“Cultural codes are references to a science or a body of knowledge; in drawing attention to them, we we merely indicate the type of knowledge (physical, physiological , medical, psychological, literary, historical, etc.) referred to, without going so far as to construct (or reconstruct) the culture they express.” — Barthes, S/Z.
1.Follow the white rabbit. The reference to Alice in Wonderland operates a literary cultural code developing an association between the unknown in the computer simulation and in the socialized narrative of Lewis Carroll’s ‘wonderland’. The drawn parallel places a familiar queue to help navigate the new notion of a computer generated reality and to situate Neo’s journey throughout the film. The revelatory in stance of
To retrieve the disk, Neo opens a hollowed copy of Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation.
This reference, though perhaps less recognizable, points to the film’s structural foundation in Baudrillard’s notion of a simulation, a copy without an original, the desert of the real. The way the reference is delivered, deliberately, with lighting precisely illuminating the title and nothing else, and the cinematography centring it within the frame also becomes a code worthy of examination. It recognizes the significance of the undisclosed body of knowledge, without it’s content.
“Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being or a substance. It is the generation of models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal. The territory no longer precedes the map, nor survives it…It is the real, and not the map, whose vestiges subsist here and there, in the deserts which are no longer those of the Empire, but our own. The desert of the real itself.”
— Baudrillard, Simulation and Simulacra.
The book is hollow – itself a simulation.