I watch Fight Club with a friend, a male friend, who likes it.

I guess the ending about three-quarters of the way through.

Spoilers now.

I guess that the depressed, ineffectual, unmanly anti-hero and the Leader, the Man, the Rebel, who has started the Fight Clubs, are the same person.

I do not see the movie as a rebellion against a culture that has feminized men.

I see the movie as a dysfunctional individuation, a classic mid-life crisis.

Ok, he wakes one day. Like Faust, he works and has nothing else. He has things. He has no wife nor children nor friends nor purpose nor anything that he loves. His life is cold and empty.

And then he happens on a person, a man, who is his ideal of a man and yet bad. Immoral. Rebellious. A fighter. Who calls him on crying, on his lack of purpose, on his weakness, on his lack of dreams. Oh, first he tries crying, but only as a liar. He goes to support groups, but he lies the whole time. And he meets a woman, his anima, who recognizes him as a liar. She is a liar too and admits it to herself. She laughs at him for being a liar. So he can't keep crying liar tears at support groups.

We never see the failure and the Real Man together. And they start a Fight Club, something real.

From a psychiatric stand point this is a classic failed individuation. A midlife crisis where the person cannot consciously look at their life. In a more successful individuation the person realizes that they have done what society and family have raised them to do, and now they want something else. They have to recover both the dark and the light, the gold, from their own unconscious. If they can't do it or if they resist, then they may act more like a Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde and flip back and forth from one persona to the other. The male homophobic Senator who is now texting young male pages. The man who suddenly divorces his wife, leaves his business and does something "crazy" and people say "but he's not like that." Well, actually he always has been like that, but it was supressed.

So he flips back and forth, from the repressed self to the conscious self, until he "wakes up" and the two are integrated. In real life this can be really really messy, of course. I asked a psychiatrist friend what happens when people continue to resist individuation. He says, "It is very unpleasant when someone has put it off or fought it into their 70s, 80s or 90s. They become very dysfunctional."

The usual time is in the 40s to 60s, though a crisis or family death can trigger it much younger. And I think it doesn't happen just once for most people. We learn a piece and then work with that and then go on to work the next piece... for our whole lives.

And so he IS fighting himself, through the whole movie. First he meets his anima, and then he flips back and forth with his animus.... He is fighting the knowledge of who he is and what he really wants. And what is the result? His world at the end is being destroyed: whole buildings blown up.

He will have to build a new world. Not the real world: his psyche. I read the whole movie as a picture of one male psyche, one that is self-destructing.

_______________ from dutchess 1/14/22:

None of the reviews of Fight Club that I've seen on E2 mention the fact that that Jack/Ed Norton's job requires him to weigh human life against the cost of an auto recall. I think that living with that complicity is what precipitates his nervous breakdown.

"The car crashes and burns with everyone trapped inside. Now, should we initiate a recall? Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one."

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