Friday, January 14, 2011

Reflections on the Matrix: Cypher and the Illusion of Conformity

In the first Matrix we are introduced to the character of Cypher. From the outset he is hard bitten and skeptical. He doesn't seem to believe in Neo or the messianic prophecy of the coming of the One who will end the war with the machines and save humanity from imprisonment. In their first conversation he openly admits to Neo "Why oh why didn't I take the blue pill?". The harshness of reality outside the Matrix is too much for him to take and freedom is too much for him to handle.

Cypher makes a deal with Agent Smith over a computer generated steak to betray humanity in exchange for... gasp... being reinserted into the computer generated mind prison. Over the course of their conversation he remarks that "ignorance is bliss" and his yearning to be someone important, like an actor or a well paid businessman in his sham life after his reinsertion.

Here we see the temptation of conformity at it's peak. For every moment in every second after renouncing the system amidst all the unavoidable hardship that choice brings there is the feeling "Wouldn't it just be easier to go back?" This in turn raises the obvious deeper issue of bitter unpalatable reality versus comfortable illusion. Cypher realises that his decision is in effect; to allow his real body and life essence to be used by the machines as battery power while he has a pleasant dream but hey, at least he's not aware of it! Cypher thus becomes a parable of Judas in his betrayal of the One. Disillusioned and skeptical he fails to see that in effect the hardships and trials of life in the real world are an inevitable precursor of the consciousness transition from a separate fragmented state of only body to one of the unity of body, mind and spirit that Neo shall bring about.

Cypher is the parable of the ultimate category mistake. We can only give in to the conformity of the system, the way we are 'supposed' to act, live, love and be by forsaking one or more parts of the trinity that make us full and complete entities. To conform involves giving up mind, giving up spirit, giving up body or any combination of the three. Thus it involves an inevitable reduction of oneself to the level of non functioning humanoid.

In the Matrix trilogy Zion and the real world represent the body and are tinged in blue. The Matrix represents the mind and is always tinged in green. Surprisingly enough, but for beautiful reasons we will get to in the future the machines themselves represent spirit, encased in golden light. In being liberated from the Matrix the mind is freed and is reunited with body but still is not complete as the spirit, inherant in the machines is not recognised and assimilated. Cypher, being promised liberation and being brought into a world that promised wholeness and still feeling incomplete leads him inexorably to step backwards, to believe that his former state of disembodied mind in the Matrix is actually preferable to a life that promised freedom and left him still with incompleteness. The message of Cypher's betrayal is thus something along the lines of the message of Judas. Sensing that the journey was not completed and brought to fruition in the way he expected, Judas attempted to toss away the inevitable divinity that was in progress all along and revert to a primitive state of ignorance.

Ignorance is not bliss, never has been, never will be. Conformity is easy, yet the sacrifices are far too high, the inexorable disintegration of the unity of self and the power of individuality.

1 comment:

  1. Nice article, home-skillet. Very good analysis, and I love the pic.

    When seeking your way out of the matrix, beware Cypher.