“Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain. But you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life. That there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there. Like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.” –Morpheus
I have a long time friend named Linda who is very animated and expressive. A mutual friend proclaimed one day that “Linda is a verb”. Amusing as that statement was (and still is, frankly), I have over the years, realized how true it is… not just about her but about everyone and everything.
My mentor and friend, Dr. Joseph Riggio, points out that the movie, “The Matrix” is a an idea that goes much further than being simply a story told in a movie. In fact there is a “real” Matrix we all live in, which is just as much an illusion as the one portrayed on screen.
The Matrix is language. It is all around us, and we are so immersed in it that we have come to believe it is somehow “real”.
A good example of this is what I call the illusion of the Noun. Nouns, we are taught to believe, are people, places or things. What is implied is that these are somehow “static” elements, things that a grammatical element like a verb will be able to bring to life through a description of movement. But since a verb implies action, what is there in existence that is not in “action”? If I say “the man” vs “the walking man” – it is somehow supposed to imply that “the man” is changeless. Yet, “the man”… whoever he is… must by sheer definition imply all kinds of “movement”. “The man” at some point, must have been a younger man, a boy, a baby, and if the man continues to exist will become an older man, an old man, and eventually a dead man. No one, nor does anything remain the same over time. There is always progressing- growing, getting older, growing more valuable, less valuable, getting taller, shrinking, getting fatter, thinner, etc.. In fact the very home we live in, the country we live in, even world we live in is in a constant state of flux and will eventually one day, no longer even be here.
Now, I certainly understand that what I have done here is treat a noun (man) like a verb. I have used several grammatical elements other than nouns to make my point. I understand I am still operating within the Matrix. But the question I ask now is- is this way of thinking about a “noun” really a useful way to represent this to myself? Does it somehow allow me to experience the world in a way I can be more effective… to experience the world in a way that allows me to be truly alive in it?
For me, the answer is yes. It reminds me I will not be here forever. It reminds me that when I hear a comment like “same thing, different day” it means someone is not aware of the world they are in… that they are immersed the Matrix and believe it to be reality… that the story they are telling themselves about the world is the world to them.
I am challenging the assumption of the structure of this particular piece of grammar here because I think it is useful to realize the whole structure is fluid. We can change our relationship to it at any given moment. In other words, we can move through the Matrix without being sucked into being convinced it is “real”.