The Irony of It All

August 28, 2010 / Psychology / 4 Comments

Ever since the meaning behind the first Matrix was explained to me in my 10th grade psychology class, I became enthralled with the philosophy of life. It made me think hard about my existence as a confused adolescent. What do we exist for? Love? Justice? Fame? Power? Passion?

I was so intent with seeking the answer to that question that I spent 4 years in college studying philosophy. I devoured everything from ancient greek to postmodern to find an answer that I could be satisfied with.

No, I didn’t find the answer I wanted from these classes. I ended up cracking the code through my own life experiences. A decade-long battle with an autoimmune disease made me realize that health and thus life itself is not determined by some invisible force — be it Adam Smith’s economic theory or fate. Much of health and life itself is determined by choice. My choice.

Fast forward to today, I accidentally caught the ending of the Matrix Revolutions on TV. I felt a decade of my life nullified as I heard the ending dialogue between Agent Smith and Neo:

Agent Smith asked: “Why, Mr. Anderson, Why? Why do you persist?”

Neo calmly (and as usual, expressionlessly) replied, “Because I choose to.”

So all this while the movie that got me all riled up on the meaning of life did answer the damn question! I just needed to pay more attention instead of deriding it as an anticlimactic ending to a beautiful trilogy!

The irony of it all.

In defense of the years spent reading everything from Plato to Locke to Lacan in search for the answer… I probably wouldn’t be the person I am had I not embarked on the quest to find the meaning of life. I also probably wouldn’t have arrived at my eureka moment had I not gained some philosophical and psychological insight into human nature. And I definitely wouldn’t have realized the significance of Neo’s last line (and my stupidity) had I not slogged through all those piles of books.

Irony aside, I now have another burning quest at hand: How should I choose to live my life?

As a 24 year old, I know I’m not quite equipped to find the answer yet. But this time, instead of consulting a bunch of long-winded old men, I’m just going to live my life to find out.

  • Oliver

    But Ivy, you haven’t seen the Matrix Reloaded! They explained that you don’t have a choice (which Neo refuses to believe) and that you have already made your choice. Your goal is to understand why. In other words, free will is an illusion that your brain feeds you and that everything is predetermined, albeit unknown.

    • Ivy

      I’ve seen all 4 movies including the Animatrix, 5 times, my friend. What matters is the ending not the part 2. In part 2, Neo has not fully walked out of the system yet. And what the computer programs and the Zionists say really doesn’t matter because they are all part of the “system” and not part of Neo’s ultimate revelation.

      Also, choice isn’t free will. Choice is simply will, a decision given a set of circumstances – something like deciding between the blue pill and the red pill. Nobody ever guaranteed that choices had to be free of constraint. It was simply an assumption that people had. In life, most of the time, you make choices because of constraints. To give the idea more tangibility, if I had all the money in the world, I wouldn’t have to choose between an iPhone and an Android phone. I have no financial constraints and I can’t or don’t want to make the active decision so I’ll just buy both.

      And on the deterministic aspect on free will or choice, what Neo is saying is that it doesn’t matter whether your life is predetermined or not i.e. whether he was the One or not. What mattered most was that he chose and he believed and he followed through. That’s all there is to it.

  • Lissy

    The Matrix made me decide I wanted to study artificial intelligence. Well, that didn’t happen, but I wrote some great undergrad papers!

  • Sigg3

    The significance of realization is not apprehended or appreciated by the majority of mankind. And it wouldn’t be pragmatic for everyone to understand it either.

    Don’t discard your need for having read what you did to come to your conclusions. But unless you had proper guidance, I doubt you understood what you read back then. (Myself, I read the classics from the age of 14. 7 years later I understood that I had to re-read everything I had ever read. My professor is among the brightest men in the world.)

    Don’t take it the wrong way. I’m an academic philosopher and I have strong objections to lay reading of highly specialized material. It is detrimental to the science of philosophy and can be damaging to the individual (most notably killers/self-killers who misinterpret Nietzschean existentialism for instance, but there are far more subtler damages too such as depression, unhappiness and lives lost to futility).

    Philosophy permeates our society, its building blocks and our everyday speech, thought and activity. If you allow me poetry; Most people just don’t know that they’re already in the Matrix, nor that they continuously re-create it in every instance from birth to grave. You are the Matrix. Any Matrix external to ourselves is rather pointless and wholly irrelevant. Unfortunately the writers did not look so far..

    Nor do they seem to realize that Keanu Reeves is a horrible actor. How about a re-make of the original Matrix with Klaus Kinski as Neo? I would have loved to see that.