Sulphur, the Savior
Where there is a divider, a definer, there is a uniter. This is Vishnu energy. I made a lot out of Neo as Vishnu before, and his move from a sixth to the seventh incarnation. Vishnu is communion and wholeness, what makes clear that separateness — and choice — is an illusion. This is reiterated in Resurrections:
BUGS – The choice is an illusion. You already know what you have to do.
Wait, let’s take a second to talk about what’s meant by binary. Immediately preceding the line about choice and illusion is this:
BUGS – Oh, honestly, when somebody offered me these things, I went off on binary conceptions of the world and said there was no way I was swallowing some symbolic reduction of my life. And the woman with the pills laughed ’cause I was missing the point.
THOMAS – A little modal experiment…
JUDE – For Binary?
The sub-company that Thomas Anderson is working for is called Binary. This seems like a big deal. Then Thomas and Smith (I’m not sure he’s named otherwise) have this exchange:
THOMAS – I know Binary is over budget.
SMITH – This isn’t about Binary.
ANALYST – Maybe it’s not as binary as that.
And finally once more:
SMITH – I’ve been thinking about us, Tom. Look how binary is the form, the nature of things. Ones and zeros.
Where the creative impulse divides, like the separating of ores from slag or the brush on canvas making space for sea and sky, the sulphuric impulse connects. Binary is division. This isn’t about binary.
Unlike the first three films, who this is isn’t one person. In the first films, Neo very clearly played this role, the savior and uniter. But Thomas isn’t Neo anymore. He’s…just Thomas. He can’t fly. He can’t jump off buildings into the sky. (Well, some version of him maybe can, in a story in Bugs’ memory, but we never truly see that. In fact we see him probably falling.) His air energy is gone. Which is okay, because he’s got vulcan energy now instead. But we’re talking about Vishnu energy, sometihng else, the force of air, of the sky, and the person who flies in this movie is Trinity. She saves him from falling to his death. She is the impetus who gets Tom off his treadmill. She is the one who drives the Ducati. It’s not not Neo in Resurrections – he’s still Neo. It’s just not localized anymore. It’s “them.” (Cue going down the path of moving away from male into androgyny as much as you like. It’s a perfectly good path.)
Let’s go back to the story of Hephaestus. So there he is, Hephaestus, toiling and forging away, making incredible things in his workshop, but in his mind he’s constantly thinking about this other god, someone named Athena. He thinks: “She and I were meant to be together.” He knows this and can feel it in his gnarly, broken bones. It’s Athena or nothing. Nothing makes sense without Athena. Sounds binary doesn’t it? It’s her or nothing.
But Athena isn’t binary. Hephaestus tries to approach Athena and…it goes its own direction. Neither here nor there. Athena is like, “Nah, I’m good” yet somehow leaves the door open. There’s a novel called Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson that has this bit in it:
“Athena/Hephaestus is sort of an interesting coupling in that he is another technology god. Metals, metallurgy, and fire were his specialty – the old fashioned Rust Belt stuff. So, no wonder Athena gave him a hard-on! After he ejaculated on Athena’s thigh, she’s all eeeeeyew! and she wipes it off and throws the rag on the ground, where it somehow combines with the earth and generates Erichthonius. You know who Erichthonius was?”
Jizz in mythology is a stand-in for (male) energy. Somehow these gods are always getting off on each other, and it doesn’t mean that they’re doing anything sexual. It’s a transfer of vitality, which is a thing. Let me explain:
In god-king mythologies, the previous king has to be killed in his prime to transfer his full vitality to the new king. They’d literally pin the king to a tree and murder him, if that sounds at all familiar. There’s a very good reason in the Gospels why Jesus had to be sacrificed, on a tree, at 33 years of age. If he gets old, there’s no vitality to transfer. In some older stories, nobody has to be killed, although they often are, but there’s this separate strain of “wounded in the thigh” (i.e., sexually penetrated) or sometimes somebody just skeets.
In the trilogy-Matrix this is The One, who has to be sacrificed. The Matrix doesn’t work without that, the passing of strength from one generation to the next, keeping Morpheus’ religion alive. In Resurrections it’s not so different, it just takes on a new form. Neo and Trinity are sacrificed. Their energy; their connection.
But you know, Erichthonius. I wouldn’t say there is a character for this in Resurrections. Instead I would pin this on all of the crew of the Mnemosyne: Bugs, Lexy, Burg, Sequoia, Ellster, Cybebe, Octacles. In some versions of the myth Erichthonius was a baby entwined with a serpent, and in some he was simply the crafty snake itself. The product of what Neo and Trinity are, the transfer of their energy. Disobedient, not a number, not machines (even the ones that are machines), new and inventive.
The Matrix in every version is a timeless loop. I think one of the most pressing messages of all of these movies is whether you are present or removed. We visibly see them on the treadmill doing the same things over and over. The counter is: Are you present? Are you here? Breathe in, breathe out. Follow the breath. When Neo visits Zion he talks to the administrator about air. So does Neo and Niobe in Io. That’s what that means, being here in the now. And being here means being not in the timelessness of the treadmill-Matrix.
The creator-energy, the serpent-child of Neo and Trinity, is the breaking of time into pieces. Niobe gets old in the real world. It’s kind of cool that Tom and Trin get older too, because that means the Analyst’s intent to make everything static doesn’t hold. They get older anyway. Generations pass anyway. Invention and creation happen anyway.
This non-binary blended parent in Resurrections by its existence precipitates the interloper, the serpent, who breaks the null status into the field of time. They can’t not do this. Which is exactly why the Analyst keeps them apart.
And it’s them together that opens the door to the “complex good.” The simple good is to obey and be in the pod and generate electricity like a good battery should. But this is not a human life. We must throw that off, rebel, and reunite on our own terms. Remake the world.