English 192
Science Fiction
Spring 2002
Professor William Warner

Course Overview



Study Materials

Course Policies

Mind and Body in the Matrix

Contexts for reading The Matrix

  • Technology: the rise of the Internet
  • Two social anxities
    • Loss of social freedom
    • The splitting of mind and body

The Matrix as aesthetic hybrid

  • S/F comics
  • Cyberpunk fiction
  • Other non-s/f influences:
    • Computer games
    • New age spirituality
cyberpunk fiction's geography the geography of The Matrix
the ordinary 'real' world the hacker comes from the 'desert of the real': a post nuclear world
cyberspace where the hacker makes a 'run' the ordinary looking matrix simulation of Earth in 1999

Novem of The Matrix

  • Digitize everything and translate that code into neurological signals
  • The unprecendented power of an invisible simulation
  • But, if someone could crack the code...unprecedented freedom
Questions for reading The Matrix:
  1. How does this film overcome the mind/body split that had been necessary for the cyberpunk hacker to enter cyberspace?
  2. This question can be put in generic terms: how does The Matrix contrive to transform the hacker into a superhero?

Three stages of the plot

  1. The extraction of Neo (scene index 1-9)
  2. The Neo's education and training (10-27)
  3. Neo brings mind and body into action (28-37)

Mythos: the education and testing of a hero


Screening Key scenes

Thinking the unthinkable

  • Morpheus as guide: Neo offered a choice and goes down the rabbit hole (8-9-10)
  • Morpheus's history lesson in the Construct (12)

Learning to hack with Kung-Fu

  • Training with Morpheus
    • Morpheus's paradoxical words after he beats Neo in the sparring program: "Morpheus: How did I beat you? Neo: You--your're too fast. Morpheus: Do you think my being faster, stronger has anything to do with my muscles in this place? Do you believe that's air you are breathing now?"
  • Neo gets a cinematic assist from "Bullet-time"
    • John Gaeta on the use of bullet-time: "those moments signify that the character Neo is actualizing his mind over matter control of the Matrix simulation."

Neo as savior of humankind

  • Rebirth and final fight with Agent Smith (36)
  • Coda: final speech and flight (37)



Michaelangelo, the Pieta (St. Peters)

This page was composed by Professor William Warner. Last changed 4/2/02. This course is part of the Transcriptions Project of the Department of English at UC /Santa Barbara.