When The Matrix movie appeared on my TV the other night (1.29.2016), I re-watched it for at least the fourth time – seeking to re-visualize its insights and there are many! In the beginning scene Neo meets Morpheus who defines the matrix, perks Neo interest to understand it, and offers Neo a choice between a blue or a red pill. Taking the blue pill Neo returns to his unaware trapped life living a life in the Matrix. However, in choosing the red pill, Neo will be guided by Morpheus down a “rabbit whole” of understanding that eventual challenges the strangle hold the Matrix has on humanity. Neo chooses the red pill and his journey of enlightenment begins.
Neo Meets Morpheus
After watching The Matrix, the next morning I re-watch the documentary Philosophy and the Matrix – Return to the Source. Nearing the end of this philosophical treatment of the movie trilogy, it was mentioned that when this movie came out it created what some university philosophy professors called The Matrix Generation. Students who had seen the movie saw in it ideas they were being taught in their classes and this stimulated their professors to check-out the movie. You may want to takes notes on this documentary so ready your journal and pencil as I will be selecting one element to explore in more depth.
Philosophy and the Matrix – Return to the Source
May I suggest, before ingesting a green pill, that today’s Matrix Generation are the young supporters of Bernie Sanders for President, who can now more authentically be identified as The Matrix Generation. They understand clearly that today’s Matrix feeding on their energy is global corporate capitalism – The Military-Industrial-Media Complex. It is the MIMC Matrix of billionaire 1%ers earning profits off perpetual warfare that Burnie’s young supports are targeting. The MIMC Matrix is killing & maiming millions of the World’s youth – when is it going to end? It is ironic that Trump has rallies for the wounded veterans while threatening, if elected, “to bomb the hell out the enemy.”
Bernie Sanders for President Platform
Okay now let me swallow this green pill – there down the hatch…. So, what is this Green Pill? It certainly “is not a transcendental pill which enables a fast-food religious experience” so, hang on Dorthy we are leaving Kansas or in Alice’s case tumbling down a rabbit hole with Slavoj Zizek as our guide proposing the idea that there is a third pill.
Slavoj Žižek wants a third pill
Zizek suggests that:
The choice between the blue and the red pill is not really a choice between illusion and reality. Of course Matrix is a machine for fiction but these are fictions that already structure our reality. If you take away from our reality the symbolic fictions that regulate it, you lose reality itself.
I want a third pill and definitely it is not a transcendental pill which enables a fast-food religious experience but a pill that would enable me to perceive not the reality behind the illusion but the reality in illusion itself. If something gets too dramatic too violent and even too filled in with enjoyment it shatters the coordinates of our reality and we have to fictionalize it. In sexuality it is never me and my partner, or more partners whatever you are doing, there always has to be some fantasy element. There has to be some third imagined element, which enables me to engage in sexuality.
So why does The Matrix need our energy? I think the proper way to ask this question is to turn it around, not why does The Matrix need the energy?, but why does the energy need the Matrix? I think that the energy we are talking about is libido energy – our pleasure. Why does our libido need the virtual universe of fantasies? Why can’t we simple enjoy it directly? – a sexual partner and so on – that’s the fundamental question, why do we need this virtual supplement? Our libido needs an illusion in order to sustain itself.
Our fundamental delusion today is not to believe in what is only a fiction – today fiction is too seriously, it is on the contrary not to take fictions seriously enough. You think it is just a game, it is reality – it is more real than it appears to you. For example, people who play video games. They adopt a screen persona a sadist, rapist, whatever. The idea is that in reality I am a weak person so I can supplement my real life within this game by adopting a false image of a strong sexually promiscuous person. This would be the naive reading. I want to appear stronger in the game because in real life I am a weak person. But what if we read it in the opposite way? That this strong brutal rapist identity is my true self – this is the psychic truth of myself and that in real life because of social constraints and so on, I am not able to enact. So, because I only think it is a game, it is only a persona that I adopt in virtual space, I can be there much more truthfully. I can enact there an identify that is much closer to my true self.
How do we apply this to the topic before us – assisting The Matrix Generation to further their cause? To begin, I suggest we follow Morpheus education of Neo on The Matrix’s Construct Programs, which allows The Matrix to mask the desert of the real – the destruction of life on the surface of the Earth. Morpheus’s line and Zizek book “Welcome to the desert of the real” is a phrase in Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation. Part of this phrase appears in the following context of the book:
If once we were able to view the Borges fable in which the cartographers of the Empire draw up a map so detailed that it ends up covering the territory exactly […] this fable has now comes full circle for us, and possesses nothing but the discrete charm of second-order simulacrum […] It is the real, and not the map, whose vestiges persist here and there in the deserts that are no longer those of the Empire, but ours. The desert of the real itself.
Early in The Matrix, Neo used a hollowed-out book with the title Simulacra and Simulation to hide an illegal data disc which appeared in an early scene of the film. Later in the film, Morpheus utters these words after the main character Neo wakes up from his computer-generated virtual reality, experiencing the Real as a desolate, war-torn, yet spectacular geography. For Žižek, this represents a prime example of the 20th-century’s “passion for the Real,” for which the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were the ultimate artistic expression. His argument is that because this passion was sublimated into the postmodern “passion for the semblance,” Americans experienced the “return of the Real” in exactly the same way as Neo did in the film, i.e., as a nightmarish virtual landscape or “reality as the ultimate ‘effect.'”
Žižek argues that global capitalism and fundamentalism are two parts of the same whole: ultimately, their opposition in political and everyday discourses represents a false ideological conflict in both the Marxian and psychoanalytic senses. This is just a continuation of the prior cultural logic in which fascism served as the “obscene superego supplement” or fantasy to liberal democracy’s Reality. Žižek shows how today the fundamentalist terrorist plays an analogous symbolic role to the Jew during the Holocaust, the excluded “other” whose alien presence legitimizes measures of internal discipline. Although Americans were victims, so were the attacking terrorists, and therefore neither side was justified in their violent actions. In fact, the attacks were already libidinally invested by a series of Hollywood catastrophe films, showing that it was exactly what Americans secretly wanted, i.e., their ultimate spectacular experience. The false perception of a purely external threat allowed the system of global capitalism to go essentially unchallenged, functioning to indefinitely defer discussion about alternative socioeconomic futures. The only real “other” to global capitalism is a renewed form of socialism, because the “others” of capitalism (those excluded from capitalism’s benefits) are almost everyone, even though they are all formally extended the promise of liberal rights. While the United States claims to be standing for democratic rights and principles, it actually suspended these same rights at home and legitimized torture in order to fight the war on terror. Rather than seeing these as real exceptions, Žižek identifies them as central tendencies in liberal democracy, a system inherently susceptible to corruption and unable to universalize its own rights. Changing conditions of war further erode any distinctions that could be made between a state of war or exception and a state of peace, central distinctions in democratic ideology. Because the democratic system is always generating new states of emergency to justify the negation of its ethical principles, the future of emancipatory politics cannot be contained within a liberal democratic framework (including notions of human rights, the rule of law, and constitutionality). As ethical acts such as Israeli “peacenik” soldiers’ solidarity with their Palestinian neighbors show, there are other alternatives to capitalism than fundamentalism or fascism; however, the current paradigm of the “end of history” and the “clash of civilizations” restricts the range of apparent conflicts to cultural or ethnic/religious ones, masking anything more fundamental, such as an economic conflict. The same displacement of socio-economic conflict that occurred under fascism is mirrored in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, the “symptomal knot” of all the economic and cultural logics of the contemporary world. In his rejection of binary ethical choices and predictive certainty, Žižek is certainly postmodernist, but the substance of his critique of responses to 9/11 is primarily Marxian and secondarily Lacanian. (Wikipedia)
Philosophy Professor Rick Roderick presents an interesting lecture on Baudrillard’s thought and, as you watch Baudrillard logic unfold change Roderick’s examples of Ross Perot’s 1992 Presidential Election to Donald Trump’s 2016 Presidential Election – déjà vu. It is February 1 5pm and we now await the Iowa Caucus result and the effect The Matrix Generation Revolutionaries are having.
Rick Roderick on Baudrillard – Fatal Strategies