Hit Me as Hard as You Can

I can’t have been the only teenager who saw Fight Club in 1999 and wanted to go out and beat the shit out his friends, in hopes that we’d all feel a lot better and understand ourselves at the end of it.

Chuck Palahniuk’s novel and David Fincher’s film named a dynamic that I’m only now elucidating, with some help from Jung, Crowley, and Nietzsche: why do I crave both beauty and destruction? Why are my playlists a mixture of Mozart and Metallica? Why do I, a good hearted, Christian husband father and physician, sometimes seethe with rage and crave a storm to wash away all this filth? Is nothingness freedom, or is it nothing? Is love a prison?

Nietzsche said that God is an artist, not a moralist. His moods are wildly variable, and while supposedly changeless, He’s in fact endlessly changing, protean. Christian morality is inherently pessimistic, nihilist. It wants the end of the world, it wants there to be nothing, nobody left. A sterile, changeless void.

Certainly, you could argue that Christian morality as taught is untenable. When your thought is a crime, and you commit adultery when you look at a woman, when you are worthy of hellfire if you call your brother an idiot, it’s impossible to follow. The more you read the Bible, the more you realize how strange and subjective the text is. You read the Gospels, and they contradict themselves. Jesus is a son of David in Matthew, not a son of David in John. Jesus is crucified on a different day in Mark and John. The epistles are dense texts addressed to people we don’t know about topics we have to guess about. Revelations tells a compelling story referencing multiple symbolic systems that we don’t have in our current canonical texts.

If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. This is a Buddhist aphorism that summarizes a meta-dynamic I’ve sensed for years is at play within the Bible. The God you can understand is not the real God. If you claim to speak for Jesus, you’re a liar. You’re blessed when you’re cursed. You’re rich when you’re poor.

Through the union of opposites, we annihilate them both and find the unity at the center. Nietzsche said that tragedy was the emergence of Apollonian reason through the catastrophe of Dionysian forces. I’d say this is a pretty fair summary of the narrative of the Bible. Morality occurs from what you learn by engaging in the text and with life, and picking up the pieces from the wreckage of your annihilated life. Kind of like Fight Club.

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