“Live by the foma that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy (‘the books of Bokonon 1: 5′, Vonnegut, 1963).” Jack has no trouble weeping in these strangers’ arms until he meets another phony, Marla, a support-group “tourist” and a reflection of himself that he finds objectionable. She claims to like the emotional workout of being with these people, which is “cheaper than a movie.” However, when Marla abruptly begins to attend all the meetings he is attending. He becomes irritated by her presence because she is a fraud too and doesn’t belong in his. Her company reminds him that he is impostor and he doesn’t like that. They workout a deal where they split the days up between them. She gets the breast cancer and emphysema group while he takes the testicular cancer group etc…
Nevertheless, Marla becomes apart of Jack’s kar ass. After a month or two, the feeling of identity he gets from the support groups wears off and he begins to develop insomnia again. Unable to sleep, he volunteers to travel and represent his company abroad. Unaffected by jet lag he begins to enjoy arriving at a new destination every morning. Consequently he avoids experiencing the torturous night in which he can’t sleep. The pivotal moment in his life occurs on his flight back to his home in LA.
On the plane he meets Tyler Durden, who introduces himself as a soap manufacturer. When they land in LA, they exchange business cards. Soon after his encounter with Durden, he arrives at his condo only to step over a burnt piece of his couch, to be greeted by a fireman, explaining to him that his apartment blew up. “You left the gas on and something in your apartment sparked the explosion.” In shock, Jack agonizes, “Everything I had was in there, I had my couch my matching plates and neat glasses, my life was in that apartment!” This explosion becomes the defining moment that begins his personal apocalypse. He is a man purged of identity by fire. Like Lancelot and young Tarwater, his former self is destroyed by a catastrophic event marked by flames.
His new path begins when he finds Durden’s business card, with no place to go he calls him. The two meet outside a bar and sit talking over a couple of beers. Jack explains his situation and asks Durden if he could stay with him until he gets his life on track. Durden agrees, but in return asks Jack a very odd question.
“Hit me in the face, I’ve never been in a fight before, please as hard as you can,” Durden points to his jaw. After pleading with him, Jack finally agrees and punches him, only to be punched back, in the stomach. “You said to punch you, I didn’t know you were going to hit me back, ouch… wait… that felt good, could you do that again?” The pain he felt from being hit gave him a visceral feeling of pleasure that made him feel alive.
Therefore, Durden shows Jack the power and ecstasy of allowing the bestial nature within him to act without restraint. Resembling the relationship between Willard and Klutz in ‘Apocalypse Now’, Durden and Jack can be seen as doubles. Only like Kurtz, Durden is aware of his dark side and accepts and nourishes it, while Jack like Willard are restricted by their institutions, but all the while they posses an impulse to let go. With Durden, Jack finally lets go. Jack ends up staying with Durden in an abandoned house, and fighting him every night in the bar parking lot. Others begin to watch the spectacle every night, and some eventually join.
Thus, ‘Fight Club’, begins and Jack and Durden create their own. “The first rule of Fight Club is that you don’t talk about Fight Club, the second rule of Fight Club is you don’t talk about Fight Club.” Jack’s new religion develops its own foma with the phrase “stop beating your self up.” Fight Club’s motto demands, no, start beating yourself up. Be upset. Get angry until your blood boils and take your heartbeat back. Like Bokonism, whose members willingly outlaw they ” re own religion to give it meaning and purpose, the members of fight club willingly embrace pain to give meaning to their lives. The aching and loss of blood become signifies to Jack that he is alive.
Before he met Durden, Jack lived in a world with little pain and no loss of blood and as a result he felt empty. Take for example, the ‘Dr. Strangelove character, Jack D. Ripper, who saves his essence and enthusiastically channels it into an atomic bomb to combat the feeling of purposelessness he suffers from. Jack’s compliance to draw blood and the blood of others, becomes a controlled way of releasing his life essence, to a similar effect. Also, like both Jack D.
Ripper and Jack the Ripper, Jack denies his ‘essence’ to women. Thus, not only does Fight Club define his identity it also servers to give him a sense of control over his life. As the club grows in number, Durden takes on the role of leader, and slowly the Fight Club grows into an anti-institutional, anti-pop culture and anti-society organization. ‘It’s only after we ” ve lost everything that we ” re free to do anything,’ he says, sounding very apocalyptic. Durden takes on a Christ-like ego, implying that through him people can be saved of world gone corrupt.
Eventually, Fight Club evolves into a militia cult and begins, under Durden’s instructions, committing acts of terrorism. Durden becomes obsessed with cleansing the world of everything that defines modern civilization, especially consumerism. He says, “the things you own, end up owning you.” It becomes clear now that it was Durden who set fire to Jack’s apartment, to free him of the chains of materialism. Out of Durden’s supply of soap, which is made from the fat of lips-suction patients (that he steals from the garbage disposals of hospitals), explosives are created and used to purge LA. This notion of unwanted fat symbolizes the vanity and insecurity of a materialistic world. Durden uses what society rejects, the members of fight club as well as the unwanted fat of Southern Californians, to purify the society that discards them.
Just as the Branch Dravidians and the Heavens Gate cult, whose members like Fight Club are people looking for identity and meaning in their lives, Durden use his members to bring upon his vision of apocalypse. Nevertheless, the soap epitomizes a cleansing instrument, however it is also used, to cleanse the world for Durden’s apocalyptic message. Therefore, this image that soap takes on becomes the fuel for the coming apocalypse. This duality of soap is also recognizable in the national poster advertising the movie, which has a bloodied bar of soap, with the words fight club engraved in it.
Jack begins to question Durden and the Fight Club, whose status has reached every city across the US, when a member, a friend of his, dies during a mission of terrorism that Durden ordered. He comes to the conclusion that because of Durden’s mind control, none of the Fight Club members grows stronger or freer. Instead they ” re reduced to pathetic cultists. He realizes the foma of his and that’s when Durden suddenly and unexpectedly disappears. He vanishes because Durden and Jack are one.
All along he was acting as both. Like the satanic voice inside young Tarwater’s head, Durden devilishly guided Jack to his personal apocalypse. Unable to undo the chaos of his demonized double, Jack tries to alert the police about the next act of terrorism that is about to occur. Durden has instructed the members to blow up the national credit building, so that every man will owe nothing and hence begin their life over at zero. However, Jack is unaware that the police are apart of his and that Durden has told them that he would go to them and reveal their plans.
The police respond to Jack, “you are a genius, you predicted that you would come to us and reveal project mayhem, and when you did we must cut off your balls.” Here the element of a prophecy being fulfilled enters into the apocalyptic equation. Therefore, like a true prophet in the apocalyptic tradition, Durden has set a date for his followers of when ‘project mayhem’ will occur. However, he is a false prophet, because like Marshall Apple white, he has coaxed his followers to force the apocalyptic event upon them. Also, offering himself up for his is very similar to the position that Bokonon takes.
Thus, all the elements that have become synonymous with the end times begin to occur during the film’s end. In the finale Jack is confronted by Durden, he reappears just in time before his apocalyptic vision is fulfilled. The destruction of the credit building is inevitable at this moment. However, Jack decides that Durden must be destroyed, he puts the gun in his mouth, seeing suicide as the only way out. The gunshot eludes his skull and enters out of his cheek, cracking his eye socket and grazing his ear. Durden, however, does not survive.
Finally, Jack has destroyed his inner demon and realizes that life is worth living for. Fortunately for Jack he was able to survive his personal apocalypse. The closing scene of the film has Jack and Marla, side by side, looking on as the national credit building explodes in flames. With their debt they owed to the material world purged to zero, they head off in a fresh direction as the new Adam and Eve.
Like Willard in ‘Apocalypse Now’, Jack’s revelation at the end of his hellish journey is left unclear and complex. In the voice of his narration, perhaps there is a conclusion: “You are not your job. You are not how much you have in the bank. You are not the contents of your wallet. You are not your khakis. You are not a beautiful unique snowflake.
What happens when you can’t sleep? What happens then is there’s a gun in your mouth. And what happens next is you meet Tyler Durden. Let me tell you about Tyler. He had a plan. In Tyler we trusted. Tyler says self-improvement is masturbation.
Tyler says-self-destruction might be the answer.” Conceivably, there is a Tyler Durden inside the soul of us all waiting to be called. “I’m simply what you needed and wanted,” Durden said the moment Jack realized they were the same person. Director of ‘Apocalypse Now’, Francis Ford Coppa la said it best in an interview during the release of his movie, “I believe that the end was always about choice.”.