NavPress / Pinon Press
Prophesy, interpretate the signs. Nothing is really what it seems.
P. O. D. , Sonny Sandoval
I must acknowledge the awkward dissonance that comes in writing a book about The Matrix.On every level it is a story that we must experience. The visuals stun you; the music startles and sometimes disturbs. Taken together, the elements have the power to stir viewers into a film-induced frenzy.
As Neo demonstrated his newfound gift for kung fu in the first Matrix film, I wanted to try out the same moves on the obnoxious popcorn smacker behind me. Time and space seemed completely irrelevant as the overpowering phenomenon that was The Matrix consumed me. I lost myself in the experience.
So it is with tremendous sensitivity that we reflect on that experience in this book. I believe that reflecting on our common experience through the Matrix films is not only appropriate, but essential. Morpheus is right: “No one can be told what the matrix is —you must see it for yourself.”
I’m assuming that no one would read this book who has not already viewed these films and somehow been affected by them. Richard Corliss has described the effects of the first film in Time magazine: “The Matrix stoked the adrenaline of millions of moviegoers and the intellects of many active, lonely minds.”1 These motion pictures create a number of reactions in viewers, and while their creators didn’t make them for the sole purpose of giving instruction about faith and philosophy, that’s what happens nonetheless.
In a song written for the The Matrix: Reloaded soundtrack, P.O.D., the famed MTV rock band, echoes the sentiments of millions of Matrix fans searching for meaning through the movie —and in their lives:
Reveal to me the mysteries
Can you tell me what it means?
Explain these motions and metaphors
Unlock these secrets in me
Describe your vision, the meaning is missing
Won’t anybody listen? 2
P.O.D. front man Sonny Sandoval said of his band’s involvement in the film,“This movie has a lot of biblical themes, and so [the directors] wanted to keep that vibe. I got the concept [for “Sleeping Awake”] from Daniel interpreting King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams in the Old Testament.”3
The mysteries of The Matrix seem almost as elusive as the dreams of this ancient king. This book is an attempt to guide us in the journey —not merely as an expedition to figure out The Matrix,but to seek our own enlightenment. If movie theaters have become the new cathedrals, as cultural observers from Bill Moyers to George Lucas argue, then the priests of that domain are clad in black leather. And Cool Hand Luke, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and E.T. assist in serving the sacrament.
As Morpheus guides Neo and other seekers of truth, he encourages them simply to walk the path. The immature often assume they find the road to development in knowledge. When Neo ponders the powers of the Oracle, he wonders if she knows everything. Morpheus responds, “She would say she knows enough.”
So if her power does not lie in her vast intellect, then Neo assumes it must spring from her divination of truth. In that case, the words that flow from her mouth must be infallible. Again Morpheus explains:“Try not to think of it in terms of right or wrong.”
The counsel of the Oracle should not be regarded as scientifically proven; it exists to help one find the path. As we will see, in the Matrix films the Wachowski brothers have combined action and insight, destruction and devotion. The end result powerfully encourages and even provokes us to explore what it means to walk a spiritual path.
So set aside your disbelief. Enlightenment comes from many sources, often unexpected.
But why hide nuggets of wisdom in an action film? Well, if the Wachowski brothers had made a documentary on the great religious and philosophical discoveries of humanity, 150 people (maybe) might have made it out to the cinemas. Instead, they crafted a film inspired by many of those concepts, added kung fu and state-of-the-art effects —and the film pulled in $460 million at the theaters (which adds up to tens of millions of viewers world-wide, plus the many millions who have since seen the film on video).
In the process, millions of viewers have come face-to-face with Big Ideas. The Matrix and its sequels create a space for reflection, for contemplation of crucial issues of life: faith, wisdom, and eternity. They show us dramatically what it means —how hard it can be —to recognize the path, to accept it, to walk it.
In this book, we’ll ask you to enter the experience of the films. Walk the path with us. Open your heart and mind. There is a reason you have chosen to read this book.
Morpheus tells us, “There are no accidents. We have not come here by chance. I do not believe in chance.”
Neither do we.