Saturday, July 5, 2014

deep inside i can't accept

Man, are you hungry?

I haven't eaten since later this afternoon.

Watched Primer before Groundhog Day today. It’s a very low budget exploration into time travel and its consequences… except I don’t think it deals too well in actual (morally) bad consequences.

It demonstrates a lot of the complexity Phil Connors might have to deal with, though, in repeating the same day if he wants things to seem normal. In Primer, Aaron (played by writer and director Shane Carruth) uses recordings of the original conversations through a certain day, for example, so that when he returns to that day he can keep one earbud in and follow the conversation how it is supposed to go. Tying back to yesterday’s entry about Run Lola Run, the way tiny differences can be a problem (or not) is demonstrated when Aaron has a conversation on a basketball court; he misses a shot in the resumption that he made previously, so the dialogue on the tape differs from the new reality. But, that doesn’t really lead to any big change.

I won’t get into great detail on Primer itself. If you want that, go read the Primer Universe blog.

Instead, recall my entry on the Oscar-nominated short film, Time Freak, in which I shared some screencaps to show just how hard it can be to keep track of all the details of a day…

I especially like that last one, how there are extra sheets stapled onto the board—alternate versions of that particular interaction, I suppose.

Here’s the chart someone made to explain all the timelines in Primer, by the way:

Try to remember a conversation you had yesterday. What did you say? What was said in response? Word for word.

I think about the bit I call the “date night” sequence, sometimes. Phil orders the “wrong” drink, so we cut to the next day when he orders the “right” one. But, what did he do in the meantime to be sure Rita would end up at the hotel bar at just that right time. Was his Gobbler’s Knob report that morning exactly the same as the day before, so he could be sure her mood was just the same, and she would want to read her (book) later at the bar.

(I once spent a while trying to get a good screencap of that book, or possibly digest magazine, to see just what they used for the prop, but with no success. The film just doesn’t show it clearly.)

Phil doesn’t have the benefit of a board with notes like Stillman in Time Freak or recorded conversations like Aaron in Primer. Really, for me, the whole point to traveling back in time (or taking advantage of a time loop) would be to have every resumption be different. No conversation ever the same, no experience every what it was the first time. Just like, you know, normal life. The first time for something is often the best, or at least we romanticize it to think as much, so that every time we do that thing again, we wish it could be as good as we remember the first time being.

It is not because, necessarily, the first time was the best… unless you define best by its originality, its newness, and maybe that’s a good way to go sometimes. But, if we obsess about the past, about that first time—if we do that, we strand ourselves just outside the present, and we can never make the most of what we have because it never measures up to some imagined version.

Today’s reason to repeat a day forever: to forget each resumption and live each day as if it is the first time… unless I can get my hands on some good recorded conversations and charts that will survive the time loop. Then all bets are off.

P.S. The Groundhog Day Project has a Twitter and a Facebook page. Follow and like them respectively and help spread the word. And, if you want to support the Groundhog Day Project financially, you can do that too... don’t save your like or your follow or your monetary assistance for the next resumption just because Phase One is ending soon. Phase Two seems like it may actually be a thing.

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