Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

KULTUR KRITIK

Well, thanks to TV, I have in the past few days seen both The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded and I still don't get it.  I must be irredeemably old.

8 comments:

Dr. Tanya Mears said...

I don't get the matrix either. the bourne trilogy is where it's at.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Now that I can get, but then you always were a smart one. :)

P. J. Grath said...

Special effects masquerading as depth.

High Arka said...

The Matrix is what happens when Hollywood steals ideas from an Asian franchise, dumbs them down, throws together a massive budget, then gets credit for the few fragments of the original story's philosophy that they didn't manage to lose along the wayside.

(If you enjoy Bourne, you're interested in unadulterated Hollywood; the trouble coming from Matrix is the slivers of meaning that feint at something greater.)

Murfmensch said...

Had there been no second one, the first one would stand up better.

It was fun being in a large philosophy department right after it first aired. It worked like a Rorschach test, with everyone claiming that the movie referenced Plato, Descartes, or even Marx and Marcuse.

I just showed --Memento-- in class and that movie pushes students to do some philosophy.

High Arka said...

Gawd Murf, I remember that all too well. I saw some colleagues revising their final exam questions over those couple of years to be really hip.

Your comment about the sequels went right to the heart of it. The first movie was the action packed hook, while the second and third were the misters Wachowski's attempts develop their own philosophy based on what they'd ripped off. They revealed both that they didn't understand what they were trying to copy, and that they had little to offer in the way of their own ideas.

Jim said...

Professor Wolff --

I guess the key question would be, what don't you get? I have seen all 3 films several times and they seem to make sense to me. However, I agree with Murfmensch that the first film could have stood alone quite well without the need for sequels. The sequels were more than likely initiated due to the financial success of the first film.

I disagree with High Arka's comment that the Wachowski brothers merely ripped off "an Asian franchise" and dumbed it down. It is no doubt true that they were heavily influenced by Asian films (as are many directors both Hollywood and non-Hollywood ranging from John Sturges, Ridley Scott, George Lucas, Luc Besson, Olivier Assayas, etc.). While the styleization of the films are indeed Asian influenced, the plot is somewhat original -- at least by 1999 standards, when the first film was released. Yes, it does reiterate tired tropes of good vs. evil, underdog vs. the opressor, etc. But the concept of an opressed minority battling against an omnipresent opressor is timeless and universal. If there are specific aspects you do not understand about the films, ask and I am sure the community can explain.

-- Jim

High Arka said...

Jim, if you watch not just the movies themselves, and their interviews, but also their later Animatrix, they expressly do take the ghost (sic) of their model and sell a soulless version of it.

I can say that, and still say that I loved the Matrix. While the Hollywood producers had terrible motivations, the acting, set design and choreography was so good that it was a stunning experience anyway (Mr. Grath's point, perhaps). That's true for many movies, now, where studios are willing to hire screenwriters for good dialogue, actors for good performances, incredibly skilled computer artists for good environments, but not to find writers who to put a soul behind it.

(Lucas, incidentally, did vaguely thieve Asian franchises, but he more tellingly plagiarized--almost word for word--a great western work in the form of Gone With The Wind.)

For you to say "it does reiterate tired tropes of good vs. evil, underdog vs. the opressor" is interesting, in the context of their Animatrix and their interviews. They indicated that they intended the machines to be the oppressed/good, not the oppressors/evil, and a close watching will bring that out. What makes you think it was the other way around?