The fighting consciousness III
OBSERVING THE UNOBSERVABLE
What gives Neo, in the real world, the power to stop the sentinels? More than any other question, this fueled the expectations with regard to Revolutions. The fact that the film seemed to answer neither this question nor many others contributed to many fans being turning away from the trilogy in grave disappointment.
The Matrix trilogy doesn’t leave this question unanswered. However, the answer is not at the surface: There is no rational explanation as to why Neo attains superhuman powers in his battle against the machines for humanity. Whoever seeks the answer at this level will not find it. It is located deep within the subtext. The trilogy creates its own, abstract and highly constructed cosmos: This follows ist own laws and rules and is not oriented on the “real” world outside. Within the logic of the Matrix cosmos, stopping the sentinels in the real world is a logical consequence of stopping the bullets in the virtual world.
Two dream worlds
“In some ways, the posthumans running a simulation are like gods in relation to the people inhabiting the simulation.”
We live inside a computer simulation!
There is a devine sphere!
These two statements about the nature of reality are so different as related:
The contents are opposed: While the first statement sees this existence as the result of a complex technical process which is based on the laws of nature, the second sees it as the product of an act of creation, initialised on a plane of existence which is beyond the scientifically accessible world.
At the same time, a series of implications relates these two statements.
Accessible reality doesn’t deliver a full picture of that reality. The world which we can perceive or measure with our senses doesn’t show us the whole truth. Its supposed completeness is just simulated. Beyond the observable lies the unobservable. From a communication-theoretical perspecitve, a communication about Nick Bostrom’s simulation argument follows the same mechanisms as a communication about the existence of God. In both cases, one reflects on immanence from the perspective of transcendence, on levels of existence which lie beyond our perception.
The two models also overlap with respect to a creator and the self-characterisation of man as its creation. We are unknowing creations and cannot recognise what exists beyond the boundaries of our perception, why or for what purpose we were created or what plans our creator has for us. This superstructure forms the basis, the foundation of our existence. Our level was formed by this other level. The basis of our existence, the observable, the immanent reality, is just a reflection of the determining, creating and otherworldly cosmos.
Overcoming the illusion
“The Matrix is an exploration of consciousness.”
Belief in a simulated existence and belief in a divine sphere also imply a perception-theoretical problem: How can we perceive other planes of existence which lie beyond our perception? How can the illusion be overcome? Nick Bostrom bases his simulation argument on logic. He concludes from the state of this world and its state of technical development that we are very probably living in a simulation – if such a simulation is technically possible.
In the Matrix trilogy, emotions and not logic are the main power behind the doubts. The perception of the world which takes place inside consciousness and the observation of the external world no longer correspond. The feelings indicate something beyond and produce an inequilibrium between inside and outside. If perception and observation contradict, a hierarchy needs to be set up. Who should be trusted? The observable, whose surface we feel and which we can objectively verify? Or the unobservable, the immaterial inside of our conscious and thus our very own emotions? Hopelessly at the fate of complete subjectivity? When an observation of the external reality cannot explain the internal, then it seems that an observation of the internal reality is necessary, a self-examination of one’s own consciousness. Not the observation of the observable outside, but rather the self-observation of the inside of our consciousness could turn out to be a path to perception.
This is the story which Matrix tells. Within a consciousness, a part of this consciousness sets out in search of perception and goes on an amazing journey through the wonderful world of its own perception and the possibilities of its interpretation. The path of this hero is successful. Layer for layer he transcends non-transcendable boundaries of perception. He perceives the imperceptible, the unobservable and resolves the conflict between inside and outside.
The trilogy tells this story twice:
We live inside a computer simulation!
In the first film, Neo is inside a computer simulation. His total liberation from this illusion is portrayed in the film as a development which takes place in several successive steps.
There is a divine sphere!
In the sequels, Neo experiences the same development a second time, which takes place in the same steps. The illusion from which Neo liberates himself is the material construction of the real world.Here again: Only after a comparative examination of the parallels does the whole picture become visible: The Wachowskis use the parallels described between a computer simulation and the belief in a – in whatever form – divine sphere. Neo escapes from an illusion. This escape frees him, he finds himself and attains broad powers within the world recognised as an illusion. It is obvious that the first film tells this story. The sequels tell this story again and at the same time lift it to a higher level. This fact is anything but obvious. Again, it is to be discovered only by investigating the parallels. Matrix explains the logic of the plot, the sequels use the same elements (although in a different chronology) and thus indicate that they also follow the logic presented in the first film.In the sequels, Neo experiences the same development which takes place in the same steps. The illusion from which Neo liberates himself is the material construction of the real world.
Transcending the first dream world
Neo is presented the choice …
… remain in a known but enslaving system or in an unknown freedom which promises perception. He decides for freedom.
It reveals itself in an unexpected form …
… for the first time in his life, his sense organs are not fooled. He sees the world as it is and recognises the material reality beyond the virtual illusion.
… saved from death by drowning, Neo disappears in light and …
… wakes up in a new and unknown world ...
… his mind and his body are brought together.
Later, Neo returns from the real world to the Matrix. He now knows what levels of reality exist and the relationship between these levels. This knowledge already gives him more power in the virtual world of the Matrix. He still cannot recognise it, though; it still presents itself to him as an illusion ...
… his eyes remain at the surface which he cannot yet penetrate. His perceptions are still fooled.
In order to find out who he is, Neo confronts his enemy …
… and dies, in the virtual and in the real world.
Returning from the dead, Neo’s perceptions experience a process of transformation ...
… he transcends the surface of the illusion and recognises the illusion. The unobservable, the code, the foundation on which the Matrix is built becomes perceptible for him. He observes the unobservable.
Power follows perception. His recognition of the unobservable is coupled with the power to change the observable. He is now in the position to form everything according to his wishes. He thus obtains the ability …
… to stop bullets shot at him …
… and cause them to fall.
Neo becomes more powerful than the previous rulers of the Matrix. By destroying Smith and chasing away the agents, Neo brings to an end their ruling over the Matrix.
Transcending the second dream world
Neo is given the choice …
… remain in a known but enslaving system or freedom in an unknown, dangerous future outside the system. Neo decides for freedom.
This freedom reveals itself in an unexpected form. Neo loses the power to change the observable in the material, the real, world. Without realising why, Neo obtains the ability …
… to stop the sentinels attacking him …
… and cause them to fall.
This causes a separation between his mind and his body.
… and awakes in a new and unknown world.
Later, Neo returns from the intermediate world to the Matrix. Recognising the code of the Matrix, the real world is now a puzzle for him. His alleged knowledge about what levels of reality exist and the relationship between these levels now presents itself as an illusion to him ...
… do his eyes remain at the surface of the Matrix and cannot penetrate it? Is his perception still fooled?
Neo finds and answer to this question during the battle with his enemy …
… in which he loses his eyes and thus his ability to perceive the material world …
… which, it will soon be revealed, is not the only perceptible world.
His perceptions experience a process of transformation …
… he transcends the surface of the material world. He recognises that he is being fooled, that it is an illusion. The unobservable, the foundation on which the Matrix is built, becomes perceptible for him. He observes the unobservable.
It reveals itself in an unexpected form …
… his sense organs no longer fool him. He sees the world as it is and recognises the reality beyond the material illusion …
Neo’s perception of the unobservable was previously associated with the power to change the observable material world. Now he obtains the ability to change the Matrix. He destroys the previous ruler of the Matrix, Smith …
… and creates a new Matrix according to his own ideas …
… he transcends his death in the material world and disappears in light.
Self-reflective dream worlds
System and freedom
◄ Neo is offered the choice: Remain in a known but enslaving system or an unknown freedom which promises perception. He decides for freedom.
► Neo is offered the choice: Remain in a known but enslaving system or freedom in an unknown, dangerous future outside the system. Neo decides for freedom.
◄ Neo wakes up in a new and unknown world: In the material reality of the real world.
► Neo wakes up in a new and unknown world: In the immaterial reality of an intermediate world.
Separation and reunion
◄ In their efforts to free Neo, the rebels know where Neo’s mind is, but must first find his body. After the successful search, his mind and body are united for the first time. Neo’s mind is for the first time confronted with the real, not only simulated bodily influences on his consciousness. Body and mind become a unit.
► In their efforts to free Neo, the rebels know where Neo’s body is, but must first find his mind. After the attack by the sentinels, his mind and body are for the first time without any material connection at all. Neo’s mind exists independently of ist material substrate and begins to transcend the material reality. The unity of body and mind dissolves into its components.
Levels of illusion
◄ Neo returns from the real world to the Matrix. He now knows what levels of reality exist and the relationship of these levels to one another. This knowledge gives him power in the virtual world of the Matrix, but he cannot recognise this. It continues to reveal itself to him as an illusion. His eyes remain on the surface which he cannot yet penetrate. His perceptions are still fooled.
► Neo returns from the intermediate world into the Matrix. Recognising the code of the Matrix, the real world is now a puzzle to him. His alleged knowledge about what levels of reality exist and the relationship between them now presents itself to him as an illusion. Do his eyes outside the Matrix still remain on the surface and can they not yet penetrate it? Are his perceptions still fooled?
Losses of perception
◄ Neo faces his enemy and dies, in the virtual and in the real world.
► Neo faces his enemy and loses his eyes and thus the ability to perceive the material world which, as will soon be revealed, isn’t the only perceptible world.
Fooling and fooled senses
◄ The world beyond the enslaving system reveals itself in an unexpected form. Neo’s sense organs are no longer fooled. He sees the world as it is and recognises the material reality beyond the virtual illusion.
► The world beyond the enslaving system reveals itself in an unexpected form. Neo’s sense organs no longer fool him. He sees the world as it is and recognises the reality beyond the material illusion.
◄ Returning from the world of the dead, Neo’s perceptions experience a process of transformation: He transcends the surface of the illusion and recognises the illusion. The unobservable, the code, the foundation on which the Matrix is build becomes perceptible for him. He observes the unobservable.
► Without vision, Neo’s perceptions experience a process of transformation: He transcends the surface of the material world. He recognises that it is an illusion. The unobservable, the foundation on which the real world is built becomes perceptible for him. He observes the unobservable.
Bullets and sentinels
◄ Neo’s perception of the unobservable is always coupled with the power to change the observable. He thus obtains the ability to stop bullets shot at him and cause them to fall.
► Neo’s perception of the unobservable is always coupled with the power to change the observable. He thus attains the ability to stop the attacking sentinels and cause them to fall.
The end of Smith
◄ Neo becomes more powerful than the previous ruler of the Matrix. With the destruction of Smith and chasing away the agents, Neo ends their ruling over the Matrix.
► Back in the Matrix, Neo also attains the power to destroy the previous ruler of the Matrix, Smith, and end his rule over the Matrix.
Fulfillment of prophecy
◄ Neo attains the ability to change whatever he wants. He can form everything according to his wishes.
► Neo attains the ability to change whatever he wants. He can re-form the Matrix according to his wishes.
Disappearing in light
◄ Saved from death by drowning, Neo disappears in light. He awakes in a new, unknown world.
► Neo transcends his death in the material world and disappears in light. Does he awake in a new, unknown world?
Perception and power
„Don’t think you are, know you are! “
The key to understanding Neo’s abilities in the real world are the events in the hall at the end of the first film. They already tell a wonderful story themselves for which the film offers no rational, logic explanation: Neo dies both in the virtual Matrix and in the real world. In the known realities he is dead and in both his death is verified! But through a miracle he returns to the world of the living: Trinity’s love, symbolised by a kiss, saves him. Neo cannot be dead … Trinity loves him. After the first resurrection in the power plant, he is born again. He achieves the last stage of his development, for now, which began with his liberation from the Matrix. This liberation changed his perception and thus his image of the nature of reality and of himself. Additionally, this process extends his abilities. Like all rebels, by transcending the boundaries of the simulation, by observing from the outside and thus by knowing its true character, Neo attains power within the simulation which goes beyond that of the unknowing. Neo becomes the chosen one who can stop bullets and defeat Smith only after he goes a step further. He dies, is saved and once again transcends the boundaries of the simulation: This time without leaving it, from the inside and as expression of an internal development. While he was astounded by the superficial perfection of the illusory world on the way to the Oracle, he now sees through it. He sees through it and sees the code it is based on. The reborn Neo differs from his previous ego primarily by a different perception! His sense organs are no longer fooled. While he previously knew the true nature of the Matrix, he now perceives it. Apparently insurpassible boundaries of perception are surpassed; he delves into previously unreachable spheres of reality and reaches the next-highest level of perception. Neo no longer has to point out to himself that the spoon does not exist. The unobservable becomes observable for him. Knowledge becomes perception! This extension of perception and the related perception and self-perception are what give Neo the power in the Matrix to stop bullets and defeat Smith: to change the Matrix according to his wishes.
A gain in perception implies a gain in power in the world of the Matrix trilogy. Within the logic of a cosmos in which the figures symbolise various components of a consciousness battling for self-perception, it is logical that an extension of knowledge and perception is related to an extension of power. The clearer Neo perceives the various levels of reality and thus himself, the more powerful he becomes.
Is this some sort of mystical miracle or is there a rational explanation for Neo’s development. The way this happens doesn’t leave any doubt that the only sufficient explanation is that of Morpheus: “He’s the one!” The prophesied returning liberator of humanity has come. The macrostructure of the trilogy is based on Hegel’s dialectic. Matrix is the initial thesis: Neo is the chosen one who can change the Matrix with his ideas. Every thesis contains its antithesis: The event is told embedded in a virtual reality. Mouse did recognise above-average telekinesis values in Neo which could be a rational explanation for his powers. The antithesis is spelled out in Reloaded: The prophecy is revealed to be a sub-control system for a rationally explainable reality; everything supernatural is apparently shown to be an illusion. Revolutions, in contrast, reactivates the initial thesis of Matrix and at the same time elevates it to a higher level. Seen from this perspective, the contradictions cancel out: Neo is not the chosen one in the dogmatic system of prophecy but nevertheless fulfills the hopes behind this construct. He is the one who saves humanity via a mystical event beyond all rationality. The sequels tell the story of Neo’s extension of his perception and self-perception and the resulting additional power to conquer his enemies and change the Matrix once again according to his ideas. They carry out a double change of levels: The events are moved from the virtual into the real world. His importance is no longer given by the perspective of the superficial story but rather by the level of the subtext and the substructure.
In order to demonstrate the parallels between Neo’s development in the first film and in the sequels, the Wachowskis tell both plot lines with the same elements. Neo is blinded, a miracle occurs, the loss of his vision gives him a different form of perception. He transcends the external appearance and sees things as they really are. Beneath the material surface there is a further immaterial level. Not matter but spirit is the foundation of this existence.
Neo’s extended perception is formed correspondingly parallel.
Via the parallelisation of the programmed simulation and the material world, the Wachowskis reveal their own view of reality. They believe in a reality beyond the material world. Such a belief leads to perception for a component of consciousness which is symbolised in the subtext. After Neo has freed himself from the prison of the mind – the material reality construction of the Architect – this gives him a free and unhindered view of the nature of reality. He seems to be able to see through the external appearance of the material reality and see “with his own eyes” the immaterial reality on which it is based. In the real world of the Matrix cosmos, the same logic applies as in the virtual world: A gain in perception implies a gain in power! In the real world as well, there is no spoon, here as well the surface is a simulation, here as well this perception gives him the power to stop the sentinels.
„The power of the One extends beyond this world. It reaches here all the way back to where it came from.”
That’s what you felt when you touched those Sentinels.
"But you weren’t ready for it.”
The Oracle & Neo
Neo’s abilities in the real world remain unexplained. They follow a logic. However, they don’t follow the logic of the surface. The follow the own abstract logic of a film project which wants to investigate consciousness processes via a science-fiction story which is told via pattern variations which are conceptually oriented on Hegel’s dialectics. The films do not simulate events which are really imaginable but construct their own world of meaning, complete with its own visual vocabulary.