Tim Ferris interviewed Chuck Palahniuk on his podcast recently. Not long into the interview, Palahniuk explains the phenomenon that some readers of his story, “Guts” experience. They pass-out. Maybe that shocking detail made me lean in to hear, what I think to be, a profound summary of what Palahniuk understands his calling to be. He says:
The goal is to make people laugh and then to really break their heart.
This, of course, makes complete sense coming from the man who wrote Fight Club. A movie that holds much of it’s college-aged-viewing charm after first viewing. I think because even after you have been whiplashed by the surprise ending, you ache to see old forms of personhood and institution crumble (while a Pixies song plays) to death.
At the same time, hearing the master of modern-grotesque describe his aim as an author, I was suprised. His words stunned me for their uncanny resemblence to a few lines of rhyme from C.S. Lewis.
Have you not seen that in our days
Of any whose story, song or art
Delights us, our sincerest praise
Means, when all’s said, ‘You break my heart?
“Laughter through tears.”