In light of the review of Revolver I’ve decided to review one of my other favorite psychological movies/books that has always intrigued me and that is Fight Club. Fight Club taught me to think for myself and challenge social norms that might not be in our best interest and to therefore transcend ego limitations. (This review will be based off the film since I don’t have the book with me at this time)
The movie is focused around Robert Norton’s character ‘the narrator’ or ‘Jack’ going through continual life crisis situations to be liberated of all ego attachments with the help of a cunning guide, Brad Pitt, as Tyler Durden.
In the beginning we clearly see Jack is addicted to his external ego identifications and discusses how his possessions make up the sense of ‘who I am’. He specifically demonstrates this when mentioning how he would look through the Ikea catalog looking for items that defined him and represented who he believed himself to be. If it was something clever and his ego agreed with it he had to have it. He also blatantly states, “what type of dining set defines me as a person.” All of this is the epitome of primitive ego identity based in materialism and external identities. Thus Jack readily identities with his possessions and body as the sense of self and therefore is a slave to the system – the hamster wheel of consumerism.
Next we see Jack becomes addicted to support groups and crying with others in order to alleviate the feelings of emptiness and meaninglessness regarding his life. Materialism and addiction to form is completely empty and fleeting thus the ego’s suffering is guaranteed and all satisfaction is never lasting. Then through being in the presence of those severely suffering Jack realizes the power of surrender and falling deeply into the moment and releasing all attachments. He allows himself to truly feel and realizes that he’s become numb to what really matters in life. The following lines are clear examples of this transition taking place.
“Losing all hope was freedom…”
“Every evening I died and was reborn again.”
These two lines are specifically referring to the ego’s surrender and the feeling of rebirth/healing as Jack’s inner Self was coming forth to be recognized. Jack would get lost in compassion for the people he was suffering with as well as letting himself feel sorry for himself and accept compassion. Yet just as Jack is finding peace in comes another impostor, Marla. “Her lie reflected my lie, and suddenly I felt nothing, I couldn’t cry, so once again I couldn’t sleep.”
Jack’s annoyance with Marla is a perfect example of how the ego makes an enemy of anything that challenges it and brings it to the surface to be addressed. Also it shows the concept of how we only react to something that is also within ourselves. Instead of accepting it and making progress by coming into the present moment and thus transcending the ego we continue to repress our ego desires/qualities and thus project it out onto others in the form of perceived enemies, irritation, and reactivity. So in this case instead of Jack accepting his behavior and honestly addressing it with himself he becomes irritated by Marla because his ego wants to blame her for making him numb/suffer again. The irony being that no suffering is actually necessary, Jack doesn’t need to lie to the support groups in order to feel and love himself yet at this stage his ego is still projecting meaning onto external things so he doesn’t know any better. This of course is the illusion since the peace and love he was feeling was technically coming from within.
Interesting line on the ego’s desire for attention and approval as well as teaching of the importance of presence:
“When people really think you’re dying they really listen to you instead of just waiting for their turn to speak.” This is a wonderful demonstration of how the ego mind is unable to be present with someone because it’s too busy constantly editing reality based on its own vanity of perception and opinion as well as anticipating the future. The ego mind is often too concerned with other things outside of the present moment, such as while talking with someone else it is usually already thinking of what to say next. The ego mind is incapable of truly listening to another because this would require it to silence its own vanity in order to offer presence to another. This however takes radical humility, which is the source of the dissolution of the ego as we shall see continues to present itself as a source of healing for Jack.
Another favorite line that draws attention to this notion of humility and being present in the moment is: “This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time.” Thus Jack is pointing out every moment is so precious and he finds himself just going along working his job that he doesn’t enjoy and just doing things that he feels he ‘has to’ making him feel numb, lost, and disconnected from living. Jack feels he isn’t even alive as if he’s helplessly watching as his life ‘ticks away’. The constant travel and change Jack goes through is symbolic of his inner reality of being ungrounded and consumed by the ego’s endless searching that will never actually be satisfied, hence he feels his life is passing him by. And just as he is starting to sense a need for liberation, the teacher presents himself.
In comes Tyler Durden-
Jack loses his suitcase at which point he states how he had everything in that suitcase and then lists all his status brand clothing that define his ego’s identity and give him a sense of completion, fulfillment, and superiority. Then when arriving home from business travel Jack finds his apartment had an explosion inside and destroyed all of his material possessions. This along with the suitcase shows that Jack is starting from absolute scratch and he had to immediately let go of all material attachments. This is the first step in his liberation from the ego or in other words his external investments/identity. Thus his journey of transcendence begins as he aligns with his liberator, Tyler, who he calls after finding out about his apartment.
Jack and Tyler at the Bar:
Jack tells Tyler how he was so close to being perfect, so close to being complete based on his possessions, furniture, stereo system, wardrobe, etc. Tyler’s reply is that it’s meaningless and just says “shit man now it’s all gone, hmm, all gone…” in a very nonchalant, carefree tone, implying that it doesn’t really matter. Tyler then discusses how we’re consumers, by-products of a life-style obsession that has nothing to do with our actual survival. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don’t concern Tyler, what concerns him is television with 500 channels, celebrity magazines, branding of clothing, pharmaceuticals, etc. Tyler continues, “I say stop being perfect, I say stop trying to be complete, I say lets evolve, let the chips fall where they may.” This last statement is clearly a truth regarding evolution only continuing through surrendering that which no longer serves us. It is the ego and its attachments that hinder all evolution and maturity and therefore Tyler is drawing immediate attention to the issue at hand – ego vanity. For it is only the ego and its vanity that is capable of creating and upholding such a consumer system of complete meaninglessness.
“It’s okay it’s just stuff…”-Jack
“Well you did lose a lot of versatile solutions for modern living.” -Tyler
“My insurance will most likely cover it…[pause]…what?” – Jack
“The things you own, end up owning you, but do what’ca like man.” -Tyler
This whole conversation is quite significant and clearly demonstrates the ridiculousness of our modern, ego created, culture and the emphasis of obsession with materialism/external approval. Tyler is tapping into a profound truth when he mentions that we should evolve and let the chips fall where they may for in so doing we let go of seeking control and therefore allow the ego’s attachments to dissolve. Tyler is essentially pointing out that transcendence comes through the power of surrender and letting go of constantly trying to ‘reach completion’, which in not even a possibility anyway. Life is an eternal evolution…
Leaving the bar Tyler asks Jack to hit him as hard as he can. This is Tyler seeking to destroy the ego’s attachment/investment in the body and vanity. Tyler and Jack use fighting as their source of feeling alive in a world where so many are completely numb from the monotony of modern society. Due to all the entertainment distractions people are never truly present or alive, always occupied with egoic thought and endless pursuits of an ultimately unfulfilling nature. Whereas through fighting one is forced into the moment, for any slip of losing focus would most likely result in pain or injury from the opponent. Society is generally safe now which means the ego can have larger control over the mind since there isn’t any immediate danger to stay present for. This is what Tyler and Jack discover… the infinite presence during fighting is the Divine, the feeling alive that they discuss is the feeling of being present in the moment, free of egoic incessant thought. This same concept applies to all sports and extreme hobbies. In rock climbing, surfing, football, hang gliding, skiing, and so forth, one has to maintain present or else it could mean injury or death. Within the radical present there can be no suffering only an intense sense of aliveness and a recognition of life’s profound fleeting nature. No ‘moment’ will ever be the same again for life is ephemeral and thus it is only wise to stay as completely present in honor of each passing creation of the universe. After fighting for a while Jack and Tyler revel in their liberation together before heading home.
Jack then decides to move in with Tyler who lives in a dilapidated abandoned house. This is his next challenge of the ego’s need to be approved of by yet another investment/identity(i.e. a nice house). Jack at this point now has not only ‘given up’ all possessions but also accepted complete humility by choosing to stay with Tyler in such unfavorable conditions. Yet for some reason he feels he’s okay with it.
In reflection on Jack’s newfound sense of liberation from embracing his novel lifestyle he realizes, “When I came home angry or depressed I just cleaned my condo, polish my Scandinavian furniture. I should have been looking for a new condo. I should have been haggling with my insurance company. I should’ve been upset about my nice, neat flaming little shit… but I wasn’t.”
“Monday morning’s all I could think about is next week.” Jack has become addicted to the experience and feeling of fighting not because of the physical aspect of it, but for the psychological and spiritual high it is facilitating. This is demonstrated when Jack says in reference to Fight Club, “you weren’t alive anywhere like you were there. Who you were in Fight Club is not who you were in the rest of the world.” Here we get to see Jack openly note that the identity with the world is not relevant or who we truly are, for when fighting and in that presence there emerged a different sense of self, somehow more powerful and free. Unfortunately at this point Jack is still projecting his power externally onto Fight Club which keeps him from staying present in his everyday life and embracing the wisdom available. This shows us how his ego has simply attached to a new external obsession or identity, i.e. fighting, rather than completely abandoning all limiting identities in order to maintain his liberated state.
“I felt sorry for guys packed into gyms trying to look like Clavin Kline or Tommy Hillfiger said they should.” This would be an example of the ego’s attachment to the body in the form of vanity. In Fight Club it’s about being able to fight and use what you have not about looking good or sexy. It doesn’t matter if your body is beautiful if you still get your ass kicked by someone who is ugly. This is what Jack is referring to when discussing this concept of working out in the gym. He also asks Tyler, “is that what a real man looks like?” This is a challenge to the ego in that it rejects the need to seek external approval based on looks or social acceptance.
“Fight Club wasn’t about winning or losing, it wasn’t about words… when the fight was over, nothing was solved, but nothing mattered. Afterwards, we all felt saved.” Once again Jack openly discusses the experience as being a source of salvation and again he’s referring to the aliveness/present-centered awareness that comes from fighting. He also mentions how there is nothing to gain, win, accomplish, solve, and ultimately nothing matters which is quite an enlightened statement. He’s referring to the fact that only the ego is concerned with such things and without an ego suddenly life just is… with nothing else needing to be changed.
Jack loses a tooth to which Tyler replies, “hey even the Mona Lisa’s falling apart.” Clearly the body is of no significance in Tyler’s mind since it is completely fleeting and irrelevant.
At this point Jack gives us a perfect example of the resourcefulness of the ego and its ability to continuously attach itself to anything available. The ego will attach itself to anything it can to form an identity to/with. For example, even though Jack doesn’t indulge in all his old external gratifications he simply shifted and now finds his identity through being counter-culture and a fighter. In order to help Jack continue his evolution Tyler tries to make Jack see his attachment to being special somehow is a vanity and limited. Which he specifically confronts later in the movie. Nevertheless at this point Jack says to Marla, “this is my house, what are you doing in my house?” This just shows how Jack has simply shifted his egoic identity to the rebel he has become instead of his old identity that he had created.
“I got in everyone’s hostile little face, yes these are bruises from fighting, yes I’m okay with that, I am enlightened.” Jack is showing that he doesn’t care what people think of him, he has transcended his ego’s need for social approval. He thinks he’s liberated but in reality his ego is actually still intact it’s just evolving and becoming more sophisticated. Tyler knows this and thus will continue to destroy his attachments.
Tyler hints to Jack:
During a conversation with the police regarding Jack’s apartment explosion Tyler says to Jack, “Tell him, tell him the liberator who destroyed my property has realigned my perception… Reject the basic assumption of civilization, especially the importance of material possessions.” Tyler here is obviously identifying himself as Jack’s liberator and is beginning to hint to Jack that it was in fact Tyler who’s been behind it all. As Jack’s conversation with the investigator continues he shifts gears into focusing on his loss and thus says, “That was not just a bunch of stuff that got destroyed, it was me!” Jack not caring about his possessions being lost is especially curious to the investigator and so for a moment here he pretends to be his old self who actually defined himself through his possessions in order to avoid suspicion.
The Lye burn:
Now that Jack has accepted his surrender of attachment to materialism next Tyler moves on to teach Jack to truly let go of all fear of pain, injury, and ultimately death of the body. He gives Jack a burn on his hand that “will hurt worse than you’ve ever been burned and you will have a scar.”
“Stay with the pain, don’t shove to center. Look at your hand, the first soap was made from the ashes of heroes, like the first monkeys shot into space. Without pain, without sacrifice, we would have nothing… stop it, this is your pain, this is your burning hand it’s right here!”(Jack is trying to use meditation to go out of the moment and detach from the pain. Tyler is forcing him to stay present in the moment and accept it as it is)
Jack pleads, “I get the point! Ok, please!”
To which Tyler responds, “no, what you’re feeling is premature enlightenment. This is the greatest moment of your life man and you’re off somewhere missing it! [Tyler slaps Jack] Shut up! Our fathers were our models for God. If our fathers bailed…What does that tell you about God?… Listen to me. You have to consider the possibility that God does not like you, He never wanted you. In all probability He hates you. This is not the worst thing that can ever happen. We don’t need Him. Fuck damnation man, Fuck redemption, we are God’s unwanted children? so be it!” Tyler than tells Jack how to neutralize the burn but first he has to give up.. “First you have to know, not fear, know, that someday you’re going to die… It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.” Jack eventually accepts the moment and the pain while he calmly watches his hand burn, at this point Tyler gives him the vinegar and neutralizes the burn.
Here we see Jack transcending the ego’s attachment to the body by accepting that it’s inevitably going to die one day as well as embracing and accepting pain rather than trying to run from it. Tyler is making him be present with his pain and inevitable decay and thus accepting the demise of the ego. The statement ‘it’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything’ is symbolic of losing the ego self and thus going beyond all fear (the ego is the source of all fear). This was also paralleled by Christ’s teaching of one must lose oneself in order to find one’s Self (God). Yet as enlightening as this all may seem, we also see Tyler’s motives and spiritual outlook surface that are based on a rejection of God and anarchy in society. We’ll discuss Tyler’s ideals later.
Attachment to Fight Club
We see that Jack has become identified with and attached to Fight Club when Bob, another member, mentions that Tyler Durden is the creator and is an amazing man instead of acknowledging Jack as the creator as well. This irritates Jack in a small way because he’s being overlooked. Jack’s ego has now formed identity through being a counter-culture rebel and a co-creator of Fight Club. Thus, we see his ego is still intact even though he has abandoned the societal norm. This concept is important to understand because a lot of ‘spiritual’ people think that by rejecting social norms they are freeing themselves but in actuality their just changing prisons if they are still attached to the fact that they’re ‘spiritual’ and thus don’t need modern advances. Christ said to be in the world but not of it. This means that one can take advantage of all the amazing gifts of technology and modern society without being attached to it. It is only the attachment that is relevant, asceticism is only useful in demonstrating a point, it is not meant as a final realization/state, hence Buddha’s discovery of the middle way. In other words the wealthy man can also be a man of Christ Consciousness there is no reason why the two can’t co-exist.
“I see in Fight Club, the strongest and smartest men that have ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables, slaves with white collars. Advertising has its taste in cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War, no Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war. Our Great Depression, is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”
Tyler gives this speech to the members of Fight Club about how society has failed them and that they have been misled by the media. We want to believe we can achieve anything we want and that all are capable of greatness but in reality these men are stuck working meaningless jobs, are poor, and always struggling to keep up. He also mentions how advertising is constantly trying to sell more and more and tell people that they’re not complete unless they purchase whatever it is they’re selling. This is a great point that Tyler brings up in regards to consumerism and it’s absurdity and attack on our sense of self. Tyler is transcendent of the system and believes it to be completely backwards and unnecessary. He desires to set people free from the consumer/ego culture that has been created by the capitalist system and return to a state of anarchy and equality without a social hierarchy.
Start a fight and lose. This is a test of the ego’s need to be superior and dominant. By starting a fight you’re implying that you can win but then letting the other person beat you shows that you are letting yourself be dominated/inferior to another ego. As pointed out in Revolver, the ego’s transcendence is through humility and humiliation.
Tyler holds the subject at gun point and basically asks him what his passion and interests in life are. Ramon’s is to be a veterinarian but he stopped going to school and works an aimless job instead. Tyler tells him that if he doesn’t change his life and follow his passions then he will kill him in 6 weeks. Tyler is attempting to liberate Ramon from his fear of failure by using the greater fear of death. Tyler is using the ego’s biggest fear (future/unknown – death) to force Ramon into the present moment and to live the life he wants instead of giving up on his dreams and settling for less. Once again we see how Tyler would rather use fear as a motivator than love. However, fear as he is using it can be useful to help force certain people out of apathy and defeat and become present much like near death experiences. The choice becomes radically simple – either awaken or die… “Tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of Ramon K Hassel’s life, his breakfast will taste better than any meal you and I have ever tasted.”
“No fear, no distractions, the ability to let that which does not matter truly slide.” – Always particularly loved this line signifying true ego liberation… the enlightened one is literally fearless. Krishna mentions this as well in the Bhagavad-Gita when discussing the one seated in Krishna Consciousness being an embodiment of fearlessness, unflinching courage, and free of all attachments.
Tyler gives us more perspective on his view of humanity and who we are:
“You’re not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fuckin’ khakis. You’re the all-singing all-dancing crap of the world.”
“Ready to sacrifice himself for the greater good.”
“Listen up maggots, you are not special, you are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everything else… We are the all-singing all-dancing crap of the world. We are all part of the same compost heap.”
Here we finally get to see Tyler’s true ideals come forth. We see that clearly Tyler believes in rejecting God and the Divinity of all beings. However, Tyler’s statements about not being your job, how much money you have, etc., are all very true statements and are statements that draw attention to the ego’s attachments and identity. Tyler also points out the fact that we are all the same, this also is universal truth, however, he believes we’re all the same in that we’re all just rotting organic matter slowly decaying each day. This may be true in the sense of our bodies but Tyler denies the soul, he denies the beauty and divinity of each individual and thus misses the point completely. Again, it becomes clear that Tyler rejects Divinity and uses fear and atheism as his motivators. More later.
“I am Jack’s inflamed sense of rejection.”
Jack’s ego surfaces at this point and shows its investment/attachment to Tyler’s approval and friendship. Upon seeing Tyler giving more credit, attention, and appreciation to Angel Face, Jack becomes extremely jealous and makes him his ‘enemy’. At the next Fight Club, Jack beats A.F. beyond recognition and almost kills him. During the beating Jack’s ego is venting all its repressed thoughts and feelings of frustration and anger “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.”
Afterwards Tyler asks, “Where’d you go psycho boy?” Jack replies, “I felt like destroying something beautiful.”
Jack’s ego is clearly lashing out and gives us a perfect example of how all anger and aggression is created by the ego. The ego uses one or perhaps a collection of frustrations, as seen here, to use as its reasoning as to why it’s justified for its actions. Thus, we see how the ego manufactures enemies in order to project its own self-hatred and unease out into the world as a way of externalizing the internal reality. By using blame/projection in this way the ego is able to separate itself from its own issues and therefore be victim rather than take responsibility. The ego believes in lack, separation, and rejection, all of which are an illusion.
The “Near Life Experience”:
After Jack’s fight with angel face, Jack and Tyler get into an argument about why Jack feels left out of Fight Club – now Project Mayhem. Jack feels betrayed that Tyler changed Fight Club without telling him and that he ‘owns’ Fight Club just as much as Tyler does. Tyler tells him “this is not about you and me, we are not special, Fight Club does not belong to us.” Tyler is swerving into oncoming traffic and Jack is frantically trying to grab the wheel. Tyler tells Jack that he’s pathetic, attached to his body and ego and to stop trying to control everything and just let go. Jack finally agrees and they let the wheel steer itself and soon collide with an abandoned car on the side of the road. They survive the crash and feel liberated once again by facing death and surviving. Tyler clearly has no regard for life and doesn’t care what happens. This is in congruence, of course, with his rejection of Divinity since Tyler believes we’re all just decaying matter without purpose. He seeks to destroy the current system of “slaves with white collars” and return humanity back to a state of anarchy and simple, natural living. Tyler’s ideals are fascinating in their ability to be full of truth and yet at other times completely based in ignorance such as denying God.
Tyler Leaves While Jack Recovers
After the crash Jack is in bed seemingly ‘recovering’ and Tyler wishes him well and then leaves. Jack’s ego identity is once again challenged and he feels abandoned and worthless due to his loss of Tyler. Once again, he’s missing the point that peace and happiness are within, yet the ego keeps projecting his identity and worth onto external things whether it be material objects (in the beginning), ideals such as counter-culture (second phase), or a person or people (relationships, third phase), in this case his relationship with Tyler. Throughout the film/book we see how Jack’s egoic identity keeps shifting from one thing to the next. Although Tyler has a major flaw in his ideals he still gives Jack countless opportunities to transcend the ego.
Jack then searches all over the country for Tyler and realizes that he can’t find him. “I’m looking for an invisible man.” This is a great metaphor of the ego’s pursuit of external happiness and peace that says search but never find, seek but you will always be seeking. Also the fact that in searching for the ego we will never actually find it because it doesn’t exist in the first place. The ego is an illusion and is simply a collection of belief systems that come to be accepted as true in defining ‘who I am’. So in searching for Tyler, Jack literally is trying to find himself, but metaphorically and also Tyler, as a huge source of his ego’s identity. In other words, Jack doesn’t know who he is without Tyler, his ego identity revolves around Tyler.
Transcendence of Separation/Duality
Accordingly, we finally find out that Jack is in fact Tyler Durden, the two of them have actually never been separate. Furthermore, Tyler is a projection of everything Jack wishes he could be and is literally an ‘alter ego’ and is another version of Jack’s projected values. This is the moment of realization for Jack as well as the realization of the ego’s identity within itself. Jack was looking for something outside himself that was always within him and always his own choice. This is the greatest truth of life that transcends all ego projections and brings infinite fulfillment in its completeness.
The ego projects all things externally whether it be enemies, value, or perceived happiness and therefore is always lacking, separate, and victim to the world/universe. Within duality all fulfillments are always from somewhere ‘out there’ instead of within and thus the ego lives in a constant existential angst. Yet the truth is, all is within, whether it be love, happiness, peace, passion, and even our perception of an enemy comes from within, thus the only real enemy is ourselves or at least, our own inherited ignorance of perception and unawareness. For in Reality all is perfect and unified, it is only the ego’s limited perceptions that hinder this realization.
It is our perceptions of reality that create our experience of it, there is nothing actually ‘out there’ happening as the ego believes it to be, such as the use of any labels of ‘bad’, ‘good’, ‘tragic’, ‘wonderful’, and so on. There is no such thing as an independent ‘objective’ reality, there is only subjective and thus all of life experience is solely radically within. There is no ‘world out there’ separate from ‘in here’. Thus all life only arises to us subjectively and is entirely internal. By having this demonstration of Jack and Tyler actually turning out to be the same person it shows perfectly the concept of all external reality simply being a projection of ourselves because in reality Tyler was Jack the entire time. All perception of him being separate was an illusion… well this is profound spiritual truth as well for all of us are the same Self in exactly the same way. We’re all projections of different aspects of our Self.
Once Jack realizes that Tyler is his own creation he becomes conscious of what he’s choosing and becomes, in a way, self-aware for the first time. He realizes that he has been denying himself through the ego’s association with “Tyler” who represents everything he thought he wished he could be. Instead of focusing on the qualities he desires and being them he projects them out into an imaginary person, Tyler who then serves as his source of ego fulfillment and identity.
With Jack’s new self-awareness he tries to turn himself into the police only to find that the police are all corrupt and a part of Project Mayhem as well. This shows how Jack’s true self does not have the same view on life as Tyler, he still respects ethics and Love otherwise he would continue the plans for anarchy and chaos that Tyler desires. Another thing that shows Jack’s ideals is that he tries to save Marla, he realizes that he cares about her and doesn’t want her to be hurt by ‘Tyler’. We see Jack’s conscience coming into play here and the rejection of his alter ego, Tyler.
Ironically Tyler is trying to destroy the credit system which is the system of the ego. The ego uses a hierarchy system of superiority and inferiority which is exactly what a monetary system perpetuates. We can conclude that Tyler’s concepts are truthful and enlightened but only to a certain extent. Tyler is enlightened in thinking in equality and that none of us are more special than the other but where his theories are misguided are that we are not ‘the all-singing crap of the world’ and worthless, instead we are all divine creative beings. Tyler is acting from a level of anarchy, separation, self-destruction, and fear. The same concepts applied with Love, self-governance, self-preservation through cooperation with our fellow human beings, unity, acceptance, and freedom of expression would lead to the most enlightened society we could ever imagine. Tyler is also enlightened in trying to escape the consumer culture and the social hierarchy created by capitalism yet his biggest misguidance is denying God as Love. Tyler rejects all form of Divinity and doesn’t value Life, Love, or God. The three words are synonymous. In a society based on Tyler’s ideals of abandoning social hierarchy but governing itself with love instead of fear, every individual would be free to express their highest passion and pursuits that ultimately contributes back to the whole.
If all are free to experience life without fear of scarcity and separation it changes the psyche of mankind in which all are satisfied and accountable to themselves rather than projecting onto external factors. People would then be free to do only what they love instead of what they ‘have to’. When people love what they’re doing they are then happy to share their talents for the betterment of all without payment, the payment is the inherit joy of sharing. Thus we have a system in which we do the things that bring us joy and fulfillment and our actions are infused with such love and appreciation that we then provide to others and share happiness and fulfillment. Say I really enjoy playing music and writing and it brings me joy, well if I don’t have to worry about ‘making ends meet’/basic needs or about being viewed as wealthy or powerful or placed in some other hierarchy than I am able to pursue my passion without hesitation. This generates amazing psychological freedom since there is no pressure or stress, thus creating masterpieces or at least happiness within myself that I then share with others. So as we allow ourselves to be free and express our passions for life we become full of happiness and abundance simply because we recognize every moment is a gift that we are sharing. This approach has innate to it love, acceptance, and gratitude for life.
Music and writing is an easy example because first of all, I receive joy from performing and writing but then also with sharing it, and others receive joy from my sharing. This is a perfect system of perpetual sharing of joy because after all each is doing what they love, the performer/writer and the listener/reader. Another great example is in scientists who are absolutely fascinated with learning as much as they can about their subject and share their findings with the world. We see that, it then becomes my best interest for you to be able to pursue all of your passions just as it’s important to you for me to pursue mine. We all need each other and with each others cooperation and unification we would be capable of absolutely anything. The world would become something we honestly could not even imagine because of its greatness and peace.
This is especially true seeing how throughout the history of mankind there has hardly ever been any point in time where there was not conflict or war somewhere on the planet. Yet it is easy to dream of a world where we all enjoy each others abilities and talents instead of seeking to compete with each other. However, it takes a certain level of maturity and consciousness, primarily that of unconditional love, for this to happen. Furthermore, it requires a relinquishment of the majority of ego attachments if not all of them. As long as the consciousness of humankind is based in egoic (lower/primitive levels of awareness) then we will continue to have ‘problems’ since all problems are only ego fabricated manifestations. Thus the evolution of humanity is the evolution of love through the dissolution of the false ego and therefore all its concordant dilemmas, fears, and vanities.
In this example we get to see Jack’s transcendence as he goes through various stages of ego attachment and self-identity in order to realize the limitations of all of them. To recap the ego’s progression, we see it went from attachment to materialism/external importance – body focused, to then counter-culture, specialness/exclusivity, to explorative/liberated ‘free-mind’, to eventual spiritual harmony through surrender of vanity and fear of death. The ego’s transcendence is a process of surrender and letting go of attachments in order to realize the fundamental core of our essential Self. Thus Jack strips himself of all ego identities in order to come to the conclusion of literally experiencing the ‘death of the ego’, which is the only real death ever possible. For life itself is eternal and in order to be truly fearless and liberated, Jack faced the fear of death with ‘eyes open’.
Jack’s inspired power is in the fact that he even possessed the courage to want to let go of his ego’s creations and attachments and dive into the unknown (life without the ego/’Tyler’). The movie gives us a useful example of this process as the ego seemed to ironically destroy and reveal itself through its own cleverness being uncovered. Ultimately the ego is an illusion so it’s inevitable that it will be realized as such. Thus the ego sought to be seen as worthless while Jack sought Truth of life as something of worth and meaning and summoned the strength to risk the death of the ego for the sake of liberation and salvation. Jack goes beyond his ego attachments and finds deliverance through the reconciliation with Marla and the affirmation to her that “you met me at an interesting time in my life.”
Hope this provided some insight and at least a different perspective on this wonderful art piece.
Wishing us Peace and Love always-
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