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The Matrix by Joshua Clover
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it was amazing
bookshelves: criticaltheory

If you are looking for a superficial, easy-reading analysis of The Matrix, try one of the countless other books on the subject. In his analysis of The Matrix for the British Film Institute, Joshua Clover brings his wry wit and background as a pop-culture guru* to bear on the film's far reaching cultural implications.

Clover's analysis invokes the work of many postmodern luminaries, not surprisingly focusing on Baudrillard and his simulation. He drops the M-Bomb** on several occasions and trashes the franchising of our private lives. On the surface, it might seem like the intellectual analog to the 20-yard long Vegas Buffet, but to the properly initiated it's more like a fantastic Bolognese meal; a dizzying array of between five and nine courses, each a contrast to the last but all building toward the thesis, a complete experience of culinary shock and awe not to be missed.

Other reviewers are quick to dismiss this book as being "buried under so much analytic-babble that the answers are never really all that clear." The truth is, in life the clear answers are often the wrong ones. And an answer that is clear probably is not worth discussing. The part of the world that is truly interesting is not black and white and Clover's is not a black and white analysis. The difficulty that some might find in unpacking the meaning contained in his writing is the breadth of prior knowledge required to make sense of it.

If you, the reader, are not conversant in the cultural discourse of postmodern theory, including the writings of Jean Baudrillard, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Guy Debord and others, you will be at pains to extract the full meaning of Clover's writing. Critical theory tends to reify its terms; simple terms are called upon to reference entire branches of prior discourse. When Clover references, "Guy Debord's 3D Glasses" it implies an entire set of discussions about their greater cultural significance. Without knowledge of this prior discourse, you might find yourself "buried under analytic babble." If you find yourself thus, don't blame Clover, get yourself a library card.

This book is a real treat, don't let the critics fool you.

* Aside from being a Professor at the University of California-Davis, Clover has also done quite a bit of writing for Rolling Stone Magazine and The Village Voice.

** The M-Bomb: every academician's best friend, Karl Marx.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
September 6, 2007 – Shelved
September 6, 2007 – Shelved as: criticaltheory

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