Monday, September 23, 2013

The Matrix and the Alice Books VBT

The Matrix and the Alice Books presents aspects of intertextuality in three primary sources: the script of the motion picture The Matrix written by directors Andy and Larry Wachowski, and the books Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll.

Intertextuality is a set of relations with other texts, which can include direct quotations, allusions, literary conventions, imitation, parody and unconscious sources amongst others. In The Matrix there are few explicit references to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.

This book by Voicu Mihnea Simandan presents both the explicit references and the less direct ones, giving evidence from primary and secondary sources. In doing so, it makes use of a literary construction developed from Gérard Genette’s structuralist theory of transtextuality as a framework to present how a web of intertextual relationships is clearly formed between the Alice books and The Matrix.

“In The Matrix, Neo comes from the Oracle a bit disappointed with what he had just found out, but Morpheus tries to show him the way: “Neo, sooner or later, you’re going to realize, just as I did, that there’s a difference between knowing the path... and walking the path...” Alice wakes up only when she is ready to face the real world, just as Neo has to understand that, in order to defeat the agents and end the war, he has to face his demons and take control of his own life. […]

In The Matrix, Cypher confesses his regrets to Neo over getting unplugged. “You know, I know what you’re thinking, because right now I’m thinking the same thing. Actually, I’ve been thinking it ever since I got here... Why, oh why, didn’t I take... the blue pill?” The repeated phrase shows hesitation and the intensity of Cypher’s emotions. Neither Alice nor Cypher understand the new world they have entered, and both have second thoughts about remaining there. But, while Alice tries to unlock the secret of wonderland and eventually is able to control it, just as Neo does in the end, Cypher betrays his crew members in a desperate move to be reinserted into the Matrix.

Despite an ever-changing environment and logic, both Alice and Neo continue to deal with the challenges that beset them. No prior experience in wonderland or the Matrix can teach them about what to expect in their next undertaking; nevertheless they manage to get through each encounter, ready to face new situations.”

Voicu Mihnea, thanks so much for stopping by. So, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born in 1978 in Arad, a small city in western Transylvania, Romania, in Eastern Europe. My father is a journalist and an author with tens of books of non-fiction and poetry published under his name. In 2002, I moved to Thailand to work as a secondary school teacher and continue my graduate studies. Now I live with my Thai wife in Bangkok where I teach writing and Social Studies at an international school.

What books did you love reading as a child?
The world Lewis Carroll created in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass had a great impact on me and, as a child, I often found myself slipping down my own rabbit hole under a pillow-made castle, joining Alice in her wonderful adventures. Jules Verne’s adventure novels, especially Around the World in 80 Days, instilled in me a strong desire to see the world and Verne’s great explorers, men of arms and scientists soon became my heroes in whose footsteps I hoped to follow. Now, in my mid-30s, after having published a postgraduate study about the Alice books and having made a new life for myself in Asia, miles away from my home country in Eastern Europe, I do believe that the books I grew up with have made me the man I am today.

What was the inspiration for your book?
The book that I’m virtually touring now is an intertextual study of the film The Matrix and the books Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll. The initial research for the book was done as part of my two-year master’s degree studies in Bangkok. I have probably seen The Matrix trilogy over one hundred times and having the book in my hands has brought my longtime obsession with The Matrix and the Alice Books to a satisfactory conclusion. Now it’s time for the world to read it and dive down the rabbit hole and explore a world where the boundary between dreams and reality is blurred by some of the most remarkable and memorable fictional characters ever to appear on the pages of a book and on the screen of a TV.

What’s your favourite genre?
I have various intellectual interests, from history to anthropology to linguistics, so I tend to evenly balance the number of non-fiction and fiction books that I read. Recently, I have started reading more and more science fiction, delving into the works of the classics that have established this genre. However, I also read literary fiction, fast paced mysteries, and books of fiction written by expats living in Thailand – which I then review for a Bangkok-based monthly magazine.

So, what are you working on right now? Got any releases planned, or still writing?
For 2013, I’m planning to release the following titles: Riding the Cylinder, three science fiction short stories set in Thailand; Taking the Seas, a book of adventure stories for the young ones; Angelee, a collection of short stories and, of course, my pièce de résistance would clearly be The Buddha Head, a suspense thriller set in Ayutthaya in Thailand.

At the same time, I am at various stages of completion with three other books of non-fiction which have the working titles of Thailand from A to Z: Sports, Activities, and Martial Arts; 10 Destinations In & Out of Bangkok, and Archery from A to Z. Also, I have started work on The Ancient Sword, the second novel in “The Ayutthaya Trilogy,” which started with The Buddha Head.

Alright, now for some totally random, fun questions. Favorite color?
My favourite colour is blue, the kind of dark blue you get in the “real world” of The Matrix where the characters are unplugged. I am also attracted by the shade of green distinctive to a monochrome monitor, something I can relate to as I am old enough to remember what the first IBM computers looked like. Green is a colour that has great significance in The Matrix as it symbolizes the world of the machines. The Matrix digital rain, with its falling green code representing the virtual reality of the Matrix, is also on the background of the cover of my intertextual study The Matrix and the Alice Books.

Favorite movies?
Apart from the science fiction genre of which The Matrix is part of, I am increasingly interested in Chinese/Hong Kong film productions that succeed in portraying the history of China with a combination of excellent martial arts choreography, costumes faithful to the era described, all based in rather large sets. The fact that most Chinese martial arts flicks end with the death of the heroine and/or the main character, as opposed to the unrealistic happy ending style favoured by Hollywood films, is also something that really fascinates me.

Favorite meal?
Although I live in Thailand, I am not a gourmand but I rather believe in what Dozer in The Matrix told Neo during his first “real” meal on the Nebuchadnezzar, after Neo was unplugged from the Matrix. Referring to the rather disgusting-looking goo everyone was eating for breakfast, Dozer explained: “It’s a single celled protein combined with synthetic aminos, vitamins, and minerals. Everything the body needs.” So, as long as my food is healthy, not spicy and doesn't have a strong smell (another oddity of mine, as Thai food is famous for its spices), I eat anything. Having been brought up in Communist Romania, where food was not something you could pick and choose might also have something to do with me not having any specific favourite food.

You can have dinner with any 3 people, dead, alive, fictitious, etc. Who are they?
Now, imagine the tea party from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland where, alongside Carroll’s usual suspects, the March Hare – who is no longer hosting, as it’s now my own party! – Alice, the Dormouse and the Hatter. I would also invite Neo, Morpheus and Trinity who will hail in their shiny outfits from the real world of the Matrix. What a great party it would be, with Morpheus suggesting sending the Dormouse to the Oracle to find out why he kept falling asleep, and with Neo explaining to the March Hare that there’s nothing to fear as there’s no such thing as Time and so the Hare couldn’t have murdered it, regardless of what the Queen of Hearts declared.

Alice and Trinity would have a great time, sitting next to each other at the tea table, chatting away about the fun they had jumping from one world to the other, chasing white rabbits and being chased by sun-glassed agents of the System. Then, just when the Hatter starts asking his riddles, as if having all of them at the same table wouldn’t be enough of a riddle, out of thin air, the Cheshire Cat makes her appearance and informs all of us to down our cups of tea and put them back on the shelf as Agent Smith was on his way, ready to smash to smithereens every piece of china clay pottery he would come across. Agent Smith would seem very upset that Neo freed him from the bounds of the Matrix and, above all, that I did not invite him to the party!

Last question: How do you feel about self-publishing?
My very first book, The Spirit of Medieval Japan, appeared under the publishing wing of an NGO while dozens of my non-fiction articles and short stories were published in various academic journals and anthologies. Apart from public exposure, there was no monetary benefit. Among the books I have chosen to self-publish, The Matrix and the Alice Books has been the most successful financially. As a writer, to be paid for your writing is a huge reward. Now that one can read an e-book on an increasing score of gadgets, I think self-publishing is a positive way for writers to make their work available to a very large section of the public. And if the writer did their job properly, then they might even see a return on their investment.

That’s all from me, thanks so much for taking the time to stop by!
You’re welcome.

Voicu will be awarding at each stop to a randomly drawn, most engaging commenter, an e-copy of The Rage of a New Ancestor, a collection of short stories set in Asia, where Voicu Mihnea Simandan also has one contribution. A Grand Prize of a $10 GC will be awarded to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. So the more you comment, the better your chances of winning!

September 23: Sharing Links and Wisdom
September 24: Full Moon Dreaming
September 24 SECOND STOP Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
September 25: Sun Mountain Reviews
September 26:  Hope Dreams. Life... Love
September 27:  Rose and Beps Blog

Author Bio and Links:
Voicu Mihnea Simandan is a Romanian writer and freelance journalist who was born in 1978 in Arad, a small city in Transylvania. He has published short stories, non-fiction, and books for children. He has been calling Thailand home since 2002 and he has been a member of the Bangkok Writers' Guild since 2009 and a member of AP Writers since 2012. He is now teaching Language Arts and Social Studies at an international school in Bangkok. His upcoming debut novel, The Buddha Head, a suspense thriller set in Thailand, is scheduled for publication in late 2013. He loves archery, martial arts and travelling.

Buy links:

Kindle UK


  1. How interesting. What prompted you to tour with Goddess Fish? I find that they are mostly promoters of fiction books. To find a non-fiction such as yours on tour with them is quite unexpected.
    catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

  2. Sounds like a great read!!
    Thanks for the chance to win!
    natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com