finalexegesisText=Written November 2003 By Jason Payne (email@example.com) www.X-matrix.net
Neo and Smith are two sides of a balanced equation. The ever-increasing powers that they possess are due to a requirement to maintain equilibrium of balance between their programs. So this poses two questions:
1) Why have this necessity for balanced equations?
2) Why do their powers keep increasing?
The first question can be answered in two ways:
i) From a philosophical point-of-view (namely theosophy), everything in the universe consists of opposites. As the Merovingian said in Hel Club, "You cannot escape the nature of the universe." Rama-Kandra (Sati's father) expresses his belief in karma (good karma, bad karma), the Merovingian in the restaurant (Reloaded) - cause and effect, and in Hel Club when he mentions that every action has a consequence. Analogous to this are protons-electrons and up-down/strange-charm quarks in quantum physics: this is the fundamental "nature of the universe" that we "cannot escape".
ii) In any mathematical system (and a computer system/program is fundamentally dependent on maths), both sides of any equation must match. So for every single object/program created in the Matrix, there must inherently be an opposite created as well. By creating the Matrix itself, this by default had to create Zion. By giving humans a desire to stay in the Matrix, it inherently gave them a desire to want out. So by creating Neo to fulfil his purpose (as explained by the Architect in Reloaded - to return to the Source, reinsert his program, rebuild Zion, reload the Matrix, etc.), this also created his opposite - his enemy - Smith. So for everything "good" created, there is an equal "bad". The "action" of creating something results in another "consequence".
An escalating probability of disaster
Now this brings us onto the next issue. Why do Neo and Smith's powers keep increasing? Well, by building in artificial intelligence into a system that is based on humans (and since Neo is based on the original creator of AI, evident from the disc he gave to Choi in M1 that says "DISC AI" on it), you create a system that is capable of learning, but will always evolve, never devolve. Since the opposite of having a balanced equation is having an unbalanced equation (i.e., as the Oracle speaks of in Revolutions: the Architect's purpose is "to balance an equation", her purpose is "to unbalance it"), the equation is constantly being balanced and unbalanced. It's almost ironically paradoxical! But this is analogous to Mother Nature. With each generation, mutations occur in the genome to unbalance the equation: some offspring are inferior compared to the parent, some are superior. The superior offspring are more likely to survive and continue to procreate further generations: "survival of the fittest". This is effectively what is happening between Neo and Smith. The equation between them is constantly being unbalanced, so to re-balance it, an adjustment is made according to the evolving human-designed AI system that is inherently part of their program. The lower side of the equation (whether it's Neo or Smith) is made better to match the other side. This effect is what the Architect is referring to in Reloaded when he talks about an "escalating probability of disaster". In fact, his whole speech at this point explains this fundamental evolving/re-balancing of programs (namely Neo and Smith) that he terms as a flaw: "While this answer functioned, it was obviously fundamentally flawed, thus creating the otherwise contradictory systemic anomaly that if left unchecked might threaten the system itself. Ergo those that refused the program, while a minority, if unchecked, would constitute an escalating probability of disaster." This is a double-edged statement as it also refers to the increasing threat of Zion... but this stems from the same root problem anyway - the anomaly.
The Neo-Smith equation
The means by which the Neo-Smith equation is unbalanced is encoded into Smith's program. He unbalances the equation by "infecting" other programs, much like a computer virus, and thus increases his power. Neo, in this sense, is the antivirus and balances this imbalance reciprocally. Neo allows himself to be infected by Smith because he knows that by allowing himself to be destroyed, this would create a complete imbalance in the Neo-Smith equation and Smith would reciprocally have to be destroyed also, and this is exactly what happens. Why does Neo only do this at the end though, why not as soon as Smith is able to clone himself? Well, he didn't know about this and he was coded to not know for this reason: For the Matrix to be reloaded successfully, every single avatar in the Matrix had to be infected by Smith so that when Smith was destroyed, they could be transferred from one version of the Matrix to the next obliviously so as not to upset their acceptance of the Matrix (notice Sati was unconscious during the transition after Smith was destroyed and she returned to her normal self). The only person who truly knew Neo's purpose and that he had to allow Smith to infect him in order to destroy Smith was the Oracle. She had to be the last person Smith infected. Her plan was to communicate to Neo from within Smith during the final battle between them. She helped design the Matrix and this included Smith (emphasised when Smith calls the Oracle, "Mom") and part of this coding included for every program in the Matrix to "Know Thyself" - as was written above the door in the Oracle's kitchen ("Temel Nosce"). Therefore any program infected by Smith, if powerful enough, could "shine" through (like a light coming out of the darkness reminiscent of when Smith is finally destroyed). The Smith clone that infected Sati first displays this property when he mimics what the Oracle last said to Sati about the cookies needing love. So in the crater in the final battle between Neo and Smith, Smith says, "I'm supposed to say something - Everything that has a beginning has an end, Neo," and Neo realises this as being the Oracle "shining" through. At this point, he realises that the Oracle is advising him and combined with the knowledge that Smith is his opposite of the same balanced equation, allowing himself to come to "an end" would also bring Smith to "an end".
Is the "Real World" real or in a Matrix?!
Despite all this, the question begged now is why is Neo able to stop the sentinels and tow bombs? How was Smith able to infect Bane in the so-called Real World? Even Neo himself says, "That's impossible," when he realises that Bane is Smith. Is Zion just another level of Matrix? Is the so-called "real world" actually real? There is no conclusive evidence to suggest either possibility, but it can be speculated from several angles to reach a viable "working conclusion".
- The "real world" is real in the sense that it is not a Matrix in the computer program sense. The differentiation comes from Smith in Bane's body talking about how it feels being in a human body: "I admit, it is difficult to think, encased in this rotting piece of meat. The stink of it filling every breath, a suffocating cloud you can't escape. *spits blood* Disgusting! Look at how pathetically fragile it is. Nothing this weak is meant to survive."
- So how is Neo able to stop the sentinels and tow bombs, and how was Smith able to infect Bane? Why is he able to see despite his eyes being destroyed by Bane? Well the theory that Zion is part of a second Matrix, rather than being real, is unknowingly hinting at a fascinating truth. The distinction is between the "Matrix-within-a-Matrix" theory, which is generally about the impossibility of escaping the Matrix, and the "second-Matrix" theory, which is a metaphor for a profound philosophical point. The working thesis is this: What Neo learned when he transcended the Matrix was that all reality is simulation. He has applied this lesson to the Matrix - now he is applying it to the real world. This references the hollowed book Neo takes the disc out of at the start of M1 - the book is Simulacra and Simulation - a collection of essays by the French postmodernist philosopher Jean Baudrillard. He opens it to the section on "Nihilism" (meaning nothing is truly known). "Baudrillard's concept of simulation is the creation of the real through conceptual or 'mythological' models which have no connection or origin in reality. The model becomes the determinant of our perception of reality--the real."
- What Neo sees in the real world is gold code or gold light. This presents itself numerous times including right at the start during the opening sequence when the Matrix code is zoomed in and out of. This does not mean that the "real world" is a Matrix. If it were, then Neo would see everything in gold code. However, he only sees the machines in this gold light and the city 01, and when he looks at Bane he sees Smith, not Bane (notice Smith's shades when Neo looks at Bane's fiery appearance, but Bane isn't actually wearing shades). At the city, Neo says to Trinity, "It's unbelievable, Trin. Lights everywhere. Like the whole thing was built with light. I wish you could see what I see." This is an emotional moment for Neo as Trinity is dying and if he believed he was in a program (which would mean Trinity is part of the program), it is unlikely he would be so amazed at the way the city 01 is built with light and wishing Trinity could see it too.
Neo the medium
Now from a more realistic point-of-view, there is still the issue of how Neo is able to stop the sentinels and tow bombs. From a purely philosophical standpoint, this may need not be considered, but it is worth addressing to satisfy the realist's viewpoint. Consider the following dialogue between Neo and the Oracle:
Neo: Tell me how I separated my mind from my body without jacking in. Tell me how I stopped four sentinels by thinking it. Tell me just what the hell is happening to me.
Oracle: The power of the One extends beyond this world. It reaches from here all the way back to where it came from.
Oracle: The Source. That's what you felt when you touched those Sentinels. But you weren't ready for it. You should be dead, but apparently you weren't ready for that, either.
She said Neo should be dead after his first "real world" power burst, but he wasn't. Now most objects/devices/humans capable of exerting some sort of power on their own are usually capable of sustaining the effects of that power emission/outburst. Take a simple device like a torch. The torch will not die as soon as it gives a burst of light out. It can handle its own function. A loudspeaker will output sound and sustain it without becoming damaged. Now connect either of these devices to a much bigger power source than the standard one it came with. The bulb will blow, the loudspeaker will be damaged.
The analogy is this: basically, Neo isn't emanating the power onto those sentinels and tow bombs by his own means. He is merely acting as a channel for the power to be routed through him, from the Source.
Going back to the torch and loudspeaker: These devices could've been modified/upgraded - a higher rated bulb, upgrade the cone in the speaker. This is what the Oracle meant. The first time, he hadn't reached the right level of power yet. He was not ready. But the machines were getting anxious (anxious about what? Explained in a minute) so they used him prematurely and effectively put him to the test with a small number of sentinels, which they sent in at the end of Reloaded. So the Oracle saying he should be dead means he was almost blown like a bulb being powered by too bigger "Source".
So now there are two questions with this: How and Why?
Why: The One has a purpose that he must fulfil. And the Oracle/Architect (being programs created by the machines) guided Neo to his eventual destiny, so the machines sending the sentinels and tow bombs and almost killing Neo were just methodical to the master plan.
How: The machines have not only genetically modified all pod-born humans, they have also managed to tap into the workings of the human brain (indicated by the socket at the back of the head) and using technological means may control and route power through a host that acts as a medium, and this host is Neo. How the technology works is completely open to speculation: It is possible an emission or wave from the body or brain resonates with the circuitry of the machines thus destroying them. Basically, rather than Neo's powers coming from Neo himself, he merely acts as the router, for locale reasons.
Fulfilment of The One's purpose
The Source is at city 01 and this is where Neo goes to on the surface just as the Architect explained was his purpose: "The function of the One is now to return to the Source, allowing a temporary dissemination of the code you carry, reinserting the prime program."
However, previously, The One has always chosen the right door in the room with the Architect and gone straight to the Source reloading the Matrix. The difference this time is that the Oracle influenced Neo to choose the left door with the aim of achieving peace. We must remember at this point that the Oracle is still working for the machines and the likelihood is that she was programmed with this (effectively) subroutine. However, there is another factor to consider and is the reason this alternative "subroutine" has had to be enacted, and has been becoming more and more apparent with each version (again, due to this increasing evolving): the equation has become unbalanced and rebalanced so many times, the Smith program has grown too powerful (Neo: "The program 'Smith' has grown beyond your control") and to prevent a cataclysmic crash that would destroy the Matrix, the Deus Ex Machina agrees to let Neo deal with the matter knowing that Oracle's intervention will play a part. Smith indicates that this path has been taken before at the start of the final fight with Neo after Neo says, "It ends tonight." Smith replies, "I know it does - I've seen it. That's why the rest of me is just going to enjoy the show - we already know that I'm the one that beats you." But this is not the case - The One has previously always gone to the Source through the right door in the Architect's room. Smith's words are from the Oracle - her foresight coming through - she had seen all this in advance.
It is all a complete design to keep the humans enslaved. Morpheus in M1: "The Matrix is a computer-generated dream world built to keep us under control in order to change a human being into this" - fuel. The Oracle talks much about choice, but the Merovingian says in Reloaded, "Choice is an illusion, created between those with power, and those without." And the Oracle effectively backs this axiom up in Revolutions: "You and I may not be able to see beyond our own choices, but that man can't see past any choices." In other words, a program's choices are restricted to only those that it was programmed with.
After Smith is destroyed, Neo is carried off by the Deus Ex Machina to the Source so that his program can be reinserted and his code disseminated. The Matrix is RELOADED as can be seen on the pavement with the black cat walking along and the whole REVOLUTION starts over again.
The Oracle's "dangerous game"
The Oracle has manipulated events from the beginning of the current version of the Matrix (in Reloaded, she says, "I'm interested in one thing, Neo, the future. And believe me, I know - the only way to get there is together."). She facilitated Neo and Trinity falling in love so that Neo would choose the left door this time instead of the right as all previous Ones did. And she influenced Niobe by saying to her that Neo would need her help and is why she lent the Logos to Neo to allow him to reach city 01.
The Architect asks the Oracle at the end, "Just how long do you think this peace is going to last?" - this sounds quite assumptive that this is not indefinite; almost like, how many hundreds of years till we have go through all this again? And the Oracle reciprocates this assumption, "As long as it can," because being a program, she knows that this new version must last as long as possible so the machines can draw up a new plan for circumventing the anomaly inherent in AI as next time, it will be much more difficult to defeat Smith. And if Smith becomes unbeatable, he will spread throughout Zion (through Bane) and eventually the sentinels, the city 01 and all machines. Why is this bad if the Smith program is part of the machines? Because he has human qualities (as does all human-designed AI programs, but in Smith this is amplified somewhat), and so it would be like pressing your own self-destruct button - power, greed. Smith's speech to Morpheus in M1 enforces this fact: "I'm going to be honest with you. I hate this place, this zoo, this prison, this reality, whatever you want to call it. I can't stand it any longer. It's the smell. If there is such a thing. I feel.. saturated by it. I can taste your stink. And every time I do I feel I have somehow been infected by it, it's repulsive. I must get out of here. I must get free and in this mind is the key, my key. Once Zion is destroyed there is no need for me to be here, don't you understand? I need the codes. I have to get inside Zion, and you have to tell me how."
What is the anomaly?
The key question in all of this now though is: what is the anomaly? We know that this anomaly is inherent in every program and it causes the imbalances and the escalating probability of disaster, etc. But what is it actually? Love. The one human emotion that cannot be comprehended by the machines, but is an integral part of their design - the anomaly built in in order to prevent machines from ultimately taking over. The only way to conquer this anomaly is to use it to the machines' own advantage. Rama-Kandra and his wife Kamala both experienced this for their child Sati (a natural human emotion to have for a child, even of a pair of programs - due to being human-designed of course). In the computer game 'Enter The Matrix', Ghost and the Oracle have this conversation:
Ghost: Can you tell me what happened to you?
Oracle: Two programs that I trusted sold the termination code of my original shell to the Merovingian.
Ghost: Why did they do that?
Oracle: For love. For the life of their child.
Ghost: You knew about it, and yet you let it happen?
Oracle: I had to.
Oracle: Because the child is important. I can't tell you why, but I believe one day, the child will change both our world and your world forever.
The two programs she is referring to are obviously Rama-Kandra and Kamala, the child being Sati. In the train station (Mobile Ave), Neo encounters this family and Rama-Kandra's expression of love for Sati surprises Neo (as they are programs), and this influences Neo's decision to try and make peace with the machines (at the end) as he now believes that they are capable. This situation was engineered purposefully by the Merovingian (see below) so that Neo had to make a crucial choice regarding the machines with the influence of Sati. Until he made this choice he was stuck in Limbo ('Mobil' is an anagram of 'Limbo'). Neo's receptiveness to this influence of love was already set up by making him experience it for himself with Trinity. It is all just a giant ploy to guide Neo's defined path.
The Merovingian's role
However, one could consider it lucky for Neo to be brought to Mobil Ave so he could make the encounter with Sati and her family. The reason is, the Merovingian is the most powerful program in the Matrix, and he acts as the agent for the machines in the Matrix. Basically, the Merovingian is working in close collaboration with the machines, or his whole purpose may be to be the most powerful program in the Matrix so that he can govern what goes on. He brought Neo to Mobil Ave. He abducted the Keymaker in Reloaded. And he has constantly put Neo, Trinity, Morpheus, the Oracle and Seraph in situations where they must make deals with him to go further in their quest.
Unfortunately for the machines, the Merovingian's power got the better of him and he became too powerful. The Oracle says in Reloaded, "What do all men with power want? More power." He has obtained the ability to alter code in the Matrix himself (e.g., the cake in the restaurant in Reloaded that the woman in the red dress eats). How has this happened though? How can a program become so powerful beyond that intended by the machines? Answer: the anomaly. The anomaly seems to be getting more and more out of control with each version of the Matrix. The maxim: "Love conquers all." And the catalyst for this with the Merovingian was Persephone. His love for her has made him grow out of control and the machines could not account for this.
The Oracle talks about the Trainman being the channel between the two worlds - the Matrix and the "real world". The Trainman works for the Merovingian. This is where the Merovingian's role becomes crucial to the whole outcome of Revolutions. At the end of Revolutions, it can be safely assumed that Smith has taken over every program and every human avatar in the Matrix, including the Merovingian (he took over Sati, the Oracle, more than likely the Architect). We already know that he gains the powers of every program he takes over. So once he had the power of the Merovingian, he had the power to smuggle himself out of the Matrix and into the real world. This is the threat to the machines that is so unprecedented. He'd done it once already via Bane through the phone line, but with the Trainman program, he is now able to go out of control far beyond what the machines ever expected - into the city 01 (Neo: "The program 'Smith' has grown beyond your control. Soon he will spread through this city as he spread through the Matrix").
... Is that there is none... not at least as far as the war between humans and machines is concerned. This was never meant to be concluded in the trilogy. The war always rages on. What is concluded though are the ideas portrayed in the film.
The love between Neo and Trinity (regardless of whether either or both of them were human/programs) - this was a tale unto itself, a story of love, self-sacrifice, emotion, selflessness, believing in what matters most in life. The conclusion is that no matter how much we fight for love, it will always end either by unforeseen circumstances, or 'til death do us part'.
Choice and destiny - this was portrayed in the film as an integral part of the storyline, but was meant to be a depiction of the choices we must face throughout our life. They are often limited by society, influenced by our situations and every choice we make can have a substantial impact on the rest of our lives. Nothing radical in this ideology, but the Matrix concludes that despite every choice we make, the end result is inevitable: a question of fate. The Merovingian says in Revolutions, "Where some see coincidence, I see consequence. Where others see chance, I see cost." He merely means that there is little point in making the effort taking chances when the end result is inevitable. The effort is just an unnecessary "cost." He even indicates this same idea in Reloaded: "Choice is an illusion, created between those with power, and those without." In other words, we don't really have a choice, fate is our destiny.
There are many other ideas portrayed in the film, but they all seem to conclude one fateful axiom: Everything that has a beginning has an end...