Thursday, September 6, 2007

Quiet Thoughts on Fighting

"What can you know about yourself, if you've never been in a fight?" Asks Tyler Durden. Good question fictional guy, but with me it's more like vicious shadow boxing.

"What can you know about yourself..."

You think you know you? With friends, strangers, assholes, even all alone in the tub like a Zazen moron chanting to the bobbing of his own body parts like it was the mantra made flesh. But you don't. Making love or hanging from a rope, you won't get the whole picture. Like trying to make a circle from a square. It's asymptotic: you'll only add smaller and smaller sides of the polygon. Hell, I'm not sure there is a way to know yourself anymore. Every context seems hopelessly flawed.

Speak in public.
Join a gym and train obsessively.
Write every day and read your crap weeks later.
Go to strip clubs and have real conversations with the dancers.

It has begun to lightning outside, and I have all of these thoughts around page 32. It's always around 32. Jesus. Bruce Lee. Rimbaud lasted a few years longer, or not depending on your definitions. I've outlasted them all by more than a whit. I've missed my chance to go out all supernova and pretty. I can't one-inch punch, and I can't walk on water. I just get caught up in books about walking London's M25 on foot and digging the psychogeography by a guy that writes a sentence like looking at the Eiffel Tower. Page 32 and my son goes to sleep on the couch, and I think this is going to be brilliant, so I sit at the kitchen table and look up new verbs by candlelight. By page 34 he's wide awake and wanting to play trains. I fight to be patient. I fight to be a dad.

"...if you've never been in a fight?"

Fight. Hell, I'm no badass. Artists these days come off like they are the next incarnation of the Last Dragon? How many times have I, simply because I've been caught up in the cliche? I can't count that high. I can carry my weight and run when I need to, and I'm wrinkled enough to see that it all sounds like a line from Whiskeytown or Sun Volt. And I'm okay with that, too. But damn if claiming yourself as anti-tough isn't the same thing. A man can't even be nothing anymore. Get up and get your ass to work. Do a long day you'd rather not be doing at all. Come home and try to be a decent husband, father, friend, what have you. Call that guy a fighter.

So go ahead Tyler, ask your cool question, but we'll have to define terms if we're gonna' get anywhere.

Break a nose?

How about a bad cycle.

A fight club?

I'd rather open a cult of love
for everything that's still alive
and kicking.


Anonymous said...

First time reader and I have to say I like this post a lot. When the book came out, then the movie, I remember several critics and 30-somethings saying "This is generation-defining. THIS is who we are as men now."

It was easy to laugh it off at the time as a woman, "So what? You're all split-personality whack-jobs hankering after some recreational fisticuffs? No wonder a girl can't get a decent date these days..."

But I think you bring up an interesting line of thought here...

You say "Hell, I'm not sure there is a way to know yourself anymore." Was it ever possible to know yourself though? Do you buy into the whole "life is much more complicated now-a-days" bit?

I think it's impossible to know yourself, and has been impossible since we developed this level of self-consciousness. I think it IS possible to understand your motivations, your weaknesses, and the forces driving you... I just think the majority of us aren't striving to understand those things as much. We have an abundance of easy distractions, a proliferation of immediate whim-fulfillment, and the willingness to blame any disappointing facets of our lives on anyone but ourselves.

Why dig to understand yourself when there's 150 cable channels, $5 DVDs, iTunes, free online porn, and cheap beer? Not that there's anything wrong with cable TV...

Anonymous said...

I can only compare to what I know and for unstated reasons need to. Somewhere between William Gibson and Ayn Rand lies this prose. Follow their path.

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