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Whaat? MindF*ck: Simulated Realities

For the Ghouls Whaaaaat?? Mind F*ck series, they're taking a dive into the simulated world of the Matrix. Kat discusses the likelihood that we're in a simulation now and Gabe talks about how Capitalism is the real Robot siphoning our energy. We watched the whole Matrix trilogy (Gabe's first time).


RED: Quotes, someone else's words.

Kat's Facts - Are we living in a simulated reality?

What are the chances that we are living in a simulated reality? And if we were, how would that really affect us? I think the most important part of the answer to the 1st question is that there is a chance. Scientists, and Philosophers actually research this idea, that the reality we are in could be a very effective simulation, controlled by a posthuman civilization, alien, robotic or otherwise. There are arguments in favor and against the idea, both arguing kind of the same thing: That it cannot be proven or unproven. Those who disagree use that as a “what’s the point in even questioning something we’ll never know the answer to?” and the ones in favor of a simulated reality, argue that the exact inability to know means it’s probably true. So what if we were? Should we take the red or blue pill? is being in a simulation without knowing some great infringement on our human rights and choice. I argue no, because I don’t think we’d exist outside of it. Our conception of our identity and what we’re entitled to is just our brains processing the reality we exist in. Also, if we were in a simulation, that doesn’t mean our simulated lives don’t matter, it’s all we know so it’s as real as anything else, cause at the end of the day we have no knowledge that would indicate we exist outside of it. We could be nothing more than brains in a box. Now let’s unpack the brain in a box argument, cause based on things I read I think it’s possible. I say this not as a scientist but as just like a regular person so like….don’t quote me on it I guess, but in my research I found a Ted Talk called “Your brain hallucinates your conscious reality” by Anil Seth. In this Ted talk Anil basically runs through how our brain perceives our environment, and argues that we are constantly fluctuating between a state of controlled and uncontrolled hallucinations, motivated by our perceptions of rules decided by the brain. He says “There’s no light or sound inside a skull, All you got to go on is a steam of electrical impulses, which are only indirectly related to things in the world, whatever they may be. So perception, figuring out what’s there, has to be a process of informed guesswork. In which the brain combines these sensory signals with its prior expectations or beliefs about the way the world is, to form it’s best guess of what caused those signals….The world we see is much more from the inside out than the outside in.” He goes on to say that “when we agree about our hallucinations, we call it reality”.

What I will say to this is that if this were to be true, from what we understand about our reality, in that it is governed by scientific and mathematical laws, that just because our reality is simulated, does not mean that there are not real consequences for actions taken in the simulation, as the program must follow the laws in place. So unlike Neo in the matrix, we may not be able to just change these laws because our mind decides, because that would be assuming we have any control over the simulation, where it is more likely that we do not. For example, say we are in a simulation, if you drive your car off a bridge, the laws of physics, which are the laws that govern how matter travels in the simulation, your perception of the simulation would not stop your car from falling, and if the rules governing the simulation follow how we perceive death, than ending it all in the simulation would not be a way out it, but instead just the end of your consciousness.



Gabe's Film Analysis - Capitalism as the Machine

Sit down folx. We’re about to have fun because the Matrix is very much relevant RIGHT NOW as it ever was. We’re about to dive into some current issues and the main theme behind the Matrix - the Oppression of our Capitalistic Society!

In ‘The Precession of Simulacra,’ Baudrillard writes: “To simulate is to feign to have what one doesn't have.” (2006, p.3)

One of the most overt philosophical references occurs near the beginning of The Matrix when Neo stashes his illegal software inside a hollowed-out copy of a book by French postmodern philosopher Jean Baudrillard entitled Simulacra and Simulation. Originally published in 1981, Baudrillard’s book argues that late-twentieth-century consumer culture is a world in which simulations or imitations of reality have become more real than reality itself, a condition he describes as the “hyper-real.” Morpheus introduces Neo to the real world by welcoming him to “the desert of the real,” a phrase taken from the first page of Simulacra and Simulation.

Essentially, humans don’t have to work for things like they used to - but we keep up appearances and have simulations of things our bodies would understand. Like we don’t do fitness to survive, we fitness to look hot - appearances. So similar to how the machines use us as batteries, we also use us as batteries or more specifically - capitalism uses us as machines. Which brings me to our next guy referenced for Matrix! Thus, the entire concept of the Matrix films can be interpreted as a criticism of the unreal consumer culture we live in, a culture that may be distracting us from the reality that we are being exploited by someone or something, just as the machines exploit the humans in the Matrix for bioelectricity.

Much of The Consumer Society (2009) is premised on the idea that consumption is “a powerful element of social control” (p.84), whereby desires—long detached from actual material needs—are instilled as part of a system of signs and subsequently satisfied via another system of signs (i.e., commodities).

QUOTE - What is the Matrix?

MORPHEUS: The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth. NEO: What truth? MORPHEUS: That you are a slave. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage, born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison for your mind.

Time to talk about my main man, Mr. Karl Marx. Woot Woot! Here’s the thing. We’re currently living a simulation nightmare. Capitalism is so strongly ingrained in us that even when we exist in a literal pandemic that highlights ALL of the flaws in our capitalistic society and that our people are severely underpaid and unappreciated - we still have a bunch of Karen and Chad’s “protesting” to reopen our “economy” *cough* Capitalism *cough* for their damned haircuts and movie theatres because they think not having these incredibly useless and unimportant things means they are oppressed. Kindly take a seat boomer. The very existence of our current president and the honest likelihood of him getting 4 more years, shows us how deep this fantasy goes. We have a fantasy in America, which we’ve discussed in previous episodes and it's called the American Dream. This incredibly fictional and unattainable dream keeps our society in check - they don’t want to change the world because then they can’t reap the benefits when they make it to the top. It makes me think of Cypher when he’s eating the steak and he says, he knows it's not real but he loves it anyway. He wants all of it, the money and luxury, no matter how unreal and he’ll sacrifice the lives of his friends to get it. SOUND FAMILIAR AMERICA! We don’t have giant, insect-like, lovecraftian robots siphoning our bodies for energies (couldn’t happen, unrealistic) but we do have money-hungry corporations and billionaires I'M LOOKING AT YOU JEFF BESOS WHO COULD PAY ALL THE PEOPLE LOOKING FOR UNEMPLOYMENT AND STILL NOT EVEN NOTICE A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR BANK ACCOUNT who use the working class which let’s face it is everyone but the one-percent to fuel the economy. We are seeing very clearly in this time of quarantine that our now-titled, Essential Workers were folx we previously saw unworthy of $15. We are all the cogs in the machine that is capitalism and we suffer everyday willingly because at any point we could cease the means of production and take control but we don’t because we are satiated and distracted by the internet, memes, tiktok and the convenience of Amazon two-day shipping. I digress.

Marx argued that the working class is exploited by the ruling classes, but the working class’s exploitation is only possible because it does not perceive itself as being exploited. The working class misunderstands its own position because it is confused and distracted by social messages that give workers a distorted explanation of how they fit into the world—for example, religion, school, and ideologies such as nationalism and patriotism. Marx’s partner, Friedrich Engels, coined the term false consciousness to describe the working class’s ignorance.

MORPHEUS: The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you're inside, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are a part of that system, and that makes them our enemy.

Fate Vs. Free Will There is no free will. There is only fate. There is no spoon but there is a spoon. Neo chooses the red pill and presumably “real life” but everything has already been chosen. With the two “magical negro” characters steering our White Savior to the answers - its hard to believe any of this is really a choice when the only choice is to be the savior?? When Morpheus asks Neo to choose between a red pill and a blue pill, he essentially offers the choice between fate and free will. Neo relies on the Oracle, and everything she says comes true in some way. If she can see around time and guide Neo to the right decision at each encounter, he doesn’t have to exhibit much, if any, free will.

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave Neo - “Why do my eyes hurt?” Morpheus - “That’s because you’ve never used them before.” Gabe - “What in the Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is going on here?” Plato imagines a cave in which people have been kept prisoner since birth. These people are bound in such a way that they can look only straight ahead, not behind them or to the side. On the wall in front of them, they can see flickering shadows in the shape of people, trees, and animals. Because these images are all they’ve ever seen, they believe these images constitute the real world. One day, a prisoner escapes his bonds. He looks behind him and sees that what he thought was the real world is actually an elaborate set of shadows, which free people create with statues and the light from a fire. The statues, he decides, are actually the real world, not the shadows. Then he is freed from the cave altogether, and sees the actual world for the first time. He has a difficult time adjusting his eyes to the bright light of the sun, but eventually he does. Fully aware of true reality, he must return to the cave and try to teach others what he knows. Plato insists that those who free themselves and come to perceive reality have a duty to return and teach others, and this holds true in the Matrix films as well, as Neo takes it upon himself to save humanity from widespread ignorance and acceptance of a false reality.

Religion: Nebuchadnezzar He is known for rebuilding much of Babylon and restoring it to its former glory.

On the plaque of Morpheus’s Nebuchadnezzer, for example, as part of its identifying numbers, is the notation Mark III, No. 11. In the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament, Mark describes large crowds who follow Jesus and are healed of their diseases. Chapter 3, verse 11 (King James Version) reads, “And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him and cried, saying, ‘Thou art the Son of God!’”

Just before Agent Smith’s first appearance in The Matrix Reloaded, we see the license plate on the luxury car he drives: IS 5416. In the Old Testament, Chapter 54, Verse 16, of Isaiah, reads “Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire and that bringeth forth an instrument for this work; and I have created the waster, to destroy.” In this chapter, Isaiah refers to the Lord’s assurances that Zion, the promised land for the Israelites, will be victorious in future glory. He reminds his people that he created everything and goes on to reassure them that “no weapon forged against you will prevail.” (THANKS SPARKNOTES)

Sunglasses The renegades and the Agents always wear sunglasses in the Matrix. Sunglasses hide the eyes and reflect those who are being looked at. The removal of sunglasses signals that a character is gaining a new or different perspective, or that he or she is vulnerable or exposed in some way. When Morpheus offers Neo his crucial choice between the pills, the blue pill is reflected in one shade of his sunglasses, the red pill in the other, an overt reference to the two different ways of seeing that Neo must choose between.

Robots and People As Neo, Keanu Reeves exudes an almost robotic calm, and both he and Carrie-Anne Moss wear sleek, androgynous clothes. Their incredible fighting skills and superhuman strength seem to put them in the machine category, and their fluid movements are the result of programs that have been downloaded into them. The Agents, by contrast, are fluid, adaptive, and creative. They shift seamlessly throughout the programs and listen intently to human speech, responding accordingly and sensitively. One fear of artificial intelligence is that technology will entrap us in level upon level of dependence, and in the trilogy Neo discovers more and more about the thoroughness and subtlety of the Matrix. Technology threatens to become smarter than humans, but one larger point of the trilogy is that technology doesn’t have to be smarter than us to enslave us. As long as humans turn to technology to solve human problems, humans and technology are interdependent. In the trilogy, the machines are dependent on the humans for life, and they grow and harvest humans so they can continue to exist.



Media from this week's episode:

Matrix Trilogy (1999,2003,2003) Directors: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.

Reloaded: Neo and his allies race against time before the machines discover the city of Zion and destroy it. While seeking the truth about the Matrix, Neo must save Trinity from a dark fate within his dreams.

Revolutions: The human city of Zion defends itself against the massive invasion of the machines as Neo fights to end the war at another front while also opposing the rogue Agent Smith.


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