Thursday, February 2, 2012

It's Groundhog Day!

At first I was just gonna post this clip sequence set to I Got You Babe just because I love Groundhog's Day (the movie), and then I came across this article and it's kind of amazing how seriously some people take the movie.

I've always really liked, and it's funny how many little things I find myself saying that come from this one.


Anyway, here is an article that talks about it at length, and an excerpt:
Personally, I always saw Nietzsche’s doctrine of the eternal return of the same in this story. That was Nietzsche’s idea — metaphorical or literal — to imagine life as an endless repetition of the same events over and over. How would this shape your actions? What would you choose to live out for all eternity? Others see Camus, who writes about how we should live once we realize the absurdity of life. But existentialism doesn’t explain the film’s broader appeal. It is the religious resonance — if not necessarily explicit religious themes — that draws many to it. There’s much to the view of Punxsutawney as purgatory: Connors goes to his own version of hell, but since he’s not evil it turns out to be purgatory, from which he is released by shedding his selfishness and committing to acts of love. Meanwhile, Hindus and Buddhists see versions of reincarnation here, and Jews find great significance in the fact that Connors is saved only after he performs mitzvahs (good deeds) and is returned to earth, not heaven, to perform more.

The burning question: Was all this intentional? Yes and no. Ultimately, the story is one of redemption, so it should surprise no one that it speaks to those in search of the same. But there is also a secular, even conservative, point to be made here. Connors’s metamorphosis contradicts almost everything postmodernity teaches. He doesn’t find paradise or liberation by becoming more “authentic,” by acting on his whims and urges and listening to his inner voices. That behavior is soul-killing. He does exactly the opposite: He learns to appreciate the crowd, the community, even the bourgeois hicks and their values. He determines to make himself better by reading poetry and the classics and by learning to sculpt ice and make music, and most of all by shedding his ironic detachment from the world.

We're watching it tonight. That'll be good.

On a related note, I finished the 7th and final book in Stephen King's Dark Tower series, which is proclaimed to be the magnum opus of all his work. I guess by now I'm a pretty big connoisseur of his work - I think I've read about 15 of his books - and I really kind of love him.

In one of his short stories he talks about how he actually believes a version of hell is having to repeat the same thing over and over. I don't think any of you are going to be reading any of his books anytime soon, so I'll spoil the Dark Tower for you: the gunslinger is doomed to continually repeat his quest to reach the dark tower forever, but with one caveat in the last few pages. He's actually atoned for one of his mistakes en route to the tower, so it's my contention that he is actually on his road to redemption.

Anyway, it's just interesting to think about how this relates to our everyday lives. While we don't repeat exact sequences and events in our lives over and over, but we do have similar trials and experiences through which we try and perfect ourselves until eventually we do overcome and find our own sort of redemption. Part of the human experience is being endowed with weakness and just general difficulty, and in the process of trying to overcome them, we find godliness.

So who knew Groundhog Day was such a deep movie? There ya go.

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