Seen, yes, involved, no. There are indeed some strong echoes of Ishmael in it. Very like Alan Lomax, the Matrix protagonist, Neo, has for a long time suspected that something is very, very wrong here, though he hasn’t been able to put his finger on it. Like Mother Culture, the Matrix whispers in your ear from the moment of birth and is heard wherever you go. Neo is warned by his teacher that if he embarks on this journey of discovery, he’ll be forever alienated from the life he knows. Alan Lomax receives the same warning from Ishmael. These details strongly suggest that the Wachowskis have read Ishmael , but the basic idea of the film–its explanation of “how things came to be this way”–owes nothing to Ishmael or any of my other work (and is just a variant on “the aliens are here to turn us into livestock” theme that has generated so many sci-fi films). I haven’t been in a movie theater in five years, but I went to one to see The Matrix . I’m not sure it makes any sense at all, but it was stunning fun.

ID: 401
posted: 02 May 1999
updated: 11 May 1999