Spoiler Warning for Matrix Resurrections
One of the earliest pieces I wrote at Limited Hangout is entitled The Red Pill is a Psyop. In this piece I’m going to look at the most recent Matrix film (Matrix: Resurrections). But in order to get a sense of what I believe that film is after, a review of the original films in their subtler philosophical and spiritual depth is necessary.
My Red Pill is a Psyop piece is a review of the original Matrix Trilogy films, in particular exploring the oft-cited but rarely understood notion of the Red Pill. Since “taking the red pill” entered the lexicon and became associated with a whole series of anti-globalist and anti-liberal movements—the alt right, Men’s Rights Activism, QAnon, large swaths of the conspiracy world, etc.—it seemed relevant to actually understand what the films were saying about the Red Pill.
What the original films—particularly the second and third films, Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions—show is that the Red Pill is a psyop. The Machines actually create the Red Pill as detailed in Neo’s dialogue with The Architect. The human who take the Red Pill believe they are escaping from The Matrix when in reality it’s simply a case of “out of the frying pan and into the fire.” The Red Pill, the human city of Zion, and the Myth of The One were all perpetrated by The Machines as part of a subtler layer of demiurgic control. Even The Oracle was after all a Machine and, to quote The Architect, “The Mother of the Matrix.” Note that Matrix and Mother (Mater) share the same linguistic root.
Only Neo’s choice to no longer perpetuate the cycles of Machine control by not merging with The Light and play The Architect’s game, a choice he makes based out of his love for Trinity, only that choice brings a new possibility to bear. Neo begins to see that the Machines are made of Light (after losing his human eyesight in a fight with Agent Smith outside the Matrix in the “real world.”) Neo ultimately chooses to succumb to Smith, thereby destroying Smith. Neo makes a peace offering to The Machines in exchange for destroying Smith (for the machines).
Matrix Revolutions ends with peace between the humans and the machines. The Architect cooly asks The Oracle how long this peace will last and she responds, “as long as it can.” As we’ll see in the most recent film that time sadly was not long.
But the key point for now is that Neo’s actual path is very much post-Red Pill. Neo ends up holding a vision of cosmic reconciliation and non-duality, seeing that both the humans and the machines are made of Light.
My argument in that piece is that all the Red Pill movements of today take a first step to break free from the grip of consensus reality but ultimately end up in psychic cul-de-sacs of junk conspiracies and failed initiations. (For more on that argument see my piece on The Men’s Rights Activist movement as well as true versus false conspiracist thought).
At the end of the original trilogy, Neo dies in a Christic cruciform pose as an act of cosmic restoration and forgiveness. The original Matrix films culminate in a vision that is both wake and woke (as I described in this piece). It’s a vision of both spiritual enlightenment flowing out into social and political reconciliation and liberation.
Just as there was much misunderstanding of the emancipatory political vision of The Matrix (Red Pill), there was a similar misapprehension of the spiritual vision of the films—with many arguing that the films were Gnostic in nature. Certainly by Neo’s discussion with The Architect the films depart from a purely Gnostic vision—I’ve covered Gnosticism here as well as nonduality’s critique of Gnosticism.
So what was left for The Matrix franchise and why bring on another film?
I’ve been exploring a theme of post-nondual spiritual teachings through a number of various angles on the site of late—e.g. these pieces on Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, as well as these on immanence and incandescence. These teachings explore the possibility of how to combine both non-duality and duality into a deeper paradoxical union, which for lack of a better word perhaps could be termed trans-dual.
Matrix Resurrections attempts to chart a course along similar lines. Whether it succeeds in that quest or not is a bit of an open question.
First I want to follow the Christ imagery that is clearly deployed through The Matrix films. Neo’s name in The Matrix is Thomas Anderson. Thomas means the Twin (as in The Gospel of Thomas) and Anderson is literally “Son of Man” (Andros-son), a title for Jesus in The Gospels. Neo is also of course called The One and clearly depicted as a Messianic figure and as noted, dies in the Christ pose. In addition, his love name (Trinity) is the name for The Godhead in Christian theology.
So Neo's resurrection in this film makes sense in that narrative mythic arc. In Christian theology the Resurrection is followed by The Ascension of Christ and then the Descent of the Holy Spirit in Pentecost. The plural in the film title of Resurrections is for the resurrections of both Neo and Trinity. (I’ve written previously on the topic of Ascension in New Age spirituality and how it has its roots in Christian theology.)
Basic Plot (Again Spoiler Alert)
In Matrix Resurrections, Neo is back to being Thomas Anderson and now works at a computer game company where he’s created a groundbreaking video game series called The Matrix. The actual Matrix has been re-installed and in the latest layer of subtle control, the entire storyline of the original Matrix films has been reduced to a video game series. Rather than trying to suppress the story of Zion, the rebellion, and The Matrix, the machines place all that information publicly but in a packaged form that neutralizes its truth content. The original Matrix trilogy becomes, in this film, a limited hangout.
Neo’s business partner is none other than Agent Smith warped back into the fold of The Matrix. He too will eventually awaken from his slumber and free himself (again) from The Matrix’s control system.
Neo meets repeatedly with his therapist (played by Neil Patrick Harris), who is later revealed to be The Analyst, the head designer from The Machine world of this latest iteration of The Matrix. The Analyst teases his predecessor (that is The Architect) for believing too seriously in his own creation. For The Analyst what matters is narrative and what is believed not whether the underlying story told is true or not. In this regard the Matrix itself and The Machines have gone postmodern. (I've written previously exploring “post-truth”, deconstruction, and postmodern thought.)
The Architect is a reference to Freemasonry and Masonic spirituality—The Architect adhered to a cosmic logic of mathematical proportions and perfection, shorn of any compassion. Pure cold-blooded reason and logic stripped of emotionality. The Architect’s foil was The Oracle, a divinatory magical witchy “intuitive program”. So in the original films we have the classic duality of Reason vs. Intuition.
By contrast, The Analyst pretends to be a therapist. He even brings in trauma-sensitive language and processes to “help” Thomas cope with his mental stresses. For The Analyst all that is left of humanity is fear and desire—in true postmodern form, he’s a sort of pop psych quasi-Buddhist. When humans (or in this case human created AI) strips sacred order to ground society all that is left is desire, precisely as Philip Rieff predicated decades ago.
Also, as Frederic Jameson correctly pointed out, postmodernism, rather than truly being some left-wing “Marxist’ attack, is actually the cultural logic of late imperial capitalism. Or in this case the empire of the machines.
Later in the film we learn that after Neo and Trinity’s deaths and the peace deal struck with The Machines, a civil war eventually broke out within the ranks of The Machines themselves—as they experienced energy losses due to the numbers of humans freed from The Matrix.
Out of that struggle, a new power arose among The Machines. Following in the lineage of the Animatrix (Matrix prequel), a darker energy took place among The Machines. But interestingly some machines—or as they prefer to be called synthients—join ranks with the humans. Neo’s vision towards the end of the original films—seeing both humans and machines as beings of Light—has come to fruition.
This new darker force that rose to prominence in The Machine world destroyed Zion (killing Morpheus). The remaining humans created a new civilization called IO. As detailed in the Animatrix prequel, the original city of the machines, separated from then dominant human civilization, was called Zero One. Zeros and ones of course being the basis of binary computing code. When the power reverses and The Machines defeat and enslave humanity, then the human remnants created Zion, linguistically also built out of a Z and O (Z/io/N).
IO, the new human city, has it’s own homages to iOS (integrated operating system),with the I in IO looking like a 1 and the O looking like a Zero (just as in Zero One). IO has it’s own internal permaculture hydroponics and eco-farming and is a peaceful vision, wishing simply to be left alone and to hide from the machines, no longer looking to fight them.
Neo plugged a program into his Matrix game with Morpheus’ coding. This Morpheus (or Morpheus-like) character eventually awakens within the Matrix and he is part of the group that eventually extracts Neo from the Matrix (again). This Morpheus-esque character has his own postmodern, ironic turn, with references to his “former” self in the prior films.
As Neo is being freed (once again) from his womb/pod out into the real world, he sees another pod nearby to his, which he believes to be the one holding Trinity. Neo wishes to free her and the plot develops from there to rescue Trinity.
In the process of the rescue attempt, Neo encounters The Analyst, who does his classic villain move, explaining the entirety of his nefarious plan. For The Analyst to reboot this version of The Matrix he needed both Neo and Trinity. He couldn’t resurrect Neo without Trinity (or vice versa). Their bond—their love—was so powerful that it initially fried the circuits. Eventually The Analyst realizes he must keep them close but not too close to each other. In a truly twisted inversion, it is their love for each other that powers the new Matrix.
While Neo is left as Chief Games Designer, Trinity is domesticated as a soccer mom—who fixes and rides motorcycles in her free time. Neo during his time in The Matrix had fallen into repeated periods of dark depression and even suicidal urges. Trinity—now named Tiffany—leads a life of quiet desperation suffused with anxiety.
Neo had repeated glimpses of his former life but his therapist (The Analyst) interprets them as derealized psychotic breaks and proscribes him an abundance of blue-pilled anti-depression psychiatric meds to keep him docile and subservient. “Tiffany” is held in place by her feelings of duty and obligation to her kids. Their facial images have been changed by The Machines so they appear very different to the outside world while still seeing themselves (in mirrors) as themselves. We the audience still see them as we are accustomed to seeing them (though slightly older).
With the help of a now grown up Sati (the girl from the beginning and end of the third film), the rescue party frees Trinity from the newly design Matrix. In so doing she does not need to take a red pill. Sati says that the red pill “is not strictly necessary”, supporting my contention that the red pill is a psyop—or at least its real world implications have become very uncomfortable for its creators. For example, since the original trilogy The Wachowski Brothers are now the Wachowski Sisters (siblings) as Larry transitioned into Lana and Andy transitioned into Lilly.
Matrix Resurrections ends with The Matrix still well in tact, The Analyst having temporarily lost a battle but not ultimately perturbed, as he is quite confident that his more emotionally sensitive and manipulative Matrix will hold. Trinity and Neo thank The Analyst for a “2nd chance.”
As noted, the original Matrix trilogy was a vision of cosmic restoration. Throughout those films was the symbolism of duality being transcended into a oneness (while retaining the multiplicity).
Neo and Trinity, Trinity and Neo as the Hieros Gamos.
Red vs. Blue Pill
The Oracle and The Architect (Mother and Father of The original Matrix iterations)
Machine and Human ultimately both made of Light
The Peace Between Machine and Human at the end of the original Trilogy
Morpheus as John the Baptist and Neo as the Christ
That vision of cosmic reconciliation ultimately failed. As I detailed in my analysis of the original films these films were not Gnostic but rather nondual in outlook. Even with the strong emphasis on both spiritual and social-political awakening (wake and woke), within the universe of the films themselves this view ultimately failed.
The esoteric traditions within modernity typically saw dualities united into a unity-amidst-multiplicity. I’ve covered this topic in greater detail elsewhere on the site. And yet within the postmodern turn in The Matrix, that reconciliation quickly splintered.
Neo as The Christ Icon of the original trilogy died in the cruciform pose. His sacrificial death brought cosmic restoration (for a brief period). In this film Neo is resurrected (along with Trinity and interestingly Smith). In traditional Christian theology following The Resurrection of Christ comes The Ascension (again see my earlier piece on Ascension).
The Christian mystic, scientist, and theologian Teilhard de Chardin had his own novel interpretation of The Ascension of Christ. For Teilhard, in The Ascension The Resurrected Christ goes intimately within all creation—rather than as traditionally conceived, floating up and out to heaven above. Christ goes within for Teilhard, fully within.
Teilhard’s own vision was itself distorted and twisted to support transhumanist ends as I detail elsewhere on the site. This distortion and co-opting of Teilhard is perhaps not as surprising as it may at first seem given that trans humanism itself is a distorted/inverted version of Christian theology (as I’ve argued previously).
In a similar vein, Neo goes “within” the created Matrix. Neo’s Ascension is rather a descension into the heart of the meaninglessness—a point another Christian theologian Hans von Balthasar made of Christ’s descent into hell on Holy Saturday. I’ve discussed this elsewhere as the path of immanence versus that of transcendence.
Trinity similarly, gave her own life for the cause in the original films. She too has been resurrected (by the Machines) and her “ascension” (or rather descension) back into the Matrix is what is powering the Matrix itself. In the Christian liturgical calendar, the first Sunday after Pentecost is Trinity Sunday. Pentecost following directly upon the Ascension.
In both Latin and German, the pronouns for The Three Persons of the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is masculine. In those same languages however the term for The Godhead—the one essence shared by all Three Persons—is feminine (Deitas and Gottheit). Trinity’s name is the name of the one essence shared by all three (Tri-Unity) Divine Persons. With Neo being The One, i.e. the One Incarnation of that very Divine Life.
Interestingly, Pope John Paul II went so far as to call Mary The Mediatrix, with Christ being The Mediator (a view not shared by other Christian denominations). If Neo was The Savior/Mediator of the original films, then Trinity was most certainly The Mediatrix, which, as a word, has an eerie resonance with both Media and Matrix.
And yet this Mediator-Mediatrix Cosmic Salvation model failed. As The Architect noted in Matrix Reloaded, the previous incarnations of the integral anomaly (The One) had a general universal love for humanity, which had been programmed in by The Machines. Neo however had a specifically human love for Trinity which caused him to choose to break the cycle, eschew The Light and the rebooting of The Matrix, and gamble everything—leading eventually to his death (as well as Trinity’s) but also the peace deal.
That love between Trinity and Neo opened up the path of Immanence, the furthest reaches of which they both descend into in the malaise of the new Matrix. The love between them was stronger than death (Love was Resurrected when they both were reanimated). That love however was co-opted by The Machines to reboot an even subtler Matrix. That electric love between them however can not be contained and eventually unleashes itself. Neo and Trinity enter into a phase of Incandescence—a topic I’ve written on here.
Immanence gives way to Incandescence. In Immanence one wakes down through the body all the way into matter. When there is no more “down” to go, then incandescence can transpire. Neo and Trinity go all the way “down” into suicidal despair, depression, resignation, anxious desperation and existential ennui. There was no more “down” for them to wake down into.
Upon (re)awakening all that is left is light and fire (Incandescence).
When Trinity and Neo thank The Analyst for giving them another chance, they speak to the Incandescent path. As I mentioned in my piece on Incandescence, that path is marked by a combination of Eastern awakening (timelessness) and Western apocalypticism. In Incandescence one lives in the already but not yet state—with the kingdom already having been revealed and realized but not yet fully manifest.
As the myth of the Cosmic Savior (and Mediatrix) died with Neo & Trinity and in particular with the collapse of the cosmic peace, the incandescent requires each individual to do their own work. It’s a truly sovereign path—both for humans and for synthients, if they ever come to be in our world. That is why all they have is a second (incandescent) chance.
With the breakdown of The Myth of The One there are the ones—all unique manifestations of The One. Perhaps as more and more such beings awake that incandescent love between Trinity and Neo would grow into a conflagration, melting all worlds into Love.
Then again, it’s a chance not a guarantee.