In the world I see - you are stalking elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rockefeller Center. You'll wear leather clothes that will last you the rest of your life. You'll climb the wrist-thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Tower. And when you look down, you'll see tiny figures pounding corn, laying strips of venison on the empty car pool lane of some abandoned superhighway.
This is the vision of the future possesed by the nihilistic/neo-luddite/anarcho-primitivist character Tyler Durden in the book and movie Fight Club.
It's a truly great film, and I recommend watching it, if only to see what all the fuss is about. I was logged onto Amazon and ordering a copy of the book practically as soon as the credits rolled.
But there's something about the above quote that makes it stick in my mind more than anything else in the film. It's the hook, it's the part that plays over and over in one's head, ocassionally summoning up images of the rest of the film.
Maybe it's the fusion of familiar icons of the present Consumer Capitalist society with a bizarre, neo-primeval future world, albeit one that is oh-so-plausible. Maybe it's because it's one of the few places where Tyler expresses a creative, positive, visionary aspect of his philosophy, rather than a negative and destructive one. Maybe it's just a really cool idea.
I am currently a member of an internet forum about nihilism - with some of the posters actively wishing to bring down the current system to create such a world as the one described. I personally would hesitate to describe myself as a nihilist, and think that living in a wealthy capatilist country isn't such a bad lot. But between terrorism, overpopulation, environmental damage, climate change, religous fundamentalism, oil crises and more, post-industrial civilisation could well be on the way out. If it does manage to survive and continue on it's current trajectory, the majority of humanity could well rapture themselves off into orbital cities, leaving the Earth as a huge park. Or, perhaps more likely, the great advances of the twenty-first century will be entirely leisure orientated, creating an eloi-occupied world where kudzu-clad glass-and-metal ruins will be the only reminder of the labour ages.
At any rate, the best plan is to enjoy the pleasures of the modern world while they last, while making preparations to survive when it all gets totally fucked; or even better, plans to thrive in a post-apocalyptic world.
Examples of useful things to do on such lines would be the gathering of all useful human knowledge in a long-lasting, easily-stored, easily-read format, creating technology that can be easily built from salvaged junk, and the cultivation of superweeds that require no effort to grow but have many uses.
One such weed that already exists is the above-mentioned kudzu vine. It's a Japanese vine that grows pretty much anywhere that it is introduced, and is considered a problem because it kills all other plants that it covers (such as crops and forests). However, it can be used as an animal feed, as a salad, and the roots can be eaten as any root vegetable; it can also be used to make jelly and syrup, soup and pudding, soap and lotion; it's good for basket-weaving; ethanol can be extracted for use as a fuel; it has been used a traditional Chinese medicine (where it is one of the 50 fundamental herbs), and, perhaps most importantly, it both increases the effect of alcohol on the body, while reducing the effects of hangovers. All that needs to be done is for the vines to be usable as high-speed broadband lines, and we probably won't need to worry about the end of the world as we know it, as long as we have our kudzu. It'll certainly be a better use for the Sears Tower.