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The Truth In The Matrix Essay

1534 words - 7 pages

Wake Up

Human beings have always had a difficult time establishing the definition of reality. In The Allegory of the Cave by Plato, prisoners chained to a rock observe shadows on the wall for so long that they believe they are real. Descartes, the philosopher, wrote that he could not be sure that life was not just a stream of unconscious dreams. The film, The Matrix, does not attempt to answer this basic human question directly. Yet, since its release, philosophers have attempted to use the film as a springboard to extract a definition of reality. Through the motifs of dreams and waking from these dreams, The Matrix displays an amorphous reality for human beings. Human symbolic ...view middle of the document...

The “dreams” that Neo experiences at the beginning of the Matrix manipulate his reality because he acts on the information that he gains in those dreams. While dreaming, one is more accepting of the reality presented, and therefore the dreams dismantle the logical controls in the brain. During the dream state, “normal sensory input is blocked, … reasoning and logic are weakened, self-reflection is dampened or destroyed, emotion and instinct are [over] stimulated, and forms of… willed control and decision-making diluted and easily overwhelmed,” (Clark). REM sleep, the dreaming state of the sleep cycle, is a mode for which a human’s subconscious processes his or her reality (The Franklin Institute Online) and Neo’s obedience to Trinity’s commands in his “dreams” expresses this. The dreams force Neo to give new form to the reality that he has come to accept.
Morpheus likens living in the Matrix to being in a perpetual state of dreaming. Machines have programmed humans to continually dream of their real world. They have taken the sensations of the physical world and inserted them into the minds of humans. “The Matrix is a computer-generated dream world- built to keep us under control,” he explicates. The mental haze the machines have created is analogous to human language. Language is mechanic, just as the machines are mechanical. According to Joel Charon, during childhood, “a category of reality is labeled; we are taught how we are supposed to act in relation to that category of reality. With the use of words, we are able to act appropriately” (171). A child acquires his or her sense of reality through language programming or socialization. Just as Neo, and the others born into the Matrix, is unaware that machines have programmed him, so is a child unaware that the words and symbols he or she acquires shape him or her as well. Since the Matrix is an illusion created by machines, then consciousness of reality is a narrow vision created by language. Mark Johnson asserts that reality has its basis on a conceptual system built on metaphorical language and language can have a confining effect on man’s reality, as each word extracts a set image “programmed” into the person (Johnson and Lakoff 56-60; 163). Humans are interacting and communicating within a Matrix of their own because reality is not directly tangible and accessed only through concepts in the mind.
The film uses a motif of awakening to emphasize the fact that reality is only the definition that one acquires. When Neo awakes from his encounters with Morpheus and the Agents, he assumes he has just experienced a dream within a dream, and takes none of it as “real.” Morpheus prods, “What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world, and real world?” Neo can only know he is inside of the Matrix when he accepts that there is something more outside of it. Dreams are neurologically interpreted by the human brain as...

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