THURSDAY MARCH 25, AT 7.30 pm.
Reality and simulations in the digital era
Matrix, a mass product, reconsiders a "classic" from western thinking: the possible illusory character of sensible reality, the real world as a construct, and the limits between thought and reality. During this first session of the interdisciplinary forum Symptomart, the "Matrix products" (feature films, animation shorts and games) will serve as pretext for reflection: from the myth of the platonic cave to Baudrillard's simulacra, including Lewis Carrol, Freud, Lacan and Wittgenstein.
THURSDAY APRIL 29, AT 7.30 pm.
Matrix (II): The machine's perversion
In relation to the films by the Wachowsky brothers, in our last meeting we examined above all the "paranoid" aspect of the film; that is to say the construction of a world of total meaning, a universe in which the lack of meaning with which human beings should confront their lives is responded to with the certainty that there is nothing that can escape a total script in which the most minimum detail is already known and nothing is left to chance. This observation is put in relation with what Zizek, referring to Badiou, considered a passion that has dominated the twentieth century in various modalities: the desperate search for the real, as if this was the only thing that could guarantee the existence of meaning that would not slip away.
In this second meeting we will focus on a different aspect related to another element of what we may call the "Matrix myth," referring precisely to the other meaning in the series' title—that is, the matrix as uterus, not as an inert cybernetic structure but all the contrary. In effect, it is an enigmatic element of the film that human beings are, to say it one way or another, "desired" by the rebellious machines in their status as embryos from which these machines extract their energy. The explicit explanation that the film offers, in which this energy is not given any special qualification, has a certain weakness. As there exist other more efficient providers of energy—namely, the nuclear—why would it still be necessary to that end to still have live beings and, more precisely, humans? This paradox is one we will attempt to examine through the Lacanian notion of pleasure. Zizek has recourse to the notion of perversion in order to explain this second aspect of the myth and at the same time to show the limits of its treatment in the film. For our part, we will go further and search for the profound reasons for the impact of these images in which machines seem to act like sublime pedophiles, taking pleasure in the human body reduced to an embryonic condition. Yet, isn't it true that sexual abuse against children is—just as other crimes of which they are the object (it is spoken, for example, of street children kidnappings related to the sale of organs)—a particularly significant symptom of our epoch? And this not because the abuses in question are new but because of the banalization through which they pass and their properly industrial dimension as they remain in a capitalist machinery of systematic exploitation that, for example, shatters the life substance of thousands of young bodies confined in ad-hoc tourist paradises.