In the movie ‘The Matrix’, the hero is special, and one of a kind. To convey this message Hollywood took the unusual step of actually trying to create a subtext, they did this by calling their chief protagonist Neo, which is cleverly an anagram of one, as in ‘the one’.
After watching the movie though you cannot fail to come to the conclusion that he is the one, and a rather special one. You could argue that he should be special, given that he could be given any skill known to mankind in the space of a few seconds, but that would a tad trite.
You have to feel for Neo though, he was thrust into a new ‘reality’, and in a short space of time he was shown so much that the mental strain must have been immense. That is because despite its drama, crash, bang, shooty shooty stuff it does cover an interesting philosophical area. It explores our understanding of reality, and how we come to the conclusion that this is our reality, how do we know what we know? and how can that be proved? The deep questions put to him could drive you to the edge of sanity, just ask Ludwig Wittgenstein*.
Although in fairness to Neo, even Ludwig didn’t have to deal with the possibility of no spoons in a era that has Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Life is cruel. I’m sure it bothered Neo on some level, but I can’t verify that as it wasn’t covered extensively in the movie.
One of the reasons Neo is different, and more specifically ‘the one’ is because he rarely runs away. He would face up to his challenges, regardless of size. He would tackle them head on, even when the odds looked so slim, and this culminated in two of the most iconic movie scenes of all time*.
Neo first realises his supreme ability when a special agent tries to shoot him and he falls back dodging the bullets. The second more uplifting scene is when he is shot at in a hallway, where he rather ominously for the special agent, says ‘no.’ as he proceeds to stop the bullets mid air. Stopping bullets is certainly impressive but it is the dodging of them that I am more interested in – because it links better with my day.
Today was a tough day, an emotional day. Not necessarily for me but for my, now ex, girlfriend. She will freely admit she is an emotional person but today was especially tough. That is because it was not only the last day of term (she is a school teacher), but her last working day at that school – we leave Vienna next week. But wait, theres more. After work we met up with her best friends here for a BBQ and had a lovely evening, but we all knew there were going to be teary moments as they said goodbye to each other.
This is my weak point, my achilles heel if you like, although as weak as my achilles are, they are way stronger than this weak point; emotion. In fact, I have two achilles heels and I have two personal weak points; emotion and goodbyes. I can’t deal with them, I can’t be around them. It makes me feel as awkward as a dolphin on a flight to Colombia, instead of its intended destination Columbia.
I slip away from parties early, I travel at awkward times so theres less people around, I invent reasons to dash away abruptly, and basically, whatever it takes to avoid a long protracted goodbye, I’ll do it. Add into the mix other people being emotional and we have an almost full house – I’d have snuck off early out the back, obviously.
Tonight, I didn’t channel the special one. That is because he is not the special one. I am. Yes, Neo had to stop bullets and dodge bullets but that is because he put himself in terrible situations. You should always play to your strengths, and whereas I can’t dodge bullets – or emotional goodbye BBQs, I can stand awkwardly next to my clearly upset, now ex, girlfriend not really knowing what to do.
So it was essentially the equivalent of Neo being asked to go fight Agent Smith, only for him to refuse, and then be told he has to. He eventually goes, but very belatedly, and deep down he’s hoping that Agent Smith doesn’t actually turn up, but he does turn up so he calls his mates and says ‘ah sorry guys I’d love to fight him but I’m on Elmond Street and theres a phone box right here, if I go fight him I’d have to go all the way there and then back again, plus its raining. Tell you what, lets just all get back; have a cup of hot chocolate, warm slippers and we can deal with this Agent Smith thing another day’.
It is cowardice really. There is no reason to want to avoid emotion and goodbyes that much, especially when it is only people wanting to show the care they have for others and the pain they will have, or already have, with them not being there. Therefore I shall change my name to Mr. Fermion Foe Oat*.
*Probably the 20th Centuries greatest philosophers who drove himself to the point of insanity. Kind of inferred that in the post really, so this has just turned into one big serving of Belgian Waffle.
*I haven’t seen every movie ever made to accurately state that but it is probably true. I mean he stopped bullets? What more do you want. You people make me sick.
*Bonus points for figuring out the anagram.