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Of Mouse and Man



The Matrix (1999) has been interpreted many ways by many Christians. Some claim it for use in promoting Christianity while others argue that it undermines Christianity. This post won't weigh in on that debate (for now). This post will only examine one scene from it.

Neo (Keanu Reeves) eats breakfast with his shipmates aboard Morpheus' (Laurence Fishburne) ship, The Nebuchadnezzar. Neo is acclimating to the "real world" and gets an anthropology lesson from Mouse (Matt Doran). Mouse is a programmer who designed the Agent Training Program, a program that simulates a Matrix-like world to train freed humans in how to fight against the Agents. One lesson within the program teaches freed humans to be on guard against "distractions" when they re-enter the Matrix. For Neo, this distraction came in the form of a beautiful woman in a red dress. Neo was temporarily distracted and got a gun barrel right between the eyes.

Mouse reminds Neo of the woman in the red dress during breakfast:

MOUSE

So what did you think of her?

NEO

Of who?

MOUSE

The woman in the red dress? I

designed her. She, um...well

she doesn't talk very much,

but...but if you'd like to meet

her, I can arrange a much more personalized meeting.

SWITCH

Digital pimp, hard at work.

MOUSE

Pay no attention to these

hypocrites, Neo. To deny our

own impulses is to deny the very

thing that makes us human.

So apparently in addition to learning martial arts from Morpheus, Neo gets a lesson in human nature from Mouse. "Whoa,...I know Kung Fu...and anthropology too.."

Is Mouse right that "to deny our own impulses is to deny the very thing that makes us human"? Seems like the ability to deny our own impulses is the very thing that distinguishes us from animals, or in this case, the machines. Does Fido think to itself:

"I really want to chew up Master's slippers, but...hmmm, should I?...", or "I shouldn't pick a fight with the cat, but..., that'd just be a lot fun, so..."

Dogs just do it.

Nor are we given any indication in the first movie that any of the machines go against their impulses (programming?). I'm confining my analysis to the first movie, The Matrix (because the sequels, Reloaded and Revolutions, were a mess).

Aristotle defines Man as a rational animal, implying that other animals, like Fido, are not rational. Animals can think, but they don't think about thinking. They can feel, but they don't have feelings about their feelings. They're not self-reflective enough to have feelings about their thoughts, nor thoughts about their feelings. But we humans do.

We can feel guilty about desiring things, or feel good about refraining from things, things like the very impulses Mouse tempts Neo towards. When it comes to understanding human nature and the denial of impulses, think upon the words of another prophesied One who will save mankind (N-e-o is just an anagram of O-n-e, afterall):

"If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me." - Jesus of Nazareth, Matthew 16:24 NASB.


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