Geoffrey Sperl's Reviews > The Matrix and Philosophy: Welcome to the Desert of the Real

The Matrix and Philosophy by William Irwin
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May 31, 2009

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Read in May, 2009

This is a decent review of the first Matrix film, but after watching the second two and seeing what the Wachowskis do to deconstruct the mythology they built in the first movie, this book seems completely out of date. There are discussions of Morpheus's dogma, for example, that don't have the advantage of seeing how his beliefs are challenged in the succeeding films.

As an introduction to philosophy in the trilogy, this is a decent read, but it falls into the trap many academic books do. The academics begin to speak to one another as opposed to the reader, which is a loss to everyone. Arguably, these sorts of books of collected essays on popular topics should be written with an eye to the less-knowledgeable reader. I'm not saying "dumb it down," but I am saying that an engineer, for example, isn't going to have the same background as an English grad, yet they might both be interested in the book. The mark of a good academic writer is one who can serve both audiences and ensure both readers will walk away from the book having learned something.

I can say that this is a quick read and useful to refer to, but it cannot be taken as a whole work (just as the first film cannot). I would have liked to have seen a follow-up volume to address some of the changes the writers inevitably would have made to these essays had they seen the second and third films. Since there isn't a follow-up, I suggest Like a Splinter in Your Mind: The Philosophy Behind the Matrix Trilogy by Matt Lawrence for a good overview of the entire trilogy and the philosophy behind it. If you are looking for only one book to read, then I again suggest Lawrence's book.
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