It`s almost been a year since I put a little post up about Matrix and the conclusions and theories a lot of people put up about its mythology.
Star Wars director and creator George Lucas, as some of us know, were a student under Joseph Campbell, the famous comparative mythologist…he appears to have learnt from Campbell that all the good stories have already been told, all we can do is piece the component parts of these stories into new tapestries and stories. Since the 19th century and the influx of both romanticism, which re-examined and re-invented the golden age of the late antiquity religions,cosmologies and mysteries – and Orientalism, which did much the same with the oriental and asian religions and philosophical systems – our culture has appreciated, again, Mythologies and Legends as having religious significance, in addition to the historical and literary significance which were accorded it prior to this. The Gothic Novel, the Romance Novel and eventually the first movies – borrowed themes from such Mythology and fed these back to us, some of the most beloved of fictions were believed to be true, albeit in a more subtle way, many generations before.
George Lucas sure as hell is no Guru or spiritual advisor, nor should he arrogate to himself the role of an educator…I do not suspect him of this either, but the situation with Lucas is much like the situation with the Wachowski brothers and their prodigy – The Matrix – as has been tirelessly observed by Science Fiction afficinados, the suggestions made in The Matrix reflects a developement within the Genre, informed and increased by writers such as Philip K. Dick whose stories inspired among other cinematic fantasies the cult movie Blade Runner and subsequently a whole genre of movies with an Dystopic (the dark, caustic and apocalyptic counterpart to sunshine Utopia) theme. Fantasy and Science Fiction are genres which freely and sincerely mixes the components of our cultures – be it religion,myth,dreams,gods and technology.. the most mythomanic of these, as have been demonstrated by mythologists production of literary output in this genre, is of course the Fantasy genre, the stories told at the twilight, or while immersed in the dream-like atmosphere of “another world”.
There is a lot of Blade Runner in Matrix, a lot of other earlier fantasies of being immersed in an “almost reality”, part of the thrill being introduced to riddles about the fabric and constitution of “our world” which have been shared, perhaps candidly, between thinking men and women from the days humanity began walking upright, or even before that.
First and foremost The Matrix is a high-tech Visual and Aesthetic experience – a demonstration of the suggestive and alluring spin technology has for us; recently there was a Mobile Network breakdown in this city and the entire population saw demonstrated how helplessly and pathetically dependent they had become of the little gizmo that enables wireless transfer of data: be it a conversation by voice, by SMS or by computer… if you think a little further you will find how radio communication, the transfer of millions of unobtrusive and invisible signals…has become the infrastructure of our cities “lives”..does not our lifestyles and our homes come to resemble more and more like a Cocoon?
And if we are swaddled up in a cocoon, what will crawl or fall out of it once it bursts? Neo erupts out of a cocoon in the first installment of The Matrix, this theme of humans being batteries for technology, or the providers of necessary things are outline in Jean-Luc Godard`s paranoid noir movie Alphaville already in 1965, and before him in Fritz Lang`s Metropolis, also it features in Dark City.. which even features the chanting of “Go Back to Sleep” from the monstrous chief-computer`s droning voice..and the hero of that movie discovers finally that his world is not real, but a fabricated illusion as well… Could it be our dear Wachowski brothers aren`t that refined.. that they are feeding us bits and pieces of our own mythology, from the dreamworlds of our pulp fiction novels,Sci-Fi magazines, Twilight Zone on TV and a plethora of movies.. that this is the reason we recognize themes from exotically oriental metaphysics to recognizable “Biblical” themes, is that this compartment of our culture has been recycling the ancient myths again and again…?
At the time I write this, my dear friends, I have still not seen the second installment of the series; Matrix:Reloaded, I might go this weekend ..
The Journal of Religion&Film have put online a new article on the phenomenon of the Matrix(es) : Reassessing Matrix/Reloaded by Julien R.Fielding – I think I will leave it for a better study after I have seen the wildly popular sequel.. but thought I`d share it with those of you who have…
If you’re interested, I’ve written a review of the latest book to examine “The Matrix.” It’s at: http://www.wcenter.ncc.edu/gazette/bkrevjun03.htm