The yurodivy is a kind of "holy fool" - the person who sees what's really going on in society and has the audacity to say it, but only in a kind of code. If there's a crooked government, the holy fool will maybe perform a weird pantomime or tell a story, one that gets everyone to laugh at first; sooner or later, the more perceptive members of the yurodivy's audience will also recognize in the fool's antics a hidden message. – (Saint Paul Sunday)
The… article quoted above goes on to use Gogol’s Dead Souls as an example, and I loved that book (though I admit I probably didn’t get all of the nuance of its satire). Groundhog Day isn’t satire, though. Still, it comments so readily on the human condition in the modern world, repetition and inanity hitting us from all side. Yesterday, I suggested a) that Ralph and Gus were Phil’s holy fools and b) that Phil was ours. Phil’s sarcasm, his dry wit, his sardonic humor—this is all him commenting on the world, sure from the standpoint of someone far too bitter to really qualify as a hero, but also from the standpoint of someone who has clearly seen a great deal of the world and knows that there’s enough bad stuff out there that you just have to have not only a sense of humor but a sense of the negativity just to survive. Pre- and early-loop Phil is definitely a “glass is half empty” kind of guy. Hell, after his night with Ralph and Gus, he’s more a “grab that glass and drink it so it’s all empty” kind of guy.
The holy fool “employ[s] shocking, unconventional behavior to challenge accepted norms, deliver prophecies or to mask [his] piety” (Mellergard, maybe… it’s hard to tell with a quotation that shows up all over the place online). Phil Connors robs an armored truck. Phil Connors dresses up like a cowboy just for the hell of it. Phil Connors commits what I once called time loop date rape. Phil Connors lies to Rita Hanson day after day after day to manipulate her into his bedroom, and even tries to physically block her from leaving (though that last bit is subtle enough most people probably don’t notice it). Phil Connors kills himself repeatedly. He may not be masking piety, per se, but I think we can assume a certain part of late- and post-loop Phil was already within Phil to begin with; he is still the same character in the end that he was in the beginning, he has not actually become an entirely new person. You have to watch something like a David Lynch film to see that happen. Levin (1971) suggests that Shakespeare’s fools serve as “an emotional vacation from the more serious business of the main action" (p. 142). The question then: is Phil’s time (loop) in Punxsutawney the emotional vacation for us for the more serious business of our lives?
I’m not talking escapism, simply, but rather the idea that this film in particular serves specifically to separate us, for 1 hour 41 minutes, from our lives outside the theater, or away from our television (or our computers or tablets, these day—I’ve got the film playing here on my iPad right now, right by my computer screen), from the humdrum, hectic workaday chaos of life.
(And, I choose those words knowing full well that they contradict each other somewhat.)
Groundhog Day is on its surface a light story, that of a bad man forced by circumstance to become a good one. But, underneath, there is so much more than that… which I am required, probably by law, to say after this many days of writing about the film.
Biddy Tarot tells us that The Fool
shows the highest potential for your life, reaching a state of renewal and new beginnings, where each day is an adventure and each moment is lived to the fullest. The Fool card represents the beginning of all creativity and a desire to accomplish new goals (or to, at least, start the process of working towards those goals). The Fool indicates that anything can happen and the opportunities are just waiting to be taken advantage of.
The Fool, in this case, is obviously Phil, but also me when I started this blog. There is only one week to Day 365. A year of Groundhog Day. The Fool “encourages you to believe in yourself and follow your heart no matter how crazy or foolish your impulses may seem” (Biddy Tarot).
I will end with this, again from Biddy Tarot:
The Fool is always whole, healthy and without fear. He is the spirit of who we are, the spirit expressed and experienced as wonder, awe, curiosity and anticipation. We never know what is in the future but like the Fool we must blindly go forward. You need to trust that you are a spirit born into flesh to enjoy life and grow in experience. Take a chance and see what happens.
Today’s reason to repeat a day forever: to experience wonder, awe, curiosity and anticipation. And, to experience their opposites as well.