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Archive for March, 2008

Value of Time

Posted by C Moon on March 22, 2008

Last Thursday I was under detention for an hour for the first time in my whole life. Days earlier, during the free time after the lecture had been over, my classmate asked me about the stock market, and I asked back “주식시장 (ju-shik-shi-jang, meaning stock market in Korean)” My lapse into uttering a single Korean word, cost me an hour, as it was a clear violation of the EOP (English Only Policy). Strict enforcement of the EOP is necessary for KIS, since KIS is an international school following American curriculum while the majority of the students are either Korean Americans or Korean descendants. Last Thursday, as the penalty of the violation, I had to sit in a classroom for an hour, being required not to do anything. The one hour made me think about the value of time.

Casual calculation indicates that an hour is 0.60 percent of a week, 0.15 percent of a month, and 0.012 percent of a year. What’s the big deal of being required not to do anything for an hour when it’s less than a percent of a week?

The casual calculation has a serious flaw. It considers an hour in the context of the total hours of a week, month, or year and understates the weight of an hour. To properly measure the value of an hour, we should exclude all the pre-occupied time, such as sleeping, working, eating, or commuting. Below is a brief summary of my sunk time on a weekday:

hour(s) / day
7 for eating, sleeping, and personal hygiene
1 for the AP Biology morning session
7 for regular school classes
2 for theater
1 for commuting
1.5 for practicing Taekwondo
0.5 for typing books for the visually handicapped
1 for calling, text messaging, and e-mailing
total sunk time: 21 hours

The free time on a regular weekday amounts to 3 hours only. Similar calculation leads to 5 hours per day for a weekend (well, after taking longer sleep hours into account). These calculations do not include the time of doing homework (throughout the week, more on weekends) or participating in non-regular semi-mandatory events (mostly on weekends). It is quite tricky to include homework hours, as from time to time, I am able to finish it within the short free hours sometimes while other times I have to reduce my sleeping time to complete all the homework. Anyways, the following is the weight of an hour in the context of free time, which includes the time for homework.

The 15 free hours of weekdays and the 10 free hours on weekends total 25 free hours per week. That is, 25 hours a week, 100 a month, and roughly 1300 a year. Hence, an hour is:

4.0 percent of a week
1.0 percent of a month
0.077 percent of a year

Now, an hour is more valuable. Taking the time for homework into account, an hour is extremely valuable!

I see many students going to bed as late as 3 or 4 am in the late night or the early morning (it is hard to judge which expression is proper), and staying up all night when there are tests. In that respect, my personal opinion on the penalty of detention is that one hour should be both time for reflection and for productivity. For example, during the hour, detained students may be penalized by requiring to hand-write a portion of classic or historical works or to write a short essay on social/moral issues or to read a light but educational book such as Chicken Soup for the Soul: 101 Stories to Open the Heart and Rekindle the Spirit or to participate in a community service. I personally think that these alternative penalties will better achieve the punitive and educational objectives of the detention while not damaging the value of one hour.

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Photo Credits: (1) “The Passage of Time” by ToniVC on Flickr

(2) “Bombay Clocks” by Natmandu on Flickr

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On Directing Godot: Simple Question of Will-Power

Posted by C Moon on March 8, 2008

The following is my current, tentative interpretation on Waiting for Godot (recently written for my AP Literature class), answering questions such as “Why Lucky is Lucky?” and briefly explaining why I think that it is an existentialist play. But, I am open to other opinions and eager to hear them from others. Again, the purpose of this post is to jointly search for THE interpretation for the play. It is my attempt to clear up the questions that remain unconfirmed after reading the piece several times; thus, I am open to other opinions and willing to change my interpretation.

Next to come: What is the significance of the hats in Godot?

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At a glance, it is easy to think that Waiting for Godot is written in the absurdist perspective, i.e., it is saying that there is no significant meaning in life: repetition and silence, or the “routine” is overruling the whole play that it is hard to distinguish the difference between the scenes as they are too monotonous. But I believe that when one takes a deeper look into the play and the lines, one is able to find an existentialist beliefs in this seemingly absurdist theatre piece, Waiting for Godot.

This play is strange. Every time I read it through, I get to face more unanswered questions. One such question, which consequently becomes one of my arguments why Waiting for Godot is an existentialist play, is this: While Beckett does not have problem in leaving the boy to be called “boy” in the cast, why does he bother naming Lucky “Lucky”? Lucky is dominantly called “pig” or “hog,” but the name remains in our mind since Beckett mentions the name in the cast list. What is the significance of the name? My answer to that question at this moment is that Lucky is a symbol of person who is “tied” to a figure such as God: “Pozzo,” who, in his words, says that he is made in “God’s image,” tells Lucky everything that he should do, but Lucky ends up with no life of his own and no thought of his own. Without one’s own will to manage one’s own life, there will be no meaning in life.

So, given that the play conveys existentialist beliefs to the reader, who is Godot that Estragon and Vladimir is waiting for? Many probably guess that Godot is the image of God, with “God” and “Dieu (French for God)” combined. Estragon and Vladimir are waiting for the God-like authority figure to come and give directions to change their monotonous, dull life. This argument is supported by noting the time when the play was actually written: After World War II, people were depressed, aimless, or even “AP-PALLED,” as Vladimir puts. They were unsure of their present time and their presence. They reminisce the old past, saying, “We were respectable in those days.” They wait for Godot in order to ask him “What do we [Estragon and Vladimir] do?” Returning to the question of who is Godot, supposing that Godot is God, will he ever come? I would say, in the existentialist view, it is totally up to Vladimir and Estragon. Remembering that Godot sounds similar to French slang of old boots, there’s a connection that can easily be made: Estragon’s boots and Godot. What would boots symbolize in this play? Estragon’s taking the boots off would be partially due to his decision to wait for Godot. Keeping the boots on, or the “Godot” on, what can Estragon do? He can leave, and initiate the change himself.

My conclusion, that all the two need in order to escape from the doldrums is their own decision to leave, reminds me of one scene in the second act of the play: When Vladimir tries to help Pozzo up or Estragon tries to help Vladimir up, they fail and everyone stumbles on the ground. But Vladimir and Estragon easily get up when they decide to try on their own. A truly ironic, absurd, but funny scene. But as the two say, it demonstrates that it is a “Simple question of will-power.” Will the two possibly leave, “drop”-ping Godot? I am not sure, but I hope that eventually learning everything is a “Simple question of will-power,” Estragon will put his boots on and the two agree to leave.

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Photo Credits: (1) “Waiting for Godot” by Naccarato on Flickr

(2) “Boots” by The 4/30 Murders on Flickr

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On Directing Waiting for Godot: Introduction

Posted by C Moon on March 7, 2008

With Mr. Hadley’s kind invitation, I am having the honor to assistant-direct Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot. This piece by Beckett seems one of the most controversial plays in how to interpret. Even critics have extreme views on this play: some say that Beckett is trying to deliver his absurdist beliefs through this play, while others say it is existentialist beliefs that he attempts to deliver. Even after reading the script 5 times, I still have many unanswered questions. Sometimes my preliminary, yet once confident, interpretation was later turned out to be not quite right, which prompted me to continue searching for the right one. Thus, I plan to write from time to time about how my interpretation on Waiting for Godot changes in the process of analyzing this enigma a word at a time. I was told that Samuel Beckett once said that “It is not up to me to interpret my plays, but is up to others to interpret them.” I hope that each upcoming post of mine on Waiting for Godot makes people discuss their opinions openly and eventually we together come up with a satisfactory interpretation.

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Photo Credits: “2006: Waiting for Godot” by pierofix on Flickr

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