Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Welcome to Philosophy 101, Now F*** You

I am a voracious reader of popular science novels like A Brief History of Time or The Elegant Universe. I was pleased to find a similar idea in the philosophy section with The Matrix and Philosophy: Welcome to the Desert of the Real. This collection of essays is a good starting point for an exploration into philosophical concepts. Plato's allegory of the cave and Cartesian doubt (the extreme scepticism in sensory phenomena that lead to "I Think, Therefore I Am") make frequent appearances. Even a feminist examination of the implications of the various instances of penetration was not off putting.

Then I got to the last essay in the collection, The Matrix: Or, The Two Sides of Perversion. Slavoj Zizek, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Ljubljana, started his essay with this line:
When I saw The Matrix at a local theater in Slovenia, I had the opportunity of sitting close to the ideal spectator of the film - namely, to an idiot.

While the professor may be a good philosopher, his understanding of his audience seems to be a little lacking. The great unwashed are going to be reading his essay solely based on the connection to the movie. To denigrate the film's audience is to denigrate the book's audience.

I can't say that the rest of the essay was any better. I can't because the rest of it was largely incomprehensible. In one sense that might justify his opinion of fans of the movie, but I think it had more to do with writing in the vocabulary of the initiated. I gave up when he got to the part about two sub-groups of the Winnebago tribe that drew different maps of their common village. What that had to do with The Matrix was unclear as the movie hadn't been mentioned in the previous five hundred or so words.

If anything, the essay left me with a strange curiosity. What would it be like to sit in the first session with this professor? Something tells me that I would be bringing apples, although the method of delivery would be of a higher velocity than is customary.

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