Monday, September 17, 2007

Old Boy and the cosmopolitanism of emotion/blogging

"Laugh and the world laughs with you; weep, and you weep alone."

I was struck by Dae-Su's frequent repetition of this mantra in Old Boy. It seems to suggest an "imagined community," or "cosmopolitanism" of emotion; creating a community around a feeling seemed to encourage Dae-Su in those times of most extreme hardship. At the same time, whenever Dae-Su used laughter to offset pain, his tormentors were shocked and taken aback. They appeared to feel confused, even alienated by Dae-Su's expression of joy in a time when most other people would have succumbed to weeping and groveling. In this way, was Dae-Su's laughter in fact a way for him to step into his own world, rather than being surrounded by (perhaps imagined) supportive "cosmopolitans" from the real world? In Old Boy, it seemed that it was laughter that made Dae-Su alone, rather than weeping.

In reading Robbins' "Actually Existing Cosmopolitanism," I also started thinking about the cosmopolitanism of blogging. By creating the possibility a community outside the bounds of nationhood, race, religion, or other unifying factors, have the authors and readers of blogs created a new type of cosmopolitanism? Robbins references Anderson's discussion of print-capitalism, and suggests that electronic and digital media will be central to motivating people to become more cosmopolitan by prompting people to "get emotional" about others who are not part of their nation or race. It seems that blogging is a particularly powerful tool for this type of motivation, as information can be instantly shared and expanded (or commented) upon, with a virtually limitless audience.

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