Adapting Philosophy

Adapting Philosophy: Jean Baudrillard and "The Matrix Trilogy"

CATHERINE CONSTABLE
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 208
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt155j5p5
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  • Book Info
    Adapting Philosophy
    Book Description:

    Adapting Philosophy looks at the ways in which The Matrix Trilogy adapts Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation, and in doing so creates its own distinctive philosophical position. Where previous work in the field has presented the trilogy as a simple ‘beginner’s guide’ to philosophy, this study offers a new methodology for inter-relating philosophy and film texts, focusing on the conceptual role played by imagery in both types of text. This focus on the figurative enables a new-found appreciation of the liveliness of philosophical writing and the multiple philosophical dimensions of Hollywood films. The book opens with a critical overview of existing philosophical writing on The Matrix Trilogy and goes on to draw on adaptation theory and feminist philosophy in order to create a new methodology for interlinking philosophical and filmic texts. Three chapters are devoted to detailed textual analyses of the films, tracing the ways in which the imagery that dominates Baudrillard’s writing is adapted and transformed by the trilogy’s complex visuals and soundtrack. The conclusion situates the methodology developed throughout the book in relation to other approaches currently emerging in the new field of Film-Philosophy. The book’s multi-disciplinary approach encompasses Philosophy, Film Studies and Adaptation Theory and will be of interest to undergraduates and postgraduates studying these subjects. It also forms part of the developing interdisciplinary field of Film-Philosophy. The detailed textual analyses of The Matrix Trilogy will also be of interest to anyone wishing to deepen their understanding of the multi-faceted nature of this seminal work.

    eISBN: 978-1-84779-282-2
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-9)

    The extensive literature on the philosophical aspects ofThe Matrix Trilogyperpetuates a number of highly problematic models for inter-relating philosophy and film texts. A great many of these articles are written by philosophers and do not draw on the literature that is available in the comparatively new interdisciplinary field of Film-Philosophy.¹ As a result, the majority treat the trilogy as a beginner’s guide to philosophy, positioning the films in two ways: positively, as useful examples that make the theories accessible; or negatively, as misinterpretations/distortions of the philosophical sources.² Importantly, viewing the films as mere illustrations or bad copies of...

  5. 1 Good example, bad philosophy
    (pp. 10-40)

    The first part of this chapter will offer a meta-critical analysis of the extensive literature on the philosophical aspects ofThe Matrix Trilogy, exploring the theoretical assumptions that underpin general conceptions of the ways philosophical and filmic texts can be inter-related. The majority of the writing on the trilogy presents the films as introductions to philosophy, setting out a two-tier model in which the films are compared and contrasted with their more eminent primary sources. Importantly, this chapter will demonstrate that these general conceptions of the inter-relation between the trilogy and its philosophical sources unwittingly replicate well-worn arguments from adaptation...

  6. 2 Adapting philosophy/philosophy as adaptation
    (pp. 41-68)

    The first chapter explored the ways in which philosophical writing onThe Matrix Trilogyused categories drawn from adaptation theory, particularly the criterion of fidelity to the original text. This chapter will begin with a brief survey of the philosophical models that inform adaptation theory, focusing on variants of the word/image dichotomy in which the ‘perceptual’ nature of the filmic image renders itnecessarilyincapable of the complex symbolisation and conceptual abstraction of language. This will be followed by an assessment of Kamilla Elliott’s analysis of the ways in which structuralist models of meaning serve to perpetuate the subordination of...

  7. 3 Mirrors and screens
    (pp. 69-95)

    One of the key motifs inSimulacra and Simulationis the figure of the double. It appears in seven of the eighteen chapters and is used in the detailed analysis of a range of topics: from cinema to cloning.¹ The figure is a vehicle for a series of important metaphors as well as encapsulating key logical moves that are repeated throughout the book. The first references to the double occur during Baudrillard’s characterisation of the hyperreal.² The book begins with a discussion of the ‘Borges fable in which the cartographers of the Empire drew up a map so detailed that...

  8. 4 Codes
    (pp. 96-125)

    This chapter will explore the ways in which the trilogy takes up and alters Baudrillard’s concept of the genetic/digital code.¹ WithinSimulacra and Simulationthe code functions as a point of intersection for a number of Baudrillard’s ideas and arguments. This chapter will address three key aspects of its presentation. Firstly, the code functions as a monistic single substance underpinning the singular universe of simulation. Secondly, the code marks the end of the process of doubling and the beginning of duplication – a move into serial replication that destroys the notion of unique individuality. Finally, Baudrillard links his analyses of television...

  9. 5 Beyond nihilism
    (pp. 126-148)

    It is well known that Neo’s first scene inThe Matrixcontains the only on-screen appearance of the trilogy’s key text:Simulacra and Simulation. As demonstrated in chapter three, the presentation of Neo and his computer screen offers a reversion of traditional subject/object relations, constructing Neo as another screen. After Neo has awoken in accordance with his computer’s commands, the screen displays further baffling messages, including: ‘Follow the white rabbit’ and ‘Knock, knock, Neo’. The second is not the beginning of a bad joke but a demonstration of the computer’s predictive powers, in that the message is immediately followed by...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 149-166)

    I want to conclude by offering a summary of my methodology and a brief commentary on its utilisation in the preceding analysis ofThe Matrix Trilogy. This will be followed by an assessment of the differences between my methodology for inter-relating philosophy and film and two other approaches that have been delineated recently by Stephen Mulhall and Thomas Wartenberg.¹ While Mulhall’sOn Filmwas originally published in 2002, the second edition contains a new chapter on film as philosophy, which serves to delineate his theoretical position and to counter a number of the objections to the first volume.² Wartenberg’s book...

  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 167-174)
  12. Index
    (pp. 175-177)