Globalization, Information and Relationships
Technological advances have linked people all over the world in numerous ways. Kovarik describes the revolution in media technology as “destroying barriers of time and space, creating major shifts in media structures and sparking dramatic social change”. Caryl Churchill examines the effects of this media revolution on a personal level. Caryl Churchill’s Love and Information is a series of vignettes that are unified by an overarching theme. All of the scenes deal with the subject of information and knowledge and their influence on relationships. The scenes are notable because there is no continuity of characters. There is no character development and no repeated characters between scenes. This focuses attention in each scene on the present interaction, and how it is shaped by information and technology.
A technology that has dramatically altered social interactions is social media. People from all over the world can connect through the internet. Social media profiles allow users to learn facts about others without any personal connection. In Fan, two individuals are debating who loves a boy more. They begin by saying what they would do to show their affection but then transition into stating facts about the boy. Instead of pointing to a deeper personal connection, the facts stated are those that could plausibly be found on an online profile such as “His favorite color’s blue” and “favorite holiday was in Bermuda”. The two in the scene are judging their compatibility by what information they know rather than any sort of emotion connection. When they come across a fact that neither of them knows, his favorite smell, the first instinct is to look it up. When they can’t find they are at a complete loss stating “what are we going to do?”. Their connection to the boy is completely based on media. Once they have exhausted all possible online searches, they do not think to reach out and ask the boy in person. The media has completely replaced any direct personal connection.
Another revolutionary technology that Kovaric points to is Wikipedia. The platform has allowed an immense amount of knowledge to be compiled in a searchable online archive. The final scene in Love and Information is a series of facts exchanged between two people. Technology allows questions such as “How many diamonds were mined in 1957?” to be readily answered. However, when “Do you love me?” is asked the response is “Don’t do that”. No matter how much information is uploaded on to Wikipedia it can still not answer one of the most basic questions in life, “Do you love me?”. That’s a question no technology can help with.
Caryl Churchill makes a note that the individual scenes with in each section may be reordered but the sections are written in order. Why?
Is Caryl Churchill’s view of technology’s impact ultimately positive or negative?
In a clear departure from the realism of the late 19th century plays that we have studied the past two weeks, the lack of context in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot gives the play deeper meaning. The play opens with Vladimir and Estragon meeting on a deserted road. There is little theatrical scenery and no character background is given. This allows the audience to more easily draw connections between their own lives and the plight of Vladimir and Estragon, which is to be forever waiting until death, while trying to find meaning in life. To execute this commentary on a dark topic, Beckett employs a combination of humor and symbolism.
There are elements of humor throughout the play. Beckett even uses the subtitle A Tragicomedy in Two Acts. Early in the play Vladimir and Estragon contemplate committing suicide by hanging. They then enter into an exchange about the order they should be hung and Estragon humorously states about the tree on stage; “If it hangs you it’ll hang anything”(1, 254). Beckett clearly enjoys taking a serious topic, such as suicide, and then making fun of it to lighten the atmosphere. Vladimir and Estragon decided to wait to hang themselves until Godot arrives. They are waiting to find meaning in their lives which they see as Godot’s arrival. Later in the play Vladimir states, “We wait. We are bored to death, there’s no denying it”(2,679-680). Vladimir and Estragon are both figuratively and literally bored to death. They are bored waiting for Godot but also they are waiting to die. At this point Vladimir begins to make a realization that waiting will not help him find meaning and he convinces Estragon to help the now blind Pozzo.
Symbolism is important to Waiting for Godot. Zarelli describes the motivation of symbolism, “The symbolists urged viewers to look through the photo-like surface of appearances to discover more significant realities within – spiritual realities…”(Zarelli, 358). By focusing on death in the play, Beckett is urging the audience to examine their own relationship with life and death. The most important symbol of the in the play is the tree. The lack of any scenery besides the tree shows this symbol’s importance to the Waiting for Godot. The tree is a representation of life. Between the first and second acts the tree develops leaves, even though Vladimir and Estragon claim only one day has passed and have trouble remembering Pozzo. The sprouting of leaves is a step in a tree’s life cycle just as the passage of time is a step in the lives of Vladimir and Estragon. There will only be so many steps in the life cycle of the tree before it dies.
Given the inevitability of death, does Beckett make any conclusions on how one should live their life?
What role does the passage of time play in Waiting for Godot? Does the amount of time that has passed between Act 1 and Act 2 matter?
What are the connections between Vladimir and Estragon’s search for meaning in life and the general dissatisfaction with the world following the death and destruction World War II?