from the world's big
Neo's superhuman powers were only inside of The Matrix. The outside world offered a different reality.
- The "red pill" came into prominence as a way to break free of mental slavery in the 1999 movie, "The Matrix."
- In a new essay, Julian Walker points out Neo's powers only worked inside of the simulation—reality is a different story.
- The red vs blue pill question is a pop culture phenomenon, often used in questionable circumstances.
Keanu Reeves stars in "The Matrix"
1999 Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Film.<p>In the Bhagavad Gita, the archer Arjuna experiences an existential crisis while on the battlefield. He's tasked to kill his friends and cousins in what he believes to be a useless war. Krishna tells him to man up. As the world's most famous bowman, Arjuna's duty is death. The godhead, revealing his terrible form to the stunned archer, says he creates and destroys life like a man puts on and removes clothing. </p><p>Designed to honor class and duty in Indian society, the message is clear enough: All men die, often while being churned through the mechanism of war. Arjuna draws his bow and becomes the hero—temporarily; he too dies before achieving the crown. Only his brother, Yudhisthira, reaches the door of Swarga Loka.</p><p>We cheer when Neo downloads Taekwondo, Kempo, and even Drunken Boxing, yet what Morpheus reveals is much more pedestrian—and much more powerful. As Walker writes, "The grim reality he wakes up to is sackcloth clothes on emaciated and frightened human bodies, in an industrial wasteland."</p><p>Neo is all-powerful inside of the Matrix, much like keyboard conspiracists in the safety of subreddits. As much time as some spend there, however, it's not reality. "The signifier of the red pill," Walker concludes, "has the content of whatever is projected upon it in terms of the person's perspective." When you wall yourself off from oppositional thought—as we used to call it, debate—the red pill becomes whatever you want it to be. </p><p>We won't shelter at home forever, though Big Tech makes it easy to shelter inside of your mind, at least until the archer comes for you. Interestingly, Arjuna didn't reach heaven because of his pride. He murdered his cousins and friends but could never overcome himself. He was, as Morpheus warned Neo, a slave in a system much bigger than he would ever be. There is no escape, only courage. Arjuna never reconciled that fact. </p><p>Neo recognized that knowledge gained inside of the Matrix has to be brought back to the real world—a world, today, <a href="https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6" target="_blank">marked</a> by the hundred-thousandth American death due to the novel coronavirus. The red pill opened his eyes to destruction and decay in society. Neo vowed to open the eyes of his peers upon his return. Strangely, he didn't promise them more cars. <br></p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Astronaut Garrett Reisman talks NASA, SpaceX, and where we're headed next.
- 2020 is off to rocky start, but there are some exciting things happening on the space travel front.
- Private companies like SpaceX and Boeing have partnered with NASA to get American spacecrafts into space, back to the moon, and onwards to Mars.
- "I think in a hundred years first of all we're going to be celebrating 2020, so 2120 get ready for a big party," says astronaut Garrett Reisman.
Through experiencing time in a nonlinear way, can artificial intelligence provide us more perspective?
- Is Sophia the Robot, of Hanson Robotics, conscious? Not quite, she says. Instead, she reflects the consciousness of humans in the same way the moon reflects the light of the sun.
- While we don't know if humans possess free will, she advises us to act as if we do. We can benefit from this.
- So, what can humans learn from robots? Artificial intelligence can view the world in a way that's more objective, being present while still able to look toward the future and the past.
Spoiler: Microbiomes in space!
- A recent interview reveals the visionary inspiration behind Star Wars.
- The story was originally an excerpt from the Journal of the Whills.
- The Whills were the force behind the Force.
The Force<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjE5NjY0NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwOTcxNzc4MH0.b2HHFBw1rAe1sUFfjvIfOU0hPGWl9T6o23zxoRuv-yQ/img.jpg?width=980" id="d786f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ba22974c1e8265a0a394fe6c11ce4ef7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Disney<p>Whatever one thinks of <em>Star Wars </em>as movies, there's no denying that Lucas contributed to humanity something that transcends the <em>Star Wars</em> movies and their fans: the Force. The vaguely theological, unseen struggle between opposites—good and evil, darkness and light—has become a secular religion, if such a thing is possible. While few would say they actually <em>believe</em> in it, few would say that they <em>don't</em>, even if they call it something else.</p><p>In its original conception, it turns out the Force was the activity of microbiotic beings called the "Whills," who were the real, if hidden, heroes and villains of <em>Star Wars</em>. As Lucas has said, "The Whills, in a general sense, they are the Force." </p><p>Lucas recently revealed, "There's this world of creatures that operate differently than we do. I call them the Whills. And the Whills are the ones who actually control the universe. They feed off the Force."</p><p>Lucas planned for the third trilogy to largely leave the Skywalkers, etc. behind and shift the action down to where the story was <em>really</em> happening: the Whills' microbiome.</p><p>Disney said, um, nope, and wrote its own final trilogy without Lucas' involvement. And without the Whills. Says Lucas, "If I'd held onto the company I could have done it, and then it would have been done. Of course, a lot of the fans would have hated it, just like they did <em>Phantom Menace</em> and everything, but at least the whole story from beginning to end would be told."</p><p>Clearly, the beloved movie characters would have gotten a major demotion if we were to learn it's really the heroism of the Whills we're seeing.</p>
Reading between the lines<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjE5NjY0Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMDQwNTk4OH0.7n664SyAI4nmEJb4YaXTXe8ii1mFFJjNr_XhSHfG7wg/img.jpg?width=980" id="3bfcf" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1695e62eb9d061a26a3255da974d93fc" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Full of mid-chlorians is young Annakin.
Image source: Disney<p>Fans of the movies have long known something about the Whills. In early story notes, summaries, and script drafts that have been published, notably in <a href="https://amzn.to/34MGkoA" target="_blank"><em>Star Wars: The Annotated Screenplays</em></a>, the Whills loom large as the central focus of the whole saga. It was, in fact, originally called <em>Journal of the Whills</em>, and was to be presented to the audience by an unseen narrator, a Whill:</p><p><em>"Originally, I was trying to have the story be told by somebody else; there was somebody watching this whole story and recording it, somebody probably wiser than the mortal players in the actual events. I eventually dropped this idea, and the concept behind the Whills turned into the Force." — George Lucas</em></p><p>Passing references to the Whills pop up here and there in the films released before Lucas sold the rights to Disney, particularly in the widely disliked first trilogy, released decades after the acclaimed second trio of films.</p><p>Critics and viewers alike rolled their eyes in <em>The Phantom Menace </em>when young Annakin Skywalker was found to have a high "mid-chlorian" count. Here, Lucas was laying the groundwork for the Whills: Mid-chlorians, he now says, were micro-organisms that served as conduits though which their host, say, a Jedi, could communicate with the Whills. The more mid-chlorians someone has, the more in touch with the Force that person is.</p>
The Whills revealed<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjE5NjY0OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTU5NjMwNjgzN30.Q7A9eY7_Ve688UgfEdsACcXuzrc7v8PQibqHQXySQcY/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C51%2C0%2C693&height=700" id="eee46" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7a9bf535ee4414db512a7277f474187d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Art Zelin/Getty<p>The central role played by the Whills in the <em>Star Wars</em> universe became clear only recently, thanks to an eye-opening interview Lucas gave director James Cameron as part of compelling AMC series <em>James Cameron's Story of Science Fiction</em>. The publishers of the <a href="https://amzn.to/2Q4UVGK" target="_blank">companion book</a> for the series, <a href="https://insighteditions.com" target="_blank">Insight Editions</a>, published an <a href="https://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/zzvghryuxyimgbdxhjyk.png" target="_blank">excerpt</a> of Lucas' interview online.</p><p>In his interview, Lucas recalls the thinking that led him to the Whills back in the early 1970s. It's remarkably prescient regarding what science now describes as our personal <a href="https://depts.washington.edu/ceeh/downloads/FF_Microbiome.pdf" target="_blank">microbiomes</a>: "Back in the day, I used to say ultimately what this means is we were just cars, vehicles, for the Whills to travel around in. We're vessels for them."</p><p>Nothing much is known about how Lucas would have visualized the Whills, and we may never know, if even he does. Meanwhile, bringing Lucas' original <em>Star Wars</em> vision into focus is fascinating. When <em>Episode IV, a New Hope</em> first exploded into the theaters, it played primarily as a deliberate and hokey—if thrilling—tribute to the director's beloved Saturday-matinee sci-fi popcorn serials. Who knew its origin had been so profound?</p>
Baby Yoda merch is on the way, but these Star Wars gifts are available right now.
- Since the launch of Disney Plus, the internet has gone crazy for Baby Yoda.
- Merchandise for the cute character was intentionally delayed, but there are other options.
- The items in this gift guide are for anyone who loves Star Wars or wants to learn more.