Thursday, September 20, 2007

Old Boy and Time

I posted my reading response earlier this week on our myCourses, but then I realized we had a separate discussion blog. So here it is...

I was most intrigued by Old Boy's exploration of differing conceptions of temporality. The length of Oh Dae-Su's imprisonment is calculated on a practical to allow his captor to enact his revenge, but it also works to blind Oh Dae-Su from the truth by warping his perspective of time. This is most apparent when we are shown side-by-side shots of Oh Dae-Su training in his cell and images from the global media as the last fifteen years of world history pass by. Although he is allowed a television and is thus privy to the passage of time outside his cell, Oh Dae-Su's conception of time nevertheless shifts from the "empty homogeneous time" described by Benedict Anderson - in which a larger imagined community, in the case, the rest of humanity, exists together - to a messianic time focused entirely on revenge. To Oh Dae-Su, time is merely the space between his imprisonment and his revenge on his captor. Tragically, he is thus blind to the rest of the world's passage through time, most poignantly that of his young daughter. By the time he realizes the disjuncture between these two realities, it is too late. Old Boy thus offers an allegory for clashes between various temporal perspectives - will the friction between new forms of temporality introduced by world-wide networks and previous notions of time result in tragedy? The most obvious example - the disjuncture between the messianic time of Islam and the linear historical development constructed by the U.S. - may not bode well.

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