Monday, June 09, 2003

Mark Twain wrote once that The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. A few days after I first arrived in Berkeley, someone told me that before I left here, I would hear those words many times, and she was right. It's an exaggeration, of course, but like all good Twain exaggerations it has enough truth in it to have some punch. It's a cool, breezy, overcast day, and I expect the rest of the week to be more of the same.

I saw Matrix Reloaded again yesterday. I originally wanted to see Finding Nemo, but could find nobody else who wanted to go. But Mike had not seen Matrix Reloaded, and I felt like getting out of the apartment for a while. I think I enjoyed it more the second time through, though I don't know that I would care to see it a third time. I caught some references I missed before, not to mention some background footage.

In particular, at the end of the movie when Captain Morpheus's ship Nebuchadnezzar was destroyed, he quotes I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream. The line completely passed me by the first time; I didn't even register it, probably because it was spoken relatively quietly. But I registered it this time, and sure enough, it's straight out of Daniel -- spoken by Nebuchadnezzar just before Daniel interprets his dream.

I may be comfortably agnostic by now, but early education and later study of the Bible proves to be very useful cultural background at unlikely times. There were other allusions, too, to classical mythology, Buddhism, and various other traditions. A lot of it is obscured by the action sequences and the more obvious fuzzy philosophizing of the main characters, though.

On the way home, I talked with Mike about some of those allusions. Mike commented that he vaguely remembered a book called Daniel existed, but didn't really remember it. He commented that he also thought the Bible was interesting from a literary and cultural perspective, but found the language differences between King James and modern English to be frustrating. I asked if he knew what the difference between thou and you actually was. It's the difference between second person singular and plural: thou refers to an individual, you refers to a group. Given the pre-eminent place of the King James translation of the Bible and of the works of William Shakespeare, I think it's remarkable that so few people remember the difference. I also think the invention of the Southern y'all is an ironic twist of linguistic history.

And now I think I should go think about some eigenvalue computations.