Hein (fub) wrote,
Hein
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Fight Club and conscious choices

Warning: this will be quite rambling and may possibly not make much sense. You have been warned.

So, I saw 'Fight Club' this weekend. I saw one part on Saturday morning, and watched the rest on Sunday, in two sittings.
Saturday evening, we attended a party. The conversation turned to movies (as such things do), and klik mentioned the movie. Everyone was going: "Oh! That is my favourite movie! And we're not going to spoil it!"

But the 'gimmick' of the plot actually takes away the attention of the actual theme of the movie. And sure, it does put the events of the movie in a whole different light. And I'm sure repeated viewings will give you more and more clues and inside jokes.
But that is not what the movie is about. The movie is about how modern life has ground down the people who make up society. We're trained to covet stuff that we don't need, to surround ourselves with all sorts of cruft. We're trained to not care about ourselves and just go along with the flow. And Tyler's Fight Club made people feel in control again -- broke them out of the cycle.

There is a scene in the movie when Tyler is driving a car, and he lets it drift into the opposite lane. An oncoming truck sounds its horn, and The Narrator is afraid they'll collide. Tyler shouts: "What do you want to do before you die?" and the two goons in the back of the car answer without missing a beat. Things like painting a self portrait. And The Narrator says: "I don't know! Nothing!"
That is his problem. If there's nothing you can think of that you absolutely want to do before you die, you're done. And you're ready to die then -- why would you live on anyway?

Saturday evening (when I hadn't seen the movie completely -- only the first 20 minutes of it), I spoke with a guy who is working as a manager at a McDonald's restaurant. He seemed ill at ease in his job, but he kept on struggling on, because it was the only thing he had or could. As he said: "No-one thinks being a manager a McDonald's is a cool job. No-one wants that -- everyone wants to be a fighter pilot."
We got to talk about school reunions, and he said: "Well, then you have people who want to advertise just how far they have come. But did they seriously want to become manager of facilities at some office building? Most people don't become what they wanted to be."
Looking back, that ties back into the movie in a bizarre way, even though they were two completely separate conversations with two completely different sets op people.

If you asked me what I wanted to be when I was 15, I would have said "scientist". I wanted to solve the mystery of consciousness, to make strong AI systems. And here I am, working at a software company, advising large financial service firms like insurers and bankers on how to organise their document production processes. As such, I did not become what I wanted to be.
On the other hand, towards the end of my studies and during my work for the DoRo ESPRIT project, I decided that I would make a lousy scientist. I wanted to make things -- I'm more of an engineer than a scientist. Which guided my carreer move to Cap Gemini -- I could make things there that fit together with my area of expertise. And so on and so on.
Last year, I quit TOJ and started working at TNJ, because my goals for my carreer had changed. A job at TNJ would allow me to develop myself in the direction I wanted (and so far, that is happening exactly according to plan). When I said that, the McDonald's manager said: "Oh, so it was a deliberate choice?"
I try to always make deliberate choices. How to spend my free time. What to do with my carreer. What to watch on TV. What my next electronics project will be.

My mid-term goal is that I want to design a cool electronics kit, with reasonably complex functionality. I want to release the kit as open source hardware, and I want to sell a few kits of it as well. To reach that goal, I have ported the ORB firmware to a more current flash chip, and I am now building a Proof of Concept on prototyping board.

So, what do you want to do before you die, and what are you doing to reach that goal?
Tags: philosophy, society
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