The Matrix Meets Midsummer Night’s Dream

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Neo puts a hand to his head and touches his hair. This….this isn’t

real?

No, it is the mental projection…of your digital self. Lovers and

Madmen have such seething Brains, such shaping Phantasies, that

apprehend  More than cool Reason ever comprehends.

This_ is the world that you know. The world as it was at the end

of the twentieth century. It exists now only as part of a neural-interactive

simulation, that _we_ call the Matrix.  You’ve been living in a dream world, Neo.

This…is the world as it exists today. Are you sure that we are awake? 

It seems to me that yet we sleep, we dream.

What _is_ real? How do you _define_ real? If you’re

talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste

and see, then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.

Tell them that I, Pyramus am not Pyramus, but Bottom the Weaver,

this will put them out of fear.

The earth, scorched . . .the desert of the real…We have only

bits and pieces of information, but what we know for certain

is that some point in the early twenty-first century

all of mankind was united in celebration, and then apocalypse.

We marvelled at our own magnificence…. the poet’s eye turns dreams to shapes and gives

to airy nothing a local habitation and a Name. . .

A singular consciousness that spawned an entire race -then you will see, it is

not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.

If we Shadows have offended

think but this, and all is mended: that you have slumbered here while these

Visions did appear and this weak and idle Theme, no more yielding but a Dream.

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Alice in Wonderland

alice with caterpillar

Alice in Wonderland & Depth Psychology
One of the themes of Alice in Wonderland is that of Identity. Once Alice is down the rabbit hole (entry into the unconscious?) she constantly changes size. She literally doesn’t know where ‘she fits in.’ The theme is further highlighted when the caterpillar asks who she is. Alice replies, “I hardly know. I can’t explain myself because I’m not myself.”

Alice is not so much frightened by her identity-crisis as puzzled and ‘curious.’ ‘Curious’ is a linguistic leitmotif occurring throughout the narrative.
She says, “I almost wish I hadn’t gone down that rabbit hole. . . and yet. . it’s rather curious. . this sort of life.”

Her ‘elastic’ out-of-focus identity is mirrored in the topsy-turvy world she finds herself in. A world where croquet balls are hedgehogs, babies turn into pigs and a cat leaves its grin in a tree canopy! In the Caucus Race everyone wins and Alice is solemnly presented with a prize of her own thimble. Perhaps this illustrates a psychological truth; that we don’t need to look for approval from others to know a sense of our identity. The thimble was in her possession before the race – which wasn’t even a race as ordinarily understood.

‘Everyone is mad’ in Wonderland – according to the Cheshire Cat. At the tea-party Alice is told it is ‘always six o’clock’. Even time itself has distorted and cannot be relied upon.

At one point in the narrative Alice reflects on her childhood when she read fairy tales; this is where she thought impossible things happened. Now she says she is in the middle of such a tale. This has echoes of the dream-within-a -dream motif.

Now, where else do we find impossible events happening? Yes, in dreams! And of course the unconscious is rampant in dreams. (And the unconscious is a source for creativity!) Could the unconscious be where we should all look to ‘complete’ our identities? After all, our conscious selves (personas) are only a part of who we are. Jungian psychology recognised that it is only by embracing our Shadow that we truly integrate. For example if we don’t recognise that we have unresolved ‘anger’ inside, it will most likely surface (embarrassingly) when we least want it to. This applies to all the impulses and habits of thought and feeling we have hidden away; imps and goblins such as envy, spitefulness and paranoia.

Here is a quote from Insearch by James Hillman:

Loving oneself is no easy matter just because it means loving all of oneself, including the shadow where one is inferior and socially so unacceptable. The care one gives this humiliating part is also the cure. . . Loving the shadow may begin with carrying it, but even that is not enough. At one moment something else must break through, that laughing insight at the paradox of one’s own folly which is also everyman’s.

This inner work may take decades of perseverance and may often be a case of ‘falling seven times and standing up eight’ – to quote a Japanese proverb!

Both Alice narratives, although written for children, are examples of books which can be read by adults and reveal hidden depths!