The Twisted Matrix: Dream, Simulation or Hybrid?
“The Matrix is a computer-generated dreamworld built to keep us under control” Morpheus, early in The Matrix. “ In dreaming, you are not only out of control, you don’t even know it…I was completely duped again and again the minute my pons, my amygdala, my perihippocampal cortex, my anterior cingulate, my visual association and parietal opercular cortices were revved up and my dorsolateral prefrontal cortex was muffled” ” J. Allan Hobson, The Dream Drugstore, p.64 The Matrix is an exercise in ambivalence, and at the very heart of that ambivalence lies the Dream. In our dreams, we are not in control. Real dreaming, unlike many popular philosophers’ fictions, is an altered state, closely related to the states induced by chemical manipulations such as the use of (certain) medical or recreational drugs. The dreaming brain is not like the wakeful brain. Normal sensory input is blocked, attentional capacities are impaired or lost, memory is distorted, reasoning and logic are weakened, narratives run wild, self-reflection is dampened or destroyed, emotion and instinct are hyperstimulated, and forms of ‘top-down’ willed control and decision-making diluted and easily overwhelmed.