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Fight Club and the World Trade Center: On Metaphor and the Spatio-Temporal (Dis)location of Violence.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date2003
JournalJournal for Cultural Research
Number of pages24
Original languageEnglish


In this essay we examine the metaphorical rendition of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, which took place on 11 September 2001, as attacks on "civilization." Our principal aim is to understand how it has proven to be as affective as it seems to have been thus far. We do so by turning to film, a medium that is quintessentially metaphorical and whose own affective power rests on the reconfiguration of time and space. More specifically, we do so by turning to David Fincher's Fight Club (1999). In contrast to the textual approach offered by Slavoj iek (2002), we explore how the formal play of different temporal and spatial scales, which would articulate a trenchant critique of alienation, in fact reproduces an understanding of the subject that is deeply complicit with capital. The play of time and space, on which the affective power of the film rests, articulates a rejection of the fundamentally schizophrenic nature of the subject of capital. Our claim is that this exploration of time, space, and political critique illuminates how the elisions of the historical and geo-political that characterize the metaphorical rendition of the attacks on New York and Washington might easily be overlooked. This essay also advances our more general understanding of both the articulation of time and space within the dominant form of metaphorical representation and how this enacts and consolidates a particular politics.