The fighting consciousness II

NEO AND THE ARCHITECT or: THE SPLINTER IN THE CONSTRUCT


No part of a film stands alone. Each event is imbedded in the context of the chronology. It is based on what has gone before and points to the future. The matrix trilogy is somewhat different: Matrix is a puzzle. Here as well no piece stands alone. Each part of the whole is like a piece of a puzzle; each piece is related to a number of other pieces. The matching pieces must, however – as always with a puzzle – first be found. The focus of the seeker is not on the chonological connecting pieces but rather – and here Matrix resembles more the game “memory” – on repeating patterns. The trilogy is built out of puzzle pieces. These are so constructed that they can be understood only through a comparative observation of all variations. Meaning doesn’t arise as a result of observing the individual fragments, but rather by an overarching view of all the connected pieces. Only the sum of the puzzle pieces results in the complete image!

The way in which the Wachowskis communicate interpretation and meaning in their films via combination and variations can be understood via the example of the meeting of Neo and the Architect. This scene is one of the most important, the most complex and at the same time – and this is not without irony – one of the most constructed of the entire trilogy. Reflecting many scenes from the first film is one of the big syntheses of Reloaded. How the events in the Architect’s room can be understood at the level of the subtext is told by the parallels to the first film.

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Neo and Morpheus: History Lesson in the construct I


A: Reflections

◄ The camera approaches Neo’s face, he looks first to the left, then to the right.
► The camera approaches monitor, which then shows Neo, he first looks to the left, then to the right.

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◄ The camera turns around to face the person opposite Neo.
► The person opposite Neo turns around in his chair.

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In both rooms, the events revolve around a screen / many screens representing a negative.

◄ The screen is dark on the inside and green on the outside, and also concave.
► The screens are dark on the outside and green on the inside, and also convex

◄ & ► They are controlled by remote control by the person opposite Neo.

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◄ & ► Neo looks away from the person opposite him and looks to the screen / one of the screens … 

◄ & ► … the camera follows his gaze, zooms into the screen …

◄ & ► … the previously only displayed reality become the reality of the following events. 

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◄ „Welcome to the desert of the real.”
► „Which has led you, inexorably … here.”
◄ & ► The desert of the real is here!

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◄ & ► The camera moves in on the figures.

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B: Thematic Parallels

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C: In the centre of the construct

Seldom in the Matrix trilogy are two scenes as similar as that of the construct and the Architect’s room. Connecting elements are the clinically cold white form, the presence of a chair / chairs, Morpheus’s suit in the colours of the monitors and the remotely controlled monitors.

This one time, the Wachowskis are compassionate and relieve the recipient from difficult interpretations. There is no need to find out for oneself which role the Architect plays on the sublevel of the story. The many reflections demand of the viewer to relate the two scenes.

If one has recognised the parallels, then Morpheus’s hint …

… hits one on the head like a hammer. This statement is only superficially addressed to Neo; on the sublevel the recipient receives the information which he needs to decode the events in the Architect’s room:

The Matrix trilogy tells the story of a transforming consciousness. It does this by conceiving of consciousness as a conglomerate of various interest groups which are battling for the upper hand. The consciousness changes as its reality construct changes. The idea of reality which an individual consciousness develops is defined here in the sense of constructivism not as a real image of this reality but as a subjective inner reflection of this reality: an image whose degree of correspondence to reality will always remain hidden to us.

On the sublevel of the trilogy, the Matrix is an image of the component of human consciousness which makes up the mind. This mind is dominated by a vision of reality; it is interpreted as a subjective construction and attains a centre, a core. This centre of the reality construction is personified in the form of the Architect and his room. In the finale of Reloaded, Neo meets no-one less the Constructor, the Architect of the dominating reality construction.

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Neo and Rhineheart

A: Reflections

◄ The surface of the window-pane is striped. The first image shows white dots before a dark background.
► The surface of the screen is striped. Through the motion of the zooming camera, a clear images is formed. The last image shows further white points before a dark background.

◄ & ► Neo turns his head and faces the person opposite him. There are quadratic structures in the background.

◄ The person opposite Neo moves backwards in his chair.
► The person opposite Neo turns around in his chair.

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◄ Neo turns his head to the right and looks out the window.
► Neo turns his head to the right and looks at the monitors.

◄ The motion of the window cleaner causes the striped surface of the window to become clear.
► The motion of the zooming camera causes the striped surface of the monitor to become clear.

◄ & ► Neo looks again at the person opposite him and a deciding sentence is spoken:

◄ “The time has come to make a choice, Mr. Anderson.”
► “Choice. The problem is choice.”

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B: Thematic parallels

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C: If an employee has a problem…

“Thus if an employee has a problem, the company has a problem.”

“The anomaly is systemic, creating fluctuations in even the most simplistic equations.”

A further reality construction is a theory about the nature of our reality. As such, it can never stake a claim for the Absolute. It is only the best explanation of reality up until now, it always remains one of many possibilities. For this reason, reality constructions are always being forced to be compared to reality. The characteristic of a good total theory is that all individual aspects can be explained by it. Of one aspect cannot be explained, then the entire theory cannot be right. In other words: If an aspect of reality resists the authority of the reality construction, if something out there (or also something in there) cannot be integrated, then the entire construction has a problem. It is questioned in its entirety and thus the interpretation of every aspect of reality.

If the Architect is the construct, i.e. the personalised centre of a reality construction, then this construction has a massive problem. It is not capable of constructing a theory about the nature of reality within which all aspects can be integrated. The problem is expressed in two forms:

1.) Small elements which make up consciousness cannot be explained from the perspective of the construction. They resist its authority. A solution to the problem was not possible for the Architect himself, thus he needed help. The solution is exile. In order that the parts which cannot be integrated do not become a problem for the whole, they are allowed to flee from the system.

2.) At regular intevals, something arises in consciousness which has the power to question the validity of the entire system and to challenge it.


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Neo and Morpheus -  red or blue?

A: Reflections

◄ The person opposite Neo turns around.
► The person opposite Neo turns around in his chair.

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◄ The figures move toward the camera.
► The camera moves toward the figures.

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◄ & ► The camera shows the two alternatives from opposite points of view so that – depending on the perspective – left becomes right and vice versa.

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Seen together, the following images have the same contents:

◄ & ► One of the alternatives becomes recognisable
◄ blue pill ► the first door

◄ & ► The alternatives are reflected in the eyes of the person who gives Neo the choice
◄ in Morpheus’s glasses ► in the direction of the Architect’s gaze

◄ & ► Neo’s face is multiply reflected
◄ in Morpheus’s glasses ► in the Architect’s monitors

According the presentation of the second alternative

◄ & ► Neo lets his gaze waver between the alternatives…

◄ & ► …he makes a choice…

◄ & ► …turns toward his choice, just before reaching it he is addressed by the person opposite him and contemplates for a moment…

◄ & ► … the choice which Neo has made causes the person opposite him to smile.

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B: Thematic Parallels

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C: The splinter in the construct

For people inside the Matrix, there is no possibility to recognise the fact that their world is constructed. Everything they perceive and everything they experience has always been and always will be: the Matrix. It is always: inside! An outside is not perceptible and not observable. The immediate, observable world is the world of the Matrix, something beyond it seems to remain unreachable. The people in the Matrix can form their view of reality only within this illusory world. What then is the origin of Neo’s doubts? They cannot be due to observations of the outside world, they do not enter his consciousness from outside. The doubts are not due to verifiable facts, they are based on feelings. Morpheus – to whom this doesn’t seem foreign – diagnoses in Neo a feeling which has always been there that something is wrong with this world. Neo doesn’t object. If these doubts are based on feelings, then they cannot be explored by observing the outside, but only by self-observation. The splinter in the mind, the feeling, that something is wrong with this world, causes a conflict between the inside and the outside. Via self-perception, the perception of the outside world is questioned. This self-observation of consciousness with respect to individual feelings is a central goal of the trilogy.

An often used stylistic device in the trilogy is the change in planes between the first film and the sequels: When in the first film Neo enters a room which Morpheus deems a construct, then the Architect’s room symbolises the reality construction of an individual consciousness. What apparently happens in the first film explains the symbolism of the sequels. Here as well: In Matrix Neo knows only that something is wrong. Where this feeling comes from, how it makes itself known in his consciousness and why it can determine his actions – all of these questions are left open in Matrix. The splinter leads to Neo freeing himself from the system. The viewer experiences this from the external perspective. In the sequels, a change of planes takes place on the inside, the process of liberation from a system is shown from the internal perspective. The viewer doesn’t observe Neo’s consciousness from the outside, but rather is within one consciousness. The Matrix represents human mind, the Architect the centre of the dominating reality construction. When Neo is standing opposite him and challenges his rule, then Neo doesn’t feel a splinter in his consciousness, but rather he himself is that splinter. That which the Architect somewhat helplessly terms an anomaly is the personalised feeling that something is wrong with reality – and Neo is the one who has the power to change everything. When Neo meets the Architect, then the splitter in consciousness – the feeling, that something is wrong with this reality – meets the Architect, who has constructed this reality!


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Morpheus and Smith

A: Reflections

◄ The person opposite Neo spins his chair.
► The person opposite Neo spins in his chair.

◄ The figures move towards the camera.
► The camera moves towards the figures

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B: Thematic Parallels


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C: Unsatisfactory possibilities of expression?

“Some believed that we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world.”

The reality construction which the Architect symbolises is a rational-materialistic one. It represents a reductionistic interpretation of things: In order to understand the whole, one has to understand the parts. All phenomena of this universe can in principle be explained by the most basic science, microphysics. Correspondingly, the interpretations of reality are based on considerations of the observable world and on their explanation in terms of reason and logic. The (programming) language in which the Architect thinks is a network of mutually contradictory possibilities: left or right, true or false, 0 or 1. With this form of reality description – this language – the Architect was not able to completely describe reality. Neo and the inhabitants of Zion are witnesses to this. Ergo: Reductionism is not a theory which can describe the whole of existence. In order to take into account all aspects of reality, one needs another way of thinking, one which isn’t fixed on the observable surface of things but rather one which concentrates on the observation of the actually unobservable. More precisely: Self-exploration with respect to the interpretation and meaning of individual and subjective perceptions and feelings, the desire to explore them and their origins.

These different modes of thinking are perhaps expressed by the monitors: There are more possibilities than just left or right, true or false. Thus the many Neos on the many monitors. Why are there so many, differently behaving, images of Neo and why does the action sometimes zoom in on the image of the one Neo who is not rebelling? All of these various expressions are forced by the Architect via reduction to conformity when he reduces Neo’s choices to two possibilities – left or right.

Perhaps the window cleaners in Rhineheart’s room hint out the discrepancy between the many possibilities and their reduction. Their squeaking steers attention to the windows and thus to the monitors in the Architect’s room. Also, they produce a clear view of the world outside the rooms and building which in the trilogy denotes a free mind – beyond limiting constructions.


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Neo and Morpheus - the chosen one and the prophecy

Thematic Parallels


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Neo and Smith

A: Reflections

Neos questioning by Smith begins with a very clear hint of the parallel between this scene and the Architect’s monolog.

◄ The camera zooms out of the Architect’s room through the monitors.
► The camera zooms into Architect’s room through the monitors.

The more obvious variations are followed by a series of better hidden ones.
◄ & ► Neo glances from the middle to one side and then to the other side.

◄ & ► The camera swings to the right and fixes on Neo, the door disappears in the left of the picture.

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◄ & ► Neo is confronted with documentation of his life up until now. 

◄ & ► He reacts with two successive moves of the head:
1. His head moves slowly to the side.

 2. He turns quickly downward.

The Wachowskis have a clear weakness for head motion. Many variations have the same head motions of the figures as a unifying element.
But hand motions are favoured as well. While the Architect makes the following motion slowly and meaningfully, in Smith’s case it is reduced to a quick shake of the sleeves.

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◄ The figures move toward the camera.
► The camera moves toward the figures.

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B: Thematic Parallels

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C: Living two lives

When the Matrix was first built, there was a man born inside who had the ability to change whatever he wanted, to remake the Matrix as he saw fit.”

The other life is lived in computers, where you go by the hacker alias Neo.”

The function of the One is now to return to the Source, allowing a temporary dissemination of the code you carry, reinserting the prime program.

The Architect offers Neo two alternatives: The first is his complete return to the system. The fluctuations in the equations would be removed and the temporary inequilibrium removed. The other alternative implies that Neo moves outside the system once and for all. The inequilibrium spread by him would definitely lead to the destruction of the Matrix. Since the whole has a problem when a part has a problem, this means the end of the whole; the program crashes.

From the Architect’s perspective, one can understand this completely destructive interpretation of Neo, since he lacks the ability to look beyond the decisions. He is the centre of the dominating reality construction and thus not able to think beyond himself and his program, to imagine an existence beyond them.

Beyond the limited horizon of the Architect, however, two other alternatives are manifested in Neo’s existence. While still prisoned within the Matrix, his existence outside of the system was that of a hacker, that is, a person who is able to penetrate programs and modify them from the inside according to his wishes. This property also characterises Neo, the chosen one: He is the one, who can change everything within the Matrix according to his wishes, who can end the current inequilibrium with a new equilibrium, on a different basis, which is thus end and beginning at the same time.

The alternatives from which Neo must finally choose are either the preservation of the status quo or the creation of something completely different.

The words of the Architect will finally be shown to be the truth, one which confirms the words of the prophecy. Seen from a higher level of perception, thesis and antithesis melt into a synthesis:

The function of the One is now to return to the Source…

… allowing a temporary dissemination of the code you carry…

…reinserting the prime program.”

 

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Neo and Morpheus - a prison for the mind

Both in Matrix and in the sequels Neo is at first an unknowing slave. He is inside a prison which he cannot smell, taste or feel. In a prison of the mind. In the first film, this prison is the inside of the simulation. In Reloaded, the prison is the system of the chosen one which controls him and finally leads him to the Architect’s room – the all-dominating construction. Thus the trilogy once again changes planes between the first film and the sequels. In Matrix, it is about a prison for Neo’s mind, only a splinter within him letting him feel this. The viewer sees this from the outside. In the sequels, the Wachowskis once again change into the internal perspective of consciousness. The Architect symbolises the idea of the nature of reality which dominates the mind. This mind is imprisoned within this reality construction, a prison which it cannot smell, taste or feel. It is the slave of a materialistic interpretation of reality and Neo symbolises the thorn in this mind, the feeling that something is wrong with this construction of reality.

In both cases, Neo has the choice between slavery and freedom. The Architect thus has only the power to influence the environment of Neo’s choice; the power to make a choice remains with Neo. In both rooms, Neo chooses freedom. He lets himself be removed from the system by Morpheus and doesn’t allow himself to be re-integrated by the Architect. He leaves first the inside of the simulation and finally the reality construction. Both decisions mean for Neo the transition into a new and unknown world. Here and there he begins to transcend the known world, cross previously valid boundaries of perception and reach the next higher level of perception.


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Scaffold or custody

A: Reflections

◄ & ► Neo looks at the alternatives:
Right door: uncertain freedom

Left door: imprisonment

◄ & ► Neo looks at the door promising freedom and moves toward it.

◄ & ► Just before passing it he pauses for and instant and glances back.

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B: Thematic Parallels

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C: Outside the building

The Matrix represents the mind. The dominance of a rationalistic reality construction within it is symbolised by the Wachowskis via the buildings which form the Matrix. Neo’s development is manifested in an increasing mastery of the space outside of the buildings. Beginning with this escape attempt, then the first jump, then saving Morpheus in flight, though still connected to a helicopter by rope and finally the complete mastery at the end of the first film and the sequels. Leaving the buildings and leaving the Architect’s room symbolise in both cases the flight out of the system of the dominating reality construction.


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Neo and Switch - Our way or the highway

A: Reflections

◄ & ► Neo looks at the alternatives:
◄ Right: he stays with Trinity and thus chooses the journey into an unknown future.
► Rechts: he goes back to Trinity and thus chooses and unknown future.

◄ & ► Left: he goes back to where he came from, back into the system.

◄ Neo looks at the left alternative and begins a corresponding motion.
► Neo looks at the right alternative and begins a corresponding motion.

◄ Trinity turns to Neo, who then pauses for a moment and looks at the person opposite him.
► The Architect turns to Neo, who pauses a moment and looks at the person opposite him.

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B: Love or Nihilism

“She is going to die, and there is nothing you can do to stop it.”

In the moment the Architect makes this statement, Neo makes his choice. He doesn’t decide for one of the choices offered, but rather denies the exclusivity of these choices, since both alternatives imply the death of Trinity. Why does Trinity die? Reloaded begins and ends with the possible death of Trinity; her survival is directly connected to Neo’s choice in the Architect’s room. Neo loves her – what meaning is attached to this feeling, within the framework of a reductionistic reality construction?

Love exists as a biochemical process, it is reduced to the externally observable components. The inside, the unobservable of this feeling, the subjective perception in our consciousness are not taken into account, their meaning is denied, they don’t exist. Love is, from a reductionistic standpoint, not a living feeling, but rather dead chemistry.

Neo’s predecessors were willing to let themselves be re-integrated into the system; he himself refuses this process. The only difference between Neo and his predecessors which we know about is his perception of love. He experienced it not only as a general feeling, but rather as an intense experience with another person. If Neo accepts the interpretation of experience offered by the Architect, then the meaning of this feeling dies: Trinity dies.

The confrontation between Neo and Switch in the car demonstrates the alternatives between which Neo finally has to make his choice: love or nihilism?


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Neo and Morpheus: History lesson in the construct ll

While Neo was able to experience a relatively harmonic transition into the Architect’s room in Reloaded, in the first film a splinter – since he symbolises the splinter in the mind – is rammed rather brutally into him.

Also when he leaves the Architect’s room, Neo shows himself emotionally rather restrained. In Matrix on the other hand he can really live out his thoughts and feelings concerning a reductionistic interpretation of the world:

◄ = ◄ & ► “No. I don't believe it. It's not possible.”

◄ = ◄ & ►  “Stop. Let me out. Let me out. I want out.”

Take this thing off me. Take this thing ...

I don't want it! I don't believe it! I don't believe it!

The Wachowskis also already hint that Neo will eventually free the mind from the construcion. Here as well applies: What happens symbolically in the sequels happens literally in the first film. That Neo vomits the white room again shows that the brothers sometimes take rather special paths in constructing their parallels.


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Summary

The scene of Neo’s meeting with the Architect is a further example of the Wachowskis reaching for a unity of contents and form. At no other place are the language and the structure so complexly constructed and the information density so high as here in the centre of the reality construction.

The two most important figures in the battle of consciousness meet each other directly. The Architect is interpreted as a personified construction of a rational-materialistic world view. This materialism is characterised as a theory which cannot explain all aspects of reality and thus incompletely reflects reality. It doesn’t take into account the perceptions related to the subjective world of feelings on the inside of consciousness. Part of this consciousness is thus not prepared to accept the authority of the construction. The Oracle, Zion and finally Neo symbolise the resistance. Neo is equipped with the power to make a decision for or against the ruling system. He is thus a corresponding threat to the construction and thus for the entire equilibrium of consciousness. With the help of the subcontrol system, the installation of a dogmatic belief in the returning chosen one, the construction attempts to keep this danger under control and re-integrate it into the system. Neo resists. He refuses to accept a decision in which both alternatives mean the death of Trinity, he sets out to free the mind from the prison of its ruling reality construction.

 

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Matrix deconstructed - Neo and the Architect