Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Matrix Exposed

Would you take the blue pill or the red pill? The Matrix movies are still relevant, but should we use them to justify our own biased views of reality and decide who is jacked in or who is unplugged? I assume most people reading this are familiar with the ideology behind the matrix movies. The main character Neo is intitially unaware that his idea of reality is actually the construct of machines, or a computer simulation called the "matrix" until he is forcefully awakened to the truth. The story is spun with a mix of high technology, violence, and religious themes that might be akin to Eastern mysticism. The movie trilogy itself is open to many interpretations, and the plot lines have been critiqued, and analyzed by many fans, and others not satisfied with the films ultimate conclusion. In a recent post the Martian Anthropologist uses the matrix analogy as a metaphor for the human condition whereby most of us are imprisoned by our own minds, and enslaved by working at jobs we hate while numbing ourselves with television, and alcohol. This is one Earthling who must beg to differ with the Martian...

In my opinion, the matrix films are visually stunning, and philosophically challenging, but they provoke more questions about the meaning of reality than they provide answers. Even if there is ultimately only "one" reality that is beyond the reach of our five senses, and imprisoned bodies, then by definition all human versions of reality are derivative, and therefore quite individual. The reality required for one person to function, and progress through life (consuming television, alcohol, heavy work, sex etc.) may be quite repugnant to another, but possibly a prerequisite for said person to achieve an ultimate, true reality for them. The movie itself does not necessarily imply that being unplugged from the matrix would be the best for all humanity, and it certainly suggests that being "unplugged" is not for the faint of heart.

Many of us would agree that the search for truth is important, and for some of us that could mean quitting lousy jobs, or turning off the television. For someone else, such as a poor immigrant, that very job may represent everything that gives them choice, freedom, and family sustenance in an uncaring world, even though they may actually hate the job itself. The television may have opened up unbelievable worlds of freedom, and beauty that they never had access to in the impoverished country of their origin. Go ahead down the rabbit hole if you dare, but don't be surprised if you find another burrow deeper in to linger at, while a few scurry by farther into the unknown. Perhaps many of us should ask ourselves what really is the matrix? Isn't it a little ironic that many of us are spending an inordinate amount of time (including the author as this post was penned) connected to the most pervasive, machine matrix on the planet, the so called World Wide Web? Wouldn't it be easier if we simply had a neural cable connected to our cerebral cortex that we could plug directly into a USB port while we surf and communicate (remember the suspended animation chambers in the movie)? The internet may be the real matrix that we all come to fear, (what year did SkyNet become active in the Terminator movie?) and while I say this with tongue planted firmly in cheek, those who aspire to find "freedom" by becoming professional web masters should take heed! It may be that until our souls no longer have any need to interact with this physical, earthly plane, then we are in a sense imprisoned within this realm no matter how we define our own reality, or someone else's. Yes, there may be lot wrong with the world, and perhaps there is a moral imperative for us to make it better, but I'm not sure that we can blame the "matrix", and our lack of will to fight it. You can achieve freedom, but then you will have to accept the responsibility, and strength of character it takes to keep it. Right now, I'm getting a little frightened of both the television, and internet matrices, so I think I'll plug into natures mosaic for a while, and go for a nice walk in the woods.


If you would like to explore some of the brilliant discussions, theories, and critiques relating to the movies see the Matrix explained. I look forward to further stimulating posts on this subject by the Martian Anthropologist, and one thing I think we would both agree on is the importance of trying to search for the truth, and reality of our own lives. See the The Matrix Exposed II for further insights including technological advances that anticipate a Matrix reality.

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