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Chemical Burn

      One scene from the movie Fight Club has always stood out to me as a wonderful example of Bahari thought.  On the DVD release, this segment is entitled "Chemical Burn."  You should watch the scene so that you can get the whole impact of it, since Brad Pitt and Ed Norton do an excellent job.   To get the most out of it you really have to see the whole movie, but the scene is worth looking at here even if you've seen it several times.  Why?  Because sometimes we don't pay very close attention to what we see or hear, and we're trying to place it in a Bahari context.  So go ahead and read up on the Bahari if you haven't already, and then come back here.  I have transcribed the scene below from my copy of the movie because I've found that online scripts don't record this scene in the way that it is enacted in the film.  Jim Uhls wrote the script based on the book by Chuck Palahniuk.

Tyler and Jack are in the run-down kitchen, making soap from human fat that they've stolen from a liposuction clinic.

Tyler
May I see your hand please?

Jack gives Tyler his hand. Tyler licks his lips thoroughly and kisses it.

Jack
What is this?

Tyler
This is a chemical burn.

Tyler throws lye over the wet mark his lips left behind; Jack's skin begins to sizzle. Jack screams and Tyler holds Jack’s hand out in front of him.

Tyler
It will hurt more than you have ever been burned, and you will have a scar.

Jack
What are you doing?!

Jack (voiceover, internal dialogue)
Guided meditation worked for cancer, it could work for this.

Jack closes his eyes and imagines a bright green forest.

Tyler
Stay with the pain, don’t shut this out.

Jack struggles and screams but Tyler does not let go of his hand.

Tyler
Look at your hand. The first soap was made from the ashes of heroes, like the first monkey shot into space. Without pain, without sacrifice, we would have nothing.

Jack closes his eyes and tries meditation again.

Jack (voiceover, internal dialogue)
I tried not to think of the words ‘searing,’ ‘flesh.’

Tyler
Stop it! This is your pain, this is your burning hand, it’s right here!

Jack
I’m going to my cave, I’m going to my cave, I’m going to find my power animal!

Jack imagines a frosty cave and Marla lying in furs.

Tyler
No! Don’t deal with it the way those dead people do! Come on!

Jack
I get the point okay, please!

Tyler
No, what you’re feeling is premature enlightenment.

Jack tries meditating again in his cave; Marla blows smoke into his face, making him cough. Tyler strikes Jack across the face.

Tyler
This is the greatest moment of your life, man, and you’re off somewhere missing it!

Jack
No, I am not! (babbles in pain)

Jack struggles some more but Tyler still won’t let go.

Tyler
Shut up. Our fathers were our models for God. If our fathers bailed, what does that tell you about God?

Jack continues to babble. Tyler strikes Jack across the face again.

Tyler
Listen to me. You have to consider the possibility that God does not like you. He never wanted you. In all probability, he hates you. This is not the worst thing that can happen.

Jack
It isn’t?

Tyler moves forward, closer to Jack.

Tyler
We don’t need him.

Jack
We don’t, I agree!

Tyler
Fuck damnation, man, fuck redemption! We are God’s unwanted children – so be it!

Jack babbles and struggles some more.

Tyler
Listen! You can run water over your hand and make it worse or – look at me – or you can use vinegar to neutralize the burn.

Jack
Please let me have it, please!

Tyler
First, you have to give up. First you have to know, not fear, know that someday you’re gonna die.

Jack
You don’t know how this feels!

Tyler holds up the back of his own scarred hand, and then rests his chin on it.

Tyler
It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.

Jack decides to concentrate on the pain. Tyler lets go and, in a few moments, he pours vinegar over Jack’s hand.

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