"Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who've 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 us chasing 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 Durdens small speech finds its way to the heart and mind of all the average people who likewise waste their lives on doing the job that they do not like in order to buy things that they do not need to impress people they do not even know. In Tylers opinion, being the middle children of history is largely miserable. The middle children of history are practically nobodies: they are not famous like celebrity rock musicians or movie actors and neither will they go down in history as the most horrible criminals in civilization like Herostratus, the guy who burned down the Temple of Artemis in ancient Greece to become notorious. The middle children have no Great War in their lives they do not have to fight for anything as they live in seemingly comfortable flourishing conditions. However, this is not what a genuine flourishing is. According to Aristotle, a person can flourish and be truly happy only in case four basic human needs are satisfied: a) physical needs like food, rest and exercise; b) emotional needs, such as desire to have something we like; c) social needs like the necessity to have friends; d) rational needs - the requirement to obey some higher wise reason. The slaves in white collars do not flourish. They minds are stuffed with images in advertising that substitute life sacred goals for them. In terms of Examined life philosopher Peter Singer, these people have no moral problem in buying super-expensive things in Dolce&Gabbana shop and paying for them the amount of money that could have otherwise saved several children from diseases or famine. These people probably think that an extravagant car or a fancy pair of shoes will make them happy. Instead, they get in a position the same as The Fight Club protagonist when they do not own things but things own them. This means that a person is deprived of the most empowering sensation that life can give freedom. Jack, Tyler Durdens white-collar miserable alter-ego is so much overwhelmed with emptiness of his own existence in the suffocating office and luxuriant apartment atmosphere that he desperately tries to satisfy his social and emotional needs by visiting support groups for people with fatal diseases. When the middle children of history begin to understand that they will never become anyone significant, they become very pissed off. The insuperable longing for at least some freedom makes Tyler Durden pee in the restaurant soup while waiting at the table or insert hardly noticeable images of male genitalia into family movies. That is his small revolution, which according to Michael Hardt is hardly likely to happen in the United States because people have so much to lose. Tyler Durden arises as Jacks alter ago because the whole essence of Jacks being required freedom. According to Tyler, to obtain freedom one needs to lose everything and acquire a fear for life.
"Only after disaster can we be resurrected. It's only after we've lost everything - that we're free to do anything."
The above discussed Durdens idea about the things that will inevitably own us unless we stop the madness of wanting more and more things could be made the manifest against consumerism. People got so much addicted to the thought that they are defined by what they own that they made it the ultimate goal of their existence, thus getting into a trap without a way-out. The fear to lose something we have prevents us from becoming what we otherwise would like to be or just from being. Tyler makes Jack joy-ride in the stolen car, lose all his possessions and participate in the Fight Club to show him how liberating it is to live on the edge. Similarly, Marla Singer states: Dying people are so alive. Dying people have nothing to lose, so there is no fear of a loss which attributes greatly to the quality of being. Another argument against excessive consumption could be found in the Examined Life movie, namely in Slavoj Zizeks speech. The philosopher claims that the consequences of over-consumption can be horrific, up to the point when everything explodes and is destroyed. Perhaps after this ecological catastrophe the humanity will be able to resurrect with a new mentality free from the desire to own but with deeper understanding and in closer connection with the self and the environment.
"You are not your job. You are not how much you have in the bank. You are not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking Khakis. You are the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world."
A person is simply not the sum of their material possessions. On a similar note, Alan Watts in the What if money was no object video made a survey among his students asking them who they would like to be if they did not have to earn their living. The answers were surprising: the young people wanted to teach writing, become painters, travel and do other inspiring stuff. Watts eloquently proved that it is just pointless dissipating our lives on boring jobs while the true purpose of life is to be happy and flourish, improve ourselves and other people and be inspiration for others. As Cornell West says it takes tremendous courage to think for yourself. Many people follow conservative scenarios inflicted on them by their parents and society in general. The world economy is not interested in free-spirited, out-of-the-matrix individuals. The capitalist economy needs everyone to have a job and pay taxes. The bravery of stop being a small screw in the big machine is the art that everyone should aspire to master.
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