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Philosphy of the Matrix


Jumbie
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OK, THis is not a forum for exploring the deeper meaings of the matrix. I once heard that there's actually college courses about that stuff.

 

 

Rather this is an attempt to fathom the peculiar popularity of the first Matrix movie.

 

THis is an article from a while back but it makes sense even more in retrospect:

 

http://www.slate.com/id/2082400

(the main point kicks in about halfway through)

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  • 4 years later...
aw man, i kinda had to give up being a Matrix Reloaded apologist after Revolutions. ugh.

 

*nods vigorously*

Same. I dug the 2nd one at first, it looked as if it was gonna lead to some awesome conclusion. Not so much.

The thing about writing: It's really easy to build up to something grand and awesome, the talent really shines through those that can actually pay off appropriately. The ball was not so much dropped as hurled to the ground like a touchdown celebration.

I liked some of The Matrix comic much more, the Ted McKeever story comes to mind.

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Jumbie - The comics were brilliant! Thanks for posting! However, I didn't agree so much w/ the article you linked. In fact, the author's main point about the film being a "geek utopia" doesn't really hold up. The Matrix was a major mainstream success, not some geek sub-culture cult classic. The Matrix blended various film genres masterfully--a point the author acknowledges yet incorrectly discounts for its success.

 

*nods vigorously*

Same. I dug the 2nd one at first, it looked as if it was gonna lead to some awesome conclusion. Not so much. . .

I concur, sir.

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Mr. H,

 

You've got a good point about the article. He does discount all the non-geek fans. I know there were lots of non-geek females who enjoyed it.

 

I still think the author's got a big nugget of truth in there however, when he says that for geeks the Matrix isn't a dystopia, it;s a paradise.

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Mr. H,

 

You've got a good point about the article. He does discount all the non-geek fans. I know there were lots of non-geek females who enjoyed it.

 

I still think the author's got a big nugget of truth in there however, when he says that for geeks the Matrix isn't a dystopia, it;s a paradise.

The author misses the whole point of view as given by Cypher in the film and ignorantly focuses on the "geek" label. Of course the film was saying the Matrix wasn't regarded by all as a dystopic prison, but rather a serenely controlled utopian dream by others--the gilded cage theory as evidenced by the character Cypher's actions. Free will is not something a lot of people can handle, let alone really WANT. In fact too much too many choices can even be debilitating. The author really missed the mark by glancing over these points and instead focusing on how the filmakers made the film actually entertaining by giving Neo cool clothes and kickass action scenes. I don't get his problem w/ that. Hello--entertainment value! :D

 

Anyway, here's an interesting lecture about the "paradox of choice" and how too much choice can actually shutdown a person.

Edited by Mr. Hakujin
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  • 1 year later...

OK, just found this thread while looking for something else and realised I owe Haku a debunking of Barry Schwartz's Paradox of Choice book. I'll post two good bits and then a link to the full length piece:

 

 

Outside the artificial constraints of a psychology experiment, people adapt pretty effectively to proliferating choices. We go back to our favorite restaurant and order the same dish because we know we'll like it. We find a toothpaste that suits us and stick to it. We don't always choose anew.

 

"Consumers tend to return to the products they usually buy, not even noticing 75% of the items competing for their attention and their dollars," writes Schwartz. "Who but a professor doing research would even stop to consider that there are almost 300 different cookie options to choose among?"

 

And who but a polemicist pursuing an argument would completely ignore what these habits tell us about the world? In a familiar environment, people aren't overwhelmed by choice. With experience, we learn to negotiate the alternatives. Schwartz may have trouble in The Gap, but a teenager who owns nine pairs of jeans doesn't. As Schwartz himself notes, "A small-town resident who visits Manhattan is overwhelmed by all that is going on. A New Yorker, thoroughly adapted to the city's hyperstimulation, is oblivious to it."

 

Schwartz treats this habituation as entirely negative, since it's why we lose our appreciation of once-new pleasures. "When it first became possible to get a wide variety of fruits and vegetables at all times of year, I thought I'd found heaven," he writes. "Now I take this year-round bounty for granted and get annoyed if the nectarines from Israel or Peru that I can buy in February aren't sweet and juicy."

 

Habituation is indeed a fact of human psychology. That's one reason we like novelty, including different cuts of jeans. But grumpy social critics like Schwartz never consider the obvious thought experiment: Would you like to go back to the world with fewer options?

 

 

 

If something important is missing from the social scientist's standard model, something equally important is missing from the simplistic argument that people would be happier if we went back to the good old days of one-cut-fits-all jeans. That something is pluralism.

 

People are different--in size and shape, in personality, in tastes, in values. Ergonomics experts say the average body doesn't actually exist. Neither does the average mind.

 

Abundant choice accommodates this variation. A world of few choices, whether in jeans or mates, is a world in which individual differences become sources of alienation, unhappiness, even self-loathing. If no jeans fit, you'll feel uncomfortable or inferior. If no housing developments reflect your taste for unique architecture, you'll write screeds against philistine mass culture. If no one in the village shares your interests or turn of mind, you'll never have intimate friends.

 

Given the variety of human beings, we need abundant choice even to live as Schwartz recommends. Unlike some of Schwartz's earlier work, or his recent opinion articles, The Paradox of Choice is a book about psychology, not politics. It offers practical, personal advice. It tells readers to set standards and look for "good enough," rather than holding out for the very best conceivable choice: to "satisfice," in the jargon of social scientists, rather than "maximize."

 

When you satisfice, you don't let an impossible quest for the perfect destroy your enjoyment of the good. You look for a red cotton crewneck sweater that fits well and costs less than $50. When you find one, you buy it. You don't run all over town trying to find a better, or cheaper, sweater. You don't lie awake at night wondering if your sweater is the best of all sweaters. Your purchase is rational in the normal, colloquial sense of the word but not necessarily in the social science meaning. (Some social scientists argue that satisficing is, in fact, rational in the narrow sense because it includes all the costs of the search.)

 

As long as you want something average, satisficing doesn't require much variety. The old Holiday Inn slogan, "The Best Surprise Is No Surprise," is all you need--minimum standards of not-bad quality, the old mass-market, one-size-fits-all formula. But nobody is average all the time. Maybe you're looking for that red cotton sweater because even the softest wool makes your hypersensitive skin itch. You'd be much worse off in a world where sweaters only came in wool, while many other people, those with "normal" skin, would be perfectly happy. They might even argue that shoppers were better off with fewer fiber choices.

 

Since different people care intensely about different things, only a society where choice is abundant everywhere can truly accommodate the variety of human beings. Abundant choice doesn't force us to look for the absolute best of everything. It allows us to find the extremes in those things we really care about, whether that means great coffee, jeans cut wide across the hips, or a spouse who shares your zeal for mountaineering, Zen meditation, and science fiction.

 

Schwartz writes that "the proliferation of choice in our lives robs us of the opportunity to decide for ourselves just how important any given decision is." To the contrary, only the proliferation of choice gives us the opportunity to make the decisions we individually deem most important.

 

After I read this, I realized that the comic I just posted in the tech junkies thread deals with this quite well, so I'll post it here too:

 

 

2cna33a.png

 

See, Xbox boy hardly seems overwhelmed by the multidude of choice in speakers since, like most speaker shoppers, he doesn't give a shit. Audiophile girl, however would HATE to shop for speakers where there was no choice.

 

 

Full article here: http://reason.com/archives/2005/06/01/consumer-vertigo

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Damn, this has been a while, Jumbie. The TED talk I watched was about a year ago. So, I'll definitely have to go back and re-watch it. And, now that I think about it, there's another talk of his sitting on my HD waiting to be seen. I'll have to do that and read/process your article's counterpoint another time when it's not so late and I haven't been online posting like a bot all night.

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