Fight Club Book

Fight Club Book
When Chuck Palahniuk wrote the first chapter of Fight Club, he did not set out with
the intention of narrating the story from inside the mind of someone with schizophrenia.
Although that was not his original objective, those who read this novel experience first
hand the psyche of a schizophrenic mind. Palahniuk successfully accomplishes this by
using a stream of consciousness writing style throughout the whole book.
The provides for a very different understanding of the disorder. In the biography of John
Nash, his story is told from the perspective of an observer. Stream of consciousness
writing gives the reader a more involved and intimate experience. As readers, we
witnessing actual dialogue between the main character and his hallucination. We must
decipher between true facts and delusions. We are immersed in his thoughts and struggle
to understand him. Moreover, readers starting the book Fight Club are not aware of the
narrator's condition and must slowly piece together this crucial fact. To achieve this,
Palahniuk used multiple writing methods that let us share this experience in a way a
movie or narrated story cannot.
One of the most noticeable clues in his writing is the repetition of words and thoughts.
It is most obvious when he repeats the same word multiple times. He also frequently
begins to repeat how he starts his sentences.
"May I never be complete"
"May I never be content"
"May I never be perfect"
Always when he starts sentences out with the same beginning phrase, he does not
continue writing in a new paragraph. It ends up in a list form as if his mind is stuck on
this one phrase. Sometimes repetition can be used for emphasis but because this occurs so
often, it strongly suggests that he struggles forming coherent patterns of thinking.
Other quirks in his thinking pattern appear more clearly as the book progresses. He has
a tendency to count down minutes or count down to events. Additionally, the main
character sporadically makes up haikus in head. When counting or making up the haiku,
the actual paragraph is stopped and a new one begins. These tendencies are just other
ways it becomes obvious his thinking does not flow in a normal fashion. It is disruptive
and it is easy to see how he might dissociate or get lost in thought.
Anther feature of the feature of the book that the movie does not accomplish is the
frequent switching of time and place. The narrators thoughts repeatedly switch back and
forth between his hallucination's job and his job. In almost alternating paragraphs, the
narrators tells of his experience flying on airplanes all over the United States for his job.
In between describing his job, he tells of Tyler's (his hallucination) experiences working
as a projectionist. The entire chapter just rotates between the narrator and Tyler
suggesting that while on the airplane, he is envisioning his hallucination at work. Because
he is consistently changing from one to another, it makes it confusing yet reinforces the
chaotic nature of his thinking pattern. This element of switching places is also achieved
by the same of technique of inserting random sentences between paragraphs. "You wake
up at Air Harbor International." "You wake up at O'Hare." "You're in Ireland." These are
examples of his delusions that he has insomnia and wakes up in different places. They
probably originate from the excessive traveling he does for his job. These interrupting
delusions are just one more way disorder has rendered him verbally incoherent.
Another clue to the main character's disorder is presented consistently throughout the
book while is barely touched on in the movie. A phrase always beginning with "I am
Joe's" is inserted with no apparent reason between paragraphs. They start because he
finds a series of articles in Tyler's house where organs in the human body talk about
themselves in the first person. After this, he constantly is stating these phrases in the
middle of other thoughts. "I am Joe's Grinding Teeth." "I am Joe's Inflamed Flaring
Nostrils." He starts with these statements interchanging certain body parts but he
gradually begins to replace the body parts with the emotions he is experiencing. "I am
Joe's Enraged, Inflamed Sense of Rejection." "I am Joe's Blood-Boiling Rage." These
statements are clear indications that the narrator has trouble verbalizing his thoughts and
dealing with his emotions.
Fight Club Movie & Visual Effects-
Because a book based off a movie can not simply narrate the text, the producers had to
think of some different ways to portray the mysterious nature of Tyler and the narrator's
disorder. The factors of Palaniuk's writing style discussing above helped readers clue in
to realize that Tyler was only a hallucination and that the narrator suffered from the
disabling disorder schizophrenia. The movie relies only special effects because it does
not have the luxury of using a stream of consciousness dialogue. This is most likely due
to the fact that it would be too confusing for movie goers to follow along and the movie
needed to appeal to a larger audience.
One effect the producers used to imply that Tyler was a hallucination was to flash split
second images of a person. The flashes are almost like subliminal images where you
would question whether you even saw it or not. By questioning whether or not we see
hallucinations, the producers can accomplish a similar feeling or seeing through the
narrator's eyes.
Another significant special effect implying the narrator's mental condition is the
opening sequence. (Insert first scene here). The first minute and a half depict the inside of
the narrator's brain on a microscopic level and in particular his fear center. Focusing on
the inner workings of his brain are a clear sign that his mental state is a significant factor
in the character.
As an insomniac, the narrator often feels only half awake. He feels a loss of control
over the world and his thoughts and special effects allowed us to see this different
perspective. At point, the view from the camera seems to come out of a trashcan in his
office and swirls around as if he is not fully conscious. His distorted point of view is also
emphasized by showing how his life has been consumed by material objects. The
narrator claims to be obsessed with IKEA furniture and values them as some of his prized
possessions. When showing his apartment, the special effects makes prices and
paragraphs pop up on the screen almost like his apartment was turning into the actual
IKEA magazine.
As much as the special effects enhance the audience's experience seeing out of the
narrator's eyes, they do not measure up to the depth the book includes. Although the
narration in the movie follows very closely to the actual text, the 2 hour movie is still
limited how much of the book it can actually tell. The extent of disorganization of the
narrator's mind is lost in the movie version. The movie version is more similar to A
Beautiful Mind in how it seems to be telling his story rather than seeing things through
his eyes. The random phrases and repetition of words is kept to a minimum in order to
make the movie more entertaining. His counting is not as prominent and his tendency to
make up Haikus is completely omitted. The movie mainly focuses on the aspect of
hallucinations and portrays the interaction between the narrator and Tyler. The movie
does not make the narrator out to be verbally incoherent or plagued by prominent
Beautiful Mind Movie-
The Academy Award Winner for Best Picture, Director (Ron Howard), Actress in a
Supporting Role (Jennifer Connelly), and Writing/Screenplay (Akiva Goldsman) in 2002,
A Beautiful Mind is both a great film and a great story. Starring Russell Crowe, Ed
Harris, Christopher Plummer, and more, and adapted from Sylvia Nasar's biography A
Beautiful Mind, the film follows the true story of the life of John Nash, a brilliant
Princeton mathematician and economist most well-known for his theory of rational
behavior in group scenarios, better-known as the "Nash Equilibrium." But what truly
separates Nash's life as unique was his prolonged struggle with schizophrenia and his
amazing ability to in large measure overcome the severe limitations and adversity he
faced on account the disorder. However, up until the release of this film in 2001, the life
and trials of John Nash were widely-unknown to the American and international public.
In fact, because Nash's life was a mystery to so many, the film's producers used the
revelation that Nash was schizophrenic to throw a major curveball to viewers halfway
through the film. Three characters Nash had become close with and were presented as
real, Charles (his college roommate), Marcee (Charles' niece), and William Parcher (a
secret government agent), were all revealed to actually not be there, unreal imaginations
of Nash's chaotic, yet beautiful mind. In retrospect, a closer look at the cinematic
elements in which the first half of the film is shot and presented suggests that concealing
Nash's schizophrenia was a tactful, deliberate act on the part of director Ron Howard, yet
was also subtly and distinctly foreshadowed.
Throughout their encounters, Nash's interaction with Charles, Marcee, and Parcher
were (almost always) only in one-on-one settings with Nash, meaning either Nash was
generally alone with only one, or a combination of all three. Any first-time viewer
without an intimate previous knowledge of who John Nash was would never even think
to question these characters as a legitimate reality, as each character is presented in the
film just as any other character would be. However, there are a few exceptions. Multiple
scenes early in the film, such as in the bar where Nash sees Charles from across the way,
or when Nash first meets Marcee in the quad with Charles, or sees "Big Brother" Parcher
in the Department of Defense laboratory. But interestingly, whenever these characters are
present in these scenes, they are never recognized or spoken to by anyone other than
Nash, much like as is the case in M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense (1999) in the
scenes with Haley Joel Osment and Bruce Willis, who is actually a ghost.
But what is perhaps the most striking element of A Beautiful Mind is the way in which
Nash's schizophrenia is subtly foreshadowed and reflected through Ron Howard's nifty
camerawork, original score, lighting, and tone. Even before Nash's schizophrenia is
revealed, the camera is constantly moving, even in scenes where it does not need to be.
The camera often circles around him, around the scene--just as his mind is always
moving. It's almost like Nash cannot sit still, cannot stop thinking, and neither can the
camera, which is nicely paralleled by the substitution of transient, moving shots in place
of the traditional still-frames. The same is true of the music, is is always moving, up and
down. It is beautiful music, just like his mind is beautiful, but there's no rhyme or reason,
or method to it--it also constantly stays moving, just like the camera does. Also, it's just
instrumental so there are no words to any of the music throughout the movie. Though it
may seem to be a stretch, this could be a metaphor for the fact that the voices are his, and
only he can hear them. Furthermore, where Nash is psychologically in his bout with
schizophrenia is also reflected in the stark contrast in lighting and tone between scenes
where it is not greatly affecting him, to where it has crippled him. Bright tones and
vibrant colors light up scenes where Nash's mind is firing on all cylinders academically,
as well as in his happiest moments with Charles and Alicia, when schizophrenia seems
worlds away and least damaging to him mentally. But in scenes of torment and
brokenness later in the film once his schizophrenia is revealed, duller blacks, whites, and
grainy shots become the norm. (I have examples of all these we can insert here or
A Beautiful Mind Book Quotes
Sylvia Nasar's book A Beautiful Mind is a biography of the mathmatical genius, John
Forbes Nash, Jr. The book is a systematic look at Nash's life. The book begins with
Nash's parents and proceeds through his childhood, his undergraduate and graduate
careers, various jobs he holds during young adulthood, his personal relationships with
others, chronocles his disease, and his miraculous reawakening. Nasar approaches her
subject, Nash, and his life from a factual point of view. She tries to paint a literal picture
of exactly what Nash's life looked like, leaving out nothing. Nasar challenges the idea
that people fit into nice, neat boxes that humans can categorize. She gives the reader a
full picture of the life of John Nash and allows them to decide what parts of his life may
have contributed to his disease and his resurfacing from it.
In the book, Nash appears to have a "normal" childhood. He is not a prodigy and even
struggles with school, getting a B-minus in math in the fourth grade. His teacher thought
he couldn't do the work, but his mother recogized that he had his own way of procuring
the answers. Other students always categorize Johnny as strange and akward and spent
most of his time reading books and conducting experiments. John goes to Carnegie
Institute of Technology orginially to become a chemical engineer, like his father. During
his time there, he switched his major to math and continued on to Princeton because they
provided more money than Harvard, and Nash perceived it as a slight for not winning the
Putnam competition. During the summers, Nash worked at a civilian think-tank called
RAND in California. For a while, Nash worked at MIT and Princeton doing research and
as little teaching as possible.
In terms of his personal life, Nash had something he called "four great friendships"
with men. Observers say Nash had numerous relationships with other males, not trying
to hide the relationships, being so bold as to kiss in public. He also dated a woman
named Eleanor for many years. With Eleanor he fathered a child who ended up in and
out of foster homes and orphanages. While Eleanor continued the relationship, Nash
never paid for anything for his son or Eleanor. During this time, Nash also had a
relationship with a male colleague and eventually the woman he would marry, Alicia.
All three people became aware of each other at different points in the relationships, but
Eleanor was the most torn up. It was a short while after she discovered Alicia that she
ended it with Nash. Alicia waited around for Nash for many years and they finally
married in a small, family ceremony.
Nash always split bills with Alicia right down the middle, from dinner to rent.
Although he was never particularly nice to her, he was always aware of her. At some
point during the marriage, Nash became interested in stocks. He invested his mothers
money and lost most of it. Although he had enought to pay her back, this disappointment
along with his failure to make any real headway mathmatically opened the door for him
to pay special interest to another man in the department. While nothing ever came of it,
Alicia was always concerned with Nash's interest in the man.
In the year 1958, everything with Nash started out normally. A couple weeks into the
year, however, Nash was telling others that he was being sent messages from either outer
space or a foreign government in the New York Times and only he could decode them.
A lot of people were confused and though Nash was joking because he was so serious
when he responded to them. Nash says that he remembers "a feeling of mental
exhaustion and depletion, recurring and increasingly pervasive timage, and a growing
sense of revelation regarding a secret world that others around him were not privy to. He
began, he recalled in 1996, to notice men in red neckties around the MIT campus. The
men seems to be signaling to him. "I got the impression that ohter people at MIT were
wearing red neckties so I would notice them."" (Nasar 242). Alicia remembers Nash's
descent into the disease as incredibly rapid. Nash became paranoid for example, in his
office he would not want someone else between him and the door. He started trying to
send umstamped letters to foreign ambassadors. While no letters survive, people
remember the contents as Nash trying to form a world governement. Nash even refused
to speak at the University of Chicago because he had an appointment to become the
"Emperor of Antarctica" (Nasar 244).
It was just before this unstable mental period that Alicia became pregnant. From the
questions he asked, Alicia wondered if Nash thought she was having an affair. He
became more secretive and distant, and Alicia began wondering if he was having an
affair himself. One night, Nash even painted black circles all over their room. Alicia
explained it all as due to stress from the upcoming tenure position and the baby. Alicia
tried very hard to keep Nash's strange habits from getting out at the University. Nash
threatened to take all his money out of savings and move to Europe. Alicia began to see
a psychiatrist and look up laws about getting a person unwillingly committed. Nash
received tenure, but the head of his department gave him the first semester off due to his
mental breakdown. During this time, Nash had on again off again symptoms that
confused many people into thinking he was just fine.
In April of 1959, Alicia had Nash involuntarily committed for observation. Nash was
resentful of Alicia having put him in a mental hospital. Nash recalls, "these ideas keep
coming into my head and I can't prevent it" (Nasar 258). Nash was diagnosted with
paranoid schizophrenia and at the time the doctors explained psychological disorders in
psychoanalytic terms. After fifty days in the hospital, Nash had started acting normal
again and quit speaking of running the world. Alicia, unwilling to sign another
committment form, and the hospital convinced of his good behavior, released Nash.
Nash resigned from MIT and he and Alicia travelled to Europe while the unnamed baby
spent the time with Alicia's mother. While there, Nash tried to give up his American
citizenship. Later, he desired to be declared a regfugee status from NATO, Warsaw, the
Middle East, and SEATo pact countries. At one point, Nash threw away his passport
disabling him from travel.
After two years of dealing with the disease, Nash would often go into restaurants
without shoes on and would walk around the Princeton campus talking to squirrels and
writing everything in a notebook that said Absolute Zero. He referred to himself in third
person as Johann von Nassau and continued to write letters and make strange phone calls.
Alicia, Nash's mother and sister all agreed to have Nash involuntarily committed once
again, this time to a state run facility. Nash was treated with insulin coma therapy five
days a week for six weeks. The theory behind the therapy was that "if the brain were
deprived of sugar, which is what keeps it going, the cells that were functining marginally
would die. It owuld be like radiation treatments for cancer" (Nasar 293). After his
shock treatment was over, Nash seemed to be doing better and was again released.
After a period of time, Nash again slipped back into delusions and he moved to Europe
while Alicia stayed in the states. When he returned, she filed for divorce and Nash didn't
seem all that bothered by the proceedings. The American Mathmatical Society decided
to raise funds so Nash could stay at a two-year facility. He was involuntarily committed
for a thrid time to a different hospital in New Jersey. Alicia refused to allow Nash to
receive electroshock therapy for fear of ruining his brillant mind. Once Nash started
doing better, he continually nurtured hopes that he might reconcile with Alicia.
Once again, when Nash got sick," he was standing in front of the Forum when he
began to hear voices 'like telepathic phone calls from private individuals.'" (Nasar 312).
Portrayal of Schizophrenia-
-A Beautiful Mind (movie) and Fight Club seem to be different kinds of schizophrenia
- John Nash- paranoid- delusions, hallucinations
-Tyler Durden- undifferentiated- hallucinations, delusions, avolition, social
dysfunction, moods
and actions not situation appropriate, blunted affect, verbally incoherent
-both A Beautiful Mind and Fight Club see the perspective from the narrator with the
-both A Beautiful Mind and Fight Club portray schizophrenia as more dangerous to
others than it is (depends on the drowning the baby incident)
-BOOK- disorganized thinking more than the MOVIE
Cinematic Misconceptions:
According to scholars, “Cinematic schizophrenic characters frequently are depicted as
dangerous to others, unpredictable, and grossly disorganized in behavior, speech, and
affect...These cinematic portrayals are inaccurate and negatively stereotypical.” Also,
scholars have noted that most people who suffer from schizophrenia are not violent
towards others, and the most prevalent types of hallucinations are auditory.
Schizophrenia is not related to split personality disorder, either. Both films, Fight Club
and A Beautiful Mind, contain cinematically stereotypical views of schizophrenia. In
Fight Club, for instance, the main character's alter ego, Tyler Durden, starts several
underground fight clubs, and then progresses to committing acts of vandalism as part of
an anti-capitalist agenda. The fact that the main character has another personality that he
is not aware of suggests that he suffers more from split personality. The violent nature of
the film could also leave viewers with a skewed perception of how people with mental
disorders act. In A Beautiful Mind, John Nash's hallucinations are vivid and visual, but for
the most part, this film has received praise for the accuracy with which schizophrenia is
In order to understand why these films can be misleading in how they represent the
popularized disorder, one must consider the limitations that film can have. Most of the
symptoms of schizophrenia are internalized, so cinematographers must find ways to
visually represent events that are happening on a character's mental level. Often times,
the best way to do this is to use characters that interact with the actor who is portraying
the schizophrenic; these characters represent the voices that in reality would just be heard
in someone's head. For example, in the film A Beautiful Mind, Charles, John Nash's
college roommate, is envisioned by Nash as a real person who he interacts with and
considers one of his best friends. In actuality, though, John Nash's psychosis did not
include such vivid renderings of his internal delusions. A patient who struggled with
schizophrenia said, "'I've never met anyone with schizophrenia who experienced
hallucinations of people of such exact detail. At the same time, just because the voices
are invisible doesn't mean they aren't as real as real people. You relate to them if they are
real'" (Hollywood Schizophrenia). At running the risk of misrepresenting what actual
experiences of mental disorder are like, then, film must use visual images to coherently
depict what those on the outside of suffering would not be able to see or hear. The
experience of what is going on in a character's head becomes more understandable and
meaningful for the viewer.
One must also consider what the goals of a particular film are: is the film intended to
give insight into what the mind of a schizophrenic is like, or is the film trying to make
other social commentary?