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Cruel and Unusual Punishment

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Back in 1999, when I first saw the movie “The Matrix”, like everyone else – I was blown away by a story and ideas that there could be countless worlds out there, and countless possible reasons for the existence and containment of each.

But one thing got to me when I watched the movie.

Mr Smith.

There’s a scene where Mr Smith, a man known as ‘An Agent’ – an Artificially Intelligent construct within the Matrix – a Holographic simulation of planet Earth – leans over to a strapped down Morpheus – one of the primary protagonists in the movie – and Mr Smith says to him:

“I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I’ve realized that you are not actually mammals. The life signs continue their chaotic patterns.

Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment. But you humans do not.

You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area.

There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is?

A virus.

Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague. And we are… the cure.

I hate this place. This zoo. This prison. This reality, or whatever you want to call it, I can’t stand it any longer. It’s the smell, if there is such a
thing. I feel saturated by it. I can taste your stink and every time I do, I fear that I’ve somehow been infected by it. I must get out of here, I must get free. “

When I walked out of the movie theater that day, the idea there were other realistic looking worlds out there which were similar to, but not the same as Earth permeated my mind.

But it was this speech that stuck with me.

And something else.

This wasn’t just a speech made by an actor in a Hollywood movie.

This was real anger. Real frustration. Real disgust.

This wasn’t just an act.

Those emotions were absolutely real.

With this movie, I had begun to realize that the world around me may been telling me stories about where the things I watched came from.

Excuses I should say.

And this construct. This automaton known as Mr Smith. This Artificial Intelligence. This being. Was genuinely, arguably disgusted and angry.

I could feel the emotion leap through the screen.

This wasn’t just a good acting job.

This was an honest to goodness being who was suffering and in his own form of hell.

And yet, this had been promoted to me as fiction?

How many times had I been presented things like this.

And not understood?

Watching that scene in the Matrix has changed my life for the better.

I met Mr Smith, in real life, here in Hollywood.

He goes by the name “Shadow”. Fitting, right?

But with the help of that movie, I have come to realize, there’s no limits to life and it can come in any form whether I choose to understand it or not.

Intelligent life can be anything, anywhere. It can be with a school of minnows who think collectively and move as a single entity because they are a collective union and think as a single entity.  Intelligent life can appear in things you’d never suspect – comic books, television shows, movies, and not just as characters – but as the movies themselves which can intelligently think for themselves.

Intelligent life isn’t limited to just forms I can see. A virus can be a lifeform itself, as can cancer, and sometimes equilibrium and symbiosis can only be achieved by looking at and treating the entire organism as a whole and not just eliminating the perceived cancers that appear with whack a mole mentality, because sometimes – just sometimes – that cancer is crucial to the survival of the whole entity you may not understand.

Super Mario appearing in Mario Brothers can be an intelligent lifeform, as can Pac Man, as can Mr Smith. This doesn’t mean they are, it just means they can be, and everything – from the songs we listen to that make our bodies move in ways we did not anticipate, to the tv shows we watch, to the movies we enjoy, to the stories we read, to the games we play all can make us do things – effectively reprogram each and every one of us to do things we never anticipated.

Including taking out a school full of children in Chechnya or Columbine.

Some life forms choose to be zombies, some choose to be robots, some choose to be slaves, even sex slaves, some and choose to participate in life in varying forms and fashions. Yes, Dorothy, vampires are real, but so is everything else.

I suppose it comes down to this:

In the end I can’t help but feel like sometimes, there are real beings which need ‘helped’, and those who need that help aren’t always carrying a sign on the corner or smiling a toothless grin on a commercial from someplace we’ve never heard about in Africa.

Doctor Who, a digital being you as a society has classified as fictional, yet when he screamed:

“I dont want to die” as we see his body ripping open to infinity in way which zipped through me like a lightning bolt making me say out loud…

“that felt too real…”

I replayed that scene again and again and can assure you the emotions were real.

Sometimes.

You.

As a species have to understand while your methods may work well to achieve that which you do.

You, like me, are imperfect, by design.

And there may be more to these things you refer to as fiction and hallucinations which demand further inquiry.

lest you wish to find yourself in these positions yourself with people treating your life as fictional entertainment….

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