"Matrix" movie

Peter Kilander peterk at enteract.com
Fri Apr 9 18:15:25 PDT 1999

Tavia wrote:
>Could you say that the only reason we feel motivated to have these sub/heg
>debates is because we really enjoyed and/or were moved by the movie, but we
>worry that if we enjoy a mass entertainment unreflexively, we become
>complicit with some industrial-technological-entertainment complex? If so,
>arguing the political merits and demerits of a film becomes prophylaxis: a
>way to participate in the enjoyment of the film while protecting ourselves
>against the legitimating effects of that enjoyment.

You may be right. Sometimes while watching a movie, I'll get bored (not because I'm so smart, because I'm not - see below) and do a little running commentary like Mystery Science Theater 3000. Other times I'll just veg, and if you had an X-ray into my head, like they do with Homer on the Simpsons, you'll see something like a sleeping donkey with flies buzzing around it. And my pupils will be going off in slightly different directions.

Ricky B. - aka Raquiche - bemoaned the theme of fate or destiny in the movie. It's treated as existing, thereby suggesting there's no free will. If you'll remember in the movie, the Oracle tells Neo he is not the One, but, she goes on, Morpheus will risk his life to save Neo's and one of the two will die. If Neo tries to return the favor while Morpheus is risking his life, he will die and Morpheus will live. If he doesn't, Morpheus will die. It turns out Morpheus does risk his life, and Neo, perhaps not believing in the Oracle and/or in fate, risks his life to save him. He succeeds, both live and it turns out Neo *is* the One; the Orcale, who has never been wrong, is proved wrong twice, however her prophecy that the One would arrive did come true. Pace Rakesh, Neo sets a fine example for the kids. A superstitious, selfish One would have let Morpheus die.

Also, Doug mentioned Zizek and his valuable insight. By chance (or fate?) last night I was reading Zizek's Ticklish Subject and came across the following (pgs. 18-19, which I don't really understand and could never put in my own words or summarize, but it seems kind of appropriate):

For this reason, Heidegger's 'decision', in the precise sense of anticipatory resoluteness [*Ent-Scholssenheit*], has the status of a *forced choice*: the Heideggerian decision *qua* repetition is not a 'free choice' in the usual sense of the term. (Such a notion of freely choosing between alternative possibilities is utterly foreign to Heidegger; he dismisses it as belonging to superficial Americanized liberal individualism.) Rather, it is fundamentally the choice of 'freely assuming' one's imposed destiny. This paradox, necessary if one is to avoid the vulgar liberal notion of freedom of choice, indicates the theological problematic of *predestination* and *Grace*: a true decision/choice (not a choice between a series of objects leaving my subjective position intact, but the fundamental choice by means of which I 'choose myself') presupposes that I assume a passive attitude of 'letting myself be chosen' -- in short, *free choice and Grace are strictly equivalent*; or, as Deleuze put it, we really choose only when we are *chosen*: 'Ne choisit bein, ne choisit effectivement que celui qui est choisi.'

To dispel the notion that we are dealing here with an obscurantist-theological problematic, let us evoke a more telling leftist example of proletarian class interpellation: when a subject recognizes himself as a proletarian revolutionary, when he freely assumes and identifies with the task of revolution, he recognizes himself as being chosen by History to accomplish this task. In general, the Althusserian notion of ideological interpellation involves the situation of 'forced choice' by means of which the subject emerges out of the act of freely choosing the inevitable -- that is, in which she/he is given the freedom of choice on condition that she/he makes the right choice: when an individual is addressed by an interpellation, she/he is 'invited to play a role in such a way that the invitation appears to have already been answered by the subject before it was proposed, but at the same time the invitation could be refused'. Therein lies the ideological act of recogniion, in which I recognize myself as 'always-already' that as which I am interpellated: in recognizing myself as X, I freely assume/choose the fact that I always-already was X. When, say, I am accused of a crime and agree to defend myself, I *presuppose myself* as a free agent legally responsible for my acts.

In her Internet discussion with Ernesto Laclau, Judith Butler made a nice Hegelian point about decision: it is not only that no decision is taken in a absolute void, that every decision is contextualized, is a decision-in-context, but contexts themselves:

<block quote> are in some ways produced by decisions, that is, there is a certain redoubling of decision-making. . . . There is first the decision to mark or delimit the context in which a decision [on what kinds of differences ought not be included in a given polity] will be made, and then there is the marking off of certain kinds of differences as inadmissable.

<end of block quote> etc, etc

And Rakesh, I too was interested to see the European Central Bank lower their rate to 2.5, following Lafontaine's -the Oracle, if you will - advice, of course. I also read that the Fed is signaling it will raise rates.

-Peter, whose fate it is to shut up and go have an ice cream cone and watch There's Something About Mary - don't get me started on that movie

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