Sunday, November 10, 2013

you can leave your galoshes at home

Like I did a couple weeks ago and a couple weeks before that, it's impromptu quotation tie-in night. Took the team out to Northridge for the past three days, judged debate rounds Friday and Saturday, judged speeches today, including impromptu. So, once again, I've got my list--21 quotations this time--and I will now proceed to link Groundhog Day to everything on it.

"I think Superman and Santa Claus are actually the same guy, and I'll tell you why. Both fly, both wear red, and both have a beard. - Jack Handey, Deep Thoughts

While there's the obvious factual inaccuracy--done on purpose, of course, to be funny--I think I could interpret this quotation to suggest that really on some level we are all the same person. We are all fundamentally the same and this is, in fact, one of the lessons Phil Connors learns in Groundhog Day. When he first gets to Punxsutawney, he looks down on the locals, calls them "hicks" and wants nothing more than to get back to Pittsburgh. But, after however long he's in the time loop, he has come to appreciate these people for who they are; and I would specifically suggest that he has learned that we are all human beings. There is no justification for the kneejerk disdain Phil feels toward the small town folk before the time loop. I think post-loop Phil would appreciate these lyrics from Depeche Mode:

So we're different colours
And we're different creeds
And different people have different needs
It's obvious you hate me
Though I've done nothing wrong
I never even met you
So what could I have done

I can't understand
What makes a man
Hate another man
Help me understand

People are people so why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully

Superman is Santa Claus is Phil Connors is everyone.

"Ignorance is the mother of fear." - Harry Homes

This boils down quite simply: we are only afraid when we don't know (or, stretching it, can't control) what's going on. Phil Connors, pre-loop is a scared man, so stuck on being the arrogant, self-centered jerk he is to interact genuinely with the likes of anyone. Phil doesn't like himself, and he likely projects that dislike onto everyone around him, so he's afraid to be genuine with anyone because a) he thinks they might actually be the way he sees them and b) he doesn't want them to see who he really is. But, he's only afraid of all this because he doesn't know any better. He doesn't know how to be a better person, how to appreciate strangers for who they are. His ignorance of the world outside his bubble makes him afraid to explore.

"Love is the great miracle cure. Loving ourselves works miracles in our lives." - Louise Hay

I've explained many times how Phil learns to appreciate not only other people but himself. He tells Rita quite honestly on "date night" that he doesn't even like himself, but by the end of the film he gets over that. He not only makes himself better--worth of Rita's love as well as his own--in bettering himself he becomes more capable of loving the man he was before and probably still is somewhere inside. On another level, of course, many believe--and I've repeatedly mitigated this interpretation--that it is Rita's love for Phil and vice versa that cures the time loop, releasing Phil from his trap.

"Be rich to yourself and poor to your friends." - Juvenal

I keep thinking there's a positive way of interpreting this one positively, but each time I feel like it's in my head, I focus in and it's gone, like it's on the tip of my tongue, like presque vu. Instead, I see this quote as an instruction on how to be quite selfish. "Be rich to yourself" I take to mean that you should act in your self interest, spend freely when it's for something you want. Alternatively, I take "poor to your friends" to mean that you should not spend so freely on your friends, that you should maybe even depend on their money. In an impromptu round, I would have to disagree with this quotation quite adamantly. But, I'm not so sure that pre-loop Phil Connors would agree with me. Even early time loop Phil, stealing money, dressing in costume, seducing Nancy, would agree with the quotation (or at least my interpretation of it); without consequences to his actions, he acts entirely in any way that will amuse and appease his ego. He has no "friends" as such, but he is "poor" to everyone.

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us. What we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal." - Albert Pike

This encapsulates Phil's release from the time loop quite well. What he has done for himself--the stuff I mentioned in the previous response--died with the passing February 2nd. What remains after February 2nd finally passes are the results of actions he has done for others. These things last; Buster is alive because of Phil, for example. Debbie and Fred are married. Phil has left a mark on the world not with his selfishness but with his selflessness.

Manifest plainness, embrace simplicity, reduce selfishness, have few desires." - Lao Tzu

This is the kind of advice post-loop Phil might give to pre-loop Phil. Simplify your life and all will go better. Pre-loop Phil is selfish, he makes smartass comments whenever he can. He belittles and insults. Post-loop Phil is no angel, but he is far more polite and subdued than pre-loop Phil. His desires in the end are not about what he wants but what others need.

"Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement." - Unknown

This is a great quotation about the role of experience and learning. We learn from our bad choices and this leads to us making good choices. This is Phil Connors' journey in a nutshell. He makes bad decisions in the first act of the film, suffers for them in the second, then turns an entirely different direction because of what he has learned in the third act.

"Frailty, thy name is woman." - William Shakespeare

Such a sexist line, so easy to disagree with. But, as much as I do my best not to discount women automatically, I've written bad things about Rita numerous times, and implied some bad things about Nancy as well. Pre-loop Phil certainly thinks very little of women; they are a means to a sexual end and that's about it. But, he learns to disagree with this quotation just as I would in an impromptu round.

You must live with people to know their problems, and live with God in order to solve them." - P.T. Forsyth

This could be taken a couple of ways. Michael Foley might take that second bit about God and apply it to Phil's helping people, not as Phil being god-like but Phil searching for God in the shadow of O'Reilly's death and in the act of the good deed. I would interpret the second part of this quotation not to refer to a literal God but the metaphorical "god" that Phil has become. And, the first part of this quotation is quite literally true for Phil; he learns of the problems of the Punxsutawney people by living with them--not by choice, but still--and that is the only way he can perform his good deeds, whatever the reasoning.

And, you know what? I will have to end this entry there, only 9 quotations down, because I am tired after three tournament days and very little sleep last night. I will continue the impromptu session tomorrow.

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to get some much needed sleep.

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