Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Assignment 1: 9/11, Racial Estrangement, Palimpsest

Before looking up this show that satirized George Bush in 2001, I thought that it had be canceled because of 9/11. The show, That's My Bush, was actually canceled because of high production costs two months prior to 9/11. However, the spin-off movie, which was picked up, George W. Bush and the Secret of the Glass Tiger, was disregarded... most likely due to 9/11 attacks. So what was at stake here? Bush's credibility in a time of crisis? ...

(see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/That's_My_Bush! And view:
for the opening credits for the show

Morpheus: You are here because you know something, what you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You felt it your entire life; that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is but its there, like a splinter in your mind…

Morpheus: The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work... when you go to church... when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Morpheus: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.
I am interested in the relationship between the unreal and the real, where the real borrows from the unreal and vice-versa. In lecture, Professor Chun talked about racial estrangement and wanted us to ask the question: what role does race play in the Matrix? I had some of my own ideas that I will phrase in the form of questions at the end of this post, but for now I’d like to discuss an article entitled The Matrix: Coding Counter Culture by Josh Wickett (see: http://academic.udayton.edu/race/01race/thematrix.htm)

I recommend everyone to just skim the article because I really appreciate what Wickett wrote and just really enjoyed the narrative (although fairly disorganized) that Wickett walked me through. Basically, the article tries to prove that "matrix" is a type of social commentary on the systems of oppression, notably the idea that the matrix seeks to perpetuate the idea that white males are and should be the most powerful. He states:

"If you ask the average person they will tell you The Matrix represents 'Tha White man,' 'tha man', 'Mr Charlie', 'Pink face', 'tha cave bitch', 'Peckerwood', 'tha cracker', 'YT', 'the blue eyed devil' , 'Miss. Clorox'…in other words, the system of racism White supremacy; racist man and racist woman. And that Morpheus, his crew and Zion represent “the resistance”, counter racism, Black people, VORs, niggers…. But as they say in the NFL, 'Upon further review…'
The machines are representing non-white people.

That’s right.

The machines represent niggers i.e. the 'poster children' for racism White supremacy.

The message of this movie is that the machines represent what non-white people will become if they EVER stop submitting to and serving racism White supremacy… MONSTERS!

People are sitting in a theater being programmed regarding who is the “enemy” while they watch a movie about people being programmed. (Mind blowing ain’t it?)"

Do we agree with this assessment? Is this true?

I guess some questions that I had about this were pretty shallow. Questions like:
By casting Laurence Fishburne, an African-American male, does this automatically create a link to the civil rights movement in the US to Morpheus? What does it mean to draw from history of the civil rights movement? What would you think if Keanu Reeves played Morpheus and Laurence Fishburne played Neo? How would the movie changed if Carrie-Anne Moss played the Morpheus?

Does this even matter? What is at stake here?


New discoveries, new technology, new media -- I feel as though "new" is always a problematic term for me. What is new? Define new. All I know is that our culture seems to be obsessed with the new and the real. How many times have we seen odd labels like "Real Ice Cream" or "Made With Real Cheese." And what is the opposite of real? Fake? Unreal?

I am really interested in the idea of palimpsests, or just the idea that everything is taken from the old and redone. Nothing is ever truly original; it always has components of the old. Or take, the poet/artist, Jen Bervin. In her work, entitled “Nets” (actually it is The Sonnets of William Shakespeare, with nets within sonnets bolded and the rest of the letters in faintly showing), she allows for her voice to be expressed in the sonnets by bolding certain words; thereby, creating a whole new work – a certain type of palimpsest. Yet she still allows for Shakespeare’s original words to be read, printed in light gray ink.

She writes in a Working Note at the end of her work,
"I stripped Shakespeare’s sonnets bare to the “nets” to make space of the poems open, porous, possible – a divergent elsewhere. When we write poems, the history of poetry is with us, pre-inscribed in the white of the page; when we read or write poems, we do it with or against this palimpsest.”

This certainly can be extended to scientific discovery as I’m certain Einstein’s theory of relativity wouldn’t have been possible to discover without the foundation of simple mathematics or Newtonian physics. Certainly no one would argue that science build upon itself. On the topic of scientific discovery, let’s discuss the invention of the radio -- the big debate between Marconi and Tesla. Marconi was credited and has been credit as the inventor of the radio for years, and even today, my mother believes that mother believes that Marconi invented the radio. However, Marconi's invention of the radio relied on Tesla's previous patents and Tesla was also working on the invention of wireless communication at the same time. Due to Marconi's affluence, he was able to claim the title of "Father of Radio." So who gets credited? And why? And how do media portray it?

Now, let’s consider history and commemoration, particularly in the realm of evolution. We are constantly praising dead humans for their existence and their ideas that seem to advance our culture -- Darwin, Sappho, Martin Luther King, Jr. What is their function in society? Answers to this question are pretty obvious.

However, now science has proven that we are descendants from apes. So why don’t we have a gigantic ape on the main green to celebrate our ancestor? Certainly we can’t just credit the “ape” for our evolution, not this singular, insignificant unnamed ape. Martin Lurther King, Jr. is memorialized because he had changed the face of society and fought for civil rights. I know this argument is a little odd but I’m just sort of upset that this knowledge that we are descendants from apes is restricted to the "heterotopia" of a museum exhibit or of a science textbook -- and perhaps provides some validity to the 2005 US District Court Case, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. Thank reason for the decision to prohibit the teaching of Intelligent Design in schools.

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