Theory and The Matrix

"Wake up, Neo..."

"Knock, knock, Neo..."

"Did you ever have that feeling that you didn't know if you were awake or still dreaming?"

"I imagine that right now you're feeling a bit like Alice, tumbling down the rabbit hole, hmmm?  You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees because he is expecting to wake up . . . this is not far from the truth."

"Let me tell you why you're here.  You're here because you know something.  You know you can't explain but you feel it.  You've felt it your entire life.  You don't know what it is but it's there like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.  It is this feeling that has brought you to me.  Do you know what I'm talking about?"

"The matrix is everywhere, all around us, even now, even here in this very room . . . work, church, taxes.  It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you to the truth that you are a slave, Neo, that you were born into bondage like everyone else.  Born into bondage, born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch, a prison for your mind."

"Welcome to the real world."  "Why do my eyes hurt?"  "You've never used them before."

The Matrix, (1999) Dir. Andy and Larry Wachowski, who also play the window washers on the outside of the building behind Neo's boss's desk when Neo is told he's about to be fired.  Haven't seen the movie?  Want to understand what "waking up" involves?

               Think of English 215 as a "window washer" for your mind.  You have to wake up to the fact that, when you read a text, you already are applying a theory of interpretation whether you are aware of it or not.  That unexamined, perhaps even invisible theory is the prison within which your mind currently encounters texts.  Like all recently freed prisoners, you probably will be suspicious of theories you do not already believe in, but until you try thinking with their rules, "seeing" by their light, you have no idea whether they are valid or invalid, powerfully liberating or merely coercive, useful or toys. 

               Theory has enormous implications for how we live our lives.  The world you live in is very similar to a text, and many of the theories of textual interpretation also apply to constructions of "reality."  Think about it.  You could be living your life in invisible chains which you interpret as freedoms or duties or self-expressions.  Don't be afraid to "prove all things [and] hold fast that which is good."  It's Goucher's motto.  (Paul's first epistle to the Thessalonians,verse v.)