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Terms in this set (26)

- Odysseus is representative of the human (male/masculine?) desire for homecoming and adventure; the desire to be rooted and free; the desire for family and comradeship.
- Odysseus is a hero, to be sure, but he is a tethered hero. Kubrick's question: what does this divided allegiance cost him? What does it cost those whom he loves? What does it cost humanity itself?
- Kubrick's concern: the tethered hero becomes dependent on (perhaps even addicted to) the external challenges that elicit his courage and cunning.
- Humanity has not yet learned to find
- Writ large: Humanity has not yet learned to find within itself the motivation it requires to improve itself. As humanity continues its growth and development, it requires ever more pressing challenges.
- Kubrick: the dawning of the nuclear age marks the emergence of a mortal threat to humanity, i.e., the emergence of a challenge we cannot meet.
- Hence the need for spiritual/moral/emotional renewal.
- Kubrick's diagnosis: the story of human progress has become, overwhelmingly, the story of scientific and technological progress. We have become increasingly clever, cunning, and bold, just like Odysseus himself.
- Spiritual/moral/emotional progress has not kept pace. As spiritual beings, he fears, we are not significantly advanced beyond the hominids who fight over the watering hole.
- The telltale (and perhaps mortal) weakness: we are spurred to grow and improve only/primarily by external challenges. We have not yet taken responsibility for developing and responding to internal challenges and directives. We allow exogenous challenges to determine who we will become. This strategy worked for Odysseus, but...
- The appearance of the monolith occasions the transition from Australophithecus to Homo (habilis) (and eventually to homo homo sapiens).
- Homo habilis: "handy man," tool- (and weapon-)wielding primate.
- The appearance of the monolith ensures their survival and spurs their advancement, but at an expense. Need for exogenous intervention, external stimulus. The cause of the progress of the human species lies outside human beings.
- Progress with a price: achieved through aggression, conflict, war, annihilation.
- The monolith directs the eye upward—to the sun and the moon, to space, to progress, to walking upright and using tools, to science and technology.
- Cosmic alignment of sun, moon, and monolith suggests an impending transition or evolution of the human species.
- Introduction to the axis of transcendence leads to violence, blood lust, loss of life. Creation of in-group / out-group dynamic.
- Arthur C. Clarke: Religion is born of sacrifice. "Ethics has been hijacked by religion."
- As they evolve, hominids (and, later, humans) become addicted to adversity. We progress only under duress, only when forced to do so. This means, among other things, that we acquire an appetite for adversity and learn to create emergencies for ourselves. Cf. Zarathustra's warning about "the last man."
- The spiritual transformation/evolution Kubrick envisions is one in which human beings locate and cultivate an internal motivation to change—not in response to an external threat, but in fulfillment of an internal imperative. (Starchild)
- Poole and Bowman are portrayed as disaffected, unenthusiastic, robotic, going through the motions—not exactly the high point of humanity. (That HAL is described as "like one of the crew" is great irony.)

- The concern: we are now captive to our technology.

- Technical rationality: a plan or course of action becomes valid and worthwhile once it becomes technically possible for us to carry it out. Unanticipated externalities will emerge.

- Technological determinism: We are no longer masters of the tools we use. We have been remade in the image of our ever-expanding technological capacities, and we are largely powerless (or at least disinclined) to raise objections to technological innovations.

-The singularity: the point at which artificial intelligence becomes self-conscious and autonomous, thereby eclipsing natural (or human) intelligence.

- The fear: Judgment Day. Autonomous artificial intelligence will determine that humans are either in the way, unhelpful, or otherwise unnecessary.

- HAL: "This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it." "[Being disconnected] is something I cannot allow to happen." "Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose any more. Goodbye."

-HAL decided that human beings should not be involved in the rendezvous on Jupiter. He, HAL, would represent Terran civilization as the Overman. Humanity has run its course.

- How does Dave outwit HAL? By doing something unanticipated, something so reckless and counter-intuitive that HAL did not think to plan for it.

- Life wish = death wish. Compare to Odysseus
- Setting: a dark ,lonely city or dystopia. All is not as it appears; corruption lurks behind a shiny, bright, or pleasant façade.

- Detective: a loner, down on his luck, disgraced in some way, takes on questionable jobs. Intimate stranger, insider outside/outsider inside. Makes bad decisions. Lacks self-knowledge. Drinking problem. Self-destructive.

- Excellent at finding anything but himself ("that old blade runner magic"). Sees the dark side in others, but not entirely cynical. Hardened exterior/tender interior, cannot resist a tough case or a tough-talking dame.

- Hard-boiled detective as a version of the wounded healer: lacking in credentials and authority. All that matters are the results.

- Femme Fatale: dangerous, alluring woman, manipulates men, gets what she wants, irresistible.

- The aesthetic is dark, indistinct, unsettling: muted tones/dim lighting: smoke, rotating fans, and shadows; whiskey is always nearby; shades are drawn; threats and promises are oblique, subject to interpretation; side deals are off the books; claustrophobic.

- Moral ambiguity: bad good guys, sympathetic bad guys, everyone compromised in some way. No clear-cut heroes or villains. No hearts of gold. Everyone has an angle and a price.

- Guiding perspective, usually that of the detective or someone watching him, is realistic/cynical, verging upon nihilistic. Observations are often wry or darkly humorous. Detective has a smart mouth and is regularly smacked down for mouthing off.

-Inconclusive or unhappy ending.
- Dystopian presentation of the near future: The singularity has been achieved. Machines now create other machines to enslave and delude human beings. Cf. HAL 9000

- The philosophical paradox: What, if anything should be done in the case of contented slaves? Cf. Plato's cave allegory: the Matrix is the only reality most of us know—why would we forsake it? Why would anyone want us to do so?

- The Matrix is a neural interactive simulacrum, i.e., a dream or hallucination from which we are not likely to awaken. The Matrix inures us to a simulated reality that we cannot distinguish or recognize as such.

- Metaphysics: the branch or subfield of philosophy that is concerned with the distinction between reality and appearance.

- Realism (or objectivism) vs. Relativism (or subjectivism)
- "The unexamined life is not worth living" vs. "ignorance is bliss"

- The unique philosophical contribution of The Matrix is its introduction of a third term or alternative: virtuality.

- Reality (truth) vs. Appearance (illusion/lie) vs. Virtuality (stable, sustainable illusion or lie)

- One of the most enduring and influential arguments for reality (truth) and against appearance (illusion or lie) is that the latter is unstable or fragile. Ex: Living a lie requires one to be in full control of the lies one has told and continues to tell. You won't enjoy a pleasing illusion if you know if to be an illusion.

-But what if the lie or illusion in question could be sustained indefinitely and maintained with confidence?

- What if there were no credible fear of being found out, or of the illusion being punctured?

- Would a pleasing illusion (blue pill) be preferable to a grimy truth (red pill) ?

- Morpheus: "Remember, all I'm offering is the truth—nothing more." (Morpheus is the god of dreams...)

- The suggestion here is that our preference for the truth is really a preference for the "something more." E.g., the truth will make us happy or whole; it will secure the positive recognition of worthy others; it will lead to a good job or salvation or eternal bliss; etc.

-Is the value of truth intrinsic (i.e., good in itself) or extrinsic (i.e., good for what it brings/produces?

- Is the value of truth categorical (i.e., unconditional) or situational (i.e., conditional)?

- Note the presuppositions about human nature: are we meant to thrive/survive in the possession of truth? In the possession of illusions? Or in the possession of both?

- Noble lies: lies or illusions told, supposedly, in the service of those for whom they are intended. Cf. Dr. Floyd in 2001, or Dr. Tyrell in Blade Runner, or Lt. Joshi in Blade Runner 2049.

- If Neo is "the One," does he free us from all lies and illusions, or does he provide a superior illusion?

Noble lies, continued:

- The Oracle tells us what we need to hear; this may or may not be the truth. The idea here is that some lies and illusions will prod us to become better versions of ourselves.

- Avatar: [descent; Sanskrit]: manifestation or incarnation of a deity in earthly form, often a teacher or guide. Contemporary usage: Digital representation of a game player or computer user; a virtual identity or alter ego.

- Who is "The One"? Virtual Neo (cool shades, black jacket, guns, martial arts) or Real Neo (dweeby, loserish, underachieving hacker/slacker, crushing on Trinity, looks like Ted from Bill and Ted)? Why is style so important when rebels enter the Matrix?

- Does Morpheus deliver the truth or a more pleasing illusion?