The Matrix


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Media Life is a course intended for undergraduate students across campus. Its goal is to make people aware of the role that media play in their everyday life. The key to understanding a "media life" is to see our lives not as lived WITH media (which would lead to a focus on media effects and media-centric theories of society), but rather IN media (where the distinction between what we do with and without media dissolves).

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  • Matrix 1.3 Follow Instructions The Architect's first attempt at a Matrix was a utopia; but it failed miserably and many human lives were lost when the inhabitants refused to accept it. The Architect then redesigned the Matrix to reflect human history and culture, but it still failed. The solution to this problem was discovered by the Oracle: a version of the Matrix that gave humans the unconscious choice of accepting it. This version was accepted by nearly 99% of all test subjects, so that the Matrix was rewritten to allow subjects to subconsciously choose whether or not they wanted to be a part of it. The small percentage of humans that did not accept the Matrix would inevitably increase and become a threat to it. Despite this problem, this threat was not unexpected and thus, to some extent, could be controlled, leading to the cycle described in the films.
  • Steve Mann:
  • The Matrix’s value is chiefly as a synthesis of all that. But there the set-up is cruder and does not truly evoke the problem. The actors are in the matrix, that is, in the digitized system of things; or, they are radically outside it, such as in Zion, the city of resistors. But what would be interesting is to show what happens when these two worlds collide. The most embarrassing part of the film is that the new problem posed by simulation is confused with its classical, Platonic treatment. This is a serious flaw. The radical illusion of the world is a problem faced by all great cultures, which they have solved through art and symbolization. What we have invented, in order to support this suffering, is a simulated real, which henceforth supplants the real and is its final solution, a virtual universe from which everything dangerous and negative has been expelled. And The Matrix is undeniably part of that. Everything belonging to the order of dream, utopia and phantasm is given expression, “realized.” We are in the uncut transparency. The Matrix is surely the kind of film about the matrix that the matrix would have been able to produce.
  • Matrix 1.15 Morpheus/Neo Matchup
  • 08-12-09 Matrix 1.12 The Real World
  • 08-12-09 TM: “What is the Matrix? Control. The Matrix is a computer generated dreamworld built to keep us under control in order to change a human being into this” [he holds up a coppertop battery]. Matrix 1.12 continued
  • 08-12-09 TM: Morpheus and the other freedom fighters/terrorists do not cause destruction: they kill people in The Matrix that never really lived in the first place (remember: batteries). Furthermore: even Zion is dependent on the machines… M2.22 Freeway Entrance
  • 08-12-09 TM: The Matrix Reloaded suggests that Zion is a system anomaly that needed to be maintained in order for the system to work at all. Choice is just another part of the mechanism of control. M2.10 What is Control? M2.30 The One’s Function
  • 08-12-09 TM: Ultimately, the system fails when it tries to incorporate Neo back into the system in order to achieve total control. The message: we can all become programmers (or: gods) M3.30
  • This entire allegory, you may now append, dear Glaucon, to the previous argument; the prison-house is the world of sight, the light of the fire is the sun, and you will not misapprehend me if you interpret the journey upwards to be the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world according to my poor belief, which, at your desire, I have expressed whether rightly or wrongly God knows. But, whether true or false, my opinion is that in the world of knowledge the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort; and, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in this visible world, and the immediate source of reason and truth in the intellectual; and that this is the power upon which he who would act rationally, either in public or private life must have his eye fixed. Plato Book VII of The Republic The Allegory of the Cave PLATO'S CAVE AND THE MATRIX John Partridge Viewers of The Matrix remember the moment in the film when Neo is released from his prison and made to grasp the truth of his life and the world. The account above roughly captures that turning point in the 1999 film, and yet it is drawn from an image crafted almost twenty-four hundred years ago by the Greek philosopher, Plato (427-347 B.C.E.). Today the Republic is the most influential work by Plato, and the allegory of the Cave the most famous part of the Republic. If you know that Socrates was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death by drinking hemlock, or that Socrates thought that the unexamined life is not worth living, you may also know that Socrates in the Republic likened the human condition to the state of prisoners bound in a cave seeing only shadows projected on the wall in front of them. Transcending this state is the aim of genuine education, conceived as a release from imprisonment, a turning or reorientation of one’s whole life, an upward journey from darkness into light... It seems that the metaphysical differences between Plato and The Matrix do not prevent them from telling a roughly similar story about the epistemological unreliability of the senses and the need to abstract from the senses in order to gain genuine knowledge. In fact, we find Neo at the end of the film doing more than simply bending the laws of physics with the Matrix. He has, it seems, stepped almost entirely out of that very world itself. He does not, however, appear in two places at once, but his destruction of one of the Agents, and his ability to fly, suggest that the laws of physics are more than merely bent... Most fundamentally, the film and the allegory share a pedagogical conceit. Both hold that in teaching the most basic truths, there is an important role for a strategic strangeness and the confusion it produces. The allegory of the Cave puzzles Socrates’ audience, yet as it hooks them, the Cave provides only the outline for solving the puzzle. Might Morpheus be doing the same? Might Morpheus, like the allegory, act as a kind of Socratic teacher, urging Neo toward self-understanding and care for his soul?
  • The Matrix is the “Platonic” treatment of reality: as an illusion mistaken for reality Plato imagines a group of people who have lived chained in a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of the cave entrance, and begin to ascribe forms to these shadows. According to Plato, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to seeing reality. He then explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall are not constitutive of reality at all, as he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the mere shadows seen by the prisoners. link PRISONERS with PANTOPTICON
  • TM: “Welcome to the desert of the real.” - Morpheus, The Matrix. M1.12 JB: “It is the real, and not the map, whose vestiges persist here and there in the deserts that are no longer those of Empire, but of ours. The desert of the real itself.”
  • The Matrix

    1. 4. <ul><li>The Consequences (3/4): Matrix & Truman </li></ul><ul><li>Part 3/4 of 4 Realities in Media Life </li></ul><ul><li>(Panopticon, Google/Wikiality, Matrix, Truman Show) </li></ul><ul><li>Key Issues: </li></ul><ul><li>Jean Baudrillard’s critique of The Matrix : there is no “Real” </li></ul><ul><li>Consider The Architect’s versions of the “Real”: first as Utopia (FAIL), then as Reality-By-Consensus (FAIL), finally as the Illusion of Choice (99% SUCCESS) </li></ul><ul><li>The Matrix Trilogy depicts reality as a consensual illusion, a shared experience literally “powered” by everyone </li></ul><ul><li>The Matrix reality cannot be fundamentally altered, as even Neo ultimately turns out to be just another necessary part of the program. </li></ul>
    2. 5. Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007)
    3. 6. The Matrix : reality as a neural interactive simulation
    4. 7. The Matrix : reality as a consensual illusion
    5. 8. “ simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being, or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal” all quotes from: Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacres et simulation (1981)
    6. 9. <ul><li>“ It is the real, and not the map, whose vestiges persist here and there in the deserts that are no longer those of Empire, but of ours. The desert of the real itself.” </li></ul>
    7. 10. <ul><li>“ the simulacrum of simulation is founded on information, the model, the cybernetic game – total operationality, hyperreality, aim of total control” </li></ul>
    8. 11. <ul><li>History loosely based on Baudrillard: </li></ul><ul><li>19 th century, 1 st Revolution: the destruction of appearances </li></ul><ul><li>20 th century, 2 nd Revolution: the destruction of meaning </li></ul><ul><li>21 st century, 3 rd Revolution: the co-creation of reality (without reference to the Real) </li></ul>
    9. 12. <ul><li>“ the more hegemonic the system, the more the imagination is struck by the smallest of its reversals. The challenge, even infinitesimal, is the image of a chain failure” </li></ul>
    10. 13. <ul><li>According to Baudrillard, we will continue to be seduced by appearances - it is inevitable. Individual enlightenment is just another form of control. </li></ul>
    11. 14. Baudrillard’s critique of The Matrix : its “classical, Platonic treatment”
    12. 15. the human city of Zion: a cave
    13. 16. Plato’s Cave & The Matrix
    14. 18. Baudrillard’s answer: “theoretical violence, not truth, is the only resource left to us”