Free Market Fight Club
I am Jack’s being-for-itself.
I consider myself a free market existentialist. As an existentialist, I believe in individual freedom and responsibility. I believe that we get to define ourselves, if we’re willing to make the effort. As Tyler Durden says in Fight Club, “We are defined by the choices we make.” There is much that I love about Fight Club’s emphasis on choosing freely and being authentic. In fact, I published an article about it titled “Fight Club, Self-Definition, and the Fragility of Authenticity.”
Fight Club’s rejection of consumerism resonates with my existentialism, which calls for us to define ourselves as individuals and to resist being defined by external forces. Tyler and Jack share a similar background (there’s a reason for that): they followed the advice of their absentee dad to go to college and then get a job. They’re members of “an entire generation pumping gas and waiting tables, or … slaves with white collars.”
Tyler has broken away from the corporate world to become an entrepreneur who steals human fat from liposuction clinics and upcycles it into soap that wholesales for twenty dollars a bar. (He also has side jobs splicing porn into family films and peeing in fancy people’s soup.) Jack’s corporate job has him flying around the country and determining whether to either recall unsafe cars or make out of court settlements. To decide he coldly applies a utilitarian formula: “Take the number of vehicles in the field, (A), and multiply it by the probable rate of failure, (B), then multiply the result by the average out-of-court settlement, (C). A times B times C equals X…”
Jack’s job pays well enough for him to hide from his inner emptiness and become Ikea boy. As he explains, “I would flip through catalogs and wonder, ‘What kind of dining set defines me as a person?’” After his condo blows up, Jack mourns the loss of his stuff, saying, “I loved every stick of furniture in that place. That was not just a bunch of stuff that got destroyed, it was me!” Whose fault was it that Jack became Ikea boy? Jack’s. No one forced him, and it would be inauthentic to blame Ikea or anyone else.
Read the rest of the article here.