L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.
A Movie Review – of Sorts
Revolutions … going round and round. We all know that, don’t we? When we were children we used to play lots of spinning games. Sometimes we played on a merri-go-round, sometimes we turned round and round until we became so dizzy that we fell down laughing, and sometimes we spined a roulette wheel and sang the refrain, “Round and round it goes, where it stops nobody knows.”
The Matrix is like that. The movie, The Matrix is like that; so is your Matrix of frames. The Matrix of all of your embedded mental-and-emotional frames is goes round and round, does it not? That’s why you can get into a spin and go round and round an idea, a memory, a fear, a worry, a musical ditty that you heard on some commercial. It’s the way our minds work.
We do not just think, we think about our thinking, then we think about our thinking-of-our-thinking. We do not just feel, we feel about our feelings, then we feel about our feelings-of-our-feelings. The technical term for this is reflexivity. We reflect back onto the very processes of thinking-and-feeling with our thinking-and-feeling. We go round in circles. That’s why our subjective experiences are circular—systemic. And this is what Meta-States as a model describes, profiles, and offers a modeling tool for.
With each layering of thoughts-and-emotions we create “logical levels.” This term is an award-winning misnomer. They are not “logical” at all. They are psycho-logical. They only make sense from the insideThe Matrix. and from our meaning-making reasoning and associating. From inside they are logical and rational. From the outside they seem irrational, illogical, even crazy. Yet as we classify and categorize our experiences with our thoughts and emotions and so frame things, we create an embedded matrix of frames that makes up our inner world. In Neuro-Semantics we call this,
The trilogy movies of The Matrix also involves going round in circles. This became clear in the second movie where Neo discovered that he was the fifth anomaly or fluke of the system. The previous Neos had all played out their part in a mathematical system of computer programs, but this Neo was different. Something happened to him that had not happened to the others. A fluke occurred with the fluke.
In the movie, the Architect and the Oracle of the Matrix represent conflicting forces or powers— the rational and the intuitive; the logical and the non-logical; the mind and the emotional. One sought to create perfect balance and harmony in the system (the Architect), the other’s job was to create unbalance. It was itself an un-balancing influence, full of surprises, creativity, and wisdom. Not unlike our own matrix system of belief, value, and understanding frames, which, of course, is what makes us so incomprehensible at times—even to ourselves. No wonder the Oracle pointed Neo in two movies to the sign over her kitchen, “Know Thyself.” That’s the pathway to mastering the Matrix.
But will the Matrix just go round and round? Most of us hate it when we can’t get a tune our of our heads, especially some inane meaningless or stupid tune. Most of us really dislike tossing and turning on our beds when some nagging worry keeps recruiting us to “play it again.” Typically, as the insomnia worsens and we get more haggard and exhausted, we do the very thing that makes the circling, vicious spiraling of thoughts and emotions get worse—we try to order or command ourselves to not think of that anymore.
What can stop the Matrix revolutions?
What can empower us to step out of the out-of-control spinning and spiraling?
How can we move our spinning and spiraling from negative vicious spirals to positive virtuous spirals?
This is where “paradox” comes in, both in the movie and in our lives. We experience paradox when we do not cleanly sort out the psycho-logical levels, when we confuse levels. This explains why “command negation” (“Don’t think of that worrisome thought of what you’re boss is going to say to you!”) doesn’t work. The “do not” frames the primary thought—“worrisome thought about boss.” “Negation” is not a primary experience. It’s a meta-level category of experience. Now some negations do work. With them we can negate things, make them go away, but not command negation. I have a whole chapter in The Structure of Excellence about this, but that’s another story.
The classic paradox is summarized in two words, “Be spontaneous.” When someone tells you to lighten up and just play your part or role “spontaneously” the frame by implication inside the verb “be” operates at a different level than the experience represented by the word “spontaneous.” To comply with the suggestion or instruction violates the meaning of the word.
In experience we typically find paradoxes to be “contradictory, confusing, irrational, crazy, or counter-intuitive.” Yet some paradoxes are curative, healing, and the solution to problems. Of course, they are the last thing we would ever think of doing. In Logotherapy Viktor Frankl described these healing suggestions as “paradoxical interventions.” Way back in the 1930s for people who stuttered, Frankl recommended that they “practice stuttering.”
Bateson picked this up and NLP early learned the value of asking people who have panic disorders to show them what they can do. “You have a panic disorder? And it’s a real problem? You’re sure? Maybe you have forgotten how to panic. No? Then panic for me right now.” I used this same process with the men and boys in anger control classes sponsored by the Colorado Department of Corrections. “You have a problem with anger? You can’t control it. Really? Show me. Get as mad as hell about something right now.”
What’s counter-intuitive is that practicing panic, stuttering, or anger is the last thing in the world they would have ever thought of as helpful or leading to solution. Most have spent their lives trying to avoid feeling those feelings. And that’s the whole point. Trying hard to go to sleep, to be spontaneous, to not panic, stutter, or lose one’s temper is most of the problem. That’s why being with, accepting, and welcoming the emotion and intentionally turning it on is someone curative. It interrupts the system. It puts one in charge of the response. Control comes from accepting what we dislike. Talk about counter-intuitive!
The Matrix of Love
What does all this have to do with the movie, Matrix Revolutions?
Everything. The fifth Neo was an anomaly of the previous anomalies because he fell in love. We suspected this in the first movie when love reached into the matrix and saved Neo—resurrected him. The suspicion grew deeper in Matrix Reloaded when Neo’s love brought Trinity back to life, another resurrection.
The third movie begins with a dialogue with some computer programs(!) about their child who they love. Neo was surprised that the computer programs use the word love. The program who is in the form of an Indian gentleman and husband explains,
“I love my daughter very much. Every program must have a purpose or it is deleted.”
Neo: “I’m not used …
“To a program speaking of love? It’s a word, what really matters is the connection the word implies. What would you give to hold on to that connection?”
That’s sounds very NLPish, doesn’t it? “Love is just a word, the reality is the connection it implies.” He made the same comment about another term when he said that he had to do what he was doing because it was his karma. “You believe in karma?”
“Karma is a word, a way of saying, ‘What I must do.’”
Neo says, “Everything.” It’s the same with Trinity. It is love in Matrix Revolutions that leads Trinity to offer her life, to offer everything to save Neo, and for Neo to offer his life. When the group in typical Kong Fu kiss-ass action form entered the Frenchman’s home and confronted him with guns blazing, Trinity demanded he release Neo.
Frenchman: “To make a deal you have to give me something that I want. Give me the eyes of Oracle, and I will give you your savior.” Then he asked, “You really are ready to die for this man?”
The look in her face showed that she was. To that the Frenchman’s wife commented, “She’s in love.”
Frenchman: “How similar is the pattern of love and pattern of insanity.”
This summarizes the counter-intuitiveness of love, that there’s an insanity to love, something irrational and unpredictable about it. This was the surprise in how the first movie ended, there in the hovercraft after Neo had been shot and killed, Trinity is seen crying softly and whispering her love into Neo’s ear as he’s plugged into the Matrix:
“I’m not afraid anymore. The Oracle, she told me that I would fall in love and that man, the man I loved would be the One. You see? You can’t be dead, Neo, you can’t be because I love you. You hear me. I love you!.”
Another paradox, love casts out fear and makes for a boldness and courage which to someone outside looks foolish, crazy, irrational. That’s also how the second movie, Matrix Reloaded ended. The story is told in the third movie, Matrix Revolutions.
Trinity: “On the roof, after you caught me, I said, ‘I’m sorry.’ I wish I had chance to say what really matters, ‘I love you.’ But then you gave me the chance, one more time to say what I really wanted to say.”
The Matrix of Meaning
When the final and ultimate big fight occurs in the third movie between Neo and Agent Smith (wouldn’t you know it, well after all, it’s an action film), the nearly all-powerful Mr. Smith just can’t understand why Neo keeps fighting, or what he’s fighting for. “What’s the meaning of it all?” he asks. Yet in the paradox of giving his life, he wins and saves “the whole.”
Smith: “I have already seen it. I’m the one who beats you. You taught me the purpose of life is to end.”
Then comes the fighting on land, on water, and in the air. Neo will not quit. When Smith crashes into the ground with such power that it creates a great crater, he still does not quit.
Smith: “Why Mr. Anderson, Why? Why get up? Why keep fighting? Why? Why? Why?
Your survival? For peace, for love, for truth? Are you trying to justify your existence? You can’t win. Why keep fighting?”
Neo: “Because I choose to!”
We are the ones who ultimately create the meanings that we live by. Meaning is not given, we have to find it or construct it. And in the end we do so because we choose to. The Oracle had hinted in this direction. In Matrix Revolutions Neo met her yet again, now in a new form.
Oracle: “You can’t see beyond your choice. It wasn’t time for you to know.”
Neo: “Who decided that?”
Oracle: “You know who … [then putting to the sign above the door in her kitchen, ‘Know Thyself.’]
Neo: “I did. … How did I stop 4 sentinels just thinking it?”
Oracle: “You weren’t ready for it, you should be dead. I guess you weren’t ready for that either. … You can’t see beyond a choice you don’t understand. … The purpose of the Architect is to balance the equation.”
Neo: “What’s your purpose?”
Oracle: “To unbalance it.”
Is this series of Matrix movies “Christian?” There are certainly a lot of Christian and Judeo-Christian themes. From Neo (new man), Morpheus (transformation), to the one who is to come, we have scores of messianic ideas about a deliverer who will “save the world.” We have lots of biblical names and references: the Nebuchadnezzar (with the words, Mark III, 11 which is a reference to casting out demons) , Zion, the Temple in Zion as the last refuge, a doubting-Thomas, a betrayer, Trinity, and Room 303 where Neo is restored to life by Trinity’s kiss. We have faith, hope and love, the greatest being love. Faith is the question of believing or not believing, accepting what we see with our eyes or believing that “there is no spoon.” In Revolutions we have “ah, the prodigal son returns,” “my little Judas,” a ship called Logos (Word, Meaning) that they drive to Zion, the best gunner is Ghost, the words “It is Done!” “He saved us!” and “Will see him again?” “Yes, some day.” We have theological/ philosophical questions about destiny, fate, choice, peace, and freedom.
Actually, I think that’s all background framing for the movie. I think the Wachowski brothers simply used such as archetype themes as a large metaphor.
What then are the trilogy of Matrix movies all about?
C They are about waking up to the Matrix and living life consciously, they are about choice, about knowing oneself, about finding or creating meaning, about believing, hoping, and loving.
C They are about true “control,” and having a big enough Why that makes a difference!
C They are about the systemic nature of our mind-body systems. All of that kind of reminds me of something. But what? Oh yes, of the “running your own brain,” modeling excellence, and mastering the matrix of your mind focus of NLP and Neuro-Semantics.
Author: L. Michael Hall, Ph.D. is a modeler, researcher, entrepreneur and trainer. See the website, www.neurosemantics.com for hundreds of pages of articles, patterns, reviews that are free for downloading.
References: See Frame Games (2000) and The Matrix Model (2003) for a NLP and Neuro-Semantic approach to human framing and matrix building.