On Sun, 9 May 1999, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:
>-*_The Matrix_ revisited: Why are we such fans?
>-*I was speaking to a friend lately, a big movie aficionado. He didn't
>-*like the Matrix and couldn't understand why one of the most brilliant
>-*people he knew (this friend is semi-mundane, so that doesn't count as
>-*boasting - not on this list!) would be infatuated with a movie with a
>-*bad plot, no characterization, no meaning that wasn't shoved down our
>-*throat, and what he called "a sell-out of the intellectual concept in
>-*favor of shoot-em-ups".
>-*I started out by explaining that we all liked the Matrix because it was
>-*what we had all wanted to do ourselves - walk up a wall, punch through
>-*bricks, and so on. The characters didn't *need* deep emotional lives
>-*for us to sympathize with them; we *wanted* to be in their shoes. "Ah,"
>-*he said, "fantasy fulfillment". Well, I didn't see what was wrong with
>-*that (it's a perfectly legitimate form), but it still didn't quite seem
>-*to cover the fanatic devotion on the part of people who had never cared
>-*about a movie before. (I hadn't.) And eventually I came up with this.
>-*** SPOILERS **
>-*I think that the Matrix is a transhumanist movie in the original,
>-*highest sense. Technically AIs are the enemy, but the movie isn't about
>-*"humans against machines". It's "humans against reality". The free
>-*humans aren't fighting to *preserve* the world we know, as in all the
>-*bad anti-machine movies; they're fighting to *break* it. They're
>-*fighting to break the limits. _The Matrix_ takes our world of 1999 and
>-*says, "This isn't life you're living! This is a prison!"
>-*It's that concept that lies at the core of transhumanism. And the
>-*characters in _The Matrix_ don't just believe this, they aren't just
>-*warriors for our cause - they *embody* it. They can kick through walls.
>-* They can take blows that would punch straight through an ordinary
>-*human. They can run up walls. They can do all that, not because they
>-*believe in the Force, but because they *don't* believe in our world.
>-*They serve and represent our ideal, that knowledge breaks limits, that
>-*technology breaks reality.
>-*Who cares about Superman? Who cares about Luke Skywalker? They're just
>-*guys with slightly less restrictive limits, and they have the power
>-*because of "magic". Most special-effects movie heroes get that way
>-*because of "magic" - and that *is* pure wish-fulfillment. In _The
>-*Matrix_, the powers are explained, and it's an explanation we can all
>-*believe in. Especially we transhumanists - we know that our limited
>-*reality is true, but we don't accept it. We don't *believe* in reality,
>-*we aren't emotionally invested. And that's why we believe in _The Matrix_.
>-*The AIs in the movie don't represent The Evils of Mechanization. They
>-*represent Life as We Know It. The AIs represent humanity - the way *we*
>-*use "humanity", as a set of hated limits, "only human", something to
>-*overcome. For all the movie's surface Frankensteineity, at heart it
>-*truly is technophilic. The good guys are fighting back with high
>-*technology as well, and the message is world-breaking change, not
>-*nostalgia and mysticism. Maybe the movie doesn't do a good job of
>-*preparing folks for the concept of AI, but I think it will do an
>-*excellent job of preparing them for the concept of Singularity.
>-*And that's why we call _The Matrix_ a transhumanistic film.
I'm new to the list, and just found "transhumanism," (now I have a name for what I believe) so I hope I'm not breaking "protocol," however, I too loved _The Matrix_! However, I saw it a little differently.
The characters were interacting in a Virtual Reality created by a computer program, therefore, what the "body/mind" believed became true in the program. True, taking our reality and accepting the limits is the same, because it all comes from our consciousness, our "withinness." We only know something if we become conscious of it, and if we alter that consciousness, it alters the reality (remember the spoon?)
Great stuff this list, this movie. I hear rumors that the "brothers" are planning on doing the other two that make up the trilogy. I wonder if they'll do a part one pre-AI and a part three post-neo? I could see a lot of fun with the next two.
Don't forget Star Wars Espisode 1 is opening May 19th! And even the Force will only assist if you become aware of it and focus its full potential.
-- Be not afraid of life. *BELIEVE* that life is worth living and your *BELIEF* will help create the fact. William James (1842-1910)