Fight Club’s dark fantasies have become an even darker reality

If, meanwhile, you followed the Gamergate problems a few years ago, saw those message boards develop into nodes of far-right agitation, or had the misfortune to hear the likes of Milo Yiannopolous, you will find many of Fight Club’s ideas about carving out a niche for men eerily familiar; frighteningly so, given the wider context of the book and the violence at its core.

Rereading the novel in 2016 is chilling. Researching the book online, I found myself falling down a dark wormhole of fascistic websites that quote big chunks of David Fincher’s film adaptation as parts of their credo; even though parts are almost verbatim from the book, alt-right types tend to quote the film – because they either don’t agree with the overall message of Palahniuk’s book or they haven’t bothered to read it.

From: Fight Club’s dark fantasies have become an even darker reality | Books | The Guardian

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117 thoughts on “Fight Club’s dark fantasies have become an even darker reality

  1. Even back when Fight Club was fresh, I recall encountering guys who took it as a great new life philosophy, which baffled me. I was like, “You get that Operation Mayhem is silly, right? That those guys are preposterous meatheads trading their dignity for nothing better than what they had before?” Needless to say, these men were not receptive to my criticism.

    Anyway my point is, this is not new to me. Gamergate was just Elevetorgate turned to eleven. Elevatorgate was just a concentrated, social-media-reinforced version of every sad nerdboy who hated girls cuz “They won’t fuck me anyway.”

    Nothing new. Silly men.

    Anyway, I knew this stuff existed. That said, I’m surprised it has gone so far. It’s almost as if the Internet hyper-concentrates the worst forms of stupidity. Or something.

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      • …tear itself apart over a woman sceptic taking 15 seconds to make a polite request.

        As with most things, it’s almost never about the thing itself. Rather, it’s about the things that surround the things.

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      • Too late, I get the emails.

        But the thing is, I’ve seen plenty of men say those very words. Furthermore, I’ve long tried to understand why nerd-gals were so often greeted with unabashed hostility when they tried to participate in nerd-space. Myself, being a target of bullies, could easily understand how the big-mean jock guys could be misogynists, but when I saw it among my own tribe, it confused me, until I got onto the Internet and started listening.

        The difficult lesson was, sometimes (not always) the popular kids are actually really nice. Sometimes (not always) the unpopular kids were rotten to the bone. It’s complicated.

        Which is to say, the attitudes were evident even back in my Slashdot days, long before the -chans and /r/redpill and all of that. When elevatorgate broke, I knew what I was seeing. Again with gamergate. The rise of the “manosphere” was familiar territory.

        The surprise was the way it grew.

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        • These attitudes exist. They’re deeply felt.

          Sand castles stand tall and strong until the tide rolls in. Should we, I wonder, be working so hard to hold back the tide?

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          • “Deeply felt” does not mean accurate.

            I don’t know what to do for these guys. They seem to be a minority — yes, Trump happened, but his median voter was not an “anime nazi.” These guys are a social force, to a certain degree, but many toxic social forces exist. I cannot fix these guys any more than I can fix the Quiverfull Movement.

            For myself, my strategy is to avoid men like this, find social spaces where they have little voice, just as I avoid social spaces full of Quiverfulls. Indeed, these men seem miserable, but that is by their own devices. They are not “victims.” What else can I say?

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            • Considering whose side the Japanese Empire were on during World War II and that many Japanese still don’t entirely understand why they or their wartime allies are bad, being an anime nazi isn’t exactly a contradiction in the same way that being a salsa nazi is.

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              • Lee,
                Yes. When the Japanese make an anime saying that the jews are controlling the media/the world, we should take it about as seriously as them using a pentagram to summon jesus christ. (I maintain that both of these were delivered in about the same level of seriousness).

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            • ” “Deeply felt” does not mean accurate.”

              Never said it did.

              “I don’t know what to do for these guys.”

              Not telling them that they’re in a “basket of deplorables” is a start.

              Not telling them that they’re sad nerdboys who hate girls cuz “They won’t fuck me anyway” is a start.

              Not telling them that their life sucks because they’re iredeemably misogynist racist flavor-of-the-week-phobic and everything bad that happens is their own fault is a start.

              “Indeed, these men seem miserable, but that is by their own devices. They are not “victims.” What else can I say?”

              But it seems like you don’t wanna not tell them those things, so, here we are, I guess.

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              • I don’t know what to tell you. People who openly advocate racism and misogyny are in fact deplorable. Sorry. They are. If they express hatred, they don’t get to cry hot tears if people call them on it.

                Saying they hate girls cuz they can’t get laid — look, this is a fact. They do hate women, and they act out this hatred, some of them. They harass women, some of them. They justify their harassment based on their personal romantic failure. They actually do this. Calling them out on their bullshit is certainly justified.

                I’ve never said that everything that happens to them is their own fault. I certainly do not believe that, nor will you find me saying that. However, their responses to their own hardship are entirely dysfunctional. Likewise, their level of misery is compounded greatly by these dysfunctional responses. It is reasonable to talk about that.

                They claim victim status. They use this claim to justify their bigotry and aggressive harassment of women. When someone does this, we get to examine their claims.

                Are they victims? To what degree? Victimized by what? Compared to whom? If their pain has multiple causes (most emotional pain does), what proportion comes from “outside of their mind” causes and what proportion comes from “inside their mind” causes? Etc.

                My claim is they are not victims, at least not to a degree that justifies their behavior. Instead, they have dysfunctional and unrealistic beliefs and behaviors that, to a large degree, destroy their ability to have socially fulfilling lives.

                It is tragic, both for them and those they hurt. However, if the situation is to improve, they need to change.

                #####

                To pull back the camera a bit, I think for most of us there is a complex dialectic between, on the one hand, accepting our real limitations (but finding a way to make our lives work in spite of those limitations), and on the other hand, learning to identify and overcome our own self-limiting beliefs. This is to say, there probably are a small number of people, both men and women, who simply will never find romance because of some essential limiting factor in their own lives. I don’t know what such factors might be, but I can imagine they exist. Such people certainly have a right to be unhappy with their condition, just as anyone born with a severe disability has a right to be unhappy.

                I do not believe this is the case for the majority of these men, not even close. The vast majority, I believe, have the capacity to live romantically satisfying lives.

                Of course, this will be on equal terms with their romantic partners. That is a given. To argue otherwise is repulsive sexism.

                It might take some time. It might not happen on the terms they imagine nor the time scale they want — mine certainly didn’t. I spent most of my twenties with literally zero physical intimacy. That is really hard. When these men say how hard this is, I agree. It is hard. I lived it.

                But then I got better. I regret that lost time. But it got better, much better.

                Look at this thread: https://www.reddit.com/r/Incels/comments/5zd1yu/if_you_havent_lose_your_virginity_by_21_its_over/

                That is false. Not only is it false, it is self-destructive. Not only is it self-destructive, it is misogynistic. In other words, it is entirely toxic.

                When I say these men suffer by their own devices, I’m talking about the attitudes expressed in that thread, and thousands like it.

                Most average guys find romance a struggle, especially as a teen and young adult. Most average women do as well. Likewise, for most of us, we’ll have a few friends who do really well, and we get the lovely privilege of watching them succeed as we fail.

                I still feel that way sometimes. It hurts me a lot. I actually went into therapy to help me deal with it.

                (Therapy worked. I’m waaaay happier now, and unsurprisingly my romantic success soon got much better. It’s uncanny, almost as if you attitude matters.)

                In any case, that is what I mean when I say these men are not victims, that they suffer by their own devices, that they are sexist, and so on. I don’t know what to do about them, except I insist it is not my job to fix them. I’m happy to mostly ignore them. If they want to “lay down and rot,” I guess I’m okay with that. It seems like a poor choice. I would encourage them to do otherwise, but it’s their call. They’re free to live (or not live) their lives as they so choose. But the reality is, to LDAR is psychologically unrealistic. After all, we are in the world. We rub shoulders with others.

                So it goes.

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                • A minor quibble. It’s racist to be against people who advocate misogyny because most of them are Muslim (and as everyone on the left knows, Islam is a race).

                  You have to either support misogyny or racism. You can’t be against both.

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                  • Plus this doesn’t even make sense. I don’t object to “men,” nor do I even object to “lonely men.” (I think DD wants to interpret me that way, but he is wrong.) What I object to is “misogynistic men.”

                    Replace the term “men” with “Muslim” and I think you get a similar logic. I have no problem with Muslims-in-general. I believe that Islam-the-religion contains much misogyny, just as evangelical Christianity does, but that doesn’t require that I dismiss Muslims-in-general any more than I dismiss Christians-in-general.

                    Your argument is bad and you should feel bad.

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                    • TITS or GTFO wasn’t created by mysogynistic men, though.
                      (and, because 4chan does that equality thing they have “balls touching or gtfo”).

                      I’m not going to defend everyone, but gamergate ain’t exactly the thing you think it is, either.

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                      • TITS or GTFO wasn’t created by mysogynistic men, though.

                        [citation needed]

                        And even if it wasn’t created by misogynists, it certainly gets used in rather sexist ways.

                        On #gamergate, I’ve read the IRC logs. I’ve browsed the forums. One might say that GG wasn’t “one thing,” but it certainly attracted the “let’s send rape threats to Sarkeesian” crowd in ample numbers.

                        But to clarify, there is a sense this is “one thing,” but there is also a sense it is many things, which is to say, #gamergate is not exactly equivalent to “the Redpill,” which is not exactly equivalent to the incels, who are not exactly the same as the douchey Dawkins-esque crowd in secularism space, who differ in some ways from the MGTOW choads, many of whom probably hang out on the -chans, but many of whom probably mock the -channers, and so on.

                        I am aware of some (but surely not all) of these distinctions. But still — there are common threads. There are themes that exists across much of this space.

                        From Fight Club:

                        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.

                        The question is, was Palahniuk correct? (I think he might be.) If so, what are the implications? What do you do with a large group of people who are basically mediocre, who face little manifest hardship, and who furthermore cannot stand this fact?

                        Most people are mediocre. If you want to be excellent, you have to step up.

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                        • Most people are mediocre. If you want to be excellent, you have to step up.

                          Yes most folks are mediocre, yet so many grow up these days getting trophies and being told how special they are. Then they grow up and can’t understand what happened.

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                          • [cheapshot]At least most of us figure out how blockquote works.[/cheapshot]

                            But seriously, there is a dialectic between “participation trophies” and making people feel accepted for their various gifts. For the record, my beliefs are: the winner wins. Those who do not win — they did not win. Achievement should be acknowledged. That said, we should also encourage good sportsmanship, and those who do not win are not “losers,” in some crass sense of the term.

                            For example, I sucked at Muay Thai. Like, I pretty much always “lost.” On the other hand, I was older than most of the people I was training with. Likewise, I wasn’t naturally athletic. When I began the class, I was about fifty pounds overweight and had little useful muscle. But I stuck around, worked hard, didn’t bitch, took the punches, and kept trying.

                            I never got that good, but I got damn better than when I started. I worked hard. Also, I gave props to my teammates. Those who were good got their well deserved credit for being good.

                            Over time I gained respect, although no one at any point had any illusions that I would ever be “competitive.”

                            Doesn’t matter. I went the distance.

                            Do I get a trophy? Nope. Did I get respect? Hell yeah.

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                            • It’s okay, cheap shots and whining are what I expect from you. It’s funny b/c something I said must have hit home though the trophy comment wasn’t even directed at you but at millennials in general.

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                        • “The question is, was Palahniuk correct? ”

                          He was exactly as correct as the ones who say “the secret to life is live, love, laugh”. I wasn’t joking, earlier, when I wrote about Chicken Soup For The Dude’s Soul.

                          And he was exactly as correct as Shakespeare, who wrote “first thing we do is, we kill all the lawyers”. It is important to bear in mind, when quoting that line (and the one about “our Great Depression is our lives”) that it’s the bad guy saying those lines. It’s the villain. We are not meant to find the words inspiring, and it’s expected of us to develop our own rebuttal.

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                          • — I suspect you’re right that Palahniuk intended for us to reject Operation Mayhem as a bunch of ninnies — but dammit that line did resonate. So I’m not really talking about his intentions so much as, did he accidentally name a real thing? I think he did.

                            Which is to say, I saw it in the theaters, along with a coworker. We both loved the movie — it is a great movie. So anyway, he took his brother to see it. His brother also loved the movie, but in a way quite different from how my friend and I loved it. His brother, well, it spoke to him. He wanted to “join up.”

                            I was flabbergasted, but there it was, my first real life encounter with a 3edgy5u douchelord.

                            So, why did Fight Club speak to these guys? Are they really “the middle children of history”? What does that even mean?

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                    • I think caving a woman’s skull in by hitting her in the head with rocks because she was accused of sleeping around qualifies as a bit more than misogynistic.

                      Fortunately, many Muslims are moral enough to ignore Islam on that point.

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                        • No, they’re not bad men. They’re following the dictates of Allah, who is infinitely wiser than we are. The punishments mandated by the Koran are for our benefit, even though we won’t necessarily understand them because we’re infinitely dumber than Allah, who is all wise and all knowing.

                          But so many American women (Trump voters) are too bigoted to accept Islam and accommodate sharia law. They act as if Islam is something to be feared. Well if they don’t sleep around they have nothing to worry about!

                          We should fight their ignorance and racism.

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                          • I’m more concerned with evangelical Christians, who have a existing power base in America and want me dead as much as fundamentalist Muslims do.

                            That said, given that I am a secularist, I dislike all such superstition. On the other hand, I support religious freedom, including the freedom to be a Muslim. In fact, I know some Muslims, quite a few. They seem basically okay. They’ve certainly been no worse to me than fundamentalist Christians have been.

                            Anyhow, sorry, you will not be successful in stirring up racist fear against Muslims, at least not in me. I dislike their religion, in the same way I dislike all religion. But the people themselves, as long as they obey basic civil laws, I’m happy to let them live their lives in peace.

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                • “People who openly advocate racism and misogyny are in fact deplorable.”

                  Yup. Maybe saying that they have some inherent moral inferiority is not the way to go, though. “Oh, there’s something wrong with my basic self that makes me evil? Guess there’s no use trying to change, then!”

                  “They claim victim status. They use this claim to justify their bigotry and aggressive harassment of women. When someone does this, we get to examine their claims.”

                  Well. I’m pretty sure that you don’t appreciate examination of your claims of victim status. I’m pretty sure that you would consider it insulting and degrading in the extreme for someone to suggest that your emotional problems are the result of your choices and attitudes, and that it’s not anyone’s responsibility to give you the time of day until you change to suit them.

                  “It is tragic, both for them and those they hurt. However, if the situation is to improve, they need to change.”

                  If you want someone to jump, they need to know that there’s a place to land.

                  “The vast majority, I believe, have the capacity to live romantically satisfying lives.”

                  You know what was the most profound shift for me, the one thing that made me realize how I actually did have something to offer romantically, the thing that made me stop being a bitter lonely man?

                  When a woman asked me out.

                  That’s it. That’s all.

                  If, instead, she’d figured that I was yucky and that my yuckiness was my own fault for whatever reason that wasn’t her responsibility to figure out? I’d still be single. I’d likely be single until I died.

                  “In any case, that is what I mean when I say these men are not victims, that they suffer by their own devices, that they are sexist, and so on. I don’t know what to do about them, except I insist it is not my job to fix them. ”

                  Well. There it is.

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                  • Yup. Maybe saying that they have some inherent moral inferiority is not the way to go, though.

                    It is a good thing I haven’t said that.

                    Well. I’m pretty sure that you don’t appreciate examination of your claims of victim status. I’m pretty sure that you would consider it insulting and degrading in the extreme for someone to suggest that your emotional problems are the result of your choices and attitudes, and that it’s not anyone’s responsibility to give you the time of day until you change to suit them.

                    Being transgender is quite different from being unable to get dates. If people want to examine my claims of “victim status,” it is quite easy to show examples of widespread transphobia. It is quite different, however, to provide evidence of a widespread plot by women to “fuck chads” and deny “betas” any love.

                    In other words, transphobia is real. The claims of the “manosphere” are mostly fever dreams.

                    If you want someone to jump, they need to know that there’s a place to land.

                    The decision to work to make positive change in your life is very difficult. That said, I can say with confidence that these men are going in precisely the wrong direction. What makes them think that openly and intensely hating women will land them in a better place? I’m quite certain is lands them in a truly terrible place, where they can only wallow in their loneliness. Furthermore, when you hate women, when you blame them for your problems, it is wildly unrealistic to think they will like you.

                    And thus my claim that they are themselves to blame for their misery.

                    You know what was the most profound shift for me, the one thing that made me realize how I actually did have something to offer romantically, the thing that made me stop being a bitter lonely man?

                    When a woman asked me out.

                    That’s it. That’s all.

                    Being seen as attractive can be very helpful, and indeed I’ve been there, although I’ve slipped back and forth a few times. I’ve been around a while. I’ve had ups and downs.

                    For me the biggest help so far was DBT, which helped me escape some really awful thought patterns. YMMV.

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                    • As an aside, this just came across my feed: http://www.elle.com/life-love/sex-relationships/a33782/involuntary-celibacy/

                      I think it gives some insight into this particular corner of the “manosphere.” The final section:

                      After several years in Boston, Michael still hasn’t dated anyone or followed up on any of the crushes he’s had: “I still kind of assume that, for whatever reason, she’s gonna say no.”

                      A woman from the hiking group asked him out, but he didn’t feel any chemistry: “I just couldn’t get interested. Which was, you know, frustrating.”

                      Because he feels psychologically younger than his age, he says he’d like to date younger women whose contact with the opposite sex more closely matches his own. “I wanna feel like we’re doing it in the beginning, or somewhat close to that.”

                      But why, I wonder aloud, would a woman necessarily need to be younger than him to have a similar level of experience?

                      “I’d be too suspicious,” he replies. “How come no guy wanted to date you?”

                      I can’t quite believe what I’m hearing. This is Manosphere 101: the exact type of myopic, double-standard nonsense that I’d thought—or allowed myself to believe, in pursuit of a tidy redemption narrative—that Michael was working past, or had put behind him.

                      With guys, he goes on, he understands longtime celibacy. They’re the ones who have to do the asking, put themselves out there. But women? “If you’re attractive enough for me to want to date you, there’s gotta be a reason someone never showed any interest in you. Or maybe someone did show interest and you didn’t reciprocate. And then I would question what your values were.”

                      But what about the girl from the hiking group? He hadn’t reciprocated.

                      “Yeah,” he says. “I’m just saying, like—I don’t know. It would be just a.… You gotta have some way to—you gotta have some set of standards.”

                      Back in my hotel that night, I flip through my downloaded copy of Shyness and Love, repeatedly finding Michael, or people very much like him, in its pages. “Most love-shy men,” Gilmartin writes, “would like to somehow magically bypass what many of them perceive as the cruel indignity of dating, and just somehow wake up one morning married to the esthetically lovely, beautiful girl of their dreams.” Gilmartin floats some nutty fixes for this problem—how about genetic engineering so we’re all born gorgeous?—but his main solution is simple, which is not the same thing as easy. Love-shy men, he writes, “need to be helped to stop excessive daydreaming and to commence living!”

                      This is a real issue. These men are in real pain. But the fact is, they’ve built a shield around themselves, thick with misogyny and unrealistic expectations. They cannot easily be reached, nor do I accept that they can lay their pain at anyone else’s feet.

                      Sorry, no. They’ve dug their own holes.

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                    • “It is a good thing I haven’t said that.”

                      YOU HAVE BEEN SAYING IT ALL ALONG. YOU HAVE BEEN SAYING IT IN EVERY POST OF THIS DISCUSSION. YOU HAVE SAID IT MANY TIMES BEFORE.

                      I get that you very much want to avoid being the bad person saying mean things that hurt people, but:

                      “These men are in real pain. But the fact is, they’ve built a shield around themselves, thick with misogyny and unrealistic expectations. They cannot easily be reached, nor do I accept that they can lay their pain at anyone else’s feet. Sorry, no. They’ve dug their own holes.”

                      These of the words of someone who considers these people irredeemable. Or, at the very least, on permanent notice for potential moral failure.

                      Hey, so. Of the two people in this discussion, which one has said “telling people they’re moral failures is not going to convince them that they should change their behavior to suit you”, and which one has said “Harden The Fuck Up”?

                      “Being transgender is quite different from being unable to get dates.”

                      Ah. It’s Different Because It’s Me Doing It.

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                      • — You’re simply incorrect and interpreting me unfairly. My primary message is these men are a mess and they need to change if they want to find happiness. That is precisely the opposite of saying that they are irredeemable. I cannot make it more clear than that. If you cannot distinguish “they need to change” from “they are irredeemable,” then I must conclude that you are incapable of rational thought.

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                        • “You’re simply incorrect and interpreting me unfairly. ”

                          Dickwolves was a joke, and never intended to be anything other than a joke. And yet.

                          “My primary message is these men are a mess and they need to change if they want to find happiness. ”

                          And yet. “They cannot easily be reached.” “My claim is they are not victims, at least not to a degree that justifies their behavior. Instead, they have dysfunctional and unrealistic beliefs and behaviors.” These are your words.

                          You keep telling me that no, I need to focus on only the thing that you’re saying you’re saying, and I keep noticing the way you’re saying the thing that you’re saying you’re saying, and finding that it says more to me, and differently.

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                          • — I’ve said nothing about “dickwolves” or the guys from PA. I don’t know why you’re bringing that up.

                            The material you quoted I stand behind. I said it. I meant it. Their behavior is worthy of contempt.

                            However, I did not say “irredeemable.” In fact, I said its logical opposite. If you cannot see that, then that is your lack.

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                            • “I’ve said nothing about “dickwolves” or the guys from PA. I don’t know why you’re bringing that up.”

                              The point is that you don’t get to control how your words are heard, and stamping your foot and insisting that you were heard wrong is not seen as controlling these days.

                              I’m sure you didn’t mean for it to sound like it did, and that’s important for the listener to recognize. But, y’know, life experience shapes the hearing ear.

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                • Based on my personal examination about similar issues, a lot of my anger and frustration feels comes from several factors. One of them is the feeling that your basically doing all the heavy lifting and going all the way to other people while they operate as a fixed point with no reasonable bend. When everybody seems to have a “you go all the way towards me” attitude, your not going to feel very good about yourself. To be desired is to be pursued and its really hard to feel confident when you seem to be doing all the work.

                  This get us to the point that when your a cis-gender heterosexual man, it can seem that your lack of success seems to deserve a consideration factor of at or close to zero. Even if you find somebody who wants to date, they can if they so decide to make you wait longer and/or do more than they did any other person that they were with to get so much as a hug and you really can’t do anything otherwise but leave them and try again or go along with it. That isn’t much of a choice.

                  Another issue is that the longer you have to wait, the more fun you get to miss out on and that you aren’t getting the real thing but something fake and imitation because your partner did it with somebody else first. The idea of being initiated by a more experienced partner isn’t really that appealing. Neither is the potential to be given pointers. I’ve had women tell me about wonderful experiences they had with past boyfriends on FIRST dates. That doesn’t make me feel that good about myself. It always seems to be setting a high standard.

                  While there is nothing that really could be done about this, why should I support a system that allows some people to have a seemingly endless amount of romantic and sexually success while I have options that range from bad to terrible?

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                  • — You own your own feelings. To resent others who get what you do not is a natural feeling. It is also an unhealthy feeling.

                    I used to resent attractive young cis women. They got so much for free, for which I had to scramble to get even a shred. So it goes.

                    I don’t resent them anymore. I got over that shit. It was hard work, but hard work worth doing.

                    I have also felt the same kind of romantic resentment that you feel. No really, I felt it hard. You ain’t a unique snowflake. It sucked. In fact, it was destructive. It held me back.

                    I got past it. It was hard. But when things are hard, work harder.

                    There is a mantra from DBT: people may not be responsible for their problems, but they have to fix them anyway.

                    Or not. Their choice. How’s it working out?

                    #####

                    I don’t know what you mean by “support the system.” I don’t know what you could mean by not supporting it. The thing is, my romantic life does not require your support, nor does anyone else’s. If you say some dumbass misogynistic shit (which you have done before), I’ll call you on it. But other than that, your romantic life belongs to you, and whatever partners freely join you, on the terms you mutually agree. It’s not my business.

                    If you give up on the dating game and drop out entirely, then fine. Go in peace.

                    If you “lay down and rot,” well that would be tragic, but you are free.

                    Each woman is an individual, with a heart and mind, with a rich internal life. You might find a woman who wants to share some part of that life with you, and yours with her. You might find several such women. You might find none. That is all.

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                    • By support the system, I mean getting labelled bad or evil for showing some the natural feeling of resentment towards not getting what I want. Its the feeling of being held to the requirement of a saint while everybody else gets to be sinners. Also, having to listen to people of both genders and all sexualities prattle on about their romantic and sexual adventures. It makes me feel excluded and left out of the fun.

                      If there is some compromise behind this, “I can not and will not give you x, so I’m going to waive requirement y” than that would be fine. Its that “I can not and will not give you x, y, and z but you still have to meet each and every requirement that I so desire” is where the problems start. Or as it was once put to me “you (i.e. men) need to make it easy for us but we (i.e. women) don’t have to make it easy for you.” That doesn’t seem a basis for a healthy relationship either.

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                      • Its that “I can not and will not give you x, y, and z but you still have to meet each and every requirement that I so desire” is where the problems start. Or as it was once put to me “you (i.e. men) need to make it easy for us but we (i.e. women) don’t have to make it easy for you.” That doesn’t seem a basis for a healthy relationship either.

                        That’s not how it actually works.

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                        • It seems to be that way in my experience. Every date I have been on resulted in rejection. The first date I was on with somebody I knew in real life rather than through online ended in a very long text rejection. I’m in my mid-thirties and can’t deal with this anymore. Its emotional draining and exhausting.

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                          • — You know, we’ve been having this same conversation for years, and honestly, hard truth, I totally get why women don’t want to date you. Furthermore, while the reasons no doubt vary, and some of those reasons are probably superficial, not all women are superficial to the same degree. My point is, I suspect that even not-at-all-superficial woman are going to steer clear of you.

                            This is not unfair. This is not the fault of “the system” —

                            — well, not directly. “The system” is of course complicated and affects us all in countless small ways. You can certainly find ways to blame the system. For many of those ways, I’ll agree with you. Fine.

                            But for that woman, on that night, looking at her own life, love, and desires, she’ll pass you by, and for good reasons.

                            This is neither fair nor unfair. It just is.

                            We’ve been talking about this for years, yet you continue down the path of deeper resentment, deeper despair, ever more stubborn, blaming everyone but yourself — and your pain is real. But only you can fix this. Any changes in “the system” will take decades to emerge, and then only organically, not by anyone’s design.

                            Yet you bristle at the idea that you must change. But you must change. At least, you must if you want to find happiness.

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                            • I can’t remember where I saw it, but there’s some old cliche that boils down to: “When you only have a problem with one person, it’s them. When you have a problem with everyone, it’s you”.

                              Or to use an anecdote: I knew a guy who couldn’t seem to go to a bar without getting into a fight. He always claimed it was because he had “bad luck” and was “always running into a**holes”.

                              Truth was obvious. He had anger issues, drinking issues, and was always looking for a fight. And to the surprise of no one, when he finally went into therapy and actually took it seriously, it turned out suddenly he got into a lot less fights.

                              How do you know when it’s you not them? When your “them” becomes a large percentage of people you meet.

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                            • I’ve been therapy, I am in therapy, I have done everything bloody possible to change and it never ever seems to enough. No matter how much I change, there always seems a reason to reject. The call for you to change is call for others not to bend an inch on anything.

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                                • I remember the very first conversation and I had on this topic. It was quite some time ago, long enough that there is no way I could find a link. But anyhow, I recall the topic. He was complaining that women did not tell him why the rejected him, and thus he didn’t know what he needed to do to improve. I responded with the normal feminism “gender wars 101” answer, which was that women usually will not, for a few reasons. The first is that men often respond quite negatively, in a way that can be scary and unpleasant for the woman. The second is that women are socialized to be kind to men, to assuage their feelings, and thus being blunt can go against cultural programming. The third reason, one that is not-so-nice, is that some women reject men for shallow reasons, but don’t want to admit those shallow reasons, so they tone it down and offer obvious banalities.

                                  Anyhow, the conversation developed in the mode that conversations between Lee and I usually develop (at least on this topic).

                                  Anyhow, Scott Alexander is a clever fellow. Certainly I’ve seen women being downright cruel to men. I agree with Scott that women should not do this. However, I don’t think I am. Instead, I think I’m delivering a hard truth.

                                  After all, it cannot be that no women can ever deliver a hard truth to a man about his romantic status. That would (to quote Scott) “prove too much.” In any case, you ( ) grant me no charity, so I’ll take your criticism in the spirit it is given.

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                              • Of course it’s never enough. You’re just one option. There are millions of others, just a swipe away. I got lots of rejection. Years of it. Sometimes the wheel brings you up, sometimes it grinds you down. Wait for the turn. Don’t make this the end all be all. Do your own thing. Be content with what you do and who you are.

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                              • — Honestly that sounds intensely painful and (seemingly) hopeless. I don’t know what techniques your therapist used, nor if they were any good. From where I sit, the only path I can see for you is to throw yourself unreservedly into something like this. Approach it as an act of faith.

                                There is a sense it is like giving up, but it is not giving up. It is something else. DBT really is about the dialectic. It is a kind of brain hacking, where the results emerge in a non-obvious way from the skills you practice.

                                Perhaps in therapy you already tried some form of cognitive skills training. If so, do it again, and then again, and then again, and then again, on and on.

                                This advice is worth whatever it is worth.

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                                • What is painful is having to deal with rejection after rejection while having to listen to stories of people engaging in wild escapades. What is painful is being made to live a life of strictest, harshest, fiercest moral discipline while others get to have the time of their lives and demand non-judgment for it while condemning you for crying out in pain. You are the ant and they are the grasshopper. What is painful is getting your most minor want like get called a completely unrealistic expectation by people demanding unrealistic expectations from you. Nothing for you and everything for me. That is painful.

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  2. The few excerpts there reminded me why I never felt the urge to reread the book or his other books. I do find it interesting that Palahniuk has cited as a turning point in his life taking part in The Process, a spin-off of the est groups. I’m sure someone’s written about that somewhere online, but I discovered it while researching encounter groups more generally.

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    • Speaking for myself, I perfectly happy with men following programs of “self actualization” (or whatever). My problem with “Project Mayhem” is not that contemporary men feel alienated and are seeking something better. After all, I spent much of my life feeling alienated and seeking something better. My problem with FC is — well, bluntly — Project Mayhem (and the “manosphere” culture that followed it) is a self-destructive, childish fantasy steeped in broken masculinity and petty resentment.

      In other words, I admire people who try to do better, but not when they actually do much worse.

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      • Yeah, no doubt. It’s just interesting to me how much “self-actualization” changes by generations. The est movement was sort of next generation to the encounter groups, which peaked in the mid 70s and those were supposed to be an alternative to psychoanalysis. I don’t think one in a hundred people now would have been to an encounter group, or even be familiar with them. I have no idea how many people are in analysis for that matter. But the manosphere is something many of us have some familiarity with, although I think it’s wise to avoid as much as possible.

        Self-actualization is hard work. My sense is that people break out of bad relationships or life situations and some of them get stuck in that moment of liberation. The few times I’ve talked to “Men’s Rights Activists” I remember saying to them “Okay, I had a bad divorce too, but you know, my life went on after that point.” They just seemed to be universalizing the worst moments of their life.

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        • Recently I’ve been playing with the DBT skills program. I’m not BPD, but the system has been shown to be helpful for ADHD folks, plus I have some CPTSD-ish trauma I’m still carrying around. Anyway, it really worked. Some of the specific social difficulties I had long wrestled with — they just went away. Like seriously, it’s uncanny how quickly I switched into a healthier set of thought patterns.

          I dunno. It’s easy to dismiss the most obviously banal “self help,” for example, The Secret (good grief!). But it is possible to “work on yourself.” It is possible to “get better.”

          The weird thing is, I’m actually not opposed to the idea of “fighting as therapy.” After all, I trained in BJJ and Muay Thai for a few years. I found it an amazing experience. In fact, Matt Thorton once described BJJ as “yoga for men,” by which he meant yoga for people who enjoy gutsy, in-your-face competition. (He of course also trains women.) I agree with this. There can be great wisdom found on a wrestling mat or in a boxing ring —

          — which is based on manifest achievement, guts, and strength, as opposed to the puerile violence fantasies of weakass jerks obsessed with their own feelings of impotence.

          So yeah. Get gud. HTFU.

          Or not. There are many ways to be strong. Myself, I’m femme like razors.

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    • ” Palahniuk has cited as a turning point in his life taking part in The Process, a spin-off of the est groups.”

      And considering that Fight Club is basically a satire of that, it makes sense.

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  3. Interestingly the Silent Generation, too young for the Great Depression and WWII but generally too old to do hippie things in the 1960s were much more conservative than their Greatest Generation and Boomer counterparts on average.

    There hasn’t been an ideological movement in the world (left or right) hasn’t relied on the passion of young people. The Cultural Revolution, The Nazis, The Fascists, The Bolsheviks all had older leaders but they needed highly impassioned young people to carry out the actions on the ground.

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    • This actually is my parent’s generation, combined with their midwestern sensibilities, so yeah. I wouldn’t call them “conservative,” as both my parents have long supported civil rights and have uniformly voted Democrat. But that said, there has been a certain staid aspect of their politics. Neither were bomb throwers. They haven’t the slightest hint of radicalism.

      That said, my father lost a preaching job in a posh suburban church because he supported gay marriage. So, he will take a stand when the issue is critical, but it is always a measured, deliberate response.

      I’m Gen X. I have no idea how I fit into anything, actually, except my life began around the time of Stonewall, so I’m old enough to remember the bad times. Also, I’ve seen a variety of political strategies work and then fail to work and then work again.

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  4. It’s hardly surprising that people are more into the movie than the book, because “Fight Club”, the movie, is basically “Chicken Soup For the Dude’s Soul”.

    Take a few edgy-sounding platitudes–“what would you regret if you died right now”, “how much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight”, “the things we own end up owning us”–put in a fantasy story about being a wild violent boy and getting away with it, and it’s comfort food for men who feel like they really ought to be doing more but can’t figure out what’s stopping them.

    And, at that, I don’t see what’s so surprising that a movement which is basically devoted to the idea that “it’s society stopping men being true” should latch onto it.

    That said, there doesn’t seem to be anything about the movie itself which is particularly anti-woman. There are only two women in the whole thing–a bit-part cancer patient, and Marla, who has her shit far more together than anyone else in the film.

    You’re right if you say “but there’s the bit about whether another woman is really the answer we need”, but in the commentary Fincher suggests that the part where the narrator first goes wrong is when he hangs up on Marla and calls Tyler–turning away from human male/female relationships and towards a weird fantasy of men-only nihilism.

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  5. Fight Club is one of those movies that is kinda like Starship Troopers or that scene in Glengarry Glen Ross that is supposed to be an indictment of a handful of things while, at the same time, capturing what would make it awesome for someone with a completely different weltanschauung.

    “No! I was criticizing that sort of thing!”

    If you haven’t read Fight Club 2 (the “graphic novel”) because you think it’s more of the same of the movie, it’s not. It’s a criticism of the fans who liked the movie but never read the book and, worse than that, liked the movie wrong.

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    • There is an old quote by Truffaut about the difficulty of making an anti-war film since to show something is to ennoble it. There is a lot of truth in that and also why Starship Troopers was a complete failure. If you show manly fights ( or giant sci fi bug fights) people will see the exciting parts. You want to show the pain of violence then show the years long consequences and suffering, not the excitement.

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      • Trauffaut’s point was more like making an anti-war movie is incredibly hard because film is a visual media and combat is always going to look glorious on film no matter how hard you try otherwise. This is why Fight Club or Wall Street don’t work as movies in making the point the creator wants. You just need it to be viewed by the right person with the right mindset. They will see it as cool because the visual media affirms what they already believe by making it look good.

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        • Well yeah, thats why Starship Troopers was a failure and clear villains in movies often come off well. The other factor is that for box office and creative reasons some villains are played by charismatic and talented actors. If you put the Nicholson FGM speech in the mouth of lots of other actors it would come off a lot worse. Would he have looked heroic if that speech was given by Stallone or Pee Wee Herman. Okay, maybe Herman would have been reeaallll out of the box casting. But still….

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          • Delivery is obviously important and Stallone would come across a lot more ridiculous than Jack Nicholson in a Few Good Men. I think that people with the right mindset would end up thinking things the director did not intend in most circumstances though. You either need to get everything right or everything wrong to prevent this.

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        • — A good example for me is the new Mad Max. Obviously my sympathies are with Furiosa and the women. That said, my favorite lines are from the bad guys. After all, who doesn’t want to ride eternal shiny and chrome!

          See you in Valhalla, bitches!

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    • Reader response criticism. Basically, when the artist (creator of a text) releases it, they no longer have control over it, in fact cede that to the audience. Bergers Ways Of Seeing is in many ways a meditation on this. And, if you write something and post it online in an area with a comments section, you can watch it in real time. When I posted this, I look at the comments and realize that very little that I was focusing on is discussed, but the comments come to life and explore new and alternate meanings of each bit.

      When the artist tries to create something controversial, but not blatant in its meaning, he risks loosing complete control. Which Fincher/Palahnuik did. How it is received at that point is the works own life.

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    • “Fight Club is one of those movies that is kinda like Starship Troopers or that scene in Glengarry Glen Ross…”

      Or Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men”. So many people quote his whole speech–cutting it off, of course, before “You’re god damn right I did!“. Folks, we’re supposed to see him as a nightmare, something Hunter Thompson might describe as the dark side of the American serviceman’s ideal. He’s the Devil quoting scripture, and I can only hope that the reason people parrot his words is that nobody else has ever written them down like that.

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    • I am going to echo and say that the idea that a work of art fails, because it doesn’t make the points that the author intended is not based in particularly good critical or aesthetic theory. It’s like saying that a child has failed because he doesn’t end up playing first base for the New York Yankees or sitting first chair at the Philharmonic.

      To dust off and misremember my Heidegger, the truth of a work of art is the truth of the work of art. Once the artist creates it and puts it into the world it exists for itself. If we are going to judge it, we should judge it by how well it conveys the truth of the world and the truth of being a human being in the world (what Heidegger called dasein). Good art is something more than a tool.

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      • I’m down with that, I guess. I’m just always fascinated by the whole issue of how two groups of people watched Baldwin give his “Always Be Closing” speech and one of them saw that and said “what a freakin’ psychopath” and the other saw that and said “yeah… yeah… YEAH! Let’s get out there and make some freakin’ money!”

        I suppose we should be asking ourselves how come we have so very many crappy artists who have art that has everyone walking away feeling similar things…

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        • I know a salesman who simply cannot see how that scene could be taken as anything but gospel truth.

          I’m also unsure how Starship Troopers is a failure. Maybe the satire went over the heads of much of the audience, but that’s generally the case with Verhoeven.

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          • Please let me clarify: I’m not saying that I think that these movies are *FAILURES*.

            It’s more that I suspect that the artists who made them made them with the thought that the audience who nod sagely at the biting satire rather than lean forward in their chairs as if they were receiving, as you say, gospel truth. (And in the case of Chuck Palahniuk, there was pretty much a scene in Fight Club 2 where he, the author, is yelling at fans of Fight Club (the movie). Yeah, it was pretty self-indulgent. Which is probably something that he knew because the scene ended with him getting shot in the head. Which, now that I think of it, was also pretty self-indulgent.)

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          • C.f. Scalzi – “The failure.mode of ‘clever’ is ‘stupid'”. Generally applied to cases where someone tried for clever but didn’t reach it, but I think it’s also somewhat applicable to people who are SO clever that only 1% of the audience will ever recognize it.
            Reasonable people can disagree about Verhoeven, mind you… I’m in the “oh, of course – it was a satire all along – what else would it have been? Ha. Ha. Uh.” school.

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  6. I never saw the movie or read the book. It never sounded like something i was interested in then once it became a touchstone for some loud aggressive people it was far more off putting. But the thing is the ultra violent macho man culture isn’t new at all. It’s not like Clockwork Orange didn’t hit that note but there have been plenty of other examples. It never seemed new to me and i could only assume it was new to people because they were young and didn’t know any history.

    Reading the linked article the whiny parts of characters talking about how they were lied to be TV and they have no great moment in history sounded so much like SJW’s who complain about media messages. That’s not a parallel either side would like then again i never really though TV was teaching me about the reality of the world. But i also recognize that some men think porn was realistic so they tried all those goof ball positions and found they weren’t good for anyone.

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  7. That essay is a pretty good (read: bad) example of something that I see an awful lot of in contemporary criticism; that is, trying to shoehorn older works into whatever happens to be the topic du jour. In this case, it’s Trump and the Alt Right. Are Fight Club and some of the surrounding detritus in some way foreshadows of Trump and the Alt Right? Sure, I guess, but so are immigration, civil rights and women’s liberation. But when people try blaming the latter category of things for the reaction that comes after, the sort of person that writes for The Guardian tends to know better.

    The other thing that strikes me about the article is the constant refrain of how dark and nefarious everything associated with Fight Club fanboys is. A selection:

    Fight Club offers an explanation for some of the vocabulary of the neo-Nazis and rightwing hate merchants who call themselves the “alt-right”… or had the misfortune to hear the likes of Milo Yiannopolous… Rereading the novel in 2016 is chilling. Researching the book online, I found myself falling down a dark wormhole of fascistic websites… I’m not going to give those sites the benefit of a link, but if you want to make yourself feel ill…

    Tyler Durden isn’t a hero and he isn’t building a better world. He is never shown to be right; rather, he is portrayed as a maniac living in a fever dream. The things he does are clearly more than transgressive: they are abhorrent. His actions leave the narrator and moral centre of the book feeling awful, desperate, trapped.

    At a certain point, it’s like, I get it. You don’t like the Alt Right. You’re one of the good guys. This reminds me of the article of the guy who fired an M4 and developed PTSD or anxiety disorder or Rickets or something. I’ve spent some time in those same dark corners of the internet. And I’ve seen and read a lot with which I disagreed to varying levels. I’ve seen a lot that I found outright deplorable and disgusting, some of which even managed to elicit an emotional response. I have, however, never been chilled or frightened or otherwise brought into a state of extended agitation. Why would I let words have that power over me? Are the people that speak those words witches and warlocks? Sometimes, I feel as if I’ve woken up in a society where totems and incantations suddenly have come back into vogue.

    We are at a weird point in history, where lots of folks have decided that merely disagreeing or even vehemently disagreeing isn’t enough. No, you have to go overboard in putting down the things you don’t like and doing your best to banish them. Of course, in the internet age, you can’t really banish anything. But why let that stop you from trying? Because trying is how you show everyone that you’re on the right side.

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    • I have, however, never been chilled or frightened or otherwise brought into a state of extended agitation. Why would I let words have that power over me? Are the people that speak those words witches and warlocks? Sometimes, I feel as if I’ve woken up in a society where totems and incantations suddenly have come back into vogue.

      When I read people calling for violence against transgender people, I often do get chilled, not because of that one person, who likely lives far away, but because those opinions are alarmingly common, and I stand out, and I ride the subway, and I’ve had friends who have been attacked by knives, and so on. Likewise, when I read people ranting about trans women in public bathrooms, I worry. Those attitudes are common. Those who feel that way are politically active. The Republicans will use that as a wedge issue, to get votes, to hurt me.

      These are not just empty words on the Internet. These are statements of intent to do harm.

      The people who hate me really hate me. They want me dead.

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      • is an African-American man I believe and a target for the anger and rage of the alt-right in the same way that you are as a transgendered person and I am as a Jew. They want all three of us dead for different reasons. j-r’s take on the problems with this essay is a legitimate one that I kind of agree with. You don’t have to use past works of art to explain the problems of the present. Even without Fight Club the world might very well be the same. Its better to look for real world causes than cultural causes.

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        • — I am aware that is black. That doesn’t change the fact that it will soon be against the law for me to pee in Texas, and anti-trans harassment is measurably on the rise, so regardless of his race, what I said is true: anti-trans statements online are statement of ill intent, which are being put into action nationwide. I take them as such.

          Regarding the article, it seems perfectly valid to look at an older work and reinterpret it through a contemporary lens, particularly when that work played a formative role in the modern situation. This is not to say that Palahniuk is responsible for the alt-right, but then, the author didn’t say that. However, Fight Club indeed looks different now, given how its fandom unfolded. Likewise, we can perhaps understand some aspects of the current situation by understanding what parts of Fight Club were so enticing to the the alt-right.

          Perhaps is uninterested in this. Fine.

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          • “That doesn’t change the fact that it will soon be against the law for me to pee in Texas”

            No, just to pee wherever you want in Texas. Of course, it’s already against the law for you to pee wherever you want in Texas.

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          • Perhaps r is uninterested in this. Fine.

            This is a pretty good example of what I’m talking about. If I question the underlying logic of some aspect of social justice theory, it can’t be simply because I disagree with that logic. No, it’s probably a sign that I’m on the wrong side, that I am significantly disinterested in bringing about some end. It can’t be that I think the theory, as presented, is particularly ill-suited to bring about that end.

            This is what I mean when I talk about incantations coming back into vogue. There is a point of view that holds that what people say and how they say it is as important, maybe more important, than what they actually do. Underlying this point of view is a certain theory of social justice. And it goes something like this: if we can control the way people speak, we can control the way they thing. And if people think the right things, they’ll do the right things. Personally, I think that point of view is bogus. And more importantly, the theory of cause and effect is deeply flawed. It has very little efficacy in effecting change. And it’s mostly about people signaling to each other that they’re on the right time. I understand how that has value to some people, but personally I don’t care what team people think that I’m on.

            Likewise, we can perhaps understand some aspects of the current situation by understanding what parts of Fight Club were so enticing to the the alt-right.

            With this, I agree. However, when I read that piece, I don’t get the sense that the author is all that interested in understanding the current situation or the alt-right. Rather, he seems mostly intent on showing that he holds the appropriate orientation. And you know what, that’s fine. No one has any obligation to go out of their way to understand anything, much less the alt-right. But if someone is going to try to present their team signalling as exegesis, then I’m going to point it out.

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            • This is a pretty good example of what I’m talking about. If I question the underlying logic of some aspect of social justice theory, it can’t be simply because I disagree with that logic. No, it’s probably a sign that I’m on the wrong side, that I am significantly disinterested in bringing about some end. It can’t be that I think the theory, as presented, is particularly ill-suited to bring about that end.

              But that’s not what I said.

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    • “Sometimes, I feel as if I’ve woken up in a society where totems and incantations suddenly have come back into vogue.”

      They then expel the heretic in a unified chant: “Hey hey, ho ho! Charles Murray has got to go.” Then: “Racist, Sexist, Anti-gay. Charles Murray, Go away!” Murray’s old work on IQ demonstrates no meaningful difference between men and women, and Murray has long supported marriage equality. He passionately opposes eugenics. He’s a libertarian. But none of that matters. Intersectionality, remember? If you’re deemed a sinner on one count, you are a sinner on them all. If you think that race may be both a social construction and related to genetics, your claim to science is just another form of oppression. It is indeed hate speech. At a later moment, the students start clapping in unison, and you can feel the hysteria rising, as the chants grow louder. “Your message is hatred. We will not tolerate it!” The final climactic chant is “Shut it down! Shut it down!” It feels like something out of The Crucible. Most of the students have never read a word of Murray’s — and many professors who supported the shutdown admitted as much. But the intersectional zeal is so great he must be banished — even to the point of physical violence.

      Andrew Sullivan – The New Yorker

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  8. I haven’t seen the movie, but my impression from second-hand accounts is that it had strong left-populist themes. The Wikipedia plot summary supports this. Anti-consumerist, anti-corporate, and the climax of the film apparently involves blowing up credit card companies to erase debt.

    That said, the claim the book was intended as satire but taken seriously reminds me of the discourse around The Game. I feel like I’m the only person in the world who actually read that book. Most of the people talking about it, both positively and negatively, seemed to be under the impression that it was an instruction manual for seducing women. In reality, it was more of an ethnography, and ultimately at least as critical as it was sympathetic.

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    • BB,
      Nope, you’re right, didn’t read that one. Did read excerpts from the guy who rapes 16 year olds (that a nice author decided to go and cite here). Do know someone who wrote a “dating manual” (purely for the money).

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  9. What I remember most about watching Fight Club in was Tyler Durden’s vision of the desirable future world:
    “In the world I see – you are stalking elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rockefeller Center. You’ll wear leather clothes that will last you the rest of your life. You’ll climb the wrist-thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Tower. And when you look down, you’ll see tiny figures pounding corn, laying strips of venison on the empty car pool lane of some abandoned superhighway.”

    I mean if you think about it, what a hideous terrible world! I mean if you’re Tyler Durden you’re in your 20’s, a healthy dude, there’d be literally no one else who has it better than you. The kids? The people older than you? The women? Man, your world is next thing to hell for them and that means your world is going to be hell for you too in about a decade or so. That moment he’s talking about in the quote; that’s the apex of achievement a dude can expect in that world: surviving to adulthood, having some women and food in your near future and being in decent health. In Durden’s world it’s all downhill from that point. I shuddered at the atavism though I grant the movie clearly seized on some kind of cachet. I get the same vibe, though lesser, when some organic foods fruit loop waxes rapturous about the state of nutrition in the preindustrial world.

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      • That what gets me about extremist forms of libertarianism or anarch-capitalism.

        I disagree. There’s lots wrong with extremist forms of liberatarianism and anarch-capitalism, but that ain’t it. Personally, I think that if you smashed the state tomorrow, something would quickly grow to fill that vacuum and that thing would likely be more authoritarian than the present state; that’s what keeps me from being an anarcho-capitalist.

        But I think that you’re confusing hardcore libertarians with the Dark Enlightenment/ extreme reactionary crowd. Most anarchos aren’t particularly interested in being kings. They’re mostly interested in living in New Hampshire and being left alone to drink unpasteurized milk and trade bitcoins.

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        • Even if anarchos and hardcore libertarians might only want to live in New Hampshire left alone to drink unpasteurized milk and trade bitcoins rather than be kings but their lifestyle still requires everybody else to go along with them as Bryan Caplan put it in his rant against UBI.

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        • Personally, I think that if you smashed the state tomorrow, something would quickly grow to fill that vacuum and that thing would likely be more authoritarian than the present state;

          Exactly my thought. Libertarianism will only work when New Randiam Man comes into being.

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        • “Personally, I think that if you smashed the state tomorrow, something would quickly grow to fill that vacuum and that thing would likely be more authoritarian than the present state; that’s what keeps me from being an anarcho-capitalist.”

          I was having a problem with this also, but if social constructors are willing to run on a minimal amount of constructs, it could probably work out better than what we have now. I know you don’t believe in the semantics of left and right. but for those self identifying left, feeling naked without the totems that make them feel comfortable, progression is stalled.

          The right ‘radical’ anarchos and libertarians are comfortable with a minimum amount of constructs, but how does the left define the minimum amount needed? One of the few able and willing to unpack that on the left has been Gary Chartier. Although I don’t agree with everything he brings to the table, it is at least a beginning to resolve the issues faced with dissolution of the state.

          Here he resolves much of the differences between the Tannehill’s and the anti-authoritarian leftist views:

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    • Even during my twenties, I would never survive this world nor would I want to live in it. There are some people who just think that civilization is a veneer though. What they want to be is the meanest, baddest person out there and anything that prevents this is must go. To them anybody who holds differently is just delusional.

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      • There are some people who just think that civilization is a veneer though.

        You really don’t think civilization is just a veneer? Then what accounts for riots and looting after sports team wins or a court decision folks don’t agree with? What do you think is going to happen if there is a major natural disaster and there is no power, water and the trucks can’t move to restock the grocery store? Remember Katrina?

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