Monday, February 02, 2009


Before the sun sets on this most significant of holidays that take place during the first week of February (and there are so very many), it’s my pleasure to point you to a superb piece by fellow blogger and SLIFR reader Ali Arikan. Ali’s Cerebral Mastication, over which he presides all the way from the country of Turkey, is one of the highlights of the blogosphere, and his new piece, “Imagining Sisyphus Happy: A Groundhog Day Retrospective” is, like the brilliant Harold Ramis-directed comedy which it revisits, both specific and universal, a—yes-- cerebral and joyous examination of one man’s discovery of how best to live a life that has been, up till his moment of self-awareness, been wasted on bitterness and cynical self-satisfaction. In many ways, Ali’s piece, in addition to being an evocative re-viewing of a terrific movie, made me think of how this mind-bending picture works in tandem with Mike Leigh’s decidedly not-metaphysical-at all Happy-Go-Lucky to address how, in grim economic times as these, a positive outlook is not simply a harbinger of sticking one’s head in the sand, but instead a viable way of engaging with the tough winds and dark shadows that buffet and blanket us daily, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Here’s a taste:

“For 16 years, Groundhog Day has been hailed as a meditation on self-redemption. But to pigeonhole it into one overarching theme would be an insult to the layered precision, and perfection, of Harold Ramis’s 1993 masterpiece, which ventures into the heart of darkness and despair to ultimately emerge unharmed, but not unmarked. This story of a man doomed to relive the same day over and over again is not concerned about tomorrow. A true absurdist triumph, it cares not what the destination might be, for it knows that the pursuit of meaning is itself meaningful whether or not that pursuit is eventually rewarded. Life might very well lack purpose, and it might very well be a struggle. But that doesn’t mean you have to be an asshole about it.

Do yourself a favor: if you’re already one of Ali’s regular readers, get thee hence to Cerebral Mastication and make him a habit, and while you’re there rummaging through all of Ali’s archives you can also link up to his excellent piece over at The House Next Door.



Ali Arikan said...

Thanks for the plug, and the kind words, Dennis. I am glad you liked it.

bill r. said...

I haven't read the whole article yet, but that passage you quoted is dead-on. Groundhog Day is such a great, complex comedy, of a type pretty much unheard of these days. I'll read the rest soon, but I can already tell it's good stuff. Nice job, Ali.

On a sort-of side-note: Anyone here ever read Ken Grimwood's novel Replay? I haven't yet, but it predates, and has a VERY similar premise to Groundhog Day. It is now and always has been a fairly osbcure cult SF novel, and I don't claim that Ramis ripped anyone off...but I do wonder about the film's original author, Danny Rubin. I have no idea just how close Grimwood's novel and the film match up, but I find it very curious that Rubin has written very little since (or at least has very few credits).

But I love the movie, and haven't read the book (though I probably will soon), so I guess I should pull back on this. Outside of the basic premise, they could be completely disimilar. I'm really just wondering if anyone knows the novel.

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