Clean, Cull, and Connect. In his short essay “Live like you’re dying,” Chuck Palahniuk refers them as the “Three C’s. ” After confirming that suicide is the only escape route, they are the three final chores you must finish on your last “lively” week. Clean everything. Your bathroom, car, refrigerator, everything. Cull down your resources, donate and destroy needless possessions, and get a good haircut. Connect to everyone you’ve ever known and say something nice, no matter how bad you hate them.
Don’t feel humiliated, you’ve got nothing to lose except a few days of your life. Also, know that no one will remember you, know that the world will not change after you die. Know that you will not be missed. And after all of this, Palahniuk says you probably won’t bother to kill yourself, since by then you’ll be surrounded by friends who recognize you as a decent and valuable friend. But there is more to the essay than explaining what the three C’s are. Both the title and content clearly spotlights death as a major concept of the essay, as most of Palahniuk’s writings are.
Actually, Palahniuk touches on death so often that it seems he cannot go through a single essay without discussing about it. Also, from start to beginning, his sentences are written in such a clean-cut way that the reader almost feels suicidal. “Do everything. ” “Destroy it. ” “Treat yourself. ” “Your oven will be clean, your car vacuumed. ” Even in the merriest mind, one cannot help but be persuaded that the world will crumble when the essay ends. Why does Palahniuk do so? It seems odd – and arduous – for any writer to be so “deathly” when he writes.
Palahniuk was beleaguered by death all his life. In his mind, his happy family had already died when his parents divorced, leaving him and his three siblings to live with their grandparents. Later on, Palahniuk volunteered at a hospice as an escort, where he had to witness the death of a patient he had grown attached to (which lead him to stop volunteer working). And around 1999, Palahniuk’s father – Fred Palahniuk – was shot and dragged into a house which was put on fire. Palahniuk later on helped the decision of the killer’s death sentence, the ex-boyfriend of Fred Palahniuk’s girlfriend.
Although death is a frequently visited topic for Palahniuk, he probably doesn’t always write in such a “deathly” manner on purpose. But it is also not surprising that Palahniuk ends up writing about death every time. Palahniuk’s word choice during the essay is also different from the ordinary writer. Not only that most of them are short, but all of them are so-called “easy” words (perhaps “procrastinate” at the last paragraph is an exception). Of course, it comes from Palahniuk’s minimalistic writing philosophy, but anyone with internet connection to Wikipedia can figure that out.
The question is, where does his writing philosophy come from? Palahniuk claims himself to be a romantic who expresses ideas that others do not believe in. It is only natural that he holds different ideas from the ordinary man, regarding the unordinary world he grew up in. Therefore, readers of Palahniuk need to think twice about what he wrote to understand it. But complex words tend to have an accurate meaning to it, which doesn’t leave any space to think again about what he was actually trying to say. This leaves Palahniuk no choice but to use more flexible, simpler and original words.
Although it doesn’t show in the essay “Live like you’re dying,” an exception is when it comes to mechanics. For example, in his novel “Fight Club,” most of the processes in making plastic bombs or soap is described in an accurate manner. This is probably because Palahniuk used to work for Freightliner as a mechanic, but his tendency to describe mechanical processes accurately has less to do with his flow of words than we have interest to. As it has been clearly shown, “Live like you’re dying” has a deep relation to Palahniuk’s background, almost as if the essay is a shadow of Palahniuk.
Everything that Palahniuk has been through, and is going through, is spilled out and spread, conscious or unconscious, on the computer screen when he writes. He can’t help it. And it would be nonsense to say that this only counts for Chuck Palahniuk – every essay is a shadow of the author in some way or the other, a footprint of what he has been through. There’s a sort of syllogism going on here: what you’ve one is what you are, what you are is what you write, so what you’ve done is what you write. If you disagreed, you’d be challenging Socrates.