The Matrix (1999) – What is ‘Real’?
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The plot of Matrix is not just backed up by modern science but also heavily by philosophy. The backdrop of Matrix could be compared to Plato’s work ‘Allegory of the cave’. Plato argues that what we perceive as reality through our senses is not the true essence of that being observed instead just its quality. Plato considered that only education can help us lead us to know the ultimate. Hence he compares the illiterates as those the ones who are chained in the caves. When fire glows behind them casting their shadows on the cave walls they think that their own shadows to be real for they have never seen themselves.
Human beings rely on their senses to comprehend the materialistic reality around them. If the senses are tricked they very well believe that something is real even if it actually is not. This is where Matrix is born. Having the solar power cut from the earth the machines are in dire need of power source for survival. They find the Bio-electricity and heat produced inside the human body as the perennial source, all they would ever want. Yet superior human race would never allow tapping energy from them, and volunteering them to be converted into live batteries letting the machines to consume.
Matrix is a computer generated programme where the human mind is locked inside. ‘Matrix’ regenerates the bygone real world through neural interactive simulations and makes believe the human minds that they live in the year 1999 but in reality it is closer to 2199. All the human minds are trapped inside the Matrix that makes human beings believe that they lead a normal life, while in actuality the human beings are no longer born but grown in the endless fields guarded by machines.
The whole idea of the story is explained, both philosophically and scientifically, by Morpheus to Neo around the 39th minute from the commencement of the film. While they are inside the construct, a loading programme, Morpheus shows the real world and explains the actuality and tries to make Neo understand that Matrix is a designed alter-reality to fool the human mind. Confronting such a terrifying possibility the viewer also chokes like Neo, at these moments. The film questions the very existence of reality and the human perception of it.
While Neo asks ‘Is it real?’ Morpheus throws back a question, ‘What is real?
Senses are just the gates through which sensory information that enter into us. It is our brain that decodes and the gives us the ‘experience of reality’. Magic is a planned skillful set of trick pack to fool the senses and so is the Matrix.
Advancement in the field of Neurology has thrown a lot of light in our understanding of the working of human brain, though the secrets unlocked are meager. The building block of our brain is the brain cells, the Neurons. Brain is a lump of convoluted mass which is actually a composite structure of billions of neurons interconnected. Neurons communicate with each other through chemical exchange and electrical pulses which is mentioned as bio-electricity. The potassium and sodium ions are the message carriers inside the neural network between the brain cells. This is pure and proven science.
Therefore reality is simply the electrical signals interpreted by our brain cells. Matrix is a programme written by machines in which the human minds are linked in. Unaware that theirs is a virtual existence inside the Matrix, everyone goes about with their normal lives. Everyone’s appearance inside the programme is called “Residual self image”- A mental projection of one’s digital self. The entire life of every human being inside the Matrix is predetermined, and it can’t be suspended as fate, for sure.