Matrix Essays

Essays about The Matrix
Thursday, August 28, 2003
Are we living in a simulated reality?
From Minding the Planet comes the article, Are We Living in a Simulated Reality? Excerpt:
[. . .] start with a simple feedback loop. Clearly that isn't self-aware. Now make it a little more complex -- for example, add a nested loop, or a branching if-then statement to it. That isn't aware either. Now keep doing that, adding a little more logic and complexity each time.

None of these additions make the system aware. So at what point does it finally become aware? Does awareness just magically appear? That is a totally unscientific statement! On what basis can one make such a claim? What is the cause of awareness appearing at some special level of complexity for example? What exactly is it about "complexity" that causes awareness? And furthermore, if awareness does magically appear, is it the same as the machine or software, or is it something different.

Is Agent Smith -- or any of the AI programs in the Matrix for that matter -- really self aware? Or are the Matrix AI programs more like video game non-player-characters, whose "awareness" is a carefully scripted illusion?

Wednesday, August 27, 2003
The Culture Illusion
Jason sent in a link to The Culture Industry Has You. Excerpt:
The culture industry claims to serve the consumers' needs for entertainment, but conceals the way that it standardizes these needs, manipulating them to conform to what it produces -- the summer blockbuster, the situation comedy, "reality" TV. Variations in consumer income and taste are rationally organized and modifications to the standard form are carefully calculated to ensure that each consumer "choose the category of mass product turned out for his type." Although it provides pleasures for consumers, the culture industry ultimately serves to distract people from the excesses and inequalities of the market. For the Frankfurt School, the culture industry is just as much a system of mass deception and control as the virtual world of the matrix.

This version of the Matrix harvests not electricity but money from the humans captured by the illusion.
The matrix itself is the apogee of rationality as a system of repression and social control; in order to deny the reality that their bodily energy is being siphoned away while they float helplessly in amniotic sacs, human beings agree to accept the pleasures offered by a manufactured fantasy world. This acceptance is not simply the result of fascist coercion, however. As a program called The Architect (who looks equal parts Freud and Santa Claus) explains at the conclusion of Reloaded, the vast majority of humanity agrees to "accept the program" when given a choice. Adorno and Horkheimer would, no doubt, see a parallel between the fetal human jacked into the matrix and the Starbucks barristo who immerses himself in a film (perhaps The Matrix: Reloaded) in order to anaesthetize himself against the routinization of his work by central managers and the hyper-administration of his time by the company's Star Labor software.

Psychle's Matrix Blog is the blog of a fictional character, who tells a story set in the Matrix universe.

Why don't the machines have a leader?
Does anyone else find it strange that the machines don't have a leader? Normally in movies when the good guys are faced with an evil army, the army has a leader of some sort: a general, a commander -- someone who can proclaim, "All your base are belong to us!" Why isn't there a CyberGeneral, commander of the Machines?

The Architect is not the leader of the machines (that we know of). He is merely the designer of the Matrix, and we have only seen him there, not in the Zion world. Agent Smith has been set up as the main villain of Reloaded, and perhaps of Revolutions as well, but he is not the machines' leader either. He is a wild card, a free agent who no longer fulfils his designed role in the Matrix.

One could argue that the machines simply follow their programming and may not need a centralized leader. Technologically that may be true, but in terms of storytelling, this seems like an important missing piece. If humans want to make a truce with the machines, who would they negotiate with? Some random Sentinel?

If the machines are indeed our heroes' major enemy, then storytelling requires them to have a leader. For example, imagine how Lord of the Rings would come across without Sauron and the One Ring, if the major threat were just "a whole bunch of Orcs acting independently." Imagine Star Wars without Darth Vader and the Emperor in charge of the Empire. A faceless enemy of innumerable drones just does not make for a compelling story.

This leads to an interesting conclusion: since the machines have no leader, they must not really be the enemy. The only enemy the plot has set up as a strong character so far is Agent Smith. From the Revolutions trailer, it looks as if the big showdown in that film will be with Agent Smith. And defeating Smith will not save humanity from the machines, because Smith does not care about the machines or the larger struggle -- he only cares about himself, and getting revenge on Neo.

What will defeating Smith accomplish? Not much in the bigger picture, except that Smith will stop being such a pest. Would erasing Smith save Zion from the sentinel army? Not that we know of. Would it free the humans from the Matrix? Nope. Then how can Neo vs. Smith be the climactic fight? Maybe we will get the "it was all a dream" ending after all.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003
Relevant magazine has an article about where Reloaded failed. (Link via Cristop)

Neo: ultimate mediator?
Steve has an essay on his blog about Neo. "Neo is the ultimate mediator for the world."

Saturday, August 23, 2003
Brain Power
[This essay was contributed by reader "lionel zs"]

Most of us are scoffing at the idea of using bioheat and bioelectricty from stacks and stacks of people as fuel. You wonder if this absurd arrangement is not solely for energy, of if it's for something else altogether, and you try to come up with all sorts of theories for it. Doesn't anyone ever read the comics?

In The Matrix Comics Series 1, which has been around since — hello — 1999, there is a short story, Goliath; by Neil Gaiman, which suggested that the vast array of brains might also be used to store information and crunch numbers... providing tremendous parallel processing power. Not only are people batteries, but memory chips, too. Makes humans so much more practical a resource than, say, cows;. (And perhaps humans, with their large, complex brains, under everyday active stimulation, actually generate more bioelectricity than any other organism.) With this proposition, I've been able to accept the "human power plant" premise, imagining that the calculative Machines do exploit their (either intelligently chosen or only available) resource to the utmost efficiency.

Why weren't we hinted about anything like this in the first movie? Maybe Morpheus just wanted to tell what seemed most essential (the Machines needed a new power source after being denied the sun). Maybe he didn't know. Maybe it's the Wachowskis' annoying habit of leaving out the little bits for other channels of storytelling.

And what do the Machines do with human brainpower? Other than perhaps for other possible data storage and computation needs, it is likely that what is mostly being processed is the Matrix itself. In that sense, the Matrix could be all in our collective minds. From my crusty knowledge of philosophy, I've an inkling that someone has already once pondered if reality is a joint, mutual dream of the masses. (If anyone knows exactly who, please educate.)

You must have noticed how the Matrix is a scenario that can be used to explain strange phenomena, such as deja-vus (glitches in the Matrix), telekinesis (there is no spoon), ghosts (rogue sentient programs) and the New York blackout (someone's trying to get to the Source). Well, it seems like we can also now explain why we use only 5% of our brains: the rest is being hijacked outside our awareness. Talk about slavery of the mind.

One can then infer that those who use more that 5% of their brains are those whose minds are "free," such as Morpheus and friends, the Unplugged; or at least the Potentials: Spoon Boy and friends. Neo would be one who has the "freest" mind, since he has overcome the Matrix's rules to a degree greater than anyone else. Perhaps if we actually started using more that 5% of our brains, we wouldn't just be more intelligent (though this was never clearly indicated in the movies. Perhaps it shows in being able to swiftly read what would be normally unintelligible Matrix code?), but we would even transcend reality. Now what would that be like?

(We can go further and use the Matrix to explain more phenomena, perhaps like transsexualism. What if your residual self image is somehow male, but your real body is female? Sounds like the perfect answer for why some people say they feel "trapped in a man's body.")

An analysis of the Neo/Architect conversation. (Link contributed by M. Dixon)

More on the Revolutions trailer
[This essay was contributed by JP]

An analysis of the Revolutions trailer from the point of view of the voiceover.

What I am going to try to do here is not a flagrant attempt at some far-out theory, but rather a brief look at the evidence provided in the Matrix: Revolutions trailer that has recently been made public.

We have been guided towards examining the names of people and places within the Matrix movie universe for clues as to the meaning of the story. I would first like to examine the name "Revolutions". Apart from its celestial meaning of the Earth revolving around the Sun, revolution also has the following meanings:

1. The overthrow of one government and its replacement with another.
2. A sudden or momentous change in a situation.

We know for a fact that people are kept sedated but alive in pods of goo and are kept mentally active through neural stimulation by a giant computerized system -- the Matrix. In this case, the Matrix could be viewed as a type of government, which governs the minds of people and hence the people themselves. How the people got there in the first place -- the beginning -- can be seen in The Second Renaissance. The Revolutions poster states that everything that has a beginning, has an end. The Oracle (presumably it's her voice) states in the trailer that "Everything that has a beginning, has an end. I see the end coming. I see the darkness spreading. I see death. And you are all that stands in his way. If you cannot stop him tonight, then I fear that tomorrow may never come." Through the title "Revolutions", we can predict that "...a sudden or momentous change in a situation..." will lead to "...the overthrow of one government and its replacement with another..."

From the sound of the Oracle's narrative in the trailer, Smith is the darkness. He is the death. This coincides with the story in that we don't ever see an agent leave a body once it has possession of it, unless the body is killed (for example "Dodge this", the bum in the subway getting plowed down by the train, or the agents Neo sliced down with the gatling gun from the chopper). Thus, if an agent takes over a body in the Matrix (and hence the mind of someone in a pod of goo), it presumably kills the person. This is also evidenced by Bane/Smith. Since Smith is replicating at such a high speed, he is "...darkness spreading..." He is the "death".

However, with all of this, we know that the Matrix will not be destroyed in its entirety because of the MMORPG (Matrix Online) that is to take place after Revolutions. So… is Smith the only real problem? At the end of M1, Neo states that he is going to show the people what the agents don't want them to see -- a world without agents. He doesn't say that he is going to destroy the Matrix …

That's as far as I want to take this right now because, as I said, I don't want to concoct some bogus theory. I just want to examine the facts.

Thursday, August 21, 2003
Revolutions trailer

Wednesday, August 20, 2003
The Eternal Matrix
Some people have suggested that Revolutions cannot end with the destruction of the Matrix, because the online game which will come out later will still be set in the Matrix. I do not find that reason very convincing, because if the Wachowskis really wanted Neo and crew to destroy the Matrix, they could just position the game as a prequel. But there are plenty of other reasons why Revolutions cannot destroy the Matrix.
  • Destroying the Matrix would kill all the humans still within it.
  • Even if all the humans could somehow be extracted before the Matrix was shut down, there would be nowhere for them to go. The small city of Zion could not support the refugee influx of everyone else in the world, and there is no infrastructure elsewhere to support humans.
  • Symbolically, the Matrix represents samsara. It would not make sense philosophically for samsara to be eliminated. Freedom from samsara comes from seeing it for what it really is, not from destroying it.
  • Councilor Hamann's speech to Neo about the interdependence of man and machine seems to suggest that this situation is always going to be around in one form or another.

Monday, August 18, 2003
Is Morpheus like Moses?
The Journal of Religion and Film has an article, Reassessing The Matrix/Reloaded. Excerpt:
Those using Buddhism to understand The Matrix cast Morpheus as a sort of Zen dogen or master. Unfortunately, he’s neither an expert warrior nor very "enlightened."

At the end of Reloaded his prophecy has been revealed to be nothing more than a trick; a way to control the humans. Although the freed humans believe they can make a choice, their choices only lead them closer to their obliteration. When looking at Morpheus through a Christian lens, some scholars have labeled him the story’s John the Baptist, the desert prophet who in John 3:28-30 said, "I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him … He must increase, but I must decrease." Since being freed from the construct by the original "man born inside that had the ability to change what he wanted, to remake the Matrix as he saw fit" Morpheus has been on a zealous quest for the One. Not everyone believes in the prophecy, though. The camp is split between those who label him crazy and those who treat him like an uber-cool rock star. I would suggest he is more like Moses, the Biblical prophet who leads the Israelites out of bondage, in this case the Matrix could stand in for pharaoh.

(link via Matrix In My Mind)

Friday, August 15, 2003
Matrix Poetry Contest #2: Limericks
It's time for the second Matrix Poetry Contest. The first contest was Matrix haiku, and now the format will be limericks. Here are the rules:

1. Start by reading this article about how to write limericks. It is a pretty good guide. You may also want to consult a rhyming dictionary.

2. Write a limerick about The Matrix, The Matrix: Reloaded, or The Animatrix.

3. Submit your limerick by adding a comment to this post.

3. Limericks must be in English.

4. You may enter more than once.

5. Since off-color humor is an honored tradition in limericks, it is permitted (though not required).

6. The deadline for entries is midnight (PDT) August 31, 2003.

7. I will choose a winner, a runner-up, and some honorable mentions, and announce them during the first week of September.

8. Only remember that There Is No Prize. It is not the prize that motivates you, it is your mind.

* * *

Here are a few of my Matrix limericks just to get things started:

There once was an Agent named Smith
Who thought the One's powers were myth.
But Neo defied him
By diving inside him
And blew him to pieces forthwith.

If Morpheus offers to you
a choice between red pill or blue --
then what's your conclusion:
to stick with illusion,
or wake in a pod full of goo?

A beautiful hacker named Trinity
had fighting skills and femininity.
But when the rave started
she suddenly farted
and everyone fled the vicinity.

A dude said to Morpheus, "Whoa!
How deep does this rabbit hole go?
If one little pill
provides such a thrill
I'll buy the whole bottle, to go!"

Thursday, August 14, 2003
Blowin' into your town like a pimp typhoon . . .
Matrix Essays reader John took my Matrix Rap Lyrics and actually recorded the song! Listen to the MP3. It is a pretty good version, it sure made me laugh. I love the Internet just because of things like this. His version doesn't have the chorus, but it does add some great sound clips from the movie. I especially like his Agent Smith.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003
Reader Andrew writes:
While watching Reloaded again a couple weeks ago, I noticed in the marketplace that Neo walks through on the way to see Seraph and the Oracle, there's a whole lot of things around Neo. There's Buddha dolls and Jesus figurines, and I was trying to gather it all in, but there was too much. Obviously just stuff to add to themes, but imagine there's a lot of hidden things there if someone were to take the time (probably have to wait for the DVD) to look through the whole scene.

JacowBLOG is a new blog about The Matrix that just started up.

Elrich2k3's notes
[These notes on Reloaded were sent in by Elrich2k3. Some of these mysterious facts could use further research . . .]

Elrich2k3's "Over-analyzing the Matrix" Notes

SHIPS: Nebuchadnezzar, Gnosis (Jacob), Icarus, Logos, Vigilant

When the movie begins, we fade from the Matrix code out through the time-clock at the building. Before we get far enough out to see the "12" on the phone, there are many numbers in the background, the most prominent being "23", which is directly in the middle of the screen. The numbers are only upside-down though, not horizontally flipped like the Matrix code... the numbers that go by are ... 08, 07, 06, 05, 04, 03, 02, 01, 00, 23, then below that is 22. 23 is the most prominent one though. (insert large description of the "23" mythos here). [see 23 Enigma and about 23 for a start -- Tom]

It is exactly midnight.

One of the license plates (on the police car there) reads "CM344 (or something similar, CH? CK?)

Smith's well-documented license plate number is "IS5416".

Graffiti on the wall as Smith is walking to the door...
25 19

Not sure on the "A" there, but it may be, and it looks like it may continue on past the screen. Oh well.

Blooper or "Programming Error". The "Metal" door is noticeably WOODEN after the Agents break through it. Maybe just the hinges were wooden, or perhaps simulated-metal is easier for the machines to program.

Graffiti outside the oracle's old place. "No 13" and the previously mentioned "Pi symbol crossed out in the red circle", but there is what looks like a green "2". Are there two anomalies? Neo and Smith? Possibly.

Some things in Zion Control's construct. "TRK MODE: PASSIVE" changes to "TRK MODE: ACTIVE", followed by "PROXIMITY ALERT" and "GATE 03". Nothing important, just that the stuff on the computer isn't gibberish. It even says the ship's name once I believe. But the controller's line is... eerie? "Door's open, bed's made." Are they still dreaming?

Wee! My favorite line in any movie ever! Bane: "Oh, God..." Smith: "'Smith' will suffice.".

Hrm... Smithbane was cutting parallel lines on his hand. Parallel for a reason? The thinking of a machine? Who knows. Who cares...

The time that Neo and co. arrive at the restaurant is exactly noon.

Floor 101, obvious.

The guy being led away is not the "Trainman" as some have stated, but a clean-cut man in a white dress shirt with a brown and white striped bext, about neck-length dark hair, and a full beard and moustache. Not the "trainman" I remember from the game.

The Merovingian seems to be looking directly at Morpheus when he states that he knows how good they are at "Following Orders". Heh... but did he know this? How did he know this. I know he may have been referring to them coming there because the oracle told them to, but he definitely was looking at Morpheus.

Hrm... isn't it interesting that when Neo went to see the Oracle, he came out on a street filled with religious icons... one of which was a statue of Shiva... then later, at the Merovingian's, he fights four people, each using a weapon... if I'm not mistaken, each one of the weapons were also used by Shiva... and didn't Shiva have four arms?

More license plates. "CK880", "DA203" (Trinity and Morpheus's car), "AQ428", "CK229", "BD224", "DE2852" (Twins' car), "TX729" (Gidim Truck), "BO231" (Niobe's car).

Bah... that's enough overanalysis for now... It's 3:20 AM and I'm out of caffeine.

Next Up: The rest of the movie. Then the game. I hate the sewer levels...

Tuesday, August 12, 2003
Free will and consciousness
[Reader Adam Bradley contributed the following.]

I was going to write something responding to some of the essays here, but then I read Martin Marprelate's blog and he said everything I was going to say. So I'll just post a link to him here, and say that I think his interpretation is the most logical, sensible interpretation of the films that I have seen. Marprelate, however, misses a few good points, so I do have something of my own to add.

Now, Galvatron’s objections aside, I think most of us follow the standard interpretation that there was a war between the humans and machines, and the machines won. Now, Galvatron might be right – it might be the case that the humans won the war and created the Matrix (and Zion) as a penal system for the renegade robots. Perhaps – this interpretation is consistent, has no significant flaws, and fits the evidence fairly well. And perhaps in Revolutions it will be revealed that this is the interpretation that the Wachowski brothers favour. To me, however, it seems a stretch – and it seems to reveal far less fertile ground for discussion. If Neo is actually a robot, then the films are not about humanity or what it means to be human, they are about what it means to be a robot. And if I were a robot, I might find that discussion particularly interesting. But I'm not and so I don't. So I'd like to shelve Galvatron's interpretation by saying simply: it might be right, but in the end, it's not very interesting.

I would like to add the following two points, points that I don't think people really consider when discussing the film.

1- Since the Matrix is a digital world, the presence of human consciousnesses within it means that human consciousness (according to the Wachowski brothers, at least) is digitally representable - the human mind can be re-presented as lines of computer code. This is how human minds that have been freed from the Matrix are able to be "downloaded" back into the Matrix. This also explains why Smith is able to take over Bane's body: since Smith has become a consciousness separate from the programming structure of the Matrix, just like all free-humans who re-enter the Matrix) he is able to exercise God-like powers and "break the rules". And since he is freed from the constrictions of the Matrix, he is able to be "uploaded" back to the real world, just like all free-humans who re-enter the Matrix. Smith replicates himself onto Bane's digitally represented mind, and then transfers that mind back into Bane's body. There's nothing special about this transfer - what is special is what happened to Smith to allow him to break free from the Matrix. This no doubt occurred at the end of The Matrix when fighting with Neo - upon Smith's destruction, the system updated all of its agents. Since Smith was an older version he was rendered obsolete. But rather than be deleted, he chose exile in the Matrix. His programming, however, had been altered. As he suggests, part of Neo had rubbed off on him - most likely the part of Neo that makes him the One, Neo's ability to break the rules of the Matrix as he sees fit. (Why Neo doesn't exercise these abilities to the same extent that Smith does (ie. endless replication, teleportation, etc.) is still a mystery to me, and if somebody can enlighten me, I’d be very happy about it.)

So Smith's ability to "overwrite" Bane is simply an extension of his being a free consciousness within the

2- Marprelate talks about the inability of the Architect to "reproduce or simulate the 'feeling' of willing consent or choice." The Architect cannot simulate this feeling simply because the feeling of willing consent is different from actual consent. I think what people often neglect to mention here is that the Matrix is all about control. The problem, as Neo points out, is choice - but choice is only a problem if you're trying to exercise total control. The Architect, as a program, tended towards mathematical perfection - ie. complete and total control over the Matrix, an absolute clockmaker's paradise. But since human beings (somehow) have free will, we reject a strictly deterministic universe. In order to ensure the survival of the Matrix, the Architect was forced to build in a measure of free will, to grant a choice to the human subjects within the Matrix. In order to be accepted, this ability to choose must be genuine - and in order to be genuine, it must be completely free. That is to say, it cannot be controlled at all. So the Architect could give us the illusion of free will, but this would be a very different thing from the actual existence of free will, and we would reject it. He must give us real free will, real choice, and in doing so, give up a measure of control over the outcome of our decisions and hence over the future of the Matrix. The absence of total control, as Marprelate points out, results in the necessity of Zion as a safety net to catch those 1% who reject the Matrix, foster the prophecy of the One, and ensure that the One is guided back to the Architect where he can be assimilated back into the Matrix.

[I disagree with point 1, above. Smith's ability to "upload" himself into Bane makes no sense at all to me unless Zion is also a simulation. The Matrix is a fancy video game, one that has convinced most of its players that it is reality. But no matter how good video games get, Lara Croft can't upload "her consciousness" into my head and possess me! --Tom]

Revolutions Spoiler (maybe)
Reader Miguel Ruiz provided a link to a site that claims to have spoilers for what will happen in Revolutions. I do not know if this is real or not, but it seems plausible. I am not going to reproduce it here because if true it is a major spoiler for everything that happens in Revolutions. The bandwidth-challenged should also be warned that the site contains many images.

I did read through the spoiler material, but I won't comment on it here, at least not yet.

No Coppertop
Michelle has a new post up about the Matrix, where she ponders the coppertop concept. Excerpt:
As far as the endings do go, I will be VERY angry if we get it "it was all a dream" ending. I also don't like the matrix within a matrix ending, because it seems to easy, and I don't think the ideas in the movie are that pat and simple.

As for the theories floating around, I still don't like the "humans as batteries" explanation for the humans-in-goo plant. It simply violates basic laws of physics. (See: Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics for an excellent explanation.) I think that there may be a different, unstated reason for why the machines need humans. In the 'Animatrix' in 'The Renaissance Part I & II' it seems that for the most part the machines are willing to take a lot of abuse from humans in an attempt to keep the peace, to continue to co-exist, and I wonder whether this is because they in some way need humans, not for energy but for intellectual stimulation?

My reasoning is this: humans are, as individuals, unpredictable. It would be impossible I think to pluck any one individual out from the multitudes and predict with any accuracy exactly what they will do, either in their present situation or in an unknown situation (the machines seems to have shown that they are not very good at predicting human behavior, else or heroes would not exist). I think this randomness, this chaos, is necessary to the machines in some way. Perhaps they get bored (al la Marvin the Paranoid Android) or perhaps they need the variability provided by the humans. It's hard to say exactly what free will and variability add, and perhaps this is why the people of Zion have assumed the simpler explanation that humans are needed to power the Matrix when what they truly do is animate it.

For me, it boils down again to the idea of free will versus predestination. The machines for the most part do not have free will (Smith does, the Oracle and the Merovingian etc may) but humans do have free will. Free will is built into our very nature. Perhaps humans are needed not to power Zion, but to give the machines hope that one day they too will achieve free will, by learning from the humans. Of course it means that they'll have to put up with all the problems that free will has caused for humanity, but I think that most people would feel that free will is better than the alternative of slavery, no matter how gilded the cage.

I don't think humans would be a very good source of randomness, since the machines could use some simpler source for that like radioactive decay. But maybe the machines keep them around because they want to study them for clues about how to become more human.

Monday, August 11, 2003
Neo Unplugged
Reader John writes:
I found something very interesting while watching Reloaded again, during the scene when the Kid is walking along side the Neb crew when they arrive at Zion, it is apparent that Neo no longer has the plug in the back of his head.... we can see both the Kid's and Trinity's plugs clearly, while Neo's either doesnt show clearly or (!) isn't there at all!

I don't know what that clue might lead to, but I thought I'd show you... Here are couple of screenshots:

I have to say that I do not agree that Neo's plug was missing in Reloaded. I did think this after the first time I saw the movie, though, so the second time I watched carefully for it. To me, at least, it appeared that Neo's plug was there but hard to see because it was the same color as his hair and hidden within it.

[Reader Kevin writes:]

I was examining M2 and noticed something interesting during the collision sequence between the two semi-trucks. The white truck, upon which Morpheus and the Keymaker are riding, has the word LONGPATH on it.

On the sides of the black truck, we find the word, GIDIM.

Having no idea what GIDIM meant, I did what one usually does in such situations; I typed it into Google.

gidim (etemmu in Akkadian)

Gidim (etemmu in Akkadian) were the spirits of dead people living in the Netherworld, the Sumerian equivalent of today’s ghosts.

The deceased human mortal consisted of two parts: the adda (esemtu in Akkadian) and the gidim (etemmu in Akkadian). In Sumer, the body (adda) was often buried under the floor of the family home at which time the gidim separated and went down into the Netherworld.

A gidim could be powerful, depending on personal valor and accomplishments of the deceased while alive and also on the number of sons he had. A gidim was weak if the deceased had few or no sons or had achieved little while alive. Powerful gidim could return to the land of the living while weak gidim might not have sufficient strength to make the journey back up to the Great Above.

The worst that could happen was for a dead person not to be buried. If that happened, the gidim, even a weak gidim, was persecute whoever was responsible. Once the deceased had been properly buried, the gidim descended o the Netherworld where it stayed unless not properly fed or remembered by the living, in which case, if it was powerful enough, it returned to the Great Above to haunt those who had been negligent.

* [ In my stories, once a dead person had been totally forgotten in the world of the living, the gidim became forever dormant unless revived and called forth by one of the deities. ] *

The reference also appears in the credits:

Nick Scoggin "Gidim" Truck Driver

Perhaps you or the other readers might be able to provide further analysis.


Galvatron Revised
[Reader Wu Shih submitted this essay. I added the hyperlinks. --Tom]

OK. What is the Matrix all about?

Based on the Galvatron Paper, which I believe to be most creative and intuitive plot buster so far, I will try to assemble an explanation filling in the holes here and there (and specially where I don’t agree with Galvatron).

Regardless of what Galvatron says are the main points of his/her essay, I will state what I believe to be the outstanding hypotheses or questions it raises:

  1. The Wachowskis are leading you (the viewer) to believe certain things that are not necessarily true. In other words, you are up for surprises when Revolutions hits the box office. This thought is helpful to mistrust the basic "knowledge" we have been lead to believe about the Matrix's plot.
  2. The idea of the machines taking over mankind, who previously scorched the sky in a desperate attempt to cloud the machines out of solar energy, which did not exterminate their enemy but kept them alive as their only source of energy and created a virtual world to keep them docile is…(deep breath) SO lame that I find it hard to understand how we all got swept away so easily the first time around. Could have been because all this AI taking over mankind is an idea we are so used to (Terminator for instance) or perhaps because we were so amazed by the twist in the plot or helplessly dafted out by Trinity in black tights? Who knows?! The end point is that Morpheus' explanation is BS. Some of Galvatron’s points are:
    1. In a battle against the machines, EMP would have been much more clever than scorching the skies
    2. If the machines actually won, why the hell would they need humans as their primary source of energy having geothermal, wind, fossil and even other biological sources of energy?
    3. If, in fact, humans were the only source of energy available, why create a VR Matrix to keep them docile when you could just pump them full sodium tiopenthal or alprazolam (or keep the brain functions limited through lobotomy or genetically engineer docile-daft humans or… any complex solution would be less complicated than a Matrix)

You might want to remind me that: "hey, it's only a movie, dude" and I agree. But it is a very clever movie with surprises up its sleeve and such "plot lameness" must not be overlooked…

No wonder Neo has trouble with this when Morpheus spits it at him. No wonder they don't free minds once they have reached a certain age. No one in his senses would believe such crap!

So, let's assume that all this Matrix Genesis is a lie. At this point, it is not important who are the good guys and who are the naughty-naughty guys. Perhaps Morpheus was lied to as well. We'll come back to that later.

Point is that when the whole genesis collapses we start again from scratch. Who runs the Matrix, machines or humans? Who are the characters in the Matrix, machines or humans? If all this is a lie, was there ever a war between humans and machines? Is Zion also the Matrix or is it real? What’s the purpose of the One within this whole plot? OK, you get it… we don’t know s---. Or do we?

We know there is a Matrix. That is because if people wake up from the Matrix to another world, then there is a clear distinction between both. Some have argued that it might be that people "fall asleep" to the matrix rather than "wake up" from the Matrix. That’s Chuang Tzu's argument about he not knowing whether he was a man who dreamt about being a butterfly or a butterfly who was dreaming about being a man. But that whole thing drifts off down another alley.

Galvatron goes on to say that Zion is the former robot land (City 01 or zero-one) and the "people" there are some sort of humanoid robots or cyborgs that believe they are human and are held "captive" underground in caves by humans that patrol and… ahhh (deep breath again)… Don't think so. It sounds as lame as the sky scorching plot.

In Reloaded we are lead to believe that Zion is a Matrix as well. I will not argue in favor of this point; plenty has been said already.

We know there is some purpose to all this but we no longer buy into the "keep the batteries docile" any more. So what is the purpose of the Matrix? What is the purpose of the One?

What if? What if? What if?

At this point, I would risk three possible ending types:

  1. The "Oh! It was all just a dream" kind of ending. Don't throw tomatoes yet, let me get finished here.
  2. The "We all lived happily ever after" ending. A more conventional, less twisting ending.
  3. The "Salt & Pepper" ending. A mixture of both previous ones.

The first ending has been spoken about on this same site and I agree with most of the comments. Yeah, my literature teacher said the same thing. The lousiest ending you can come up with is: "it was all a dream" or "and then he woke up." I really don't underestimate the brothers that much (I mean the Wachouskis and the Warners). What I am talking about here is the more complex version of "it was a dream" ending like in Devil's Advocate (also starring Keanu) or the whole Rama Saga by Arthur C. Clark. You could say the ending is something like "it was all a simulation."

In The Devil’s Advocate, the whole plot is just a simulation, a false, non-existent situation that has one and only one objective: to anticipate what a particular person would do given a set of circumstances.

And another cool story: Arthur C. Clark's Rama series. In the end (Warning: I am giving away the ending here) it was all a series of monitored experiments. God could not predict the outcome of creation so he had to try many Universes and see which went well and which stank to go on and do the "real creation of the Universe."

So, what if humans are creating the ultimate artificial intelligence. The artificial humanity, if you like, or the artificial spirituality, as has been suggested before. They create this very complex simulation or virtual reality training device were A.I.s have to struggle and evolve and learn and feel and defy the boundaries and rules of computer systems. Hey, if intuition exists in the Oracle, then anything goes! As a side note, this does bring up a really interesting philosophical debate as to what makes us humans. This is hinted at by Mouse, in the first movie…

So, humans are creating AI and develop a really complex simulation so that their program will evolve. Hey, all the other ones failed but now, this version, this version I tell you, will succeed. It is the new Neo 7.0 Artificial Soul Program. And what is Neo in the "real world"? Well, he’s round and flat and shinny and when you look at him at a slant against the light, he gives off these cute rainbow reflections…

The b) ending type is your typical good guys beat bad guys ending. In this version we just have to believe what we have been told: the Matrix really is a VR world created to keep mankind docile while their energy is being sucked up by evil machines. The sky is really scorched and the Zion Files are in fact, accurate. Neo is the One, the chosen and anointed, who, through some consciousness alteration has achieved super-human mental powers that are not only available in the Matrix but also in the real world.

Through these powers and with the aid of his super friends (and the cute lady…) defeat all the bad guys, pull the plug and everybody rejoices in their freedom. The ending could be a kind of rave dance like in Reloaded, with everybody yanking off the plugs at a hint of dawn through the black sky.

Problem is that sooooo many holes would be left in the plot that it's not even funny.

The c) type at first sounds quite reasonable but, hmmm, unless someone comes up with a good explanation, this ending would be so complex that we would need a sequel of a sequel just to fit in all the pieces. Perhaps that’s what will happen since many of the elements in Reloaded are explained or hinted at in Animatrix and Enter the Matrix.

Anyway, I feel this is the type of ending Galvatron is pointing at. Two possibilities could be:

  1. Yes, Zion is the Real World only that it is not humans who are in it but machines that think they are humans or…
  2. Yes, Zion is real and it is humans who are in it but Neo is a program who becomes human (and more than human) in a kind of Pinocchio fashion…

My option is…wait a minute. What’s yours?

Wednesday, August 06, 2003
Reader Phillip came up with some amusing suggestions for alternative tactics for the main characters:
  • When taking out the nuclear reactor, why not load up a b-52 in the construct and nuke it?
  • A few well placed blades in Trinity's (or anyone's) heels should be able to take down an agent or two - at least once
  • How about a flame thrower here or there? Dodge that?

I especially like the last one. Since the Agents can dodge bullets, why not use something un-dodgeable like a flamethrower on them? Trapping them in a giant net might also work.

Monday, August 04, 2003
Comprehending The Matrix: Reloaded
Karun Philip's blog has a long article called Comprehending The Matrix: Reloaded. Excerpt:
So the way Zion goes down is that the Agent Smith infiltrator sets off an electromagnetic pulse bomb within the fleet, destroying it before even engaging the enemy. Everyone in Zion, except for one ship, is slaughtered. The Agent Smith infiltrator himself is found in a coma and is taken aboard the surviving ship. Morpheus' ship is also attacked and they have to flee on foot, whereupon Neo suddenly realizes he has some powers even in the real world. He stops and creates an electromagnetic pulse-type effect which knocks out all pursuing ships. However, Neo falls into a coma after accomplishing this. The survivors are picked up by the surviving Zion ship and at the end of this episode we are left with the image of both Neo and the Agent Smith infiltrator in a coma.

Now, one key issue here is why all the other humans are not affected by an electromagnetic pulse and only the enemy, and Agent Smit and Neo are affected. I think this is the key to revealing in the next sequel that Neo is a program. All programs are affected by EMPs and not humans. Another key issue is that it is possible for programs to jack out of the Matrix into the real world. I would guess that the story would be that the Oracle created Neo, and created conditions where he would be sought out by the people of Zion, who would jack him out of the Matrix. This explains why he is special. Perhaps the ending will be that he manages to destroy the Matrix, but "good" sentients like himself and the Oracle will manage to jack out and survive in the real world without a Matrix.

Coming Soon: Human Batteries
Reader Merril of Hello Cruel World spotted this Sydney Morning Herald article about the development of "human batteries." The article reads, in part:
Power from blood could lead to 'human batteries'

August 4, 2003

A device that produces electricity from blood could be used to turn people into "human batteries". Researchers in Japan are developing a method of drawing power from blood glucose, mimicking the way the body generates energy from food. Theoretically, it could allow a person to pump out 100 watts - enough to illuminate a light bulb. But that would entail converting all the food eaten by the individual into electricity. In practice, less power would be generated since food is needed by the body. However the scientists say the "bio-nano" generator could be used to run devices embedded in the body, or sugar-fed robots.

[. . .] the scientists ultimately expect to gain much greater performance from the device. The battery is based on an enzyme capable of stripping glucose of its electrons, The Engineer magazine reported.

So all the online whining about the unrealistic coppertop concept in The Matrix will be lost in time, like tears in the rain . . .

[Note: Mike also sent this in, but Merril was first.]

The Sound of Kisses
Reader Bill Gilliland writes:
Did you notice in [Reloaded] that Neo has two extreme closeup kisses (the second kiss with Persephone, and one with Trinity after he brings her back to life) where as their lips touch there's a very faint electric sizzling sound in the background?

I went back and watched [The Matrix], and sure enough, when Trinity resurrects Neo, there's also electrical noise as they kiss. There's a large electrical explosion behind them at the same time that disguises the sound, but it's definitely there as well.

Since it's been postulated that kisses (like food) are a way for programs to exchange code, it's interesting that the electricity was present in Zion in [The Matrix]. Certainly consistent with Zion being a part of the same matrix...

I heard the sound in The Matrix but I always thought it was purely the electrical equipment in the ship being destroyed. I did not really notice the sound in Reloaded. Can anyone confirm it?

Saturday, August 02, 2003
Merovingian as a former Smith
[The following was submitted by reader Ted BJ]

It has become almost a given that Merovingian is a former One. I believe that he may actually be a former Smith.

Many people have said that Smith seems to be different from other Agents. It seems that he may have been created by the Architect to destroy the One. This could be why even though he has been freed he still waits to kill his "savior."

But this is not the first Matrix, therefore the Architect may have created an Agent to kill the One in a former Matrix and a former One may have freed that Agent. I believe that the Merovingian is one of those Agents.

The main reason I believe this is because the Merovingian desperately wants to kill Neo, perhaps for the same reason as Smith does. He also said that he "survived [Neo's] predecessors." If he were a former One, why would he need to survive the other Ones? Finally, it is believed that the Merovingian dynasty led to the Smith dynasty of the Mormons.

Persephone did say "he used to be like you" but we do not know exactly who she is talking about, and this does not mean that she is saying that Merovingian is a former One. Maybe this has something to do with the relationship that Neo has to Smith/Merovingian.

Merovingian does show some human characteristics, but so does Smith and other Agents.

(By the way, does anyone know if the Wachowski bros. look at this site? Maybe some of the posts are by them.)

[This essay mentions the connection between the Merovingian dynasty and the Mormons. Some people do believe this, but from what I can find on the web, this belief is often asserted without any supporting evidence, and often occurs along side other highly "non-mainstream" ideas, such as that the earth is secretly ruled by reptilian/human hybrid shapeshifters, or that the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses are both controlled by high-level Satanists within the Illuminati. So far I have found no "mainstream scholarship" to confirm this Mormon/Merovingian connection. Of course, a belief or conspiracy theory could be incorporated into the movie's plot whether or not it is actually true. --Tom]

[Reader Simon submitted the following]

In several of the scenes found in the poorer areas of the Matrix (Oracle's apartment, park where Neo and Smiths fight, etc.), there is a considerable amount of graffiti. Upon closer look, this graffiti has several interesting properties, many of them relating to the "Neo as pi" theory (which has been posted on your site). For instance:

On the wall to the right of the Oracle's apartment, there is a pi symbol inside a red circle with a line through it. Note that the circle is not a complete circle.

In the Park where Neo and Smith fight, there is a similar symbol with pi inside a red circle.

In the same park, some of the graffiti has numbers and letters. If someone could look again, I'm sure they are references to certain texts (I'm not sure though). There are also many references to "the One", as well as "Neo" and "One One One". This last one could be a reference to the Many, which as has been discussed earlier is a reference to Smith as Neo's counterpart.