Minimalism seems closest to the sophisticated storytelling of movies. Movies have really educated contemporary audiences to be the most intelligent, sophisticated audiences in history. We don't any longer need to have the relationship between one scene and the next explained. We will figure it out ourselves.
Jack Palance was my distant uncle - that's the family gossip. Growing up, my family knew everything about his face getting burned and scarred in the military and how that mutilation led him to become such a famous 'heavy' in films. I prayed for good scars of my own. Not just acne scars.
I think in a way, you're doomed, once you can envision something. You're sort of doomed to make it happen. I've found that the moment I can envision leaving a relationship, that's usually the moment that the relationship starts to fall apart.
When I first started writing, it was me alone with a computer in my apartment. I hated the time away from other people, and my writing sucked. Now I have a laptop; I can do the most tedious part of my job in a public place.
Your life isn't about doing one perfect 'thing' and then falling down dead. It's more like going to church or writing a book. You do it over and over, always trying to be a little bit better. Then you die.
People would ask me to autograph their bodies and then the next time I'd see them on tour they'd have my autograph tattooed. I decided I wouldn't write on people anymore, but I'd give them arms and legs and if they wanted those autographed I'd do that.
If you knew that your life was merely a phase or short, short segment of your entire existence, how would you live? Knowing nothing 'real' was at risk, what would you do? You'd live a gigantic, bold, fun, dazzling life. You know you would. That's what the ghosts want us to do - all the exciting things they no longer can.
The unreal is more powerful than the real, because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it, because it's only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles, wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on.
One thing I really envy about my friends who have kids is that as their children develop, they're able to revisit their own developmental stages and recognise themselves and undo a lot of things they decided.
Of the big horror movies of the '70s, you have 'The Omen,' 'The Sentinel,' 'Rosemary's Baby,' 'The Stepford Wives,' 'Burnt Offerings' - these are all romantic fatalist movies where there's a sort of glimmer of hope... but darkness wins.
Destruction is always an attractive idea. My brother and I used to spend weeks making models of cities so that we could destroy them in 15 minutes. There's a fantastic joy in destroying something that you've meticulously built. Then you're free to build a new thing. Destruction and creation... they're inseparable.
Personal identity seems like it's just such an American archetype, from Holly Golightly re-inventing herself in 'Breakfast At Tiffany's' to Jay Gatsby in 'The Great Gatsby.' It seems like the sort of archetypal American issue. If you're given the freedom to be anything, or be anyone, what do you do with it?
My only writing ritual is to shave my head bald between writing the first and second drafts of a book. If I can throw away all my hair, then I have the freedom to trash any part of the book on the next rewrite.
I think a lot of people saw 'Fight Club' and thought, 'Right, here's our next Che Guevara, here's our next Fidel Castro, here's someone who's going to wave the flag.' And I was like, 'No, it's just a book. And if I beat that drum, if I play that song one more time, I won't have a career.'
My characters tend to be more dynamic because they're reaching that point in their lives where their old way of being is breaking down. They're conflicted by the idea that they don't know what's next. You could call it Kierkegaard's leap of faith, when you get tired of sort of reinventing yourself on a very superficial level.
Portland in particular is a cheap enough place to live that you can still develop your passion - painting, writing, music. People seem less status-conscious. Even wealthy people buy second-hand clothes and look a little bit homeless.
I haven't had television since 1991, and it definitely influences me. As a child of the 1970s, I couldn't hold a narrative in my head; I was lucky if I could hold a joke in my head, because every time you turn on television or radio, it wipes the slate clean - at least in my case.
Any 'artist' makes a living by expressing what others can't - because they're unaware of their feelings, they're too afraid to express those feelings, or they lack the skills to communicate and be understood.
With a book, you're guaranteed the audience has a certain skill level and that the audience has to make an ongoing effort to consume this product and that the project is being consumed by just one person at a time. I really want to play to that strength because it's one of the few advantages books still have.
I used to work as a volunteer in a hospice, but I don't have any nursing skills or cooking skills or anything, so I was what they call an escort. I would take people to the support groups every night, and I would have to sit sort of on the sidelines so I could take them back to hospice at the end of the meeting.
I think, in a way, I invented the term 'fight club' and that these things have always existed, but they never really had a label. Nobody had a language to apply to them. I created that language in two words and I've been paid a great deal of money for inventing two words and labeling something that has always been around.
My books are always about somebody who is taken from aloneness and isolation - often elevated loneliness - to community. It may be a denigrated community that is filthy and poor, but they are not alone; they are with people.
I'm always trying to reach a transcendent point, a romantic point, but reach it in a really unconventional way, a really profane way. To get to that romantic, touching, heartbreaking place, but through a lot of acts of profanity.
Men are destroyed for being rebellious, and women destroy themselves by failing to be rebellious. Unless you can make that next jump to either getting along with people or resisting people, you are ultimately destroying yourself.
I wanted to write about the moment when your addictions no longer hide the truth from you. When your whole life breaks down. That's the moment when you have to somehow choose what your life is going to be about.
In books, you can just wallow in dialogue, and you can just wallow in written words. In screenplays, every line has to serve the purpose of the line that's implied before it and the line that's implied after it. Maybe five lines have to do the work of fifty lines.
In 2008, while the film version of my book 'Choke' was coming to market, my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. That meant that I had to appear in public to promote a comedy about a son trying to save his dying mother - the plot of Choke - while privately I was caring for my own dying mother. It was torture.
Romance' is based on my entire creative process. I fall in love with an idea, obsess over it, isolate myself with it, and when I eventually introduce it to my friends, they all tell me that it's stupid.
My way of being with people is probably incredibly unhealthy, in that I'll be incredibly social, and I won't write a word for maybe a year, and I'll just be with people, going to parties and soaking up stories, and just sort of recharging all of my ideas.
I think my heart always goes out to men at the peak of their celebrity who checked out. There's such an odd, horrible trend in my lifetime for it - Kurt Cobain, David Foster Wallace, Alexander McQueen, Heath Ledger.
My mom would spy by satellite, turning down the air conditioning, colder and colder, with a tapping keystroke via her wireless connection, chilling that house, that one room, meat locker cold, ski-slope cold, spending a king's ransom on Freon and electric power, trying to make some doomed ten bucks' worth of pretty pink flowers last one more day.
No, Miss Wright didn't want to meet her kid. To her, that relationship was just as important, just as ideal and impossible as it would be to the child. She'd expect that young man to be perfect, smart, and talented, everything to compensate for all the mistakes that she'd made. The whole wasted, unhappy mess of her life.
Listening, it occurred to Randall that the love people feel for animals is the purest form of love. Loving an animal, a horse, cat, or dog, was always a romantic tragedy. It meant loving something that would die before you. Like that movie with Ali McGraw. There was no future, just the affection of the present moment. You didn't expect a big payoff, someday.
For official record, announce instructor, the state requires no epic hero. No strive achieve personal celebrity of spotlight and applause. Lectures instructor, the state desires best ideal perform as mediocre. No gain attention showboat. No buffoon. Best effort so occur average. Suppress climbing ego. Become ordinary. Invisible.
I wanted to destroy everything beautiful I'd never have. Burn the Amazon rain forests. Pump chlorofluorocarbons straight up to gobble the ozone. Open the dump valves on supertankers and uncap offshore oil wells. I wanted to kill all the fish I couldn't afford to eat, and smother the French beaches I'd never see. I wanted the whole world to hit bottom."
Do you remember when you were 10 or 11 years old and you really thought your folks were the best? They were completely omniscient and you took their word for everything. And then you got older and you went through this hideous age when suddenly they were the devil, they were bullies, and they didn't know anything.
I admire addicts. In a world where everybody is waiting for some blind, random disaster or some sudden disease, the addict has the comfort of knowing what will most likely wait for him down the road. He's taken some control over his ultimate fate, and his addiction keeps the cause of his death from being a total surprise.
We hear the ambient noise of children singing. We hear lions and tigers roar. Hyenas laugh. Some jungle bird or howler monkey declares its existence, screeching a maniac's gibberish. Our entire world, always doing battle against the silence and obscurity of death.
Maybe this is why so many serial killers work in pairs. It's nice not to feel alone in a world full of victims or enemies. It's no wonder Waltraud Wagner, the Austrian Angel of Death, convinced her friends to kill with her. It just seems natural. You and me against the world...
Every generation wants to be the last. Every generation hates the next trend in music they can't understand. We hate to give up those reins of our culture. To find our own music playing in elevators. The ballad for our revolution, turned into background music for a television commercial. To find our generation's clothes and hair suddenly retro.
Alternating the thoughtful task of writing with the mindless work of laundry or dish washing will give you the breaks you need for new ideas and insights to occur. If you don't know what comes next in the story... clean your toilet. Change the bed sheets. For Christ sakes, dust the computer. A better idea will come.
Love me, love me, love me, love me, love me, love me, love me, I'll be anybody you want me to be. Use me. Change me. I can be thin with big breasts and big hair. Take me apart. Make me into anything, but just love me.
A baby is such a blank slate, like training the understudy for a role you're planning to leave. You truly hope your replacement will do the play justice, but in secret you want future critics to say you played the character better.
These flowers will be rotten in a couple hours. Birds will crap on them. The smoke here will make them stink, and tomorrow a bulldozer will probably run over them, but for right now they are so beautiful.
I think we're in an age starved for genuine experiences, instead of cathartic phony experiences through the media, structured, engineered experiences. And those are the fast food, the masturbation of experience. They don't really exhaust any aspect of ourselves; they don't make us any stronger.
No matter what else you came up against, if you could smile and laugh while a monkey did you with chestnuts in a dank concrete basement while somebody took pictures, well, any other situation would be a piece of cake
Scratch any fortune and you'll find blood only a generation or two back...child labor in mines or mills...Slavery. Drugs. Stock swindles. Wasting nature with clear-cuts, pollution, harvesting to extinction. Monopolies. Disease. War. Every fortune comes out of something unpleasant.
The old rule about how a thing of beauty is a joy forever, in my experience, even the most beauteous thing is only a joy for about three hours, tops. After that, she'll want to tell you all about her childhood traumas. Part of meeting these jail girls is it's so sweet to look at your watch and know she'll be behind bars in half an hour.
But if you tell folks you're a college student, folks are so impressed. You can be a student in anything and not have to know anything. Just say toxicology or marine biokinesis, and the person you're talking to will change the subject to himself. If this doesn't work, mention the neural synapses of embryonic pigeons.
We're consumers. We are by-products of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, 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...
The first step - especially for young people with energy and drive and talent, but not money - the first step to controlling your world is to control your culture. To model and demonstrate the kind of world you demand to live in. To write the books. Make the music. Shoot the films. Paint the art.
Public taste changes and the aesthetic of a culture changes over time, so the idea isn't to appeal to the aesthetic of the moment and what people will like right now; the idea is to somehow keep yourself in the public memory so that as taste evolves it will eventually come to embrace your thing. So, it's about writing to be remembered rather than writing to be liked.
Potassium cyanide," says the talent wrangler as she leans over to pick up a paper napkin off the floor. "Found naturally in the cassava or manioc roots native to Africa, used to tint architectural blueprints in the form of the deep-blue pigment known as Prussian blue. Hence the shade 'cyan' blue.
I went to sexaholics anonymous for six months. For research. I wanted to see the structure of the groups, how they were conducted, and what the atmosphere was like, and also to be able to describe the people as human beings, rather than as the dirty jokes that they are in our culture.
People don't want their lives fixed. Nobody wants their problems solved. Their dramas. Their distractions. Their stories resolved. Their messed cleaned up. Because what would they have left? Just the big scary unknown.
In the big factory of perfecting human souls, the Earth was kind of tumbler. The sale as the kind people use to polish rocks. All souls come here to rub the sharp edges off each other. This isn't suffering. It's erosion.
If you take my stuff apart, you'll find my choruses of repetitions are picked up almost verbatim from Kurt Vonnegut, and my distanced fracture quality is all from Amy Hempel, who's probably my favourite writer.
Nothing feels as awful as pouring your heart out to some talk therapist, then realizing this so-called professional is actually vastly stupid and you've just professed your most secret secrets to some goon who's wearing one brown sock and one blue sock.
For the first time in longer than I can remember, I feel peaceful. Not happy. Not sad. Not anxious. Not horny. Just all the higher parts of my brain closing up shop. The cerebral cortex. The cerebellum. That's where my problem is. I'm now simplifying myself. Somewhere balanced in the perfect middle between happiness and sadness. Because sponges never have a bad day.
I thought why not write a kind of mystery, murder, thriller book, but use romance language where the language plays completely against the very dark subject matter, that very strange murderous plot, but use that Harlequin Romance language.
The tiny space, the toilet, two hundred strangers just a few inches away, it's so exciting, the lack of room to maneuver, it helps if you're double-jointed. Use your imagination. Some creativity and a few simple stretching exercises and you can be knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door. You'll be amazed how time flies.
In all probability the Human Genome Project will, someday, find that I carry some recessive gene for optimism, because despite all my best efforts I still can't scrape together even a couple days of hopelessness. Future scientists will call it the Pollyanna Syndrome, and if forced to guess, I'd say that mine has been a way-long case history of chasing rainbows.
Because after you've crossed some lines, you just keep crossing them. And there's no escaping from constant escape. Distracting ourselves. Avoiding confrontation. Getting past the moment. Jacking off. Television. Denial.
Get through the moment. Avoid confrontation. Run away. That's pretty much how we get through our own lives, watching television. Smoking crap. Self-medicating. Redirecting our own attention. Jacking off. Denial.
I often need physical gesture to balance dialogue. If I write in public, every time I need to know what a character is doing with his hand or foot, I can look up and study people and find compelling gestures that I can harvest. Writing in public gives you that access to a junkyard of details all around you.
If you haven't already noticed, all my books are about a lonely person looking for some way to connect with other people.In a way, that is the opposite of the American Dream: to get so rich you can rise above the rabble, all those people on the freeway or, worse, the bus.
We are a nation of physical animals who have forgotten how much we enjoy being that. We are cushioned by this kind of make-believe, unreal world and have no idea what we can survive because we are never challenged or tested.
It's obsequious little nicety-nice girls like me who allow assholes to run the world: Miss Harlot O'Harlots, billionaire phony tree huggers, hypocrite drug-snorting, weed-puffing peace activists who fund the mass-murdering drug cartels and perpetuate crushing poverty in dirt-poor banana republics. It's my petty fear of personal rejection that allows so many true evils to exist. My cowardice enables atrocities.
There's a big difference between "not caring" or being "nihilistic" about a topic and simply not being enrolled by the drama presented by other people. Just because my characters choose not to react in standard, socially-appropriate ways - that does not mean they don't care. They just reject ordinary dramas.
Rant said that view of time was set up so folks won't live forever. It's the planned obsolescence we've all agreed to...'Nothing says you have to swallow this,' Rant told me. 'You can always just die.
If you look at old pictures, Irene Casey is so pretty. Not just young, but pretty the way you look when your face goes smooth, the skin around your eyes and lips relaxed, the pretty you only look when you love the person taking the picture.
We don't have a great war in our generation, or a great depression, but we do, we have a great war of the spirit. We have a great revolution against the culture. The great depression is our lives. We have a spiritual depression.
Really, just looking around, you feel a twinge of pity for the poor souls who succeeded in getting past the Pearly Gates. One can't help but picture the lackluster VIP lounge in Heaven, a kind of nonalcoholic ice-cream social starring Harriet Beecher Stowe and Mahatma Gandhi. Hardly anyone's idea of a "with-it" social register.
Ideas come at any moment -- except when you demand them. Most ideas come while I'm physically active, at the gym, with friends, gardening, so I always carry pen and paper. My first draft is always written in longhand. But once the first dozen chapters, more like short stories, are written, then momentum builds until I can't leave the project until it's done.
We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.
The moment the world declares a person to be immortal, at that moment the person will strive to prove the world wrong. In the face of glowing press releases and reviews the most heralded women starve themselves or cut themselves or poison themselves. Or they find a man who's happy to do that for him.
The big reason why folks leave a small town,' Rant used to say, 'is so they can moon over the idea of going back. And the reason they stay put is so they can moon about getting out.' Rant meant that no one is happy, anywhere.
Rant Casey used to say, "No matter what happens, it's always now..." Talk about cryptic. I think what Rant meant was, we live in the present moment of reality, and no matter what's come before, no matter how much we loved a person or a dog, when it attacks us we'll react to that moment of danger.
To a certain extent everybody has a certain sort of way of being a persona that they learn how to be when they're really little. They figure out that if they're really funny, or really pretty, or if they work really, really hard or are really smart, then that's what's going to get them by. That is what is going to make people like them.
The one thing I cannot stand is when I do interviews, when I interview people, and I listen to the tapes and I hear myself talking and sort of stumble and stammer, or I hear the horrible sound of my own voice, or God forbid I see myself on video, there is that complete revulsion with seeing how I occur in the world.
The unreal is more powerful than the real, because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. because its only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. stone crumbles. wood rots. people, well, they die. but things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on
If you tell folks you're a college student, folks are so impressed. You can be a student in anything and not have to know anything. Just say toxicology or marine biokinesis, and the person you're talking to will change the subject to himself. If this doesn't work, mention the neural synapses of embryonic pigeons
Imagine books and music and movies being filtered and homogenized. Certified. Approved for consumption. People will be happy to give up most of their culture for the assurance that the tiny bit that comes through is safe and clean. White noise
To preserve yourself as the center of the world, to stay your own best authority on everything, your own expert on all topics, infallible, omniscient. Always, every time of the month, forever: Use birth control
Marla tells me how in the wild you don't see old animals because as soon as they age, animals die. If they get sick or slow down, something stronger kills them. Animals aren't meant to get old. Marla lies down on her bed and undoes the tie on her bathrobe, and says our culture has made death something wrong. Old animals should be an unnatural exception. Freaks
I admire addicts. In a world where everybody is waiting for some bline, random disaster, or some sudden disease, the addict has the comfort of knowing what will most likely wait for him down the road. He's taken some control over his ultimate fate, and his addiction keeps the cause of death from being a total surprise
Where I'm is one of those stair climbing machines the agent has installed. You climb and climb forever and never get off the ground. You're trapped in your hotel room. It's the mystical sweat love lodge experience of our time, the only sort of Indian vision quest we can schedule into our daily planner.Our StairMaster to Heaven.
I wanted to destroy everything beautiful I'd never have. Burn the Amazon rain forests. Pump chlorofluorocarbons straight up to gobble the ozone. Open the dump valves on supertankers and uncap offshore oil wells. I wanted to kill all the fish I couldn't afford to eat, and smother the French beaches I'd never see. I wanted the whole world to hit bottom.
And it's funny how when somebody saves you, the first thing you want to do is save other people. All other people. Everybody. The kid never knew the man's name. But he never forgot that smile. "Hero" isn't the first word, but it's the first word that comes to mind.
You can tell people the truth, but they'll never believe you until the event. Until it's too late. In the meantime, the truth will just piss them off and get you in a lot of trouble. So you just walk home.
The trick to forgetting the big picture is to look at everything close-up. The shortcut to closing a door is to bury yourself in the details. This is how we must look to God. As if everything's just fine.
You are not your job, you're not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis. You are all singing, all dancing crap of the world.
We can spend our lives letting the world tell us who we are. Sane or insane. Saints or sex addicts. Heroes or victims. Letting history tell us how good or bad we are. Letting our past decide our future. Or we can decide for ourselves. And maybe it's our job to invent something better.
What's burning down is a re-creation of a period revival house patterned after a copy of a copy of a copy of a mock Tudor big manor house. It's a hundred generations removed from anything original, but the truth is aren't we all?
If you can change the way people think, she said.The way they see themselves.The way they see the world.If you do that, you can change the way people live their lives.And that's the only lasting thing you can create.
The best way to waste your life is by taking notes. The easiest way to avoid living is to just watch. Look for the details. Report. Don't participate. Let Big Brother do the singing and dancing for you. Be a reporter. Be a good witness. A grateful member of theaudience.
The club is too loud to talk, so after a couple of drinks, everyone feels like the centre of attention but completely cut off from participating with anyone else. You're the corpse in an English murder mystery.
What I want is to be needed. What I need is to be indispensable to somebody. Who I need is somebody that will eat up all my free time, my ego, my attention. Somebody addicted to me. A mutual addiction.
Tyler lies back and asks, "If Marilyn Monroe were alive right now, what would she be doing?" I say, goodnight. The headliner hangs down in shreds from the ceiling and Tyler says, "Clawing at the lid of her coffin.
The truth is, every son raised by a single mom is pretty much born married. I don't know, but until your mom dies it seems like all the other women in your life can never be more than just your mistress.
My writing process isn't a very organized thing. The actual writing part is a tiny part of my life. I often write in public. I bring my laptop or write freehand in notebooks. Then, I'll read through them while I exercise or walk the dog. The very last thing I do is the sitting alone at the computer part.
We don't need women. There are plenty other things in the world to have sex with, just go to a sexaholics meeting and take notes. There's microwaved watermelons. There's the vibrating handles of lawn mowers right at crotch level. There's vacuum cleaners and beanbag chairs. Internet sites. All those old chat room sex hounds pretending to be sixteen-year-old girls. For serious, old FBI guys makes the sexiest cyberbabes.
Some writers research in order to write. I write in order to research topics that interest me. Especially if I can meet with other people, in forums from illness support groups to phone-sex hotlines, and learn what other people know best.
Beginning with Santa in infancy, and ending with the Tooth Fairy as the child acquires adult teeth. Or, plainly put, beginning with all the possibility of childhood, and ending with an absolute trust in the national currency.
The unreal is more powerful than the real. Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because it's only intangibles, ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die.
An important part of building a new culture was allowing people to complain about their past. At first, the more they complained, the worse the past would seem. But by venting, people could start to resolve the past. By bitching and bitching and bitching, they could exhaust the drama of their own horror stories. Grow bored. Only then could they accept a new story for their lives. Move forward.
The act of writing is a way of tricking yourself into revealing something that you would never consciously put into the world. Sometimes I'm shocked by the deeply personal things I've put into books without realizing it.
Imagine books and music and movies being filtered and homogenized. Certified. Approved for consumption. People will be happy to give up most of their culture for the assurance that the tiny bit that comes through is safe and clean. White noise.
Horror stories give us a way of exhausting our emotions around social issues, like a woman's right to an abortion, which I always thought was the core of 'Rosemary's Baby,' or the backlash against feminism which I always thought was the core to 'Stepford Wives.'
In a way, a lot of my humor comes from presenting things that are dramatic or shocking and then people not having socially appropriate responses, having people denying the drama by failing to react to it, and that's a really classic form of humor.
Think about George Orwell's three-minute hate from the novel '1984' and how that left everyone sort of exhausted and able to live their boring humdrum lives. If our lives are going to continue being unfulfilled and boring, perhaps we do need some sort of short-term violent chaos incorporated into them, to make them more palatable.
I've always thought stand-up comedians were the oral storytellers of our time, because they know rhetoric, they know delivery, they know timing, they know all of these things that you can only learn by telling a story out loud and interacting with an audience.
I try to forget about the expectation that's out there and the audience listening for the next thing so that I'm not trying to please them. I've spent a huge amount of time not communicating with those folks and denying that they exist.
You have no idea what it is like to constantly disappoint people. You see it the moment you meet them. You see in their eyes that they expected something so entirely different, and here they are meeting... you.
My teacher Tom Spanbauer, the man who got me started writing in his workshop, used to say: 'Writers write because they weren't invited to a party.' That always struck so true, and people always nod their heads when they hear that. Especially writers.
My father worked for the railroad, and whenever a train crashed, we would go as a family and steal food from the boxcars. One year we stole a case of butterscotch pudding that was for export to Israel. It took us years to get through.
My private history in terms of people in my life who are dead is very easy to discuss. I don't feel those people can be threatened or intruded upon now. But I am enormously protective of the people who are currently in my life, my existing friends and family. That is where the curtain is drawn.
Sometimes the very best way to deal with unpleasant things is to depict them in ways that allow people to laugh at them and destroy the power of unsayable things, rather than refusing to acknowledge them.
I think that I am responsible for the death of thousands of things and for the misery of thousands of people, just through the things that I buy and how I live my life, and these are not things that ever deserved to die.
At school I was lazy. But I started working when I was 15, washing dishes at a local truck stop restaurant. I was really, really bored with school, and I wanted to get a job as fast as I could. School was just so easy. There was just no challenge to it.
I really love idiot, enlightened characters - these characters who fail to engage with the drama of their immediate circumstances; they fail to be reactive and enrolled by drama as it happens around them.
As a lower-class kid, I was raised to think success would be owning stuff. Having that great job, too. Now I find my parents' dream was wrong. You never really own anything. And you're never really finished as a person.
There are only patterns, patterns on top of patterns, patterns that affect other patterns. Patterns hidden by patterns. Patterns within patterns. If you watch close, history does nothing but repeat itself. What we call chaos is just patterns we haven't recognized. What we call random is just patterns we can't decipher. what we can't understand we call nonsense. What we can't read we call gibberish. There is no free will. There are no variables.
Find a guy who calls you beautiful instead of hot, who calls you back when you hang up on him, who will lie under the stars and listen to your heartbeat, or will stay awake just to watch you sleep...wait for the boy who kisses your forehead, who wants to show you off to the world when you are in sweats, who holds your hand in front of his friends, who thinks you're just as pretty without makeup on. One who is constantly reminding you of how much he cares and how lucky his is to have you....The one who turns to his friends and says, 'that's her.'
When you're an addict, you can go without feeling anything except drunk or stoned or hungry. Still, when you compare this to other feelings, to sadness, anger, fear, worry, despair, and depression, well, an addiction no longer looks so bad. It looks like a very viable option.
It's creepy, but here we are, the Pilgrims, the crackpots of our time, trying to establish our own alternate reality. To build a world out of rocks and chaos. What it's going to be, I don't know. Even after all that rushing around, where we've ended up is the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. And maybe knowing isn't the point. Where we're standing right now, in the ruins in the dark, what we build could be anything.
Experts in ancient Greek culture say that people back then didn't see their thoughts as belonging to them. When ancient Greeks had a thought, it occurred to them as a god or goddess giving an order. Apollo was telling them to be brave. Athena was telling them to fall in love. Now people hear a commercial for sour cream potato chips and rush out to buy, but now they call this free will. At least the ancient Greeks were being honest.
If we can forgive whatâs been done to us . . . If we can forgive what weâve done to others . . . If we can leave all of our stories behind. Our being villains or victims. Only then can we maybe rescue the world.
It only takes one mistake,' the Dan Banyan guy says, 'and nothing else you ever do will matter.' With his empty hand, he takes one of my hands. His fingers feel hot, fever-hot, and pounding with his heartbeats. He turns my hand palm-up saying, 'No matter how hard you work or how smart you become, you'll always be known for that one poor choice.' He sets the blue pill on my palm, saying, 'Do that one wrong thing- and you'll be dead for the rest of your life.
You buy furniture. You tell yourself, this is the last sofa I will ever need in my life. Buy the sofa, then for a couple years you're satisfied that no matter what goes wrong, at least you've got your sofa issue handled. Then the right set of dishes. Then the perfect bed. The drapes. The rug. Then you're trapped in your lovely nest, and the things you used to own, now they own you.
The unreal is more powerful than the real. Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because its only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on. If you can change the way people think. The way they see themselves. The way they see the world. You can change the way people live their lives. That's the only lasting thing you can create.
If you can change the way people think. The way they see themselves. The way they see the world. If you do that, you can change the way people live their lives. That's the only lasting thing you can create.
My writing has to excite people and depict or include their experiences. That's part of my process - to go out and interact with people. It's very much like an archival process. I understand that the Brothers Grimm would go out and get people talking so they could document folk tales that weren't being documented any other way. I try to offer a little bit of myself - some experience from my life that evokes stories in other people.
People didn't know who I was or why I was there, so they started inventing stories about me. I was a registered sex offender and I'd just been released from prison and was being forced to do community-service work. I was a murderer, an arsonist - all these horrific things had been projected on me because no one knew what to make of this white guy who showed up and made toast at 5 o'clock every morning.
When I first started writing, there was no way I'd write a sex scene. That just seemed impossible. That's why in "Fight Club" all the sex happens off-screen. It's all just a noise on the other side of the wall or the ceiling. I just couldn't bring to write in a scene like that. So one of the challenges with "Choke" was I wanted to write sex scenes until I was really comfortable just writing them in a very mechanical way.
Everything is a self-portrait. A diary. Your whole drug historyâs in a strand of your hair. Your fingernails. The forensic details. The lining of your stomach is a document. The calluses on your hand tell all your secrets. Your teeth give you away. Your accent. The wrinkles around your mouth and eyes. Everything you do shows your hand.
We're all trapped. It's always 1734. All of us, we're stuck in the same time capsule, the same as those television shows where the same people are marooned on the same desert island for thirty seasons and never age or escape. They just wear more makeup. In a creepy way, those shows are maybe too authentic.
I've met God across his long walnut desk with his diplomas hanging on the wall behind him, and God asks me, 'Why?' Why did I cause so much pain? Didnt I realize that each of us is a sacred, unique snowflake of special unique specialness? Can't I see how we're all manifestations of love? I look at God behind his desk, taking notes on a pad, but God's got this all wrong. We are not special. We are not crap or trash, either. We just are. We just are, and what happens just happens. And God says, 'No, that's not right.' Yeah. Well. Whatever. You can't teach God anything.
Angel says that rich people don't like to tolerate much. Money gives you permission to just walk away from everything that isn't pretty and perfect. You can't put up with anything less than lovely. You spend your life running, avoiding, escaping.
When we die, these are the stories still on our lips. The stories weâll only tell strangers, someplace private in the padded cell of midnight. These important stories, we rehearse them for years in our head but never tell. These stories are ghosts, bringing people back from the dead. Just for a moment. For a visit. Every story is a ghost.
That if you could acquire enough, accomplish enough, youâd never want to own or do another thing. That if you could eat or sleep enough, youâd never need more. That if enough people loved you, youâd stop needing love.
Everyone holds a certain type of power. For young people, it's their youth, their attractiveness, and their energy. But they're terrified that as those qualities fade, what are they going to replace that form of power with?
The same architect who designed the Seattle fair's futuristic Science Center, with its lacy Gothic arches and spires, Minoru Yamasaki, was hired to design the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Seattle had promised fairgoers a glimpse of the world that would exist in 2001. That year eventually unfolded as something less than the dream we'd imagined.
That guy behind me on the airplane? He's been kicking my seat because he hates me. He's kicking my seat because he hates me and I'm gonna kill him. When we get off this plane, I'm gonna make eye contact. I'm gonna kill that guy. And all of that is just stuff in my head, but it's good to get rid of that stuff.
For sure, they don't teach you this in history class, but in colonial times, the person who got left in the stocks overnight was nothing less than fair game for everybody to nail. Men or women, anybody bent over had no way of knowing who was doing the ram job, and this was the real reason you never wanted to end up here unless you had a family member or a friend who'd stand with you the whole time. To protect you. To watch your ass, for real.
The last story you should write is the most important story. You should start with a story that is just an amusing, entertaining, fun story to write and learn your writing chops with the least important things before you start applying them to the most important things.
I hate how on TV they have to fill so many minutes. It means they have to put in anything, and by doing so they sort of trivialize news; news becomes this commodity that they need to fill dead time between commercials with.
Intellectual culture seems to separate high art from low art. Low art is horror or pornography or anything that has a physical component to it and engages the reader on a visceral level and evokes a strong sympathetic reaction. High art is people driving in Volvos and talking a lot. I just don't want to keep those things separate. I think you can use visceral physical experiences to illustrate larger ideas, whether they're emotional or spiritual. I'm trying to not exclude high and low art or separate them.
My stories tend to bring people from isolation into community - with at least one other person, usually with a whole community of people - so that they find themselves accepted back by a world that they kind of fled from.
Books can create a depth of story, a background of information and ideas, that televison and movies can't. Sure, the television shows may shock, but only on a superficial level. They'd never risk market share to really explore the issues. They report, but don't analyze or suggest any new ways for living our lives.
I take pens and I write on the inside of my arm. When I'm with people and somebody says a really fascinating anecdote, or fact, or phrase, I'll write it on the inside of my arm. At the end of the day, I'll take the very best things that are on my arm and I'll copy them into a notebook that I always carry and only when the weather is absolutely terrible will I really key the very best of that notebook into the computer. At that point, it's all sort of censored twice - only the best things go from the arm to the book and only the best things go from the book to the computer.
Taste is such a changing thing. Every age our tastes change. But the things that really last aren't necessarily the best or the worst or the most loved things, but they're the things that make the biggest impression.
Big Brother isn't watching. He's singing and dancing. He's pulling rabbits out of a hat. Big Brother's busy holding your attention every moment you're awake. He's making sure you're always distracted. He's making sure you're fully absorbed. He's making sure your imagination withers. Until it's as useful as your appendix. He's making sure your attention is always filled. And this being fed, it's worse than being watched. With the world always filling you, no one has to worry about what's in your mind. With everyone's imagination atrophied, no one will ever be a threat to the world.
When you understand, that what you're telling is just a story. It isn't happening anymore. When you realize the story you're telling is just words, when you can just crumble up and throw your past in the trashcan, then we'll figure out who you're going to be.
You think maybe if you just work harder and faster, you can hold off the chaos, but then one day youâre changing a patio light bulb with a five-year life span and you realize how youâll only be changing this light maybe ten more times before youâll be dead.
Big Brother isnât watching. Heâs singing and dancing. Heâs pulling rabbits out of a hat. Big Brotherâs busy holding your attention every moment youâre awake. Heâs making sure youâre always distracted. Heâs making sure youâre fully absorbed.
When you go out with a drunk, youâll notice how a drunk fills your glass so he can empty his own. As long as youâre drinking, drinking is okay. Twoâs company. Drinking is fun. If thereâs a bottle, even if your glass isnât empty, a drunk, heâll pour a little in your glass before he fills his own. This only looks like generosity.
I have a secret goal with my editor - he has asthma and uses his inhaler, and after I send him a new manuscript, I'll have his assistant phone me and tell me how many times he had to get his inhaler out while reading a draft. It's my secret laugh meter.
The worst part of writing fiction is the fear of wasting your life behind a keyboard. The idea that, dying, you'll realize you only lived on paper. Your only adventures were make-believe, and while the world fought and kissed, you sat in some dark room masturbating and making money.
You realize that people take drugs because it's the only real personal adventure left to them in their time-constrained, law-and-order, property-lined world. It's only in drugs or death we'll see anything new, and death is just too controlling.
Thatâs how a scary story works. It echoes some ancient fear. It re-creates some forgotten terror. Something weâd like to think weâve grown beyond. But it can still scare us to tears. Itâs something youâd hoped was healed.
With every lecture, youâre forced to look again at every choice youâve made over the lesson-by-lesson chain of your entire life. And after all these years, you see how little you have to work with, how limited your life and education have been. How scant was your courage and curiosity. Not to mention your expectations.
Most people would never admit it, but they'd been bitching since they were born. As soon as their head popped out into that bright delivery-room light, nothing had been right. Nothing had been as comfortable or felt so good. Just the effort it took to keep your stupid physical body alive, just finding food and cooking it and dishwashing, the keeping warm and bathing and sleeping, the walking and bowel movements and ingrown hairs, it was all getting to be too much work.
Beginning with Santa Claus as a cognitive exercise, a child is encouraged to share the same idea of reality as his peers. Even if that reality is patently invented and ludicrous, belief is encouraged with gifts that support and promote the common cultural lies. The greatest consensus in modern society is our traffic systems. The way a flood of strangers can interact, sharing a path, almost all of them traveling without incident. It only takes one dissenting driver to create anarchy.
Destruction is always an attractive idea. My brother and I used to spend weeks making models of cities so that we could destroy them in 15 minutes. There's a fantastic joy in destroying something that you've meticulously built. Then you're free to build a new thing. Destruction and creation they're inseparable.
It's so quiet this high up, the feeling you get is that you're one of those space monkeys. You do the little job you're trained to do. Pull a lever. Push a button. You don't understand any of it, and then you just die.
At That Moment, it seemed the whole world cared what happened to him. All those people were hugging him and petting his hair. Everybody asked if he was okay. It seemed that moment would last forever. That you had to risk your life to get love. You had to get right to the edge of death to ever be saved.
The difference between how you look and how you see yourself is enough to kill most people. And maybe the reason vampires donât die is because they can never see themselves in photographs or mirrors.
Daytime television, you can tell whoâs watching by the three kinds of commercials. Either itâs clinics for drying out drunks. Or itâs law firms who want to settle injury suits. Or itâs schools offering mail-order vocational degrees to make you a bookkeeper. A private detective. Or a locksmith. If youâre watching daytime television, this is your new demographic. Youâre a drunk. Or a cripple. Or an idiot.
Kids, she says. When theyâre little, they believe everything you tell them about the world. As a mother, youâre the world almanac and the encyclopedia and the dictionary and the Bible, all rolled up together. But after they hit some magic age, itâs just the opposite. After that, youâre either a liar or a fool or a villain.
Some stories, sheâd say, the more you tell them, the faster you use them up. Those kind, the drama burns off, and every version, they sound more silly and flat. The other kind of story, it uses you up. The more you tell it, the stronger it gets. Those kind of stories only remind you how stupid you were. Are. Will always be.
How can you possibly believe he really loves you?â Miss Sneezy looks from the Mother to the Saint to Mr. Whittierâs hand.âYou have no choice,â Mr. Whittier tells her. âIf you need to be loved.
Think of a rock polisher, one of those drums, goes round and round, rolls twenty-four/seven, full of water and rocks and gravel. Grinding it all up. Round and round. Polishing those ugly rocks into gemstones. Thatâs the earth. Why it goes around. Weâre the rocks. And what happens to usâthe drama and pain and joy and war and sickness and victory and abuseâwhy, thatâs just the water and sand to erode us. Grind us down. To polish us up, nice and bright.
The first time we meet another person an insidious little voice in our heads says, "I might wear eyeglasses or be chunky around the hips or a girl, but at least I'm not Gay or Black or a Jew." Meaning: I may be me- but at least I have the good sense not to be YOU.
To preserve yourself as the center of the world, to stay your own best authority on everything, your own expert on all topics, infallible, omniscient. Always, every time of the month, forever: Use birth control.
This is why I loved the support groups so much, if people thought you were dying, they gave you their full attention. If this might be the last time they saw you, they really saw you. Everything else about their checkbook balance and radio songs and messy hair went out the window. You had their full attention. People listened instead of just waiting for their turn to speak. And when they spoke, they weren't just telling you a story. When the two of you talked, you were building something, and afterward you were both different than before.
People had been working for so many years to make the world a safe, organized place. Nobody realized how boring it would become. With the whole world property-lined and speed-limited and zoned and taxed and regulated, with everyone tested and registered and adressed and recorded. Nobody had left much room for adventure, except maybe the kind you could buy. [...] The laws that keep us safe, these same laws condemn us to boredom.
A child who is disillusioned abruptly, by his peers or siblings, being ridiculed for his faith and imagination, may choose never to believe in anything- tangible or intangible- again. To never trust or wonder.
Even if you tell yourself "Today I'm going to drink coffee the wrong way ... from a dirty boot." Even that would be right, because you chose to drink coffee from that boot. Because you can do nothing wrong. You are always right. Even when you say, "I'm such an idiot, I'm so wrong..." you're right. You're right about being wrong. You're right even when you're an idiot. No matter how stupid your idea, you're doomed to be right because it's yours.
Nobody wants to worship you if you have the same problems, the same bad breath and messy hair and hangnails, as a regular person. You have to be everything regular people arenât. Where they fail, you have to go all the way. Be what people are too afraid to be. Become whom they admire. People shopping for a messiah want quality. Nobody is going to follow a loser. When it comes to choosing a savior, they won't settle for just a human being.
Deliver me from Swedish furniture. Deliver me from clever art. And the phone rang and Tyler answered. "If you don't know what you want," the doorman said, "you end up with a lot you don't." May I never be complete. May I never be content. May I never be perfect. Deliver me, Tyler, from being perfect and complete.
Some of us are lucky enough to fall in love once or twice but the luckiest of us are those who find that someone they simply can't live without and have the pleasure of falling in love with them day in and day out for the rest of their lives. Relationships aren't about simply falling in love once and being done with it, they're about loving someone until the end of your days and growing that love endlessly.
You have no idea what it is like to constantly disappoint people. You see it the moment you meet them. You see in their eyes that they expected something so entirely different, and here they are meeting you.
No, it's not fair, but what makes Earth feel like Hell is our expectation that it should feel like Heaven. Earth is earth. Dead is dead. You'll find out for yourself soon enough. It won't help the situation for you to get all upset.
Nevertheless, if you ask me, most people have children just as their own enthusiasm about life begins to wane. A child allows us to revisit the excitement we once felt about, well... everything. A generation later, our grandkids bump up our enthusiasm yet again. Reproducing is a kind of booster shot to keep us loving life.
There's an old saying: 'No piece of writing is ever finished, it's just abandoned.' But my own rule is: No piece of work is done until you want to kill everyone involved in the publishing process, especially yourself.
How this feels is I'm just another task in God's daily planner: The Renaissance pencilled in for right after the Dark Ages. The Information Age is scheduled immediately after the Industrial Revolution. Then the Post-Modern Era, then The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Famine. Check. Pestilence. Check. War. Check. Death. Check. And between the big events, the earthquakes and tidal waves, God's got me squeezed in for a cameo appearance. Then maybe in thirty years, or maybe next year, God's daily planner has me finished.
So this is why I write. Because most times, your life isnât funny the first time through. Most times, you can hardly stand it. Thatâs why I write, because life never works except in retrospect. And writing makes you look back. Because since you canât control life, at least you can control your version.
I'm giving you my life to prove to myself I can, I really can love somebody. Even when I'm not getting paid, I can give love and happiness and charm. You see, I can handle the baby food and the not talking and being homeless and invisible, but I have to know that I can love somebody. Completely and totally, permanently and without hope of reward, just as an act of will, I will love somebody.
So if reality is all a spell, and you don't really want what you think you want... If you have no free will. You don't really know what you know. You don't really love who you only think you love. What do you have left to live for?
Peter used to say that an artistâs job is to make order out of chaos. You collect details, look for a pattern, and organize. You make sense out of senseless facts. You puzzle together bits of everything. You shuffle and reorganize. Collage. Montage. Assemble.
As an artist you organize your life so that you get a chance to paint, a window of time, but that's no guarantee you'll create anything worth all your effort. You're always haunt by the idea you're wasting your life.
If you're male and you're Christian and living in America, your father is your model for God. And if you never know your father, if your father bails out or dies or is never at home, what do you believe about God?
You're a product of our language, and how our laws are and how we believe our God wants us. Every bitty molecule about you has already been thought out by some million people before you. Anything you can do is boring and old and perfectly okay. You're safe because you're so trapped inside your culture. Anything you can conceive of is fine because you can conceive of it. You can't imagine any way to escape. There's no way you can get out.The world is your cradle and your trap.
Marla tells me how in the wild you don't see old animals because as soon as they age, animals die. If they get sick or slow down, something stronger kills them. Animals aren't meant to get old. Marla lies down on her bed and undoes the tie on her bathrobe, and says our culture has made death something wrong. Old animals should be an unnatural exception. Freaks.
As a culture, we believe that if we kill something, we've killed the issue. That's why so many books end with death, why so many plays end with death, because it's full resolution. I'm always curious to know what happens after Romeo and Juliet die. In a way, that's the beginning of the story. Maybe beyond the story is even better.
Inside me is the same desperate hope I have watching the ravenous dead and thinking, Oh please, oh please, oh please. The craving inside of me is to be clutched at by some dead girl. To put my ear to her chest and hear nothing. Even getting munched on by zombies beats the idea that I'm only flesh and blood, skin and bone. Demon or angel or evil spirit, I just need something to show itself. Ghoulie or ghosty or long-legged beastie, I just want my hand held.
The problem in this case was you can't be a middle-aged virgin in America without something being wrong with you. People can't conceive of a virtue in someone else that they can't conceive in themselves. Instead of believing you're stronger, it's so much easier to imagine you're weaker.
You have a choice. Live or die. Every breath is a choice. Every minute is a choice. Every time you don't throw yourself down the stairs, that's a choice. Every time you don't crash your car, you re-enlist.
It's because we're so trapped in our culture, in the being of being human on this planet with the brains we have, and the same two arms and legs everybody has. We're so trapped that any way we could imagine to escape would be just another part of the trap. Anything we want, we're trained to want.
Maybe the only thing each of us can see is our own shadow. Carl Jung called this his shadow work. He said we never see others. Instead we see only aspects of ourselves that fall over them. Shadows. Projections. Our associations. The same way old painters would sit in a tiny dark room and trace the image of what stood outside a tiny window, in the bright sunlight. The camera obscura. Not the exact image, but everything reversed or upside down.
There are worse things than finding your wife and child dead. You can watch the world do it. You can watch your wife get old and bored. You can watch your kids discover everything in the world you've tried to save them from. Drugs, divorce, conformity, disease. All the nice clean books, music, television. Distraction.
No matter how careful you are, there's going to be the sense you missed something, the collapsed feeling under your skin that you didn't experience it all. There's that fallen heart feeling that you rushed right through the moments where you should've been paying attention. Well, get used to that feeling. That's how your whole life will feel some day. This is all practice.
During the First World War, I told her, Hitler had been a runner, delivering messages between the German trenches, and he was disgusted by seeing his fellow soldiers visit French brothels. To keep the Aryan bloodlines pure,and prevent the spread of venereal disease, he commissioned an inflatable doll that Nazi troops could take into battle. Hitler himself designed the dolls to have blond hair and large breasts. The Allied firebombing of Dresden destroyed the factory before the dolls could ever go into wide distribution.
Until today, it really pissed me off that I'd become this totally centered Zen Master and nobody had noticed. Still, I'm doing the little FAX thing. I write little HAIKU things and FAX them around to everyone. When I pass people in the hall at work, I get totally ZEN right in everyone's hostile little FACE.
No one wants to admit we're addicted to music. That's just not possible. No one's addicted to music and television and radio. We just need more of it, more channels, a larger screen, more volume. We can't bear to be without it, but no, nobody's addicted. We could turn it off anytime we wanted. I fit a window frame into a brick wall. With a little brush, the size for fingernail polish, I glue it. The window is the size of a fingernail. The glue smells like hair spray. The smell tastes like oranges and gasoline.
I love everything about Tyler Durden, his courage and his smarts. His nerve. Tyler is funny and charming and forceful and independent, and men look up to him and expect him to change their world. Tyler is capable and free, and I am not.
This deluded little rube who really thought the future would be any better. If you just worked hard enough. If you just learned enough. Ran fast enough. Everything would turn out right, and your life would amount to something.
I want out of the labels. I don't want my whole life crammed into a single word. A story. I want to find something else, unknowable, some place to be that's not on the map. A real adventure.' A spinx. A mystery. A blank. Unknown. Undefined.
The police are asking through the bedroom door, why did I make a batch of strawberry daiquiris before I called them? Because we were out of raspberries. Because, can't they see, it just does not matter. Time was not of the essence.
As young people we want something to slow us down and keep us trapped in one place long enough to look below the surface of the world. That disaster is a car crash or a war. To make us sit still. It can be getting cancer or getting pregnant. The important part is how it seems to catch us by surprise. That disaster stops us from living the life we'd planned as children - a life of constant dashing around.
In the world I see you are stalking elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rock feller Center. You'll wear leather clothes that will last you the rest of your life. You'll climb the wrist-thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Towers. And when you look down, you'll see tiny figures pounding corn, laying stripes of venison on the empty car pool lane of some abandoned superhighways.
I say let me never be complete, I say may I never be content,I say deliver me from Swedish furniture, I say deliver me from clever arts, I say deliver me from clear skin and perfect teeth,I say you have to give up! I say evolve, and let the chips fall where they may!
For thousands of years, human beings had screwed up and trashed and crapped on this planet, and now history expected me to clean up after everyone. I have to wash out and flatten my soup cans. And account for every drop of used motor oil. And I have to foot the bill for nuclear waste and buried gasoline tanks and landfilled toxic sludge dumped a generation before I was born.
This is the biggest mistake I could think would save me. I wanted to give up the idea that I had any control. Shake things up. To be saved by chaos. To see if I could cope, I wanted to force myself to grow again. To explode my comfort zone.
The religious school she went to, growing up, Ms. Wright said how all the girls had to wear a scarf tied to cover their ears at all times. Based on the biblical idea that the Virgin Mary became pregnant when the Holy Spirit whispered in her ear. The idea that ears were vaginas. That, hearing just one wrong idea, you lost your innocence. One detail too many and youâd be ruined. Overdosed on information.
Fertility says, "Can you relax and just let things happen?" I ask, does she mean, like disasters, like pain, like misery? Can I just let all that happen? "And Joy," she says, "and Serenity, and Happiness, and Contentment." She says all the wings of the Columbia Memorial Mausoleum. "You don't have to control everything," she says. "You can't control everything." But you can be ready for disaster. A sign goes by saying, Buckle Up. "If you worry about disaster all of the time, that's what you are going to get," Fertility says.
With my eyes closed, I ask if she knows how this will all turn out. "Long-term or short-term?" she asks. Both. "Long-term," she says, "we're all going to die. Then our bodies will rot. No surprise there. Short-term, we're going to live happily ever after." Really? "Really," she says. "So don't sweat it.
Jump way back to one time, Evie and me did this fashion shoot in a junk yard, in a slaughterhouse, in a mortuary. We'd go anywhere to look good by comparison, and what I realize is mostly what I hate about Evie is the fact that she's so vain and stupid and needy. But what I hate most is how she's just like me. What I really hate is me so I hate pretty much everybody.
Welcome to Fight Club. The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club! Third rule of Fight Club: if someone yells âstop!â, goes limp, or taps out, the fight is over. Fourth rule: only two guys to a fight. Fifth rule: one fight at a time, fellas. Sixth rule: the fights are bare knuckle. No shirt, no shoes, no weapons. Seventh rule: fights will go on as long as they have to. And the eighth and final rule: if this is your first time at Fight Club, you have to fight.
Listen up. Rant would tell people: âYouâre a different human being to everybody you meet.â Sometimes Rant said, âYou only ever is in the eyes of other folks.â If you were going to carve a quote on his grave, his favorite saying was: âThe future you have tomorrow wonât be the same future you had yesterday.
Even if I overcompensate, nobody will ever want me. Not Seth. Not my folks. You canât kiss someone who has no lips. Oh, love me, love me, love me, love me, love me, love me, love me, love me, love me. Iâll be anybody you want me to be
Language, she said, was just our way to explain away the wonder and glory of the world. To deconstruct. To dismiss. She said people can't deal with how beautiful the world really is. How it can't be explained and understood.
Youâve thrown down the gauntlet. Youâve brought my wrath down upon your house. Now, to prove that I exist I must kill you. As the child outlives the father, so must the character bury the author. If you are, in fact, my continuing author, then killing you will end my existence as well. Small loss. Such a life, as your puppet, is not worth living. Butâ¦ If I destroy you and your dreck script, and I still existâ¦ then my existence will be glorious, for I will become my own master.
Be famous. Be a big social experiment in getting what you don't want. Find value in what we've been taught is worthless. Find good in what the world says is evil. I'm giving you my life because I want the whole world to know you. I wish the whole world would embrace what it hates. Find what you're afraid of most and go live there.
That's what I love about fire, how it would kill me as quick as anybody else. How it can't know I'm its mother. It's so beautiful and powerful and beyond feeling anything for anybody, that's what I love about fire.
Skin, bones, blood and organs transplant from person to person. Even whatâs inside you already, the colonies of microbes and bugs that eat your food for you, without them youâd die. Nothing of you is all-the-way yours. All of you is inherited. Whatever youâre thinking, a million other folks are thinking. Whatever you do, theyâre doing, and none of you is responsible. All of you is a cooperative effort.
You have a class of young strong men and women, and they want to give their lives to something. Advertising has these people chasing cars and clothes they don't need. Generations have been working in jobs they hate, just so they can buy what they don't really need. We don't have a great war in our generation, or a great depression, but we do, we have a great war of the spirit. We have a great revolution against the culture. The great depression is our lives. We have a spiritual depression.
You turn up your music to hide the noise. Other people turn up their music to hide yours. You turn up yours again. Everyone buy s a bigger stereo system. This is the arms race of sound. You don't win with a lot of treble.
Every day: Wear sunblock. Cover your gray. Do not go insane. Eat less fats and sugars. Do more sit-ups. Donât start forgetting stuff. Trim the hair in your ears. Take calcium. Moisturize. Every day. Freeze in time to stay in one place forever. Do not get frigging old.
You tell yourself that noise is what defines silence. Without noise, silence would not be golden. Noise is the exception. Think of deep outer space, the incredible cold and quiet where your wife and kid wait. Silence, not heaven, would be reward enough.
Want to talk third wave feminism, you could cite Ariel Levy and the idea that women have internalized male oppression. Going to spring break at Fort Lauderdale, getting drunk, and flashing your breasts isn't an act of personal empowerment. It's you, so fashioned and programmed by the construct of patriarchal society that you no longer know what's best for yourself. A damsel too dumb to even know she's in distress.
Picture the moment when your mom and dad first saw you as something other than a pretty, tiny version of them. You as them, but improved. Better educated. Innocent. Then picture when you stopped being their dream.
How you're still always trapped. How your head is the cave, your eyes the cave mouth. How you live inside your head and only see what you want. How you only watch the shadows and make up your own meaning.
A guy's calling to say he's failing algebra II. Just as a point of practice, I say, Kill yourself. A woman calls and says her kids won't behave. Without missing a beat, I tell her, Kill yourself. A man calls to say his car won't start. Kill yourself. A woman calls to ask what time the late movie starts. Kill yourself. She asks, "Isn't this 555-1327? Is this the Moorehouse CinePlex? I say, Kill yourself. Kill yourself. Kill yourself.
I tagged a first-timer one night at fight club. That Saturday night, a young guy with an angelâs face came to his first fight club, and I tagged him for a fight. Thatâs the rule. If itâs your first night in fight club, you have to fight. I knew that so I tagged him because the insomnia was on again, and I was in a mood to destroy something beautiful.
I know that when a supersexy older girl with hips and breasts and nice hair wants to take off your glasses and to paint you a smoky eye she's merely trying to enroll you in a beauty contest she's already won. It's a kind of slummy, condescending gesture, like when rich people ask poor people where they summer. To me, this smacks of a blatant, insensitive "let them eat cake" type of chauvinism.
I was tired and crazy and rushed, and every time I boarded a plane, I wanted the plane to crash. I envied people dying of cancer. I hated my life. I was tired and bored with my job and my furniture, and I couldnât see any way to change things. Only end them.
We want you, not your money. As long as you're at fight club, you're not how much money you've got in the bank. You're not your job. You're not your family, and you're not who you tell yourself. You're not your name. You're not your problems. You're not your age. You are not your hopes. You will not be saved. We are all going to die, someday.
The only funny part about Colonial Dunsboro is maybe it's too authentic, but for all the wrong reasons. This whole crowd of losers and nutcases who hide out here because they can't make it in the real world, in real jobs â isn't this why we left England in the first place? To establish our own alternate reality. Weren't the Pilgrims pretty much the crackpots of their time? For sure, instead of just wanting to believe something different about God's love, the losers I work with want to find salvation through compulsive behaviors.
What you have to understand, is your father was your model for God. If you're male and you're Christian and living in America, your father is your model for God. And if you never know your father, if your father bails out or dies or is never at home, what do you believe about God? What you end up doing is you spend your life searching for a father and God. What you have to consider is the possibility that God doesn't like you. Could be, God hates us. This is not the worst thing that can happen.
Trust me, the being-dead part is much easier than the dying part. If you can watch much television, then being dead will be a cinch. Actually, watching television and surfing the Internet are really excellent practice for being dead.
With the novels, I usually start from something in my own life that I can't resolve, so I turn it into a metaphor and for months or sometimes years I'll exhaust all of my emotional reaction to this issue by making it enormous on the page.
I didn't use anybody's story. I used the context and the structure of the situation. People were so, so desperate to tell their story and begin to digest their experience - like turning it into a story - that after the fist few weeks I could go with a pad and pencil and take notes. People didn't seem at all bothered by that.
What you write should entertain you and serve you first. Don't worry about maintaining anything beyond your own attention. Focus on exorcising your demons in the work. If you can do that, then you'll succeed in the world.
You could go church and you could describe your worst behavior, your worst self, and despite your worst behavior you would be forgiven and then redeemed and then accepted back into the community through communion. So you didn't have to carry this burden your entire life. Once a week you went someplace you went someplace where you could really look terrible and be loved despite how terrible you were.
My life has been about living like a monk and looking like a priest so that people will come up to me and tell me their most appalling stories. They have to make their confession to somebody, and it might as well be me.
I'm always looking for context in which people tell stories. In "Fight Club" it's these support groups for dying people, and then in "Choke" it's 12-step recovery groups. In one novel it's artists' colonies, in another novel it's a diary form that submariners' wives typically keep so that when their husband comes back from serving on a submarine they have an accounting of their spouse's time. So I'm always looking for, number one, a non-fiction context - because you can tell a more outrageous story if you use a non-fiction form.
I have an experience with as many of my readers as possible that's really genuine. I love it when they write to me, and I'm able to send them things. I love meeting them in person, and even if it's only for a moment I love having that physical, touching interaction.
My books do have a sort of romantic community at the end - people coming together. But on a more basic level, I always see them as being about power, in the same way that Harry Potter books are pitched to a population of young people who really have no power.
a certain number of people have to live their lives outdoors between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., and a A certain number of people can only leave their homes between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. So basically, public life has to be lived in these shifts, in order for everyone to fit on the streets because there's just no more room for any more infrastructure, any more highways. So it polarizes the community into day people and night people, and it becomes sort of a metaphor for racism and classism.
You don't have ideas when you're sitting in that sort of sterile little place, and you're not around people. The most boring scenes are the scenes where a character is alone. I just need that dynamic of other people around me to get my work done.
I'm not really into comfort books. There are too many of those as it is. Just sort of narcotic books, like my grandmother used to read. They have value like Paxil has value, but there's plenty of them in the world already. There's a shortage of confronting, stimulating, exciting books.
So often with beginning writers, the story that they want to start with is the most important story of their life - my molestation, my this, my horrible drug addiction - they want to tell that most important story, and they don't have the skills to tell it yet, so it ends up becoming a comedy. A powerful story told poorly becomes funny, it just makes people laugh behind their hands.
The rules that I adhere to are the rules of minimalism. And those rules kind of force writing to be more filmic... to have the immediacy and accessibility of film so that the reader really has to fill in a lot of the details.
All major publishing houses have these big fat biographies sitting there, waiting for people to die. All you have to do is slap on the end and put in on the market. It's that kind of commoditization and completion of your life before you die - and this kind of imposition of a public idea of self that replaces the actual living self - that I find so frightening.
And it [Fight Club novel] was written so general that my father thought I was writing about his father, and my boss thought I was writing about his boss. People really put themselves, you know, in the shoes of the narrator.
I'm really glad that I made a lot of mistakes, poorly chose my friends throughout my twenties, and didn't have a rocket trajectory that set me on one path without making any mistakes or having any setbacks. The older I get, the more I realize that it's all of these failed, horrible things from my past, and the stories that they generated, that are the things I will draw on for the rest of my life.
Somehow people have been sold on the idea that only professionals can entertain them, that only professionals can sing or tell jokes. And people are cut out of this creativity loop, and creativity is being limited to these large, centralized voices.
I have to have everything in my life completely fixed and perfect and cleaned up and I have to be complete with everyone in my life and I have seven days in which to do that. So I might make it to day three or four, but I've never made it all the way to day seven.
Schools of science and physics replacing each other at a faster and faster rate. Just the nature of our world is constant revision, constant...negation of previous beliefs, and so...the whole world is a twist ending. Every week is a twist ending.
More and more we are taught something throughout our growing up, our education, and continuously, no matter how much we believe in this thing, something comes up that forces us to revise our entire belief system. No matter whom you idolize, it turns out that Louis Armstrong collected vast amounts of pornography.
People who don't want to get on with their lives, and don't want to accept responsibility for the direction of their lives want to hang out with other people who don't want to accept responsibility or move on, and so you find that your entire culture around you are people who are just like you, because that's what's comforting.
As a child of the 1970s, I couldn't hold a narrative in my head; I was lucky if I could hold a joke in my head, because every time you turn on television or radio, it wipes the slate clean - at least in my case. After I gave up television, I found I could carry longer and longer stories or ideas in my head and put them together until I was carrying an entire short story. That's pretty much when I started writing.
The strength of film is its accessibility and immediacy. But the strength of books is that freedom to really depict anything you want because people are going to be reading it in private. So, I'm always trying to write with the immediacy and the constant motion of film but I'm also trying to write with the complete freedom of subject matter that books have.
I learned all those jokes in second grade. Second grade is really where they tell you those horrific jokes, racist jokes and misogynistic jokes that you have no idea what they mean, and you just memorize them because they have a very strong effect, they make people laugh in this kind of nervous, horrible way, and it's only later that you realize that you've got a head full of crap.
When someone walks in and you say "a six-foot-tall man," you miss the opportunity to describe what a six-foot-tall man would look like to your narrator, because how the narrator describes a six-foot-tall man says more about the narrator than about the man.
I realized that my book readings were boring me. I was going to go up there and read a passage and sleepwalk through the whole event and I needed to make it more interesting. I wanted to be running and jumping and do something so that the event would be so exciting. I had to trick myself into having fun every time.
There is a social contract in "Fight Club" and in "Choke" where the protagonist has deceived a whole bunch of people. In "Choke" it's all of these people who think that they've saved his life, and really care about him because they've embraced him and they've been his saviors. In "Fight Club" it's all of these people who are dying of various diseases, and they thought that Edward Norton was also dying so they allowed him really strong pent-up emotions.
I am a writer and the greatest compliment I can get is to know that I've contributed language to the culture, that I've defined something, given it a name. So I think that is one of the great things a writer can do.
I remember selling my first short story and thinking, Oh my god, I sold something for fifty dollars! That gives me the authority to say I'm a writer and to actually write more things! It legitimized the activity.
I can manage my own pain. I can drink. I can go to the doctor and get a prescription. I can exercise. I can write a story about it. I've done it a million times! But I don't want to see the people I love tortured and suffering.
You humiliate a rich person and they're still rich. You humiliate a brilliant person and they're still smart. A person who is well connected is still the king of England. But if you humiliate a young person, you take away the only form of power they have.
The only place where you can really surprise or shock the reader, or make someone laugh, is on the lower righthand corner - the very last panel - so as you turn the page, the payoff is in the upper lefthand panel. To pace every story so that there's a setup and a payoff at the page turn was a huge challenge; it's a part of the medium and you really have to learn what can be done in the medium.
Everybody's still miserable in the same way they've always been miserable, and more and more of my friends - especially my male friends - find themselves taking anti-anxiety, psychotropic drugs. It seems like everybody I know is wondering if they're really who they are, or once the prescription runs out, will they become someone different?
It's interesting because when David Fincher was making "Fight Club," he said, "It's a romance." And it really is. Almost everything I ever write is just a romance. And that needed to be sort of pointed up at the end of "Fight Club." The film has a very different ending than the book does.
Every character sees the world through a framework of education and experience that they're proud experts about. To write a character, find out what they know best, and THEN you'll know how they'll describe a "hot day." Or a "pretty girl."