Matrix in London (and elsewhere)



When travelling the London Tube network, I couldn’t have noticed the much increased amount of advertising as well as their ever increasing sophistication. At some stations, they were in a form of digital videos, comprising of long line of screens you could watch going up or down the escalators as a one continuous movie – one advert, I noticed was a long line of musical notes. Observing the masses of people, it doesn’t occur to them that someone (or something) is manipulating them (and their lives), when I came up with a quite fitting term (hopefully my good readers can relate to): matrix. I had to smile to myself… However, as I started writing about it the very next day, it all went a bit out of hand and keyboard (the spelling check on my computer was playing up and offering nonsensical alternatives), apologies, it all came out sounding prophetic again (and so all of you focused and determined readers): hold on to your hats, and let’s ride…

 “Isn’t our mind (presented to the world through our name, social mask or role and by number in birth records matrix) also some kind of matrix avatar in otherwise perfect body, which it has been trying to overpower (with less and less success) for a few thousand years?”

A note from of the Avatar review

Underneath the station Canary Wharf which we were coming to (and leaving from) are spreading kilometres long corridors on several levels, and make no mistake, all leading straight into countless shops and boutiques or large retail stores that would sell you virtually anything. Once (it was around 1pm), I stopped to sit down on a bench and in those few minutes I was sitting there, I counted that around 800 people passed in both directions in front me, with most likely around the same amount passed behind my back. I have seen busier traffic (of people and vehicles) around 30 years in Tokyo, but it almost sickened me then to think that maybe in 10 or 20 years such floods of human beings and vehicles will be just as normal elsewhere in the world.

Ten years ago in New York, it was the added noise pollution and waste. Today, London still can cope (better than daily traffic-jammed and stinky Prague), but the trend is quite clear: the people living in such megacities most likely need a form of existence that blinds them towards all that pollution (well, I can’t think of any other explanation).  And so the western civilisation represented by these megacities is heading for a fall…or matrix.

For the thousands of people working in banking industry, or all those rushing to get in and out of the tube or ever present tourists, it is more and more impossible to escape the matrix (note that at this time of  year are summer holidays so there should be less people around here) – the un-ruled but the more dominant way of life. The cult movie depicted exactly the situation of people living their ordinary lives in and out of office and never realized they lived in matrix or a software dream if you like: in the famous movie they were helpless sources of energy in the domain of computing machines. And who do we serve? Rhetorical question of an ancient Chinese philosopher, whether he was dreaming of a butterfly or the butterfly was dreaming about him, is still very much on the cards.

Surely, you could say that we all live in this or that sort of matrix (dependent on how we were brought up or what they’ve been telling us all those years). However, never before in the whole history of humankind, the damage (and manipulation) was so intense (with exception of George Orwell’s novel 1984 of which, during the communist era, we used to think as a rather ironic criticism of totalitarian regime).

With a bit of exaggeration you could say that since the mid last century most city women live in matrix of Hollywood (and nowadays in matrix of TV soap operas): manipulated by bittersweet maudlin stories of poor girls going from rags to riches (by snatching a handsome millionaire). The women are now capable and more than willing to yearn for this pubertal dream becoming a reality one day. The London Oxford Street offers a whole day “pilgrimage” from one retail store to another for thousands of (mostly) women: doors (or gates more like) wide open to showcase all those hangers full of wonderfully cheap and chic clothes and stuff – all so tempting and all so pointless.

It never occurs to these over-excited women that they don’t live for what they themselves need but what the retailers and fashion currently dictates. Even those forward thinking and emancipated (and feminists) don’t realize that they merely swapped one dictator (husband) for another (matrix of consumption, or at least the endless rebellion against men in general). Most of them switch on another matrix as soon as they get home – in form of a soap opera´s series (that they must watch), news full of catastrophes or gossip news (in increasing intensity – we’ve managed to come across a trilogy of CSI New York, Miami and Las Vegas on one channel, one evening). The brain gets used to it like a drug and it will demand continuously more and more consumption and more and more matrix.

Accidently, I’ve overheard a woman behind a curtain in one bookstore, telling to one of those esoteric-fortune-teller-card-reader, how desperate she is, being on the verge of ending everything since she can not reliably tell whether he loves her. She said she was married but the other one must have been a better catch (or match), but how would she found out whether he really loves her?

Soap opera or gossip magazine “trained” (understand: manipulated) women then go and obediently spend all they worked so hard for, just so they are able to spend a just a bit more. The out of fashion clothes and tools that were never used get changed for new ones so easily… just as unbearably easily as changing relationships or diets. Those women are only happy on their usual Saturday shopping trips (be it in Oxford Street or in Prague supermarkets) and when they’re showing their splendid bargains to their similarly manipulated girlfriends, working out if it looks good on them or not. The matrix of such spoiled modern consumer woman has already taken everything and there’s no escape.

In the Zen centres and monasteries around the world, there are no writings whatsoever, no names of anything written anywhere, not one word at all. There are no books or newspapers anywhere in sight (they’re all forbidden). It is about allowing yourself to start working with your mind, and in order to achieve a total inner peace and harmony one must simply switch off and halt the left brain hemisphere (responsible for analysing, critical thinking and judging). In today’s London, there simply isn’t a way to truly “switch off”.  People are bombarded by advertising, noise, traffic, shopping windows or pushy sales representatives shouting out to sell their stuff, from every corner. At one shop that we were passing by, they were throwing small items into the crowd – for free. Wouldn’t that make you want to join the mass hysteria in a hope you’d be one of the lucky ones! Until recently there were merely slight indications of how much influence matrix has on our lives, but as I’ve been able to see these days in London, there’s plenty of it now everywhere. Matrix has stopped hiding – and it would be pointless, since most of the voluntary and involuntary matrix members and users would never notice how much it’s affecting their everyday lives (they’re too busy entertaining and indulging).

Even the usually unbiased and serious news on BBC (as if it is a non-commercial illusion that it is still a serious channel) were full or tragedy reports for example about a boy who drowned in the sea (they interviewed the witnesses of this tragedy): was there a strong current? What about the beach, did anyone noticed anything suspicious? And there was also a report about a fraudster who has returned after 17 years of being on the run.

The matrix is winning. At least one third of working hours people spend browsing internet, and the teenagers spend a third of day by downloading and watching movies or chatting away in internet chatting rooms. Professional IT workers live in matrix of computers in order to be able to resolve the matrix of their clients and requestors, at the end of the day they go home using the tube network which systematically serves and prepares them for easier and more effective way of life in the consumer matrix, then they get home to their own computers, and so on and so forth… By the way: American analyst Nicolas Carr claims in his book The Shallows, that our constant switching between different media (internet, mobile phone, mp3 player, TV) changes the usual channels in human brain. He warns that it could eradicate those human skills that helped us on the evolutionary journey of coming out of the caves and arriving in front of our pc screens. The unbearable easiness with which (mostly) teenagers volunteer their personal information (on Facebook or other networking sites) is just another external, and if you try a bit, also quite visible side of our matrix lives.

The danger is in the fact that human brain is very adaptable and consequently adjusts its dendrite connections, which means that after some years in whatever matrix we will get used to it so much that we’ll consider matrix as something perfectly normal… we become (unconsciously) more and more programmed. Matrix is perfectly capable of living on its own already, without needing any creative minds to continue its existence, and on the contrary, it would be unwelcome.

So where, and what kind of quality, is the real personal freedom? Wasn’t the Indian concept of maya (illusion) already pre-matrix oriented? Isn’t the human ego just another matrix alternative? And how should we recognize matrix living in a matrix of a matrix? And as the joke says where one fish refuses the claims of the other fish that God does not exists with a question: So who changes the water in our tank then; is God a holo-matrix?

Today, it is practically impossible to live without being part of this or that matrix, however we should be at least aware of the potential danger of our freedom and choices being stolen. Would you say I’m exaggerating? And what if I’m not? I have been writing for a good few decades about methods how to work on your better self, to be able to not only recognize matrix but also avoid it as much as possible, and to protect your own and unique freedom.

P.S.: The brand of an alarm clock on the bedside table in the apartment where I’m staying at is called Dot Matrix.