Movies and TV
The Downward Spiral of Fight Club

Kevin Mooseles | 2 Oct 2014 09:00
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Track 6: Ruiner

This song (in the storyline of TDS) represents both resentment and admiration of the power of the other self, the made up self. In Reznor's story, that self is his public persona: his rock star image, which is not the same as the synth-pop loving, musical prodigy computer geek that he knew himself as. In Fight Club, the ruiner is Tyler Durden. He blew up Jack's apartment as a means to ensure that the journey to hit bottom would continue. He taught a philosophy of personal dismantlement, and found a surprising number of people willing to listen.

The pre-chorus starts with "The ruiner has got a lot to prove. He's got nothing to lose and now he made you believe. The ruiner is your only friend, and he's the living end to the cattle he deceives." The song is depicted by the rise of the cult of Tyler.

The chorus represents Jack's suppressed jealousy over Tyler and Marla. It is an overtly sexual metaphor for the rise of a leader (or dominant personality), and the struggle to keep up: "How'd you get so big? How'd you get so strong? How'd it get so hard? How'd it get so long?"

Track 7: The Becoming

So far we have covered the summary, origin, development, unleashing, and rise of the other self. Until now there has been a distinction between the weaker self and the stronger fantasy-self. "The Becoming" represents a turning point in the storyline as the two personalities merge. From Reznor's perspective this is the point that the feeling self, which has tagged along in admiration until now, is strapped in to a machine which allows the other self to take over. However, the lyrics really speak for themselves better than any summary could.

For those of you who'd rather not watch the video, the song begins with: "I beat my machine. It's a part of me, it is inside of me. I'm stuck in this dream, it's changing me. I am becoming. The me that you know, he had some second thoughts. He's covered with scabs, he is broken and sore. The me that you know he doesn't come around much. That part of me isn't here anymore. All pain disappears. It's the nature of my circuitry. Drowns out all I hear, no escape from this, my new consciousness. The me that you know, he used to have feelings but the blood has stopped pumping and he is left to decay. The me that you know is now made up of wires and even when I'm right with you, I'm so far away."

This process is depicted during the rise of Fight Club in Jack's life: he starts showing up to work disheveled, he's covered in bruises and dried blood, he stares down coworkers. From an outside perspective, Jack is losing his grip on reality, but from his perspective he is gaining strength and enlightenment, letting go, becoming someone significant.

The stronger Tyler becomes, the closer Jack gets to losing himself entirely.

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