‘We the People of the United States…’: The Matrix and the Realisation of Constitutional Sovereignty [Book Review]

In its enunciation of “We the people,” the Constitution of the United States of America becomes a constitution of the flesh as it simultaneously invokes a constitution, a nation and a people. Correspondingly, its amendments as a list of rights pertaining to sex and race discrimination, and freedoms of bodily movement and action, assert the Constitution’s authority through the evocation of “natural” human bodies. In this article, I explore the way in which a sovereignty of the United States’ Constitution is realised in the particularlised bodies of its citizens. The fundamental and foundational laws of the United States, and the narratives and myths used to interpret them, are in part rendered legitimate by the Constitution’s embodiment, which extends from its physical manifestation in written documents into the flesh of its citizens. In order to make this argument, I turn to the film The Matrix (1999), the success of which relies on an investment in bodies and the United States’ Constitution as matter through its interwoven narrative themes of human slavery and emancipation, reality and computer-generated simulation. At the same time, The Matrix extends its ideological play into the bodies of its audience, who experience the film’s thrillingly sensorial fantasies of constitutional rights while enjoying its affective special effects. Thus, the sovereign authority of United States constitutional law is experienced as “natural” through the phenomenological experience of cinema
Keywords Constitutions  Rights  Bodies  Cinema
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DOI 10.1007/s11196-010-9173-x
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Leviathan.Thomas Hobbes - 1651 - Harmondsworth, Penguin.
The Archaeology of Knowledge.M. Foucault - 1970 - Social Science Information 9 (1):175-185.

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