Esther’s Space- journey through my life

September 28, 2007

Fight Club (the book) #2

Filed under: p()5t^^()d3,~]\[ — estherspace @ 11:16 pm


Just because it is so wrong and so good at the same time, the intertextualization of Dennis The Menace and Fight Club here.

This novel is like a smorgasboard of things to think about!

Though it might be a well-flogged deceased equestrian, I want to comment on the subject object rainbow that we saw in this section of the reading.

“Look at your hand,” Tyler says.

Don’t look at your hand…

Don’t hear yourself cry…

You’re in Ireland. Close your eyes.

You’re in Ireland the summer after you left college…. (Fight Club 75)

Here the ‘you’ is a bit fuzzy. Interestingly, this is a moment during which Tyler actually speaks, which is indicated by the use of “”. Usually, the Tyler thoughts are statements that don’t seem to be uttered aloud. Furthermore, the narrator seems to be projecting the ‘you’ as outside of himself, as the other person Tyler is talking to. I think this is a moment during which the narrator is aware of his loss of subject-ness. Later, however, the narrator actually uses the “I”, but it is only to describe his loss of “I” and transformation into an object of Tyler’s metanarrative on the state of the world:

My wish right now is for me to die. I am nothing in the world compared to Tyler.

I am helpless.

I am stupid, and all I do is want and need things.

Now. The amazing miracle of death, when one second you’re walking and talking, and the next second, you’re an object.

I am nothing, and not even that. (Fight Club 146)

This ‘hitting bottom’ (the goal of Tyler’s organization) is soon followed by the clear connection between the object and it’s place in the metanarrative:

The mechanic starts talking, and it’s pure Tyler Durden.

“I see the strongest and the smartest men who have ever lived…and these men are pumping gas and waiting tables.” (Fight Club 149)

One of the narrator’s jobs is that of a waiter, and through this ‘human sacrifice’ on the mechanic’s part, the quiting of that job will be just one more step in the refusal of the commonplace modes of living, and one more towards the understanding of what it means to be alive.   This is the beginning of the revolution for the narrator.  (Jameson was afraid that without modernity, the people wouldn’t be able to understand each other and organize for a revolution, wasn’t he?  Perhaps it’s important that this seems to necessarily be an individual commitment before is is a organized revolution, and that this revolution was instigated  by a general dissatisfaction, but mostly by a schizophrenic alter-ego)  ‘

Is the fact that this little project is being controlled by a dominant subject of a schizophrenic alter-ego an example  the ways that postmodernism will be characterized by those refusal or fragmentation of old forms and styles?  Is this hero undercuts capitalist monster and saves the day, except that the hero isn’t really a person?



September 26, 2007

Fight Club (the book), I love you too- not that love means anything anyway

Filed under: p()5t^^()d3,~]\[ — estherspace @ 11:50 pm

Okay, I have to admit it, before we left class, la professora pointed at certain words on the board, said some others, and told us to keep them in mind when reading Fight Club to see what we came up with regarding how the two work together. I can see the moment, but I have no idea what those words were.

I think that I should also mention that today I am playing the believing game and will henceforth prove that Fight Club is, indeed, postmodern.

Today I will be thinking about the concept of Jameson’s ‘postmodernism is not a style but instead a cultural dominant.’ (4) What I take from this phrase is that we are not able to recognize postmodernism as a thing we can take or leave depending upon our preferences, but instead it is the current state of society. Jameson also insists that postmodernism is primarily characterized by a fragmentation of the concept of history, where people create a conception of the past based on small pieces of actual truth intermixed with fiction. A great source for understanding Jameson can be found here.

Do we have this with Fight Club? Or at least in the first few chapters? Some examples of ‘history’ manifested:

  • “Where would Jesus be if no one had written the gospels?” (15)
  • “Everything, including your set of hand-blown green glass dishes with the tiny bubbles and imperfections, little bits of sand, proof they were crafted by the honest, simple hard-working indigenous peoples of wherever, well, these dishes all get blown out by the blast.” (41-42)
  • “What you see at fight club is a generation of men raised by women.” (50)

I’d like to investigate the idea of “where” the narrator comes from, and his impression of how he fits into history. The above statements are many a number of assumptions about historicity. These include the idea that one must be ‘important’ to be recorded in history, and if this record is not made, that person was never actually important, everyone, at some point, had an ancestor that was ‘native’ (and, by this implication, primitive), and ancestor that we cannot actually trace (and are not interested in doing so) so it remains as an assumed idea, and that this particular generation has been lacking in male role models, which implies that previously there were at least some.

In looking at these three quotes (creating a metaconcept based on a collection of fragmented ideas, anyone?), it seems to be clear that the narrator’s concept of history is largely based on a sense of history that is largely commercialized and influenced by so many factors that it subject to such skepticism and no longer retains any value that would be present in something that is ‘pure’ history (assuming that Jameson believes that there is a pure history, even if we cannot access it). This skepticism is illustrated by the first quote, in which he discusses the Bible, which is supposed to be a collection written by the Apostles and, pardon the phrasing, from a credible source. Due to the fact that he lives during this time period, he has been raised to understand the Bible not as a direct source, but instead as one of a number of possible truths.

In Fight Club, the narrator is largely removed from a direct ‘organic’ link to history. Instead time, naturally, has added layers and the idea of perspectives on truth. This has obviously led to a great deal of confusion. Hence the narrator’s problem; since he does not have the ‘traditional markers’ that would help him conceptualize his place in history and society, he is lost in chaos.

But this is not over yet. Please take note of this photo, of pillow fight club. I’m guessing these people did not take Fight Club as a whole, but instead parceled it up, put the pieces back together in a new way but with the same title, and have effectively replaced memory with a concept of what was (or must have been).


September 25, 2007

I can spell Jameson, so it’s not a bad start

Filed under: p()5t^^()d3,~]\[ — estherspace @ 9:48 pm

Okay, I guess I need to wrap up what we were talking about in class, as just an attempt at solidifying my understanding of Jameson’s idea of Postmodernism. Maybe we’ll even get a little application in here.

  1. Postmodernism is a historical period and not a style. (pages 3-4)
  2. The current postmodern world is void of a true understanding of history. Instead individuals create a false representation of history based on misassociated signifiers.
  3. As a result of the rules of modernism being disassembled, items and individuals that were once inherently culturally significant are losing their power of individuality or personal style. (48)
  4. Concurrent with the loss of personal style, Jameson is concerned with the loss of the direct connection between individual and lived history. This is accompanied by a sense that history has been replaced by images that are meant to replace actual history.
  5. Postmodernism is primarily focussed with fragmentation and depthlessness.

That’s enough of that. There are also a number of images and examples that I will not go into right now.

Let’s investigate Jameson’s relationship with cognitive mapping (51). According to, cognitive mapping is

a process composed of a series of psychological transformations by which an individual acquires, codes, stores, recalls, and decodes information about the relative locations and attributes of phenomena in their everyday spatial environment.

For Jameson, postmodernism represents a scary world in which all traditional markers are removed, and therefore individuals have no perspective or basis on which they can develop a cognitive map to determine their current location or their ideal end location. In this article, such a situation is referred to as “disalienation in the traditional city…” (51).

Jameson’s skepticism of the modern city is very similar to his skepticism of modern art, which we described in class. Again, he feels as if the traditional objects are capable of leading the observer in a direct line to ‘true’ history, and that modern objects are completely void of historical significance. But, my question is, are these ‘traditional objects’ inherently historical signifiers, or is this ability to historically signify lost with different styles or time periods? Here are photos of houses from the romantic, modernist, and postmodernist styles.


Before I go any further, I feel it is necessary to inform you, my dear Watson, that postmodernism does, indeed, seem to be a style of its own, just as romanticism and modernism are. hmmm

But, back to the question. So, does the middle (glass) house represent an awareness of the time period and cultural situation that it was born of more than the others do? I think not. It seems clear that the architectural styles of any given period are a direct result of the time period it emerged from. In the romantic period, there was a continual nostalgia for the past, which leads us to Roman columns and ornamental bits that are meant to indicate the grandeur of the past. And the cycle continues. It would therefore appear that architecture, like any other form of expression is not capable of freely indicating a direct line to Jameson’s ‘organic’ history. Instead, it is also influenced by the numerous images of history that have been incorporated into the social consciousness.  We are again left with the problem that if books cannot tell us history, our memories cannot be relied upon, and art is incapable of capturing even just a moment of pure or true historicity,  where can it be found?

September 15, 2007

This is the Lyotard Blog

Filed under: p()5t^^()d3,~]\[ — estherspace @ 10:54 pm

Shoot, I got so excited, I ran ahead of myself and already ranted and raved about “Fight Club.” (And, because it can’t possibly hurt to say it one more time, I enjoy watching Pitt & Norton, and I motion that this entire class be taught using cinematic examples, because I would much rather spend 2 hours of my life with actors instead of the performances of theorists such as Lyotard).


Anywho, onto the theories of our friend, Jean-Francois (who isn’t as tough without the squiggle under the C) Lyotard. He writes:

  • “A work can become modern only if it is first postmodern. Postmodernism thus understood is not modernism at its end, but in the nascent state, and this state is constant.” (79)
  • “The grammar and vocabulary of literary language are no longer accepted as given; rather, they appear as academic forms, as rituals originating in piety (as Nietzsche said) which prevent the unpresentable from being put forward.” (80-81)
  • “The postmodern would be that which, in the modern, puts forward the unpresentable in presentation itself…” (81)

Working backwards, I understand Lyotard’s definition of a postmodern to be the ability for writers (or any artists) to do away with set rules in an effort to produce a work that illustrates something that was previously only a concept that could not be paired with a direct image. However, this process is postmodern, but the results are modernist, since they are examples of a human’s ability to ‘realize’ his/her environment. Lyotard is very fond of the concept of postmodern artists gesturing at a creation that is only suggested at by their work, but requires greater investigation to actually be articulated.

Theory in practice:


This beauty is called “Vooki” or “The Wave” and is located in Helsinki. Jean-Francois would have much to say about this, I’m sure. To do a postmodern reading of this sculpture, we would simply have to say that the artist is trying to articulate an idea. But we cannot define this idea because then we would have rendered this work to be modernist. It sort of takes the fun out of it. I understand Lyotard’s sentiments, but I think that the process of discovering the purpose (or purposelessnous) of a piece is much more interesting and valuable. With Lyotard’s definition of postmodernism, I constantly feel as though truth is running through my fingers like water, and though my hands are wet, I haven’t actually accomplished anything. Maybe he prefers this constant state of nascence, but I’m not a fan.

Alex, I’ll take ‘schizophrenia’ for $200

Filed under: p()5t^^()d3,~]\[ — estherspace @ 10:06 pm

Mark this Moment: E + FC= ist2_419124_painted_hearts.jpgist2_419124_painted_hearts.jpgist2_419124_painted_hearts.jpg

According to, this brain disease can be manifested by:

“Psychosis,” a common condition in schizophrenia, is a state of mental impairment marked by hallucinations, which are disturbances of sensory perception, and/or delusions, which are false yet strongly held personal beliefs that result from an inability to separate real from unreal experiences. Less obvious symptoms, such as social isolation or withdrawal, or unusual speech, thinking, or behavior, may precede, be seen along with, or follow the psychotic symptoms.

Jack, meet Tyler. Tyler, you know Jack. (His name is Jack, isn’t it? He does refer to himself as such, right? On imdb, he is only referred to as the narrator.) Apparently, Tyler is real, at least in Jack’s reality. Being a modernist, I would like him to be real for me, too. For much of the movie, I was happy to enjoy gazing upon Brad, I mean Tyler. (Very important insertion: Pitt & Norton will be filming another movie together very soon, according to ABC news)When Marla started to get confused, things fell apart. So, who’s the dude in charge of this operation?

At the end of the movie, we see the showdown between Tyler and Jack for control of Jack’s body’s mind. Here’s the clip:

I can’t believe he shot himself. But, if it’s real, it’s real. But, back to the subject issue. So, for most of the movie, it would appear that we have two subjects, of varying power, but slowly Tyler becomes more and more powerful, taking over the narrator’s mind completely at times. His ability to do so, and then Edward Norton’s character reclaiming his mind, or at least the greater part of control of it, seems to prove, as we saw in Written on the Body, that it is not possible to have more than one primary subject. Due to the construction of language, it is not possible to have two voices equally sharing the power simultaneously. Is there a language in which this is possible?

Interestingly, in order for the primary subject to remain most powerful and ‘in control’, he must battle his ‘dark side’ ::cough:cough:Star Wars:cough:: First, the narrator creates his not side, Tyler. Then, by feeding it and cultivating its growth, the part of him that is not becomes real, or it becomes him (or he becomes it?). However, in the end, he realizes that that was not who he was after all, it was just a mask, a mask that had to be destroyed in order to re-gain his original self. Correction. Who he was before no longer exists. What I am trying to explain is that he is sort of re-gaining the power over his mind and body through re-defining who he is. Which, of course, is always changing, and therefore there is no permanent self. (damn it, I think that’s my modernism peeping through) It’s also important to track the Jack/Tyler power struggle; it’s a see-saw relationship, meaning, not two subjects, but instead alternating subject and object being used. Let’s get some theory in here.

Simon Malpas– Our friend Simon enjoys the concept of identity primarily as a performance. Interesting. So, in this scenario are Jack and Tyler two equal voices competing to be the mask that is the main character, and in the end they come together to form a ‘new’ character?

Jean-Francoise Lyotard– his greatest love is the idea of postmodernism being the ability of artists to create new rules that illustrate that our current forms are outmoded, and have these new forms point to an idea that we cannot currently articulate, due to our outmoded forms and rules. Or, in his own words, “The postmodern…puts forward the unpresentable in presentation itself…” (class handout 81). So, what is being pointed at here? Well, I think there are a few concepts. Remember that the book was released in 1997, a whole 10 years ago, and times have changed, I think that two important ideas that were presented include the loss or need to re-define or re-find masculinity (for and by men), as well as financial/economic future of our nation. That’s all I’ve got there.

One the other side of the argument, this film is not postmodern at all.  There is no unclear concept that is being gestured at.  Instead, using the modernist ideals, we can see that the film is full a number of metanarratives, mostly from Tyler, (such as the things you own begin to own you, if we destroy the credit card companies we will bring the debt threshold to zero, making everyone equal, we were raised by a generation of women, I’m not sure that’s what we need now) that collectively respond to the current crises of masculinity, and individual financial stability.  So, no ‘unknown’ here.  I think I like this idea better.

I almost forgot to mention our dear friend Marla. “Marla… the little scratch on the roof of your mouth that would heal if only you could stop tonguing it, but you can’t.” (narrator). Marla is a victim of these two characters, and of this story. She is oblivious to the controlling aspect of Jack/Tyler’s life, Fight Club, she needs validation at every turn, and doesn’t seem to have much to offer beyond a body capable of having intercourse. Let’s just say she’s not a main character. When the narrator tried to convince her to leave town because he thought that the members of Tyler’s army saw her as a threat, I was confused. She was of no consequence in their plans. I think this may have been a ploy by the producers to up the romantic part of this drama. And then, after being dragged, kicking and screaming, into an empty office building by men in ski masks, placed in front of a seeming whacko who just shot himself in the head, Marla chooses to hold hands with him and enjoy to destruction taking place. Right. This lady needs counseling, or at least some real personality besides the generic ‘weird’ the movie gives us with her fly-away hair and gaunt frame.

I feel like I ‘get’ it. I’m sure once we get to class we’ll totally transgress my understanding, but here, on this level, I own it. boo-ya. If not, you may be hearing from me again soon.

September 12, 2007

Why does Gail Right get to be so right?

Filed under: p()5t^^()d3,~]\[ — estherspace @ 7:01 pm

‘You shouldn’t have run out on her.’

Run out on her? that doesn’t sound like the heroics I’d had in mind. Hadn’t I sacrificed myself for her? Offered my life for her life?

‘She wasn’t a child.’

Yes she was. My child. My baby. The tender thing I wanted to protect.

‘You didn’t give her a chance to say what she wanted. You left.’

I had to leave. She would have died for my sake. Wasn’t it better for me to live a half life for her sake?

‘Honey, if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s a hero without a cause. People like that just make trouble so that they can solve it…I think you’re a crazy fool. Maybe you didn’t love her.’ (Winterson 159-161)


Out here in the street, striding purposefully, I can give the impression that I’ve got somewhere to go. There’s a light on in my flat and you’ll be there as arranged with your own key. I don’t have to hurry….It gives me a loose-limbed confidence to know you’ll be there. I’m expected. There’s a continuum. There’s freedom. (Winterson 181)


So, Sam, where does that leave you now? What kind of love did you think you had for Louise? I think it wasn’t love at all, but instead a power play. You are the subject, and she has always been the object. Rarely do we, the readers, have access to her voice, except through you. You thought that things were going well enough, because they were going ‘as arranged’. However, once Louise became the subject in her own life, you were displaced. While you pretend that it was best for Louise to give you up and instead be with Elgin for nothing more than the care he can provide, it should be noted that what she wanted was never important to you. She got those second opinions. But, yours was the most important. If she is indeed dying, isn’t it most important to make her happy and comfortable? Instead, like Gail points out, you forget her except that she is the reason that you are wallowing in the deepest vat of self-pity. There was never any real self-sacrifice for Louise. Instead, you broke her heart so that you could avoid the stress of the situation, and so that you, instead, could be the victim of this cancer.

At the end of the novel, Louise has become the subject, but of another book. She has thoughts and feelings independent of the narrator, and, most importantly, makes decisions. She has made herself un-findable, but the evidence of her being an individual human remains. She left those second opinions for Sam to read, as well as the evidence of her at the apartment for the sole reason of illustrating that she has a legitimate and continuing life outside of Sam’s life.

Is love simply power? If one says ‘I love you’ is it the same as saying ‘It makes me feel good that you do what I want’? Certainly the relationships in this novel follow this criteria for love. Elgin certainly feels a satisfying level of comfort with Louise when she does as he prefers, Sam somehow loves Jaqueline until she no longer satisfies his/her want of stability. Even Sam’s previous relationship with Carlo, the chaetophobic shaver, must end when Sam no longer makes Carlo happy by doing what he wants. Love doesn’t get to ‘do’ anything in this novel. It does not transform anyone because of it or because one is in pursuit of it. Love is, instead, the object of the novel. It has a variety of responsibilities heaped upon it. An object, in grammar, is used to help the subject ‘do’ the verb. Love as the object, then, is supposed to help our narrator to do something, such as be happy. But, perhaps, the problem is the understanding of love as an object. Love is a verb, and sometimes it can be the subject, but love as an object fails every time. Just ask Sam.

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