Philosophy 105 Case Study

Philosophy 105 Case Study
Peter Rukavina
Read the case study description to my son Oliver and tried to
explain it to him. He immediately rushed upstairs and started
turning off the lights and unplugging things.
START
FRIDAY
18h00
PUBLIC
First public announcement of my
participation – if I Twitter it, I’ll
have to actually do it.
19h00
DREAD
20h00
SATURDAY
09h00
10h00
Having some serious reservations about the idea – dread at the possibility of boredom,
and worry about hassle of the practicalities. Talked to Oliver about starting at 16h00 and
mentioned the issue of the controls on the stove in the kitchen possibly being digital; he
immediately gets worried about not being able to eat.
At the Farmer’s Market. Discuss the plan with friends (trying to build up the social
pressure to follow through). Oliver tells everyone he meets that we’re “turning the power
off” for the day; I try to set him straight, but the distinction between power and technology
is lost on him. Still having some misgivings, but the enthusiasm of others for the project is
working on me.
RESOLVE
11h00
In the parking lot at the Charlottetown Mall Oliver suddenly realizes that he won’t be able
to use his computer or his Nintendo DS and turns against the whole idea, stomping
around in protest about “being dragged into my homework.”
PANIC
12h00
VERY PUBLIC
13h00
14h00
15h00
Lunch at Tai Chi Gardens, and a long talk with the proprietors
about how this is going to work: can we use the oven? lights?
clocks? When I try to pay with my bank card, it refuses to
work: an ominous portent! Makes me realize that I should
get some cash before we start in case I need to buy anything.
Post on my
weblog, this
means that, yes,
I’m doing it.
Home. Unplug the TV, the cable box, DVR and the stereo. Power down the laptop
and the iPod Touch. Cover the clock on the stove with a towel. Oliver spends his
last hour on the Internet. I’d promised to make chocolate croissants today, so we
spend our last minutes whipping them up.
16h00
Philosophy 105 Case Study: Peter Rukavina
UNPLUG
Page 1 of 3
Call Catherine in Toronto to say good-bye for 24 hours. Change the outgoing message on
the answering machine to tell people to call back on Sunday.
16h00
AND, GO...
MOONSET
18h00
Realizing that every single clock in the house is digital, so that now that
they’re all turned off or covered up we will have no idea when the
experiment is over, we consult The Old Farmer’s Almanac and look up the
sunset (17h06), sunrise (07h43), moonset (16h31) and moonrise (07h29),
thinking we can use these to get at least a rough idea of the time of day.
From this point on, all times are an educated guess.
19h00
Use the fridge and the electric range to make supper and turn on electric lights. Have
to draw the line somewhere, and these made the cut.
17h00
SUNSET
20h00
21h00
22h00
Feeling oddly calm without the need or opportunity to Twitter, turn on the radio or
the television, answer the telephone.
}
Playing with Lego with Oliver. Reading the obituaries in the Globe and Mail. Stringing
my guitar (bought the strings last year and never got around to it). Reading Oliver a
bedtime story. Reading the rest of the Globe.
Other than the occasional urge to look up something in Wikipedia I’m not missing
technology at all. I do notice, however, that every time I enter a room my eyes
reflexively go to the clock to find out what time it is: the strangest part of the
experience so far is feeling adrift in time.
Around what feels like 21h00 I take a stack of books upstairs to bed, read for about
an hour, and then fall fast asleep.
23h00
SUNDAY
00h00
01h00
02h00
Thoughts on Day One — The biggest surprise for me was my dependence on knowing
the current time to put my day in context: I didn’t realize how often – 5 or 6 times an hour – I
check the nearest clock.
Perhaps because I could no longer do this, Saturday evening felt unusually calm. And
because everything distracting was turned off, it was unusually quiet.
I rather enjoyed this.
Without going so far as to suggest that I returned to a primitivist state, I also found it novel
to eat when I was hungry and to go to bed when I was tired, rather than relying on the clock
to tell me the “right” time to do these things.
After his protests earlier in the day, Oliver enthusiastically regained his interest in the
project, and didn’t comment once about not being able to use his computer, or watch
television: he played with me, he played on his own, and generally seemed to be quite content.
03h00
04h00
DAY ONE
}
In the middle of the night I have a dream in which I secretly look for and find a
generator to power a laptop so that I can use the Internet.
Philosophy 105 Case Study: Peter Rukavina
Page 2 of 3
04h00
Wake up before sunrise and deduce it to be about 07h00. Oliver wakes up just after me
and, as is his habit, goes downstairs to use the computer and is very distressed to find that
it’s turned off. He’s angry again about my homework.
AWAKE
05h00
I have a shower (conscious of the many layers of technology, from pumping station to
water heater, that make this possible) but do not shave, as my high-tech Braun shaver is
obviously electronic. I don’t like not shaving and this is perhaps the biggest annoyance of
the day.
06h00
NOT SHAVING
07h00
As time goes on after sunrise I again lose track of what time of day it is, so, like Saturday,
from this point on, all times are an educated guess.
MOONRISE
SUNRISE
08h00
09h00
10h00
}
CHURCH
TRAFFIC
ON THE
STREET
Oliver and I talk about “what kids would have done in the old days” to pass the time
and I suggest that he run a handwritten message around the corner to my brother.
We write out the message and Oliver runs through the frigid morning and, unable to
open my brother’s screen door, leaves the message in the mailbox. An hour later we
hear our front door open and shut and find the message returned. Oliver is on board
again.
I try to grind coffee beans in a manual brass Greek coffee grinder, a gift from a friend
for times when the power goes out. I give up after 15 minutes as I make less than a
half a teaspoon of coffee. I dig out the dregs from the electric grinder from Friday and
then use the electric – but not digital – espresso make to make a cappuccino. This
seems wrong somehow, but also necessary if I’m going to make it through the day.
11h00
12h00
13h00
}
14h00
SUN AT 45
DEGREES
IN THE SKY
15h00
16h00
}
The telephone rings. Twice in a row. I panic and check the caller-id but realize that I
unplugged the phone so I panic again and dial *69 on the old-style phone. It was my
mother-in-law. I decide not to call her back, hoping it’s not an emergency.
Read the entire graphic novel Burma Chronicles. Hear crows outside. Play with Lego.
Play a board game. Make lunch. Send Oliver back to my brother’s with another note.
Play half a game of Junior Monopoly.
As the sun gets lower in the sky I start to feel like I do at the end of a vacation: I
know the end is near and it’s hard to relax in the silent calm any longer. I’d be “clock
watching” now if I had any clocks to watch.
For the last two hours Oliver’s very antsy: he knows 16h00 is coming, and is very anxious
to get back on the computer. I’m not anxious at all, other than my discomfort about not
knowing what time it is, and sort of wish the project could continue.
The sun position suggests it might be time to check the clock, so we take the plunge and
take the towel off the top of the stove: it’s 4:35 p.m.
Philosophy 105 Case Study: Peter Rukavina
STOP
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