The Red Pill

Our Hero was exhausted. He had been fighting so long, fighting ever since he had taken the red pill that allowed him to see the Matrix. Before, he had been like everyone else — blind, unawake, a sheep; but now he knew the secret, and he lived every moment of his life fighting the Matrix. Before, he thought he was happy — he had seen beauty in the world, food tasted delicious. Knowing that the Matrix had created this false reality to enslave him had ended all that. It would for anyone capable of free thought.

Their last attack against the Matrix had only been successful symbolically. The Large Hadron Collider at CERN was perhaps too large to be taken down with one attack, but the fact that they had tried could be counted as a success. The Matrix would know they were here. So Our Hero rested, until the visitor came.

Well, said his visitor, I see that you have been fighting and now you rest, but I’ve come to tell you something.

Who are you?

Your attack was not wholly unsuccessful. You seem to have torn some kind of hole in the fabric.

Fabric?

Of the universe, or whatever we’re calling it these days. Everything looks strange here, so I know I’ve come to some distant time, though maybe not such a distant place. We have another word for the Matrix, and many people talk of it, but I’m here to tell you something. This is going to change everything for you, more than the red pill even, and you may not believe me, but you need to listen. The red pill — it doesn’t show you anything. It is a powerful and long-lasting hallucinogenic drug; it makes you see a Matrix where none exists. It is a lie.

Our Hero regarded the visitor.

Ah, a Skeptic! We invented them you know. The Skeptics are my countrymen and my contemporaries, and I have great respect for them. They exist, frankly, to attack everything that I teach, but that doesn’t mean they are without virtue. It is good to doubt, to question everything, but the red pill doesn’t make you doubt, it makes you believe. And what it makes you believe is far more fantastic, grandiose, preposterous, than anything taught by me or those who came before and after.

I know who you are, said Our Hero.

Good, now maybe you’ll listen. There is no plan, there is no group behind everything, there is no Matrix. What I have spent my whole life doing is trying to understand the nature of things, to understand the meaning of virtue, and to think of something better for all of us. Many before me tried, and many more after, too. Some of these attempts were noble, and many were not. Some were successful, to a degree, but many more were failures. Some of these attempts ended as the greatest catastrophes in human existence. But, you see, we as humans are aware. What separates us from the beasts, and from our brutish forebears, is this awareness, and we need to use it to understand how to live here, in the world that we have. This has been my whole life. What you see when you see the Matrix, are the remnants of the failures. The red pill organizes the failures of humanity, the dead ends, the wrong paths, and the catastrophes, into something you see as a plan. I tell you again, there is no plan, only the failures of humanity. Humanity is always failing, and that is why our work is so important. I say “our”, but we are no organized group, just humans who believe that we can know more, learn more, and use this knowledge to be more. We recognize our weakness, and struggle against it.

But why would anyone create the red pill?

Boredom, mostly. Chaos, rebellion, grand schemes, these are all more exciting that the dreary realization that humans are common animals, just smart enough to sometimes try for something better. But there are other reasons too. Those who feed you the red pill want you to see the Matrix, because they profit from your belief. When you turn against the gifts of civilization, when you begin to believe that our work is the work of a sinister force, they can use you.

Use us?

We know that humans are weak, flawed, animals, that is what makes our work necessary. But if these people can separate you from the others, then they use their strength to take whatever they want. That is why they want you to see the Matrix — to replace a strong humanity with weakened individuals (in Athens, the word is “idiots”), because individuals are easier to destroy.

With that Aristotle returned through the hole in the fabric. He had Pythagoras and Newton and some of the others on his side of the hole patch it up. Our Hero turned on his listening device, a live production of “Le Nozze di Figaro” was on, which he had loved once. But wait! Wasn’t Mozart a Freemason…Ah, never mind, such beauty. So Our Hero smiled, and listened.