(Third post of a four-post series on the Matrix)
«Choice is only choice when we know the consequences of our choices.» The Oracle says something like that in MATRIX REVOLUTIONS. If the original MATRIX was about Birth and RELOADED was about Love, REVOLUTIONS is about Death. We only choose to live if we accept the prospect of our Death.
So let me go back to Lacan, or at least my take on Lacan. Our freedom comes from our ability to work towards our goals, our Desire. Against that is not only the prison of Reality but also the Name of Our Father. That elusive sense of Rule, of Law, that is imposed on us by not only the Society at large but mostly the sense of right and wrong that we inherit from our Father. But our character, our identity, depends on being different, on being something beyond the Name of The Father. On being something else. And so, we need to kill our Father twice inside of us. In the beginning, we are submissive, we accept the Rules, even if we feel oppressed by them, imprisoned by them, shackled to them. To become The One, to become ourselves, our own selves, we need to rebel against these rules. That happens in the first movie. Neo destroys Smith. But to be truly free we must relieve ourselves of rebellion. As we rebel, we are still obeying to the will of the Father, only in the opposite. The reference of right and wrong is still the Father, only it has turned from right to wrong. Now we exist only to fight Him. We exist in opposition. Until we start understanding the prison this fight also becomes. We are still imprisoned by our Father or by the fight against our Father, or the Monster of our Father that lives deep in our mind. At the end of RELOADED, Neo finally accepts that he is only The One among many others. He is just a person. A person with his own skills and personality, but he is not a Miracle, or the Savior or the Messiah. And now he is ready. He is ready to fight the last fight. To ‘kill’ the Father for the second time. Only then will he be released.
We start REVOLUTIONS with Neo lost in a train station, locked in by the Merovingian. There he meets Sati and her parents, refugee programs trying to save her daughter from deletion. Neo is surprised by how Human or similar to Human they actually are. They talk to him about love, karma and belief. Or their interpretation of something of the kind. Logic gets a little lost in this un-purposeful behavior. But what is Neo doing there? He is trying to understand his own purpose, his own journey. Where is he going? Where is he coming from? Wherever he runs he comes back to the same question. This happened because he suddenly was able to use his talents, his achievements, his true self… in Real Life. Before the end of RELOADED, Neo could only act powerfully in the world of Fantasy called The Matrix. And he could only affect Reality if he acted on that Fantasy. On the other hand, through therapy, he could also use what he learned in Reality to act upon the Fantasy. That was the nature of his illness: Fantasy and Reality in a continuous loop (a schizophrenic mind). But now his sanity is creeping in. He now can act on Reality itself. He is becoming ready to leave therapy and the asylum itself. Before that, however, he will have to face his biggest challenge. The second killing.
Smith also got out into Reality. He invaded the mind of Bane. Bane is, in my view, the figures of the Father we tend to face one way or another – in our bosses, in figures of authority, in figures of strength. In this case, Neo’s Father is a bully, violent and sadistic. And that’s Bane, the psychotic patient. He will take Neo’s eyes and Neo will have to face the world as Oedipus: blind except for his heart.
Before Neo gets out of the Matrix, though, once again saved from his purgatories by Trinity, he needs to talk to The Oracle. «Look at you now» she says to him. Neo is a different person. Solid, mature, sane, able to stand by himself, to choose by himself. He is ready. He now has to go to The Source, the real Source, the foundations of his mind, and face Reality: what he once thought to be the enemy – The System, The Program, The Prison, The Machine. Society at large is no-longer the enemy it is just… society at large. He will be able to face it with an integrated self. To himself (and to many in Zion) he is really The One – a man who is whole.
But to be at Peace with himself, Society and the ones around him he must face his Nemesis: the Monster of his Father, once more. And he must do it alone. He must leave everyone behind him. Trinity takes him as far as she can, but she also dies and says goodbye to him.
In the last fight, the Monster of the Father has infected every corner of the Fantasy. Fantasy is dying and a grim Reality is settling in. By saving Fantasy, hope and faith, Neo will also save Reality and his Relationships with the others. He will save himself. But what can defeat the Monster of the Father? What can defeat Death itself? Certain, deterministic Death. What can stop being the legacy of his Father, the Past, the Immortality of the Ancestor, and become something new? Only choice. «Choice is only choice when we know the consequences of our choices.» And now he knows: he will have to leave safety behind. He will have to risk it all. He will have to choose. Choice is the foundation of our personality and our character. Of our identity. We are not in the world to obey the will of our Fathers. We are here to be different. To choose. To be free.
At the end of the MATRIX TRILOGY, Smith can’t understand why Neo persists in fighting, even though it seems pointless. Even though it is not logical and serves no purpose. Neo says: «Because I choose to.» Smith doesn’t understand that. Conformity, submission, obeying the Law, ending life, is all he knows about. And when finally, with the help of The Oracle (therapist), Neo chooses to stop fighting and accept Smith, he has already won. The Monster of the Father has lost all its power over him. Neo becomes free. And he is accepted by Society, by the Machines. He is finally working with them, not fighting them, and bringing Peace to his own world.
As Neo leaves therapy and passes into Reality, Fantasy is restored. It must. Fantasy must survive within us. With all its strength, it is the foundation of our sanity and must be preserved. But maturity lies in the Reality Principle. Lies in being a Man in a world of uncertainty. Freud said something of the sort: «Sanity is our ability to deal with ambiguity». Will Neo return to his Fantasy world? The Oracle expects as much. Sati draws a beautiful sun for him as he travels to another place.
This is my take on the MATRIX TRILOGY. I hope you enjoy it. In my next post, I will reflect a little bit about some of the philosophical, political and anthropological conclusions I draw from all this. Until then.