Oneness and The Secret Message in The Matrix Trilogy
The secret message in The Matrix Trilogy seems to be as follows: the crisis of humanity and its technological creativity can only be solved via an awakening to a perceptional and active Oneness. In other words, no acknowledgement of division between self and other or self and world or reality. That we are all, at best, semi-individuated (I,II) choice-wielding wrinkle-blobs embedded in and of the unitary blanket reality. Such a seemingly radical active-perception is all that offers us, collectively and individually, a ubiquitous, evolutionary survival path worthwhile. That seeing and acting from Oneness is the only means of continuing our particular, tool-enhanced livelihood at this stage in our now flirtatiously suicidal game.
The whole series is about Thomas Anderson believing that there is only one world, or perception—à la The Matrix. He doesn’t believe that he is in the Matrix. He thinks the Matrix is some exotic and centrally meaningful thing, or place, or knowledge outside of his experience which he must uncover the truth of. Trinity and Morpheus provide him with this understanding. When Anderson wakens to the Neo state, he realizes that Thomas Anderson was a particular orientation of knowledge, action, identity, decision, meaning, and so on—The Matrix was Thomas Anderson and the Thomas Anderson mode of action and perception. It was a certain state of seeing and reading and acting and being in his experience of the world.
Then the bulk of The Matrix Trilogy is about Neo struggling with his new orientation: that he is in fact in two worlds—a world of computer generated illusion and another yet to be totally known: the “real world” where Zion and the Nebuchadnezzar resides. Zion is assumed to be truth, the real world. Oddly you don’t see any conversation amongst other people who have been unplugged as to whether or not they may be in another simulated reality—but we find that Neo seems to be wrestling with the dual meaning and his own role in both Zion’s “real world” and the Matrix.
At the end of the Trilogy, Neo takes on a third meaning: The One, which is visually articulated through his submission to Agent Smith and the ensuing chain-reaction. In this sequence all of the Smiths in the Matrix ignite as the many Smiths become The One, Neo. Thomas Anderson perception/action, becomes Neo perception/action, becomes The One perception/action. (The One state is also the fastest and most powerful manifestation in the trilogy, lasting maybe a minute, but effectively rebooting the whole multi-reality crisis). Herein, the Wachowskis are making a rather clear message: Oneness is the only way out. That the human experience is one of perceptual as well as action oriented evolution, and they offer these three states of a single individual (Anderson, Neo, and The One) as a metaphor for their message.
So many people seem savvy enough to be beyond the Andersonian state—they don’t just suspect cultural programming, they suspect the reality of reality itself. Proper kind of Kantian, Buddhist perception. We’re all hip enough to be more like the character active throughout the bulk of the trilogy: we’re wrestling with our Neoness. I think in a way, the Internet has played a role in this. The Internet is a kind of fantastically manipulable mirror in which we observe not only our self (selves), the presentations and actions thereof, but also each other and the world at large. There is also of course scientifically legitimate fields such as digital physics, noetics, psi (the most pioneering scientist of that field I’ve written ad nauseam about: NASA’s Tom Campbell) in which physical reality is in fact a virtual reality and we are all individuated units of consciousnesses interacting in the nature of a video game in effort to evolve a larger consciousness system. So there’s that as well. This means, I think that we are on the cusp, truly of another reorientation. I mean it’s obvious isn’t it? If we don’t drastically reorient our identity (by means of exploration rather than information) we will surely not live up to what the word ‘civilization’ intuitively implies. And that, by implication is of course Oneness. That seems to be the only real exit from the crises we’ve generated for the last few hundred years, recently accelerated by the industrial age.
As slogan, “The Ninety-Nine will be One Hundred when they know they’re One.” I illustrate this in a similar way throughout the essay Godlike Digital Natives which examines the whole truly Godlike level of power contemporary technology offers the first worlder. And this means a kind of obvious necessity for what I would call a Godlike Wisdom, and furthermore, a Godlike Love. Otherwise, what?—you get Godlike powers in the hands of a greedy, violent, egoic, fearful, turbulent, isolated, and proud primate. Something nobody sane should be attracted to.
The emphasis on the Oneness perception/action remains on Choice. Choice is underscored throughout the trilogy. In the first film the Oracle states, “You’re going to have to make a choice.” In the second film, Neo realizes, “Choice. The problem is choice.” And Neo’s penultimate words in the third film are, “Because I choose to.” It seems that our existential crisis of choice resides exclusively in the arenas of perception and action—and it seems that this is what the Wachowskis are trying to communicate. Oneness is a perceptual and active state that we can only realize through personal choice.
FURTHERMORE: I recommend only a handful of material to folks, but one of the highest on the list is the Philosopher’s Commentary to That Matrix Trilogy featuring none other than Dr. Cornel West and Ken Wilber, without which such a reading would not have been possible. It is in my personal treasure chest of gawkingly awesome media stuffs that I wish I could share with everyone. Seek this out—you won’t regret the effort!