One book that I recently read is Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club. While reading I noticed some themes that were relevant to our course. First, as presented in My Year Of Meats, there is the idea of the American Dream. In both works, the American Dream is a contrived idea that is often more or less unattainable in genuine reality, one that is characterized by the importance of material possession. In the case of Palahniuk’s work, we see a generation of men emasculated and unable to reach the standard of the ideal, masculine American male. Like the narrator, many work unfulfilling monotonous desk jobs serving the “Man”. Raised by their mothers, they are the castrated men of the 90’s. As a result of this they are unable to find a true personal identity and become identical pathetic copies of one another. They search for comfort in a carefully constructed consumerist product moulded for a carefully constructed desperate consumer, (example, Ikea furniture) further feminizing themselves within a domestic sphere, a theme which I found reminiscent of Horkeimer and Adorno’s ideas.
The actual Fight Club made by Tyler, the narrator’s alternate personality, serves as a revolt against this consumerist emasculation. All men are equal in Fight Club. They are not judged by how many of what in which colour they own. Fight Club allows the emasculated man to become the strong, dominant male yet again.
At the same time, Fight Club itself becomes a commodity. Like any chain brand, it begins to pop up all over the country. Suddenly everything comes free to the narrator. Ultimately, he becomes a hypocritical version of the consumerism/capitalism which his alternate personality sought to destroy. And so he shoots himself, destroying his alternate personality and rendering himself a mental patient. Controlled by the Man and yet free of all material possession, the narrator becomes a convergent representation of both his and Tyler’s views: comfort in passivity and revolution by destroying the need for capitalism and product.