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Edited by Myriam Díaz Diocaretz and Stefan Herbrechter

The Matrix trilogy continues to split opinions widely, polarising the downright dismissive and the wildly enthusiastic. Nevertheless, it has been fully embraced as a rich source of theoretical and cultural references. The contributions in this volume probe the effects the Matrix trilogy continues to provoke and evaluate how or to what extent they coincide with certain developments within critical and cultural theory. Is the enthusiastic philosophising and theorising spurred by the Matrix a sign of the desperate state theory is in, in the sense of “see how low theory (or ‘post-theory’) has sunk”? Or could the Matrix be one of the “master texts” for something like a renewal for theory as now being mainly concerned with new and changing relations between science, technology, posthumanist culture, art, politics, ethics and the media? The present volume is unashamedly but not dogmatically theoretical even though there is not much agreement about what kind of theory is best suited to confront “post-theoretical” times. But it is probably fair to say that there is agreement about one thing, namely that if theory appears to be “like” the Matrix today it does so because the culture around it and which “made” it itself seems to be captured in some kind of Matrix. The only way out of this is through more and renewed, refreshed theorising, not less.

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Edited by Babette Babich, Alfred Denker and Holger Zaborowski

This volume contains new and original papers on Martin Heidegger’s complex relation to Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy. The authors not only critically discuss the many aspects of Heidegger’s reading of Nietzsche, they also interpret Heidegger’s thought from a Nietzschean perspective. Here is presented for the first time an overview of not only Heidegger’s and Nietzsche’s philosophy but also an overview of what is alive – and dead – in their thinking. Many authors through a reading of Heidegger and Nietzsche deal with current issues such as technology, ecology, and politics. This volume is of interest for everyone interested in Heidegger’s and Nietzsche’s thought.
Contributors include: Babette Babich, Charles Bambach, Robert Bernasconi, Virgilio Cesarone, Stuart Elden, Michael Eldred, Markus Enders, Charles Feitosa, Véronique Fóti, Luanne T. Frank, Jeffery Kinlaw, Theodore Kisiel, William D. Melaney, Eric Sean Nelson, Abraham Olivier, Friederike Rese, Karlheinz Ruhstorfer, Harald Seubert, Robert Sinnerbrink, Robert Switzer, Jorge Uscatescu Barrón, Nancy A. Weston, Dale Wilkerson, Angel Xolocotzi, Jens Zimmermann

Immersion and Distance

Aesthetic Illusion in Literature and Other Media

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Edited by Werner Wolf, Walter Bernhart and Andreas Mahler

Readers who appear to be lost in a storyworld, members of theatre or cinema audiences who are moved to tears while watching a performance, beholders of paintings who are absorbed by the representations in front of them, players of computer games entranced by the fictional worlds in which they interactively participate – all of these mental states of imaginative immersion are variants of ‘aesthetic illusion’, as long as the recipients, although thus immersed, are still residually aware that they are experiencing not real life but life-like representations created by artefacts.
Aesthetic illusion is one of the most forceful effects of reception processes in representational media and thus constitutes a powerful allurement to expose ourselves, again and again to, e.g., printed stories, pictures and films, be they factual or fictional. In contrast to traditional discussions of this phenomenon, which tend to focus on one medium or genre from one discipline only, the present volume explores aesthetic illusion, as well as its reverse side, the breaking of illusion, from a highly innovative multidisciplinary and transmedial perspective. The essays assembled stem from disciplines that range from literary theory to art history and include contributions on drama, lyric poetry, the visual arts, photography, architecture, instrumental music and computer games, as well as reflections on the cognitive foundations of aesthetic illusion from an evolutionary perspective. The contributions to individual media and aspects of aesthetic illusion are prefaced by a detailed theoretical introduction.
Owing to its transmedial and multidisciplinary scope, the volume will be relevant to students and scholars from a wide variety of fields: cultural history at large, intermediality and media studies, as well as, more particularly, literary studies, music, film, and art history.

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CHRIS FALZON

Abstract

This essay focuses on the first Matrix film and its use of theory, and of philosophy in particular. Against the background of increased interest in the philosophical interpretation of film, the discussion looks at some of the ways philosophical themes can be seen to play a role in the film, and at the relationship between film and philosophy more generally. The Matrix not only draws explicitly on philosophical themes such as Cartesian scepticism in connection with Neo’s imprisonment in the Matrix. It philosophises, drawing the viewer into a process of becoming critical of appearances. In addition it extends this critique to technologically produced forms of artificial reality. But if the Matrix draws on and makes use of philosophical themes, we can also in turn make use of The Matrix to illustrate and critically reflect on philosophical themes. In particular, Neo’s return to the Matrix illuminates further themes such as the Cartesian (and also Platonic and Christian) desire to “escape the flesh;” which also reappears in contemporary visions of technologically assisted transcendence. This can now become the object of critique, a Nietzschean critique in fact, which in turn has implications for the kind of picture presented in The Matrix. Overall, it is argued, there is a complex interplay between The Matrix and philosophy.

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AIMEE BAHNG

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This essay’s initial line of inquiry examines how race and sexuality function in the Matrix trilogy. Though the films cultivate a pan-ethnic aesthetic, this attempt to signal a future in which humanity unifies across racial boundaries against a non-human threat ultimately reveals itself to be a superficial bronzing over of racial differences rather than an earnest consideration of race as a social construct. Despite the films’ central dogma of questioning “what is real,” the Matrix trilogy lapses into essentialist racial divisions of reproductive labor. This essay studies the racialization of sexuality in the three Matrix films and then goes on to present one arena in which these stereotypes are conscientiously, playfully, and provocatively broken. The latter half of this essay, then, shifts its focus away from the films themselves and looks, instead, toward the still related but less regulated space of Matrix fandom and the slash fiction that imagines a reorganization of race and sexuality in the Matrix world. So, rather than lingering too long on the failings of the Matrix trilogy to deliver a more innovative futurescape, the essay turns to the ways in which fans wrest control of the films from the filmmakers to make good on the potential they saw in the original Matrix premise. This move is made with the guidance of cultural theorists such as Michel de Certeau and Constance Penley, both of whom argue for the agency residing in the everyday pedestrian, the consumer, the viewer, and the fan.

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Betty Nigianni

Abstract

This article looks at the representation of an Athenian avenue as it appears in a contemporary Greek short story, in an attempt to trace the profile of the place as an ultimately modern space called into question, however, by transgressions. The story ‘I Think That Syngrou Avenue Looks Like Me’ by Manos Kontoleon describes the unique relationship developed between the writer and the high-speed avenue that connects the centre of Athens with its coastline: initiated by and experienced via an embodied approach to space, this relationship allows the writer to identify himself with a particular part of the city. The discussion of Kontoleon’s portrayal of Syngrou Avenue focuses on the relationship between space and subjective experience, a relationship that has been a subject of investigation in modern European art and architectural theory over the past century. The paper specifically draws on psychoanalytic and phenomenological theories, which reflect this particular sensibility towards modern space, aiming in this way to contribute further to the discussion of European cityscapes and urban mindscapes.

The Margins of Meaning

Arguments for a Postmodern Approach to Language & Text

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Robin Melrose

The title of this book is inspired by Jacques Derrida and by his seminal work, The Margins of Philosophy. The study of meaning in the past thirty years has focused on core meaning, and largely ignored the margins of meaning, where much of the power of language is to be found. The present work seeks to shift this focus by taking a postmodern approach that sees meaning as an accretion of verbal, social, cultural and personal sign systems, with fluid boundaries that shrink or expand with each meaner.
Chapter 1 begins with a brief examination of present-day approaches to meaning, and goes on to a deconstruction of four twentieth century linguists. Chapter 2 takes as its starting point two aspects of the 20th century scientific paradigm, non-deterministic causation and relativity, and considers a number of thinkers who have worked within this paradigm. A major aim of this work is to convince students and teachers of literary theory, cultural studies and feminist theory of the validity of a linguistics of indeterminacy, so Chapter 3 focuses on an analytical approach that models indeterminacy in language, and Chapter 4 applies the model to a newspaper editorial, a Wallace Stevens' poem, and an extract from a Patrick White novel.

The Culture of Fragments

Words and Images in Futurism and Surrealism

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Clara Orban

Works of art such as paintings with words on them or poems shaped as images communicate to the viewer by means of more than one medium. Here is presented a particular group of hybrid art works from the early twentieth century, to discover in what way words and images can function together to create meaning. The four central artists considered in this study investigate word/image forms in their work. F.T. Marinetti invented parole in libertà, among other ideas, to free language from syntactic connections. Umberto Boccioni experimented with newspaper clippings on the canvas from 1912-1915, and these collages constitute an important exploration into word/image forms. André Breton's collection of poems Clair de terre (1923) contains several typographical variations for iconographic effect. René Magritte explored the relationship between words and images, juxtaposing signifiers to contradictory signifieds on the canvas. A final chapter introduces media other than poetry and painting on which words and images appear. Posters, the theater, and the relatively new medium of cinema foreground words and images constantly. This volume will be of interest to scholars of twentieth-century French or Italian literature or painting, and to scholars of word and image studies.

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Edited by Maria Margaroni and Effie Yiannopoulou

This collection of essays investigates the convergence between the postmodern politics of mobility and a politics of metaphor, a politics, in other words, in the context of which the production and displacement of meaning(s) constitute the major stakes. Ranging from discussions of re-territorialization, multiculturalism, “digisporas” and transnational politics and ethics, to September 11th, the Pentagon’s New Map, American legislation on Chinese immigration, Gianni Amelio’s film Lamerica, Keith Piper’s online installations and Doris Salcedo’s Atrabiliarios, the collection aims to follow three different theoretical trajectories. First, it seeks to rethink our concepts of mobility in order to open them up to the complexity that structures the thoughts and practices of a global order. Second, it critically examines the privileged position of concepts and metaphors of mobility within postmodern theory. In juxtaposing conflictual theoretical formulations, the book sets out to present the competing responses that fuel academic debates around this issue. Finally, it evaluates the influence of our increasingly mobile conceptual frameworks and everyday experience on the redefinition of politics that is currently under way, especially in the context of Post-Marxist theory. Its hope is to contribute to the production of alternative political positions and practices that will address the conflicting desires for attachment and movement marking postmodernity.

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Edited by Tony Shallcross and John Robinson

This book focuses on the concepts of environmental justice and global citizenship from a number of different disciplinary perspectives with the intention of promoting at the very least some interdisciplinary understandings.
Initially presented as papers at an interdisciplinary conference on the themes of environmental justice and global citizenship in Copenhagen in February 2002, the chapters in this volume were chosen by election by those attending the conference. They represent the emergent differences of opinion and glimmers of agreement in the conference as discussions of environmental justice and global citizenship inevitably led to considerations of sustainability and Agenda 21. Some degree of agreement did emerge around the idea of seeing sustainability as a process rather than a predetermined outcome. There was also a shared interest in the pedagogy of educating students in and about sustainability.
This volume has been divided into disciplinary or thematically based sections but the purpose of the introductory chapter is to draw links and connections between different papers and different themes in the volume.