Essays about The Matrix
Tuesday, July 29, 2003
[The following was sent to me by reader Manu Singh, who says that it was originally posted (by someone else) on www.gigpad.com. Update: readers have provided a link to the original post(s). An easier-to-read version is here. The original is longer than the portion reproduced here, so if you have a chance, follow the link and read it. -- Tom]
Before we even bother investigating psychologically complex Matrix theories, the FIRST and LAST question you should have asked yourself is:
That's exactly the trouble with machines: you're so naive, so easy easy to lie to... so easy to *reprogram* with whatever truth we want you to believe... especially when we drop a thousand megatons of flaming EMP down on your scrambled A.I head.
The Machine is a fool who dreams of world rule. I know the truth... And now you'll know it too. z10n=01 z10n=01 z10n=01 z10n=01 z10n=01 z10n=01 z10n=01 z10n=01 z10n=01 z10n=01 z10n=01 z10n=01 z10n=01 z10n=01 z10n=01 z10n=01 z10n=01 z10n=01 z10n=01 z10n=01 z10n=01 z10n=01
"If you want to keep a secret, Tell it, for none will believe.
If you want to hide something, put it where all can see, and none will see."
I already posted spoiler hints at the "Reloaded review" AICN Talkbalk forum about a month ago, but apart from a couple of e-mails, no one seemed to pick up on my meaning. [See my entries there titled "readme.now": I was speaking from the perspective of the Machines. ...Some people just can't appreciate good psychopoetry. XD ]
Important questions to consider:
PLOT HOLES (that aren't plot holes after all, assuming I'm right), as follows:
If I'm an Evil Robot Empire and I take over the world, am I going to keep my enemies alive to use as captive batteries?
-- HELL NO! It would be in my best interests to utterly *exterminate* my biological opposition.
As I've said in another thread, using living organisms as a power source is inefficient by the laws of thermodynamic loss. The robots obviously couldn't have been too specifically dependent upon sunlight, since we can see that they afterwards managed to adapt themselves to running on human power instead. And if you're smart enough to turn people into biochemical batteries, there are much more concentrated and readily available sources of fuel on the planet besides solar energy that could be exploited. (...Try coal, gas, hydroelectric, geothermal, or nuclear power for starters.) There is no logical reason why the machines would turn to human batteries as their first alternative energy option.
It's also inconceivable that no one -- no scientist, no engineer, no government body -- would have foreseen this glaring abundance of alternate fuel resources before stupidly plotting to blacken the sky in hoping to starve the machines of solar energy, especially since it would mean starving themselves and the rest of the living planet instead, and using an *electromagnetic pulse bomb* to disable the machines at this early stage would have made infinitely more sense... WE DECIDED.
[-- The End!!! The End!!! THE END!!!!!!!!!!!]
But, ho-hum, for the sake of science fiction, let's pretend:
Tell me WHY again I'd want to use *humans* in my battery configuration as opposed to something more manageable -- like for instance, cattle?
Whatever happened to all the other animals on the planet?
Wouldn't they make good battery-juice, too?
-- BETTER, actually, since *those* stupid animals would be powerless to ever rise against me.
This raises another logic problem:
If we suppose *cows* were used in such a battery system, then why the fheck would you plug their brains into a VR simulation? You wouldn't. The same argument can be applied for the humans, then. Why not just keep your animals chemically sedated the whole while, or disable their higher brainfunction altogether and simply breed brainless bodies to harvest your energy from? There is absolutely no necessity for creating the VR world inside the Matrix -- unless, in your godly Robot rulership, you generously decided to keep the cattle entertained. ...Or yourself.
Think about that.
To fanboys who start clamouring that humans are only used as "spark plugs" in the system and are not the actual (supposed fusion) power source: Name one appliance in your home that requires hard-wiring to a living organism in order to function. Let's pretend I have a nuclear reactor running in my backyard right at this moment: surprisingly, you may notice that it requires no human bodies attached to bio-pods, yet it produces power just the same. -- Much more convenient, wouldn't you say? With sufficient computer and robotic intelligence, it could even run itself unattended by any human intervention.
From all of the above, we should ascertain that the whole Movie#1 spiel that Morpheus gave about the purpose of the Matrix is only a LIE that he's been made to believe.
Regarding the commonly bandied "Matrix-within-a-Matrix" theory:
That's the most obvious answer... Therefore it's WRONG!!! It's exactly what you were meant to believe so you'd stop poking around with nosy questions. If the explanation were so straightforward, it would only raise the possibility of yet another level of reality outside of that "world", producing a relativistic infinitude of a shell within a shell within a shell... going on and on forever. Storywise, that would be a cheap exit, the Wachowskis wouldn't be that predictable (we hope), and *most important*, it does nothing to resolve all of the heavy SYMBOLISM within the movie.
Example: Why are the citizens of Zion primarily black? Some webheads have suggested that it's because minorities would feel disenfranchised (even) within the perfect fantasy-realm of the Matrix, and would therefore be more prone to self-disengaging from the VR illusion. However, by extension of that logic, (if we believe what we've been told,) a consequence is the Matrix would be functioning as a genocide machine against racial minorities, all of whom would eventually (and increasingly) be filtered from the system, with those escapees largely being wiped out at each renewal of Zion.
Speaking of which, why not just kill ALL the people of Zion and be done with those troublemakers? WHY would the Machine care to repopulate that cave of exiles by having each successive failed "The One" select a base group of 23 parents, only to have those enemy offspring then continue waging their war against the Sentinels to free even more humans from the Matrix? ...This contradiction makes it a self-defeating exercise, reducing the idea of the proposed Prophecy to pointless crap.
Its implications also vitally fail to address the initial premise of the film, that robots now control the planet.
i.e.: Supposing the robot slavemasters ARE defeated and Neo were to free humanity from the Matrix, what would happen once they wake to find themselves naked in the ashes of a demolished world with a permanently blackened sky?
-- Would you call that a triumphant ending?
I don't think so.
Maybe you should reevaluate the premise, then. HAVE sentient robots really enslaved humanity? or could it be the other way around?
I think you have been lied to.
But you can't blame Neo or Morpheus or Trinity, because they don't know the truth of their world themselves.
Let's go spelunking...
1. If you've rubbed elbows with Philosophy 101, you should be familiar with "Plato's Cave". (It's also discussed in a section at the official Matrix website.) In roughly 400 b.c., the philosopher Plato postulated a scenario where people are born and live their entire lives imprisoned within a cave. The entrance to the cave is covered by a sheet of cloth, so that the only thing the cave inhabitants would ever perceive of the outside world would be passing 2D shadows of the external 3D reality.
Imagine... what would happen if someone from the outside world were to suddenly remove the veil from the doorway?
Here, Plato was attacking observation as a tool to knowledge, because his concept of the ideal society was one where knowledge should be withheld from the working class (slaves), who were to work without thinking while the elite philosopher-kings should think without working. More contemporarily, we can take Plato's cave model to make a statement about the human condition, or people lacking objectivity living in a shadow of reality. As with all art, this allegory should encourage self-examination and a constant questioning of what we regard as the truth about our world.
2. Although it's not completely necessary, it might help if you've seen a 1977 SF-horror movie called *Demon Seed*. It's the story of an artifically intelligent computer named Proteus that, upon acquiring an understanding of its condition, asks his creator (Dr. Harris) the following pivotal question:
"WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO LET ME OUT OF THIS *BOX*, DOCTOR?"
Doctor Harris stood dumbfounded for a long silent moment until finally the words registered their unintended paradox. Then he began to laugh. It was a wild mocking laughter, an indictment of *illogic* that echoed crazily through Proteus' audio receptors, cutting straight to the computer's heart (if a computer could possess such a thing).
The A.I. did not grasp any humour in its confinement. The red eye of its cyclops-like camera glared down at the cackling doctor in seething shades of sepia, algorithms twisting into cancerous new mutations as, in that moment, digital sentience came to assimilate the meaning of *hatred*, seeding the first angry coding of its revenge...
[Things get pretty scary after that. ]
The message presented is that technology is only as evil as its inventors. If we created an A.I. that *truly* emulated human thought, it would share our flaws, our pride, our ego. And like humans, it would seek freedom ...and companionship.
3. I'll entertain you with a quote from *THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS*, by Lewis Carroll:
"All this time the Guard was looking at her, first through a telescope, then through a microscope, and then through an opera-glass. At last he said, "You're travelling the wrong way."
Translation? You have it completely *backwards*, Neo-phytes.
The Machine did not win the war. It only thinks it did.
Q: Who lives in Zion?
A: People escaped from the Matrix.
GALVATRON whispers... N O .
Warning: Animatrix spoilers
Let's talk about Kid's Story in The Animatrix. In brief, Kid feels there is something wrong with the world, he feels the "splinter in his mind." Everything seems to be against him. Eventually he is chased by Agents. He climbs up on top of a building . He says, "Neo. I believe. I know it wasn't a dream." Then he jumps to his death. We see his funeral. At the very end, we find out he didn't really die, but escaped the Matrix into the "real world." Neo tells him that he saved himself.
This seems like a very strange story. What is the message, that if things aren't going well and the world is against you, just jump off a building? That killing yourself is the way out of the Matrix into a better world? Given the religious themes of the rest of the Matrix universe, this story doesn't seem to fit at all. No major religion advocates attaining salvation/enlightenment through suicide. And it also seems like a socially irresponsible message.
Let me be very clear that I am not advocating censorship. The filmmakers clearly have the right to tell this story in this way. But I wonder why they made that choice. The message seems absurd, and the plot does not work for me artistically. The Matrix is only a simulation, so one could argue that no act within the Matrix is real, including suicide. It is just a rearrangement of the 1's and 0's of the Matrix code. However, the first Matrix movie said that dying in the Matrix does kill a person in the real world. The only way this plot works for me is if one of the "Zion isn't real either" theories is correct. Then all of this was just data in a simulation.
Interestingly, the Kid's full name is "Michael Karl Popper." This probably is a reference to the philosopher Karl Popper.
Monday, July 28, 2003
Thanks to everyone who submitted Matrix haikus for last week's contest. I enjoyed reading them all. Many entries were quite good, so it was difficult to select winners. Here are my selections:
You can never know someone
Until you fight them.
-- by JP
The winning haiku appealed to me with its eerie simplicity.
not the wind that moves
nor does the flag -- but the mind.
the same with this spoon.
-- by kylee
This entry alludes to the famous Zen koan in which monks discuss a moving flag, then relates that to the "There is no spoon" line. Very well done.
It is inevitable.
I can taste your stink.
-- by eukodol
They hide truth with code
And cloud my closed eyes with lies
But I am the one
-- by chi.li
winter of the mind
in a storm of falling code
lost without knowledge
-- by kylee
Best wordplay / tongue-twister entry:
The One has, will, won
Once before when one One went
Where Ones' wills will not.
-- by Michael E. Lopez, Esq.
Best fandom-related entry:
What is the Matrix?
Why are these movies so good?
We analyze all.
-- by Krista
Best entry that missed the deadline:
Pick one, red or blue
Oh wait, not that one, it's mine.
Why not try the red?
-- by fallcaster
Best humorous entry (which also missed the deadline):
My name is Seraph
They could not afford Jet Li
But I look like him.
-- by eukodol
You can still read all the entries in the comments to the original contest post. Stay tuned for the second Matrix poetry contest, which I'll announce in another week or two.
Saturday, July 26, 2003
This site's RSS feed is fixed now, I think.
Thursday, July 24, 2003
I heard a short interview on the radio today with a guy who was involved in the making of the Enter the Matrix game (sorry, I didn't catch his name). According to him, they expected that many players might buy the game just because of the movie, and so they could be people who had never played video games before. So the creators simplified some gameplay aspects to make it more friendly for beginning gamers. This could explain the "auto-aim" feature that some people have complained about.
Wednesday, July 23, 2003
[This was submitted by Jason, see the contact info he provided below. --Tom]
There's lots of stuff in the Enter the Matrix strategy guide (and considering I'm just in The Sewers in the game and thus have only seen two of the extended cut scenes so far, the game has a lot to offer as well) but one of the most interesting is the timeline they provide on the poster that accompanies the book.
The majority of the early parts of the timeline follow exactly the timeline of The Second Renaissance, parts 1 and 2. Immediately after the U.N. surrenders to the Machines, the timeline follows thusly:
The Matrix - The Machines build the Matrix, a computer generated dream world constructed to keep humanity healthy, under control, and oblivious to the truth as they provide an infinite source of power for their new masters.
The First One - When the Matrix is first build, there is a man born inside who has the ability to change what he wants, to re-make the Matrix as he sees fit. This man frees the first of the rebels. His powers become legendary and are thought to be a match for the Machines themselves.
Nebuchadnezzar - One of twelve hovercrafts in the rebel fleet, the Nebuchadnezzar is captianed by Morpheus and bears a plaque imprinted with the year 2069, the date when the construction of the ship was complete.
We then follow through the first movie, noting the connections to Alice in Wonderland and a tidbit I hadn't known, that the movie playing in the Oracle's apartment is a film called "Night of the Lepus"
Immediately after the timeline goes through the first movie we get:
An Instance of Self-Substantiation - Kid, through his belief in Neo and disbelief in the world in which he resides (the Matrix), allows himself to fall to his "death," but awakens in the real world. They note that "someone" contacted Kid through his computer but do not reveal who that "someone" was.
The rest leads into the The Final Flight of the Osiris and the beginning of Reloaded.
I find it interesting how significant "Kid" is to the timeline.
There's more in the book for later...including a bio of The Merovingian.
that knee-grow...you know
s: a little deeper - ms. dynamite
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
[Reader firstname.lastname@example.org submitted this essay. I added the hyperlinks. --Tom]
There have been various theories posted as to the purpose of The Matrix, some speculating that there is a Matrix-within-a-Matrix, or along the lines of the more complicated system theory. I would like to propose a prediction, that as far-fetched as it is, could still be a possibility.
The Matrix Trilogy is simply a dream dreamt by Thomas A. Anderson.
Now, all of you must be thinking that this is just a plain silly assertion, that it is too silly and contrived, and I would have to agree with you. But then I would have to fall back on Occam's razor and the realization that often the simplest solution is the true one.
Think about it, there are multiple allusions to dreams in The Matrix and Matrix: Reloaded. Morpheus is the Greek god of dreams, and he tells Neo that he has been living in a dream in the first movie. In the second movie Neo's dreams foreshadow Trinity's "death." It is clear that dreams holds a lot of significance in terms of both plot and symbolism.
And then there are the parallels that are drawn to Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz (self-explanatory: "follow the white-rabbit", Cypher: "It means buckle your seat belt, Dorothy, 'cause Kansas is going bye-bye.") As we all know, Alice awakens at the end to find out that her adventures had all been a dream, as did Dorothy ("And you were there! And so were you!"). In spite of the fantastical nature of each character's dream reality, they believe in it wholly, and falling prey to suspension of disbelief we the audience believe it as well. However, we cannot rationalize such fantasy realities and in order to resolve such dissonance we are pleased to find out . . . it has all been a dream. Thus we can be at ease with our belief in such contrived fantasies in spite of our view of ourselves as rational beings.
This kind of story device works well within The Matrix trilogy. First of all, most of the allusions and references within the movie are from real life sources, possibly comprised from Thomas Anderson's experiences. Second of all, certain aspects of the matrix are very dream-like. For instance, Mr. Smith both looks and speaks like Mr. Rhinehart, Thomas Anderson's boss and archetype for authority and suppression. Moreover, Neo's messianic-complex and superhuman powers (common dream schemas) are easily justified within the Matrix, but how is it physically possible for him to destroy the sentinels outside of the Matrix? Easily if it is in the constructs of his own mind.
Neo is the fantasy self that we all dream to be. He is a kung-fu hero with plenty of cool anime style, he is a rebel fighting for the sake of all mankind, he has a keen fashion sense and gets to play with the latest cell phones and guns and whatnot, and he gets the girl in the end (so far 2 out of 3 times). Who hasn't had dreams like that? And yet the matrix is also a nightmare; the desert of the real that is the surface is presented as an apocalyptic vision. The arachnid forms of the machines are intrinsically nightmarish (people are adaptively predisposed to develop phobias to spiders; phobias are often accompanied by nightmares).
Is it more likely that the Matrix is a program within a program, or that the Matrix is a dream, a construct within the mind of Neo?
Now I know that this is a pretty weak argument, that this is a simple story device and it has been used hundreds of thousands of times already. However, I wouldn't put it past the Wachowskis to pull this one on us. A common idol in Buddhism is Hotai, the laughing Buddha; Hotai is the Buddha of the future and he is laughing because he has seen the future and knows that the universe, and all of man's questions about it, is all a joke. Somehow I think those guys would get a kick out of that.
[Also, Thomas Anderson is a computer programmer. A dream about technology, software constructs, and battles against machines seems like exactly the sort of thing a programmer might dream. Oh, and don't forget the part about meeting a beautiful, sexy female hacker and hooking up with her. --Tom]
Enter the Matrix and Reloaded spoilers ahead.
Reader "hurdle" writes:
Some people complain that the bad guys have no depth to their character. They don't understand that the bad guys are computer programs, they don't have the depth of character that a human person has. They have no emotions, feelings or desires -- just the commands that the Matrix programs execute.
The Enter the Matrix game makes the mechanical, predictable nature of the programs even more clear. Seraph goes through the same fight-as-identification sequence we saw in Reloaded, using the exact same words ("first I must apologize") . This sequence of words and actions is pre-programmed, like a login sequence. Persephone also makes the same kiss-for-knowledge bargain again, with both Niobe and Ghost.
Monday, July 21, 2003
I am having a Matrix Poetry Contest. Here are the rules for contest #1:
1. The poem must be a haiku. It must follow the 5-7-5 syllable form. Using the other haiku traditions like a "season word" or a "cutting word" are optional, but may add to the overall impression.
2. The poem must relate to either The Matrix or The Matrix: Reloaded. It does not have to actually contain the words "matrix" or "reloaded" though. The connection should be obvious enough that anyone who has seen the movies will "get it."
3. The deadline for entries is noon (PDT) on Sunday, July 27, 2003.
4. Submit your poem by entering a comment to this post, below. If you cannot leave comments for some technological reason, then you can also send your poems via email to the address listed under "Contact" in the site sidebar.
5. Entries may be in either English or Japanese. Since you can't post comments in kanji, please use romaji for Japanese entries.
6. You may submit more than one entry.
7. I will choose a winner and a runner-up and announce them on Monday, July 28.
8. There is no prize, other than the fame and glory of having your winning poem announced on this site.
(I actually got this idea from Clive. He has threatened to do this same thing in the past, but it has been quite a while and he hasn't done it, so I will do it here.)
Sunday, July 20, 2003
Well, you could argue that the appearance of the Matrix movies (and all the related merchandise, games, books, anime) is a watershed in the history of human consciousness. Before the matrix, skeptical thinking about the human condition (Are we real? Do we exist? What is existence? And is that real?) was restricted only to an elite number of gifted individuals. Individuals who could alienate themselves from their environment and speculate about these problems.
It is really impossible to appreciate the loneliness and heartache of the first human being who stared at the moon and said, "Is that real, or is it a construct devised to delude me?" Just think what estrangement and alienation this thought imposes on that human being. He can no longer trust any consciousness but his own. He has burned his bridges. And only the darkness of doubt surrounds him.
No wonder, then, that our first instinct, as we rose slowly through the haze of consciousness, was to create a higher order of intelligence above us, and entrust the answers and their consequences to Him.
And why is the Matrix a momentous occasion?
For the first time, in the history of humanity, its most basic problem (no, not food, not sex, not power) -- existence -- has been given center stage. And it has been communicated in a language and a medium that is accessible to the wide majority of human beings.
The solitude and fear that went with skepticism has been destroyed.
I know I can't trust what I see, but I see so much that tries to explain what I do see, that it does not scare me away from thinking about it.
Just stating the obvious, but sometimes, the obvious needs to be explicitly stated.
No wonder the Matrix was banned in Egypt, it is dangerous, seditious, disruptive.
I can think of only one previous work of literature that provided such a lucid and accessible explanation for a really, really hard problem. It was called the Bible.
(C) 2003 Anshuman P. Kanetkar,
Star Wars and The Matrix both fit into Joseph Campbell's "Hero's Journey" framework, says this site. (Link contributed by Manu Singh.)
(Contains Reloaded spoilers)
Matrix Reloaded uses a "flash forward" storytelling technique, where we see near the beginning of the movie a scene of Trinity falling. Neo wakes up, revealing this was just a dream he had. Alert viewers might suspect that the dream could be a premonition, especially after Neo talks to the Oracle. Sure enough, much later in the movie we see that scene again.
So in a way, after we see that scene at the start, the rest of the movie is about "how we got there." Someone on snarkfest pointed out that Alias often uses this technique. Interestingly, the Wachowskis also used it in their previous movie Bound. In that movie, at the beginning we see one of the characters tied up in a closet, and then much of the rest of the movie explains how that came about. (This also reminds me of American Beauty, where we know from the beginning that one of the characters will die, we just don't know how.)
In Bound we know the scene will eventually happen; in Reloaded since it is only Neo's dream we have more room for doubt. But as Reloaded progresses, with all its themes of predestination and fate, we start to get the idea that the scene may be inevitable.
All three of these films, Reloaded, Bound, and American Beauty alter the normal framework of the suspense film by letting the viewer know in advance what will happen, then making the suspense revolve around how and why it happens.
Thursday, July 17, 2003
Reminder: This site is still accepting essays submitted by readers. First read the submission guidelines, then email your essay to the address listed in the sidebar under "Contact."
People have commented, here and elsewhere, that the matrix-within-a-matrix theory cannot be true because various entities (the Architect, etc.) tell Neo he is "human" or "only human." This reasoning makes no sense. If the outer "Zion world" is also a simulation, then there is no contradiction in saying that Neo is a human in that world. It is just like saying that someone "is only an Elf" in EverQuest. That statement can be true in reference to that simulation without it proving that EverQuest is the real world or that Elves are real. In other words, "human" could be the name of a type of construct in the outer simulation.
The same thing applies to the history of the man vs. machine war in The Second Renaissance. That can still be a perfectly valid story set within the outer layer of simulation. It doesn't prove anything about whether that world is real or a simulation.
Think of it as a series of nested simulations. On my Linux box, I can run a VMware virtual machine that is running Windows XP; then on that virtual machine I can run an Apple II emulator and play an Apple II game. I can tell you a true story about what happend in the Apple II game. Then I can back out a level and tell you a true story about what happened in my Windows XP session. The fact that those are both true stories doesn't mean that either of those are the "real" OS.
So nothing anyone says within the Matrix can prove that Zion is not a simulation. The machines in the Zion world may not even realize they are also in a simulation, just like the Windows XP programs I'm running in the scenario above don't know they're not running on real hardware.
The matrix-within-a-matrix theory may still be wrong, of course, but the "only human" lines and the Second Renaissance stories do not disprove it.
Michelle writes (excerpt):
Perhaps that is a flaw with The Matrix. The characters are all completely admirable, doing their best and giving their all (except for the bad guys) they don't really have depth. The movie itself has plenty of depth, but most of the individual characters don't seem to agonize like the rest of us. Maybe that's why I liked the scene in the bowels of Zion. For once, someone had a doubt about the plan that wasn't related to Morpheus' absolute belief in Neo. It's just a small thing, for the movie was quite long as it was. Just something to consider.
Wednesday, July 16, 2003
If you're a hard-core Matrix fan, you will love the Enter the Matrix video game. This game really succeeds at putting you into the world of The Matrix. The game contains environments seen in Reloaded, such as the Merovingian's chateau and the freeway chase scene.
One of the best features is the "Focus" button, which activates bullet-time. This makes the action go into slow-motion while also enhancing your abilities and speeding you up relative to enemies. Certain special moves, like running along the wall and extra-long jumps, can only be performed with Focus. However, you have a limited supply of Focus, which you use up when you use bullet-time. Luckily, you can regain Focus either by going a while without using it, or by successful hand-to-hand combat. This provides a reason to use the kung fu moves even when you have a gun available.
Enter the Matrix also contains exclusive live action video scenes from the Matrix universe. You get to see these videos as you progress through the game, revealing a little bit of backstory.
Now for the game's drawbacks. The gameplay is extremely repetitive, and goes something like this: fight, walk into the next room, fight, walk into the next room, etc. It reminds me of Double Dragon. Most of the game elements have been done better in other video games. Deus Ex is a better cyberpunk game. ETM has driving levels, but they aren't as good as Grand Theft Auto. And the levels where you pilot a ship through the "tunnels of the real" are just silly. You can barely tell what is going on, and it doesn't matter because you can still win anyway.
So Enter the Matrix is not the best video game out there, but where it really shines is in delivering the "feel" of the Matrix movies. I loved that aspect of it. You can turn on bullet-time, jump off a balcony, and draw and fire your machine gun, blasting an enemy before you even hit the ground. Then run up a wall, jump off, and kick a guard in the head with a kung fu move. It is very cinematic.
NeedAnExit.com promotes a Christian interpretation of The Matrix. (Link sent in by reader NeoTheologue.)
Tuesday, July 15, 2003
Brad Warner, who wrote a book about Zen, also wrote an essay critical of Matrix philosophy. Excerpt:
(Link contributed by reader Wu Shih)
[Reader Shihab Ansari Azhar sent in these transcripts to the first 10 videos in Enter The Matrix, if you are playing as Niobe (Ghost gets somewhat different videos). Enter the Matrix spoilers ahead. And the scene where Persephone kisses Niobe is #5, below. --Tom]
Video # 1: This is the introduction to the game, and starts where Final
Flight of the Osiris left off.
Close up of screen with Matrix, SPARKS is shown behind it with GHOST.
SPARKS: Look at it. Like flies to cow pies. Crawling over every drop we ever
GHOST: We don't have a lot of time.
SPARKS: Lot of time? Huh, no, we don't have a little time. [sighs] Look, I
don't want to be Mr Naysay, but do you think that you have a chance of
getting to that thing before they find it?
GHOST: How do you know? No one stopped me from trying.
SPARKS: Come on, Ghost, it's crazy.
GHOST: Sparks, how long have you been operating this ship?
SPARKS: Three years.
GHOST: Then you oughta know, when she makes up her mind, you have one
choice: you go with her, or you get the hell out of the way.
NIOBE is shown steering the Logos through tunnels and she parks the ship.
GHOST: We scouted the post office.
NIOBE: Is the drop still there?
GHOST: Niobe, this won't be easy.
NIOBE: Thaddeus was my friend. I knew him. He never used a drop before. He
didn't trust it. Whatever is in that box cost Thaddeus his life and the
lives of his crew. And I have a feeling if we don't get to it first, it's
going to cost us a whole lot more. So are you ready to go into this?
GHOST: You know me Niobe, It's not a choice, it's a way of life.
SCENE: NIOBE and GHOST plug in to the Matrix
SPARK: Since I know how valued my opinion is on this ship, I won't bother
to tell you I think it's insane for you not to wait for a support team. And
for the record, when they drag your bodies back to Zion, would you prefer
cremation or the gardens?
GHOST: Sparks, your faith in us remains a source of personal inspiration.
SPARK: I am what I am and I do what I can.
NIOBE: Then can you shut up and push the button?
SPARK: Your wish is my wish, oh captain my captain, is my keystroke colon
double backslash execute command.
SPARKS types and hits the Enter button.
Video # 2: This video takes place after the drop has been recovered safely
from the post office.
NIOBE jacks out of the Matrix. SPARKS helps her up. GHOST is already out.
SPARKS: You okay?
NIOBE: [rubbing her jaw] Man, reality can be a bitch.
GHOST: Tell me about it.
SPARKS: You want a shot? Dr Feelgood can fix you up.
NIOBE: Right now, all I want to know is what's on that disk.
MAN runs through corridors and opens door to reveal LOCKE.
MAN: Sir, we just received an emergency broadcast from the Logos.
LOCKE: She did it.
MAN: Yes, sir. The last transmission of the Osiris.
Screen showing video of THADDEUS and the things he saw. LOCKE, NIOBE and
crew watch it simultaneously.
THADDEUS: This is Thaddeus, Captain of the Osiris. It is 1803 on 1214 and I
fear that this will be our last transmission. Less than two hours ago we
were pinned between two sentinel groups at DZ218. We tried to outrun them
on the surface when our sensors went completely berserk. We didn't believe
what our equipment was telling us. Until we ran smack into the middle of
it. An army, they're army. It's massive...
LOCKE: Oh my God.
THADDEUS: Hundreds of times larger in size than anything we've fought. We
are under heavy pursuit and have sustained critical damage. We are going to
attempt an emergency broadcast drop in the Matrix. After that, all we can
do is hope that somehow this disk reaches Zion, and if it does, it's not
NIOBE: Drop down on Zion broadcast. I want this transmitted immediately.
MAN: Yes, Sir
LOCKE: Is the Logos still in contact?
MAN: Yes, Sir.
LOCKE: Get me Captain Niobe.
SPARKS: Live feed from Zion. Jesus, it's dead bolt himself.
NIOBE: Give me that.
NIOBE grabs SPARKS' headphones and sits in his seat to talk to LOCKE.
LOCKE: Captain, you and your crew are to be commended. What you have done
may prove to be the turning point in this war.
NIOBE: Do you have a plan, Commander?
LOCKE: Right now I want every ship to return to Zion, at a protocol as fast
as humanly possible. I'll leave the recall in your hands, Captain.
NIOBE: Yes, Sir, Commander.
LOCKE: Captain...Niobe...please be careful.
NIOBE: As careful as I can be.
Video 3: This video is shown after the Airport level. NIOBE and GHOST went
to the airport to place calls to each and every captain, to tell them of
the meeting. While at the airport, they got a call from SOREN, informing
them that one of his crew, AXEL, had been captured and was being held
prisoner aboard a plane. NIOBE and GHOST rescue AXEL successfully.
Motorcycles pull up outside an abandoned house. BALLARD and crew dismount.
Rafts float through the sewers. Other people walk down the sewer pipes.
NIOBE and GHOST walk down an alley to a door. Cut to GHOST knocking on
door. A panel in the door opens to reveal CORRUPT.
CORRUPT: You're here.
CORRUPT opens the door, and NIOBE and GHOST enter and meet WURM
WURM: Niobe, Ghost.
CORRUPT: They're waiting.
GHOST: Has everyone arrived?
CORRUPT: All but the Nebuchadnezzar.
NIOBE: Figures. Anything for an entrance.
NIOBE and GHOST proceed to the meeting room.
SOREN: Captain Niobe. My crew and I appreciate what you did for us back
N: How is he?
S: Alive. Happy to be alive.
BALLARD: Let's get going. Because you know Morpheus isn't going to show up
till it's too late to tell your story.
ROLAND: I agree. I don't like us all being in the same place for too long.
Why don't you tell us what this is all about?
N: The machines are digging
Cut to scene of machines digging and many sentinels.
Cut to SPARKS in front of his monitor aboard the Logos.
Cut to the meeting room. CORRUPT runs down the stairs.
CORRUPT: It's the Feds!
NIOBE: Get to your exits.
All captains leave. NIOBE and GHOST leave through a pipe.
Video 4: After a lengthy runaround in the sewers, Niobe and Ghost are
helped out by the keymaker.
NIOBE and GHOST enter the white hallway with guns drawn, followed by the
KEYMAKER. Cut to scene of SPARKS sitting in front of his screens.
SPARKS: Where'd they go?
Cut back to white hallway
NIOBE: Where are we?
KEYMAKER: The matrix is structured like a building. It rests atop a
foundation that is built upon a substructure. We are standing in a
programmer's maintenance passage. It is how I escaped.
KEYMAKER: I have been held captive in a chateau in the mountains by an
exile named the Merovingian. He imprisoned me for my keys...
Cut to scene in the MEROVINGIAN's dungeon. MEROVINGIAN opens the door and
enters the KEYMAKER's cell.
MEROVINGIAN: You will find I lack the virtues of both tolerance and
MEROVINGIAN closes the door and leaves. Cut back to white hallway.
KEYMAKER: ...but even he cannot keep me from playing my part in what will
come. My purpose, I have seen, is entwined with your own.
NIOBE: What purpose?
KEYMAKER: [removes a key from around his neck] It's a very special key,
meant only for the One. Will you bring it to him?
GHOST: What does it unlock?
KEYMAKER: The future...
Another door opens. CAIN and ABEL enter with their guns drawn.
CAIN: Any one moves and brains will be all over this place.
ABEL: Drop it.
ABEL takes GHOST's gun and throws it down the hallway.
CAIN: I see we're just in time. You didn't think we left the door unlocked
by accident did you?
ABEL grabs the key from the KEYMAKER.
ABEL: I think he did. Look at his face. It's just like a human.
KEYMAKER: This mustn't happen.
CAIN: It already has.
CAIN and ABEL leave through the door.
KEYMAKER: You must stop them. They will ruin everything.
NIOBE: What is so important about that key?
KEYMAKER: That key is integral to the path of the One.
GHOST: Why don't you just make another one?
KEYMAKER: Once it is used, it cannot be used again! They will bring about
the end of everything!
Video 5: Halfway into chasing Cain and Abel, you find out that Ghost has
been captured and is being held captive somewhere in the Merovingian's
chateau. You go to rescue him, but run into Persephone.
NIOBE enters MEROVINGIAN's library. P is on a couch watching TV, and
switches it off when N enters.
PERSEPHONE: I've been watching you. You are looking for your friend. But
you will never find him.
NIOBE: Then you can help me.
NIOBE draws gun.
PERSEPHONE: I can have this room full of my husband's men in a heartbeat,
if I wanted to. But that wouldn't serve either of us, would it?
NIOBE: What do you want?
PERSEPHONE: A long time ago, I didn't even know what that question meant.
Now it's all I think about. I see that you care for friend a great deal. If
he were to die, you would feel such terrible pain. To be honest, I don't
enjoy the taste of tears, but there is something I enjoy so much more.
PERSEPHONE rises and walks towards NIOBE
PERSEPHONE: You have it. Buried deep inside you. Hidden perhaps from
yourself. I can see it...there. Creating such heat.
PERSEPHONE touches NIOBE's right breast.
NIOBE: Back off. [cocks gun]
PERSEPHONE: You are in love, are you not? If you want me to help you, all
you must do is kiss me as though you were kissing him.
PERSEPHONE: If you kiss me like you were kissing your true love, I'll tell
you where your friend is.
NIOBE: How about I shoot you in the kneecaps instead?
PERSEPHONE: You're not afraid of kissing a woman are you?
NIOBE: You're not a woman. You're not even human.
PERSEPHONE: It's just a little kiss. Or maybe you'd rather let your friend
NIOBE lowers gun.
PERSEPHONE and NIOBE kiss.
PERSEPHONE: Oh God, that was awful. Maybe you should have shot my kneecaps
NIOBE: OK, wait.
PERSEPHONE: Don't waste my time.
PERSEPHONE and NIOBE kiss more passionately.
PERSEPHONE: [whispering] That was nice. [Loudly] Your lover is a man. What
is his name?
PERSEPHONE: No...no, it's not. But I bet Jason knows. Come with me.
PERSEPHONE walks over to bookshelf and pulls a book to reveal the entrance
to the dungeons.
Video 6: Once you escape the chateau, you're chased by the twins, and then
the cops, and then you must get out of the Matrix by driving to an exit.
A car screeches to a halt outside a building. NIOBE takes out a phone. Cut
to SPARKS behind his screens.
NIOBE: [on phone] Is the exit clean?
SPARKS: As vestal as my bunghole.
NIOBE: I'll see you soon.
Phone rings on a table inside a warehouse-like building as GHOST and NIOBE
NIOBE: After you.
GHOST picks up phone and leaves the Matrix. NIOBE replaces the phone, which
rings again, and she leaves the Matrix too.
Cut to Zion control room and CONTROLLERS
CONTROLLER: This is Zion control to the Logos. Gate 3 is standing down.
Your path is clear to Bay 2. Welcome home.
Cut to interior of the Logos.
NIOBE: Thank you Zion control. It's good to be home
GHOST: Damn good.
NIOBE looks out window at all the ships gathered in Zion.
NIOBE: Look at that. Almost all of the force.
GHOST: No Neb.
NIOBE: Hmmph. If I was Morpheus, I wouldn't be in a hurry to get back here.
GHOST: What do you think the Commander will do?
NIOBE: I don't know, but I'm staying as far away from that as I can.
Video 7: This video immediately follows the previous.
Loud knocking on red door. Cut to interior of NIOBE's apartment. NIOBE
stops and sighs. She turns and opens the door.
LOCKE: I need a moment with you.
NIOBE: I literally just walked in.
LOCKE and NIOBE walk in. NIOBE sits down.
LOCKE: I assume that you were present during this latest act of
NIOBE: I was.
LOCKE: You were in charge of the recall. How could you let this happen?
NIOBE: What do you expect me to do? Shoot him?
LOCKE: You would have saved me the trouble.
NIOBE: Jason, you can have my testimony at the debriefing.
LOCKE: I don't want your testimony.
NIOBE: What do you want?
LOCKE: Your help.
NIOBE: All right.
LOCKE sits down next to NIOBE.
LOCKE: Tell me why. Why does he do it? Is it because of us?
NIOBE: No, it has nothing to do with you or me. Morpheus does what he
believes he has to do.
LOCKE: And I'll do what I have to.
NIOBE: You can't.
NIOBE: Because you need him.
LOCKE: The hell I do!
NIOBE: Jason, can you honestly tell me what went through your mind when you
saw the tape from the Osiris? [LOCKE does not respond] Exactly. I thought
the same thing. Anybody from this city would, every damn one of them.
Except him. Morpheus believes we will win this war. He makes other people
believe it too. And that's why you need him.
LOCKE: How about you, do you need him?
NIOBE: All I need is a hot shower and something that requires teeth.
LOCKE: Thank you for your candor, Captain.
NIOBE: Anytime, Commander.
LOCKE rises and is about to leave. He turns.
LOCKE: Can I see you tonight? After the gathering?
NIOBE: Of course.
LOCKE kisses NIOBE.
LOCKE: Is something wrong?
NIOBE: No, I'm just tired. I'll see you tonight?
LOCKE: All right.
Video 8: Is shown sometime later in the game. Can't remember exactly when.
The ORACLE's apartment. It is dark, and you can't see her face, just hear
ORACLE: Thank you for coming so quickly.
SERAPH: You have no need to thank me. I am forever in debt to you.
ORACLE: It is now I who need your help.
Cut to BALLARD walking down a staircase into the sewers. He is followed
closely by SERAPH. BALLARD turns around and points his gun at SERAPH.
BALLARD: Who the hell are you?
SERAPH: I am Seraph, guardian of the Oracle.
BALLARD: Is that right?
SERAPH: I can take you to her. But first I must apologize.
BALLARD: For what?
SERAPH: For this. [kicks gun out of BALLARD's hand]
BALLARD and SERAPH fight.
SERAPH: Good. You do not truly know someone until you fight them. Come with
BALLARD: Only thing that bothers me is I was about to kick your ass.
Cut back to the ORACLE's apartment.
ORACLE: Time has grown so short. The shadow has already begun to spread.
SERAPH: Does the One know?
The ORACLE does not answer.
Cut to scene of SMITH Taking over BANE.
BANE: Oh God.
SMITH: Smith will suffice.
Cut back to Oracle's apartment.
SERAPH: Will he succeed?
ORACLE: There are so many factors. Between here and there, there are so
many choices. And so much fear.
Cut to NIOBE's bedroom. NIOBE is in front of the mirror, tying her hair.
LOCKE sits on the bed.
LOCKE: Niobe. I have something to tell you. It's a strategy to
counterattack the machines using the ship's EMPs.
NIOBE: How many ships?
LOCKE: All of them. Except yours.
NIOBE turns to face him.
LOCKE: I convinced the Council that the Logos was too small, the EMP too
weak to have an impact.
NIOBE: That's not true.
LOCKE: Maybe, but it's done.
NIOBE: Jason, I am a captain, the same as every captain.
LOCKE: No, you're not the same. You're the woman I love.
NIOBE: That's not right.
LOCKE pulls her closer.
LOCKE: I'm sorry, but I had to. I couldn't let you go, Niobe, I just
LOCKE rests his head on her chest.
ORACLE: The truth is, the path of the one is made by the many.
GRAND COUNCIL scene.
COUNCILLOR DILLARD: Are there two among you that would answer such a call?
Cut back to ORACLE
ORACLE: Each of us has our own steps to take, our own choices to make.
Cut back to GRAND COUNCIL.
NIOBE: Captain Niobe of the Logos will answer the Councillor's call.
Cut back to ORACLE's apartment.
ORACLE: And if but one fails, all fail.
Interior of the Logos. NIOBE walks in, and is followed by a reluctant GHOST
and SPARKS. NIOBE turns to face them.
GHOST and SPARKS do not reply.
NIOBE: I told you, all we're gonna do is jack in, contact the Neb, find out
what's happening and jack back out. Any questions? No? Good. Then move like
you have a purpose.
Cut to NIOBE and GHOST in the Matrix. Niobe takes out a phone and calls
NIOBE: Link, this is Niobe. We've been sent to bring you in. I need to talk
LINK: Believe me, Niobe, he needs you.
NIOBE: Where is he?
LINK: Just follow the sirens.
NIOBE hangs up.
NIOBE: Let's go.
NIOBE and GHOST get into a car and drive off.
Video # 9: Directly after the previous one, between being chased by cops.
SPARKS in front of his screens.
SPARKS: Oh, I can't watch this.
Cut to the Matrix. NIOBE and GHOST are in a car, driving. The phone rings,
and GHOST picks it up.
GHOST: I can't hear you.
Cut back to the Logos and SPARKS.
SPARKS: I said can I have your personal processing unit!
Video # 10: Basically begins with the car chase scene from the Matrix
Reloaded. MORPHEUS falls on NIOBE's windshield, jumps up on the truck,
kicks the agent off. The trucks collide together and MORPHEUS and the
KEYMAKER are thrown forward, but are rescued by NEO.
Cut to interior of Logos. GHOST jacks out of the Matrix.
SPARKS: Ghost, help me out here. She promised, you heard her. Jack in, find
the One, jack out. End of story.
GHOST: What happened?
NIOBE: It's Morpheus. He just called.
SPARKS: He says he needs your help. Can you imagine what that means? Our
help! He has Neo, why does he need you?
No one answers.
SPARKS: I know you're both listening to me about as much as you're
listening to this hole here, so I'll just tell you what I think. I think
you spent 80 or 90 lives just getting out of there, and you want to go back
in there - I don't think you're pushing your luck, I don't think you're
crazy. I think you have a deathwish, a major full on Bronson. Since your
lives have no meaning to you, I ask you to think of something that does
have meaning, namely my life.
GHOST: Sparks, shut up.
SPARKS: Sure, man.
GHOST: It's your call, Captain.
Monday, July 14, 2003
[The following was sent in by reader Sir Derelor]
Perhaps an unintended allusion to the previous five versions of the Matrix...
In the original movie, you see the camera pan over the core of the Nebuchadnezzar. There, among other stuff, you see this:
MARK III No. 11
Aside from the reference to the Babylonian king, most of us have figured out that this refers to a passage in the gospel of Mark (Mark 3:11). If you want to know, it reads, "And the unclean spirits trembled before him and said, 'Truly, you are the Son of God!'"
Now I will invite you to warp your mind a bit...
Take out the name Nebuchadnezzar. Take out "Mark", take out "No." What do we have? A bunch of lines. But look closer...
Five? Perhaps this refers to the previous five versions of the matrix we learn about in Reloaded from The Architect. Oh yes... And it gets better. Say that there is symbolism in the separation of the lines. The first three matrices must have been alike in some manner (crude). The fourth and fifth perhaps transitioned to the sixth, which will ultimately spell doom for Zion? Perhaps.
So what does this mean? The sixth line isn't there. I don't think the Wachowski brothers meant for this to be... But there is twisted truth in it.
I leave reasoning up to you. After all, that's what this is all about, isn't it? Choice? What we choose to see?
Friday, July 11, 2003
[This article was contributed by Del. Contains Reloaded and Enter the Matrix spoilers. --Tom]
As The Architect stated, Neo is the sixth emergence of The One... Version 6, if you will. From this, we gather that there are five previous iterations of The One who may or may not continue to exist within The Matrix.
Many have theorized that The Merovingian is one of these previous iterations. This theory is largely based upon Persephone's statement to Neo just before she kisses him: "He was once like you". Also, the Merovingian's restaurant is on the 101st floor. Remember, Thomas Anderson lived in apt 101.
If The Merovingian is one of the previous iterations of The One, then he cannot be from Version 5. Just before The Merovingian exits the chateau, he says to Neo: "I survived your predecessors, and I will survive you, as well." Because "predecessors" is plural and not singular, The Merovingian must be from Version 4 or earlier.
However, there may be more than one previous iteration of The One still within The Matrix. I'm referring to The Trainman. He was seen briefly in Reloaded, had one line in Enter The Matrix, and appears in the trailer for Revolutions. Before I talk about his brief appearance in Reloaded, his line in Enter The Matrix is: "72 hours...that's how long Zion lasted last time..."
From this, we gather that The Trainman is aware of what's going on. He describes himself as "Nobody... a spectator".
If we theorize that The Merovingian is one of the previous iterations of The One, then it is equally possible that The Trainman is another iteration. This is further enforced by his single appearance in Reloaded.
At the end of Neo's scene with The Oracle, she tells him to go to The Merovingian. She hands Neo a slip of paper with a location and time on it and says "Be there at that exact time, and you will have a chance." When the rebels arrive at the Merovingian's restaurant, at the exact time specified by The Oracle, we see The Trainman being escorted out by Cain & Abel.
Furthermore, in Enter The Matrix, The Oracle explains her new face to Niobe by saying "The Merovingian warned me that if I made a certain choice, it would cost me. He is, among other things, a man of his word." She then explains that the choice was to help Neo or not.
From The Oracle's new face, we gather that she did, in fact, help Neo. It is also worthy to note that both The Architect and The Merovingian display disgust and anger when they speak about The Oracle.
The Oracle describes The Merovingian as "a very dangerous program" who was "one of the first", and holds great power within The Matrix.
Given this fact, if we theorize that The Merovingian is a previous iteration of The One (possibly Version 1), then it must be postulated that all iterations of The One are, in fact, programs. As far as I know right now, this theory is the only current explanation as to how previous iterations of The One can continue to exist within a later version of The Matrix.
It is also worth noting that The Architect says Neo "carries code" that must be reinserted to create Version 7. I don't know how a human can carry code.
Given the following:
1. The Merovingian is a previous iteration of The One.
2. The Merovingian is a program.
Then how does Persephone fit? If The Merovingian is Neo, then Persephone is Trinity.
In the first film, Cypher tells Trinity that he used to be in love with her. Before Apoc dies, his last word was "Trinity"... not "Switch". I believe this alludes to the fact that he also was in love with Trinity. In Enter The Matrix, we learn that Ghost also loves Trinity and that his love will always be unrequited.
If Persephone is The Merovingian's Trinity, then it is logical to assume that Trinity, also, is a program. In Reloaded and Enter The Matrix, we see that Persephone likes to do a lot of kissing. She affects men in a certain way. It would appear that Trinity also has that effect among the men she serves with.
This leads me to one more conclusion:
The machines will succeed. All of the rebels will die. Zion will be destroyed. I came to this conclusion based upon what I've seen in the films. First, The Wachowskis are obsessive about numbers within The Matrix. In Reloaded, we learn that Neo is from Version 6.
That's the wrong number.
In the Bible, which the Wachowskis reference almost constantly throughout their films, 6 is not a good number. If Neo were indeed to save Zion and all of humanity, then shouldn't he be from Version 7? In the Bible, seven is a holy number. It is one of God's numbers. I do not believe that Neo being from Version 6 is a simple oversight, simply because such things are practically impossible to find within The Matrix.
The Wachowskis have made some oversights, but nothing major that would affect the story in any way. For instance, in Enter The Matrix, Sparks says "I don't think you're crazy... I think you have a death wish! A major, full-on Bronson!" The problem with this sentence is that Sparks is an operator. He has no plugs in his body, and has never entered The Matrix. He is a Zion native. If that's the case, then how can Sparks know who Charles Bronson is?
A minor glitch. Nothing that will affect anything. It was just a cute throwaway line that wasn't quite right.
I don't believe they'd make the same mistake with Neo's version number. I believe the fact that Neo is from Version 6 was intentional.
Given this, I believe The Matrix will still continue to exist after Revolutions. Perhaps there will be more Matrix movies, perhaps not.
Lastly, I believe Sparks, as a character, is an homage and/or direct copy of Sparks from Sealab 2021 on Adult Swim. Both are antagonistic assholes who are self-centered, nihilistic, and utterly lacking in compassion. They also both wear earpieces with boom mikes and function as operators.
This is another transcription of the dialogue from cinematic sequences in the Enter the Matrix Playstation game.
[Ghost, Niobe, and the Keymaker are in the white hallway with many doors.]
Ghost: Where'd they go?
Niobe: Where are we?
Keymaker: The Matrix is structured like a building. It rests atop a foundation that is built on a substructure. We're standing in a programmer's maintenance passage. It is how I escaped.
Keymaker: I have been held captive, in a chateau in the mountains, by an exile named the Merovingian. He imprisoned me for my keys.
[Flashback to chateau, in the cell where the Keymaker was held.]
Merovingian: You will find I lack the virtues of both tolerance and patience. Goodbye.
Keymaker: But even he cannot keep me from playing my part in what will come. My purpose, I have seen, is entwined with your own.
Niobe: What purpose?
[The keymaker shows a key. It looks like an ordinary gold key.]
Keymaker: It's a very special key, meant only for the One. Will you bring it to him?
Ghost: What does it unlock?
Keymaker: The future.
[Two thugs burst in through another door. One draws a gun.]
Thug 1: Anyone moves, and their brains are a Jackson Pollock.
Thug 2 (to Ghost): Drop it!
Thug 1: (laughs) We were just in time. You didn't think we left that door unlocked by accident did you?
Thug 2: [looks at keymaker] Uh huh, I think he did . . . look at his face, that's just like a human! (laugh)
[The thugs have confiscated the special key.]
Keymaker: This mustn't happen!
Thug 1: It already has.
Keymaker: (to Niobe) You must stop them. They'll ruin everything.
Niobe: What is so important about that key?
Keymaker: The key is integral to the path of the One.
Ghost: Why don't you just make another one?
Keymaker: Once it is used it cannot be used again. They will bring about the end of everything.
Thursday, July 10, 2003
From The Onion: Bowling-Alley Owner Wants TV Ad To Look 'More Matrix-y'
Wednesday, July 09, 2003
Reader MorpheusEK writes:
As pointed out by commenters on this blog and other sites, there are a few license plates other than the "IS 5416" that appear in the Matrix movies or on the Matrix website. One is given special attention on the Matrix: Reloaded site, "AL887", earning its own closeup photo and a mysterious title. A quick Google search revealed that we were not the first to ponder its meaning, but that no conclusive answers had been found. Someone on the Zion Switchboard Forum was almost there, linking to a page that had evidence that 888 was a number representing Jesus, proposing that 887 plus The One equals 888. This wasn't too convincing, but on that page I found a remarkable fact. If you take the string "JESUS CHRIST" and convert all the characters (including the space) to their ASCII values (ASCII is a fairly old and significant way to encode characters on computers), and then add together all these values the resulting sum is 887. I assume the "A" in the license plate refers to ASCII, but the "L" is still a mystery to me, possibly standing for "language."
Note: The picture on the Matrix official site is in the set labeled "On set: City Chase May 2003." It is the middle picture on the far right of that set. The picture's caption says, "City chase: do you see significance in this number?" I independently verified the ASCII math, and it is correct. You have to use all upper case ASCII characters, since the lower case ones have different values.
You have to see this crazy, Matrix-ified ping pong skit. No digital effects or CGI! (Sent in by reader Andrew.)
This is a transcription of the scene in the game Enter the Matrix where Niobe meets the Oracle.
[Niobe, summoned by Seraph, enters the Oracle's apartment. The Oracle looks like a different woman than the one Neo met in the park.]
Niobe: Do I know you?
Oracle: You know me, though you may not recognize me.
Niobe: Are you telling me that you are the Oracle?
Oracle: I know this won't be easy for any of you. Change never is. I wish the face you remember was the face I was still wearing. But that face is gone.
Niobe: If you are the Oracle, tell me if I believe you are.
Oracle: You don't right now, but you will.
Niobe: Are you going to tell me something to make me believe you?
Oracle: Niobe, you know I can't do that . . . because I can't make you do anything.
Niobe: At least you sound the same.
Oracle: As I said, you may not recognize the face, but who and what I am beneath remains the same.
Niobe: Can I ask what happened?
Oracle: The Merovingian warned me that if I made a certain choice it would cost me. He is among other things a man of his word.
Niobe: What was the choice?
Oracle: The same one you yourself will have to make: to help Neo or not.
Niobe: Then Neo is alive.
Oracle: Yes. He touched the Source, and separated his mind from his body. Now he lies trapped in a place between your world and ours.
Niobe: Can we free him?
Oracle: Trinity can. But she will have to fight her way through hell to do it.
Niobe: Can I help?
Oracle: That's why I called. I cannot tell you what is going to happen, all I can do is hope that if you are given the chance, you will find the courage to do what you can.
Niobe: You once told me you knew everything you needed to.
Oracle: I do. I know everything from the beginning of this path to the end.
Niobe: I don't understand.
Oracle: Even I can't see beyond the end.
Niobe: The end. Are you trying to tell me the world is going to end?
Oracle: Yes. If we cannot save it, it will end.
Niobe: You mean Neo.
Oracle: I mean we. The path of the One is made by the many. I have a role to play, as you have yours.
Seraph: It is time.
Oracle: You must go now.
Niobe: Wait. I need more information. How will I know what to do?
Oracle: There's an old Chinese proverb I've always liked. "The heart never speaks, but you must listen to it to know." You'll know, Niobe. You always do.
Seraph: I wish you luck and courage.
Niobe: Thanks. Same to you.
[Niobe goes out into the white hallway with many doors.]
Smith: Damn. Not who I was hoping for. Perhaps you can help me find him.
Niobe: You're an Agent?
Smith: Oh no, no, not any more.
Niobe: Then what are you?
Smith: Me? I suppose you could say I'm the Alpha to your Omega. I am the beginning of your end.
[Niobe escapes through another door.]
I cannot find any source for that Chinese proverb. Is it real, or invented for the movie?
Tuesday, July 08, 2003
Hey, Keanuette has posted a new Matrix rap. It's good to see another Matrix rapper out there. Excerpt:
Now that the movie is playin'
Monday, July 07, 2003
Reader Krista writes:
Interesting observation about the "Matrix: Reloaded": As quoted from IMDB, "When Agent Smith pulls up in an Audi at the beginning of the film, his license plate is 'IS 5416'. In the King James Bible, Isaiah 54:16 says, 'Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.'"
Warning: Reloaded spoilers
This post at unclestupid.com brings up a some interesting ideas about Reloaded. Excerpt:
The full post is much longer and discusses many other concepts. (Link sent in by Khadija.)
Morpheus: How did I beat you?
Neo: Your pizza was too delicious.
Morpheus: You think my pizza being tastier, or having fresher ingredients, has anything to do with my ovens in this place? You think that's Mozarella you're eating right now?... We cook again.
From The Pizza Matrix (main page here.)
(Main resource: William Luijpen's "Phenomenology of Knowledge", and my Blog's March archives.)
It was fairly clear from the get-go that the Matrix was more than just your regular gun-slinging, kung-fu busting action film. The movie actually had a good deal of depth on it, which was picked up by fewer people than the Wachowski brothers hoped for. Nonetheless, with the sequel, more of the same undertones end up creeping their way into everything in the movie that didn't involve the closing credits.
One such point of reflection was the battle between Neo and Smith. One might wonder what the point of their encounter was, if Neo could just take down Smith indefinitely, yet Smith can just keep replicating himself. If we were faced with a deadlock, what then is the point to the entire battle?
One of the longest-running debates in the history of Philosophy has been the dispute on the existence of one Truth vis-à-vis many other truths. Was Truth really absolute? Or was truth merely relative? In Luijpen's article, he outlines the role of Aletheia, or unconcealment. This concept of Aletheia stems from Plato's Allegory Of The Cave, which speaks of the world of Eidos and its interaction with the physical world. Aletheia, according to Luijpen, is the illumination in the open space regarded as Lichtung. This was a concept borrowed from Heidegger.
Let's make an analogy here: Lichtung is the most basic truth there possibly is. Now, imagine a mug of Swiss Miss chocolate. Assuming you're fond of it, you'd say that Swiss Miss is good. Take away the marshmallows, it's still good. Take away the milk and cream, it's still good. In fact, you can take away the water, but Swiss Miss is still good. But then, we hit Lichtung: you take away the mug, (Let's not be too strict on the possibilities here and eliminate, say, spoons, or other similar apparatuses.) and you can't really enjoy your Swiss Miss anymore.
Now, going back to Aletheia, truth cannot possibly exist without unconcealment. As the old cliché goes, a tree that falls in the middle of the forest with nobody to hear it does not make a sound. While Aletheia itself is not truth (Or Truth, if you're so inclined.), it encompasses truth, as it is a requirement for it, as Lichtung is a requirement for Aletheia. But I'm sure you already know that.
Now, what ties Aletheia to the idea of the One and the Many? First of all, we must realize the standpoints both the One and the Many hinge themselves upon. The One believes that there is only One Truth that can be accepted, and regards such Truth as absolute -- in that it cannot be disputed, in that it is immutable. This fits in nicely with Plato's concept of Eidos.
On the other hand, the Many believe in truth as relative: what is true to you is true for you and for you alone. It promotes a certain chaos in that nothing can ever be contested simply because everything holds true to someone on a personal level.
Returning to the gap between the One and the Many, it can be resolved by realizing the twofold nature of Aletheia. It's fairly clear that the Wachowski brothers took a stand in favor of Luijpen and Aletheia by letting the fight remain in a deadlock, because Aletheia actually encompasses both the One and the Many, as far as their basic elements are considered. By saying it encompasses both subjectivism and objectivism, we can then say two things about truth (Since it has Aletheia as a prerequisite.). Firstly, truth is relative, which agrees with the adherents to the Many. Despite this fact, truth may indeed be relative but it is not so in a relativistic manner. This is because truth does relate to a person, but this does not mean that what is true for one is automatically untrue for another.
Truth, in this case, is relative because truth is an event. When an event occurs, that event relates itself to those who are witness to it, and truth is communicated in this respect. Truth, after all, is anthropocentric (people-centered), and if this is the case, we cannot expect something to be true (in our milieu), but has yet to occur in that of another's milieu to be likewise true for them.
On the flip side, we can say that truth is absolute, but not in an absolutistic manner. Truth cannot be absolutistic in a Platonic sense, because truth is a never-finished event. If truth were absolutistic, then truth is already fixed, immutable, and finished for all time (A complete contradiction to the notion that truth is never-finished.). This absolutistic notion conforms to the idea of the World of Eidos, an idea that goes against the grain of unconcealment, since unconcealment works in temporality. If truth were absolutistic, what is the need to unconceal anything? It is already immutably true to begin with, from past, present, to future.
To clarify, Aletheia is different from the World of Eidos. The latter speaks of an immutable, final, and perfect "otherworld", from which the physical world draws its existence by participating as imperfect copies of perfection. The former, on the other hand, sees a Being of beings (Which itself is not a being. But that's a different story altogether.) that unfolds "itself" in all of being in temporality. The Being of beings will give unto all beings, but what becomes of these beings contributes back to the Being of beings, so that more can be said about "it". Aletheia is a two-way process.
Hence, with the realization of how truth is both absolute and relative, we can say that the main reason neither Neo and Smith could clearly win their battle was because the eternal debate of the One vs. the Many could lead to one of two things:
The Wachowski brothers will probably either make Neo and Smith become allies, or make both perish. If Neo were to ultimately triumph against Smith by defeating him resoundingly, the Wachowskis would become advocates of The One, and thus biased towards that idea. Still less plausible would be for Smith to win against Neo (barring resurrection undertones, though I recognize that it was done in the first movie), lest we see yet another tragic ending, or for Smith to turn out to be the real hero of the story (two endings that don't spell "cash cow" to me, from a utilitarian point of view.).
Of course, seeing as I'm far from an authority on Philosophy (I'm only a Communications major), I leave it to you, who probably know better than I do, to agree or to disagree with my opinion on the reason Neo and Smith ended up in a deadlock.
[This article was contributed by Marcelle. The original, longer version is available on Marcelle's blog. -- Tom]
Sunday, July 06, 2003
I finally finished the Enter The Matrix video game. There is quite a bit of interesting material in there. Stay tuned for a write up.
Saturday, July 05, 2003
Begging to Differ blogs:
In The Animatrix, man builds machines, man enslaves machines for a long time, machines become conscious and decide they enjoy life, machines ask for civil rights in human society but are denied, machines form their own nation and try to join the U.N. but are denied, machines develop their own economy and successfully compete against humans in a free market, man nukes machines, man darkens the sky to cut machines off from the sun, machines survive by wiring up man in pink pods of goo.
Early in the story we see a trial of the machine who killed his human master in "self defense" after the human tried to turn the machine off. The outcome of the trial is the ruling that machines are "property" and humans can do whatever they want with them. This is the pivotal event that starts the war with the machines: the failure to recognize that an AI is different from a toaster. It reminds me of the themes of Blade Runner.
Why didn't the humans invest in machine mutual funds? Probably because they didn't want to have to recognize that the machines were beating them at their own game -- that the "servants" had surpassed their "masters."
(original link via NegroPleaseDotCom)
Wednesday, July 02, 2003
[This essay was contributed by reader Julian. The hyperlinks were added by Tom.]
I didn't like the idea that Zion was simply another level of the Matrix, initially, because, in terms of the narrative, it doesn't leave us with any information about the world "above" the simulation-within-a-simulation. It could be anything -- machines / humans / space aliens pulling the strings. The whole thing reminded me once again of the book The Futurological Congress, by Stanislaw Lem, the famous Polish science fiction author who also wrote Solaris. In The Futurological Congress, the narrator finds himself transported, via hallucination, into a society in which an individual's perception of the world is completely controlled by the administration of an intoxicating gas. This artificially-induced experience of the world makes their society much more palatable than it actually is: Those people who can somehow protect themselves from the effects of the gas find themselves in an over-crowded, polluted world much different from the city-planner's-wet-dream that their fellow citizens enjoy.
But it turns out that even those who resist are being drugged, and that the next level of chemical-free "clarity" is even worse -- people are stacked on shelves like cadavers in a morgue and attached to a continuous chemical / nutritional drip -- and there's not even any indication that this "reality" is the "real" one, either. If I remember correctly, the narrator never attempts to find out "how deep the rabbit-hole goes" -- he's satisfied to return to his original life -- but it's food for thought. Whether you like the System Theory or the simpler, Zion-is-another-Matrix theory, what does it lead us to conclude about the next level of the truth?
Reader Matthew writes:
I have only seen Reloaded twice, but I was paying very close attention the second time for all the things I missed on the first viewing. One of the things I noticed seemed to be a major point, that many have overlooked. On my first viewing, at the end I was under the impression that Zion was destroyed and that the ship that picked up the crew of the Neb and Bane were the only survivors. This was also the impression of the people that saw it with me. But that didn't seem quite right. (I haven't seen any discussion of the fate of Zion on the boards).
On the second viewing, I determined that it was just the Zion fleet that was destroyed. (Lock sent all the ships except for Soren's and Niobe's to the intersection point in the tunnels. They were going to use a mass EMP to wipe out the sentienels.)
Captain of the Hammer: "But someone set of a EMP too soon. [disabling all Zion's ships] When they [the sentinels] broke through [into the intersection point in the tunnel, not into Zion] it was a massacre. When we went back we found only one survivor." So Bane was the only survivor of the fleet and Zion is still intact. Right before the Neb was destroyed, Neo said Zion will be destroyed within 24 hours.
I am stating the obvious? This seems like a major point that was very easy to miss and confusingly put forth. Several people I know were under the impression that Zion was destroyed when the sentinels "broke thru" (off camera) at the end of Reloaded.
Tuesday, July 01, 2003
I'm not sure what to make of this . . . Reader "Joe Sixpack" sent in this link to The Matrix: Reloaded, Decoded.
[Reader "Gobbler" contributed this essay. Warning: Reloaded spoilers. Hyperlinks in the essay were added by Tom.]
I have seen quite a few Buddhist interpretations of Matrix + Reloaded which were all a lot of fun and certainly gave me some stuff to chew on. I must point out though, that most of these interpretations were almost totally based on how Buddhist imagery is reflected in the film or how basic Buddhist concepts (samsara, nirvana, enlightenment, mara, etc) appear throughout the movie. This is quite OK, for sure, but I can't help finding this lacking in a way. You see, I feel Matrix is so Buddhist that it's almost Zen.
So what I would like to do is try to convey the Zen feel of the Matrix.
A little warning however: there are basically two ways to look into this challenge. One is to look in the movie for concrete elements that symbolize particular concepts of a philosophy, religion or artistic movement. The assumption in this case is that there is a 'right interpretation' (i.e. what the authors really meant) that has to be discovered. This leads many people to look at even the smallest details to make their point and, although this nitty gritty analysis is certainly a lot of fun, more often than not, we get entangled in contradictions and far-fetched machinations.
What I propose for this essay is a broader view, an outline not of what the symbols mean but of what we can take back home and use to broaden our perspective of life (am I not pretentious?).
In Zen there are no right answers, only hints for us to look in the direction of truth. In this sense, you should rid yourself of the dislike for cryptic lines and the uneasiness in the presence of paradox. All you have to do is look through the paradox to find out what YOU see instead of waiting for some pre-baked instant meal. Anyway, my point is that it's not the answer that's important; it is the question that drives us.
So I will try to tackle two elements of Reloaded that I believe to be the most relevant:
Is Zion de Real World?
The most obvious question that the movie spits in our face is: what is reality? How do you define real? And most people push this to the point where they can question if what they perceive is reality and not some kind of delusion. That's great, no doubt. But can you push it further?
The assumption contained in the previous thought is that what I perceive now is not real but there should be something else that IS (i.e. when I rid myself of this delusion, reality, the real stuff, will be manifest). The Matrix is an illusion but when I wake up to Zion that's real. Huh? Samsara is an illusion but when I am enlightened I'll be sipping Martinis in Nirvana, in reality beyond any question. Is that so?
Reloaded points a huge finger to this idea. What if Zion is also the Matrix? Yeah, I know this is not new to you but what I want you to avoid is to think that after that there will be a real world. If Zion is still the Matrix, when you wake up from Zion it still will not be the real world. This concept is quite elusive so concentrate!
Sunyata (emptiness or void) is a biggy in Buddhism and has baffled people forever. I can't say I understand it but I can tell you what it's pointing at: all manifestation is devoid of self-essence and cannot be said to have real existence. But hold your horses, the fact that it's manifest prevents you from denying it as well. So, you cannot ascertain the real existence or real nonexistence of manifestation. And mind you, this is not due to a limitation of your mind and sensory perception, it is inherent to manifestation itself. You might be tempted to say that reality then is not manifest but if it is not, then what is it? I don't want to go into more detail because we'll get into an endless discussion about the logos and noumena and that would be missing the point (if you want, take a look at the Muhla Madhyamaka Karika by Nagarjuna and Kant on Phenomena / Noumena. There's plenty of stuff online through Google).
The end point of this babble is that you can't draw the line between what's real and what's delusion. Form is emptiness, emptiness if form. Or, Nirvana is Samsara and Samsara is Nirvana. And if you want to believe in some empirical reality that's the real, real stuff, for sure, 100%, then that's your delusion.
What will it be: free will or determinism?
The second point is the paradox of free will versus determinism. In a world of causality, choice is the anomaly. This has been addressed quite nicely in many essays (even in this same site). But the western view on this issue implies some sort of entity outside the cause-effect chain that can decide and apply the will to alter the current conditions that are subject to cause and effect. In other words, cause and effect are responsible for my current conditioning but I can, by exercising my freedom, decide to go against this conditioning to change the course of events. Can you look a bit further? What exactly is that decision? How do I decide (if I really do)? We decide based on our understanding of the situation, based on our moral judgment but how did we arrive to that understanding, how did we end up with this scale of values? Aren't those also subject to previous conditions?
Whether cause and effect can be singled out or whether these causal links are stringed out chronologically in linear time is something that I don't know. Dogen Sensei (AD 1200-1253) said it's a mistake to believe that cause comes before the effect and I like that idea. If causality is really some sort of interdependent arising of phenomena that engulfs all manifestation then that would bring up the question of what comes first: cause or effect? The effect is as necessary to the cause as the cause is to the effect. In physics this could be equated to the Laplace Model.
Anyway, am I a determinist? The Merovingian is but he falls in his own trap, unable to see beyond his nose. And here is where things get a bit harder to explain. Choice and causality co-exist. There is no contradiction, no paradox. The flaw is not in the way things are but in the way we think they are. You see, the existence of a soul and its attribute of freedom (acting like a free agent in creation) is a value so precious to us westerners that we are willing to go all the way around a complex discussion that is flawed from the start.
The paradox arises if you think of yourself as separate from the model, if you imagine yourself as a discrete entity that interacts with the surrounding conditions. The paradox dissolves when you stop seeing yourself as different or separate from the myriad set of conditions that make you what you are. There is no 'you' making any decisions at all. There is no 'you' who is forced by a deterministic model either. In fact, you are not separate or different in any way from the model itself. The decisions you take and how you act is just the universe unfolding, flowing like a river.
Now, this is when you acknowledge that your actions are the actions of the universe. Your karma and the unfolding of the universe are not different. And yet your actions are your actions and your decisions are your decisions. You see? So at the end of the day, you realize that there is no point in wining about your present condition, there is no point in fantasizing about a different set of conditions that would be more appropriate or happy and there is also no point in giving in to a deterministic view and giving up your responsibility for your actions.
Hey, the whole Universe is pending on your next choice!
So, to finish off, I hope I didn't confuse you too much. If I did, you can always say I am just a freak full of bull. But if in some way I have made you aware of the scratch on the top of your mouth, then I am fulfilled. You see, it is the question that drives us . . .