Observations About Smith
Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 14:51:25 -0500
A lot of the points I have tried to make to people who have criticized the movie.
The last thing about neo having powers in the real world now being about spiritual enlightenment also can be tied to a physical ability as well. Neo touched the source of the Matrix programming. He touched the very core of the machines program that conducts the energy into them. He also had an awakening at the same time by the things the Architect told him. He has evolved. I think on a subconscious level he has begun to realize that the machines are run on human bio-electricity. In the real world he made the comment ‘its different now’. He seemed to be able to sense them and what they were doing. If his mind has been expanded a bit past that of a normal humans because of his interactions, it makes sense that even on a subconscious level he could now see and feel that bio-electricity in the machines as well.
…and Smith being able to download himself into a human in the real world was a huge hint that we are all just electricity based beings, so at our core we really are not all that different.
Incarnations of Neo
From: Enkral Ersheue (obfuscated)
Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 19:50:04 -0400
I’ve read your theories on the Matrix: Reloaded, and I must say I’m impressed :) I’d like to offer one bit of creative criticism regarding Neo’s “One-ness” and the fact that he throws a monkey wrench into the whole system. This revolves mostly around happenings in the first movie, and I don’t know if you’ve got a write-up on that one. That being said, I appologise if this is something you’ve already addressed and/or shot down.
The theory revolves around the first meeting between Neo and the Oracle, and his brief “death” during the last fight scene in the movie. This is the portion of your writings that fueled this idea:
“In the first movie, the Oracle tells Neo he is not yet The One. “I don’t know what you’re waiting for,” she says. “Your next life, maybe.” She isn’t talking about his fulfillment of the death-and-rebirth routine built into the Matrix. She is talking about the continually reincarnated Neo evolving into THE ONE, which is something she knows is bound to happen eventually.”
What if the “6th Neo” as you often referred to him, is in fact the 7th? Neo number 6, from the current version of the Matrix, got killed. He did what every other Neo before him did, tried and failed, just as predicted by the Arcitect, and to an extent the Oracle. This was all before he knew about Trinity’s love for him, before he truly understood what his being “The one” meant. Then he is kissed by Trinity in the real world, wakes up, and suddenly understands. I’m assuming that’s the next life the Oracle referred to was this waking up. Now you have Matrix v6.0, and a Neo that’s one step ahead of the game running around inside of it. Quite the monkey-wrench.
Furthermore, Agent Smith acknowledges your theory about the Machines not understanding by blatantly saying so… “I don’t get it, I watched you die.”
As for the “…what you’re waiting for…” remark made by the Oracle, perhaps it’s a realization given to Neo via Trinity’s kiss and his subsequent reincarnation. This is where my theory falls short… I have several thoughts swimming around in my head and they form a basic idea of what could have dawned on Neo at that moment, but I’m having trouble putting them to words.
Animatrix School (1 of 2)
From: “Vimal” <senteniment@NOhotmail.SPAMcom>
Date: Sun, 25 May 2003 01:31:50 -0700
I totally agree with what you’ve written and I’ve TRIED to explain it to my friends before I found your writings. It was so frustrating… “What if the end of the third movie is a scene at the beginning of the first? ohhh, wouldn’t that just be what sci-fi writers would do?” or “The so-called ‘real world’ is just another Matrix, how else could Neo stop the sentinels?” oh puhlease… I’ve always thought that you cannot pull the wool over the eyes of the audience with shit like that and have them pissed off at the end of the third movie. Another theory, that this whole thing was the transpirings of whoever creating the Matrix to first birth true AI… I won’t even start how that is flawed. If any of them had watched the Animatrix shorts, they would know that everything happened. The prehistory of the Second Renaissance, the themes of man giving machine choice to be with him or not. It was ALL there and I paid attention. I also paid attention to the movies. They would even ignore what the pivotal characters had to say, the counselor and others. There is a huge theme of man and machine. First man tried to control machine, now the machines are trying to control man. The way of the future lies not in control, but in choice. Choice vs. Control is a huge theme. Anyways, I don’t need to tell you all of this, what I really wanted to ask for was your thoughts on the no-longer-agent Smith. At the end of the first movie something happened, the tides turned. Smith, as an agent, spoke much of humanity’s virus-like attribute. Neo and Smith exchanged something and it freed Smith. Smith became a virus, literally. Neo gained something, too, as is evidenced by his ability to resist the virus takeover by Smith’s hand. I don’t know what else to think about Smith and Neo’s relationship. I don’t really understand Smith’s goal. As an agent, he wanted Zion to fall. So that he would never have to even look at a human. But now that he is a more free entity, what does he want. Obviously, it is the destruction/conversion of Neo, as he attempted it. I’m convinced that only after the third movie can we really know what the Wachowski brothers have in mind. One thing I’ve always felt about the “the real world is another matrix” theory.. there had better be people to save or the audience will be pissed. Also, if you watch the Animatrix, humanity falls from control. A side note, I’ve thought that the transpirings in the Matrix are all representations of what you SEE. It is all about hacking or “coding-on-the-fly.” My evidence for this is that programs are loaded into the human minds who enter the Matrix. Programs for fighting and other tasks. Also, the monitor screens with the flowing Matrix symbols and code. It looks like gibberish to us, but to those in the Matrix, they see things… trees, birds, chairs… it’s all there. The things the audience sees are representations of code and usage of the code rules. Neo can really hack, he is the best hacker and transcends all other hackers. Now I know it’s not to be taken THAT literal, but I think it’s very interesting to think about the coded world, as everything there is coded/has rules for behavior.
Animatrix School (2 of 2)
From: “Vimal” <senteniment@NOhotmail.SPAMcom>
Date: Sun, 25 May 2003 14:24:32 -0700
The Animatrix does not seem thematically related to the bigscreen movies because it has to do with everything that is not Neo’s story and it sets up Neo’s story and intertwines itself to that story. Even though it shows how that boy escaped and Neo led him out. It does keep on the same path that the boy chose to leave, even though he attributes it to Neo’s help, he did it himself. There is one particular Animatrix short that develops the idea that a captured machine can be given a choice and some do change their mind and become a part of the resistance. All that has a lot to do with what the counselor said to Neo. It’s also just another flavor and outlet for the Matrix series, high quality animation… redefining American standards. It’s too bad the game falls the shortest.
I hope there is a message in Revolutions that says that the One could have been any human… that it didn’t have to be just Thomas Anderson/Neo… any human being could have fit the role… and in that sense, it could have been anyOne… just that he chose that path. To me Neo did not irrationally choose Trinity over Zion when he chose the doors… he believed he could save everyone. But I think that in order to do that, he will have to sacrifice himself in the third movie. Persephone kind of gives a clue… she mentions her love for Neo and such and then says “but such a thing was not meant to last.” That could have been referring to Trinity’s death and rebirth, I’m not sure… but it’s vague enough for me to think and wonder about both, and wonder which is more significant.
From: Blarky Lufia (obfuscated)
Date: Mon, 2 Jun 2003 01:09:12 +0100
I watched the Matrix Reloaded tonight, came home Having LOVED the film,Found this online. Read the lot (and im not a big reader)And i just want to say, I thought it was amazing. I so enjoyed the read. Ithink you make some awesome points, not just about the film but about life.Youve really done your homework.
Take care dude
From: Hawain Ibidos (obfuscated)
Date: Mon, 2 Jun 2003 07:51:31 +0100
If the Architect is the founder and writer of the Operating System, then the Oracle is really Clippy, or if mainframes are your thing, the motto program on sign on.
The Architect refers to her as an “intuitive program” designed to understand certain parts of the human psyche. The Merovingian refers to her as the “Fortune Teller” – both in their own ways rather insulting references compared to the reverence in which she is held by the Zionites.
I think that’s what’s pissing off the Architect so much – he’s just rather offended that Humanity would reject his perfect system, and that the solution to the problem was suggested by Clippy. ;)
Code Download…and Chromosomes
From: Vanmiyama Vanmisarva (obfuscated)
Date: Mon, 2 Jun 2003 15:18:22 +0100
With regards to the confusion of how Neo can sense and EMP the sentinels inthe end.
If agent Smith has evolved and been able to download his avatar into andhack the human brain, based on your ‘inverse mirror’ theory, then would Neonot have demonstrated the inverse of this discovery in his own path toenlightenment/evolution.
Perhaps, when he entered the source in the Matrix, part of that code(remember, the very essence of the machines programming and rationale) wasunwittingly implanted, downloaded into his own brain. (This is not sosurprising, as programs such as fighting skills, were easily downloaded intoNeo’s mind in the first film) This has left him with a new surprisingresidual power to sense and interact with the sentinels, in the supposed’real’ world, which he demonstrates quite spectacularly at the end of thefilm.
That’s my take on it, form an objective point of view.
Oh, one more subtlety I picked up on.
When the Architect asks Neo to choose people from inside the Matrix. ‘All ofthe inhabitants of Zion will be exterminated and 23 new Matrix denizensawoken to take their place.’
The number 23 has significance, owing to the fact that it is the number ofchromosomes, in our DNA. In essence, he is cloning humanity again, muchlike a computer program.
Neo Is Not a Clone
From: Kinclay Tonik (obfuscated)
Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2003 09:48:11 +0100
In the section on that page called “The Matrix-in-Matrix theoryrevisited” you write:
“You ask why all the Neos look the same. We don’t have any directinformation about what the previous 5 Neos looked like — the videoscreens in the Architect’s chamber seemed to show exact copies, butit would have been very confusing if they had shown different peopleand left us to infer that they were all reincarnations of Neo. So I don’t believe they were clones.”
Right. But I don’t think they were the previous Neo’s either. For onething, there’s too many of them.
I got the distinct impression that the screens are showing all thepossible reactions of the current Neo to the information that theArchitect is telling him. The camera zooming in on a particular screensymbolises the current Neo choosing which path to take.
This is then particularly amusing for choice 3 or 4 where all thescreens have Neo saying “Bullshit”. Since this is in reaction to theinformation from the Architect about the threat to Trinity, I took thisas meaning that Neo’s choice there was much more instinctual — itdidn’t matter what path he took, his reaction to threats to Trinity willalways be the same.
No Architect, After All?
From: Chrobne Nepar (obfuscated)
Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2003 18:13:06 -0700
I agree with you almost entirely! Fantastic website! Truly wonderful.Well done on your interpretations – I think that they work absolutely…BUT!
The architect will NOT be returning. I agree that there was a’plain-as-day’ reference to a reunion between Neo and the Architect with theline: “If I were you, I would HOPE that we do not meet again.”. However,even though it would work so very well if they do meet again, I suggest thatyou review www.imdb.com and search Matrix Revolutions. You will notice thatthe Architect features at no point as appearing in the credits (-BUT (onceagain) that is only as of now – some things change, some things neverchange. (Like the reference?(!)))
Anyways, perhaps he will, but as of the official cast list today, it appearsthat he will not – but then he might – and that would be great, and then youwould be right!
I agree with you totally on the rave scene. But one more thing:
You mention Neo as the ‘Loki’ of the story. An interesting concept.However, I have personally maintained that, although I have not enunciatedit as clearly, the Matrix is the Heaven, and the Architect is the god-likeentity. The Agents are the ‘minions’ if you will of the system, (theHeaven), thus, the Fallen Angel (that would be Lucifer) is, in my view,Agent Smith. That is my thought. And here is another, the enemy, as Ithink you agree, is not the system. Now that Neo has changed his own path(free will, eh?!), the Matrix (system) is now becoming defunct. The enemyis Smith. In the ‘real’ world, of the film, the bodies of all of the humansgenerate the energy needed for the machines, regardless of the state oftheir minds. If Smith hacks all of them, and copies 6 billion versions ofhimself, then he has ultimately won the system’s ‘world’ for himself, and heis the sole resident of the Matrix. Thus, to avoid this ultimate evil, theprimary directive of the rebels while within the Matrix is to defeat him,and then take on the system.
And another FINAL thought: So, Neo destroyed sentinels in the real world.Does this mean that he is so incredibly powerful that he has truetele-kinetic powers in the real world (not only in his mind within theMatrix) or, perhaps more deeply, is he DIVINELY appointed? Assuming thatthere is a God, regardless of your or my own spiritual beliefs, wouldn’t hedo whatever needed to be done to re-establish man’s ability to survive, andto have power over his/her own divine gift of free will? Food for thought.
Neo is not a clone, revisited
From: West Stinger (obfuscated)
Date: Wed, 4 Jun 2003 18:14:17 -0700
I agree that your essay was probably as on point as on point could be.
I do have one minor difference in opinion:
But what I really think is happening, from a plot perspective, is that Neo is the one with prescience. We start the the movie seeing him have a precognitive dream about Trinity falling (and battling the agent, etc.). When the Architect shows those same images, he is only reading Neo’s mind. Neo is plugged into the Core of the Matrix at that point, and because of the mind-Matrix interface it should be fairly trivial for an advanced program like the Architect to read what is happening in any human’s mind. Each incarnation of Neo has obviously been given a choice, but the “personal” choice was not Trinity in the previous instances. It was something else. The Architect gets that “something else” by probing the mind of each Neo — it has to be what he wants most, after all.
I believe the screens in the Architect’s room were scanning Neo’s mind in the present time, rather than being a collection of choice-data from the previous Neos. This belief is based in the principles of reincarnation; one is not reborn as the same person. The spirit makes a transition from oneness/nothingness to another body in a new time to learn the lessons that will propel the spirit towards enlightenment. This is a true rebirth, rather than a cloning or replication of the original Neo.
With that argument in mind, Neo’s replication is less likely because of The One’s religious significance in Zion. According to your essay, with which I agree, Neo is the 7th incarnation of the One (I’m sure you know the significance of 7, both theological and of numerology). I believe that if each time Zion was destroyed and rebuilt with 23 people, one of those generations would have eventually been able to make some sort of historical record describing or depicting The One’s appearance. It isn’t as though humanity completely reverts to the social level of cavemen with each rebuilding, and even primitives drew pictures. Illustrating The One surely would have made the search easier…
While it’s possible the Architect designed some control to keep The One from ever being illustrated, I think it’s more likely the story of the Matrix adheres to the traditional themes of reincarnation. It is possible The One was at one time black, asian, female, or whatever, as long as the archetypes in the story remain present in the story.
So then, it is possible the Architect was scanning Neo’s mind and displaying the results on his screens. I believe it’s more likely The Architect could also have been running simulations of the Matrix to predict probability. It’s likely a combination of the two: both scanning his mind and running simulations, would be meant to get a fix on all the possibilities behind the choices Neo was empowered to make. Notice during the dialog between The One and the Architect the screens all seemed to be saying something different from each other until one point when they emphatically agreed (when Neo said “Bullshit!” ? I’ve only seen it twice :D ). Neo’s lack of hesitation and commitment to his purpose would be illustrated therein, leaving no probability for an alternate response. As the Architect responded, “Denial is the most predictable of all human responses.” The Architect’s statement is what seals the deal for my belief that his screens measure probability and attempt to account for all possibilities in the matrix.
From: smiddlej (obfuscated)
Date: Thu, 5 Jun 2003 17:25:33 US/Eastern
Considering the depth and breadth of your essay, I’m sure you are receiving considerable mail. Given that, I will try to be as succinct as possible.
First, thanks for the excellent treatment of this subject. I have been scouring the Internet for enlightenment, and so far, your treatise has been the most insightful.
I agree with you on the dismissal of the matrix within a matrix theory. Although some of your arguments can be debated, the driven factor in discounting it is the storytelling. Not only would it make most of the first two movies irrelevant, this type of story has been done before, and in fact, quite recently. “The 13th floor” was released the same year as “The Matrix” and uses this same type of plot twist. This type of ending for a trilogy would make the viewers feel angry and cheated. The W brothers are not going to do that because they want they’re movies to stand out as original and monumental. The same goes for the theory that Neo wakes up at his keyboard at the end of M3. How Charles Dickens can you get?
That said, I have some scientific issues with the movie. Perhaps this should be written off as a “suspension of disbelief” issue, but if we are going to get into heavy philosophical analysis of these movies, then I think the also look equally in depth at the technical sense. Besides, does this not deal with physical vs metaphysical, emotion vs logic, concrete vs abstract, Neo vs Smith?
My main difficulty is with the timing involved with the reloading of the matrix and the rebirth of Zion. The history of the current Zion only goes back 100 years. The Architect indicates that Zion starts out with 23 people. I don’t believe this small group of people could achieve the complexity of the city of Zion in that amount of time. Given that “the One” liberated them from the previous matrix, they would probably spend years just trying to learn to survive (food, shelter, clothing). Then they would have to develop technology to allow them to find their way into the Earth. This would require them to develop metallurgy and manufacturing to build their own sophisticated technology. And what about a source of power? Isn’t the matrix the only significant power source left besides the earth’s core? They would also have to quickly figure out a way to tap into the matrix to liberate other humans to build their population. Twenty-three people are not enough accomplish the complex task ahead of them. The technology they use to “plug” into the matrix is not something that would be created overnight.
You might purport that they somehow steal the machines technology and use it to build Zion and tap into the Matrix. The problem with that is that these are people with the intellectual development of the late 20th Century. Even if “the One” chooses the most intelligent people from the Matrix, they are still only have the technology knowledge of our time, whereas the machines have had likely hundreds of years to advance. It would be like bringing the Wright Brothers to the present and, without any training or manuals, asking them to fly and maintain the Space Shuttle.
I suppose you could the argument that the technology that they ‘liberate’ is so sophisticated that it requires little knowledge to operate or maintain. This might tie into the Councilor Hamann’s dialogue with Neo on the Engineering level. “Almost no one comes down here, unless, of course, there’s a problem. That’s how it is with people – nobody cares how it works as long as it works”. It’s really hard to swallow, though, because no matter how sophisticated something is, there must be someone who knows the intricate details of its function. I suppose Neo and perhaps even the chosen 23 might be given that knowledge before they leave the Matrix.
Again, perhaps I’m spending way too much time on this aspect. It just seems a little far-fetched without an explanation. Perhaps we will get one in M3.
I have a few theories that keep running around my head that I will mention. Perhaps you can give me your thoughts on them.
Other than the sentinels, we see no other machines outside the Matrix. No higher power (as of yet). I consider the sentinels drone workers that simply maintain and protect the Matrix. It makes me consider the possibility that the Matrix is the integration of machine and man. That is, the matrix was created not so much as a power source for the machines as it is a “hive” that allows both man and machine (AI) to continue to survive.
I think there are machine spies planted in Zion, other than Smith. The Councilor might be one. The boy who liberated himself from the Matrix may be another. Perfect android representations of humans. Or perhaps humans that have been simply programmed to work for the machines. Their purpose: to ensure the prophecy is kept alive and the One fulfills his programming. If there are controls in the Matrix to ensure Neo moves toward the Source, must there not also be controls outside the Matrix. Consider: Councilor Hamann allowed Morpheus leave Zion with his ship against Lock’s wishes. The Councilor also speaks of the mutual dependence of man and machine.
Theory of mind
From: Fieldkam Smarke (obfuscated)
Date: Fri, 6 Jun 2003 08:17:33 -0700
The concept of a virus (Agent Smith) within the Matrix program makes senseto me. However, I am having some problems assimilating how an Agent Smith could somehow ‘take over’ the body of someone in the real world.
I seems to me that for this to work the Wachowski’s have to assert that themind is somehow completely separate from the physical brain (and nervoussystem) and that therefore when your ‘mind’ is in the Matrix someone elsecan ‘take over’ your body. Thoughts?
I understood from the first movie that all the plugs and head-socketsfunctioned to interfere with a human’s perception of the world around themand substitute machine-generated impulses and senses. If you ‘died’ in theMatrix your actual brain and body died too since the simulation was socomplete. I thought the ‘mind’ was still in the ‘brain.’ But it is one thingto dupe the brain a la ‘virtual reality’ and quite another to completelyco-opt the brain and effectively ‘possess’ that brain and body. This seemsto be what Agent Smith has done.
If so, forget the digging Sentinels. Agent Smith has done what theMatrix/Architect could only dream of doing: making humans true batteries,with virus programs running their brains and bodies and obviating the needto dupe them to keep them alive. If the Matrix/Architect can duplicate AgentSmith’s capabilities then the game is up.
On the other hand, if Agent Smith’s power is some sort of mystical Neo-likeability then I suppose the Matrix/Architect can never copy it. Maybe Neo isa human demi-god and Agent Smith (all the thousands of him) is a machinedemi-god.
Architect knows all
From: Thundsey Everfound (obfuscated)
Date: Fri, 06 Jun 2003 17:25:57 -0400
I very much enjoyed your analysis of the Matrix Reloaded. I also don’t like the matrix in a matrix theory and look forward to reading your thoughts on that.
I disagree on some of your points regarding the Architect though.
When I first watched the Architect scene, I came to exactly the opposite conclusion as you. That is, I felt that the Architect understood exactly what was going on and not only expected Neo to return to the Matrix, but that he actually wanted Neo to destroy the human race and with it the source of his frustration.
Now granted, that scene is so dense on the first viewing that I may have focussed on the wrong parts. But after reading the Architect scene transcription and seeing the movie a second time, I still think the Architect anticipated Neo’s reaction.
After explaining the programmed function of the One, etc., the Architect offers up the alternative which results in the extinction of the human race.
Neo: “You won’t let it happen, you can’t. You need human beings to survive.”
Architect: “There are levels of survival we are prepared to accept. However, the relevant issue is whether or not you are ready to accept the responsibility for the death of every human being in this world.”
This at least would seem to indicate that the Architect is prepared for either choice that Neo might make. Also during this scene we see that each iteration of Neo has progressed closer to the choice that Neo makes this time around. Or at least Neo comes to a quicker understanding of the situation.
Later in the scene:
Architect: <describes the doors etc.> “As you adequately put, the problem is choice. But we already know what you’re going to do, don’t we? Already I can see the chain reaction, the chemical precursors that signal the onset of emotion, designed specifically to overwhelm logic, and reason. An emotion that is already blinding you from the simple, and obvious truth: she is going to die, and there is nothing you can do to stop it.”
This doesn’t sound like the Architect is thinking that Neo is going to choose to save Zion.
This scene reminded me of the critical scene in the first movie where Neo finally believes in something, that is, he believes that he can rescue Morpheus from the agents. And later when Trinity says “no one has ever done something like this before” and Neo responds “that’s why it is going to work.”
Once again, Neo is trying something that has never been done before and he believes that he will succeed.
Evil, motives, and theology
From: Hargill Mosta (obfuscated)
Date: Fri, 6 Jun 2003 20:21:24 -0600
Thanks! You now have a series of devoted followers at SMOGROB (obfuscated)! Seriously, your paper is excellent and that excellence is recognized by everyone I have passed the paper to. Your analysis of the Rave sequence was outstanding and has made many converts.
Your take on the Architect is interesting (e.g. Odin figure) but I would argue that given the Wachowski Bros. interest in theology that he (the Architect) is actually representative of Satan, Lord of this World. If you consider that the Architect is apparently preeminent in his “world”, but in fact is limited by that very world (and was put there by a “higher power” [e.g. Man as creator]) and will theoretically be cast down (or turned off) by the same “creator” I think the analogy holds. I thought it typical of the Wachowski’s sense of subtlety to visually portray Neo as diabolic in appearance, while giving the Architect a sort of Old Testament-ish “daddy-in-the-sky” look while the actual roles are reversed. My only cavil with how it was handled was that I was hoping Christopher Walken would have got the role. =)
It seems to me that Neo, while possessing Christ-like attributes, is actually more of a bodhisattva-esque character. True, he is offering redemption of a sort (although it’s not clear to me that the Matrix is meant to imply sin, merely bondage), but the overall thrust of his character is to literally “free the minds” of those enslaved to Mara (i.e. illusion). I’m not sure that from what I’ve seen so far that I could make a viable argument for more.
With regard to your analysis of Agent Smith’s character, esp. with regard to murder-as-possession, well, I’m not so sure. I’ve spent 20+ years in federal law enforcement investigating deaths (among other things) and one of my office mates is a retired FBI profiler (was at the BSU at Quantico for part of his career) so I feel a little comfortable commenting on motives (though I’ll be the first to admit that people continue to surprise me). If you refer to *serial* killers, then I would agree- but is Smith a “serial” murderer? I agree that he is obsessed with Neo and would like to terminate him, possibly out of a revenge motive for making him “human” or “human-like”, but I think it’s more likely that he wants to destroy Neo precisely because he knows (balls to bones ) that he can NEVER be human. I think he’s envious/jealous more than disgusted. THis might also put him in the Satan role (as an extension of the Matrix/Architect/etc.
I would also disagree about your interpretation of evil being relative or contextual. This is most likely due to my belief in an independent moral standard which presupposes a hard line between good and evil. I think Darth Maul was evil because he sought to dominate others through exercise of force. Not in response to a threat, but because he sought power for power’s sake- remember the old saw? “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (or words to that effect). Both a Christian world view and a Buddhist one will agree on this point at least- domination of another is wrong- we’re s’posed to help others (which leads to some interesting thoughts about the Oracle/Keymaster and other AIs…)
Your observation about Smith becoming “compatible” with human wetware was very inspired. For those that still have a problem with that aspect, recall that in The Matrix, Neo is offered the “red pill or blue bill”- he “swallows” the red pill- Not! It’s code! He didn’t swallow anything, but did assimiliate something that beaconed his position. So already there is precedent that “code” can interact with human biology on a physical level. Of course, I suppose you *could* argue that the “pill” may have only affected the software that flushed Neo down the drain, and not Neo’s physical person directly…. not as elegant though (IMHO).
Your comments about Neo’s “mirror” made me immediately think of Jung’s Shadow. But it also tripped me onto a visual pun that I had never considered. Recall in the Matrix when Morpheus is offering Neo The Choice? Neo takes the red pill and they go to the equipment room where they attempt to trace his location- he touches the mirror, gets sort of absorbed before he’s *through* it and on his way out of the Matrix. He went “through the looking glass” literally! Pretty nice after all the Lewis Carrol allusions…
FWIW you’re absolutely right IMHO about the implied and necessary (and necessary) synergy with the machines. Neither can survive in their present “broken” world without the other. In one sense at least, Neo offers the world “redemption” by making the severed halves whole.
From: Salinker Rejus (obfuscated)
Date: Sat, 7 Jun 2003 11:46:34 +0300
Hi, great essay. Thanks!
My question relates to time within the Matrix. We know from Agent Smith in the first film that the Matrix underwent a previous incarnation that was too perfect, which necessitated the creation of a new Matrix that was set in the late 20th Century. However, even within the Matrix there is a linear notion of time. This cannot be played around with without producing noticeable consequences. The black cat in ‘The Matrix’ shows disruptions to the Matrix defined as a concept of déjà vu.
At the same time, as became clear from the conversation between Neo and the Architect, the greatest moment of discovery for the creators of the Matrix was that there was a need for free-choice. The vital element of free-choice means that humans can behave as humans, but it also means that humans cannot be inherently controlled from within the Matrix beyond the general rules applicable to the world in which we live and which the non-free humans abide by. Humans can be eliminated, they can be co-erced by overall conditions, but cannot be controlled directly from within their minds. As a result of free-choice, and ability to take autonmous decisions. Therefore, even within the Matrix, there is progress – even if it is an artificial progress.
If one adds the notion of progress to the fact that there is still a linear notion of time, then one must say that time and technology advance within the Matrix. We know, again, the the late 20th century was deemed to be an ideal time in human history for the Matrix to be generated around, but the Matrix cannot hold back time, nor can it hold back progress. The Matrix must necessarily move beyond its optimum period. Is Neo the safety valve against time? If so, the window for each successive iteration of the Matrix must be relatively short in human terms! Two or three decades in all probability. This would also hark back to the notion (paraphrased for your analysis): Reality cannot be an open ended simulation as an open ended simulation must be reality!
As a related point to the above: This timeframe would tally well with Morpheus’s time line guesstimate of the year in the Matrix.
But then this would suppose that this is either luck, it is given to them somehow, or else there is some means for the inhabitants of Zion to retain a successive institutional memory of their own previous rebirths. It would seem too neat to make it the first option. The second option is the most plausible, but would indicate a high level of control by the machines over Zion – even lend credibility to the Matrix-within-the-Matrix thesis. (However, the turtles all the way down theory is too easy a solution and ultimately unsatisfying, as you yourself seem to feel!)
The last view, that there is an institutional memory of sorts, is certainly credible. But if this is the case it would indicate an understanding of the fate that has befallen them in the past and is likely to happen again! While this would suggest a pre-determinism that is antithetical to the underlying philosophy of human free-choice, it need not be a paradox insofar as the karmic wheel can be squared with the essential human trait of hope that things can be different, the fundamental starting point for the expression of the free-will that is so prominent in Reloaded. Free-will in a karmic circle leads to different outcomes and this provides hope of eventual salvation. So important is this idea that it may well be the actual corner-stone of Zion. This would explain why Morpheus gained respect for his position, despite the opposition from Commander Lok, in front of the Council. It is also important to note that the Council did not order any captains to go on their mission. They asked for volunteers. Councillor West is the proponent of the free wil philosophy.
More to the point, given that the existence of free-will is a necessary and sufficient condition for the good health of the Matrix, and that the basic and fundamental parameter of the successful implementation of the current iteration of the Matrix resides on a notion that finds its greatest strength in Zion, it becomes the case that to the machines it is not the Matrix that needs to be protected at all costs, it is Zion!
This also lends credence to the notion that reality is needed for the successful implementation of a simulation modelled and built on the parameters of reality.
By the way, as a comment, I do not think enough attention has been given to Counsellor Hamann and his role. It would be interesting to get some thoughts on this matter. My own view is that he is more important than is perhaps realised. His voice of reason regarding the natural and necessary symbiosis between man and machine appears to be the echo that of the Oracle.
Link to the Bard
From: Waxworks (obfuscated)
Date: Sun, 8 Jun 2003 20:05:40 EDT
Without attempting to be clever, let me first just say thanks for working to think through your impressions.
I love the idea that humans and machines will learn to evolve together. It renews the sense of moral and spiritual uplift that runs through the Matrix films, and (in my opinion) all great art. Again (to explain) I do not mean uplift in a “happy ending” sense: Great tragedies may end sadly, and be the most uplifting of all possible art – witness Lear, or Hamlet. Shakespeare (and Puccini?) are among the greatest uplifters ….
I think The Matrix and Reloaded are about the mystical paradox: As Hamlet claims, “there’s a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them as we will.” In one line, Shakespeare at least states the facts, if he does not give us the quantum-mechanical, relativistic answer. But as Shakespeare’s characters purify their souls in the fire of HIS matrix, and eventually are sufficiently “poor in spirit” to be worthy of entry into the kingdom of heaven (to frame the process of death/rebirth in the medieval terminology of Shakespeare’s art), so also seeks the Matrix to provoke us to immerse ourselves in the paradox. What am I? Where am I? Why am I here?
From: Rabius Izarius (obfuscated)
Date: Mon, 9 Jun 2003 13:53:30 -0700
Excellent work; very interesting read. I’m pleased to see someone talk about the rave scene, as I’ve also thought it had greater significance than some have given it. Personally, I was reminded of the “drummers” from Neal Stephenson’s “The Diamond Age;” wonder if that thought had occurred to you as well.
Other random thoughts — I got the sense that perhaps Zion + the Matrix is the only system that humans have ever existed within, i.e. there was never a real human history that led up to the creation of the machines and the matrix. (Now this is somewhat refuted by the Animatrix). One hint for me was the notion that ghosts, werewolves, aliens etc. are all exiled programs. Since the supernatural has always been a part of recorded human history, it would seem to argue for the idea that all human history has taken place inside the matrix. I.e. since exiled programs don’t seem to be a desired state, ghosts, werewolves, etc. are not intentionally being modelled in the same way that birds, weather, etc. are. So if there was a “real” history prior to the matrix, did that include a “real” supernatural? Doesn’t seem likely.
I’m curious to see your essay about all of reality being a simulation, because I think that’s where I’m leaning as well.