Fight Club: An Exploration of Buddhism

(Abstract) Initially panned by many critics for its violent content, David Fincher’s Fight Club may seem like the most unlikely film to incorporate the tenants of Zen Buddhism. However, if one looks beyond the surface, issues like fighting against capitalism, saving people from themselves, creating a world-wide equilibrium, and suffering to gain enlightenment are all present in Fight Club. This alone may not be enough to prove an air-tight connection between Zen Buddhism and Fight Club but the film’s characters, structure and storyline can also be linked to key aspects of the Zen Buddhist doctrine. By exploring these multiple connections this paper provides a different, if not completely opposed, view of what could be one of the most controversial and ultimately misunderstood films of the last decade.

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