Friday, October 4, 2013

there ain't no hill or mountain we can't climb

CHUCK LORRE PRODUCTIONS, #423

Love is a Quantum Event

We experience love as an emotion, but the feeling of love, the desire to be close to the beloved, is actually an unconscious expression of the dynamic nature of sub-atomic particles eternally trying to regroup into the singularity that was their primordial state before the Big Bang blew them apart. While this knowledge helps to explain almost all human behavior, it is completely useless for writing song lyrics and Hallmark cards. Don’t even think about it for marriage proposals.

Despite that titlecard getting my attention last night, I was thinking about not just love but death after yesterday’s entry. And, that—and noting the three times I’ve dealt with obituaries in this blog in my recent recap—got me to thinking about one of my favorite books—a comic book actually—Daytripper by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá.

From the back cover of the collected version:

WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT DAYS OF YOUR LIFE?

Meet Brás de Oliva Domingos. The miracle child of a world-famous Brazillian writer, Brás spends his days penning other people’s obituaries and his nights dreaming of becoming a successful author himself—writing the end of other people’s stories, while his own has barely begun.

But on the day that life begins, would he even notice? Does it start at 21 when he meets the girl of his dreams? Or at 11, when he has his first kiss? Is it later in his life when his first son is born? Or earlier when he might have found his voice as a writer?

Each day in Brás’s life is like a page from a book. Each one reveals the people and things who have made him who he is: his mother and father, his child and his best friend, his first love and the love of his life. And like all great stories, each day has a twist he’ll never see coming…

In DAYTRIPPER, the Eisner Award-winning twin brothers Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá tell a magical, mysterious and moving story about life itself—a hauntingly lyrical journey that uses the quiet moments to ask big questions.

I don’t want to SPOIL the way Daytripper plays out, but I know that most of you who might read this won’t bother to seek it out and read it. If you are at all willing, go find yourself a copy (or borrow mine if you can), and just stop reading this entry now. You will be glad you did.

Publishers Weekly called Daytripper “an examination of family, friendship, love, art, life, and death that urges the reader to turn the same careful inspection on their own life.” And, the way it does this is both horribly complicated and entirely simple. Every issue of the original (and, if you’re new to comics, all 9 issues are in the collected version) presents us with a single, important day in Brás’ life. The twist—and here’s the SPOILER—is that every issue ends with Brás dying, and the appropriate version of his obituary is on the last page. Like Groundhog Day only simpler (and more complicated)—Daytripper uses a single day (or rather nine of them) to measure a life. The Amazon description spoils the story right away, but also gives a nice encapsulation of what it’s all about: “Each issue rediscovers the many varieties of daily life, in a story about living life to its fullest – because any of us can die at any moment.”

That’s the big lesson in Groundhog Day as well… well, arguably. But, I’m not sure that I’ve totally learned it yet. Hell, I know I haven’t. I fill my life with plenty of work and entertainment and I try to include more meaningful things, time with my kids or my family… but I don’t live life to the fullest. I’m not sure I even know how. I’m not sure that, if I did know how, I’d even be able to.

And, in my darker moments, I figure I never will. Like, it should have happened by now, or something. I mean, I’ve had great days in my life. If Daytripper were about me, I could probably come up with nine exemplary days… Then, I’d come up with another nine and another nine and… well, my point isn’t that life has been a hellish nightmare of bad days. In fact, generally speaking, my life has been quite good. I’ve found hobbies I enjoy. I’ve been in love. I’ve had (and still have) my kids. I’ve gone on great vacations with family or friends. I’ve spent great days at home with the same. I’ve had my ups and my downs, just like anyone. I’ve lost friends just like the upside-down Phil sign girl. I’ve…

Despite what I may have said a while back, this blog is not about me. I mean, it is. But, not explicitly.

Though, I would suggest that it makes sense to branch out from Groundhog Day to anything it brings to mind, other TV shows (like the two time loop days I’ve done so far, and at least one more to come), movies with similar plots or themes, books, comic books, songs, anything. As long as I bring it back around to Phil Connors in Punxsutawney, PA, February 2nd, 1993.

The nifty thing is: everything can be related to Groundhog Day… probably. I had a note written down a while back to impact out Groundhog Day to nuclear war. And, most of you reading this won’t have a clue what that means. The simple version: in debate, arguments have impacts. You try to make the impacts big, you try to make them terminal (i.e. conclusive, not open ended). You have a harm about people without insurance, and you link that into short-term impacts about how they get sick and miss work, they miss too much work and they lose their jobs, they lose their jobs and they can’t afford to put food on the table, their kids suffer from hunger which keeps them from doing their best in school, or maybe they quit school to get a low-wage job, a low-wage job means they won’t really improve on their lives… and so on. You turn this into an example of a trend and suddenly you’ve got a generation working jobs that don’t pay enough for them to live. And, the next generation is worse off, and then the next is even worse. Sprinkle all that with references to family members getting sick and dying, other family members getting depressed and committing suicide and you’ve just turned mass tragedy into a point in your side’s favor. It sounds borderline offensive laid out like that. But, it’s what we do. And, the big impacts aren’t just death; you impact things out to resource wars or—and this one doesn’t seem as common as it was just a few years ago now, which is great—nuclear war. If you can impact something logically to nuclear war, you’ve raised the stakes to mass destruction and mass death at the level of extinction.

In my notes—this was either from camping or that day I was watching the movie at the laundromat—I wrote “impact out GH to nuke war” and I wrote it like that because debate time is about the only time I abbreviate anything. And, while I could probably use something within the film metaphorically to demonstrate the usefulness or likelihood of nuclear war, I don’t think the film itself impacts out to nuclear war. In fact, the film, with its positive message that different religions can find meaningful, I figure this film would help us avoid mass conflict if we all just sat down and watched it together. So, if I were debating and had to include nuclear war and Groundhog Day in the same case, I’d put nuclear war as the penultimate impact on my harm scenario, explaining that all the current wrongs in the world, left unchecked would lead us down the slippery slope from regional conflicts and political binaries to larger and larger wars until finally, some State or another would unleash its nukes and we’d all be doomed. And, when I got to my plan, it would be simple. We would make free copies of Groundhog Day available around the world, we’d hold public screenings, we’d get everyone to sit together and watch together and learn to appreciate life together. And, like the hippies we would all become, we’d get together to sing—no, not “Kumbayah”—“I Got You Babe.” And, all would be good. And all would be peaceful. And, the new prophets would be Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis and Bill Murray. And Catholics would put Rita Hanson on a pedestal like they do Mary…

Oh, but then we’d start disagreeing about how we should honor the great prophets of Groundhog Day and what prayers we might offer to Rita Hanson or Phil Connor’s Mary Magdalene, Nancy Taylor. And, minor disagreements would turn into bitter disputes and bitter disputes would turn into violent attacks, first on a small scale, one on one, but then we’d have great rivalries and feuds emerge and whole peoples would latch on to particular readings of Groundhog Day and they would arm themselves for war. The opening salvo might come with a battle cry of “Rise and shine, campers!” And, the Ned the Bull battalion would probably get into open battle early on. And, things would escalate and escalate and finally, someone would make the decision to end all decisions. They would take things nuclear. And, then no day will repeat ever again. At least not for humanity.

The cockroaches would probably survive, and maybe some mutated fish deep down in the ocean. And, a lonely, immortal groundhog by the name of Punxsutawney Phil would lead them into a brighter, human-less future.

Today’s reason to repeat a day forever: to stay on message, at least some of the time, even if it depresses me.

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