Bill Murray is Sisyphus

It’s obvious if you think about it.

Given Albert Camus’ quote: “one must imagine Sisyphus happy”, we might consider that quote in light of the movie Groundhog Day staring Bill Murray as “Phil Connors”, the lead, who eventually embraces his predicament (after what must have been years of struggle) and commits himself to his repeated, yet futile, daily ritual.

Sound familiar?

Mr. Camus tries to teach us that in the face of pointless repetitive striving, it is in the act of striving that one must find happiness. That with Sisyphus, laboriously repeating his effort to roll a boulder to the top of a mountain — only to have it roll back to the bottom, if one could imagine him happy, that he had a attained a sort of nirvana.

And more importantly, if Sisyphus could be happy in such a frustrating and pointless task — so could you.

Enter Bill Murry as Phil Connors. He, like Sisyphus, is trapped in a never ending repetition of enduring the same task day after day, for a theoretical eternity. At first he’s incredulous. Then avaricious and mischievous. Then manic followed by despondent. And then, accepting his fate, and having found no solace in all his prior approaches, resolves himself to strive for excellence, not only in the task at hand — of living this one day, but in his endeavor to be a good human being. And in being good, being happy.

Although King Sisyphus was basically a bad dude, nothing in his mythology tells us he should be admired, in the end, if we can accept Camus’ rationalization, we might find peace, if not happiness, in our daily work-a-day, repetitive lives — by imagining Sisyphus happy.

And, if Phil Connors can, through his exhaustive experiments and examinations of his options, also finds a sort of happiness as he pursues excellence of self  and humility in his acceptance, that if he, like Sisyphus, can be happy — then so can we.

11 thoughts on “Bill Murray is Sisyphus

  1. Taken out of context, the Camus quote would suggest finding happiness in repetitive drudgery. Most read it as metaphor for the universal struggle to achieve greatness through struggle. The theme of victory over despair runs through Camus’ work like a river. Like BIll Murray and Ebenezer Scrooge, it’s all attitude. The choice to find happiness in our own absurd struggles is ours. Victory is in giving the boulder the finger and carrying on.
    “The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” – Albert Camus

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  2. It is in the pursuit of something worthy of our time, something that we love and find meaning in that leads to satisfaction. Moving a heavy rock up and down a hill would not do it for me But if we are doing something that we love even if it is difficult then yeah plow ahead as much of the joy is in the work itself. But, you have to love the challenge. Shakespeare said long ago – “Love bears it out even to the edge of doom.” Not sure I want to go that far,

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  3. It’s simple, but quite moving, actually. Yes we are all Sisyphus; yet tho the daily grind may be pointless, it is far from meaningless. (I deliberately used the semicolon to bait PH.) (Hell, I may quote myself in my own blog if I ever get to it again…Sisyphus? Yeah. I ask myself why I would willingly take on that boulder…

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    1. This instance is borderline as the conjunctive thought would be better resolved with the intro. Failing periods ‘Mole should heed your usage as his finale in its current state is a textbook run-on. The true measure of the not quite colon is to tie two similar thoughts together with equitable rank. Equity being the trend speak of the moment, I look forward to the full-on colons suggesting the use of almost colons to replace all separatist punctuation. Consider the colon a form of segregation; a separate but equal treatment of conjunctive thoughts.

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        1. I saw that. Being one most guilty of comma splices to this day, I cast no stones in a glass house. Shit, that was inside out. I’ll leave it for George. I draft with all those commas to keep up. Ands and buts and commas. Habits are habits. There I am later though, pushing the fucking self-editor boulder.

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