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The Books: Like a Splinter in Your Mind
Hardcover & Paperback: 224 pages
By Matt Lawrence
The Matrix Trilogy offers fertile ground for philosophy-themed speculation. No matter how much you dig, it seems the Matrix rabbit hole always goes deeper. There've been a number of books released that attempt to interpret or filter the Matrix through the eyes of the philosopher, and Matt Lawrence's Like a Splinter in Your Mind: The Philosophy Behind the Matrix Trilogy is the latest.
What immediately differentiates Splinter is its conciseness and coherence. Where other Matrix books consisted of essays written by a disparate collection of authors, Splinter benefits from Lawrence's singular focus and refreshingly engaging writing style.
For those new to the films, or those still confused by the many layers of meaning and symbolism integral to the Matrix films (you haven't been reading TheMatrix101?), Lawrence begins his book with explanations of some of the trilogy's most puzzling aspects. It's a useful way to start the book, accepting that one must understand the films before tackling the philosophy underlying them. Lawrence's interpretations are well-thought out, very clearly presented, and as valid as anyone else's, though they don't always agree with those presented on this site, or Matrix fandom's in general. Rather than diminish the work, this break from typical Matrix canon is a breath of fresh air. The Matrix movies are all about raising questions, and Lawrence's answers to some of these questions are unique and thought-provoking.
Organized in easily digestible bite-size chunks, each Splinter chapter first introduces a philosophical ideology, then breaks it down further using individual scenes/ideas from the trilogy to illustrate, and often illuminate, the underlying philosophy. This serves as both a wonderful introduction for the novice philosopher, as well as a captivating examination for those who are more experienced.
Lawrence takes on all the core philosophical issues explored in the Matrix Trilogy, from metaphysics to philosophy of mind, from epistemology to existentialism, from mysticism to Taoism, and does it with an accessible, witty prose style not always associated with philosophical writing. His chapter on Taoism is especially noteworthy given the lack of attention this ideology has received in Splinter's predecessors.
One of Splinter's great strengths is how easy it is to imagine that, rather than reading a "philosophy" book, you're sitting in a bar with Lawrence as he educates and illuminates, so much so that you don't realize you're learning something interesting on almost every page.
Given the wide variety of topics covered, the unique perspective, and the inviting style, Splinter truly is the book Matrix fans have been waiting for. As an introduction to philosophy, it's first-rate, both for fans of the trilogy, and even those who aren't. As a refresher for the more knowledgeable, it opens doors into Neo's world that not even the Oracle knows about. Just as an increased understanding can often lead to a greater appreciation, Lawrence's book will leave readers with new perspectives on The Matrix Trilogy, leading to a greater appreciation of the Wachowski Brother's creation.
Like a Splinter in Your Mind is not to be missed; it's a book no Matrix fan should be without.
Get Like a Splinter in Your Mind for yourself today!
Read Chapter 13: The Tao of the Code. (PDF format)
Read Watching The Matrix Trilogy Philosophically by the author.
Did You Know?
The Animatrix film The Second Renaissance Part I alludes to the story of a robot named B1-66ER who ends up in a pivotal court case after killing his human master. It's been suggested the robot's name came from 'Bigger Thomas', the main character of Native Son, a novel about a black man in 1930's Chicago who commits a murder he believes he has no choice but to commit.