Taoism in Fight Club

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Fight Club's themes and concerns have been held up as cinematic examples of nearly every philosophy known to man. The film's obsessive preoccupation with the ambiguity of reality and truth, along with its twist ending, caused it to immediately be embraced by the postmodernists.

Before meeting Tyler Durden, Jack is living in fat city in his prefabricated "essence." However, as existential philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre makes clear, "man chooses his own self" and the movie follows Jack's existential journey as he does that very thing. What makes this film so memorable, however, and what makes it stand out from similar films is that the fight for Jack's identity is presented not as an existential struggle between a man and his own soul, but rather as a struggle between two different men.

The trajectory of the movie turns on a shocking twist when Tyler and Jack are revealed to be the same person.

Tyler is Jack's actualized identity, the person he is on the other side of the veil. The film also visually portrays Sartre's conception of the dread that comes with this knowledge that we not only create our essence, but we must face up to responsibility of it. In a comical scene shot from dual perspectives, Jack is seen fighting with both Tyler and with no one but himself. The Jack/Tyler character in this film is truly an existential figure in that he comes to terms with his own essence long after his existence.

Long story short: Existentialism

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ The purpose of this paper is to study the Taoist thought present in the recent movie and book Fight Club. In the paper we will detail the basic premise and concept of the book and compare and contrast its teachings with those of Taoism. It should be noted that the book Fight Club came first and then the movie was based upon it. The movie does not follow the book closely, and parts of the book including the ending have been rewritten. The changes presumably make the movie more pleasing and understandable to its target audience, however the book holds the author’s true meaning and thus it will be followed instead of the movie when they differ.

Fight Club can be viewed with many interpretations, all of them true. It is a great love story. It is an anti-consumerism rant. It is a spiritual piece against materialism. It is anarchist literature. It is a commentary on our ‘lost’ generation. At first viewing of the movie, very little of this can be seen and it appears violent and chaotic. However much thought was put into providing the movie with depth and development that only become apparent after multiple screenings. Those who can see this deeper meaning and are interested in learning more should read the book. It is recommended that the reader first view the movie before reading this paper due to the surprise ending.

It is most simply the story of a man who mentally splits himself in two. His newly sprung half is called Tyler Durden, and is everything the hero wishes he were. The irony is that he is physically the same man and therefore is what he wants to be, but cannot realize this and uses his alter ego to accomplish his goals. In the end Tyler gets out of control and his tamer half cannot get rid of him even though he no longer wants him. In the process of Tyler’s development of his anarchist plans he gathers others to himself who are seeking someone to believe in. His teachings to them contain much Taoist thought and start a cult-like terrorist group. This paper will detail each aspect of these Taoist ideas present in Tyler’s teachings.

The Yin Yang is one of the primary principles of Taoist teachings. The concept of two forces present everywhere, completely opposite to each other yet balancing and enhancing each other. They cannot be...
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