Lia Trinka-Browner: The Greatest Weight

April 21 – May 22, 2014
Press Release

“The Right Track” 2014 scanned paper on paper collage.

 

 

“Sisyphus” 2014 scanned paper on paper collage.

 

 

“Jesus Christ” 2014 scanned paper on paper collage.

 

 

“A Good Arrangement” 2014 scanned paper on paper collage.

 

 

“Mies and yous” 2014 scanned paper on paper collage.

 

 

“The heaven give me migraine” 2014 scanned paper on paper collage.

 

 

interior-exterior_models

 

 

“Teribithia” 2014 scanned paper on paper collage.

 

 

“Stamina” 2014 scanned paper on paper collage.

 

 

“Neoclassical meets Modern Chic” 2014 scanned paper on paper collage.

 

 

“International style” 2014 scanned paper on paper collage.

 

We should all know the familiar plotline of the 1993 film, Groundhog Day– Bill Murray as Phil Connors, the arrogant weatherman who, while reporting on the yearly traditional festivities of a groundhog seeing his shadow, finds himself stuck in the All-American quaint hometown village of Punxatawny, Philadelphia. He is not only stuck geographically but also temporally stuck as we find him doomed to repeat the same day over and over again, like a sad playground joke where the bully has manifested in some ironic quirk in the cosmos.

I read a phrase on Wikipedia that describes the movie most succinctly: “After indulging in hedonism and numerous suicide attempts, he begins to examine his life and priorities.” That’s one way to put it considering that after the outrage of waking up every day to Sonny and Cher’s “I got you babe”, Conners somehow begins to atone for his life and works on his faults, perfecting them in hopes that one day he can escape this cyclical Merry-Go-Round.  But, in his droll, asshole humor, perpetually running into Ned Ryerson (the punch is that he’s a life insurance salesman – BING!) and perpetually quizzing Andie MacDowell’s Rita, his overly uninterested and albeit very “positive-influence” news producer crush on her likes and dislikes (so he can woo her), why exactly does this character get that chance to fix what he has done wrongly? It’s only until he demonstrates a complete selflessness that he breaks the spell. Actually a better question is (because the answer to the former question is that it’s a movie…) why is this idea so enticing?

Connors doesn’t age throughout these re-do days, but he remembers the reoccurring repeat. He lives through it. The recently departed writer and director of the film, Harold Ramis, a genius in his own right, when probed on the actual length of time in which Conner is stuck in this looping day, said possibly 10 years.  Apparently he later amended his timeline to 30-40 years.

To be given 30-40 years of reliving the same day would justly drive anyone up a wall, unless you used that time as an opportunity to say, learn French, become a classily trained pianist or change your own demeanor and personality completely. See, the very thing that troubles us (the end, death, etcetera) has been taken out of the equation. There is also the question of how, as well as an allusion to some higher power, even if it is something inside of Phil Connors himself and who exactly was in charge of letting him pass when finished. Maybe I’m only thinking that Phil was so lucky that he got so much time gratis, or free of charge.

“This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more.”  Exciting and terrifying, this is one sentence of just one tiny passage inside an extensively long and wordy book – Nietzsche’s The Gay Science (first translated as The Joyous Wisdom) – that resonates outward into larger concepts towards the heart of an expansively general, but ultimately familiar conversation (I read it only as a theoretical questioning and not a treatise on reincarnation).

Here it is, in full:

Aph. 341 The greatest weight.—What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: “This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence—even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!”

Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: “You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.” If this thought gained possession of you, it would change you as you are or perhaps crush you. The question in each and every thing, “Do you desire this once more and innumerable times more?” would lie upon your actions as the greatest weight. Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to crave nothing more fervently than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal?

I’ll admit that I was slightly in awe by the magnitude of the idea of The Greatest Weight.

Groundhog Day, as with this passage, probes into something more theoretically meandering like a cluster of concepts that could include: fate, the universe expanding, spiraling time, science-fiction, time-travel, looping, synchronicity, infinity, ultimate desire, death, reincarnation (?), the ugly truth behind the concept of living ones life to the fucking fullest and where exactly the loneliest loneliness lives.

There are totally sensible weights that we ponder; weights on our metaphorical minds or tiny speck of dust shoulders, weights on our physical bodies, weights of vast mathematics and physics, weights of regret, and the ultimate weight of gravity itself that sags our bodies into other incarnations of ourselves. The greatest weight of living at all (death) can seem so important, yet we have the lucky capability to block it out in order to not be paralyzed by its enormity.

Which points indirectly to one hilariously stupid, if not obvious, thought: that regret will always be part of our equation with living. We will always contend with the possible idea that our lives are a sham. Not everyday. Not all the time…only when our minds can bear the heaviness, the burden, and the gravity of this accountability.  And no matter how hard we tried we most certainly didn’t get it all “right”. We most certainly haven’t been given an extra 40 years in order to do so.

The allure of Groundhog Day exists in the idea that we could somehow get away with getting more.  As Nietzsche points out, we are all unutterably small in the grand scheme of things but we can, if the thought gains possession of us, realize our sham or at the very least, our unimportance in life, and know that we could be crushed by this weight or, in turn, refuse its burden.

Aside from death, growing older or ageing is likewise the most difficult comprehension, one of the most difficult parts of living- they go hand in hand. There is only life, growth, and death. Sometimes I think that there is nothing more dangerous than knowing that these trees, this ground, the moon and this mountain, these buildings and this sky and whatever that has been here will still be here after I am gone. Or some of this will disappear while I’m living.  Or some of it will have crumbled between living and not living and some of those trees will have been cut down or new buildings put up. Sometimes I crave nothing more than this eternal seal or recurrence of Nietzsche’s reckoning or the Groundhog Day do-over, but I know that in this concept is only theoretical or philosophical or abstract. Our lives are filled with both triumph and failure and all the crap between – we are shams and we should celebrate our fate, wrapped up in this circumstantial and, for lack of a better word, conglomerate time. It is all gratis.

 

Lia Trinka-Browner

2014

“The End” 2014 scanned paper on paper collage.

 

 

Titles:

“A Good Arrangement” 2014
scanned paper on paper collage.

“International style” 2014
scanned paper on paper collage.

“Jesus Christ” 2014
scanned paper on paper collage.

“Mies and yous” 2014
scanned paper on paper collage.

“Neoclassical meets Modern Chic” 2014
scanned paper on paper collage.

“The Right Track” 2014
scanned paper on paper collage.

“Sisyphus” 2014
scanned paper on paper collage.

“Stamina” 2014
scanned paper on paper collage.

“Interior-Exterior Models” 2014
scanned paper on paper collage.

“Teribithia” 2014
scanned paper on paper collage.

“The heaven give me migraine” 2014
scanned paper on paper collage.

“The End” 2014
scanned paper on paper collage.