Damnit. Saw Matrix Reloaded tonight and I realised that in the brief, semi-obligatory reference to The Matrix in my thesis I wrote Mr Andersen when I meant Smith. Mr Andersen is what the evil sentient software agents call Neo. Agent Smith is the generic name of the infinitely replicable, evil, sentient, software agent. I can see how I made the error: the agents repeatedly say “Mr Andersen” whereas Neo hardly ever says “Smith”, so of course I associated the words Mr Andersen with the agents…

I wonder if they’ll lock me up if I change Mr Andersen to Smith in the 40 copies I have to make for university libraries around the country, when/if my thesis passes. I mean, just imagine the ignomy of having such a horrific pop-culture error in libraries for ever. I would never live it down.

Blogging the debacle seems the only way of living through this and keeping any remnants of honour I have left.

15 thoughts on “smith and andersen

  1. Lisa

    Perhaps this will be of some comfort:

    When I was still reading senior essays at Yale, one of my students worked really hard on a really brilliant study of William Carlos Williams’ epic poem about a certain town in New Jersey. Throughout this essay, which won a prize!, the author refers consistently to “Patterson.” Somehow, we both failed to catch that the town’s name is “Paterson” and so is the poem named for it!
    Foy.

  2. pericat

    hehehe! In my thesis, my drafts (for years!) had these little marks in one section that correlated those bits to parts in another section (linking the German to the English, basically).

    I intended to take them out. Honest, I did.

    (I’m not giving the degree back, no matter what anyone says.)

  3. Jill

    Oh, I’m so glad not to be the only one who’s made ridiculous errors 🙂

  4. Mark

    In Stephen Heath’s Questions of Cinema, he inadvertantly states that Veronica Cartwright’s character is the only survivor in Alien. A student has commented in the margin(and dated it – 1983!) with “this is wrong. The author is talking out of his arse, like the lecturers here.”
    And of course, that student would never have made any mistakes.

  5. Jon

    Smith – Andersen: De gutta har noe p gang; kanskje du ufrivillig har kommet med en profeti her 🙂

  6. Eirik

    But what you didn’t say, Jill, was whether you liked the movie or not. I saw it yesterday and was deeply disappointed. The script was far too long and chock full of quasi-philosophical platitudes, Reeves and Fishburne seemed bored and tired, and the CG effects were unimpressive. In fact, this limp sequel made me realize how flawed and illogical the original movie is.

  7. Jill

    Actually, Jon, my friend Frank just suggested that perhaps both Smith AND Andersen (aka Neo) are computer agents! What a terrifying idea, huh?

    And whether I liked it or not? Well, I had been prepared for the worst so I was actually quite pleased. The pseudo-philosophy was rather annoying and a lot more obvious than I remember it being in the first film. Probably the first film was, as you say Eirik, flawed and illogical but I fell totally for it. Not so much for this sequel. I loved watching the fighting with all the matter-bending stuff happening – though even that got a bit repetitive, and Neo fighting fifty Agent Smiths really did get rather silly.

    But heck, so it’s not Shakespeare, I’ll still be watching the next movie.

  8. chuck

    A similar story: a friend of mine who was writing a paper on The Sound and the Fury was running spell check and accidentally changed all references to Quentin Compson to Canteen Compson. I still haven’t seen “The Matrix” yet (other than brief flashes of images in my rearview movie at a drive-in theater), but I’ve been struck by the range of responses to the film.

  9. Thomas

    Well, if you made this error, probably more people will too… so you are just ahead of the curve, the first to put a common error into life. People who do research into errors in science will probably cry for joy when they find this “first” that will let them track the spread of this error. Or you could just cnclose an “errata” which would probably just make the thesis more interesting.

  10. Jill

    Canteen Compson! I’ve noticed that spell checks in Word try to change ergodic to regicide, which is quite amusing, in its way.

    An errata may be the way to go, yes. And I’ve already found a couple of people who swear they thought the agents name was Mr Andersen.

    Now I’m worried it might not be Andersen but Anderson.

  11. George

    You have to make 40 copies of your thesis for libraries around the country!?!?

  12. Jill

    Isn’t that normal?

  13. Magnus

    The movie’s website (http://whatisthematrix.warnerbros.com/) has a filmography of Keanu Reeves where his character in the Matrix-movies is listed as ‘Thomas A. Anderson/Neo’.

  14. George

    Re: 40 copies. I’m sure every system has its own requirements, but I had not heard of one where so many copies produced by the student were required. In the U.S., I believe it’s standard to have one copy (maybe two) in the library of the institution where you received your PhD, and then a commercial enterprise microfilms it. Anyone can buy a copy on microfilm or (usually) request a print copy from the library through inter-library loan. Requiring the student to make the 40 copies seems like an undue burden. You have my sympathies!

  15. Jill

    Oh, don’t worry, the university printers will do it for me, I just need to organise it! I don’t actually have to pay or anything. Thank goodness.

    And thank you, Magnus, for doing the research and checking out the Andersen/-son thing for me. I’ll have to thank you guys in the acknowledgements of the thesis, I reckon 🙂

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