I’ve met God across his long walnut desk with his diplomas hanging on the wall behind him, and God asks me, “Why?” Why did I cause so much pain? Didn’t I realize that each of us is a sacred, unique snowflake of special unique specialness? Can’t I see how we’re all manifestations of love? I look at God behind his desk, taking notes on a pad, but God’s got this all wrong. We are not special. We are not crap or trash, either. We just are. We just are, and what happens just happens. And God says, “No, that’s not right.” Yeah. Well. Whatever. You can’t teach God anything.
Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club, Chapter 30
Yes, I have been watching Fight Club. I hadn’t seen it in ages, but recently found mention of it crossing my path from a number of different sources and I felt the urge to see it again. And so I did. There are many parts to the story that I feel an affinity for, but in particular, the idea that we aren’t particularly special – we are not special unique snowflakes of special uniqueness. I don’t mean to say that in some overly self-involved and depressive sense, but more as a realisation reached unwittingly some time ago, which has increasingly become a more obvious view on life (both mine and others) in general.
I don’t think it is any large stretch of credibility to point out, as Chuck Palahniuk does, that we live in a world that promises us a future of wealth, beauty and success – and that it’s lying to us. We can’t and won’t have all these things, but insist on believing that we can – or worse – that we do. Somewhere along the way, this socialised pursuit of wealth has become the yardstick by which we measure our self importance – our value to ourselves and the rest of the world we live in. You need to do little more than go to a halfway swanky bar in Sandton (if you live in South Africa – though there are equivalents across the world) to see jostling, aggressive achievers measuring themselves against their peers and being driven by insecurity at not being the top of the pile they have consented to race to.
…you’re not how much money you’ve got in the bank. You’re not your job. You’re not your family, and you’re not who you tell yourself.… You’re not your name.… You’re not your problems.… You’re not your age.… You are not your hopes.
We just are. Seems somedays that a particular experience – an event, a friend returned from overseas in my recent case, or something else out of the ordinary, knocks you out of the same orbit that you weren’t aware you were in, and you can see the whole little race for expensive toys and the respect of your peers as the baseless philosophy that it has truly become. It’s important to own more and control more than everyone else, because it is something that everyone else has agreed is important. There is no fundamental reason to have to run that race – yet we so often do. And being occasionally removed from those pursuits and being able to see the world of those rules rush past you can be a truly eye opening experience.
We are hypocrites every day to realise that we are thrust in the middle of a hollow pursuit, manipulated into being things that buy stuff – and yet accommodate those rules regardless
The question, the really frustrating thing about this – is that none of this is new. What Fight Club rails against is known to anyone with even a half-witted grasp of the world. Yet it seems to me that we consistently fail to reconcile what we know about the falsehood of our socialised priorities in life – what we are told calculates our value – with how we live our days and interact with the world. We are hypocrites every day to realise that we are thrust in the middle of a hollow pursuit, manipulated into being things that buy stuff – and yet accommodate those rules regardless. what I don’t understand. And what pains me about this state of affairs most – is that I cannot yet see how to break that hypocrisy. Properly and for the rest of my life – not simply in the reflective moments that life accidentally affords me.