The Matrix of our Denial
I was watching the classic 1999 film The Matrix again the other day. It’s such a great metaphor for me of the state of denial that humans have had to live in that Jeremy Griffith explains so beautifully in his book A Species In Denial and also throughout the book Freedom: Expanded. Apparently the film drew inspiration and direction from Plato’s famous writings in The Republic and its amazing cave allegory (Jeremy provides a summary and explanation of this cave allegory in Part 3:10 of Freedom: Expanded). In The Matrix film there is a passage where one of the key characters, Morpheus, says ‘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...that you are a slave Neo, 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’.
This is another powerful metaphor of an imprisoning matrix that Jeremy refers to as the ‘elephant in our living rooms’ of the human condition. As this quote from Jeremy Griffith explains:
‘It is a truly amazing situation where we humans have this ‘elephant in our living rooms’—this all-important and dominating issue that we have lived in such fear and thus denial of that we are effectively unaware of it. We are beings estranged from our reality. Even though the problem of the human condition fills our whole ‘living room’, preoccupies and affects our whole existence, we haven’t been able to see it. If advanced intelligent life does exist on other planets in the universe, then ours would undoubtedly be known as ‘the planet of the alienated’. We humans are almost totally psychologically cut off, separated, estranged, blocked-out, alienated from our true situation and thus true self.
In acknowledging the extent of this great black-out in our lives there has likely never been anyone braver and more forthright than R.D. Laing when he wrote that ‘We are born into a world where alienation awaits us. We are potentially men, but are in an alienated state [p.12 of 156] …the ordinary person is a shrivelled, desiccated fragment of what a person can be. As adults, we have forgotten most of our childhood, not only its contents but its flavour; as men of the world, we hardly know of the existence of the inner world [p.22] …The condition of alienation, of being asleep, of being unconscious, of being out of one’s mind, is the condition of the normal man [p.24] …between us and It [our true self or soul] there is a veil which is more like fifty feet of solid concrete. Deus absconditus. Or we have absconded [p.118] …The outer divorced from any illumination from the inner is in a state of darkness. We are in an age of darkness. The state of outer darkness is a state of sin—i.e. alienation or estrangement from the inner light [p.116]’ (The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise, 1967). ‘We are dead, but think we are alive. We are asleep, but think we are awake. We are dreaming, but take our dreams to be reality. We are the halt, lame, blind, deaf, the sick. But we are doubly unconscious. We are so ill that we no longer feel ill, as in many terminal illnesses. We are mad, but have no insight [into the fact of our madness]’ (Self and Others, 1961, p.38 of 192).’
It’s confronting and hard hitting stuff but I love it because it’s real, it gets behind that haze in my mind and gets me connected with what’s really going on inside me and around me. From there I can really start appreciating how powerful and needed Jeremy Griffith’s explanation of the human condition is for myself and for the world. Critically I just love how this information defends our dark side and explains why we had to become insecure, angry, egocentric and alienated. Why denial was absolutely critical to the survival of the human race. Who would have thought there could be so much bravery and beauty in the near total state of denial, darkness and delusion we live in? But best of all there is a transforming path out of that darkness where we no longer have to live that way! Go and read Part 3 of Freedom: Expanded, especially Parts 3:7 to 3:10 as they really capture these concepts for me. As two of the key taglines to the movie The Matrix said ‘Free your mind’ and ‘The Fight for the Future Begins’. Lets go!