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Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Matrix, The Uglies, The Pre-Existence, and The Millennium

The Red Pill or The Blue Pill?

In the movie The Matrix the main character Neo realizes that something is wrong with the world around him. He meets a man named Morpheus who offers him a choice. Take a blue pill, which will make him forget their meeting and go back to the life he is currently living; or take a red pill which will open his eyes to the truth.

The truth is that Neo's body is laying in a cocoon being fed by tubes, while his mind is in a computer generated reality called "the matrix". Neo chooses the red pill, wakes up in his cocoon in the real world, and emerges to face a difficult life of fear and hardship. He and the others who have taken the red pill are constantly on the run from the agents who wish to keep all the humans in their cocoons.

One of these "red pill" humans named Cypher is tired of running. He is captured in the matrix by the agents who want him to betray his friends. In exchange they offer him a life in the matrix where he is rich, and happy. As he is eating a delicious (but imaginary) steak he says "You know, I know this steak doesn't exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? Ignorance is bliss".

To Be, or Not To Be.... Pretty

This is essentially the same premise of Uglies, and the main character Tally is faced with a choice similar to Cypher's. She can live a “pretty” life in a “pretty” town, where her altered mind would be always happy and content. All she has to do is betray her friends so they can be made "pretty" too.

Assume you didn’t have to betray your friends… would you choose a happy imaginary life; or a very real life of hardship and struggle? Would you take the red pill, or the blue pill? Apparently you would choose the red one, because… well... here you are.

You see this theme goes back to the pre-existence (if you believe in that Mormony Plan of Salvation stuff) where we were all given a choice. Live a life where we are forced to be good - which would mean we would live in a world with no crime, no hatred, no bigotry, no wars, no starvation; essentially a struggle free happy life - but with no free agency. We all chose a life of pain and hardship so that we might grow and progress.

Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me... Disneyland!

I’m wondering if it took some peer pressure for me to choose this plan. I could certainly see the appeal of stagnating for eons if it meant eating all the lobster, and chocolate sundaes I could eat, and never worrying about the cost of the meal or the weight gain. As you all know, my life long fantasy is to live on Tom Sawyer’s Island and have Disneyland be my playground every day.

Continuing on the biblical theme... while reading Uglies I spent some time pondering what the world would be like if God hadn't confounded the languages at the time of the Tower of Babel. What if everyone on earth spoke the same language, and had the same skin color? Would we still have had all the hatred, wars, riots, and general suffering that we’ve have had? Certainly not as much I have to think.

1000 Years of SwedeBalls

And I have another question for you to ponder. Is the millennium, New Pretty Town?

First consider this quote by Lorenzo Snow:
We know that in the future, after we have passed thorugh this life, we will then have our wives and our children with us. We will have our bodies glorified, made free from every sickness and distress, and rendered most beautiful. There is nothing more beautiful to look upon than a resurrected man or woman. (Conference Report, October 1900, p. 4.)

And this quote by George Q. Cannon:
In that glorious period everything on the face of the earth will be beautiful; disease and crime, and all the evils that attend our present state of existence will be banished. (Journal of Discourses, 14:321:22.)

I know there are a great many things that have not yet been revealed and which we can't fully understand. One of those things that I am seriously baffled by is how, during the millennium - even without the influence of Satan - that we are going to put away all our pettiness, jealousies, selfishness, and other character flaws to all somehow suddenly all get along.

From what I understand of the millennium, life will continue on much the same as it is now, but somehow we will no longer have any contentions. To me that suggests that all our character flaws will somehow go away and we will be willing to share everything we have with everyone else and never covet something that anyone else has, or worry that someone is doing more work than someone else. I personally don't see how that can happen, unless our minds are somehow fundamentally altered.

Consider the fact that according to the new order of marriage you may have to share your hubby with another wife, or wives during the millennium or after judgment day. How is it that you will no longer feel jealousy? See where I'm going here? During the millennium we will somehow all be pretty, happy, and content - New Pretty Town.

Well, there are your biblical themes… feel free to use them in you talks, and Sunday School lessons.

Bogus? Just a Littlie

Now... how did I like the book? Well, not nearly as much as I liked The Matrix. The author hinted at the above themes, but didn't really explore them in any depth. In fact he totally glossed over what it was that brought our civilization to the point of forcing everyone to be pretty and brain damaged. Maybe it gets more coverage in the other books (I only read Uglies), but it wasn't until page 44 that he mentioned the problems that were caused by different skin colors and people judging each other based on their appearance; and that was covered in just a paragraph or two.

It took me a while to get into the book. I read the first half in a few weeks, and the second half in a few hours yesterday. Towards the end there was some good action and nice twists. I like how Shay got “turned” at the end. That's when the red pill, blue pill theme - really began to take form. I loved Tally's decision to step up, and turn herself in, and thus redeem herself for the lies she told.

I liked Uglies enough to want to finish the series. I went and bought Pretties today, and I’m excited to find out what happens next. If I had known how much the first one left you hanging I would have tried harder to read them all before the book club meeting. I'm worried about all the spoilers I'm likely to read today and tonight. I don't mind reading about minor plot points, and new funny words, but If you're going to give away the ending or anything major, be sure and post a spoiler alert!

Having said THAT, I can't wait to read your reviews and join in tonight to read commentary on littlies, trick-making, belly sensors, interface rings, SpagBol, and my favorite... SwedeBalls.
'Till tonight - Markie