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I really enjoyed reading fight club i partly because I'm interested in how multiple personality is portrayed in literature, but mostly because its about the construction and creation of heterosexual male masculinity. I'm probably more interested in the construction of masculinity than I am in the construction of femininity, maybe because I've never been and never will be expected to fit inside it, the more obscure rules of and aspects masculinity are not something that the world had tried to teach me and then spent much time in hand wringing when I failed miserably at them.

I have to say some of this book, in its nihilism reminded me of American Psycho with its litany of clothes, objects,and out of control materialism

"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 of 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.

ultimately though found it much, much more redemptive than American psycho, (which was not at all redemptive and was stomach turning.) Because unlike American psycho the narrator of fight club gets the pointlessness of things and the emptiness of living a life like that,

Then you're trapped in your lovely nest, and the things that you used to own, now they own you."
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.

This is where Tyler Durden comes in. The narrators uppermost self, is too comfortable, too conforming and too scared to blow it all over and start again so Tyler does it for him.

but I also thought the class issues were really interesting and the ripping away of the myths about how society actually works

"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 p12“

The people you are trying to step on, we’re everyone you depend on. We’re the people who do your laundry and cook your food and serve your dinner. We make your bed. We guard you while you’re asleep. We drive the ambulances. We direct your call. We are cooks and taxi drivers and we know everything about you. We process your insurance claims and credit card charges. We control every part of your life.”

Although technically I guess some of the jobs mentioned are not so much working class jobs but service sector jobs. We live in a world that lies about power, that routinely states that the people with the power are those at the top of the pyramid and we all swallow that lie. When actually if everybody in service sector jobs stopped working or just revolted all hell would break loose. And I think a lot of middle class people don't understand how much impact service sector jobs have on them and what their lives would be like if they weren't done. I once heard a media studies lecturer say that media studies was more important then pluming, which made me go "WTf" I love media studies, I love media studies theory and I do think ideas are important but seriously? Clean running water and toilets that work and someone who knows how to make that all happen and fix it when it doesn't? yeah, If I have to choose I'll take that over Adorno and Althusser any day thanks.

I also though the connections between a certain type of Christianity and how white western culture perceives god was interesting, which of course is also about how we, as a culture construct masculinity

"The mechanic says, '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?'"

Partly I'm interested in that nowhere in the book is the possibility of a female god, surely a female good would make a lot of the issues around and the reasons for constructing and creating masculinity as it is now moot? Also I never made the direct connection between masculinity and god before (which is kind of dumb I know)
and its interesting that the type of masculinity being explored here is essentially adolescent, as it is in a lot of popular culture because we live in a culture where men don't have to, are not expected to, grow up, which is I think part of the refusal to take responsibility for their children (I don't for a minute think people should stay in unhappy relationships but I do think people should take responsibility for and children that arose out of those relationships) and because they aren't expected to grow up theydon't get to partake in the good things about adulthood, such as intimacy and community building and so do feel empty I guess
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So I've just finished Return of the King. I love Lord of the Rings so much. It's so rich and thick and complicated. I'm really interested in portrayals of masculinity and I think the Lord of the Rings is especially interesting in the way it portrays masculinity because it contains conflicting and competing masculinities and it contains non straightforward masculinities.

I think the fact that this book is partly an exploration of masculinities is why people (especially straight men) get really irate when you point out the homoeroticism between Sam and Frodo. It's as if people think that men who love men don't have a masculinity and therefore can't be men.

The films really foregrounded the homoeroticim and whenever I said "clearly Frodo and Sam were in love with each other" I almost invariably got the reply "well why cant they have just been very good friends?" They could have been but they weren't. It is a less than radical interpretation to pull out that they were in love with each other from the book. Their love for each other is not an adaptation or a retelling, it is there in the original text.

One of the things I love about this story is the deep understanding of trauma. It contains happy endings for grownups. The understanding that even if you win the war you are still left carrying greif and pain at the losses, destruction and wounding you have experienced. And that even if you win the war everything passes. everything changes, and everyone dies.

I love the Lord of the rings, but it has a fair whack of imperialism in there, and I was wondering, what if some one wrote the history from the Orcs point of view? I was moseying around google looking to see if anybody had done this and stumbled across this on wikipedia:

The Black Speech is the fictional language of Mordor in The Lord of the Rings. Sauron created the Black Speech, as an artificial language, to be the sole language of all the servants of Mordor, replacing the many different varieties of Orkish and other languages used by his servants.

I think much could be made of this. If you take someones language away, you annihilate their culture, you commit cultural genocide. So we could read LOTR as the Orks being a colonised people who were used as cannon fodder in a war between two imperialist powers.

OR the Orcs genuinely thought they were on the side of good, because the west was all run by feudal systems which suck beyond reckoning for the people at the bottom.

And we can ad some political intrigue in that maybe Aragorn WASN'T the heir to the throne, he was just some stray orphan boy and Gandalf and Elrond between them told him he was and because they told him he would be brilliant he became brilliant.

I think I would really like to do this. it would take a long time because I would need more of a grasp of the geography, history and cultures of Middle Earth but I think it would be really interesting


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October 2010

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