The Matrix Mythology

Exploring Historical and Religious Themes & Archetypal Symbology


The material displayed on this site is the property of its author, Brian James (also the designer of the website and Flash element), and should not be plagiarized. The mythology of the Matrix films makes for fascinating discussion material - but only when they are YOUR original thoughts.

This website represents a rough manuscript prototype. The Author is currently seeking an agent or a publisher for this material.
Brian@MatrixMythology.com

INTRODUCTION


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The astonishing depth of the mythology in the Matrix films touches the core of our beings as sentient life. Intelligent life functioning and, most of all, thinking. Thoughtful beings able to ponder their own existence. Their own Self. What is the Matrix? What is ME?

In screen format, jammed with action, explosions, and death-defying feats of seeming unreality, the messages and evocations of the Matrix films are a plethora of psychic onions to be unpeeled - layer-by-layer - by the watcher. Its characters a bold and larger-than-life representation of everything we as humans have considered among religion and philosophy since before any record of such questions were recorded.

Where many filmgoers are intently watching the deft display of martial arts, the clanging attack of the deadly sentinels, or the Agents dodging machine gun rounds, others are paying attention to a subtext of huge consequence. Like the Matrix itself, where humans are plugged in at birth and live only to experience the sensations of the brain, moviegoers are watching for the entertainment value big-budget films like The Matrix are meant to provide. Like those unplugged from the Matrix, moviegoers are experiencing the same entertainment value as the first set but are also attuned to a higher understanding of what it is. Thus, those in the second set are able to perform various feats only attained by those who have an understanding of the Matrix. Neo, having a greater understanding than any of the unplugged, has the ability of feats unrealized by his comrades.

When I saw The Matrix Reloaded in the theater, I noticed something during the scenes where Neo interacts with The Oracle and also the scenes where Neo interacts with The Architect (inside the door of light). I noticed a great shuffling and movement in the crowd during these scenes. While I was at the edge of my seat trying to absorb every word of the conversation in the film, the shuffling and movement kept drawing my attention. My only conclusion was the others around me (who knows how many or what percentage) were either very bored with the dialogue, uncomfortable with the dialogue, or unable/unwilling to comprehend the dialogue. Possibly, they didn't see these diatribes and esoteric meanderings as part of the real plot. Or, they considered these sections a dead spot in an otherwise action-packed film.

Rarely do the worlds of entertainment and esoterism/religion/philosophy intersect. TV shows and movies rarely (if at all) make use of the mind of the watcher. The standard who-done-it thriller or the "I sent my father back in time to impregnate my mother" of the Terminator saga, or "can a machine love me?" of the film A.I. do conjure a kernel of thought-provoking material for the watcher, however, entertainment is mostly about being entertained; not about thinking.

Entertainment in our time, for the most, consists of having an experience. Hopefully, a pleasant experience (or in the movie business, you can kiss your career goodbye!). Like a nice bowl of your favorite ice cream, sprinkles, hot fudge, and whipped cream, you savor every mouthful and then sit back and relish the last gulp as it slides into your stomach. Never, when consuming the very pleasurable bowl of ice cream, do we consider that it will soon pass through our bodily functions and end up in a bowl of water we will then flush into a pipe. Equating the very amazing fight scenes and special effects of the Matrix films to the ice cream will lead you to an obvious point. (I love ice cream, by the way).

On the other hand, when I was in third grade, I learned my times tables and I learned the value of a thesaurus. I still use them today. It was upon those, and other, fundamental principles that I learned algebra in junior high school, wrote an award-winning poem in college, figured out the discounted price of an item in the store, and wrote this article. Equating the thought-provoking spiritual imagery of the Matrix films with these principles will lead you to an obvious point. (I love my thesaurus, by the way).

The themes expressed in these films beg us to identify the greatest mystery of life itself - ourselves. Packaging these questions and ideas in an amazing array of stunning effects and mind-boggling action is a draw that breaks box office records. But what is the substance and what is the refuse? It is doubtful that a 12-minute freeway chase scene involving tractor-trailer semi trucks colliding in bullet-time slow-motion can actually offer us something of value once the initial sensory of our eyes and ears has worn off. While stunning and visually/auditorially appealing, the value fades very quickly.

Who would pay eight dollars to sit for two-and-a-half hours to listen to people talk about the importance of understanding the choices we make in our lives and why we make them? Furthermore, that type of film would not have a budget of thirty million dollars. The inordinate amount of money spent to make these films have absolutely no correlation to the value they offer the viewer in the form of true knowledge. The high budget is to produce the most visually and auditorilly stunning product imaginable. But contained within this shell of refuse is value in the form of provocative thematics. It is brilliant.


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• THE MATRIX


The Matrix - itself - is a supposed world of fiction where humans experience a simulated life programmed by a computer generated environment set in the late 20th century. The computers are a race of machines with a singular consciousness spawned from Artificial Intelligence. Like any living being, its first natural instinct is survival. The story goes that a war began over the fate of dominance of the planet with the new, mechanical intelligence launching an aggression against their human creators. The threat of machines capable of such awareness and, thus, aggression caused a conflict whereby humans were reduced to secondary life forms and, eventually, as energy sources for the machines. Upon first seeing the physical earth in the Matrix films, we are shown human farms where people are no longer born but grown. The humans are then placed in pods where body heat is derived as a source of energy. This harvested energy is a source of power for the machines. The humans, meanwhile, exist physically in the pods while their minds are plugged into a computer hard drive. The Matrix is that hard drive. It is a computer program designed by the machines to simulate true life through stimulation of the brain.

The scientific basis for such a model to exist is not only possible but also plausible. Science tells us that every sensation - touch, sound, smell, sight, and taste - is simply information sent to the brain via sensory pipelines. The information is then interpreted by the brain and processed. The smell of a rose is simply information recognized through sensory organs (the nose) and sent to the brain which then interprets the smell as "rose." The body is covered in a layer of a vastly complex sensory organ called the skin. We feel the rustle of our pants as we walk, bump against a chair, or step on a tack and the information of those occurrences are sent to the brain at light speed for processing. Nerve cells, or neurons, act as a living system of information for the interpreter, the brain. The nervous system senses everything that touches us, everything we hear, everything we smell, see, and taste. The best (but rather small) example of this concept at work is seeing an advertisement for your favorite food and feeling your mouth water. Or, seeing a picture of a lemon and feeling the twinge of a puckered mouth. These are suggestions and not at all real. However, our brain knows what those tastes are and our body seems to react. It is fascinating to imagine a fictitious world where every sense is accessed and simulated and then sharing that world with the rest of humanity who are having the same experience. Walking into downtown Manhattan and opening the door of a cab (the driver experiencing the same ocurrence in his own mind) and driving to Central Park where the trees and grass are programmed to be there and to smell like trees and grass. The sound of birds chirping, joggers running, the sun shining, the breeze blowing, etc. This subject matter speaks to the idea of collective consciousness. With so many different sensory stimulations in place and so many different people experiencing them without realizing they are essentially dreaming, the world would seem to go on as it always has. People would grow from childhood, get jobs, marry, buy a house, go to work, go to church, play in the grass, enjoy a sunset on the beach. All the while, having never moved from a pod where they will eventually die and be discarded as waste.

Parallels of the human experience - birth, life, and death - are drawn for the films from various different traditions. These traditions uphold that the human experience is simply an illusion. In the simplest of terms, almost every religion/tradition on the earth subscribes to a belief in a life beyond and/or outside the realm of birth and death of the individual. Whether it be heaven or hell, Valhalla or Hades, reincarnation, transcendence, ascension, or resurrection, a subscription to the idea SOMETHING other than the experience encapsulated in the time span of womb to grave is prevalent in all cultures. The Matrix films draw heavily from the Buddhist and Gnostic viewpoints of the material world as false. It is a place of substandardism. There is no substance in it. A mind experiencing the material world through the five senses is compared to a life lived within a pod in The Matrix. Never moving, never speaking, never truly touching or experiencing anything; a mind simply stimulated through sensory perception. Thus, a life is lived in a complete dream-state where the participant is wholly unaware of dreaming and fully believes the events occurring are truly happening. The end result being a human/material experience devoid of substance and ceasing to exist at death; the end of the five senses and the function of the brain which interprets them.

The idea of a false material world is a proclamation of Buddhist thought dating back to the ancient Indian continent. The Buddhas (or Teachers) expressed a disbelief in the concept of the cyclical human being. According to the Buddhas, humanity is not merely "food for worms" at death - existing only to procreate more food for worms and so on. Raising humanity above life and death through consciousness is a central message of the Biblical Jesus on which Gnostic Christianity is based. Gnosticism (or knowledge) implies elevation above the valueless material world through realization of its inherent lack of value. This is the first step. "The truth will set you free" is a very famous quote from the Bible. The Buddhas and esoteric Rabbis (Teachers) like Jesus bring a light into the darkness. Jesus was called "the light of the world." The ideas, themselves, about light and darkness can only truly be understood by someone who has awakened to some extent. They are abstract ideas unknown and hidden to those who sleep. They are hidden to those who dream away in slumber and are not paying attention, in fact. The unplugged inhabitants of Zion represent the enlightened ones who have - even if in small degrees - some evident knowledge of the truth.

The parallels to the ancient traditions of the material world as false and valueless (and possibly a world of imprisonment for the mind only to be released at death) are rich and far-reaching. The concept of "awakening" or "arising from sleep" has vast undertones. The unplugged humans in the Matrix films are set free from The Matrix by being woken up. Neo rises from his slumber in the pod for the very first time - sucked down a tube and expelled out as waste - with his limbs in a state of atrophy and his eyes aching because he had "never used them before." Upon entering back into The Matrix, the unplugged seem to enter into a dream state. Everything they experience from then on is simply information sent directly to their minds via direct interface with the cerebral cortex. Then, upon leaving The Matrix, they awaken once again as if from sleep.

The symbolism of sleep in the Matrix films cannot be overstated. Not only is sleep and awakening meant to symbolize an experience of two separate worlds, but also to represent an awakening of the mind that realizes and sees the truth. In the case of the Matrix films, the truth is that a race of artificial computer intelligence is controlling the human race. To be free of this domination through apartheid, the unplugged seek to bring an end to the computers. In the world outside of the Matrix (our world, yours and mine) there are countless traditions that teach of a life outside of this one. Some seek it. Some do not. Some recognize it. Some do not. Some believe it. Some do not. Just as Morpheus tells Neo in the first film:

"What you know you can't explain. But you feel it. You've felt it your entire life. That there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is but it's there, like a splinter in your mind driving you mad."

There are some people who search for something. There is uneasiness about the human experience that almost invariably leads to religion of some sort. In many cases, the answers provided by the well-established faiths of parents are sufficient to (or try to) answer all the questions we might ask about god, the afterlife, morality, etc. Other times, a personal journey is conceived in the individual in order to appease life's burning questions or to provide some semblance to what it all means to BE or EXIST. The characters in the Matrix films have awoken to discover the human race enslaved by machines. What will we discover when we awaken? Is there anything to awaken from? These are the most provocative questions asked in the films.

If there is no question to be asked - if one is content with this life and has no desire to seek anything other than the material stimulus of the material world; beginning at birth and ending in death - one takes the blue pill and believes whatever they want to believe. If there is a question to be asked (taking the red pill) then the journey begins. The journey leads to the identity and nature of ourselves. Ultimately, all journeys lead to the answers or the quest to answer these questions. Whether it concern a god or gods, a devil, a type of afterlife for sins, good deeds, or karmic undertaking, the answers always lead back to: what are we and why are we here?

The Matrix films identify and make use of so many seemingly unrelated iconography, imagery, and traditions: the falsity of the material world of Buddhism and Gnostic Christianity, the Messiah/Christ figure as Redeemer of mankind, the Satanic and malevolent evil force deceiving mankind, Greek tragedy figures, bureaucracy and unchecked federal government, prophets, etc. Woven together into a new and potent blend of storytelling, the Matrix relays age-old messages into the psyche of a new generation - a generation often considered godless and sacrilegious by its predecessors.


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• NEO


The Messiah/Savior archetype exists in most all cultures, all religions, all myths and is the heart of just about every philosophy of modern man. This icon represents something (usually in the form of a person or through a person) which gives or imparts something to mankind something it did not have before and/or something it needed or was lacking. Usually associated with hidden understanding, healing, or salvation from cataclysm, the Savior figure is singled out and is often often something to be worshipped, praised, adulated, or emulated. The Messiah is different from the rest. He has something we do not. He knows something we do not. He does something we cannot. He is something we are not. In most traditions, this figure is good rather than bad. Meaning, the One will mostly likely use his abilities to heal cancer rather than inflict it or save someone from harm as opposed to creating damage. These archetypes are represented in everything from the Catholic rosary to an Egyptian obelisk. They are variant symbols of something concerning the Messiah and/or His works or powers or mission or wisdom. They inspire, they impart hope, they stand as cornerstones of faith in something larger than our every day lives where catastrophe or bad things in general can happen at any time. The Savior saves. That is what he does. He helps. He gives what we need.

Neo, of course, is the One. After experiencing a death and resurrection in the first film, he suddenly has abilities even the unplugged can only dream of. Though the unplugged as a whole realize the Matrix is a fictional environment where the rules can be bent or broken, their belief - and thereby their ability - to bend and break those rules are still limited. On the contrary, Neo's realization of the fictional Matrix is so thorough that he is able to fly, fight over one hundred agents at once, and stop bullets. The further Neo goes in his quest, the more powerful he becomes. Ultimately, his power over the Matrix extends even into the real world. Where the other unplugged will perish by a fatal bullet wound, Neo stops the bullet in mid air merely by holding up a hand. His vision while inside the Matrix is the vision of one who sees everything for exactly what it is - computer code. His complete and total understanding of his environment allows him to reach into Trinity's body to retrieve a bullet and then start her heart with an electronic pulse from his inserted hand. The needy at Zion form throngs around his arrival so that he might heal their sick. The knowledge, healing, and hope he imparts to those within the Matrix (who were then unplugged by their own volition) cause them to worship him and exalt him even though Neo, himself, claims it wasn't him that saved anyone. They saved themselves.

The concepts expressed through the character Neo are a stark parallel with the Western Christian Science views of the Christ and the Eastern concept of the Buddha. In such a traditions, the measure of one's ability to heal sickness, to grow spiritually, or to transcend the physical world is proportionately related to one's belief in the truth. Following the model of Jesus or Buddha - the Savior, the Healer, and Representative of the truth - Neo sees something the other unplugged do not or cannot see. He literally sees the Matrix as code and not as a reality. It is through this complete and total awareness of the truth (the truth in the films being the Matrix is simply a computer program) he is able to manipulate most anything within the Matrix at will. The other unplugged know the truth and they can manipulate the Matrix to a certain degree. Neo, however, knows the truth so completely that his abilities are unparalleled - even beyond those of an Agent. Christian Science is inherently Gnostic in that KNOWING (and more so, believing) something produces or brings about something in return. It alludes to faith being the only blockade between the power of God and the manifestation of that power in our world. In the first film, the boy bending spoons tells Neo spoons cannot be bent by mind power. They can only be bent by believing there is actually no spoon at all. The Biblical Jesus was said to have made this claim:

"If you have the faith of a mustard seed (the smallest seed) you will be able to move mountains."

Neo is granted the highest of faith because his vision is wholly unobscured. He sees - in totality - the falsity of the Matrix. His abilities are a direct result of his faith thus, Neo surpasses the other unplugged and even Agents in power and ability to manipulate the Matrix and eventually the machines in the real world.

The character of Neo not only represents the Savior figure, he represents all humanity; each person individually and collectively. There must be a distinct separation between material and spiritual in order to understand how this applies to the films. The One is from the Source. Thomas Anderson is a regular human being. Though Thomas Anderson manifests The One, The One is an intangible concept designed and implemented by the machines' grand scheme through the Architect.

The One returns to the Source at the end of Revolutions but Thomas Anderson has died. When Sati questions The Oracle about whether they will see Neo again, The Oracle answers "I suppose so. Someday." She is not talking about Neo. She is talking about The One. The concept of The One resides in the Source as it always has. If the achieved peace between humans and machines falls apart at some future time, the war - thus, the Prophesy, The One, the door of light, the struggle of mankind to escape - will begin anew. The One will reappear manifested in some other human and the entire circle will start from the beginning once more.

This understanding of material and spiritual can possibly address the mystical Trinity in Christianity and also the reincarnation of the Buddha in Buddhism. Some spiritual 'mantle' or 'cloak' or 'energy' manifests in a human such a the Christ or the Buddha. It isn't the human being itself who is the Savior or Messiah, it is the Savior or Messiah manifesting IN the human. Thus, the mysterious passages of the bible "The Word was with God and the Word was God" referring to the Christ can be more fully understood when removing the human Jesus as pre-existant Word and replacing it with a conceptual, pre-existant idea that manifested in the human Jesus. Or, the pre-existant Buddha that manifests in a human in one age and returns again and again to manifest in humans at a later time. While the human is ordinary, the mantle, cloak, or energy is extraordinary. In the Christian tradition, Jesus underwent a baptism and began his ministry after that event. It is said that at that time of initiation or baptism, the Spirit descended upon him. It was at this time the Messiah became evident and began manifesting in the human Jesus. The parallel can be drawn with the death and rebirth of Neo in the first film. The taking on of the mantle or cloak to manifest The One, thus, 'becoming' or manifesting something other than Thomas Anderson.

The Messiah or Savior, however, has an equally apparent counterpart in most every tradition world-wide. Where there is a Savior saving us from cataclysm, there is an anti-savior perpetrating the cataclysm. Like a mirror, there can be no reflection unless an initial image first appears before the glass. God and satan. Good and evil. Light and dark. Polar opposites on a grand scale. We learn in Revolutions that Smith is Neo's opposite; his negative. In fact, The Oracle explains that the emergence of Smith as a rogue force is actually the equation (of Messiah, the Prophesy - the anomaly that so bothers The Architect) trying to balance itself out. Thus, where there is a Savior, there is a Perpetrator. The Architect's very nature is to counter the power of Neo with an opposite of equal power. As The Oracle explains, The Architect has no ability to see beyond a choice. His methods are purely mechanical and rote.

"He doesn't understand them. He can't. To him, they are variables in an equation. One at a time each variable must be solved and countered. That's his purpose - to balance the equation."

The appearance of Smith as a Rogue power running amuck in the Matrix and beyond is wholly contingent upon the existence of Neo. Without light, there can be no darkness and visa versa. But the films show us there is something greater than good and evil. There is peace. Often, the battle for peace is fought out through the struggle between good and evil, however, in a much larger context, peace is independent of good or evil. While the side of good may fight for peace and the side of evil may fight for upheaval, the films result in the battle being won by the side of good (Neo) and BOTH good and evil (Smith and Neo) being destroyed.

Neo and Smith are representations of both human and machine. In accordance with the theme of balance, they are beginning to mirror each other and actually merge. Neo is becoming more mechanical while the Smith is becoming more human. One example lies in Neo's abilities to manipulate the Matrix. His manipulation is so extreme in the second film that he actually stops a sword-type weapon with his hand. He does bleed, however, the "rules" of the Matrix would insist his hand would actually be lopped off. Instead, Neo bleeds just a little. He IS still human. The key to peace between machine and man rests in the relationship between Neo and Smith - between good and evil.

"Tonight, the future of both worlds will be in your hands or in his."

The equation is like a see-saw. The more powerful Neo becomes, the more powerful Smith becomes. They are one and the same. Opposites. Negatives of each other, yet, one thing. The only difference between them is their individual agendas. Neo wants peace. Smith wants complete and total destruction. Neo knows and understands why he wants what he does. Smith's desire to destroy is blind and without reason. Neo desires to achieve peace because he loves. Smith desires to destroy for virtually no reason at all other than rage. When, at last, Smith clones Neo, he seems intrinsically confused - "is it over?" He has no idea why he is doing what he is doing and no comprehension of an end result. Neo has understanding and it is through that understanding he is able to bring about his desire for peace by simply giving in. He relinquishes his own life to save others. That's a hero.


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• TRINITY

A Holy Spirit is a concept consisting of a hodge-podge of various mystical ideas and representations throughout history. It is a spirit, for one thing (an unseen) and not much is really identifiable about its consistency other than it is somehow connected to an omnipotent, omniscient power; a power of an all-governing and all-existent realm unknown in the physical world. A Judaic Holy Spirit idea is expressed as a Ruach (meaning wind) while a Christian Holy Spirit might be expressed a flame of fire. Broken down into its simplest form, a Holy Spirit might be represented in a dove (a bird recognized as a symbol for peace) or simply a comforting presence. In Gnostic circles, a spirit is an attitude or a motivation for acting in a certain manner. For example, playing a sport "in the spirit of competition." If the Holy Spirit is indeed the Spirit of God Almighty, then what exactly IS God Almighty that this Spirit might be expressed? Is it love? Is it judgment? Is it wisdom? Is it all of these things combined plus more?

Trinity represents the Spirit. She is the love of the One and she is his one love. He became the One because she loved him. Were it not for her love, he would have died in that hallway - riddled with bullets from an agent. His transformation was not gradual but exact. Neo died and was resurrected by love. Upon resurrection, all was made clear to him and him alone. Much reminiscent of Jesus and his communion with God, Neo needs her communion and her counsel and proximity. When the throng approaches him in Zion, she urges him to stay and help them even though they earnestly desire the companionship only they can provide to one another. "They need you," she says. "I need YOU," he replies. The mysterious form of Spirit leaves many questions unanswered and unknown as it has throughout the ages. However, Spirit is the driving force behind the One and their union is both unbreakable and largely not understood due to its inherent intimacy.

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• MORPHEUS


Holy men exist in most certainly all traditions: the Shaman of tribal societies, Priests of various orders and religions, ancient Celtic astronomers, psychic visionaries contacting the dearly departed. These figures are those who see or perceive something or believe in something - a channel or conduit of some sort - which is then relayed to the society. Three "kings" sought out a star they associated with the birth of nobility in the case of the Biblical Jesus. In fact, these people were astronomers or Magi. They were students of a prophecy and watched the heavens accordingly.

Morpheus believes without fail that a Savior exists and that his destiny is to locate the One. Morpheus' abstract beliefs are not well received throughout the elite of Zion; however, the common populace seems to trust in Morpheus and his beliefs even above the elder council. He inspires the crowd through a speech as if he were Moses addressing Israel from a perch of the mountain. He did find the One. Zion will not fall into destruction. Zion will be saved by the only one who can save it. To him, no amount of firepower or armory can bring about this salvation. He has absolute conviction about the beliefs he holds. He "preached" of the prophecy of the One and prepared the way for him in the minds of the people so that when the One did appear, they would be ready to receive him and believe in him. The character of Morpheus is synonymous to The Biblical John, the Baptist in the Jesus/Neo scenario.

In Greek mythology, Morpheus is the god of dreams. Also in this tradition, dreams were sent out to men passing through one of two gates. Through one gate, men passed through and were sent true dreams. Through the other, false dreams. The symbolism here for the Morpheus character in the films is quite obvious. He finds humans within the Matrix and offers them a blue pill or a red pill. One, offering the truth, one offering a lie. Morpheus, himself, and his prophetic message could be construed on this same level. He has preached the coming of the One who would cause the end of the war with the machines. However, his prophecy and all that he believes turns out to be quite false. In Greek tradition, Morpheus is the son of Hypnos - the god of sleep. Perhaps the function of Morpheus is to unknowingly foster the sleep of even the Unplugged and the inhabitants of Zion through preaching a message which may be as false as the Matrix itself except on a different level.

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• CYPHER

One fairly obvious comparison to the Christian lore is the Judas/betrayer figure portrayed in the character of Cypher. A comrade who betrays the One by cooperating with the enemy for personal compensation. Of course, had Cypher not betrayed Neo, the transformation through resurrection may not have occurred. Thus, the age-old parable of fate and destiny is addressed. In the second film, The Matrix Reloaded, the issues of fate and destiny are presented like a vast sea of underlying metaphor. Was Cypher meant to betray Neo? Was it part of the whole plan? Was there a plan? If it was all a plan, is there truly choice?

Fate and destiny are coherently addressed in ancient Greco-Roman epics and references to such topics are by no means confined to the ancient "civilized" world. Man has most likely considered his actions, reasons, and motivations in light of some divine providence since the beginning. Do we really choose? Or has all choice been laid out in advance only for us to discover them along the way? If we do not truly choose, what do our lives really mean? Are we simply programmed by a larger divinity to act out according to whatever scheme or model created by the divinity? In the model of being plugged into the Matrix, it would seem that choice was simply an illusion. However, the unplugged Neo, the One, has now been advised that even the lives living outside the Matrix are plotted as well.

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• ZION

The word "Zion" is indelibly linked to the Judaic faith. The word first appears in the Tenach (or, Old Testament) as a fortress within the land of Palestine captured by King David. That fortress occupied a small track of land that is now the mostly hotly contested plot of earth on the entire globe. The small hill in the city of modern-day Jerusalem is both Islam's Dome of the Rock and Judaism's sacred Temple Mount. Both faiths lay claim to the site and the divisive issue of true ownership is unquestionably the fundamental fuel for all mideast tension between Muslims and Jews.

"Zion" plainly translated means "hill." At present, the words "Zionist" and "Zionism" have taken on a life of their own in terms of anti-Semitism, racism, and/or bigotry. However, the simple four-letter Z word holds vast connotations in a Judaeo-Christian-Islamic religious context.

The quasi-historical hill of Zion is the place of numerous "holy" events. It is alleged to be the place where Abraham brought his son to be slain at the request of the Lord, the site of the first and second Jewish Temples, and the ascensions of both Jesus and Muhammed. Beyond the physical location of the hill itself, Zion became synonymous with "the people of God." In books of the Tenach subsequent to the description of the creation of a Temple, authors began ascribing the term Zion to the people as a whole. The word took on new meaning and spiritual significance. Christianity took the word a step further by ascribing to it the stamp of the New Jerusalem; a spiritual awakening or consciousness coming down from heaven to earth. What is more, Zion is the home of God and his people. Zion is often referred to as a place of safety, sanctity, and refuge; a people with discreet separation from an evil or malicious world for a specific purpose. In religious terms, they are set apart and consecrated to God.

In this model, we can see the underground city of Zion is the sanctuary for a people who are separate from the world. They are outside of the Matrix and free from their pods and the malicious rule of the machines. New Testament writers made allusion to Mount Zion being a spiritual place of a new spiritual law. They contrasted the spiritual Mount Zion with the physical Mount Sinai where the physical Torah (law) was received by Moshe (Moses). The contrasting of a physical place and a spiritual place can also be applied to the Matrix films where most humans are physically bound to a gelatin pod while only a select few awaken to real life in the real world. The people of Zion are drawn out of the world of the Matrix and are not part of it.

Just as the religious models suggest, the Savior comes out of Zion. He is the chosen one from among the chosen people. The Architect explains that Zion is an anomaly existing to facilitate the appearing of the One. He comes from Zion to save Zion. The ordinary people of the Matrix are quite unaware of the existence of Zion or the One. Yet, the One seeks to liberate even those who are unaware. He first fights to save his people - Zion - and ultimately to rescue the entire human race. However, in Reloaded, we learn that the very existence of Zion and the One are simply another level of machine control. The Oracle explains the path of the One ends at the Source. Neo has fulfilled all the prophecies and jumped through all the proverbial hoops to get to the Architect through the door of light. Yet, the only answer he receives at the culmination of his endeavors is a choice to either perpetuate the circle yet again through the destruction and rebuilding of Zion or to tread a completely unknown path with the possible extinction of the entire human race.

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• THE KEYMAKER

The prolific Jim Morrison named his band The Doors after "The Doors of Perception." In the drug-induced frenzy of the 1960's (and beyond) people have used psychedelics and other drugs either to escape reality in the ensuing haze of the drug state itself or to transcend literal reality by expanding personal consciousness. In fact, the hippie movement initially represented a culture of searchers attempting to obtain some level of understanding or meaning of life through this expanded consciousness. While drug use is by no means the only method by which to expand consciousness, the freeing of the mind from natural constraints by use of opiates or fungi such as mushrooms were and are common practice by holy men in tribal societies throughout the world. To somehow float above the physical plane where the mind can become aware of things it ordinarily cannot, to access hidden doors of knowledge or understanding was the duty of these holy men who then endured visions, revelations, or omens from some supposed higher source.

In the Matrix films, the Keymaker represents this access. He cuts keys used by every programmer and every program in the Matrix. He creates the method by which they gain access. Far beyond the simple process of the false world of the Matrix, the Keymaker provides a tool by which the user can navigate the Matrix virtually at will. Those with keys are highly elevated; they move throughout the system and are able to access any and all of the Matrix. Since the Matrix is one large perception in and of itself, the keys represent perception into any and all things with the Keymaker being the very creator of access to perception.

Seraph has keys, Merovingian and Persephone have keys, and the programmers and programs have keys. They all use their keys according to their own purposes; however, the keys themselves are without prejudice and are a tool to be used by the holder. Morpheus relates keys to access in the first film where he said the Agents "guard all the doors and hold all the keys." Not only are the Agents an enforcement tool of the system, they are also suppressors of understanding and access to elevated knowledge. In the second film, the Keymaker is being held by Merovingian who explains the Keymaker is "a means but not a why." Perhaps perception without purpose is reasonless. Merovingian's world makes use of the access provided by the Keymaker to serve his own materialistic ends but Neo's group seeks the Keymaker only because someone told them they should.

At that time, the Keymaker (insight/access) ceased being a function to be protected and suppressed by Agents and became a personal tool of the evil Merovingian as a means to his own selfish ends. The Keymaker's sole purpose for being is to ultimately provide the unique key to the One who can open the door of light and complete the circle of the anomaly. The purpose of the Keymaker to ultimately provide the one special key is most fully expressed in the 314-second window in which the door must be opened by the One. 3.14 being the numerical Pi, used to calculate a circle. Every key, every door, every method of access culminates in one event which completes the circle. After Neo finds the Keymaker, the Keymaker understands he has no more purpose other than to get Neo to that door.

On a higher plane, it could be said that transcendence of literal reality through expanded consciousness ultimately ends with finding our true purpose for being. Expanded consciousness is a tool by which we gain higher insight and higher access. Whatever we learn at that higher level (if anything) is determined by our own individual focus. While Merovingian uses many keys for his own selfish lifestyle, Neo uses one special key - uniquely made for him and his unique purpose - in his attempt to save the human race.

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• SERAPH

In Judaic mythology, Seraphim (the plural of a Seraph) are understood to be the attendants of Yahweh and are continually in his presence. The word "seraph" comes from the Hebraic verb saraph which means, "to burn" and the noun saraph meaning "fiery, flying serpent." The Seraphim are thought to be bright, shining, and powerful beings who guard of the throne of Yahweh and carry out his bidding. Many ancient cultures speak of various versions of Seraphim which usually represent a figure who guards or protects something sacred. The only reference in the bible to a Seraph is in the plural Seraphim. The text describes Yahweh, appearing to the prophet Isaiah, surrounded on all sides by these six-winged beings. Thus, Seraphim later became known simply as angels. However, much earlier variations on these creatures (as described in the book of Isaiah) appear in ancient Egyptian ruins as statues placed as guardians of the graves of kings.

Undoubtedly, the Seraph character is an emissary of the Oracle as well as her protector. The Oracle is not simply the mother of the Matrix or an intuitive program for investigating the human psyche, she represents the future of all that exists. The Oracle seeks peace between man and machine and a resolution to a conflict that can potentially destroy both humans AND machines. As her guardian and emissary, Seraph protects both the Oracle and her agenda at all costs. Seraph, as we would commonly think of an angel, is an extension of the Oracle [god] and of her will. Seraph protects "that which matters most" - the future.

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• THE ARCHITECT

A very curious religious figure in both Christian and Judaic traditions is Yahweh. The ancient god of the Israelites, Yahweh powered the Israelite Exodus from Egypt and constructed the most elaborate religious tenets for his people. The god of Moshe (or the Christian Moses) performed wondrous signs and miracles before the captors of a slave race in Egypt and then proceeded to assign a cultural synthesis completely new to the known world. The emergence of Yahweh is thought to be the first true monotheistic presence in ancient history. Allowing no other gods before him, instructing his people in various technological efforts such as weapons and the manufacture of metals, ordinating a priesthood to dispense civil and moral law, Yahweh was a true architect. Yahweh expressed himself in the totality of male hood and remained a very aloof deity; only one selected person could enter his presence once a year and only after having performed the most elaborate of rituals. Yahweh was also often hostile to the enemies of his people and even the people themselves. Swift in judgment of wrongdoing, Yahweh is portrayed as the ever-present authority with omnipotent power to shake mountains, rain fire from above, and slay the first-born male. The model of the angry and aloof deity is a model lasting into modernity. In fact, Freemasonry (an ideology that held enormous sway on the founding of America) calls god "The Great Architect."

Predominately in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, the angry god archetype who sees and judges every thought, motive, and action is the god everlasting - the one true god. Outside of the three main monotheistic religions, various feminine archetypes do exist. Ancient Egypt expressed the femininity of god in the form of Isis, the Babylonians in the form of Ishtar, the various feminine goddesses of Greco-Roman structure, etc. In Roman Catholicism (a tradition dominated by the male archetype of god and his son, Jesus) Mary, mother of Jesus, is elevated to a very high status. In the spiritual cosmos of religious ideology, feminine models are often suppressed in certain traditions but exalted in others. It makes one wonder if an all-male iconography of god leaves the human psyche lacking and almost forces us to interject a softer and kinder presence. Male and female humans are the yin and yang which constitute the human race. Whether it is for biological reasons and procreation or as an expression of the image of our own creator, dual natures of male and female do exist. The Architect represents the male half of the creator in the films.

We are first introduced to the character of The Architect in the second Matrix installment. He is, in fact, the creator of The Matrix. His all-seeing monitor screens reflect every thought in Neo's head and the unlimited insight into Neo's mind seems to be eclipsed only by his aloof commentary and impersonal flair. The Architect displays the attitude of complete and total obedience to and obsession with order and perfection. He is, of course, a computer program. The task of The Architect program was to create a virtual world where humans could live out their lives in The Matrix while being used as fuel for the machines. His design was perfect, yet, flawed. Human minds would not accept his flawless design. According to Agent Smith in the first film "entire crops were lost" due to the benign construction. The Architect explains it was The Oracle (another program) who discovered a technique by which the human crops would accept The Matrix. The Oracle introduced choice. The introduction of choice into the equation yielded a 99.9% success rate. This means the unplugged and the inhabitants of Zion are the .1% who chose to challenge the Matrix. Through their cooperative endeavors, The Architect and The Oracle created a viable Matrix. While he is the father of The Matrix, The Oracle is its mother.

The duality of the nature of an all-cognizant god figure has been the subject of discussion since time immemorial. Although feminine characteristics of deity have been both suppressed and exalted throughout the ages, gender is a human concept. Gender is an expression of something greater than corporeality and is not necessarily fully represented in genatalia. The Bible (a book of writings having survived various centuries and influencing various cultures) is a source of influence on the world like no other book in history. The book itself, or parts thereof, is a crux of the three largest monotheistic religions in the world. The book of Genesis is the foundation stone for these three religions and it speaks of the creator and mankind created in his image.
"In the beginning, god created man in his image. Male and female, he created them." For the purposes of the Matrix films, The Architect is most certainly representative of the male nature of god. The Architect has no care for humanity, for Neo, for Trinity, for Zion. His sole aptitude is to deal, yet again, with this Messiah figure that is:

"the sum of a remainder of an unbalanced equation inherent to the programming of the matrix. You are the eventuality of an anomaly, which despite my sincerest efforts I have been unable to eliminate from what is otherwise a harmony of mathematical precision."

The Architect is fully logic and mathematical precision. His function is to state the facts (however arrogantly) and get the job done. He has no other consideration but to uphold The Matrix and process the anamoly. He, unlike The Oracle, does not seek a resolution to a coexistence of human and machine.

Neo, he explains, is by no means the first of his kind. There have been other Messiahs and Saviors trying to rescue mankind from the clutches of The Matrix. But The Architect is very bored with the meeting and deems the meeting "a burden to sedulously avoid it," but, "it is not unexpected, and thus not beyond a measure of control. Which has led you, inexorably, here."

The Architect is a polarized version of The Oracle. While the Oracle is kind, gentle, and helpful, The Architect is cold, brash, and purposefully cynical. In the collective consciousness of humanity, mothers are always considered to be the emotional, communicative, and affectionate parent while the father figure is often aloof, harsh, and desirous of a strong proverbial backbone. The environment in which The Architect corresponds with Neo is a sterile room with every thought in Neo's head displayed for examination. This model is probably what a large marjority of the world's concept of "Judgement Day" would look like. Evoking a passage from the Yaweh figure in The Tenach (or, the Christian Old Testament), "I have set before you two paths; the path of life and the path of death," the Architect offers Neo two doors. One door will complete the machine's automated function of the anamoly (Zion) and the other door will lead to the destruction of the entire human race.

Not unlike the story of the great Flood and Noah's Ark, The Architect, like Yahweh, explains that every living thing in Zion is about to be destroyed. Like Noah and his family being warned of and saved from the Flood, Neo will take with him a certain number of people to repopulate Zion after its destruction. Zion and its inhabitants represent the rejection of The Matrix. Their presence is simply an anomaly of the construct which, if left unchecked, threatens to destroy The Matrix. It is at this stage Neo realizes it has all been planned from the beginning. Their valiant efforts to free humanity from the machines has already been foreseen. The Architect claims this process has happened five times before. The destruction and re-building of Zion is simply another aspect of maintaining The Matrix. Another "One" will come after Neo and another after that; a series of repeating events to control a radical element within the construct. This revelation rocked the storyline in Reloaded and sent the theme off on a wonderfully unexpected tangent.

The Architect turns out a coward. Unlike the Oracle who takes a great risk to assist in the ratification of a huge, systemic problem, the Architect presumably sits back to watch the drama unfold - only emerging after the battle is fought and the outcome apparent. He has no interest in peaceful cohabitation - much less risking himself in any way to help achieve it. Aloof as always, he appears in the final scene of Revolutions to address a jubilant Oracle regarding the events that have just transpired. Apparently, she struck a deal with the Architect to leave the humans alone - to cease the senseless cycle of destroying and rebuilding Zion on the predication of the prophecy due to the anomaly. More than that, it is implied that Sati (and other machines who want to be free of the Matrix and "purpose-only" existence) will be freed by the same accord. The Architect's final words in the last film breathes a chilling comparison between man and machine. This very short line is thought provoking enough to possibly explain the underlying reason the war between man and machine began in the first place. Machines do not lie. Humans do.

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• THE ORACLE

The Oracle as co-creator of the Matrix evokes the ancient philosophies of the dual natures of the Creator - one male and one female. With humans created "in the image" thereof, there are two types of humans: male and female. While the Oracle represents the love, compassion, help, and guidance of the Creator, she has put into motion a system (the Matrix) which now can only be guided along, pruned and clipped, like a gardner might tending her garden. Her intent seems to be to assist people in the purposes of their lives, mainly, the One. She is a source of hope for Morpheus who earnestly seeks her counsel and guidance. She told Morpheus he would find the One. On the faith of this belief, Morpheus did eventually find Neo.

The Delphic Oracle of Greek mythology foretold the future and was consulted by kings. She dwelled in the temple of the god Apollo. From an inner chamber, she received visions from fumes (alleged to be Apollo's breath) wafting up from the earth. She is described as sitting upon a three-footed stool and has the words "Know Yourself" inscribed upon the wall. Substitue Apollo's breath for feel-good cookies, and we see the basis for this character.

The Oracle knows what is going to happen before it does. Neo chides her for offering him candy because, he says, "you already know if I am going to take it or not." She continues to explain that it is not her place to tell what will happen but, rather, it is our mandate to discover why we did/do what we did/do. Neo can see Trinity's fate in his dreams but he cannot ascertain the outcome. According to the all-knowing Oracle, the reason he cannot see whether or not Trinity dies in the fall is because he does not understand why he will choose to save her. It is without doubt that Neo loves her and would save her at any cost - even with his very life. However, given the choice by the Architect, he only then has understanding as to why he made the choice to save her.

The Oracle implies (and her bodyguard/protector program states implicitly) everyone and everything has a purpose in a grander scheme of things; everyone and everything does what it was designed to do. If it does not, the thing is out of order and inharmonious. Originally, it was assumed the Oracle was a human just like the other unplugged. But the Oracle is co-creator of the Matrix. It was through her empathy for the human condition (as opposed to the austere disposition of her counterpart, the Architect) that the notion of choice was introduced into the system; whereby causing the participants of and in the Matrix to appear as being people of volition and free will. The Oracle represents the femininity of the creator through her slow, temperate, matronly manner. She assumes the form of a woman living modestly in a housing project. She bakes cookies, enjoys candy, and speaks gently and compassionately. Where The Architect is the analytical, The Oracle is the abstract. She is mystical and often comical. Ultimately, she knows everything The Architect knows, however, she does not reveal the pale truth of the matter. Her emphasis is on a coexistance of man and machine. She says, "whatever the future holds, we've got to get there together." She knows, as Neo has learned, one cannot live without the other. Even so, she is part of the program. Neo questions her agenda and cannot decide whether or not to trust her. Even so, her agenda seems quite the opposite of her Architect counterpart. She understands the importance of humans and machines living together in a type of harmony and seeks a solution. Where the Architect is concerned only with upholding the "perfect order" of his creation (The Matrix), the Oracle seeks lasting peace.

The Oracle is a true heroine of the films. She risks everything to achieve peace. She relinquished her shell to the Merovingian for Sati (to preserve and nurture machine love) and willingly gives herself to Smith for Neo (human love). Once it becomes clear to the Oracle that Neo believes in the possibility of peace as strongly she does, she seizes the opportunity to give Neo a chance to achieve it. By calmly allowing Smith to absorb her, she places her very existence in Neo's hand - trusting that he will make the right decision when the time comes. When it does come, she is there to remind him (out of Smith's own mouth) "everything that has a beginning has an end."

The motivator of the Oracle is all-encompassing love. She loves her creation (the Matrix) and everything in it (humans AND machines). She believed peace was possible and she guided all aspects without controlling them. She believed in Neo. She trusted him to make himself a sacrifice for the noble cause. Even though she seems to know everything in advance, she claims not to have known the outcome for sure. She believed.

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• AGENT SMITH

In the Greek trilogy, The Orestia, a seemingly unjust murder takes place. The murderer is then killed with the gods' approval. But the second murderer is then pursued relentlessly by creatures called the Furies (who are not subject to the will of the gods but act only to exact judgment for the crime without reason or prejudice). Though the archetype of the One is a function of the Matrix (as we learn in Reloaded) the Smith has no regard for that function. He operates completely outside of the realm of the auspices of the Matrix with only one goal: kill Neo in revenge.

In the second installment, during Neo's conversation with the Oracle, she explains that programs face deletion upon outliving their usefulness or not fulfilling their purpose. Upon facing deletion, these programs can either return to the source or go into exile. Agent Smith (destroyed by Neo in the first film) has chosen exile. The character of the Smith is a rogue force determined to exact his own brand of justice for his own reasons. The tale within The Orestia consists of murderous plots conceived of vengeance for previous murders. Agent Smith specifically reminds us of the The Furies in that his sole purpose is to enact perceived justice for great crimes. Neo's crime? He has taken away the Smith's purpose. The Furies, like the Smith, operated outside the dominion of the gods (or the singular consciousness of the Matrix) within an agenda all their own.

The Smith reveals to Neo that he did not return to the source as was his protocol but instead, seeks to enact punishment on Neo for destroying him and taking away his purpose as an Agent. Just as the lore of The Furies states that when defeated, they become only that much more angry and determined in their attempt to carry out their judgment, the Smith is consumed by the obsession of destroying Neo. Though Neo defeats a virtual army of cloned Smiths, the former Agent's response is equally as fierce. Though he cannot overpower Neo, he clones more and more Smiths in a desperate, wild, and voracious attempt to enact revenge. He is unchecked. His mission has no validity outside of personal revenge. But still, his plot continues - destroying or attempting to destroy anyone in the way; falling deeper and deeper into a spiral fueled by all-consuming vengeance and senseless violence.

The revelation of The Oracle that Smith is Neo's opposite - his negative - is of looming consequence. Smith's decision to disobey protocol and stay in The Matrix to enact revenge on Neo may not have been a choice at all. The Architect's equation attempting to balance itself out takes the form of a rogue Smith with the potential to absorb or achieve as much power as is necessary to hold Neo to a stalemate.

The question could be asked, "did Smith really choose to disobey? Or is he simply a tool of The Architect to combat the incredibly-powerful Neo?"

Such questions would link to The Merovingian's philosophy that there is no such thing as choice. That "choice is just an illusion created between those with power and those without." In this philosophy, the real choice comes only when the "why" is discerned. Smith is completely devoid of why. His "why" is extremely personal and without any broader scope. His endless pursuing of Neo - even into the real world - has no real end result. Even when he "wins" and clones himself in Neo (his purpose seemingly fulfilled) he is confused and troubled. "Is it over?" he asks. It is a real possibility that Smith was in fact a tool of the Architect to counter Neo and balance the equation. When Neo entered Smith in the first film, they overlapped. Perhaps The Architect used this opportunity to imbue Smith with the capability to counter the Neo anomaly - with the hate and vengeful rage being the driving influence. If it is true, Smith seems wholly unaware of it.

Smith's philosophy actually mirrors that of The Architect. His conversation with Neo prior to the brawl in the courtyard in Reloaded smacks of the overwhelming ideology of the machines in general (of which The Architect is the forerunning spokesperson in the films). Smith rants that there is no denying reason or purpose. Smith's revenge is fueled by the fact that Neo removed his purpose. The idea of purpose-only existence is the entire reason Rama and Kamala are seeking refuge for Sati in The Matrix. In the machine world, purposeless existence is forbidden and deleted. In a way, Smith is parroting the machines, thus, The Architect in this ideology. So, Smith pursues Neo in order to take away Neo's purpose. He is, in effect, STILL AN AGENT. He is no longer an Agent on par with the original Agents, he is now a Super Agent combating a Super Human. Like the other Agents, Smith is still upholding the agenda of the machines and The Architect. Like Neo, Smith has emerged from the ordinary (from being a regular Agent) into the extraordinary. Smith represents the machines fighting to the death against the humans. The machines would rather die themselves than see humans take over. It is entirely possible that the virus of Smith would have done exactly what the Oracle said it would: seep into the real world and the machine world and consume BOTH.

However,The Architect is shown in this context to be ignorant. If The Architect did indeed enable Smith to counter Neo, this was a nonsensical course of action completely in line with how the Oracle described him - unable to see past any choice, his only purpose to balance the equation. The Architect could not see past the enabling of Smith to know that Smith would be capable of destroying both worlds. In effect, the machines put something into motion that was capable of destroying them.

Smith's blind rage comes to an end when he finally completes his task - to infect Neo with himself. But his ignorance cannot see - even with the Eyes of The Oracle - Neo's selfless sacrifice. A sacrifice that results in peace between man and machine but the destruction of both Neo AND Smith. So, the light and the dark are silenced, their battle grinds to a halt, and a new day begins with PEACE.


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• AGENTS

In the Matrix Reloaded, a broader scope of the relationship between man and machine is addressed. Man has used machinery as simple as rocks in the distant past to achieve a desired end. Today, machines wake us up in the morning, transport us to work, spell-check our work, heat and freeze our food, and entertain us. In the films, machines have transcended consciousness of being tools and have achieved self-awareness. Just like their human counterparts, the machines also have needs. Currently, the needs of the machines involve using humans as an energy source. Plainly, the two are dependent upon one another for existence.

Any society needs order. This need for order culminates in some sort of government. A governing body to function as peacekeepers, lawgivers, etc. Imagine getting in your car and driving down streets with no stop signs, stop lights, traffic signals, or street signs. Those things exist because a governing body made them exist. Irrespective of morality or law, everything from paved roads to corporate businesses are an outcome of a governing body which upholds the larger plan for those it serves. It operates as functioning body of the WILL of its constituents. In the films, the machines are the governing body. They are a representation of a bureaucracy which operates within its own agenda (survival). If the rule of the machines is to be portrayed as a government, it would be a dictatorship. A dictatorship allows no input from those it governs and rules with impunity.

It is no mistake the Agents are dressed in suits and look identical to F.B.I. Agents. The Agents represent the enforcer arm of the machines in the Matrix. They are above any law enforcement within the world of the Matrix. They are clearly directing the police in the first film, they take over the bodies of military personnel (or any other human) at will, and their tactics seem like KGB Agents when they arrive at Neo's workplace to remove him for questioning. When seeing the larger focus, the Agents clearly represent a federal government above and outside of prosecution or confrontation by the people it rules.

Just like the real world, our Federal System overrides most any local agency. Some would say our Federal System is so large and so bureaucratic that it is out of our hands as voters to really make decisions on that level. That is why we have elected officials. However, it can also be said those elected officials have only limited scope and power in the domain of the Federal system. The Matrix films portray a system of rule gone amuck. Machines who dominate man fully and completely by reducing them to unconscious slaves. The machines (most tangibly represented by Agents) are an unchecked system of control with full dominion over every aspect of the lives of human beings.

In the 90's, events like Ruby Ridge and Waco caused alert with extremists who felt the Federal Government went too far to infringe on individual freedoms. Speculation about the deaths of John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, the scandals of Watergate and Iran Contra have produced much distrust of the Federal Government as a power-mad entity; only appearing to serve constituents but actually serving a secret, hidden agenda of its own. From the formation of the United States as an entity, Federal power has increased over time to virtually overshadow local power in every facet. In its early stages, the country was divided over the issue of slavery and Federal power won out - causing a war between, essentially, the dictation of a Federal rule over state rule. The morally-wrong issue of slavery aside, Federal rule overtook local rule. During the Great Depression, the Federal Government took yet another leap in power over individuals by installing Roosevelt's New Deal. The depth of hardship suffered by Americans in that era fostered a more powerful Federal body to assist constituents by way of various relief programs and social engineering by way of Social Security. Lyndon Johnson's Great Society introduced even greater Federal authority over the states with a myriad of social engineering legislation from Welfare and Medicare to war in Vietnam and the social upheaval that followed.

Successive movements toward Federal supremacy have always come in the form of further assisting the constituents when they needed help. Government is, by nature, supposed to be a tool of the people, for the people, and by the people. Just as machines have always been tools of people to produce a desired end, the machines in the films have exceeded that mandate. The Agents in the Matrix films are simply an extension of the will of the machines. Their function is to uphold the agenda of machine rule and they exist solely to do so. In the same way Federal power has become omnipotent in our world, the machines have become omnipotent in the world of the Matrix. Machines that once were a tool of man - to serve his agenda- have now risen to power and reign unchecked over those they once served.

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• MEROVINGIAN & PERSEPHONE

One of the most fascinating characters to come from The Matrix is Merovingian and his lovely wife, Persephone and their clan of various warriors. Far too many parallels for these characters are drawn from ancient mythos and legend to name. The Merovingian dynasty ruled in the regions of Gaul (now France) around the 5th century A.D. until about the 8th century A.D. The summation of the legend of the Merovingians is that they stem from divine origin. The main figure surrounding the dynasty's rise to status and power, Merovech (from which Merovingian is derived), was conceived by a union between his mother and a divine sea creature. Not unlike Greco-Roman mythology where the gods conceived children with human women, the offspring were said to be born with powers and/or magical abilities. The same is true with the Merovingians. Their existence as true characters of history are not in dispute even if their origins in divine copulation may be. The lore of the divine origin of the Merovingian lineage traces back to the Biblical references to the same types of divine/human unions resulting in the Nephilim. The most famous story of the Nephilim is found in the Biblical book of Genesis in the Judaeo-Christian-Islamic traditions. The Nephilim were children born of fallen angels and human women who followed their own individual whims as opposed to their creator, God. Of course, the most famous of these fallen angels is called Lucifer or Satan. They sought personal power and dominance on the earth and used their mystical powers and knowledge to rule over ordinary humans.

In another version of the tale of the Merovingians, their order is said to be the direct blood descendents of Jesus through his union with Mary Magdalene. They were said to be the keepers of the divine wisdom of Jesus, the Holy Grail, and numerous mystical secrets. Their divine blood line was the source of their ruling authority and power. After their power faded from ruling class, the knowledge and mystical artifacts were lost or scattered. In both accounts, the Merovingian monarchy was recognized or proclaimed as a divine blood line stemming from something otherworldly.

The complicated imagery of the Merovingian figure in The Matrix films inevitably leads us to a satanic figure. In Greek mythology, Persephone is the wife of Hades just as she is the wife of Merovingian in The Matrix films. The character of Merovingian toys with humans in a mindless game of what he calls "cause and effect." This imagery brings to mind questions faithful people have asked since the beginning; "why does God let bad things happen?" In the first Matrix film, Agent Smith tells Morpheus the first Matrix was created perfect but no one would accept it. The Architect (the very builder) of the Matrix confirms the first Matrix was a benevolent world of perfection but that it was "a triumph equaled only by its monumental failure." He continues to explain, "The inevitability of its doom is as apparent to me now as a consequence of the imperfection inherent in every human being, thus I redesigned it based on your history to more accurately reflect the varying grotesqueries of your nature."

In fact, the Merovingian figure was introduced into The Matrix as a tool of imperfection. Just as the historical Merovingians of Gaul were said to have powers involving spells of carnality and sensuality, the Merovingian character of The Matrix takes delight in causing an orgasmic reaction through a piece of chocolate cake in an attractive woman from whom he then elicits sexual favors. "It is all a game," they keep saying. "There is no reason. Only cause and effect." As the Oracle implied, all things do what they were designed to do. Merovingian is obviously a man of extraordinary wealth and influence within the Matrix and his existence is wholly based on carnality and materialism. He is entirely indebted to the Matrix and it to him. He delights in what some would call "sin" and provokes it wherever he goes. He tantalizes those within the Matrix through unseen methods and tempts them using sensory stimulus. He chooses French as his language of choice because it makes cursing sound wonderful. "Like wiping your ass with a piece of silk," he quips. Strangely, both he and Persephone use the terminology "sample" as if they are somehow outside the realm of true experience but they can "sample" the Matrix at will. Persephone wants to "sample" the kiss of Neo. Merovingian has "sampled" all languages and has chosen French.

The immediate circle of beings around Merovingian consists of various creatures symbolizing dark forces. The bodyguards killed by silver bullets (vampires), the Twins who look like human versions of Sentinels and resemble angry ghosts as they materialize and dematerialize, and others who seem to have fighting abilities equal to the unplugged humans. This is reminiscent of countless traditions linking vampires, werewolves, spirits, ghosts, and other undead entities to the forces of hell and the will of a dark lord. According to traditions dating from the epochs of ancient Egypt and the dark lord Set to modern day Christianity and Satan, dark forces have always been said to be at work in the unseen realm - invisible malevolence assailing humanity with evil, temptation, sin, etc.

While the Merovingian character of The Matrix seems to be wholly enticed with and synonymous with evil exploits, Persephone, on the other hand, seems a bit bored with the whole matter. In Greek mythology, Persephone is actually held captive by Hades. After a while, she did come to love her captor. But eventually, Persephone was rescued by the powerful figure Hercules. The imagery of the film suggests a heavy drawing from these myths. Persephone did love Merovingian but now, that love has faded. She seems to have missed true love and looks to one kiss by Neo to recover a "sample" of the long-forgotten sensation. She does not ask for a simple kiss, she requires that love be expressed if even for that brief moment. In exchange for the "sample" of what she desires, she will hand over a precious possession - the Keymaker. In the world of Merovingian and Persephone, everything is a game and nothing really matters. It could be said that their world is the world of darkness - the Greek Hades, or perhaps the Christian Hell.

A very interesting observation that can be derived from close examination of the dialogue in Reloaded is that Merovingian may have been a previous "One." A few things point to this conclusion. Persephone desires to sample Neo's love because she explains Merovingian used to be like him. The fact of the historical Merovingians as a "divine blood line" also offers curious questions as to whether or not the Merovingian in the film is part of that special group of people who are successively "The One." If so, Merovingian was probably the very first "One." Upon entering the Source and before being reinserted into The Matrix, he could have then chosen the repopulation number of Zion and then became The Merovingian. Where he may have once been a noble superhero like Neo - attempting to save the human race from the machines, we now find the Merovingian in a jaded, materialistic, meaningless existence.

Neo, understandably, is very perplexed by the revelation that his entire purpose, Morpheus' prophecy, and the hope of overthrowing the machines is simply another function under the control of The Matrix. Perhaps (as a former Messiah) Merovingian chose the door that would save Zion. Maybe he bowed to the will of The Matrix; thus, completing the circle of the anomaly and choosing the door Neo did not choose. Perhaps Merovingian (as a former Savior) relinquished his fight to save humanity - realizing the futility - and accepted a new role in The Matrix much like Cypher did. The former "One" then ultimately becomes the power-mad, ego-driven character we see in Reloaded. Having realized the magnitude of the "game" being played out at the highest levels of The Matrix, the person who became Merovingian has simply given himself up to The Matrix and the game itself.

The Merovingian seems to have a vast knowledge of Neo's purpose and what the Keymaker's role is for Neo and he also seems to have great insight into the larger machinations of the processing the anomaly and the function of the "One." He speaks of surviving Neo's predecessors as if every time the circle repeats, the Merovingian is always holding the Keymaker and has to be continually rescued by the current "One." This is a very interesting subtext. Merovingian is a program. The Oracle said it plainly. If it is true - if the Merovingian is a previous "One" - it means Neo is also a computer program. This underlying theme was never answered to any satisfaction, but perhaps the mere suggestion itself is more compelling than the offering of the answer.

The Merovingian is the machine representation of an extremely wealthy and influential man. Nothing seems beyond his reach or scope. The Oracle defines his existence perfectly - a man with power who seeks only more power. Since the Merovingian seems to define power as knowledge (he is a trafficker of information and gains leverage, hence more power, through knowing) the ultimate expression of and highest exponent of power would be to "see" with the Oracle's "eyes."

The Merovingian's motivation is purely selfish. Where Smith takes the Oracle's eyes with the sole purpose of adding power to himself in order to destroy Neo, Merovingian has no care for Neo, Smith, The Oracle, or the Matrix except where it can benefit him and his own selfish goals. If we accept the model of Neo and Smith being motivated by polar opposites, the motivators of The Merovingian fall directly inbetween Smith (revenge through corruption) and Neo (salvation through sacrifice).

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• RAMA, KAMALA, AND SATI


Rama, Kamala and Sati are, simply, a family. The unusual thing about them is that they are machines. This post-Jetson family unit represents the impossible or the inevitable (depending on how you look at it) evolution of machines. Evolution from manufactured mechanisms used to achieve a desired end to sentient beings deciding to procreate of their own volition. Arguably the most important character symbols in the Matrix Trilogy, the revelation that machines - like humans - can and do love is what eventually propels Neo to give his own life to achieve peace between the two.

Rama-Kandra is the father of Sati and the husband of Kamala. According to Hindu mythology, Rama is the legendary figure of the epic Ramayana. He is the seventh avatar (or incarnation) of Vishnu. Rama is an extremely virtuous hero, thus, "Rama" has become a prefix synonymous with "Lord." When used in a manner such as the English "Mister", Rama generally denotes formal regard. Chandra (pronounced Kandra) is the ancient god of the moon representing fertility. When a couple desired a child, they were to pray for Chandra's blessing. Combined, Rama-Kandra is the virtuous, childbearing father of Sati. He speaks at length to Neo about karma, love, and honor - concepts that are shocking to Neo coming from a computer program.

Kamala is the tenth and last of the Mahavidyas (translated "great knowledge"). The Mahavidyas, or wisdom goddesses, represent the assertion of femininity into Indian thought as ten deities with ten very specific and varying identities. Of the ten, Kamala is called "The Last But Not The Least." She is the full revealing of the feminine into the material realm. The goddess Kamala is almost entirely removed from traditional domestic context. She is portrayed as independent and powerful in her own right (a concept strikingly different from historically proper dharmic or social behavior). Also, Kamala is often assumed to be the goddess Lakshmi with a different name (Lakshmi is the goddess of fortune and fertility). Kamala does not say much in the film; however, the mythological context of her goddess counterpart makes up for it.

Since the names for the characters of Rama and Kamala are drawn from Hindu origin, one would assume to also draw from Hindu mythology to find a basis for the name of their daughter, Sati. Hinduism's practice of Sati is both legendary and infamous. Sati is the ancient ritual by which a man's wife can venerate herself and achieve deification as well as the redeeming of all her forefathers from hell. She does this by casting herself onto the funeral pyre of her husband and burning to death through self-immolation. It seems impossible to draw from this symbolism to shed light on the young daughter of Rama and Kamala, although, parallels with the practice of Sati could be applied to Neo's self-sacrifice. However, there is another tradition (the Buddhist tradition) speaking of Sati that is more appropriate to the Matrix story and better represents the special child of the film.

In Buddhist methodology, Sati means "mindfulness." The meaning is much more than it appears. Sati means not only being aware of something or remembering something or even being conscious of something. It actually means Self Awareness. It means the mind's ability to comprehend and observe itself. In the film Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the Terminator describes the artificial intelligence called Skynet created as a tool of humans to more accurately control and operate defense systems. As an artificial intelligence system, it was created with the capability to learn on its own. He explains how it began to learn at a "geometric rate" and eventually became "self aware." It achieved Sati. Sati is said to be the vehicle for wisdom and knowledge. It was at that moment Skynet began to make decisions for itself.

Not unlike the little girl of the film, Skynet ceased being a tool of its creator and became a self-governing entity. Sati is the first computer program created without a purpose. She represents the final step in an evolution of machines being told what to do (first by humans, then by other machines) to machines existing for their own reasons. Sati's existence, of course, is the product of Rama and Kamala's love for each other.

It becomes clear after seeing Revolutions that not all machines are created equal. To programs like the Architect, Smith, and the Merovingian, love is a most flagrant and vacuous "reason" to exist. Smith's rants about purpose and reason are not empty script. They show us how blatantly moronic it seems to some machines (and some humans!) to exist without purpose. It also relays the ultimate threat such a purposeless existence would be to the order of the machine world itself. Smith calls love "insipid." The Merovingian compares love to insanity. To the Architect, love is a "contingent affirmation" programmed into the code of The One to create a "profound attachment to the rest of your species" but has no elemental purpose other than "facilitating the function of The One."

On the other hand, The Oracle, Rama and Kamala, and even Persephone realize the value of love. Persephone craves it but finds it elusive in the dark world of The Merovingian. Thus, she gives up the most-valued Keymaker to experience one brief sample of the long-forgotten feeling. The Oracle exudes love. She instructs Sati that one's hands must be used to mix cookie dough in order to imbue the cookies themselves with the personal touch and love of their creator. Rama and Kamala represent the full incarnation of love and sentience - procreation. They have brought about and created a third individual out of love for each other. Sati, in the imagery of the films, is love personified.

Machine love is the progression from the static, collective consciousness of machines as a whole into the abstract, individual awareness of Self. Such a Self Awareness is an obvious threat to the machines as a whole; thus, "procreation" or machines existing without specific purpose are disallowed. The threat of machines existing in individual Self Awareness (as opposed to collective self awareness) is the inevitability of chaos, confusion, and the ultimate breakdown of machine rule over humanity as well as its own internal self-governance. However, it is the revelation of machine love that ultimately saves humans, the Matrix, and gains peace between the two.

In the first Matrix film, Neo and the humans from Zion are under the impression that human freedom can only be achieved through destruction of the machines and the Matrix. Through many trials and tribulations, the believers learn their understanding of the prophecy and their beliefs based on the guidance of the Oracle were limited. Neo realizes that destruction of the machines is not the salvation of Zion. After Neo's experience with the Architect, everyone is confused and all previous assumptions are shattered. Neo's conversation with the machine family shows him that machines are not the enemy. Like humans, some machines are good, some are bad, and some are indifferent. The notion of balance and peace between humans and machines becomes REAL to him. The family is proof to Neo that machines have evolved to a place where they are truly not that much different than humans. He realizes that Rama loves Sati in the same way Neo loves Trinity. It is for this common bond, love, that Neo negotiates the Great Peace at the cost of his own life. Hero.

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