Matrix: Reloaded Explained
The essay
Selected reader comments

Matrix: Revolutions Explained
The essay
Selected reader comments

Warjacks and Dollhouses

23 Feb, 2011 | Brian |

I am old enough to remember the 80s, when the Frenetic Housemoms of America(TM) collectively swallowed the urban myth that Dungeons & Dragons was linked to Satanism. I had picked up the Red Box at a Kay-Bee Toys somewhere around 1983 or 84, and had run games with my brother and my dad. Old-schoolers will remember fondly such awfulness as an Elf with 1 hit point at first level. That was my dad's character. As a very young DM, I had my hands full trying to keep him alive as they waded hip-deep through kobold-infested caves. We didn't do anything Satanic that I can recall. Not a single pentagram was drawn; not a single goat was sacrificed (note: we actually owned a goat then, so the victim was handy).

» Read more

The Crone's Illusion

08 Jan, 2011 | Brian |

My reaction to Agora was highly charged, and I wanted to let myself cool down long enough to write something sane, something that wasn't a searing screed against book-burning fundamentalists. I finally got there, and lucky too, because what I ended up discovering in this film was enlightening for me.

I have a mighty respect for Roger Ebert, who has a keen critical mind, but when he calls Agora "a drama based on the ancient war between science and superstition" I must wonder whether he is being intentionally understated. That's kind of like saying World War II was based on the habit of nations to disagree about borders. It's true but is about as bland as you can get. I think I would prefer to say that Agora is the parable of the dark stepmother of religious belief.

» Read more

Escaping the Maze (Part 2)

29 Dec, 2010 | Brian |

"The heroes of all time have gone before us - the labyrinth is thoroughly known." -Joseph Campbell

Welcome nagging both internal and external has kept Inception well in my thoughts these weeks. It's past time that I press on with my study. I'm going to take it as solved from Part 1 that Cobb wakes up at the end, and therefore the film can be taken at face value, and that the film is not some sort of meta-comment on the acts of making and watching films (and might I add what an utterly boring premise for a story that is). Now I intend to focus on the subject of time, or subjective time, either way.

» Read more

Worried Wars over Stolen Relics

02 Dec, 2010 | Brian |

I don't normally go in for this kind of topic. I don't really have strong feelings about it, at least no stronger than how I feel when someone holds forth ignorantly on how many "rams" their computer has. It's a bit annoying, mostly cute. People can't be expert at all subjects, and that is perfectly fine. That does not mean I am automatically on equal footing with a person who has actual knowledge though. I should know better than to sputter loudly my fervent opinion on matters I haven't bothered to research.

It is my privilege to drive my kids to school in the morning. They are going to two different schools at present, and so after delivering the first one I make my way to the other, and on the path is a house with multiple "Keep Christ in Christmas" signs bannered all over the place. Why is one sign insufficient? It's not like you can miss any of them, the way they are displayed. Anyway, I get to thinking about it, every day, the same process of running down why this is a sign of uneducated buffoonery. It illustrates why revelation cannot supplant investigation. Maybe a better way to say this is that as soon as I think I have all the answers, that is the moment I am most apt to do something incredibly dumb.

» Read more

Escaping the Maze (Part 1)

21 Sep, 2010 | Brian |

I doubt that I have any kind of overall thesis for what Inception is about, except that it carries, to me, the themes of simulation and existentialism. Let me be clear that I don't think existentialism is depressing; just the opposite. We create meaning from events that have no intrinsic meaning, because that's what we do - finding patterns and connections where there aren't any. This is based on perception, which is where simulation comes in. We have the remarkable power to forge profound meaning out of purely simulated experience. We yearn for catharsis, and create for ourselves wondrous cathartic plays.

Make of that what you will!

This may one day become a full-on essay like the "others," but I won't create it that way. I'll do it piecemeal as time and attention allows (both of which flag regularly). Right now I'll handle the main question.

» Read more

Dismembering Blaise, Part 3

30 Apr, 2010 | Brian |

We come now, lumbering, at last, to the final scene. The first part saw Pascal simultaneously demand and invalidate all evidence of divinity. The second part showed Pascal's forced choice requires an equal belief in zombifying witches and cruel resurrections for the sport of silver-clad brats in the year 3000. The third part highlights the absurdity of Pascal's dangled carrot: the great rewards or punishments that shall be dealt out beyond the grave. This kind of reasoning is not just wrong, it is immoral.

» Read more