According to Olivia Burgess, assistant teaching professor of English and technical communication, the first rule of Fight Club is that we are driven by our own personal utopian ideas, regardless if they end up creating dystopia.
For those who are discontent, the easiest way to change reality might be to change personal appearances. Think of tattoos, hair styles and plastic surgery. That’s where Fight Club comes in. “When you get punched in the face and you’re bleeding, life gets real pretty fast,” says Burgess, whose article, “Revolutionary Bodies in Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club,” has been accepted for publication in the journal Utopian Studies.
Burgess says a real or at least updated utopia isn’t a “perfect” state where change is no longer possible. In many ways, if you subscribe to her theories, anarchy is the new utopia.
All of this might be part of what is driving various revolutions, including the Arab Spring, the Tea Party and the Occupy movements. Those “revolutions” might start out as utopian in theory, but dystopia is always a lurking companion, moving constantly like a shark. In the film version of the novel, the story takes a turn from the personal struggles of Fight Club to something called Project Mayhem, a structured attempt to destroy entire financial districts.
“We live in a world where change doesn’t seem very possible,” Burgess says. “A lot of people feel that frustration.”