Chuck Palahniuk is the bestselling author of fifteen fictional works, including Fight Club, Invisible Monsters, Survivor, Choke, Lullaby, Diary, Haunted, Rant. The ChuckPalahniuk community on Reddit. Something Up Phoenix Pygmy Rant Snuff Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories Survivor Tell-All. Chuck Palahniuk broke into the literary world by way of the movie version of his first novel: Fight Club (). He has gone on to write six other novels: Survivor.
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Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk Chapter 1 TYLER GETS ME a job as a waiter, after that Tyler's pushing a gun in my mout. survivor - chuck lesforgesdessalles.info - Free download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read online for free. This books (Survivor [PDF]) Made by Chuck Palahniuk About Books none To Download Please Click.
Trust me, the being-dead part is much easier than the dying part. Survivor has a really interesting concept: It is a beauty that cheats time by making itself timeless in its very act of fiat. This is the fabric of a society that is terrorized by its very means of subsistence. Pai nt i ng houses.
Si nce Cr eedi sh doct r i ne di dn' t r ecogni ze a second- pl ace f i ni sher. Al l sons af t er Adamwer e named Tender. I n t he Br anson f ami l y t hat makes me one of at l east ei ght Tender Br ansons my par ent s r el eased t o be l abor mi ssi onar i es. Tender s ar e wor ker s who t end. Bi ddi es do your bi ddi ng. I t ' s a good guess t hat bot h wor ds ar e sl ang, ni cknames f or l onger t r adi t i onal names, but I don' t know what.
Af t er t hat , you addr essed bot h member s of t he ol der coupl e as El der Maxt on. Al most al l t he chur ch el der s wer e men. I t wasn' t compl i cat ed. I t was not hi ng compar ed t o t he out si de wor l d and i t s r anki ng syst emof par ent s and gr andpar ent s and gr eat - gr andpar ent s, aunt s and uncl es, ni eces and nephews, al l of t hemwi t h t hei r own f i r st names. I n Cr eedi sh cul t ur e, your name t ol d ever ybody j ust wher e you bel onged.
Tender or Bi ddy. Adamor Aut hor. Or El der. I ' ve never been mad. And maybe Adamenvi ed me because I woul d get t o go out and see t he out si de wor l d. Ever y gener at i on, t her e was a season of mar r i ages. For a t ender or a bi ddy, a weddi ng season was somet hi ng you' d wat ch onl y f r omar ound t he edges.
I f you wer e a bi ddy, i t was somet hi ng you mi ght dr eamof happeni ng t o you. Toni ght , t he cal l s come t he same as ever y ni ght. Thei r f ami l y upset s. Thei r boyf r i end pr obl ems. Her e' s t he et i quet t e equi val ent of bal l r oomdanci ng. I ' ve j ust about per f ect ed a f ai l saf e t echni que f or moppi ng up ext r a saged cr eamwhen t he phone r i ngs, agai n.
A woman cal l s and says her ki ds won' t behave. She asks, " I sn' t t hi s ? I s t hi s t he Moor ehouse Ci nePl ex? I ask, how ol d was her br ot her?
I make my voi ce sound deeper , di f f er ent enough I hope so she won' t know me. She doesn' t even sound al l t hat sad. Her voi ce makes me t hi nk of her mout h makes me t hi nk of her br eat h makes me t hi nk of her br east s.
My l ease on my apar t ment i s al most r un out. The t ags on my car expi r e next week. I ask, i sn' t t her e someone who shar es her gr i ef over her br ot her? Nobody el se put s f l ower s on t he gr ave? I ask, how does she mean, wei r d? Thei r whol e t own t hey st ar t ed, t hey al l went t o chur ch and dr ank poi son, and t he FBI f ound t hemal l hol di ng hands on t he f l oor , dead. Thi s guy r emi nded me of t hat. What el se? Let your mut ual l oss br i ng t he t wo of you t oget her.
Thi s coul d be a bi g br eakt hr ough i n r omance f or her. Besi des, he wasn' t t hat at t r act i ve. You coul d hel p hi mout. Gi ve hi ma makeover. Thi s guy j ust doesn' t have any good f eat ur es t o wor k wi t h. That and he' s queer. I sn' t she supposed t o see hi magai n? He was j ust so needy and pat het i c. He f ol l owed me al l over t he mausol eumf or an hour. She pr omi sed.
Thi nk of poor dead Tr evor , her br ot her. She asks, " How di d you know hi s name? You sai d hi s name. Tr evor. Twent y- f our. Ki l l ed hi msel f l ast week. Had a secr et l over who desper at el y needs her shoul der t o cr y on. You' r e a good l i st ener , " she says. What do you l ook l i ke? Hi deous. Ugl y hai r.
Ugl y past. I ask about her br ot her ' s f r i end, maybe l over , wi dower , i s she goi ng t o meet hi m next week l i ke she pr omi sed? You have t he chance t o make a bi g di f f er ence i n someone' s l onel i ness.
Her e' s a per f ect chance t o br i ng l ove and suppor t i ve nur t ur i ng suppor t t o a man who needs your l ove desper at el y. Genesi s, Chapt er Thr ee, Ver se Twel ve: The woman whomt hou gavest t o be wi t h me, she gave me of t he t r ee, and I di d eat. I ' mnot al one her e. She says, " Put your mout h al l over me. Oh, har der , do me har der , " she l aughs and says. Li ck me. Li ck. But I don' t. Fer t i l i t y' s sayi ng, " You know you want me. Tel l me what you want me t o do.
You know you want t o. And I hang up. Then t he phone r i ngs. She has her own set of pr obl ems. She has a degr ee i n soci al wor k. Ten year s ago she was t went y- f i ve and j ust out of col l ege and she was swamped wi t h col l ect i ng t he cl i ent s assi gned t o her as par t of t he f eder al gover nment ' s br and- new Sur vi vor Ret ent i on Pr ogr am.
What happened was a pol i ceman came t o t he f r ont door of t he house wher e I wor ked back t hen. I di dn' t know any bet t er. The yar ds ar ound t he house wer e al ways wet dar k gr een and cl i pped so smoot h t hey r ol l ed out sof t and per f ect as a gr een mi nk coat. Not hi ng i nsi de t he house ever l ooked depr eci at ed.
When you' r e t went y- t hr ee, you t hi nk you can keep up t hi s l evel of per f or mance f or ever. You can' t under st and how good my wor k f el t up t o t he moment I opened t hat door. No mat t er how peopl e st ar ed at me, I wor e t he mandat or y chur ch cost ume ever ywher e, t he hat , t he baggy t r ouser s wi t h no pocket s.
The l ong- sl eeved whi t e shi r t. Because I ' mnot Ami sh. You wer en' t a l ant er n under any basket. You st ood out r i ght eous as a sor e t humb. You wer e t he one hol y man t o keep God f r omcr ushi ng al l of t he Sodomand Gomor r ah seet hi ng ar ound you i n t he Val l ey Pl aza Shoppi ng Cent er. You wer e ever yone' s savi or , whet her t hey knew i t or not.
I t f el t even mor e wonder f ul t o meet someone dr essed t he same as you. The br own pant s or t he br own dr ess, we al l wor e t he same l umpy br own pot at o shoes. I f you met someone f r omt he chur ch di st r i ct col ony, you coul d say: You coul d say: And you coul d say: The t wo of you woul d r ush t oget her and you wer en' t al l owed t o t ouch.
No huggi ng. No handshaki ng. You woul d say one appr oved bi t. She woul d say one. You kept your heads bowed, and you each went back t o your t ask. Gr owi ng up i nsi de t he chur ch di st r i ct col ony, hal f your st udi es wer e about chur ch doct r i ne and r ul es. Hal f wer e about ser vi ce. Ser vi ce i ncl uded gar deni ng, et i quet t e, f abr i c car e, cl eani ng, car pent r y, sewi ng, ani mal s, ar i t hmet i c, get t i ng out st ai ns, and t ol er ance.
Dr i nki ng and smoki ng wer e f or bi dden. Pr esent a cl ean and or der l y appear ance at al l t i mes. You coul d not i ndul ge i n br oadcast f or ms of ent er t ai nment. Luke, Chapt er Twent y, Ver se Thi r t y- f i ve: J ust say no. The ot her r ul es j ust went on and on. God f or bi d you shoul d ever dance. Or eat r ef i ned sugar. Or si ng. But t he most i mpor t ant r ul e t o r emember was al ways: When t he apocal ypse was i mmi nent , cel ebr at e, and al l Cr eedi sh must del i ver t hemsel ves unt o God, amen.
Si nce l i st eni ng t o br oadcast communi cat i on was a no- no, i t mi ght t ake year s f or al l chur ch member s t o f i nd out about t he Del i ver ance. Chur ch doct r i ne named i t t hat.
The Del i ver ance. The f l i ght out of Egypt. You mi ght not f i nd out f or year s, but t he moment you f ound out , you had t o f i nd a gun, dr i nk some poi son, dr own, hang, sl ash, or j ump.
You had t o del i ver your sel f t o Heaven. I t was t he apocal ypse, t he Del i ver ance, and despi t e al l my wor k and al l t he money I ' d ear ned t owar d our pl an, Heaven on Ear t h j ust wasn' t goi ng t o happen.
Bef or e I coul d t hi nk, t he casewor ker st epped f or war d and sai d, " We know what you' ve been pr ogr ammed t o do at t hi s poi nt. A year l at er , f our hundr ed. Si nce t hen, even a coupl e of casewor ker s have ki l l ed t hemsel ves.
The gover nment f ound me and most of t he ot her sur vi vor s by our l et t er s of conf essi on we sent back t o t he chur ch di st r i ct col ony ever y mont h. We di dn' t know we wer e wr i t i ng and sendi ng our wages t o chur ch el der s who wer e al r eady dead and i n Heaven. We coul dn' t know t hat casewor ker s wer e r eadi ng our t al l y ever y mont h of how many t i mes we swor e or had unpur e t hought s.
Now t her e was not hi ng I coul d t el l t he casewor ker t hat she di dn' t al r eady know. Ten year s have passed, and you never see sur vi vi ng chur ch member s t oget her.
The sur vi vor s who see each ot her now, t her e' s not hi ng l ef t bet ween us except embar r assment and di sgust. Our shame i s f or our sel ves. Our di sgust i s f or each ot her. Sackcl ot h and ashes. They coul dn' t save t hemsel ves. They wer e weak.
And I was weak. The casewor ker sai d, " I under st and you have a pr obl emwi t h mast ur bat i on. Shoot , cut , choke, bl eed, or j ump.
The wor l d was passi ng by so f ast out si de t he car my eyes went goof y. The casewor ker sai d, " Your l i f e has been a mi ser abl e ni ght mar e up t o now, but you' r e goi ng t o be okay.
Ar e you hear i ng me? J ump ahead t en year s, and not much has changed. Thi s pr obabl y i sn' t somet hi ng we shoul d cel ebr at e. Today' s our weekl y sessi on number f i ve hundr ed and somet hi ng, and t oday we' r e i n t he bl ue guest bat hr oom. Thi s i s how much money t hese peopl e make. Af t er ever y coupl e of quest i ons she l eans over wi t h t he bal l poi nt pen st i l l i n her hand and pi nches t he st emof t he gl ass, hol di ng t he pen and gl ass cr ossed chop- st i ck st yl e.
She t akes a dr i nk. She put s t he gl ass back whi l e I answer. She wr i t es on t he yel l ow l egal pad r est ed on her knees, asks anot her quest i on, t akes anot her dr i nk. Her f ace l ooks paved under a l ayer of makeup. She says her l i st s of l ost cl i ent s and l ost boyf r i ends ar e r unni ng neck and neck. The ammoni a. The smoke. I don' t dar e answer t he phone, but I know f or sur e i t ' s her. She asks, " Have you got t en any phone cal l s you' d descr i be as t hr eat eni ng?
A ci gar et t e, a si p, a quest i on; br eat hi ng, dr i nki ng, and aski ng, she demonst r at es al l t he basi c appl i cat i ons f or t he human mout h. Then somet hi ng i nvi si bl e somewher e st ar t s t o beep and beep and beep unt i l she pr esses on her wat ch t o st op i t.
The pl an cr ashed because t oo many cl i ent s t r i ed t o hoar d t hei r weekl y pr escr i pt i ons f or t hr ee weeks, si x weeks, ei ght weeks, dependi ng on t hei r body wei ght , and t hen downed t hei r st ash wi t h a scot ch chaser. No, I say, I ' mnot t hr eat ened. Over t he phone, she sounded so t ur ned on sexwi se I can' t r i sk i t. Her e I amcompet i ng wi t h mysel f. The pl an i s t o unseduce her. Unat t r act her. The casewor ker asks, " Have you got t en any t hr eat eni ng or unexpl ai ned mai l?
The casewor ker checks her wat ch. She put s down her dr i nk and t akes t he t oot hbr ush. She st ops and l ooks, scr ubs some mor e. She t akes anot her l ook. Look how cl ean i t get s under neat h. I n anot her case, a woman hung her sel f wi t h a bat hr obe t i e, but one of her ar ms was di sl ocat ed and bot h her wr i st s wer e br ui sed. Cl i ent sui ci des come i n cl ust er s. St ampedes. Lemmi ngs. I ask, what does she mean, f al se sui ci des? So why i s she aski ng me al l t hese quest i ons?
She scr ubs wi t h her t oot hbr ush. Wi t h her ci gar et t e smoki ng i n her one hand, she scr ubs mor e. She says, " Except f or t he t i me t hey happen, t her e' s no r eal pat t er n. You need t o be car ef ul because you coul d be next. I ask t he casewor ker , her bei ng a woman and al l , How do women want a man t o l ook? What does she l ook f or i n a sex par t ner? Mai nt enance i s a snap. The f ake yar r ow and pl ast i c nast ur t i ums need t he dust hosed of f t hem.
The pl ast i c r oses wi r ed ont o t he poi soned dead skel et ons of t he or i gi nal r ose bushes need a shot of smel l. For most of t he ot her pl ant s, I use aer osol cans of f l or al r oomf r eshener. The wor st st r at egy I coul d pur sue i s sel f - i mpr ovement. Not desper at e and needy, but r i pe wi t h pot ent i al. Not hungr y. Washed but not i r oned. Cl ean but not pol i shed. Conf i dent but humbl e. Honest i s how I want t o l ook.
Her e' s passi ve aggr essi on i n act i on. Bef or e and Af t er. I t ' s t wo on Wednesday af t er noon. Rol l t he car pet pad.
Tur n and unr ol l t he car pet. Accor di ng t o my dai l y pl anner book, t hi s shoul dn' t t ake me mor e t han hal f an hour. I scuf f t he shi ne of f my shoes. Then I cat ch a bus. Anot her par t of t he Sur vi vor Ret ent i on Pr ogr ami s you get a f r ee bus pass ever y mont h.
St amped on t he back of t he pass i t says: Pr oper t y of t he Depar t ment of Human Resour ces. Non t r ansf er abl e.
My head i s j ust a mi shmash of ol d pr ayer s and r esponses. May I be of compl et e and ut most ser vi ce. Let my ef f or t not be wast ed. Thr ough my wor ks may I save t he wor l d. I nsi de t he mausol eumf r ont door s, t her e' s t he usual cheap r epr oduct i ons of r eal beaut i f ul musi c t o make you f eel not so al one. They don' t pl ay i t except f or cer t ai n days. You don' t hear i t anywher e unl ess you r eal l y l i st en.
Musi c as aer osol r oomf r eshener. I swi pe some pl ast i c r oses of f some dead per son' s cr ypt so I won' t show up empt y- handed. She can' t be t he same per son who was scr eami ng her or gasmat me over t he phone. I say, Hi. I n her hands i s a bunch of f ake or ange bl ossoms, ni ce enough but not hi ng I ' d bot her t o st eal.
Her dr ess t oday i s t he same ki nd of br ocade t hey make cur t ai ns out of , pat t er ned whi t e on a whi t e backgr ound. St ai n- r epel l ent. Wr i nkl e- r esi st ant. I ask, Mi ss who? She' s bar ef oot on t he st one f l oor. My secr et sodomi t e l over.
I f or got. I say, Yeah. The Rumba and t he Swi ng. The Wal t z. The Wal t z was easy. She t akes my f l ower s and her s and put s t hem agai nst t he wal l. She asks, " You can wal t z, r i ght? I n her head, t her e' s a pi ct ur e of Tr evor and me danci ng t oget her. Laughi ng t oget her. Havi ng anal sex.
She says, " Open your ar ms. She comes i n f ace- t o- f ace cl ose wi t h me and cups one hand on t he back of my neck. Her ot her hand gr abs my hand and pul l s i t out f ar away f r omus. She says, " Take your ot her hand and put i t agai nst my br a. Thr ee. We count over and over , and st ep each t i me we count and we' r e danci ng.
The mar bl e smoot hs under our f eet. We' r e danci ng. The l i ght i s t hr ough st ai ned- gl ass wi ndows. The musi c comes out t he speaker s weak and echoes of f t he st one unt i l i t ' s movi ng back and f or t h i n dr af t s and cur r ent s, not es and chor ds ar ound us. And we' r e danci ng. I t was t r ashed. Ar gent i neans. The one, t wo, t hr ee, box st ep of i t. The gol d br ocade cur t ai ns hung cr ooked acr oss each wi ndow. They wer e t he l ast passenger s aboar d t he SS Ocean Excur si on.
Under even a l i t t l e wat er , t he checker boar d f l oor of mahogany and wal nut par quet l ooked l ost and out of r each. The met al skel et on of t he shi p, t he bul kheads behi nd t he l i ni ng of panel i ng and t apest r i es, shudder ed and gr oaned. I ask, was she goi ng t o dr own her sel f? That was hi s whol e pr obl em. Tr evor Hol l i s had dr eams, she t ol d me. He' d dr eama pl ane was goi ng t o cr ash. The dr eams got so he coul dn' t sl eep.
He di dn' t dar e r ead a newspaper or wat ch t el evi si on or he' d see t he r epor t of some t wo hundr ed peopl e dyi ng i n a pl ane cr ash he knew woul d happen, but coul dn' t st op.
He coul dn' t save anybody. We' d have al l t hat f ood and wi ne. Then someone woul d come al ong t o r escue us. I t was pour i ng down t he gr and st ai r case, " she says. We dance, one, t wo, t hr ee. She says, " No way woul d I shoot mysel f. She says, " J ust ki ddi ng. She put s her head back on my chest and says, " I t al l depends on how t er r i bl e my dr eams get. The casewor ker says i t ' s okay. You f i nd what you want.
You gr ab i t and make i t your own. The casewor ker cal l ed me a t ext book exampl e of kl ept omani a. She ci t ed st udi es. My st eal i ng, she sai d, was t o pr event anybody f r omst eal i ng my peni s Feni chel , St eal i ng was an i mpul se I coul dn' t cont r ol Gol dman, I st ol e because of f a mood di sor der McEl r oy et al.
Lat el y, I ' mnot even shopl i f t i ng, not i n t he cl assi c, f or mal sense.
I nst ead of st eal i ng mer chandi se, I ' l l wal k ar ound downt own unt i l I f i nd a cash r egi st er r ecei pt someone' s j ust dr opped. Don' t use t he same r ecei pt t wi ce. And of cour se, st or es know al l about t hi s scam. Ot her good scams i ncl ude shoppi ng wi t h a bi g cup of soda you can dr op smal l i t ems i nt o. Anot her way i s t o buy a cheap can of pai nt , t hen l oosen t he l i d and dr op somet hi ng expensi ve i nsi de.
Have her. Thr ow her away, maybe. Our danci ng t oget her has t o be a t ool I can use. As t he musi c changed, she t aught me t he basi c Cha- Cha, t he Cha- Cha cr ossover st ep, and t he f emal e under - ar m Cha- Cha t ur n.
She showed me t he basi c Fox- t r ot. I t was wor se t han anyt hi ng I coul d i magi ne. And when I asked, What? She l aughed. Maybe what I l i ked most about danci ng i s t he r ul es.
The chor eogr aphy, t he di sci pl i ne, i sn' t up f or debat e. These ar e good ol d- f ashi oned r ul es. How t o dance t he Box St ep i sn' t goi ng t o change ever y week. To t he casewor ker , when we st ar t ed t oget her t en year s ago I wasn' t a cr ook.
Or i gi nal l y, I was an obsessi ve- compul si ve di sor der. Accor di ng t o her , I was t he second ki nd. The casewor ker t ol d me t he sympt oms, and I di d my best t o mani f est t hemand t hen l et her cur e me.
Af t er bei ng obsessi ve- compul si ve, I was a post t r aumat i c st r ess di sor der. Then I was an agor aphobi c. I was a pani c di sor der. My head i s count i ng one, t wo, t hr ee. Wher ever you l ook among t he pi geons t her e ar e bi g- t i cket r ecei pt s al l over t he si dewal k. Wal ki ng ar ound downt own, I pi ck up anot her r ecei pt. Thi s one' s good f or a hundr ed sevent y- t hr ee dol l ar s cash. For about t hr ee mont hs af t er I f i r st met t he casewor ker , I was a di ssoci at i ve i dent i t y di sor der because I woul dn' t t el l t he casewor ker about my chi l dhood.
Then I was a schi zot ypal per sonal i t y di sor der because I di dn' t want t o j oi n her weekl y t her apy gr oup. Then because she t hought i t woul d make a good case st udy, I had Kor o Syndr ome, wher e you' r e convi nced your peni s i s get t i ng smal l er and smal l er and when i t di sappear s, you' l l di e Fabi an, ; Tseng et al.
Sper mmakes me t hi nk of sex makes me t hi nk of puni shment makes me t hi nk of deat h makes me t hi nk of Fer t i l i t y Hol l i s. We di d what t he casewor ker cal l ed Fr ee Associ at i on. Ever y sessi on we had, she di agnosed me wi t h anot her pr obl emshe t hought I mi ght have, and she gave me a book so I coul d st udy t he sympt oms.
By t he next week, I had what ever t he pr obl emwas down pat. One week, pyr omani ac. One week, gender i dent i t y di sor der. She t ol d me I was an exhi bi t i oni st so t he next week, I mooned her. She t ol d me I was at t ent i on- def i ci ent so I kept changi ng t he subj ect.
The book t he casewor ker gave me was cal l ed t he Di agnost i c and St at i st i cal Manual of Ment al Di sor der s. She gave me a l ot of her ol d t ext books t o r ead, and i nsi de wer e col or phot ogr aphs of model s get t i ng pai d t o l ook happy by hol di ng naked babi es over head or wal ki ng hand i n hand on a beach at sunset.
We wer e happy enough t hi s way. She f el t she was maki ng pr ogr ess ever y week. I t wasn' t bor i ng, and she gave me t oo many f ake pr obl ems f or me t o st r ess about anyt hi ng r eal. Ever y Tuesday, t he casewor ker woul d gi ve me her di agnosi s, and t hat was my new assi gnment.
We di d t he Wechsl er. The Beck Depr essi on I nvent or y. The casewor ker f ound out ever yt hi ng about me except f or t he t r ut h. What ever my r eal pr obl ems mi ght be, I di dn' t want t hemcur ed. By myt hs. By my chi l dhood. By chemi st r y. My f ear was, what woul d be l ef t? So none of my r eal gr udges and dr eads ever came out i nt o t he l i ght of day.
I di dn' t want t o r esol ve any angst. Resol ve i t. Leave i t behi nd.
The casewor ker cur ed me of a hundr ed syndr omes, none of t hemr eal , and t hen decl ar ed me sane. She was so happy and pr oud. She sent me out i nt o t he l i ght of day, cur ed.
You ar e heal ed. Wal k. A mi r acl e of moder n psychol ogy. Ar i se. Fr ankenst ei n and her monst er. Unt i l t oni ght. Wal ki ng ar ound downt own t oday, t en year s l at er , I pi ck up anot her r ecei pt. My one r eal psychosi s I deni ed t he casewor ker i s cur ed by a st r anger. That ' s al l we di d was dance. Even bef or e Tr evor ki l l ed hi msel f , she knew he woul d. Then she had t o l eave.
Then she pr omi sed, next week, next Wednesday, same t i me, same pl ace, she' d be t her e. Thi s i s how I get home. Maybe i t ' s schi zoi ds, par anoi ds, pedophi l es. Ready t o gi ve me her second i mpr essi on of me.
Al l t he way f r omt he el evat or door s comi ng open, I r un t o answer t he phone. Hel l o. Anyone coul d see i n her e. And he says, " May you di e wi t h al l your wor k compl et e.
The secr et f or maki ng per f ect boeuf Bour gui gnon i s t o add some or ange peel. To make pant s keep a shar p cr ease, t ur n t hemi nsi de out and r ub a bar of soap on t he i nsi de of t he cr ease. Tur n t hemr i ght - si de out and i r on as usual. Al l ni ght l ong, I ' mcl eani ng. I can' t sl eep. To cl ean t he oven, I ' mbaki ng a pan of ammoni a. The casewor ker i s mi ssi ng. Ever y t en mi nut es, I cal l t he casewor ker at her of f i ce and al l I get i s her message.
Pl ease l eave a message at t he beep. She needs t o get me some pr ot ect i on. And her message machi ne keeps cut t i ng me of f. So I cal l back. Pl ease l eave a message. I need an ar med, t went y- f our - hour pol i ce escor t. Somebody coul d be i n t he hal l way, and I need t o use t he bat hr oom.
The ki l l er she t ol d me about knows who I am. He cal l ed. He knows wher e I l i ve. He has my t el ephone number. Cal l me. I f I end up dead f r omsome mur der er hol di ng my head i n t he oven, i t ' s because she never checks her messages. Li st en, I t el l her machi ne. Thi s i s not a par anoi d del usi on. She cur ed me of t hose, r emember? I ' mnot hal l uci nat i ng. Then her message t ape r uns out.
Peopl e go down t he hal l way, but nobody st ops. Nobody t ouches my door knob al l ni ght. Pr egnant unweds. Subst ance abuser s. They have t o dash of f t hei r conf essi ons pr et t y f ast bef or e I hang up. Appr oach or avoi dance. Posi t i ve and negat i ve r ei nf or cement f or answer i ng t he phone.
I ' ve been t hi nki ng about you al l week. I ask her , what about her f r i end? Wasn' t she supposed t o meet hi magai n t oday? Pl ease, anybody wi t h a r i f l e and a scope. Shoot me r i ght her e.
Be my guest. Take a number , and st and i n l i ne. She says, " No way. No day. She says, " Wai t. You woul dn' t know. They coul d j ust go out f or t he af t er noon. Get hi mout of t he mor t uar y and he mi ght l ook bet t er.
Take hi mon a pi cni c. Do somet hi ng f un. My back hur t s. My eyes f eel cut open wi t h a r azor.
I get dr essed, and I go t o wor k. The sky i s bl ue- col or ed t he way you' d expect. Not hi ng l ooks out of t he or di nar y. I came over ear l y. The t ear s r ol l i ng down my cheeks, I ask, di d she get my messages? The casewor ker does most of her br eat hi ng t hr ough a ci gar et t e. The f umes must be not hi ng t o her.
Ther e' s some cof f ee and homemade muf f i ns I j ust baked. Why don' t you j ust r el ax? Take some not es? I was awake al l ni ght. She di ps her scr ub br ush i n her bucket of cl eani ng wat er. She t hi nks she' s doi ng a gr eat j ob. Twel ve t he ni ght bef or e t hat. She says, " Thi s won' t sound appr opr i at e, but congr at ul at i ons. Get t he book. Besi des, t he DSM i s l ost. I haven' t seen i t i n a coupl e days.
Al most al l her cl i ent s ar e gone. She' s st r essed out. Bur ned out. No, i nci ner at ed. Cr emat ed. She' s suf f er i ng f r omwhat ' s cal l ed Lear ned Hel pl essness. Accor di ng t o my r ecor ds, you' r e per f ect l y happy and adj ust ed. We have t he t est s. Ther e' s empi r i cal evi dence t o pr ove i t.
The pr obl emi sn' t wor se j ust because you know most of t hem. That was t he r umor. You coul dn' t ask t hemi f t hey had had t o squeeze t he f r og. You' d never see t he col ony agai n. They set asi de t he whol e year bef or e your bapt i smf or you t o get your sel f per f ect. You wer e excused f r omwor k at home so you coul d go t o speci al l essons al l day.
Bi bl e l essons. Cl eani ng l essons. That whol e year bef or e bapt i sm, ever y t r ee, ever y f r i end, ever yt hi ng you saw had t he hal o ar ound i t of your knowi ng you' d never see i t agai n. By what you st udi ed, you knew about most of t he t est s you' d get.
Beyond t hat , t he r umor was t her e was mor e we di dn' t know woul d happen. We knew by r umor t hat you' d be bar e naked f or par t of t he bapt i sm. One chur ch el der woul d put hi s hand on you and t el l you t o cough. Anot her el der woul d sl i de a f i nger up your anus. You di dn' t know how you wer e supposed t o st udy f or a pr ost at e exam. We al l knew t he bapt i sms t ook pl ace i n t he meet i ng house basement.
The daught er s went t o bapt i smi n t he spr i ng wi t h onl y t he chur ch women i n at t endance. J ob, Chapt er Four t een, Ver se Fi ve: Psal m, Psal ms of Davi d, Ver se Two: Anot her chur ch el der woul d bl i ndf ol d you and gi ve you cl ot h sampl es t o f eel , and you had t o say whi ch was cot t on or wool or a pol y- cot t on bl end. You had t o i dent i f y housepl ant s. St ai ns. I nsect s. Fi x smal l appl i ances. We guessed about t he t est s f r omwhat we had t o st udy i n school.
Ot her par t s came f r omsons who wer en' t t oo br i ght. Your f r i ends woul d t el l each ot her , and t hen ever ybody woul d know. Nobody want ed t o embar r ass t hei r f ami l y. And nobody want ed a l i f et i me of r emovi ng asbest os. To make us wor k har der , t hey t ol d us about wonder f ul j obs i n gar dens bi gger t han anyt hi ng we coul d pi ct ur e t hi s si de of Heaven.
Some j obs wer e i n pal aces so enor mous you' d f or get you wer e i ndoor s. These gar dens wer e cal l ed amusement par ks. The pal aces, hot el s. To make us st udy even har der , t hey t ol d us about j obs wher e you' d spend year s pumpi ng cesspool s, bur ni ng of f al , spr ayi ng poi sons.
Removi ng asbest os. So you memor i zed ever y mi nut e of your l ast year i n t he chur ch di st r i ct col ony. Eccl esi ast es, Chapt er Ten, Ver se Ei ght een: To keep l ace cr i sp, i r on i t bet ween sheet s of waxed paper.
We wer e kept busy l ear ni ng. We memor i zed hal f t he Ol d Test ament. We t hought al l t hi s t eachi ng was t o make us smar t. What i t di d was make us st upi d. None of us ever consi der ed what l i f e woul d be l i ke cl eani ng up af t er a st r anger ever y day.
Washi ng di shes al l day. Feedi ng a st r anger ' s chi l dr en. Mowi ng a l awn. Al l day. Pai nt i ng houses. Year af t er year. I r oni ng bedsheet s. For ever and ever. Wor k wi t hout end. We wer e al l of us so exci t ed about passi ng t est s, we never l ooked beyond t he ni ght of t he bapt i sm. We wer e al l so wor r i ed about our wor st f ear s, squeezi ng f r ogs, eat i ng wor ms, poi sons, asbest os, we never consi der ed how bor i ng l i f e woul d be even i f we succeeded and got a good j ob.
Washi ng di shes, f or ever. Mowi ng t he l awn. The ni ght bef or e t he bapt i sm, my br ot her Adamt ook me out on t he back por ch of our f ami l y' s house and gave me a hai r cut.
I coul dn' t wai t. The next ni ght was our bapt i sm, and we di d ever yt hi ng we' d expect ed.
Then not hi ng el se. Af t er you' d been poked and f el t and wei ghed and quest i oned about t he Bi bl e and housewor k, t hen t hey t ol d you t o get dr essed.
The t r uck dr ove out i nt o t he wi cked out si de wor l d, i nt o t he ni ght , and nobody you knew woul d ever see you agai n. You never f ound out how hi gh you scor ed. Ther e was al r eady a wor k assi gnment wai t i ng f or you. God f or bi d you shoul d ever get bor ed and want mor e. The same bei ng al one. On Chuck Palahniuk. Eduardo Mendieta. On Chuck Palahniuk Mendieta, Eduardo. Philosophy and Literature, Volume 29, Number 2, October , pp. Chuck Palahniuk broke into the literary world by way of the movie version of his first novel: Fight Club He has gone on to write six other novels: He also has published an interesting travel book, Fugitives and Refugees; A Walk in Portland, Oregon , but since this is not properly fiction, I will not discuss it in this essay.
It is only with his most recent work Choke that he has began to be widely reviewed and commented on. In the following I provide a thematic reconstruction of each one of the six published novels, in chronological sequence. Many novels, many short cuts, many vignettes, are necessary: These heroes, I will argue, are testimonies to the resilient power of individuals to resist even the most invasive and persistent onslaughts by culture on the physic life of freedom and individuality.
I will also argue that he is neither a commercial nor academic writer; that is, he is not the kind of writer who writes either in order to maintain a living or secure tenure. He is a writer with a mission, a vision, and a very distinctive style. The stories that Palahniuk tells are stories that begin at the end, and end at the beginning: They are, in other words, about unmaking, uncoupling, and disentangling our selves from the normal self into which we have been socialized.
These stories are, thus, about the discovery of moral resources that lay dormant in the very simplicity of human solidarity and trust in our will to survive morally untainted, or at least redeemable.
A Cultural History American Dreams and the Flight from Commitment of s and s narcissistic and hedonistic masculinity. It is at the same time about the struggle for a viable sense of masculinity in an age in which earnestness is peddled as glibness, callousness is masked as gravitas, and arrogance is passed off as character; in short, in an age of staged heroism and cosmetic masculine beauty.
There was a time when American men could be proud of having served in the military, fighting evil Hitlers and malevolent Hirohitos. There was a time when being a man meant having risked his life to save the world from tyranny and despotism. There was a time when there was pride in a job well done, over the span of a long life, in such a way that this job came to define masculine identity.
There was a time when being a man meant having learned how to be a man from fathers, or uncles, or grandfathers, who all had their own war stories to tell. Being a man meant having gone through certain rites of passage which were overseen and officiated by other men. But that time was long along. How do men become men in a culture that only projects violent male role models, or commercialized and glossy versions of males? How do men become men in a culture in which Rambo, James Bond, and Dirty Harry project an ideal that power does not entail responsibilities, and violence is more gallant than delibera- tion or understanding?
At the same time, the culture of an imperial society projects and exudes a plenipotentiary will that begins to infect its subjects. An imperial, super-power, culture secretes the intoxicant of boundless entitlement.
American men deserve everything. They should and can have everything. Physical violence is always a substitute for immediacy and experience, but also a reaction to frustrated expecta- tion. At the same time, once the rush of adrenaline has subsided and the throb of pain eases, the numbness and malaise of consumerism returns.
Sought out pain and danger are palliatives for a deeper and graver sufferings: Consumerism capitalizes on this sense of lack and awareness of absence. It offers us gratification, but one which can only be momentary. To be worthy, they must be remade in the image of the true men. The male image is continuously unmade and remade in the image of the perfect male, an image that is asymptotically elusive.
The ideal and the real are so irreconcilable, so distant, that men can but only be rendered schizophrenic. Men must create community so as to find meaning, even if this community is based on futility. The Fight Club, which gives its name to the novel, becomes the desperate means to incite solidarity among strangers by means of a community of secrecy.
These men recognize each other, as men, by the wounds inflicted in fight and the secret they shared. It is not ironical that in the Fight Club ontogeny retraces phylogeny: Tyler Durden, the central character in Fight Club, is the alter ego that men must exorcise. Men must free themselves from the ghosts of a masculine Olympus, whose only existence is to vitiate any feasible and realistic sense of maleness.
A brief and mangled synopsis might be useful. We begin in the cockpit of an airplane flying west over the Pacific Ocean, with Tender Branson, our protagonist, narrating his life story to the black box.
He was the last survivor of a suicidal and millennial sect that bred children to send them into the world in order to be servants literally. As the alleged last survivor, he becomes a celebrity, qua an oddity. He who is so improbable merits our worship, as is required by a democratic ethos, in which to have made it is either a sign of predestination or incredible stamina and determination.
His improbability thus throws him into stardom, a stardom that then is capitalized and nurtured by advertising gurus. From the religion of the eschaton, he moves on to the religion of the fabricated star, the manicured and made up prophet. He fills up stadiums with gullible masses waiting for a revelation.
There is also the character Fertility Hollis, who is the clairvoyant, but she remains intractable and also unable to be commercialized, although she is the only one with any so called extraordinary power. Our faith in the extraordinary becomes yearning for a world that is not homogenized and serialized. In a mass culture of mass consumption, the singular becomes the prophetic, but the prophetic in turn becomes that which is manufactured by the culture industry.
The icons of the culture industry thus become like talisman—both curse and benediction. The idols and stars of the culture industry have become the saints of mass culture, and along with it come their hagiography and practices of worship and miracle performance. If religion was the opium of the masses, mass culture has become its crack.
If priests were the masters of mass hysteria, today the media masters are the priests of deception. Stardom replaces saint- hood, just as televised self-immolation replaces martyrdom; or perhaps it is that stardom has become the martyrdom of an age of visual exuberance and omnipresence. Yet, mass culture liberated us from culture by making of each one of us its consumer, and through consumption its producers. As consumers we all participate in the sacrament of consumption: And here, American civil religion merges with its chauvinistic nationalism: Yet, this thorough commercialization and bar-coding of culture results in the inescapable and nagging need to know what to buy, to know what to consume.
There is a direct correlation between mass production and mass consumption: Massive quantities translate into uncertainty, even angst. Where there is so much, and each choice is a leap of faith, the common and familiar becomes a respite from uncertainty and intractable massiveness.
Sameness be- comes the solace of the overwhelmed. But where everyone can have the same, each must distinguish him or herself by being unique. Unique- ness itself must turn into a commodity. Mass culture produces its own need for apocalypse, for redemption, for the end. In this way, religion that was institutionalized ignorance has become in mass culture organized dysfunction: Tender Branson is the survivor of a cult that monitored the bodily existence of its subjects to the last details, and each rite of passage is marked by some sort of physical marking.
All religions write their book of holiness on the bodies of their subjects. Religions link and bind communities by domesticating the flesh of subjects. Before they are pliant believers, the faithful have to be made docile. Religion is the torture of the flesh for the sake of the docility of the body. The soul is the prison of the body, as Michel Foucault pointed out, but religion is the technique by which the soul disciplines itself. In the end, the first and last true technology of bodies is religion.
The second aspect that I want to linger over is related to the technology of bodies that religion presupposes, and it concerns the relation between Puritanism and an almost boundless fascination with domesti- cated bodies that is the focus of pornography.
What had been the Creedish church district has now become twenty thousand acres of pornography landfill. How does one survive a culture which has made beauty the ultimate goal while at the same time recycling with the next issue of Cosmopolitan, Vogue or the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue? In this novel Palahniuk seems to be concerned with answering two main questions: If we are all self-composting, already decaying at the moment we are born, then beauty, absolute and unassailable, is unreachable and elusive, a mythol- ogy.
If beauty is a matter of visual and visible effects, then it is about surface. It is the mirror that has for its obverse the repressed monster of an unattained or already lost beauty. On the other hand, what if we succumb to this compulsion to be beautiful, beautiful beyond even what is naturally allowed to human beings—a beauty that cannot be granted by nature, and thus which compels us to erase, overcome, and supplant nature itself. In the culture of mass production and simulacra, we live under a compulsion to attain a beauty that is more beautiful than beauty.
But it is a beauty that in many ways no one has seen, and cannot be seen. It always remains in the realm of the speculative. It must be circled around, approximated by ways of extremes. I want out of the labels. A story. A real adventure. Brandy is in search of a world that is not on the map of gender and sexual relations as we have known them.
Beauty is performance, the script not of the visual and surface, but of doing, enactment, of defiance and irreverence. This beauty is not seen, but presenced. It is both terrifying, and not visible in the way that things seen are seen by the evidences they give. It is the beauty that holds us spell bound before horror.
This is the beauty of the grotesque and terrifying. It is a beauty that cheats time by making itself timeless in its very act of fiat. In the beginning, at the beginning of time, was the act. Beauty that is beyond the putrefying body of nature is the beauty of the act, of the pure will that assaults all conventions to articulate itself as what has never been experience. Beauty is the act of world-disclosure of a primordial and inaugurating will.
In this novel we return to the world of support groups and twelve-step programs. Choke is a Rabelaisian look at the culture that William Burroughs documented, from personal experience, in his classics Naked Lunch and Junky.
Here the issue is how dependency itself becomes an addiction, or rather how in the midst of a culture that flourishes and thrives by promoting and instigating addiction, the very means by which individuals seek to uncouple themselves from these imposed and acquired dependencies becomes a major part of their lives. The Faustian wager is, approxi- mately, what if your cure is as addictive as your addiction. The main character is a sexaholic, who is addicted to the most mundane forms of sexual pleasure, but also to its most extreme and bizarre forms.
He finds himself in the company of individuals who have the same addictions, and are perpetually relieving or fulfilling themselves of these addictions in the most peculiar places. Palahniuk offers us a hilarious look at something that is certainly terrifying, but in granting us this jocular picture of a devastat- ing disease he allows us to appreciate its metaphysical wonder: There is disease that ravages the body and desolates the mind, that unhinges our identities and sunders us from our loved one; and then there is the disease of the imposed dependency, the fabri- cated and promoted addictions, which is not based on a physical and natural dysfunction, but is instead based on a social and culture pathology.
We live in a society that is hyper-stimulated, that is perpetu- ally seeking a thrill. We are a society of junkies perpetually seeking a fix, addicted to excitement, the adrenaline rush, the jolt of the heart, the sense of aliveness, immediacy, of utter presence and corporeality. We live for the moment, the now, the go, the leap, the assault, the shock. We have become specimens in an extreme sports zoo.
The extreme becomes our quotidian existence, and the quotidian becomes the extreme—but of course, this is the logic of life in an extreme sports park, and one that is not sustainable in ordinary, everyday life.
From every corner of our image and sound inundated society, we are assaulted by messages and advertisements to drink, smoke, smell, and taste the flavors and aromas of acceleration, desire, motion, vitality. And we are addicted to those things that promise this rush of youth and beauty.
But we know they are dependency inducing and in the long term, unhealthy and pernicious. So we quit. We go to AAA Alcoholics Anonymous of America , we go on a diet, we quit smoking, we try to make our boring lives interesting by enjoying the small pleasure of quotidian existence. But then we become addicted to quitting, to dieting, to regulating life so as to make it less dependent, less at the mercy of commercial forces. And we are back full circle: