The Dude Abides (idea)
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The Dude Abides is a famous line from the Coen Brothers' film, The Big Lebowski. It's the Dude's final line in the movie. The Dude, played by the capable Jeff Bridges in his second most beloved role ever (after TRON, of course), develops a collection of stock phrases throughout the film that he culls from other characters' dialogue. These include "a lot of strands," "this aggression will not stand," "sometimes you eat the bar, and sometimes the bar eats you," "the parlance of our times," and some others. But The Dude Abides has stuck more than many of the others, partially because of context, and partially because it sums up the Dude's attitude so well. Here's a little bit of context, dear reader. The Dude has just run into the Stranger, the omniscient cowboy narrator of the movie, played by Sam Elliott.
THE DUDE: Well, you know, sometimes you eat the bar, and sometimes, uh [sees the Stranger] Hey, man!
THE STRANGER: How d'you do, Dude?
THE DUDE: I wondered if I'd see you again!
THE STRANGER: I wouldn't miss the semis.
THE DUDE: Oh yeah?
THE STRANGER: How've things been going?
THE STRANGER: I gotcha.
THE DUDE: Yeah [to the bartender] thanks, Gary. Well, take care, man. Gotta get back.
THE STRANGER: Sure. Take it easy, Dude. I know that you will.
THE DUDE: Yeah, well — the Dude abides.
THE STRANGER, to camera: The Dude abides I don't know about you, but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there, the Dude, takin' her easy for all us sinners. Shoot. I sure hope he makes the finals.
One of the things I've always loved about The Big Lebowski is how it seems to be constructed around a man being dropped into the middle of a film noir who simply would not react to events the way a typical film noir protagonist would. Because the Dude will always take it easy, because he's such a laid-back man, possible the laziest in Los Angeles County (possibly), it takes a lot to phase him, and he will ultimately end up on top. Wouldn't you want to be the Dude if you were in the middle of this movie? All of the events move around him like river water around a rock; all of the resolution in the movie comes from other characters' agency. And he doesn't resent what's done to him — he forgives and loves.
The phrase has passed into common parlance since the movie's 1998 release. You can use it yourself if you want; the next time somebody asks you why you're still happy despite all of the bad things happening around you, tell them, The Dude Abides. If they smile, you know they're in the club; if they give you a blank stare, you can recommend a fantastic movie to them. Either way, everybody wins.
One other interesting side note is that Lebowski Fest, a yearly gathering of Achievers (Big Lebowski fans), sells a T-shirt parodying the Andre the Giant "OBEY" logo with a stylized image of the Dude's face and the word "ABIDE." I lust for this shirt.