Monday, December 9, 2013

give me another chance

Was too tired to do much linking of Groundhog Day to impromptu quotations--as I did here, here and here & here and here & here--yesterday. So, now for some more:

"What we obtain too cheap[ly] we esteem too little. It is dearness only that gives everything its value." - Thomas Paine

An obvious one. What Phil Connors gets out of his life pre-loop or the early days of the loop are gains too easily gotten. He has shallow relationships. He steals money and (presumably) spends it absurdly. He Phil Connors Nancy rather than actually try to ask her out properly (which she might have said "yes" to). It is the stuff he gets later in the loop, the stuff he has to put real effort into, that holds "dearness." His ice sculpting, his piano playing, his saving of lives--

(Note: I do not include learning French, though one could argue it belongs on the list... one would be a presumptuous idealist, and maybe a moron, but one could argue it)

--this is the stuff that changes who he is. His pursuit of Rita is a special case that fits both parts of this equation. First he Phil Connors her then he earns her love indirectly by, well, Phil Connoring himself... which sounds dirtier than it should.

"Know how sublime a thing [it] is to suffer and be strong." - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This one makes more sense with that added word and I am not in-round but blogging away with the internet handy so I confirmed that this one was typed wrong. For the record, the one quotation I got to yesterday was typed without the periods and weirdly with every word capitalized. The Thomas Paine line above had nothing separating its two sentences. I'm not going to name names--because I don't know who put together the impromptu quotations for this particular tournament--but I think they could have used a good editor; many have missing or incorrect punctuation.

As for it's link to Groundhog Day--and, though I just looked up its source, I will not link the film to the Longfellow poem but merely the lines in this quotation itself--it's another easy one. I've connected Phil Connors' journey to Siddhartha's before and Danny Rubin even references as much in How to Write Groundhog Day. That Phil must suffer before he is able to become strong--which is how I interpret this quotation, that one follows the other--is quite obvious to me and should be obvious to a first-time viewer of the film as well. Phil must give in to his baser urges and suffer the consequences--even as he has convinced himself that there are no consequences--before he can get better. He must tear himself down before he can rebuild. And, this is profoundly true of all of us.

"Money is a good servant, but a poor master." - Dominique Bouhours

This one is harder to link to Groundhog Day because, as I've argued before, money has no substantial value for Phil when he's in the time loop. Taken literally, I would suggest that Phil, in (presumably) buying that fancy car he takes to the movie theater has bought into a capitalist ideal that makes money his master. Compare that to his spending of $1000 for his first piano lesson and you get Phil as the master, money as his servant... sort of. Taken figuratively, though, this quotation could be said to mean the same thing as the previous one. "Money" is the baser urge, the material wants, and as long as Phil is only pursuing his shallow interests he is a servant to these wants, a servant to this "money." In act three, though, he is the master and the journey is a little more internalized.

"An ounce of hypocrisy is worth a pound of ambition." - Michael Korda

I find it interesting that Phil calls the people of Punxsutawney "hypocrites" because, as he has decided to see it, Groundhog Day doesn't mean anything anymore. But, in so proclaiming, I would argue that Phil is the hypocrite because nothing he does at this point in the story means anything. His pursuit of Rita may have managed to go deeper than his previous Phil Connoring of Nancy, but ultimately, his failure to win over Rita means nothing until he gets over it enough to move on. On the morning he calls the people of Punxsutawney "hypocrites" Phil is depressed and tired and the loop has gotten the better of him. He has not gotten over date night yet, so the meaning we can see in that sequence, in retrospect, does not yet exist. Phil's ambition--getting to the second part of this quotation--could either be taken as the shallow ambition that drove him to (AKA the equal sign implied by "is worth") this "ounce of hypocrisy" or his ambition could be the deeper ambition that follows, resulting from (AKA the causal relationship that could be implied by "is worth") his hypocrisy.

The reason that last bit about ambition might seem like a stretch (or at least a very shallow link), I must admit, is because I'm not sure I quite understand the quotation itself. Taken at face value, I read the line as saying that hypocrisy is a good thing because a very small bit of it is equal to a lot of ambition. It seems like being a hypocrite would be far easier than building up a lot of ambition, so then, why not be a hypocrite? Compare it to the saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" which, the Free Dictionary tells us, means:

If you put in a little effort to prevent a problem, you will not have to put in a lot of effort to solve the problem. Brush your teeth every day; that way you won't have to go to the dentist to have cavities filled. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you get in the habit of being careful with your new stereo, chances are you won't break it and have to have it fixed later.

Korda's line is actually rather awkward given the commonness of the cure line, because it begs comparison and (I assume) misinterpretation. Unless Korda is trying to say that ambition is a negative attribute... which maybe he is; I mean, ambition could be taken as the larger, negative form of a much lesser attribute that is worth having, something like perseverance mixed with desire. Ambition itself is hardly a negative thing, though. If one's ambition is to achieve something bad, then it is the goal that is at fault, not the ambition. But really, the problem here, for me, is that I just do not see a link between ambition and hypocrisy, aside from the (maybe) stretch above.

And, I really must try to keep my responses shorter or I will never get through a list of impromptu quotations ever again. A given round usually has 21 prompts, 3 each for up to 7 speakers. In two days and over 2000 words I have now made it through 5 of the quotations offered in round two this past weekend. I think I've just gotten more wordy each time I've done this. At first I was just trying to demonstrate that I could link such things to Groundhog Day so I didn't need to get too deep into it. But, as I came to quotations each time, I think I was aiming higher than I needed to to continue making that point. Or maybe I thought the point was made, and these quotations are simply useful prompts to continue this project when another topic is not ready to go.

My one final exam I've got for this fall quarter is tomorrow night and my classes for the quarter will be completed the night after that. During the winter break, I might get into some more involved (but not necessarily deeper) topics like some actor profiles... I should explain. An actor profile might seem like a relatively easy, shallow thing to produce. But, I think of profiling Bill Murray, for example, and I want to watch a bunch of Bill Murray movies and read some reviews and compile something more complex. I've also got a third TV time loop day coming (the previous two, you can read about here and here). My point is that during the quarter it was useful to have prompts like these impromptu quotations to put some specific structure on entries for The Groundhog Day Project... not that I haven't proven myself capable of rambling without planning or coming up with some quite interesting entries on the fly.

Before I give up on completing the task at hand again--the film is nearly over (Rita just bought Phil) and I've got a final exam to help proctor in a bit--I wanted to mention the next quotation on the sheet. First, this is how it is listed:

"Cuando amor no es locura, no es amor. (When love is not madness, it is not love.) - Danish Proverb"

The first problem: If this is a Danish proverb, why is it in Spanish? If it happened to be a Spanish proverb, I would still wonder why it was listed in Spanish as well, to be fair. These prompts are for an event in which participants speak English, so having just the English translation would be appropriate. But, this is not a proverb at all, nor is it it Danish. Instead, it is a quotation from Pedro Calderón de la Barca's El Mayor Monstrua del Mundo. See why this list needed an editor?

As for this quotation--the idea that love must be madness--that is a topic worthy of its own entry... and come to think of it, I already wrote an entry that links Phil's insanity and his love for Rita.

But anyway, that is enough for today, and the credits are rolling.

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: seriously, to rediscover the ability to be succinct.

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