The Matrix is one of my favorite movies of all time. The notion of what is real and what rules actually exist (to the extent that anything truly exists) plays a huge role in the virtual world of the Matrix. During Neo's training, Morpheus tells Neo that there are certain rules that can be ignored or broken. The key is the person's mind, we are led to believe, it is what makes things real in that world. Recently I have discovered something that is slightly troubling about the notion of reality in the movie.
After Neo attempts the "Jump" program during his training and he and Morpheus are unplugged, Neo discovers that his lip is bleeding from having crashed into the ground in the program. Neo says to Morpheus, "I thought you said it wasn't real." Morpheus replies, "Your mind makes it real." Presumably in the movie those people who are still hardwired to the Matrix are more controlled by the system of rules and laws in place. Those minds that are free, those minds that visit the Matrix through hacking in to the system, those individuals would seem to be bound by the laws only insofar as their minds are unable to reject the notion that nothing is truly real in the virtual world.
Yes, I am rambling on a bit, but (a) I'm allowed to do so (just read the title of this blog if you need a justification) and (b) this is going somewhere. A pivotal moment in the movie is when after Morpheus has been captured and the Agents are trying to extract information from him about Zion, Neo, thinking that he is sacrificing everything, along with Trinity, comes to Morpheus's rescue. It is after Neo has downed all of the Agents and Morpheus frees his mind from the effects of the drugs and breaks free of the handcuffs that something curious happens. Morpheus begins running toward the helicopter piloted by Trinity when the newly transferred Agents re-enter the room. The agents begin shooting at Morpheus and one bullet actually strikes Morpheus's lower leg causing him to stumble as he gets close to the open window. The question is, why does Morpheus stumble?
If in the world of the Matrix, a person's mind is what makes things real. If Morpheus's mind had believed that he had been shot in the leg, then if Morpheus was unable to mentally realize that there was no bullet, then Morpheus would have stumbled. However, Morpheus could not have possibly seen the bullet strike his leg. First of all, the "bullet" (just as "there is no spoon," there is no bullet...) was travelling way too fast for his eyes to have truly processed it if he had been looking in the direction from which it was fired. Second of all, he was not looking in the direction from which it had been fired. Morpheus could not have possibly known that he had been shot, and so his mind could not have made this sensation real.
Again, if Morpheus was still hardwired to the system, he probably would have been more subject to the rules which exist within. The rules within the Matrix probably would have been set up such that when someone is shot, they feel it. But as is explained in the movie, these rules are more absolute for those currently on the system. In other words, those minds that are not yet free might have a strong enough will to realize that they have not truly been shot, but there is no possible way that Morpheus should have ever experienced any sensation of being shot by that "bullet."