This is one of the line which I remember from the movie, but I haven't given it much thought until now.
What does it means when Tyler said that you're just wanking when you self improve? I always thought it was something being negatively implied... that the whole self improvement thing is just like, well, jerking off. That you're missing a much more bigger thing.
Or is it? Could it also be implied that the whole self improvement thing is something nonsense when you try to impress others? Think about it - how many of us actually fall into the trap of actually trying to improve ourselves for the sake of others? For trying to impress others?
Maybe that's where the whole 'self improvement is masturbation' idea came from. Because really, we know all it is about jacking off. OK, except the literal sense of the word means you're not really out to tell others about it... But, if you actually go for some telling, then I have no idea what you're thinking man. Always out to tell others, eh?
One of the best comment on this section of the movie is probably:
in the end of the movie, tyler durden dies. The dead is symbolic because tyler is the "ideal self" He died and the narrator survived because this means that you should kill your ideal self. The ideal perfect being you wish to be. You do that, more then by self-destruction, by self-acceptence! Accept yourself the way you are. Fuck perfection. Accept all the bad shit in you. None of it matters. All that matters is you and what you fucking are! A self-accepted man, not scared to show it!
Well. Maybe you could say self-destruction to self-improvement is like sex to masturbation.
I don't think self-improvement is necessarily a bad thing (if you take the similarity... ahem). But you have to look at the fact that we would usually destroy something in order to reach a bigger goal. The only question is, just for what purpose and to what extent we're willing to go for destruction? Is it out of anger? Dissent? Frustration? Are we trying to get the attention of others? Or are we trying to reach enlightenment?
Sometimes, maybe all we need to push forward is some good shakeup. And we ain't need to be impressing others whose perception truly doesn't matter.