Archive for July, 2013

Home is people, not places

July 29, 2013

This has been making the rounds. Is it just me or does it feel vaguely patronising? Pushy and insistent that Singaporeans can’t and won’t be welcome elsewhere, that outside of these few hundred square kilometres likely lies pain? The grass is not always greener on the other side, and the longed-for “escape” may not be all that was hoped for, but it doesn’t mean Singapore is the only place to truly belong. Home is people, not places: it is where family is made and friends are kept. Home shouldn’t be places idealised through nostalgia, it should be the part of the heart populated with people worth staying up till late to long-distance call or walking twenty blocks to take care of when sick.

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Fight Club, Reprise

July 12, 2013
Obviously, major Fight Club spoilers ahead. The movie is 14 years old and I’ve just watched it, here’s a few thoughts channeled through Jack’s head. tl;dr, thoughts on a movie that seemed to be about Marxist alienation and revolution, then became “OMG MINDBLOWN who are we really and what do we want to do?”.

Dear Tyler,

 
It’s been a while. I bet you weren’t expecting to hear from me again. To be honest, I didn’t expect to see you ever again either. But asylums and prison change a man. I learnt a few things in there, took up a hobby or two, picked my life up when they let me out. I still get alternating bouts of mania and boredom every once in a while, but not like back in the bad old days. But, tonight is one of those nights, so I thought I’d write you, seeing as we didn’t exactly part on the friendliest of terms.
 
Fight Club. It’s been years and they’re still talking about it. They even wrote a book and made a film about it, moderately successful, big hit with young men. Our fifteen minutes of fame, immortalised in celluloid for the next generation of the angry and downtrodden, required viewing for the disillusioned and indebted college dropout waiting tables, up there with the likes of V for Vendetta and Brave New World. And Marx of course, let’s not forget Marx.
 
It’s fitting how the movie cut you out right at the end; your splicing pornography into kiddie flicks, in reverse. I’ve got to tell you, it’s not just the movie that’s cut you out. The world’s slowly cutting you out. I’ve cut you out and left you behind. The thing is, most people picked up that you aren’t relevant. You weren’t a dashing daredevil or a righteous crusader, you weren’t right, you were wrong.
 
I can imagine what you’d say. You’d say Hollywood toned it down, they couldn’t very well wholeheatedly condemn the capitalism that lines their pockets keeps their boot heels over the necks of their waiters, their chauffeurs, their ambulance drivers, their plumbers. They cut me out of the closing frames and pretend that love can conquer suffering, that lying back and taking it can replace passion. You’ve forgotten the passion, the adrenaline of the fight, the blood in the mouth, the pain that proves you’re not a cog. Too few taste it, and too many forget, lulled into comfortable degeneracy by cheap pleasures and empty work.
 
Do you know what you really were Tyler? Not a maverick, not a connoisseur of life, not some kind of Neo fighting the Matrix. You were a madman. A madman and a charming asshole. How else could you have tapped all those guys’ mild unhappiness and twisted it into Project Mayhem? Remember when I said “I felt like destroying something beautiful”? That was you. Charismatic, forceful, non-conformist, you really were everything I wanted to be. Too bad you had a fanatical one track mind. Although, to be honest I guess that was partly my fault.
 
Your fanaticism was a comfortable lie. You think people couldn’t, shouldn’t, stand being alienated from their labour? You think it hasn’t been going on for centuries? Work happens, shit happens, but people learn to deal with it, they don’t let it eat their entire lives. Only the disaffected and disturbed fell for you, because they didn’t have things like love or other people or occupations besides the Sisyphean task of being grinded down. So dull and so angry. But not everyone is like that, and that’s why not everything is burning they way you wanted it.
There’s a reason we have laws, and it’s not just to put people like you and me away when we’ve been bad. We have laws because we know we’re animals who will bite, claw, tear, and punch each other into a bloody pulp because it feels good. We have them because we want to stay alive, and sometimes we don’t want to be beaten halfway to death. It’s called a trade-off; it’s a term you might not be familiar with, so take your time. We trade some of our freedom to blow buildings up so that when we’re done laying into each other we can tap out and the other guy will stop. So that we can go home and indulge in our wives, or our woodworking, or our shitty golf handicap.
 
It’s not that I’m completely selling out on you though. Laws are always up for negotiation. Thing is, when you threaten to kill everyone at the table if you don’t get your way, you’ve pretty much already lost. You’ve just got to keep up the poker face and not let the other players get to you. Find the calm, find your peaceful cave, while you play the game, and you’ve won.
 
There is one thing you did do right I thought I should mention. Remember Raymond K. Hessel? The guy from the convenience store who wanted to be a vet? I’ve always said, on a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero, but that one time you, in a twisted way, gave life instead of taking it. That’s perhaps the one good thing you ever did. But it wasn’t enough Tyler, and I’m done with you.

You are Jack’s past, and you’re not coming back.
-Jack