kestrel

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2019-10-15 00:13:45 (UTC)

Prompt 047: Groundhog Day

47. You're stuck in a time warp, forced to live the same morning over and over again! What would you do to keep things interesting during your predicament? Would this situation be more hellish or heavenly, and why?

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So I'd been putting off from writing this prompt for way too long. I like the film -Groundhog Day-, but as a prompt, it's pretty shitty. Furthermore, I think that its placement as a "morning" prompt is a poor one (upon which I shall expound momentarily, I hope).

The story here is that a person has to continually relive the same day over and over again (not just the morning, mind you), until they get it "right." Of course, the challenge of getting it right is that the player doesn't know the position of the goal posts, so they're simply fumbling round until they finally "score." The rules are also unknown to this person. Some supernatural game-maker has forced this individual into playing a game without knowing what's right, what's wrong, what is and what is not appropriate.

The "catch," or saving grace to this typically-horrendous ordeal is that the player learns from and retains any knowledge of their previous attempts. That was the coolest part of the main character's discovery in -Groundhog Day-, really. However, what makes for great film is not necessarily what's best for life. In fact, I'm of the opinion that this would be like the shittiest video game ever.

The worst part? Only the arrogant human mind could come up with the idea that life is some kind of game you can "win." Case in point:
Abrahamic Model: put up with a terrible life, because it'll all be worth it in the end when you make it to The Happy Place. Keep your eyes on the prize, and don't try cheating or any shortcuts like suicide or anything, 'cause that won't work. Put up with our creator's "mysterious ways" until it feels your life's been long enough. Then you're in.

-Groundhog Day- does not attempt to go with this narrative arc, instead opting for...

Buddhist Model: If you don't do it right the first time, you start over again. Do good enough, and you "level up." Eventually you level up to The Happy Place and don't have to work anymore.

Apparently, non-human animals maintain their luxury of ignorance of these models until, of course, they've somehow "leveled up" to being in human form. Only then shall the full weight of anxiety, supernatural pressures, rules, guidelines, and penalties be known (or at least reckoned with). For you Buddhists, screw it up along the way and you risk being turned back into a horsefly, a few rungs down this evolutionary ladder, and have to "work" your way back up again. If you screw it up in one of those Abrahamic religions, then you just spend the rest of eternity in some opposite variation of The Happy Place.

The similarities are curious. What I mean is, only when one is human is all this gibberish realized. It's essentially romanticizing regret, as if there was some "perfect" way to realize a given day. Like obsessively churning through every single outcome in a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book (does anyone else remember those?), the notion of being able to take part in a "do-over" is a quintessentially human one.

The thing that -Groundhog Day- didn't explore, of course, is what did Bill Murray's character do after he won? Did he die happy? Did he earn his spot in The Happy Place?

What makes a human better than a dog? I really want to know. Because I'm not convinced by all I've heard up to this point in my life.


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