Matriculated : LUSENET : Aeon Flux : One Thread

Would anybody like to shed some light on the meaning of this short? I enjoyed watching it and would like to understand more of it's meaning, especially the "blue flame thing" at the start and the end of the film.

-- Brian Patrick (, June 06, 2003


Human beings initially knew fire primarily as a means of destruction. When we learned to control fire and harness its energy, our civilization began to make rapid advances. Thus the dual nature of fire as both a destructive and a creative force represents hope and life, but often associated with the wrath of God.

-- Yuri (, June 06, 2003.

One more thought -- are we supposed to be deciphering symbols, analyzing meanings? Do you analyze food when you go to the exotic restaurant? Do you call the chef to the table and ask him "What do you mean by this leaf of Radicchio in my salad?" I think you should enjoy the experience as a whole and don't look for meaning, it means different things to different people. Meaning depends on your background and upbringing, your culture, etc. Stop dissecting, start enjoying. Sometimes it's better not to know -- it takes away the mystery and magik. That's why "talk less" is better then "talk more".

-- Yuri (, June 06, 2003.


-- ADAM (SK8ERADAM3001@HOTMAIL.COM), June 06, 2003.

Flames look cool. Blue flames looks really cool.

(And what Yuri said.)

-- Peter Chung (, June 06, 2003.

Brian, whatever do you mean? It's cold out there!

Seriously though: I think the runner returns to the flame out of compulsion. It's where he first saw Alexa. Eventually, more runners may appear out of the sea, and he may attempt to convert them... but at the moment, I don't think he's thinking too much about that. Alexa is gone, all the other humans are gone, even the tarsier... the perpetually-burning flame is his only source of comfort.

-- Inu (, June 06, 2003.

Thanks for the insight guys, especially Peter. That made me laugh. Perhaps I have been trying to over-analyse things instead of simply enjoying them. I get the impresion from Peter's work that this is often the case, or rather a dichotomy exists also, so if you wish to conentrate on the deeper meaning you can. Or, you can simply watch and enjoy.

-- Brian Patrick (, June 07, 2003.

I think the flame was a means to attract the machines, to draw them into the trap. Of course, for both Alexa and her machine companion, it's also a simple point of interest. Ever wonder why people are drawn to gathering around a campfire? For me, watching a fire is like taking a shower -- it gives you a chance to think (or not think, whichever).

-- Mat Rebholz (, June 08, 2003.

The image of the shoe falling off seems to hold alot of symbolism. The shoe, like the machines, are tools of the humans to be used, to be walked all over, to be used as protection. But a shoe by itself is useless unless it's on a foot, and for those who are used to shoes, walking barefoot is much harsher than those who aren't used to them. That's pretty immediate though, anyone else have a take on it? I know Peter said "what was the Runner's last image of Alexa in the real world", he didn't mean the shoe did he?

-- scottai (, June 10, 2003.

Sometimes a shoe is just a shoe. Of course, you're free to read into it whatever you want.

---Read the following only if you want the ending explained---

The question people are asking is "why does Alexa react with fear when she encounters the Runner's Avatar the second time?"

Although the viewer sees that soon after Alexa's knocked out, the Runner attacks the sentinel, retrieves her body, and jacks in, Alexa does not know any of this. The last thing she sees in the real world is the Runner sitting still, doing nothing to help her, in spite of her pleas for help. Next thing she knows, she's in the mindscape with the Avatar reaching out for her. Would she have reason to assume that the Runner had saved her? Not necessarily.

Conversely, one may ask "Why, in the real world, did the Runner hesitate before deciding to save Alexa?" Maybe it's because the last image the Runner had of Alexa in the real world before it encounters her in the mindscape is her firing the lightning gun at it. (To "kill" it.)

-- Peter Chung (, June 10, 2003.

I felt she was horrified of the runner, because she knows she is no longer in control. As she planned the runner "loves" her and she feels she is a prisoner of its attachment(then again I was higher than a kite).

-- Mark (, June 10, 2003.

Just rambling here...

My feeling was that the runner hesitated out of naivete; the program ended early, and caught the humans unaware. The runner would be even more unaware, having not "fully grown" within the simulation. I got the sense of a young child trying to comprehend what was going on.

For that matter, didn't he (she/sie/it) have something of a mother/child attachment to Alexa? I felt that he might have actually, dare I say it, been impressed by her display of force. Electricity, the way to a mecha's heart?

In this case an unhappy ending is preferable. Seeing the gate in the simulation, but not passing through it, invites speculation as to what exactly is behind the gate. What is human? It's open ended, the way it should be.

-- Inu (, June 11, 2003.

Somehow, it hadn't occurred to me that the Runner made a distinction between Alexa of the real world and Alexa's avatar. That makes a lot of sense now.

-- Mat Rebholz (, June 12, 2003.

My take on the ending is almost identical to Mark's. And I wasn't high. Alas.

-- Dr. Razzmatazz (, June 18, 2003.

Apparently "alexia" means inability to read, and is a symptom of aphasia, the inability to process languages... given what Peter has said here, and that his works so often revolve around miscommunication, could this be the meaning of the name Alexa?

-- Inu (, June 18, 2003.

Attack of the Matrixfans

The thread is 5 pages as of this post. I discuss the Mindscape sequence on page 5.

(But please don't cast votes in the poll.)

-- Peter Chung (, June 20, 2003.

Interesting and enlightening! Its given me just a quick thought regarding the importance of the Tarsier in the Mindscape: Assuming that the runner understands what the Tarsier is, how it functions as an animal and its relation to humans, that particular species would make for an appropriately gentle representation of the primal being. I guess that would be a fundamental comparison when inviting a machine into a world of human pleasures. When the runner first sees the Tarsier (in the mindscape), it appears to be in some amount of agony. But on the second encounter it is with Alexa looking fine amongst her ethereal surroundings, that its pain appears to be relieved, would help substantiate the runner's ensuing feelings of relief and attraction in encountering Alexa.

I'm puzzled by why people would say they donít get "Matriculated"; it's not like the mindscape sequence requires total comprehension. Its ultimate purpose is clear and serves the storyline accordingly. It seems absurd to conclude that such a sequence, which has obviously had a lot of thought put into it, does in fact make no sense. I think things that seem psychedelic and abstract can be dismissed far to easily.

-- Sam (, June 22, 2003.

Mark was pretty close.

The basis of the "conversion" was to show the machines that they could exist with humans happily and not have to use humans as batterys, but that they could still make peace and live together. To this end, the humans try to teach the machine this with their own small, isolated submatrix.

The horror occurs when the girl finds that the machine does, indeed, love her, but chooses to continue interacting with her only in the submatrix. This gives her a) the horror of being once again trapped in a matrix while her real body dies of dehydration; and b) the additional horror of realising that the machines can be taught to love, but not to understand the drive for freedom that the humans are trying to impress upon them.

At least, thats my interpretation.

-- divinus (, June 25, 2003.

A review of Matriculated at Matrix Essays.

-- Mat Rebholz (, June 26, 2003.

really enjoyed the short i tend to prefer ambiguity to over annilized certainty...but did anyone else think that the runner was freed from the control the machine society had over it when it removed the bug... and that it was waiting for more runners at the flame, so it could free them too and not be alone? i liked blue flames too...

-- qixfix loophole (, July 01, 2003.

I think more likely the bug was a human-made symbol of the Machine's influence, not literally the oppressive Machine programming. Apparently the humans induced that first humanoid transformation, so the bug was probably similarly planned. The humans created an apparently dangerous situation (the bug's multiplication) to "matriculate" the runner.

It may be that the runner is trying to recruit more machines, but my personal interpretation is a bit darker... I tend to think that the machine is still a childlike being, and is more likely just stuck in a depressive/introspective/wondrous mood and is brooding over it. "The Woman" sat near this flame, this flame is sacred. Or: This is all my life has been? And what is it now? This flame catches my eye as I stare into space.

-- Mat Rebholz (, July 02, 2003.

Where does that sphereOskin go?

When the runner has his skin ripped off, do you think this is a visual representation of something actually happening to its AI? Its a seperation process, it could be that an aspect of its AI is being isolated from the rest. If its skin represented such an aspect, the bug-snake would be the animal like form, of what it, like the runner, transformed into.

-- Sam (, July 02, 2003.

Even though I'm growing a great respect for Chung's insistence that the message should go through the visual and not through verbal explanations, I think that a large part of the enjoyment for many people is to get into the mind of the artist and know more about what the *artist* had in mind when doing a specific scene. That's an old discussion in literature. And see, that doesn't mean necessarily "explanation" as in what it *should* mean, the connection between the motiff and the end product can be pretty much tangential. What was Chung thinking when he decided the girl would freak out from the avatar, despite the avatar's attitude of "calm down, I'm coming for you in a friendly way"? Maybe he had no logical reason, just felt she should freak out, maybe he freaked out himself when he pictured the avatar coming, and maybe he doesn't know why he felt that way. He just did.

I had a girlfriend who would freak out on me and she never explained why :) I would think twice about aproaching her in a mindscape where her freaking out could be related to the program crashing.

I know it will be hard to convince Chung to be more specific about his concept... Why she dies? Was she mortally wounded (she was unconcious after being hit, in a movie it doesn't mean anything, in reality is often envolves serious brain damage)? Did her freaking out crashed the program? Was it simply a power failure, after the whole place had been ravaged?

-- Ricardo Dirani (, July 23, 2003.

And for Yuri: Food does have meaning. And when I read about them in a recipe book, or hear the guy on TV explaining why he is putting more of this and less of that, it adds to my personal enjoyment. If you don't enjoy dissecting, then don't dissect. If you don't enjoy helping dissect, then don't help. But to tell somebody who enjoys dissecting to stop dissecting, well, it reveals a deluded world view, in my opinion. Compte Sponville calls it idealism. The Matrix has you :).

-- Ricardo Dirani (, July 24, 2003.

Did anybody thought there might be a sexual side in the ending!? I'm not sure...maybe I've seen too many violent mangas with pretty girls in them. But how about the Avatar actually wanting to rape Alexa at the end because he has all the control and she was just playing with him before!?I know it might sound perverse to some of you but its always good to go through all the angles of a theory.

-- HaZe (, October 03, 2003.

Alexia lost control. There was no outside influence to turn off the machine... to wake her up. The Matrix is all about control. Getting out of it was gaining control. When the runner (I think I'll call it "Doug")... when Doug gains control... she realizes it's a different world... it's one that Doug construed. Machines know two states. 1 = on, 0 = off. The other humans, in the real world are 0. off. In the virtual world, there were no threats, there were no 0's. There were only 1's. When what's his name says machines are a tool... they are slaves to humans, he is stating a fundamental machine rule that they protect humans. Even if it means making a matrix out of them to keep them happy/alive. Doug wanted to make Alexia happy... so he matriculated her into its matrix.

-- yes that is me (, December 13, 2003.

I'm probably off, but my girlfriend and I took the episode to mean that basically you can't lie to convince someone. So the humans didn't really succeed at changing the intentions and views of the robot, they just got him used to a different world. So I took the end to be him not being particularly heroic or rebellious, but just simply choosing to go back into that world he dug. I saw the girl screaming at the end because previously, she knew it was all a setup to alter the robot. With her friends dead, she realizes the robot has placed her in that world, and that this also means no one is there to ever jack her out of it. Which again goes back to the idea of lies and their failure. My take anyway. *shrug*

-- Adam Tierney (, December 23, 2003.

I believe the humans showed the Runner that there is a real world, and there is a simulated one. The scene where Alexa and the science guy are talking is important because it states that "to a machine, all reality is virtual." At the end of the film after the humans' hideout has been ransacked, the Runner deliberately jacks itself, and Alexa, back into the construct, which meant it had to know that there are 2 realities. Then Alexa dies, and the Runner is left in the construct all alone, with nobody to jack him out, yet in the next scene we see him sitting outside near the blue flame (i think it may have been a beacon to attract machines). The only way I can think the Runner could've jacked itself out of the construct would be that it realised that it was in fact, in an alternate reality.

It's like when you're dreaming and then you realise your dreaming, and you sit back and watch your dream like a movie, sometimes you can even control your dream to an extent (but not too much, because then you realise you are going to wake up).

On an unanylitical note, I really liked the Runner's design, very creative.

-- Rusty Shackleford (, January 25, 2005.

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