Sunday, June 29, 2003
Neo flies in the Matrix Reloaded

The Matrix: Reloaded, Decoded

Is Neo in a Cult? Are You?

The tragedy of The Matrix Reloaded is not only that it           abandons the savior motif it so obviously advertised in the first           film for a bait and switch, but also that the product delivered           in the sequel is not even good old Hinduism or Buddhism—or even           relativism for that matter—but a vapid and reheated heresy packaged           in a smart business suit and sold at a price in a hotel conference           room.

By the brothers ::: philms ::: (63) Comments ::: Read the whole thing

Comments

26

in reference to when i said the matrix made thinking cool, i was being satirical, lest we get confused and misread what i am saying:
accepting generic thought patterns, like public education, the nightly news, and basic consumerism is the norm. no one is really saying anything new, or insightful, in the land of the generic, by definition, i suppose.
thinking critically is rare. detached analysis is rare. thinking you are deep, because a hollywood blockbuster introduced you into a world of intrigue, of conspiracy that you wish you were part of is, is no longer rare. theologians, anthropologists, philosophers, and scientists of all kinds, are veterans of the type of thought that the matrix has suddenly made cool. things that are rare:huge genitals, genius, artistic talent, integrity, precious metals and stones. all cool, because they are rare. not rare: looking at basic philosophical questions due to the matrix and thinking you are the deepest and coolest coffee house thinker since sartre.
keeping up the thought, after thinking has stopped being a leather jacketed trend, would prove cooler still, but again, is destined to rarity.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 19 Jul 03 at 11:41 PM
27

Past lives for Agent Smith…

including playing a pretty convincing drag queen in “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.”

Ha :)

Jim

Posted by Jim Rovira on 21 Jul 03 at 09:44 PM
28

I just can’t believe that a movie with 15 minutes of new plot and 2 hours of drawn out overdone fight scenes was such a hit?????

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 23 Jul 03 at 03:20 PM
29

HA :)  I gave them more credit than that.  I said there was 45 minutes of plot.

Jim

Posted by Jim Rovira on 23 Jul 03 at 03:28 PM
30

I said 15 minutes of “new plot” the rest was recycled for those who didn’t understand the first movie to have another go at it.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 23 Jul 03 at 03:30 PM
31

Oh, crap, you have a point there. 

HA :)

Jim

Posted by Jim Rovira on 23 Jul 03 at 04:03 PM
32

I love the conversations that have been taking place here…and maybe I’m a bit behind you all.  Please don’t think I’m simple for asking the following questions about this sequel:
1.  Is Zion another Matrix?
2.  If so, are certain members of that population not human, but programs (i.e., Morpheus, Trinity, the High Council Members…)?
3.  Is Neo a program (called “The One”) or is a program attached to him?  I think The Architect says so, but I can’t really follow everything he says…which he said we wouldn’t, incidentally!
4. Who is the French guy supposed to be, anyway?  A former “One” who escaped rather than face deletion…and took his Trinity (Persephone) with him?
5. What on earth is going on with Agent Smith?  Is he a virus now, whereas before he wasn’t?  Is he now trying to destroy the machines, too, or just Neo?
6. Who’s side is The Oracle really on?  Or is she capable of “choosing sides”?
7.  Does anyone think that there is really something “supernatural” going on in this film? I mean, I think that Neo is clearly a special “One” of all the “Ones”, if you can believe what the French man and The Architect say about him…(and I think that you have to assume that everything the Architect says is true, or else all bets are off anyway).  The question for me becomes this:  what makes Neo different from the previous 5 Ones?  He is different BEFORE he makes the choice to save Trinity instead of going through the other door…did the Architect need to provide that choice to Neo to figure out something new about human psyche and load that info. into the new version of the One?  Because otherwise, why did the Architect give him a choice at all?  He didn’t have to, did he?
  Maybe what makes Neo different is that, yes, he is The One according to the Matrix program, but he is also The One in the religious sense that the people of Zion believe him to be, a One chosen by a “god” who really exists above and beyond the context of the Matrix, who has decided to send the people of Zion a true saviour to defeat the machines this time?  That is the only thing that would explain Neo’s ability to stop the machines at the end of Reloaded, unless, well, see question 1 again.
  I would truly appreciate any insights or comments.  I feel like I need to at least try to comprehend what the hell was happening before I can participate in the deconstruction of the movie, and its possible meanings and connections.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 28 Jul 03 at 06:31 PM
33

Neo isn’t in a cult. He is in the matrix, everything is in the matrix, Zion is in the matrix. In the first movie, when they escape from the matrix, they didn’t; it was all in the matrix. This is the “Life is but a dream”, what is reality mindfuck seen in other movies (like the last few seconds of “men in Black” , or the conclusion of the video game “Links Awaking”). It also plays into the metaphysical concept of all life being pure energy, guided by some mystical force; the link being that as part of the matrix you are an electrical impulse being guide by a master computer/program/GOD.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 29 Jul 03 at 10:47 AM
34

Question 1—I think that last conversation between Neo and the Architect pretty well prevents us from thinking Zion is within the Matrix assuming, of course, that the architect wasn’t lying.

Question 2—follows from above.

3. Following questions 1 and 2, Neo isn’t a program but a biological life whose consciousness is aligned with his physical environment, as opposed to having a consciousness determined by a machine.  Neo, though—in fact, the whole Zion thing—is the product of a programming glitch that allows 1% error (in other words, we could say it allows 1% of those caught in the Matrix to wake up and realize their lives have been determined by a machine).

4. The Merovingian seemed to be defined by the control of, and access to, information.  I take it, then, that he’s a very old program, and not a former version of The One.  It’s not at all clear why he’s important.  Hopefully he’ll play a significant role in the last film.  If they just drop him, that’ll be a creative failure on the part of the WBs.

5. Smith is a renegade program hiding out in the Matrix.  His ability to replicate himself and inhabit the human consciousness of those he takes over means he could, conceivable, take over the Matrix and, at the same time, cure the programming glitch.  All consciousness would then be Smith’s, or the machine’s.  But then the consciousness of the Machine itself would be Smith’s, a sacrifice on the part of the machine that developed the Matrix and all other programs, for that matter.  So Smith is a bit of a renegade in the machine world, as well as being a serious threat to humanity.  Neo will have to take him out.

more to come.

Jim

Posted by Jim Rovira on 29 Jul 03 at 11:07 AM
35

Continued from below:

6. The Oracle was an intuitive program designed to help the Architect create a Matrix people could accept and live within.  So she’s part of the system and her “help” will always be designed to ultimately serve the goals of the system.  That’s part of the point the Merovingian was trying to make to Neo, Morpheus, and Trinity—they weren’t players because they didn’t really know what was going on, just pawns.

7. Neo is different, according to the architect, because his attachment to humanity is focused upon a single individual—Trinity—rather than to humanity as a group.  That makes him exceptional among all the other Ones, and makes his decisions happen a bit differently too.

Neo is primarily special because of his abilities in the Matrix. 

But we see in Agent Smith (ultimately an Anti-Christ of sorts) and in Neo that the dividing line between the machine world and human is permeable.  Smith can inhabit human consciousness outside the Matrix, Neo can control machines outside the Matrix.  I think they both have an exceptional connection to the machine world, special abilities.

Neo would be a savior if he defeats the machines before they defeat Zion.  What connection this has to anything supernatural is up for grabs, I think.  Religious imagery seems to be adopted not because the WB’s love it so much, but because it’s the only way we have of talking about the emancipation of human consciousness—which ultimately validates religion, but we shouldn’t misunderstand its role in the films. 

The only questions I can even try to answer are the ones that reference the films already released, though, and of course different answers are possible.  I think your questions are pretty interesting and do reflect different possibilities.  If the Architect was lying, as you say, all bets are off :).

Jim

Posted by Jim Rovira on 29 Jul 03 at 11:08 AM
36

The architect hints that Zion has be created, and destroted over and over again. He doesn’t say whether it was done so in or out of the matrix. Plus at the end of the film Neo is able to control the sentinals as if he was still in the matrix (because he was, but hadn’t realized it yet).

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 29 Jul 03 at 02:58 PM
37

Remember that last conversation with the Architect?  If Neo went back to the mainframe, he’d be allowed to “leave” with 24 women and 7 men to restart Zion.  This implies Zion is outside the Matrix. 

But again, all this depends upon whether or not the Architect was lying or telling the truth to Neo.  IF Zion is within the Matrix, it’s clearly in the best interests of the Matrix to let them think it’s outside it. 

I think Neo’s control of the machines is possible without Zion being a part of the Matrix, but hasn’t been explained yet.  I expect that to happen in the third film.  One possibility is that Zion is indeed part of the Matrix; I’m just saying it’s not clear that’s the case yet, evidence points to the contrary, and we won’t be sure till the third film.

It’s also possible the WB would leave this question open.  There’s a dialog of Plato that asks the question Morpheus asked Neo in the first film: how do you know if you’re asleep or awake when you have a very realistic dream?  This dialog is also relevant to Alice in Wonderland, another literary point of reference for the first film.  The question was never answered in the dialog.

Jim

Posted by Jim Rovira on 29 Jul 03 at 03:46 PM
38

The architect saying Neo could have 24 women and 7 men to restart zion doesn’t imply that Zion is outside of the matrix. If fact the concept that Zion has been started over and over again, would be dramatically easier if Zion was in the matrix.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 29 Jul 03 at 03:52 PM
39

It’s just that word “leave”—it implied “leaving” the matrix.  Again, this isn’t a slam dunk.  Even if the Architect wanted Neo to think he’d be allowed to leave the matrix, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t lying.  There no reason for the machines to tell the truth unless it served their goals of control.

Jim

Posted by Jim Rovira on 29 Jul 03 at 04:00 PM
40

Leave could also imply leaving the room that the architect was in.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 29 Jul 03 at 04:02 PM
41

Let me put it this way, it might make more sense. Why would the architect let people leave the matrix, and start a city, that would one day try to destroy the matrix. It seems like one hell of a gamble, unless the city would also be in the matrix, and at all times in its full control. The strife needed to make the people happy and keep the matrix stable need not come from reality, but only the appearance of it.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 29 Jul 03 at 04:05 PM
42

In the sentence, “leave” referred to what Neo would be allowed to do after his “unique insights” were incorporated into the Mainframe, so it would be after Neo left that particular room.  It makes the most sense if it refers to leaving the Matrix. 

The Architect made it pretty clear that the 1% of error was something they couldn’t get rid of—people were always going to be escaping.  What his goal seems to be is to account for every possible permutation with each Zion that rises and falls, incorporating each one into the Matrix until all possibilities were exhausted and the Matrix had total control again.

This is obviously a rationalist’s fantasy, of course, but we have no reason to believe the machines aren’t kidding themselves about a few things either. 

Again, I’m not saying it’s not possible that Zion is part of the Matrix. I’m just pointing out a couple things that point away from that.  I suspect the ambiguity—the possibility that this could be true—was deliberate.

Jim

Posted by Jim Rovira on 29 Jul 03 at 04:10 PM
43

All science fiction using the concept of man being overrun by machine has used the same premise; that mans downfall has been the methodical, logical, unemotional, aspects of machines that make them superior (of is always turns out that the opposite ends up saving mankind) Dune, terminator, the Matrix, Maniac Cop (really bad), are really all extensions of Frankenstein anyway. But if you going to use the idea of artificial intelligence in a computer as being in control, then you must assume human characteristics like pride, ego, confidence, are void from this artificial intelligence. Given this the idea that the computer would create a real Zion instead of a comp/gen zion in the matrix is highly unlikely.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 29 Jul 03 at 05:26 PM
44

That’s it, though—the AI isn’t creating Zion, it’s just letting people leave and create a Zion, which it can afford to do given that it can efficiently destroy it once it grows enough to be a threat.  The Architect was absolutely certain that Zion would be destroyed this time around, saying they’ve gotten very good at it.

I have a hard time with the premise that an AI that gained consciousness would be free from pride, ego, vanity…why?  Consciousness itself presupposes the possibility of these, since they’re simply inflations of the individual consciousness made possible by self reflection. 

However, when I describe the premise of the machine as “the rationalist’s dream” this doesn’t require vanity, in a human sense, on the part of the machine.  It’s the vanity of reason itself—the belief that it is sufficient, by itself, to control all.  That vanity is very common and even expressed in films like The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.  It is always wrong, of course, as you observe—the very opposite winds up defeating it.  In the case of the Matrix, this is going to be a combination of religious consciousness with romantic love.

Probably the best analog to this in the films is the fact that these death prophecies all come literally true but are never final.  The Architect was right, Trinity did die.  Neo brought her back.  The Oracle was right, Neo had to die saving Morpheus. Trinity brought him back.  It’s the irrational ending that the machines either never see or dont’ want to see.

I agree, though, that the Matrix follows many other Sci-Fi films (you left out the Terminator) in how it uses its premise, and yes, it is all Frankenstein.  For that matter, you could say it’s Oedipus or Genesis.  I would say the Matrix is different, though, in that the control doesn’t just extend to physical slavery of human beings, but to cover human consciousness as well in as total a system as possible.

Jim

Posted by Jim Rovira on 29 Jul 03 at 06:35 PM
45

It is possible that the machines are conscious of the ends. They say that someone has to die in order to add a sense of urgency to the human’s mind which spurs them into action and causes them to make the changes that THEY want made. I mean, if the machines have created this entire world to enslave all of mankind, how is it that they need programs to monitor events inside the Matrix? Why isn’t the master computer omniscient? I’m watching these films and between the Oracle and the Architect, they’re controlling Neo just as much, maybe more, than the Matrix does the non-freed minds. Isn’t it possible that there has only been one Matrix and all of the rest of it, including the ‘real world’, are all part of the Matrix, lies to make certain troublesome humans to do what they want? I think that Neo is the only human yet to be free of the Matrix.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 30 Jul 03 at 01:50 AM
46

You have to understand computer programming to understand why it would have programs to monitro events inside the matrix. Computers programs are not a program, only the most basic one 20 years ago were. A modern computer program or aplication is made up of a few dozen to several thousand individual programs that all work together.  So the Structure of the matrix with it sentinal programs makes complete sense, without granting human characteristics to the machines.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 30 Jul 03 at 09:26 AM
47

Yeah, I’d have to agree that the Master Computer probably isn’t
“omniscient” even with the limited world of the Matrix.  It makes programming sense, but even more than that it’s made explicit in the second film.  Remember there are a number of programs that “aren’t doing what they were designed to do” (according to the Oracle) and are “hiding out” in the Matrix. 

I would say that from the machine point of view Neo is a program, he’s being treated like a program, and he’s not completely running properly.  THe machines have had him on a short leash—I think that was part of the Merovingian’s point—and like it or not he’s been, for the most part, doing what they wanted him to do.  This doesn’t mean he IS a program, though.  We need to see the machines as a character/group of characters that work from a certain, provincial in their own way, point of view.

Neo’s limitations consist of not seeing the whole picture, and by extension the fact that his abilities are limited to his imagination.  I think the fact that he was able to short out the Sentinels at the end of the second movie represented a quantum leap in his awareness.

Jim  

Posted by Jim Rovira on 30 Jul 03 at 10:52 AM
48

Think of it this way? Do you have microsoft windows? Is Mcafee anti virus supposed to make your computer run like shit and lock up all the time? In a system as small and simple as your PC programs lock up all the time, they fight for system resources, and some just don’t work. The original program for the system that would become the matrix would have had to be programmed by less then perfect humans, or by other machines programmed at some point by humans. So the matrix would be doomed to flaws. Also consider that Neo is a program, and that he is not flawed, but a subroutine to the defender of Zion program that offers enough strife and drama to keep the human batteries happy.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 30 Jul 03 at 11:36 AM
49

Hey, Jim, Reloaded may have had anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes of plot (new or recycled, depending on who you ask…) but it’s given us about 4 hours worth of unpacking.  :)

Thanks everyone who tried to help me with my own Big Questions…what I’m discovering here is pretty much what Jim has been saying over and over: that we can theorize what’s going on in this movie, but we really won’t know until Revolutions comes out (and even then…)

But while we’re still stuck in July and forced to guess, does anyone have a guess as to what is going to happen with the guy Agent Smith “infected” and sent back into Zion will be up to?  He was the only survivor of a Sentinel attack - maybe because he had the same power to stop or short the Sentinels that Neo did at the end of the movie? His prupose seems to be to kill Neo, and he’s not working for all the Machines, just Smith apparently.
Smith said during his exchange with Neo that he wanted to take away Neo’s purpose, just like Neo had taken away his (Smith’s).  So here we have another great theme of the movies:  choice (The Architect), love (Trinity), God (The Oracle), reality (Morpheus), action and consequenses (the Merovingian), power (Merovingian again); and Purpose.  Smith, a machine (we assume…) needs a Purpose just as much as a human does.  How is this going to shape what happens in Revolutions??

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 30 Jul 03 at 02:57 PM
50

This is an interesting point, how could smith infect a realperson in zion, if that person wasn’t really in the matrix as well? Plus if a program from the matrix could live in the mind of a conscience person that wasn’t in the matrix, then why couldn’t the conscience of a personl ive as a program in the matrix with out the body (if say one was killed in real life while they were in the matrix). The answer is again, because at all time they all are in the matrix. So when somebody is killed back on the ship they died in the matrix, because they were really in the matrix when they died.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 30 Jul 03 at 03:30 PM

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