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Switch to Forum Live View How 'The Matrix' Changed My Life
6 years ago  ::  Dec 31, 2007 - 10:13AM #1
phototransformations
Posts: 3
Do not try to bend the spoon; that's impossible. Instead only try to realize the truth: There is no spoon. Then you'll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.
- The Matrix

One hope I have for this discussion group and the accompanying Flower Mandalas blog is that it will become a place for people to share not only their experiences as makers of art, but also as consumers of it. As the authors of the excellent book Art and Fear point out, "In most matters of art it is more nourishing to be a maker than a viewer. But not in all matters…. Your reach as a viewer is vastly greater than your reach as a maker. The art you can experience may have originated a thousand miles away or a thousand years ago." And that art, too, can be transformative.


In this spirit, I'd like to report on one piece of popular art that literally changed my life: the movie "The Matrix."


At the time of the movie's release in early 1999, I had recently won a medical malpractice lawsuit against doctors who had nearly killed me six years before. The moment of victory in the courtroom was a jubilant one. The jury's award would be more than enough for me to move ahead in the areas of my life that had been sidelined by the injuries themselves and the long period of recuperation. Little did I know, however, in that triumphant moment the previous October, that my attorneys, who had worked so hard at gaining that victory, did so fully intending to make off not only with their 30%, but with all of it.


By the following March, I had already encountered another client of theirs whose money had similarly disappeared and realized that the multiple excuses for why my share of the award had not yet materialized were probably lies. My finger was poised on the "turn them in to the authorities" button, but it remained suspended in that position by their contention that the only way they could repay me the stolen money was by winning cases, and they could not win cases if they were disbarred or imprisoned. I was tormented both by an enormous sense of having been betrayed and by the knowledge that my attorneys, whom I had viewed as allies and saviors, were actually crooks who might, even as I waited in indecision, be robbing others as well.


I was paralyzed for about three weeks. Then, on a Saturday afternoon in the middle of April, I saw "The Matrix."


I'd been wanting to see this film for a while. It looked, from the previews, like a terrific science fiction action film, one of my favorite genres, and I figured it would be a good distraction from my miseries. Little did I know that it's effects on me would be life-altering.


The premise of the film is that in the distant future, intelligent machines have taken over the planet. They use human beings as their primary source of energy. To keep us complacent, they created a shared dream world (the "Matrix" for which the film is named), ruled by artificial intelligences. Early in the film the protagonist, Neo (played by Keanu Reeves), is invited to leave the Matrix and enter the real world, where those who are no longer under the machines' spell carry on a battle for human liberation. A small band of rebels move at will between the two worlds, real and machine-made, attempting in both realms to wrest humanity from its enslavers. They believe there is one person who will lead them to freedom -- the Moses of all enslaved humanity. Some of them think Neo might be "the One."


About midway through the film, Neo goes to a woman believed to be an oracle, whom he hopes can tell him if he is actually the liberator the rebels think him to be. He visits her in her Matrix home, where he waits with several others, all of whom, we assume, might also be "the One." There he meets an Asian boy who holds in his hand a spoon he is able to bend through telekinesis. Neo also tries to bend the spoon with his mind, but nothing happens. He looks to the boy, who tells him that the secret is, "There is no spoon." There is no spoon because Neo, the boy, the room they are in, and the spoon itself are in a machine-generated illusion. Neo, armed with this insight, tries again and this time the spoon bends and flows to his will.


This epiphany is the turning point for Neo, who increasingly gains from it the strength to battle and destroy the powerful artificial intelligences that police the Matrix. The knowledge that the spoon and everything else around him are an illusion enables him to shape the machine dream. Illusion progressively gives way to reality. It is a gritty, terrible reality, but still it is better than living as human fuel for the machine rulers.


In that "there is no spoon" moment I had an epiphany as well. I realized that for months I had been living in a matrix that my attorneys and my own needs had created: the life I had imagined my lawsuit money would create for me. My attachment to this fantasy had enabled my attorneys to build their reverse-blackmail scheme and to imprison me in it. In the still-darkened theater I realized I'd given over to them my future. As I drove home from the mall, comparing my story to Neo's (and in his story, too, there was betrayal), I understood that as long as I stayed in my attorneys' matrix, played by their rules, I would never get my real life back, and probably not the money, either.


I understood, for the first time, that they had no intention of repaying me, and that the particular future I had imagined was not merely delayed but would never come to pass. The illusion of that new and improved life had a powerful allure that kept me trapped in victimhood. Like the inhabitants of the Matrix who preferred eating mush in the real world to dining on imaginary steak in the Matrix, it was better for me to be free and poor than to be a slave to the matrix my attorneys and my own attachment had created. Much later I learned that the money had never been mine. Seven days after I'd signed the documents that enabled my attorneys to deposit my insurance check, it was gone. But my life was still my own, and if I could not have precisely the future I'd imagined in that triumphant courtroom moment, I would have another.


I left the movie feeling elated. Regardless of whether I ever saw a nickel of my award, I was still free to take any of the almost infinite paths left to me. I did not have to remain ensnared in the mind-forged manacles of attachment. Shortly thereafter, I turned my attorneys in to the district attorney and the licensing board. It was my act of turning them in which ultimately led to their imprisonment and the return of at least some of the stolen money to most of their victims.


The lesson I learned from my experience of watching and interpreting "The Matrix" still resonates today. It has enabled me to put into practice a long-held desire for detachment from outcomes. Stubborn attachment had always hampered me, both in my creative work (the internalized editor trying to shape what I was creating for an audience before the words or images were half out) and in my daily activities and relationships. My Matrix epiphany has helped me to recognize that when I feel something "must" go a certain way, that way is only one of many possible and equally good outcomes, and that whatever outcome occurs is the one meant for me.


An Invitation to you


Watching "The Matrix" was a transformative experience, one of many that have come about through my consumption of art. I have been equally, if differently, altered by the writings of William Blake, various Star Trek episodes, certain children's books, and numerous painters, photographers, songwriters, and composers too numerous to list.


When and how have you been transformed by art, and in what ways? I invite you to post your responses in this thread, or to create your own posts, and look forward to "seeing" you here.


More anon,
- David

Flower Mandalas Project group
Flower Mandalas blog

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6 years ago  ::  Dec 31, 2007 - 8:22AM #2
DaisyHeadMaisie
Posts: 0

Well said!  And thank you...I saw the movie, but it was so long ago...I needed to read that today!!  I feel less attached already.
Bending the spoon,
DHM

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6 years ago  ::  Dec 31, 2007 - 10:14AM #3
phototransformations
Posts: 3

Glad it was helpful! And now I'm wondering how you may have been significantly affected by hearing/seeing/experiencing some form of art.


More anon,
David

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6 years ago  ::  Jan 02, 2008 - 1:38PM #4
Mt_man
Posts: 80

I consider you to be horoic David in seeing the silver lining in the dark clouds you experienced with that situation.

If you wikipedia existentialism, a bit lower than half way down the page you'll see a section on existentialist art.  I think there is some overlap, so you might find some interesting art there.  I need to try to watch the films mentioned there for one as I always find watching movies to be faster and more convenient and entertaining than reading an entire book.  But I am sure there are some good books listed too if you have the time.

I had recently wikipedia's existentialism, I knew about it but wanted a refresher, as I am trying to reconcile what they are teaching me in Religious Science (the first New Thought faith tradition, which I am just starting out in as they have one in my town,) that we are pieces of God spiritually, (at least I think they believe this,) and with the training I got at Landmark Education (formerly est) which are transformational seminars, which in part cover existentialist philosophy.  So the reconciliation would be something like "I am the possibility of all people being God."

By the way, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 8 years ago or so when I had a weeklong full blown manic episode.  I didn't know what it was.  I thought I had reached some level of enlightenment and thought it was a good development, feeling like I had reached heaven on earth or something.  But of course with mania what goes up comes down, the price after that week was a horrendous one to pay.  And that week probably killed brain cells.  My memory has been affected.  But I've done pretty good - I only have to take an anti depressant, not a mood stabilizer, which might be unusual for someone diagnosed with the worst grade of bipolar.  Prior to that I had a little depression but largely it went undiagnosed and untreated, a shadow case not a severe case.

During that week I had a ton of creativity though.  At one point I found myself writing a screen play to a play which was a pun on some real folks in my life who were in conflict, but also the sound track to the play I was creating in my mind at the same time.  With no training in either.  Well a little music in high school and one screen writing seminar.  It really magnified my interests I guess.  I also felt I could heal people with my hands (only tried it on my wife, and that was psychological healing, so I don't know if it worked,) and was a real trip.  A religious experience I'd say.  But unfortunately one that has too high of a price to want to do it again.

I can relate to your hero's path, and thanks for sharing that.  Currently I am surrendering to what I think is the will of the higher power that I teach middle or high school.  A very hard thing, particularly with low income students.  And I'm not a born disciplinarian.  But I'm giving it a shot and am in the middle of getting a teaching credential, while already substitute teaching to get experience managing the little devils.  If it really isn't what I'm supposed to be doing I'm confident I'll figure that out and figure out the next thing.  I also have an internet bubble business that has had a slow but steady leak. 

I think I am more intuitive, creative, and spiritual now that my brain has had part of it broken down.  So I am also trying to find that silver lining to my dark clouds.

Thanks again for your excellent site and for being a hero with your own life.

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6 years ago  ::  Jan 21, 2008 - 9:55PM #5
willmr
Posts: 0
Hey thats really cool.  I saw the Matrix it was really cool... My favorite if you can find a copy is the animatrix... it is the creation of some of the best anime artists i have ever seen.
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 22, 2008 - 10:51PM #6
Serenity4me
Posts: 1

Art has had a strong impact on my life, and I have always been able to relate and express my deepest emotions about myself and my life through many various forms of art.

Although it may not sound like a life altering transformation, being moved emotionally, spiritually and physically is in itself a transformation for me.

 When I view the work of Van Gogh, I am in awe of the universe and this moves me to tears just as many works by artist do. The orchestra and opera is also an emotional eye opener. I heard this piece performed that represented an abusive childhood. It went through the horrific stages of abuse, sadness to healing. I was so moved by it that I actually cried through the whole thing, even having to cover my mouth because I cried so hard. I could relate, and felt transformed by the truth that the music represented. Afterwards, I felt a calming in my heart. Alot of music does this to me, Vivaldi, Handelson, as do certain operas.

But, I have to say, a book that really struck home with me, brought the whole meaning of life tumbling down upon me was a book by Mitch Album called "tuesdays with Morrie". It put life's meaning into black and white better than any self-help book ever had. I realized exactly how I felt about life, and what was important and what was not.

There are so many things in the art world that can change our lives, bring about change through emotion, the emotions deep down inside of us that gives way to a true transformation of our souls.
 

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6 years ago  ::  Jan 23, 2008 - 12:49AM #7
Ask.seek.knock
Posts: 1,072

quote:  I have been equally, if differently, altered by the writings of William Blake, various Star Trek episodes, certain children's books, and numerous painters, photographers, songwriters, and composers too numerous to list.


Well, since you mentioned Star Trek, there was one episode, The Squire of Gothos, that started me wondering whether God is some spoiled child of an alien race just playing games with us for his/her amusement.  Some days, I'm left musing as to when God's parents are going to take him/her to task as Trelane's did at the end of the Star Trek episode.  It's not that I've been particularly transformed by these thoughts, but they have led me to explore concepts of spirituality other than those with which I was raised.


A synopsis of the episode's plot follows:


The U.S.S. Enterprise must cross an empty sector of space on their way to deliver supplies to colony Beta VI. In this space, they find an uncharted planet whose presence can't be explained. After Kirk and Sulu disappear without apparent reason, Spock orders McCoy and geophysicist Lt. Karl Jaeger to the planet's surface to begin a search.


They find Trelane, a humanoid with tremendous psionic powers and a passion for Earth's 18th-century military history. It is he, they discover, who impulsively kidnapped Kirk and Sulu, wanting to add them to his arena of the Napoleonic era that he has created on this planet, Gothos.


While Trelane has great powers, he has little self-control and is spoiled, willful and impetuous. When McCoy and Jaeger appear, Trelane invites them all to join him at his party.


Spock manages to beam them aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, but Trelane, determined to have his way in all matters, transports the entire bridge crew to Gothos for a banquet. Kirk challenges Trelane to a duel and in the process, destroys the device the alien uses to create his illusions. However, Trelane repairs it and prevents the U.S.S. Enterprise from leaving orbit until he can punish Kirk for his rash actions.


In exchange for freedom for the U.S.S. Enterprise and her crew, Kirk offers himself as the prey in a "fox hunt." Suddenly, as Trelane is about to kill the Captain, two noncorporeal beings appear. They explain to Kirk that they are Trelane's parents, and apologize for letting their child play such dangerous games. They then scold the errant child for his selfish behavior and temper tantrums. They inform Trelane that he will not be allowed to have another planet to play with until he learns how to treat other beings with respect.


Source:  http://www.startrek.com/startrek/view/series/TOS/episode/68696.html


 


...ASK

ASK

"The best thing you can do for the world is make the most of yourself." -- Wallace D. Wattles

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6 years ago  ::  Jan 23, 2008 - 1:44PM #8
ashavahista
Posts: 837
I remember that episode from a long time ago. As I recall I thought it was one of the better episodes.
Reuben
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 23, 2008 - 7:14PM #9
phototransformations
Posts: 3

Although I have been profoundly affected, as has Serenity4me, by what is more classically viewed as art, I confess that the Star Trek comment ask.seek.knock found in my profile is also true. I'm not a true trekkie -- I've only been to one conference, and that was a combined Dr. Who / Star Trek conference -- but the various Star Trek series have influenced me in significant ways. In the original series, the Arena episode, in which Kirk and a lizard-like alien captain are pitted against each other in a fight to the death by highly evolved aliens, changed the way I think about our more savage (lizard brain?) side and how we manage to contain these impulses one day at a time.


Other episodes that have profoundly moved me include Requiem for Methuselah, The Empath, The Omega Glory, Obsession, The City on the Edge of Forever, and Miri. Many of the Next Generation and a few of the Voyager and Deep Space Nine episodes also have changed my perceptions for the better, as have some of the original Twilight Zone series. At its best, I think science fiction can have a deeply spiritual component, and can tell us about ourselves in metaphorical ways not unlike those found in folktales and myths. Sticking with Star Trek for a few more moments, Piccard's dealings with the Borg and both Data's and the hologram doctor's struggle to become human come to mind as pop culture ways to explore what is the subject of much philosophical and spiritual investigation.

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6 years ago  ::  Jan 23, 2008 - 10:19PM #10
ashavahista
Posts: 837

I have to confess that I too have watched alot of Star Trek along with other TV science fiction. With all the heavy studying that I do, I find it to be a great escape. Sci Fi when it is done well is both imaginative and transformative. Among the originals my favorite was /'Balance of Terror', were Kirk has to face a mysterious enemy, the Romulans. I found that it had a strong sense of suspense, as Kirk attempted to outwit the Romulans.  Spocks similarity to the Vulcans also played an interesting test of patriotism and prejudice. It was relevant to when Nissai were trated as potential Japanese supporters during WW II.


The one show that moved me was Babylon 5. It was a show which touched on politics and patriotism, spirituallity  vs fanaticism. There was also a sense of mystery when it came to the older races.It was a timely show.

Reuben
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