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Journal: Christianity, Reality, The Matrix, and Me

Journal by jayratch
As I anticipate my plan to see the new Matrix movie on my Big Day Off, i ponder the philosphy of the Matrix and of my own life. It gets interesting.

When I first heard about the Matrix I was at a family party, on the "devout" side of the family. The discussion I came in on was how the movie is filled with Christian symbolism, and the platonic notion of the universe as a mere dream. Christianity lines up to this nicely- our lives are a temporary illusion, we must be enlightened ("saved") in order to validate and enjoy our experience in the real world ("heaven"). Neo is Jesus Christ, come to save us all from our ignorance. I bought this, and bought the DVD to match. Four years later, I look back on how my life and my mind have changed.

There is no doubt in my mind or the minds of those who know me that I have become more worldly, more humanistic, and if I daresay, more of a realist. Sadly some would call this a loss of faith; I admit that my faith is in doubt, but not altogether lost. But the interesting question, to get back to the movie, is of purpose. Those who would, will feel I am somehow less for this, and I can understand their nobility. But why fight something that is for all demonstrable ways good? the Matrix takes care of you. It gives you something to do. It keeps you alive and experientially prosperous. The only thing it does it deprive your "true" freedom- but the illusion of freedom it grants is arguably stronger than the freedom most of us have now.

The ultimate issue this raises is one of epistemology. What is truth, and what is its value? The quest of Neo and Morpheus is to have reality for its own sake, because the fact that it is "real" makes it better. The fact that we are "slaves" is a problem in itself, nevermind that we are happier as slaves than most people ever get to be in the "real" world. I suppose I don't know this for sure, not yet having seen Zion. In the world of the Matrix, though, the Machines have distinctly earned their place at the top. Mankind has officially destroyed the Earth, scorching the skies to extinguish all machine life but in effect (surely) exterminating most plant and animal life. The machines on the other hand have done their part to preserve life, keeping us alive and reproducing us, perhaps even waiting the millennia for the planet to rebuild itself. We actually know very little about them- they may have preserved genetic samples of all life, for instance; the backstory tells us that their First colony had quite the economy.

So as far as I can tell, the only thing measurably bad about the Matrix is that it subjugates mankind. What, I wonder, would Neo say to the option of mankind merely knowing and choosing? What if the "real world" were presented as an option, but like Cypher, everyone chose to stay in the dream? Would the proliferation of truth be sufficient? I wonder.

But for now it is enough for me to note that my perspective on the matter has distinctly changed. I say indeed, if the Matrix is better, perhaps I aught to stay in it. But I'm not quite over the edge yet.. I'd still take the red pill.
User Journal

Journal: Success

Journal by jayratch
Ok, I give. I was wrong.
The secret to success is something far simpler than I'd imagined. The key is being well able to lie.
Yes, I've been playing the wrong game. I thought that somehow chess was the game to learn, but that will only teach you how to deal with simple problems on simple systems. Simple systems are where the rules can be layed out in a fairly two-dimensional chart, and consist of machines with far less than a trillion synapses each. Instead I should be playing poker.
Tonight I played the long awaited game of Chess with Mark. Less satisfying than even phone sex could be. You see, I won, or at least on face value. I really can't figure out who won, which means he did. Yes, I checkmated him with my queen. But I used no major strategy, and he used no major defenses. I simply fumbled along until an opportunity opened, and placed my queen where it needed to be for checkmate. It was a victory so painfully obvious I almost avoided it- it looked and smelled like a trap. I took the bait, checkmate. The beauty of it? How he played it (not on the board) left me completely uncertain between three choices: I legitimately beat him, he simply didn't try, or he sincerely gave me the game. So here is Mark's essential skill: he's the best damned liar I've ever encountered. His grasp seems to be that truth is whatever he decides it is, even if it blatantly is not so. The result? He fucks people a lot, and he leaves them wondering constantly- first "Does he really think he can pull that off?" then "Can he actually pull that off?" wrapped up by "I'm not sure whether he actually pulled it off or not, but a lot of people seem to think he did."
I said I will never get in a game of poker with this man, but I take it back. I would welcome the opportunity; and lose repeatedly, but the goal is education. I may do so with chess, but I fear his love of betting may make it a costly education.

Center meeting at 4pm in 2C-543.

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