Oct 10, 2003

on Groundhog Day and Identity

posted by Tim Shaw

On this same theme, I suggest to you Philip K Dick's excellent final novel, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer. Or, my own homage to Buddhism: Suffering is the seed of salvation.
For the jungians, those archetypes that are not made conscious must be lived out. Of course, 'to become conscious' of an archetype is a complex phenomenon. Suffering is very often, perhaps always, the root of this process, in the same way that irritation is the basic form of perception (another of those facts I *think* I read somewhere). Or as a friend of mine has put it: The grain of sand is the proximate cause of the pearl.
If you haven't already, or haven't lately, let me suggest that you see the movie Groundhog Day, with Bill Murray. Forced to relive the same day over and over and over, Murray eventually declares himself a god, immortal and, to those unaware of the repetition, apparently omniscient. Though this might sound like the fulfillment of a power fantasy, godhood is suffering to him. He not only has to live out the archetype; he's bound to live out that type day after day without end. The 'type' here is his fundamental character, the vain, self-centered weatherman. To escape the day, he must escape himself. And to do that he must escape self-interest. Do you see the problem there? He can escape only by dissolving his selfish need to escape. It's a fundamental shift.
You've probably seen the movie, but if not, I won't ruin it for you.
There's a similar pattern (to that last bit) in the famous life story of Bucky Fuller, whose life changed as he stood on a bridge preparing to hurl himself off. Rather than end his life, he decided to give his life to the service of others, asking himself, 'How much can one person, fully committed, change the world?'
-Tim Shaw, Eugene, Oregon, USA