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Wednesday, 31 August 2022

Abandoning Civilization & Embodying the Tyler Durden Aesthetic in the Caucuses

Written by Ben Bartee
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"I don't know how Tyler found that house but he said he had been there for a year. It looked like it was waiting to be torn down. Most of the windows were boarded up. There was no lock on the front door from when the police or whoever kicked it in. Stairs were ready to collapse. I didn't know if he owned it or if he was squatting. Neither would have surprised me. What a shithole. Nothing worked. Turning on one light meant another light in the house went out. There were no neighbors. Just some warehouses and a paper mill. That fart smell of steam. That hamster cage smell of wood chips."

-Fight Club

Supposing anyone back home in the continental US were so inclined to send a care package my way here in the crevices of the Caucus Mountains, they couldn't.

They couldn't because I have no address, and there's no address because my apartment is located in an abandoned off-grid Soviet-era medical facility. I use "off-grid" in the literal sense; it never made it onto the map, and the local government never bothered to give it a number.

As relayed to my Ukrainian wife by one of the Russian-speaking carpenters renovating stuff here, the rudimentary structure was a project of the Perestroika ("opening up") period of the 1980s. Under the Perestroika scheme, the Soviet Union attempted to reform itself economically and politically. With the reforms came an infusion of capital for various enterprises.

It turned out, the reformation was too little, too late; the Soviet Union couldn't right the ship and collapsed; the medical building project was orphaned.

The address-free skeleton is what remains.


Oddly, I've been homed with an address, and been homeless with no address (I tried my hand at urban camping on the outskirts of Durango, Colorado for a spell; long story). Until now, I never experienced the novelty of having a home with no address.

Is that a paradox?

Potential life goal: I might get around at some point to squaring the circle and becoming homeless with an address. Sometimes the temptation to give up beckons me -- to take to drinking wine for a living, and move into a cardboard condominium.

In such an instance, I could probably get a PO box somewhere. Mission accomplished.


Home w/address

Homeless w/address???

Home w/o address

Homeless w/o address


According to street punk band NOFX, malt liquor tastes much better on the streets.


The wife and I – she perhaps not as enthusiastically as me – are embodying the Fight Club ideal. Specifically, the rejection of comfort of consumerism.

Nails jut out from the hallway walls, threatening to stab anyone not careful enough to avoid them. Suffice it to say, the building wouldn't meet code in the West.


We're living the dream.

Nearby, some upscale wall-nail-free bourgeois apartments cater to posh tourists who visit to bask in the nearby natural springs, which local legend maintains have medicinal properties.

Those "versatile solutions for modern living" – to quote Tyler Durden -- are down the road on the other side of the unused train tracks. They used to vector locomotives to and from Tbilisi but don't anymore. Such accommodations are for consumers living the lie, not enlightened rejecters of the lie living Tyler's dream like me and the reluctant-yet-understanding wife.

Plus, we pay $200 in monthly rent. Yes, it would be cooler for sure if we were bona fide full-on squatting; but $200/month in what feels like a squatter's paradise is the next best thing.

How possession of our little slice of the building fell into the hands of our landlord – some sweet-sounding lady from Tbilisi – I have no idea.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 31 August 2022
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