The Matrix: What Is Bullet Time?

[disinfo ed.'s note: this original essay was first published by disinformation on February 12, 2001. Some links may have changed.]

Neo: Right now, we’re inside a computer program?

Morpheus: Wild, isn’t it?

What if reality was false and your nightmares were true? Is the present the past and the future happening now?

Thomas Anderson begins examining these questions. Anderson begins having doubts about reality. He has lived in the year 1999 until he is contacted by the enigmatic Morpheus, who leads him into an alternative dimension. Now it is 200 years later, and the World has been laid waste and taken over by advanced artificial intelligence machines. Anderson questions whether he is actually in a present day city, or wired up with millions of others, blissfully unaware into a massive virtual framework (“Matrix”) in the future. The computers have apparently created a false version of 20th Century life to keep humans enslaved, while AI machines draw power from their bodies.

If this is true, Anderson must inevitably question his identity and purpose. Is everyone else around him trapped like he is, or are they just computer projections? Most poignantly who put him here and what will they do if they realise he suspects the “truth”? Anderson is subsequently both persued relentlessly by “Agents” (computers who adopt human form and infiltrate the Matrix) and hailed by Morpheus as “The One destined to lead humans to overthrow the machines and reclaim their existence.

This essay’s primary function is to examine an “intersection” processed from developing a creative “animation” between Deleuzo-Guattarin concepts and the film The Matrix (1999). In this investigation it is the attempt to adopt a strategy according to a Deleuzo-Guattarian mechanism, to proceed by enfolding these conceptual intersections with the material in the program.

The Matrix (1999) is structured by questions of multiplicity, time as the multiplicity of the eternal return, and subject as the kind of multiplicity that one finds suspended over the fracture of time. Deleuzo-Guattarian multiplicity is an assemblage that changes dimensions and mutates constantly, according to its own lines of fight. Real time is not concerned with the passing present, it starts when the present stops, it affects itself not with itself, but with becoming, and emerges as pre-time from a fracture between times.

Repetition is the power of the rhythmic idea that produces differences/intensities/disparities as its own excess. As the repetition of the future it has nothing to do with the return to the past. It begins with metamorphosis and forgetting – “Chaosmos” – a between chaos and order where structures form and dissolve. It is subject to its own rhythms that account for the intensities and original differences produced by repetition. In this complex the subject is the fracture between the virtual (idea/multiplicity) and the actual (individual/multiplicity) and the folding of one into/over the other. The human subject/identity is being suspended over the fracture of time.

The idea is repetition, Intensity produced by varying its metric. Leaving no memory behind, but passing back through chaos/oblivion, and re-emerging from the crack/fissure time (ideas congregate in the fractured space and emerge from its environs, and the idea also “interiorizes” the crack/fissure and its satellite constituents) through the filtering screen of remembrance. It is correspondingly inherent of the predicate at issue and an absolute opening  the outside  because of its Mobius topology. Inside out, thinking ahead of itself, leaving itself behind, encountering singularities, it draws and binds and strategically diagrams the thinking line, folding the point.

Reality now would appear to exist in “a moment”, a synergy of kaleidoscopic instants producing a mutable location – a proliferation of magnificent signs bathed in the light of their absence of explanation. Time can run simultaneously on different levels and at alternative speeds and directions.

The Matrix as an experience bends our concepts of what is real and what is not. The film starts, and gives us no time to establish orientation; it is already exploding our sense of “reality.” From the first section, we cannot be sure if we are in dream or real-time scenes, or something else altogether. This is a perfectly effective disorientating device, since it is the way that Thomas Anderson feels as his experience/perception goes beyond the bizarre and into destruction.

All being is perception (ontologically) and the object of perception is always imperceptible. Perception no longer resides in the relation of subject to object, but alternatively in the movement serving as the limit of that relation. Perception finds itself confronting its own limit. The prehension of one by the other, the passage from one to other. Perception is becoming, is metamorphosis, and is being itself. Being becoming is the interval of substance the returning/repetition of component transformations, forever synchronizing periods and rhythms in the passage between states.

Morpheus: Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?

At the start of The Matrix, Thomas Anderson (Neo) is a somnambulistic presence lost in the haze of his mundane experience. Yet he has intimations that he is somehow special, different from everyone else; and that something is somehow not quite right about the World he inhabits. Hence when he is contacted by Morpheus, a notorious “terrorist” whom he has never met, but has been seeking for some time, and told to follow the signs, he cannot help but respond. Primarily Anderson is fed messages by the mysterious Trinity, who contacts him via his computer, predicting coming events. Subsequently Anderson enters into “the game.”

When Anderson eventually meets Morpheus, he finds a regal and highly stylish black man with soft seductive tones. In what is perhaps the most memorable sequence in the film, Morpheus relates an enigmatic narrative.

Morpheus: I imagine, right now, you must be feeling a bit like Alice, tumbling down the rabbit hole?

Neo: You could say that.

Morpheus: I can see it in your eyes. You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees because he is expecting to wake up.

A smile, razor thin, curls the corner of his lips.

Morpheus: Ironically, this is not far from the truth. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Can you tell me, Neo, why are you here?
Neo: You’re Morpheus, you’re a legend, most hackers would die to meet you.
Morpheus: Yes. Thank you. But I think we both know theres more to it than that. Do you believe in fate, Neo?

Following this opening speech, Morpheus offers Thomas/Neo a choice: blue or red pill.

Morpheus: Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.
Neo: How?

Morpheus: Hold out your hands.

In Neo’s right hand, Morpheus drops a red pill.

Morpheus: This is your last chance. After this, there is no going back.

In his left, a blue pill.

Morpheus: You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and you believe whatever you want to believe.

The pills in his open hands are reflected in the glasses.

Morpheus: You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Neo feels the smooth skin of the capsules, with the moisture growing in his palms.

Morpheus: Remember that all I am offering is the truth. Nothing more.

Neo opens his mouth and swallows the red pill.

Morpheus: Follow me.

Morpheus explains that the year is not 1999, it is in fact closer to two centuries later, and civilization has been destroyed.

Neo: Morpheus, what’s happiness to me? What is this place?
Morpheus: More important than what, is when?
Neo: When?
Morpheus: You believe the year is 1999 when in fact it is much closer to 2197. I can’t say for certain what year it is because we honestly do not know.

As a result of the discovery of Artificial Intelligence (AI) — a singular consciousness that spawned an entire race of machines — somewhere around the start of the 21st Century, there was a conflict between man and machine  between the creation and the creator – the machine triumphed. AI discovered a means not only to destroy civilization and inherit the Earth but to develop for itself cybernetic semi-organic bodies using humans as its primary energy source. (Humans are bred and raised into incubators, and fed intravenously with the liquefied remains of the dead.) To this end humanity was enslaved en mass induced into a “dream-state” – “they built a prison out of the past, wired it to our brains and turned us into slaves.”

Morpheus: What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.

A “neutral-interactive simulation”  the Matrix  enables a dark predatory force to enslave humanity. Within the Matrix however there exist certain possibilities for escape. Morpheus and his cyber-terrorist crew are located on the “outside” of the computer-simulated fantasy grid and have liberated their bodies from the energy farms. As a result they are able to enter the Matrix and function therein with superhuman potential. (For example knowledge/information/training can be downloaded directly into their consciousness and in also they have an established “contact-line” (the telephone) between the two dimensions providing them with a constant monitoring sense). Despite their capacities to navigate the Matrix, however, the “resistance” are at a disadvantage when confronting the concentrated AI projections sent into the Matrix to maintain the reality-program. These agents hunt down and eradicate counter-agents/rebels who potentially disrupt the structure.

In the “Matrix” the enemy is everywhere and nowhere. As AI is the creation of humanity, therefore in consequence, the enemy is ourselves. At the same time, the inorganic machine entities have evolved into a “species” themselves  sentient programs that can commandeer any software hardwired into the mainframe. Within the “real-time” Matrix the enemy is diffused/decentralized/elusive and effectively extends to humanity itself. Those who are not ready to be awakened are mass-produced automatons and have become at one with the machine.

The Deleuzo-Guattarian construction A Thousand Plateaus [1] associates the “plane of consistency” with the time of “aion” and the unextended intensive “spatium.” The plane of consistency they state is intersected continuously by lines of infinite variation, which resemble series of singular points. These lines of continuous variation are abstract lines of virtual possibilities that are actualized in various machinic arrangements. Each machinic arrangement is a collection of heterogeneous terms held together in a topological relation of “proximity”/”vicinity” and it is the abstract line that traverses the elements and allows them to function together. The virtual, abstract line of continuous variation is like Nietzsche’s “Will to Power”  a self-differentiating difference that establishes relations of proximity/difference between terms.

The plane of consistency is an elaboration of a Nietzschean physics, which treats the cosmos as the becoming of a multiplicity of forces  differentiated in terms of “dynamic quanta.” It is the virtual dimension of difference and the will to power that cannot be represented with a physical model of actual/manifest forces, even though this virtual dimension is a dimension of forces. Central to Deleuzo-guattarian theories therefore is an extended Nietzschean mediation on the problematic nature of “physis” both as the Becoming of a multiplicity of forces and as the virtual domain of difference and the Will to Power/Eternal Return.

The order of time (as “Chronos”) is continuously subverted throughout The Matrix. In The Matrix, the characters Neo/Morpheus/Trinity reject authenticity in part because they have no faith in the order of time, the order of progress through accumulation. Opposed to the defined self with its immortal soul, these characters appear as “haecceities.” They are not located in the dimension of time as an arrow. Alternatively, they exist as becomings, as “bodies without organs”, they do not move through time and space, they are essentially indivisible from the time and space in which they exist, and vice versa.

The haecceity, as a becoming, is an aspect of the infinite, of the univocity of Being. [2] The becoming is always “between” or “among”: indistinguishable, and therefore in a sense, an imperceptible communing with the infinite of which one is an aspect.

In this construct, Neo stands apart. He escapes the order of time as an arrow manifested in the Matrix and overcomes its virtual framework via dynamic speed. Neo operates in “a present”, the time he experiences is immanent, it is part of him  time for him is that concept of time termed “Aeon.” [3]

“. . . the indefinite time of the event, the floating line that knows only speed and continually divides that which transpires into an already  there that is at the same time not-yet–here, a simultaneous two-late and too-early, a something that is both going to happen and has just happened . . .”

~ ~ Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari [4]

Neo escapes the Matrix onto the plane of consistency, where time is “Aeon.” He stops conceiving himself as a transcendent subject moving through time and space on the plane of organisation, where time is “Chronos”, and begins to understand that he exists immanently – a haeccity. The plane of consistency, the location reflexively opposite to the Matrix, is “the absolute state of movement as well as rest from which all relative speeds and slowness spring a kind of molecular [sea swell] . . .” [5]

The Matrix construct is the plane of organisation, a teleological plane it always concerns the development of forms and the formation of subjects. It is a hidden structure necessary for forms, a secret signifier necessary for subjects, a hidden principle which makes visible what is seen and audible what is heard, which at every instant causes the given to be given, in this or that state, at this or that moment. This plane is concerned with “Telos”, with the transcendent and therefore supports the development of stable judgement and identity.

The plane of consistency, the zone opposite the Matrix is different.

“Here, there are no longer any forms or developments of forms; nor are there subjects or the formation of subjects. There is no structure, any more than there is genesis … There are only haecceities, affects, subjectless individuations that constitute collective assemblages.” [6]

The existence of this plane requires interpretation/perception in opposition to a system of judgement  the description of existence on this plane by Deleuze and Guattari as for Neo and cyber-rebels constitutes a synthesizing project.

The relationship between the two planes is complex, both planes “exist”, they are in opposition, but this opposition is also in oscillation:

“. . . one continually passes from one to the other, by unnoticeable degrees and without being aware of it, or one becomes aware of it only afterward. Because one continually reconstitutes one plane atop another, or extricates one from the other.” [7]

However, there is no possibility of conciliation between the two planes. The plane of organisation allows the constitution of oppressive power: “pouvoir” (“power over”) which might be opposed through the acceptance of the existence of the plane of consistency, which allows the constitution of power to act “puissance” (“power to”). This process is active; it is a matter of decision/resistance:

“We must avoid an oversimplified conciliation, as though there were on the one hand formed subjects, of the thing or person type, and on the other hand spatiotemporal co-ordinates of the haecceity type. For you will yield nothing to haecceities unless you realize that that is what you are, and that you are nothing but that . . . You are longitude and latitude, a set of speeds and slownesses between informed particles, a set of non-subjectified affects. You have the individuality of a day, a season, a year, and a life (regardless of its duration). [8]

Neo  as the One  is expected to turn the tide in favour of a human rebellion, an “Awakening”, by shifting the balance, by making a leap, literally and metaphorically, from game player to game master.

Morpheus: When the Matrix was first built there was a man born inside that had the ability to change what he wanted, to remake the Matrix as he saw fit. It was this man that freed the first of us and taught us the secret of the war; control the Matrix and you control the future.

He pauses.

Morpheus: When he died, the Oracle at the temple of Zion prophesied his return and envisioned an end to the war and freedom for our people. That is why there are those of us that have spent our entire lives searching the Matrix looking for him.

This in the course of the film is accomplished. As Neo attains a level of “Realization” he is able to stop bullets with his mind – since they are virtual  and project himself into the holographic image/body of the Enemy and explode it from “within.”

One of the main narrative strands traces Anderson’s spiritual rebirth  his coming to consciousness. Neo is “the One” by virtue of some unspecified capacity of the mind. In the course of film Neo must die to be reborn. In a climatic sequence Neo is trapped within the Matrix and is overcome by Enemy Agents, shot at point blank range. In this instant he initially fails to realize that he is “in” a body, that this is virtual.

The onslaught continues and overwhelmed Neo succumbs to doubt and “dies.” However, Trinity becomes his “saviour.”

Finally persuaded that he is the One by her own feelings for him (the Oracle prophesised that one day she would fall in love, and it would be with the One), she whispers in his ear, “You must be the One because I love you.” The “truth” in this event/scene is represented by a kiss  a poetic image, the world saved by a kiss  that resurrects Neo to his new life. He is set free – “reborn.”

The Agents resume their attack, but now Neo appears invulnerable  he posses confident interactivity, a holographic wraith in a holographic construct, one who is everything because he is nothing. He becomes “The One” in the sense of the first to realize a “true” nature and so becomes a dextrous “reality  molder.” He has arrived at a totality of subjectivity  a “whole” – a hyper-real entity, more real than real.

The fact that his moment of death/rebirth also entails a union within a pre-destined soul-mate (Trinity) makes perfect sense. A “divine” androgen emerges. Following his resurrection, Neo achieves his fully recognised image as the One (a One-ness of male and female, mind and body, virtual and actual).

The embodiment of the subject is a Deleuzo-Guattarian form of bodily materiality, the body as a complex interplay of highly constructed forces. It is a play of forces, a surface of intensities; pure simulacra without originals. The embodied subject is a term in a process of intersecting forces/affects, spatiotemporal variables that are characterized by their mobility/changeability/transistory nature.

The Deleuzo-Guattarian notion of the body is relevant for the re-conceptualization of bodies outside of binary polarizations imposed by mind/body, nature/culture, subject/object, and interior/exterior oppositions. They provide a different understanding of the body linking organs and biological processes to material objects and social practices while refusing to subordinate the body to a unity and homogeneity provided by either the body’s subordination to consciousness or to organic organization.

The Deleuzo-Guattarian “Body Without Organs” is not a body evacuated of a psychic interiority, alternatively it is a limit to which all bodies aspire.

“The Body Without Organs causes intensities to pass: it produces and distributes them in a spatium that is itself intensive, lacking extension . . . It is non-stratified, unformed, intense matter . . . that is why we treat the Body Without Organs as the full egg before the extension of the organism and the organization of the organs before the formation of strata . . .” [9]

In this construct, the “Body Without Organs” is a limit, a tendency; a becoming that resists centralized organization or meaningful investment; a point/process to which all bodies, through their stratification, tend; a becoming that resists the processes of overcoding/organization according to the strata or identities it opposes (organism/subject/significance). The Body Without Organs resists any equation with a notion of identity; “The Body Without Organs is never yours or mine. It is always a body.” [10]

The “Body Without Organs” is a field of becomings. Destratification, frees “lines of flight,” the production of connections and the movement of intensities and flows through and beyond the “Body Without Organs”  trajectories as opposed to fixed states. Deleuze and Guattari advocate not a dissolution of identity, but rather micro-destratifications, intensifications of certain interactions. Becomings are specific movements, specific forms of motion and rest, speed and slowness, points and flows of intensity  they are always a multiplicity, the movement/transformation from “one” thing to another that in no way resembles it. Deleuze and Guattari suggest that becomings involve a mediating third factor, a relation to something else, to which the subject relates and through which relation it enters into connection with. Becoming means going beyond identity and subjectivity fragmenting and freeing up lines of flight, “liberating” identity. There is a progression in this process an order from becoming “animal” then towards imperceptible.

Indiscernibility/imperceptibility remain the destination points of becoming, the immanent direction/internal impetus, the release of absolute minuscule micro-intensities to the nth degree.

Neo’s ultimate task is to realise that he is in the “world”, but not of it. This realization cannot be attained, however, without first confronting his doubts. In this respect, the “Oracle sequence” is pivotal. Before meeting her, Neo pauses in the waiting room witnessing a brief magic lesson from a celestial-like child with a spoon.

Spoon Boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Insteadonly try to realise the truth.

Neo: What truth?

Spoon Boy: There’s no spoon.

Neo: There is no spoon?

Spoon Boy: Then youll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.

This spoon-bending incident aptly prepares Neo for the mind-bending the Oracle will subject him to. She starts by playing with his mind and confounding his expectations. She lets him believe he is not the One, adding that Morpheus will not accept this and will probably die defending his belief in him. Neo is presented with the “imaginary” option of withdrawing from, a fixed situation, but simultaneously caught by circumstances in which this is not a possible option. He has to fight for Morpheus and for what he believes in even though he now regards this as false. Neo is effectively liberated from self-doubt and is set free to act, in full acknowledgment of his inadequacy.

The Oracle appears to see time laid out before her like a map, she presumably knows that Morpheus will not die, and that Neo is the One, but that both facts/possibilities depend upon Neo’s believing the opposite (just as breaking the vase depended on her telling him not to worry about it). In order to become the One, Neo must primarily be freed of the intolerable burden that this entails  making it beyond useless to him, until he comes to his own self-revelation. Hence, he has to prove his identity, not to “an-other”, but to himself.

Oracle I’d ask you to sit down, but, you’re not going to anyway. And don’t worry about the vase.

Neo: What vase?

Neo turns to look for a vase, and as he does he knocks over a vase of flowers, which shatters on the floor.

Oracle: That vase.
Neo: I’m sorry . . .
Oracle: I said don’t worry about it. I’ll get one of my kids to fix it.
Neo: How did you know?
Oracle: Oh, what’s really going to bake your noodle later on is, would you still have broken it if I hadn’t said anything?

In the course of The Matrix, Neo is “reborn”/”metamorphosed.” He is changed by his perception of the order of time. Neo is fixed between two flows, cutting across them as if he can locate on another plane. Neo’s trajectory can be read as a struggle against order moving between a plane of organization that attempts to constrain/impede the counter-movement of one who wishes to exist on the plane of consistency. A narrative resistance.

Morpheus: If you can free your mind, the body will follow.

Deleuze follows Kant, Bergson and Leinbiz in creating an ever-varying concept of time  a play of syntheses, culminating in a Nietzschean outcome. The action is a process that aggregates the fracture of time the before and after, into an “ensemble of time” in its constituent disparity, its internal difference. The fracture extends into a before and after image of itself becoming, a time-series that operates the distribution of the lines and surfaces of time on either side of the fracture. The Deleuzian synthesis initiates new images and concepts. Where movement stops, where time stops “moving”/”passing” and starts to “become.” The “becoming” co-exists with the instant coming strictly “between” the time of the event’s occurrence, of actualization in a state of things. It does not itself occur or happen but comes between time, not just between the times that pass and follow each other, but between time and itself, within itself, as the outside/future within ourselves, our “subject” as time.

Nietzsche named the inner function of this becoming, its creative drive, the “Will to Power.” The Will to Power respects no boundaries in its imperative to grow and become, via appropriation and exploitation, also the Will to Power is an attempt to describe the interpretative manifestation of the “whole” of our existence.

The Nietzschean scheme  the fractal complexion of the Will to Power displays interpretative surfaces, differentiated flows and dynamic quanta rather than subjects, objects and intentionally. This Nietzschean program is essentially a spatial analysis of posthuman universe with no inherent scale or definition, no distinction between organic and inorganic no essential difference between bodies, emotions, thoughts and consciousness. Everything exists is the will to power  an infinite becoming, a dynamic system in restless motion. Nothing exists apart from the whole, and everything that exists is the result of differentiations manifested within an encompassing flow of energy. The boundaries between the differentiations are not smooth Euclidean parameters, but fractal borders with no inherent scale which purvey infinite details and express the action of process operating at every point in the flow. Nothing exists at rest, there are no absolutes, only dynamic non-linear progression that expresses itself at every point of an infinite interiority.

The flow of energy is a non-linear dynamical system consisting of a dynamic and its state space. The dynamic is the Will to Power  an inner function that drives the non-teleological progression of the flow, whole its state space, is the potential field in which the flow of energy is encompassed. The flow of energy manifests a complex network of differentiated flows with flexible parameters (interpretative surfaces) producing original hybrids.

The Flow is a state of “becoming” always “in flux”, knowledge is a “falsehood” constantly changing but never approaching truth; there is no truth. Knowledge is not an explanation of the world, but a description of how it appears. In a world of “becoming”, everything exists in a dynamic and non-linear relationship with everything else, in a process that erases its own history as it progresses.

The Will to Power is not a universal law, but a functional imperative that operates autonomously from every position in the flow of energy and interacts with its surroundings in unpredictable ways, to produce an infinite complexity in which we are situated. The Will to Power, manifests itself singularly against resistances and so operates from centres of a force that exists by virtue of the effects they produce and those they resist. Nietzsche describes these centres as dynamic quanta  from which a particular concentration of the will to power seeks to maintain and extend its influence.

Nietzschean evaluations are not simply values, they are ways of being, the modes of existence of those who evaluate. For Deleuze thought must think against reason and oppose reason, one must no longer affirm and incorporate existing values but create new ones, to go beyond/overcome in the creation of a different way of feeling – another sensibility. Deleuze finds this metaphysics of flux in the Nietzschean image of the game of chance. This Nietzschean play in the game of “truth” is not an explanation of the “whole” but a description of the dynamic network of our shifting relationships with it  the “World” as we know it. The flow of energy encompasses what Nietzsche calls the “whole”, “flow” invades the dynamic nature of becoming, while “energy” implies a potentiality, an inherent capacity for manifestation/development actuated by the “Will to Power.” The flow of energy is manifested into differentiated flows within flows to excess, and is bonded by its parameters  a potential field is defined by the characteristics of the flow with which it is associated. Nothing exists in isolation or equilibrium, for a differentiated flow exists only in relation to other flows, in a dynamic and non-linear network of resistances. It is this state of tension and dependence in which differentiated flows exist that enable us to speak of a “whole”, or encompassing flow of energy. However, as a whole it has no laws/form/purpose other than its own ephemeral becoming.

The “Will to Power” is, for Nietzsche, what interprets: it estimates the quality of force that gives meaning to a given phenomenon/event, and measures the relation of the forces which are in action. The Will to Power evaluates  “The Will-to-power as genealogical element is that from which senses derive their significance and values their value.” (Gilles Deleuze) [11]

“I emphasise this major point of historical method all the more because It is in fundamental opposition to the new prevalent instinct and taste which would rather be reconciled even to the absolute fortuitousness, even the mechanistic senselessness of all events than to the theory that in all events a “Will to Power” is operating.”

~ ~ Friedrich Nietzsche [12]

Therefore, each phenomenon is a sign/symptom where meaning is found only in an existing force. Force is sense, and, insofar as forces in tension constitute bodies/phenomena, each phenomenon is a sign whose meaning is a force that must always be evaluated. In a sense, there is no nature or nature is a history, so not only is desire semiotically and culturally constructed, but all of nature is semiotically constructed in a “regime of signs”  or as Nietzsche would have it “evaluated.”

History/desire/nature are all constructed from evaluations. Evaluation is both “ethical” and aesthetic, in the sense of critical and creative. Evaluations are ways of being.

Trinity: A deja vu is usually a glitch in the Matrix. It happens when they change something.

As contemporary culture continues to develop from a machine based technological ethos into an information based format; the body’s relationship to its environment is re-configured  literally re-wired from the outside in. The radicalization of real time entails a disjunction in one’s own body/subjectivity. The body is envisioned as plugged into various interfaces. The adaptations and re-toolings required of the information age will re-model the body with external elements converging in the superconsciousness of cyber-space. Mediating the interface will be the mind, in no prescribed location as such but rather situated at some crucial delta where flows of information intersect.

Flows are more constant than the external world that expresses and embodies them. In the virtual reality where technologies splice the human subject into a cybernetic circuit by putting the human “consciousness” in a direct feedback loop with the computer data source, flow becomes the operative concept  the flow of information within systems is more deterministic of identity than the materiality of physical structures. Engaging with the flow of information implies recognising that you are that flow.

The “Will to Power” similarly understood, is not a universal law but a functional imperative that operates autonomously from every position in the flow of energy, and interacts with its surroundings in unpredictable ways, to produce an infinite complexity in which we are engaged. It is the “Will to Power” that transforms energy from its state of potentiality to that of manifestation, and the “Will to Power” drives these manifestations to grow and expand through appropriation. The “Will to Power” manifests itself only against “resistances”, and so operates from “centres” of force that exist by virtue of the effects they produce and those they resist. Neitzsche uses the term “dynamic quanta” describing these centres from which a particular concentration of the “Will to Power” seeks to maintain and extend its influence.

Dynamic quanta exists in a relation of tension to all other dynamic quanta, their essence lies in their relation to other quanta, in their effect upon the same. Dynamic quanta reproduce themselves in a continuous process of becoming adopting a mask of “being” to conceal their temporality and the underlying multiplicity over which they have influence. The interpretative surfaces between these energy flows purveys an infinite and dynamic complexity that can never be fixed/determined. They are formed by incessant struggles for influence between differentiated flows, which occur at every level of interaction along their boundaries, under the iterative operation of the “Will to Power.” These struggles constitute a process of interpretation, for it is the “Will to Power” that interprets, defining limits, determining degrees and variations. Therefore interpretation is itself a means of becoming. The characteristics of a flow of energy are not innate/given but derived in relation to surrounding flows, and the necessity to differentiate in order to exist.

Nietzsche refers to a “necessary perspectivism by virtue of which every centre of force . . . construes all the rest of the world from its own viewpoint, ie, measures, feels, forms, according to its own force.” [13] However, the world it constitutes does not exist in-itself, but is the collective creation of all perspective interpretations. Nietzsche promotes a “World of relationships” with “a differing aspect from every point” as represented by a particular perspective. A dynamic network of interpretations in which nothing is ever defined unless every perspective is accounted for. There is no position from which such a definition is possible, as there is no exteriority/”outside” in the flow of energy. Everything locates within the sphere of influence of different flows, and all interpretations are a dynamic development from within perspectives.

An interpretative surface is never influenced by any one flow, as it is the mutual parameter of a number, of adjacent flows. The same interpretative surface is therefore interpreted in as many difference ways as there are adjacent flows along its surface. The perspective from which an interpretation emanates depends on the particular characteristics of the different flows and their orientation.

Therefore interpretation does not uncover “truth” but “creates” it. There is no “world-in-itself” but a dynamic and turbulent “becoming” in which the forms we perceive are not separate from interpretations. Nietzsche’s World is an infinite “becoming” in which “being” is an imposition not an essence. In a world of “becoming”, everything exists in a dynamic and non-linear relationship with everything else, in a process that erases its own history as it develops.

The AI agents though subject to the laws of the Matrix program are not restricted in the same way as the resistance. They are able to shape shift and perform other superanimated actions, yet even these are within certain apparent limits. The Matrix must sustain/keep as constant, its “reality-illusion.” Therefore the agents must act subtly, within restraints. Although the Matrix can change factors within the game, it still has to consider the living consciousness it has confined within its construct. It is limited, therfore, by its own mechanics: if it is to maintain stability it cannot disturb the continuity flows too dramatically, because this in the long term will serve to empower the cyber-rebels, by freeing their minds from the “tyranny of continuity” (Time) upon which the entire structured program is dependant.

The cyber-rebels may bend, and even break some of the “rules” of the Matrix but not all of them. They cannot override its tyranny and assume super-entity status as they are holograms within a hologram, because only “the One” can effect this. At present they are still restricted by the confines of their minds still working to eradicate traces of the initial program imposed upon them by the AI. Hence Morpheus’s training of Thomas Anderson (Neo), which concentrates upon releasing his mind and making him realize that he is not restricted by the laws of his body, but only by his belief.

Morpheus: Let me tell you why you are here. You are here because you have the gift.

Neo: What gift?

Morpheus: I’ve watched you, Neo. You do not use a computer like a tool. You use it like it was part of yourself. What you can do inside a computer is not normal. I know. I’ve seen it. What you do is magic.

In the Deleuzo-Guattarian process the world is reactivated via the concept of the duration. Matter transforms into memory, and the present, never identical to itself, is doubled with the virtual image of the past it will become. Deleuze re-animates a Nietzschean scheme whereby the circular becoming of time precipitates short-circuits, bifurcations, detours and irrational divisions, where the notion of intensity is substituted for that of truth.

Neo: This isn’t real?

Morpheus: What is real? How do you define real? If you’re talking about your senses, what you feel, taste, smell, or see, then all youre talking about are electrical signals interpreted by your brain.

Deleuze’s reading of Nietzsche is part of a line of flight that eventually culminates in a process of becoming called the “Body Without Organs”  a multiplicity, unorganized and unstable, space, intensive matter, a “nomadic nomos.” The “Body Without Organs” is a field of immanence of desire  desire as a process of production distributed intensively/consistently without interruption, a field of becomings.

With the virtual idea of the virtual concept, of becoming on the plane of immanence Deleuze and Guattari inject the “Body Without Organs” We are engaging chaos on the plane of immanence: for the plane “is like a cut or section (coupe) of chaos, and acts like a sieve or screen (crible) while in chaos there are no lasting determinations of things because “one does not appear without the other having already disappeared, and the one appears as vanishing when the other disappears in outline (ebuche, rough sketch).” (Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari) [14] The play of memory and forgetting, is itself predetermined to forget itself and begin again. Chaos is the “a priori” of time, the inseparable and indiscernable limit of memory and forgetting.

In “Chaosmos” the splitting of the monad performs a disjunctive synthesis. Past and future become indiscernable as virtual and actual. In the real of creation, of non-sense, time the event has no predictable direction. The monad is nomadic. Ontologically all being is perception, and the object of perception is always the imperceptible the non-catergorizable “Body Without Organs.”

“Perception will no longer reside in the relation between a subject and an object, but rather in the movement serving as the limit of that relation, in the period associated with them. Perception will find itself confronting its own limit; it will be in among things, throughout its own proximity (dans lesemble de son propre voisinage), as the presence of one haecceity in another, the prehension of one by the other, or the passage from one to the other.”

~ ~ Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari [15].

Perception is becoming  metamorphosis, being itself. Being/becoming is the interval of substance, the returning/repetition of component transformations, forever synchronizing periods in the passage between milieus. To become is to intercede into the middle/milieu where we are  in this zone of indiscernibility we are now reconstructing.

The Deleuzian synthesis of disjunction is a rule of anarchy. It does not mean no rules but rules that change/mutate with every move/question/formation. All identities are dissolved, individual components redistributed. The world is “constituted by divergent series (chaosmos) of events “incompossible” in the “same” identical world, where the dice throw has replaced the game of Plenitude . . . the nomad can no longer include the entire world in a closed circle modifiable by projection, but opens itself onto a trajectory or expanding spiral that distances farther and farther from any centre.” (Gilles Deleuze) [16]

This is a “chaotic-cosmos” where everything returns/repeats because there is no beginning or end of time but only a mid-milieu. For “the true subject oft he eternal return is the intensity, the singularity . . . Will to Power as open intensity,” in this virtual world where “each thing opens itself to the infinite of predicates through which is passes.” (Gilles Deleuze) [17].

In this system “. . . the anti-God determines the passage of each thing through all possible predicates.” (Gilles Deleuze) [18] This is what is happening, obscurely and distinctly now, in this indiscernible chaosmos of “history.”

The terminal objective point of the film’s narrative would seem to be not simply ending the tyranny of the old program, but also the insertion of a new program into the old, to thereby make a transition possible. Neo and the cyber-rebels are destined not merely to navigate and overthrow the Matrix, but actually re-configure it  to re-assemble its components into something more viable and open, something that leads to more flexibility  their work is no longer that of terrorism. The outcome is not simply an overthrowing of the regime of the AI but also an awakening of humankind. This project requires not the ruthlessness of the terrorist, but the subtlety of the artist.

A Deleuzo-Guattarian machinic strategy is the operation of the virtual implementing itself into the actual, re-virtualizing itself, and producing a reality in a circuit form. This theme for an event/scene reaches into the actual/present as well as towards virtual futures and requires that we must acknowledge, even in incompleteness, the multiplicity that affects us, in the middle/ inbetween/interbeing. This between does not predetermine a locational relation going from one thing to another, but a perpendicular direction, “atransversal”, a movement that shifts one way and another, a flow without beginnings or end  this image develops the concept of “becomings” that implicate unique/different relations to other entities.

Morpheus: Neo, sooner or later you’re going to realize just as I did . . . there’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.

End Notes:

[1] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (trans. Brian Massumi). A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia Vol. 2 (Minneaoplis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987).

[2] One may speak of individuated entities within a plane of consistency, but they are not persons/subjcts/substances. Rather they are “haecceities”  a term borrowed from Duns Scotus, whose “haecceities” may perhaps mean “thisness.” The body of a haecceity may include any number of heterogeneous things/parts of things within it  since the plane of consistency is made up of non-formed particles and contains no “things” in an ordinary sense, and its duration may be brief of extended.

[3] Deleuze and Guattari state that the time of “haecceities” is that of the “Aeon” which is the indefinite time of the event.

[4] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (trans. Brian Massumi). A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia Vol. 2 (Minneaoplis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987).
[5] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (trans. Brian Massumi). A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia Vol. 2 (Minneaoplis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987).
[6]Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (trans. Brian Massumi). A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia Vol. 2 (Minneaoplis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987).
[7] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (trans. Brian Massumi). A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia Vol. 2 (Minneaoplis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987).
[8] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (trans. Brian Massumi). A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia Vol. 2 (Minneaoplis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987).
[9] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (trans. Brian Massumi). A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia Vol. 2 (Minneaoplis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987).
[10] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (trans. Brian Massumi). A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia Vol. 2 (Minneaoplis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987).
[11] Gilles Deleuze (trans. Hugh Tomlinson). Nietzsche and Philosophy (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press 1968).
[12] Friedrich Nietzsche (trans. Walter Kaufmann). On the Genealogy of Morals (New York Modern Library 1968).
[13] Frederich Nietzsche (trans. Walter Kaufmann and R.J. Hollingdale). The Will to Power (New York. Vintage Books 1968).
[14] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari: “Ou’est que la philosophie?” (Paris: Minuit 1991).
[15] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (trans. Brian Massumi). A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia Vol. 2 (Minneaoplis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987).
[16] Gilles Deleuze. Spinoza: Philosophie pratique (Paris: Minuit 1981).
[17] Gilles Deleuze. Logique du sens (Paris: Minuit, 1969).
[18] Gilles Deleuze. Logique du sens (Paris: Minuit, 1969).

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  • Mr B

    That was the longest disinfo essay I’ve ever skim-read.

    My lot in this realm, renders me more similar to Neo, than anyone who has ever existed; but alas, that: (probably) well-meaning, esoteric, dissertation, was of negligible use to me.

    Many people liken this era to 1984, Plato’s cave or the cool Matrix; but why is Ionesco’s ‘Rhinoceros’ such an elephant in the room? oO(He futilely asks the Rhinoceri)

  • Adam Goodwin

    Obscurantism–keeping brilliant minds pre-occupied with their own greatness for centuries.

  • kcb123

    Ibid Berenger

  • Malkiyahu

    “In certain kinds of writing, particularly in art criticism and literary criticism, it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning.” ~George Orwell

  • Minh Duc Nguyen

    I really appreciate this essay.

    Those of you who feel such opposition to its content should really read it again and see that there are nothing for you to react like that to. I hope you expand your knowledge more so that you can feel what knowledge and information really is.

  • Noah_Nine

    I think I sort of sussed some of that… I know the matrix references were intended to make it a bit easier to understand but that is some tricky language to navigate…