November 18, 2003


How can anyone ever disprove the brain-in-the-vat theory/the Matrix theory. It seems impossible to counter it. We only experience what our body tells us is happening. Electronic pulses: that is all this reality we experience is. The ever-excellent Baal on the Matrix. Well, as I once remarked, what is interesting about the brain in the vat theory is the vat not the brain. Contrary to certain Cartesian readings (which would suggest that subjectivity is what is most real), the brain in the vat theory implies that subjectivity is a machinic function.

The great disappointment of the Matrix is that, in any case, and, as I've said before, it wouldn't make that much difference whether you were in it or out of it. I for one would vote to be in the Matrix - what's to gain from fighting your way to the 'truth' except some poxy 'enlightenment', pointless paranoia, hokey melodrama and tedious, interminable fight scenes? The fact is, you have personal relationships with people who look exactly as they do in 'reality'. Compare this with Vanilla Sky: a completely enclosed solipsistic world in which the lead character only seems to be having relationships with others. That seems to me a relevant difference, unlike the differences between the Matrix simworld and the world outside it.

OK, this is said without seeing the third one. I fell asleep in the second one, which reinforced my impression that it was like a dream of looking over someone else's shoulder while they were playing a videogame. Interrupted by some of the most inept, comic geeks' idea of 'intellectual' dialogue. That scene at the end with the Architect was toe-curlingly embarrassing; as, for a matter of fact, was that 'club' scene at the start (like the Duran Duran Wild Boys video twenty years too late, and worse).

Wow, I'm angry today.

Suffice it to say that I was as surprised at Baal's admiration of the Matrix trilogy as I was at Angus' claim that Pulp Fiction was the best film of the nineties.

Don't even start me on Tarantino. Although I don't need to bother. Since even his admirers couldn't get it up for Kill Bill, it's pretty obvious that his iconic days are numbered.

Posted by mark at November 18, 2003 09:33 PM | TrackBack

;-) I think I am alone (in the entire world) in thinking the 'club' scene was OK, actually quite beautiful. I had a strong emotional response to the entire trilogy, for some reason, which I put down to either immaturing with age or a lack of aesthetic sophistication on my part.
I suspect the Architect scene was 'meant' to be embarassing actually....
However I agree: better in the Matrix than out. Well, I spose we ARE in the matrix arent we. Or we wouldnt be able to do this.
Glad you are back

Posted by: Baal at November 19, 2003 10:26 AM

Completely agree, the "real" world in The Matrix is b-o-r-i-n-g, I'd much rather live in the matrix, a world where the very worst thing that can happen is that you have to go to a boring job every day. I mean, hello!

Won't attempt to defend Tarantino in any rational way...what can I say, I walked out of Pulp Fiction feeling like I'd just had something rather good injected into my veins. My admiration for it really is more visceral than anything else. (Ha, what a cop-out, sorry, I'm tired.)

Posted by: Angus at November 19, 2003 11:37 AM

I'm Down with Bert on this one:

Hubert Dreyfus is a philosopher known both for his pioneering discussion of the philosophical problems of Artificial Intelligence, and his work in bridging the gap between recent European and English-language philosophy. In "The Brave New World of The Matrix," he and his son Stephen Dreyfus draw on the phenomenological tradition that began with Edmund Husserl and culminates in Maurice Merleau-Ponty to discuss the skeptical and moral problems raised by the film. They argue that the real worry facing folks trapped in the Matrix involves not deception or the possession of possibly false beliefs, but the limits on creativity imposed by the Matrix. Following Martin Heidegger in suggesting that our human nature lies in our capacity to redefine our nature and thereby open up new worlds, they conclude that this capacity for radical creation seems unavailable to those locked within the pre-programmed confines of the Matrix.

Posted by: Peter M at November 19, 2003 11:54 PM

i liked the first matrix. i thought it was about taking acid. i might be wrong, but i doubt it.

Posted by: luke at November 21, 2003 12:50 PM

I once watched The Matrix on acid and came to the conclusion that the only significant stuff was containd in the shots of numbers scrolling down the screen. Unhappily I couldn't seem to decode them.

As for Peter M's comment: Neo has no limits imposed upon him by the Matrix at the end of the first film; or at least less than he does in the real world. Dreyfus is commiting the usual egocentric phenomenological error. As Mark says, it's the vat which is interesting, and the potential for creativity, etc. is a lot higher in the matrix than Zion and it's surroundings.

Posted by: Val at November 25, 2003 11:05 AM