Heidegger and Neo: Things I Saw in the Matrix

Spoiler Alert: Anybody who still hasn’t seen The Matrix trilogy and plans to, better not read this yet. I mean… You’ve had 15 years already, but I know people have other things to do.

Before I burned out in college, I read some Heidegger. Who didn’t, right? In my case it was a bit like how I watched “The Matrix” the first time.

In the latter case I had seen no previews & gotten no spoilers. The only thing I knew was that Harris & Klebold had been huge fans, and many parents who hadn’t seen it were philistinically blaming the Wachowskis – alongside Marilyn Manson and Eminem – for the decline of America. Naturally I had to see it.

Morpheus – the charismatic spiritual zealot – scared the shit out of me (apparently also scared Laurence Fishburne on opening night). So did Trinity – the unquestioning, murderous angel at his side. About halfway through, Neo began to scare me even more as he began to embrace the more shadowy elements of Morpheus’ doctrine. Whoever the good guys were, they were being kept hidden from me.

The agents were bad, this we could be sure of; Hugo Weaving is the perfect villain if you need to get across the fact that something cartoonishly evil can still be a serious threat (Red Skull anyone?). And anyone who stands up against tyranny and oppression and stuff is a friend of mine.

But Morpheus was a holy warrior, and calm as a field of poppies; that combination should be terrifying, and it was (just as it was in any video I ever saw of a speech given by Osama Bin Laden). He explained with surgical detachment that killing innocents was permitted under the right circumstances. If you need to know where Morpheus is, just follow the screams.

Trinity was a devoted fury, killing anyone in her path with extreme prejudice. Hesitation meant death.

But even more terrifying were the increasing similarities between Neo (the everyman’s Messiah) and the Agents – movement, speed, environmental control. Most terrifying was that he did not appear to know who he was, despite all this power and good intention. Even as he and Trinity were clearly falling in love as they closed in on their target, I wondered deep down if Neo wasn’t the true villain in this story, whether he knew it or not.

I was of course shocked to learn – after reading “The Thing” twice – that Heidegger was a card-carrying, pin-wearing, flag-waving Nazi. Nothing in what he had written suggested anything but the exact opposite to me. Then I thought “Well, maybe he considered Jews and Gypsies to be Things, with no purpose other than to be emptied out for the good of humanity.” It’s fucked, I know. But what do you want? The guy was a Nazi. Nazis are fucked.

Maybe I’m just a bad judge of character. Neo turned out to be a pretty decent guy in the end, giving his life not only for his people, but for all intelligence – whether animal or digital. It was almost… Thingly.

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Money Grows on a Very Specific Tree

Just for fun, I punched the words “money used for good” into a search engine. The results I got were all about capital gains and buying cars.

Money isn’t the root of all evil. It’s more like one of those situations where you thought it was a forest, but it all turns out to be one tree; the trunks turn out to be branches, all connected to one root.

Yes. Evil is a Pando tree. Not to say the Pando tree is evil. It’s a metaphor, so don’t freak out. The Pando could just as easily be a metaphor for how we humans all seem to be autonomous and different (which we are), but are actually one (which we also are).

Money is just another branch.

Our capacity to fool ourselves and others is the root.

S’posed-ta

I don’t usually rant about this stuff. There are other people who are better at it. But you can hear something a million times, and it won’t stick until you break the rules & see for yourself.

So after seeing a handful of friends break some stupid rules and determine the parameters of their own happiness, I’ve decided to give it a shot. The other thing wasn’t working out anyway.

Happiness – by conventional standards – is a bad joke. From very early on, we get taught how to perpetually get-what-you-need to get-what-you-need to get-what-you-need. If you aren’t lucky enough to enjoy that, you can end up trapped in that maze for the remainder of the only life you are going to get.

And the joke will be on you. Whatever meaning you attached to that frantic life, it really was nothing more than a rat’s maze. So you found the cheese. Great. Cheese is good. On to the next maze.

Or you can do what you want. This may include such things as:

1. Manipulate reality to the whims of your imagination.
2. Impose your will on unsuspecting air molecules.
3. Fight the Power.
4. Sling coffee for minimum wage (Hey. Some people are into into that).

Believe it or not, these are all viable options. We can see the proof of it.

But none of it defines you, whatever Rachel Dawes or Batman say. Whatever happens, you’ll “be” what you are, and nothing can change that. Not even you. Not even the rat maze. Cuz you’re not a rat. Right?

What matters is that what-you-are is compatible with what-you-do. Figuring that out can be really fucking hard, especially when everyone else around you has a different idea of what you are and what you should do. Lately, I’ve just been telling them to fuck off & mind their own business, and the quiet has been sublime.

When it comes to your future, there is no s’posed-ta.

There’s wanna.

There’s gonna.

There’s doing.

There’s did.

That’s the choice. That’s where change can happen.

S’posed-ta was invented by repressed control-freaks to kill people slowly. I’m not even joking. They can’t kill you quickly anymore. Things have had to get a little more subtle. Might not even be their fault; maybe they’re s’posed-ta do that.

For the rest of us…

It’s never too late to say “Fuck the rules.” At least I sure hope it’s never too late. I’m just getting started.

Say it with me.

Fuck the rules.