It Was Mother

It Was How

It Was How
Wayras Olivier
FEBRUARY 2018


H OW PROVACATIVE it is that Keanu Reeve’s seminal role was a character that was named after a specific part of the brain that one needs if one ever hopes to be woke. In Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam, we get a hint as to why this is so. Dating to the late fifteenth century, the mural is a depiction of an explicit paradox. Instantiated inside a pink cloth we find the shapely form of a muscular, white bearded god, extending his finger to touch Adam’s, who without having to pass through a certain birth canal, already has a navel. Adam’s belly button, a rather obvious observation, was superseded by a much more acute one made by Frank Meshberger in the early 1990s. A physician from Indiana, he noticed that protruding from the lower contours of the pink cloth was a dangling leg belonging to a member of god’s entourage. When regarded dispassionately and in context of Michelangelo’s meticulous study of human anatomy, it soon became clear that the pink cloth was intentionally draped to resemble the outline of the cross-section of the human cerebrum. The dangling leg represented the medulla, the part of the brain stem responsible for specific involuntary processes in the human being. Michelangelo himself, of course, unaware of its specific function, consciously included it in his masterpiece to make the organ itself the center of the cosmos for generating concepts—which later was discovered, can only be engineered by something called the cortex, first name neo.

Up for debate, then, is control. Only a few hundred thousand years old in age, the neo cortex, that which constructs both half and fully baked concepts, (such as a personal deity that creates and commands all that ever is, was, or will be), is dwarfed in age by the Cambrian explosion, the impersonal process, which issued the construction of life nearly half a billion years ago. Age, you see, comes before beauty. Thus the wise have to lead the vain. Any process, in other words, that has the least number of candles on its birthday cake will be the one that has problems with authority—Neo’s issue, if you recall, along with his wish for absolute freedom. There’s a story here, one Michelangelo seems to be painting about our brain’s compulsion to play chess whilst we hide from our own awareness our very role in manufacturing ‘the matrix.’

The Matrix—now a pet name for anything that eludes or enslaves the mind—was, at the dawn of the millennium, instrumental for promoting two things: Baudrillard’s Simulacrum & Simulation, and the use of “bullet time” photography to get us to a place, by the time we left the theatre, to ask such irritating questions like how do we know what is real. But wait, it already was cool to ask such questions, and was teased out, a year earlier, in Germany:

“Man, probably the most mysterious species on our planet. A mystery of unanswered questions. Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going? How do we know what we think we know? Why do we believe anything at all? Countless questions in search of an answer, an answer that will give rise to a new question, and the next answer will give rise to the next question and so on. But in the end isn’t it always the same question? And always the same answer?”

In Run Lola Run’s opening. The titular character, played by Franka Potente, would go on, for elevated reasons such as saving her boyfriend from extinction at the hands of a drug dealer, to have her soul separated from her body three times to explore the outcomes of “Dasein.” That vexing and elusive term, often translated to mean “potential” or “existence” coined by Martin Heidegger, the German phenomenologist (who himself, upon being woke, had to disentangle his reputation from its brief association with the Nationalist Socialist Party lest it undermine his conscience, his destiny, and his canonical work Being and Time).

It’s quite the treat to rediscover that the aforementioned phenomenon are both the subject and the obstacle of Run Lola Run respectively, and when combined creates the matrix (not oppressive machines). A matrix that exists inside not outside so as to checker the lead character in this seminal film. Akin to “Lila,” the Sanskrit word for game, and the reason Brahman created the universe, Lola is a willing pawn and travels, in her multiple frantic peregrinations, without an intermediary such as a time machine or a special suitcase to reframe the scenarios contrived by space and time. She used her ‘neo,’ along with that inestimable something that Bobby Fisher—a sterling example of a paradox—favored on his deathbed when he resolved with his last dying breath that, “nothing is so healing as the human touch.”

W.