Dystopias are a literary staple with a distinguished lineage. Orwell’s 1984 is obviously the cornerstone of the franchise, but its roots go back to Greek theatre, and sci-fi literature from Brave New World to Blade Runner is heavily dependent on such distempered visions. So much so that I have grown a little jaded with the whole genre. Too much of it is just bad horror shtick with a limp passing wave at social relevance.

Hence my long resistance to watching Fight Club. Too trendy, too much star power, it was bound to be a poser movie with no cred. Wrong. It is in fact very cleverly, even artfully done with some authentic performances from Pitt, Norton and Bonham-Carter. However what nailed it for me is not the psychological craftiness, but the philosophic resonances. This is Nietzsche in all his barren ennui displayed without sentimentality or excuse.

The truly clever reach of this piece though is how the central characters so compactly express the Nietzschean dilemma: the ubermensch, the overman or superman culture has indeed reached its zenith in a narcissistic consumer culture where artistic, creative individuality with its emphasis on individual choice over every other moral value is flaunted to the detriment of all the rest of humanity and its crumbling social connectedness, being opposed by an equally formidable and likewise nihilistic view of carnage and mayhem. That this amounts to collective schizophrenia is not news, but its embodiment in Tyler Durden is insightful and revealing, and well worth watching.

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