What’s The Matrix and the Alice Books about and why did you write it?
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 books did you love reading when you were growing up?
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.
If you could have a party and invite anyone, who would it be?
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!
What specific genre of books do you like?
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.
What’s your favourite 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.
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Genre – Non-Fiction/Movie Studies/Literary Criticism
Rating – G