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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.
BACK TO TOP
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.
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.
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.
BACK TO TOP
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
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.
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
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.
BACK TO TOP
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
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
BACK TO TOP
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.
BACK TO TOP
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
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.
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.
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.
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
"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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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."
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).
RAMA, KAMALA, AND SATI
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.