“Active imagination is the most powerful technique Jung ever encountered for metabolizing, digesting, and assimilating the contents of the unconscious and hence, becoming conscious. Instead of passively watching the manifestations of the unconscious, in active imagination we fully engage with and actively participate in a conscious, living relationship with our unconscious.
“In active imagination we find ourselves being asked to creatively respond and come to terms with the voice of the ‘other’ within ourselves. The psychological process of active imagination is the equivalent of the symbolic operations of alchemy. When the alchemists speak of meditatio and imaginatio (meditation and imagination), they are referring to developing an inner, creative dialogue with, and hence cultivating a living relationship to the answering voice of, the ‘other’ in ourselves, that is, the unconscious.
“When an unconscious content is about to become conscious, it first becomes partially conscious, simultaneously visible and invisible.”
-Paul Levy, Dispelling Wetiko
“…the potential of your being and its associated relatively tiny subset of truth, is usually culturally based (particularly in the West), intellectually justified, and socially supported by the collective mind.
“The collective mind, unfortunately, always represents the lowest common denominator in concepts and understanding. It is relatively safe, easy, low risk, non-threatening, and not subject to ridicule by your peers. It is, therefore, particularly attractive to fearful, under-developed, insecure, under-powered, and materially focused minds.”
-Thomas Campbell, Book 2-My Big Toe
1999 could easily go down as one of the most brilliant years in cinematic history. Block busters and cult classics like The Matrix, American Beauty, The Green Mile, The Sixth Sense, Being John Malkovich, Eyes Wide Shut, The Blair Witch Project, Magnolia and Dogma are just a few of the memorable ones.
But for me, at the top of the list was the most controversial film of that year: Fight Club.
I know most of the conspiracy minded consider The Matrix to be the greatest allegorical take on humanity’s present situation, and I would concur. But Fight Club digs deeper into the shadow of the human psyche and the dissociative split that exists between the straw-man construct of civilization and the nameless, timeless authentic being that lays buried beneath the ego of the culturally sanctioned modern day narcissist.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the movie has the star power of Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter, Meat Loaf and Jared Leto backing it. Nor does it suffer from the directing brilliance of David Fincher, who also directed among others Seven, The Curios Case of Benjamin Button and Gone Girl. He is now involved with the excellent and successful ‘House of Cards’ Netflix series which I highly recommend.
From the beginning, the main character (who never has an established name, instead going under aliases until finally figuring out who he really is) is an employee of a major car company that assesses car accidents and weighs their potential impact on recalls. If the car company thinks it’s cheaper to pay out the lawsuits than the recall, they don’t fix the problem. Buyer beware.
One must consider how pertinent this issue is today, considering all of the recalls and scandals that have infected the auto industry, in fact most corporate industries, ever seemingly on the increase.
As a consequence of his job he suffers from insomnia and spends most of his free time either watching TV or ordering personal merchandise to define and complete his life. He makes this statement in reflection, “…when deep space exploration ramps up it’ll be the corporations that name everything: the IBM Stellar Sphere, the Microsoft Galaxy, planet Starbucks…” He becomes a slave to the ‘Ikea nesting instinct’.
Getting desperate for solutions and receiving none from the medical industry he starts frequenting cancer support groups, finding release for pent up emotions and utilizing meditation techniques to find solace.
This is where he meets the suicidally eccentric Marla Singer. Because she, like him, does not suffer from the afflictions that these support groups facilitate, it reflects his fraudulence. And as a consequence, he starts suffering from insomnia again.
I find it interesting to note that the name Marla Singer is very similar to two other women in history: Margaret Singer was a clinical psychologist known for her study in mind control and coercive persuasion techniques. She also studied cults and published a book called ‘Cults In Our Midst’. She was harassed and received death threats, some possibly associated with Scientology. My knowledge of her is cursory at best but her work seemed to be of a service to humanity.
The aforementioned Singer’s ‘shadow’ might have come in the manifestation of Margaret Sanger with the founding of the American birth control movement and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She is associated with work in eugenics and many other poisonous ideologies. Is it coincidence that these names are all so similar? Maybe, but maybe not.
On a business flight our character meets Tyler Durden and right away he can tell there is something intriguing about Durden after learning that he makes and sells soap, “…the yardstick of civilization.” And especially after Durden shares knowledge on how to make explosives, “Did you know if you mixed equal parts of gasoline and frozen orange juice concentrate you can make napalm?” A precursor of events to unfold, good times.
The first big twist in the story is when our innominate character’s apartment blows up, leaving him homeless and without all of his personal belongings for which he’s spent so many sleepless hours scrutinizing and perfecting.
With few options he meets with Tyler in a bar and engages in a conversation that has some of my favorite quotes of the movie. Tyler says, “We are consumers, we are byproducts of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime these things don’t concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy’s name on my underwear. Rogaine, Viagra, Olestra. Fuck Martha Stewart. Martha’s polishing the brass on the Titanic. It’s all going down, man. So fuck off with your sofa units and your string green stripe patterns. I say never be complete. I say stop being perfect. I say let’s evolve; let the chips fall where they may. The things you own end up owning you.” Bingo.
This movie is full of memorable quotes and insights into the nature of the culturally warped mindset of modern society. Feeling empty and abandoned, without purpose, without hope, left to find solace in the corporate machine that pumps out shallow auspices of a dream who’s purpose is to pacify the masses into a catatonic state.
“Our fathers were our models for God. If our fathers bailed, what does that tell you about God? You have to consider the possibility that God does not like you. He never wanted you. In all probability, He hates you.
“It’s not the worst thing that can happen. We don’t need Him! Fuck damnation, fuck redemption! We are God’s unwanted children; so be it. First you have to give up. First you have to know, not fear, know that someday you’re gonna die. It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do everything.”
The Path of Surrender is to choose the center path, to express the authentic self and to transcend the ego. We find evolution in higher ideals but the first step is to recognize a change needs to take place. Second step is to shed the cloak of Fear. The third step is to transmute the ego into a compassionate state of being.
Without giving too much of the movie away (for it’s a must see for anyone who hasn’t) the boys create their own terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of corporate property. It starts with men gathering in the parking lot of a bar after closing time to fight each other in an attempt to release frustration and find purpose. Club members do find purpose and eventually commit themselves to saving the world through the destruction of credit card companies.
I’ll end this blog with a motivational speech Tyler gives before one such meeting:
“I see all this potential and I see squander. Goddamn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables. Slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.
“We’re the middle children of history, men. 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 rock stars, but we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.
Fight Club is cultural nihilism at its finest and maybe that’s just what is needed to break the trance of a sociologically indoctrinated belief system of consumerism and the broken corporate model. The writing is on the wall: For too many reasons an ideological dissolvement needs to take place before it’s too late. Out of the ashes, and with a fresh understanding we can build the world anew.