This is a story about a future in which humanity may or may not exist anymore. The difficulty of ascertaining the truth about this most urgent question becomes the urgent problem of the hero. His name is Mr. Anderson, a patronymic derived from the Greek word for man, or Neo, the Greek word for new or young. Neo wants to find out either who he is or what the world is.
The matrix, the title of the story, is science liberated finally from religion, a power to control nature. The word matrix is Latin for womb, derived from mother. The effectual truth of science is this: Mankind are become perpetual babies in artificial wombs. There are several suggestions in the story that this post-human future is revolting, though there is no talk of incest. More obviously, it emerges that a man who wants to become a hero is in effect starting a revolution.
The revolution we find easier to understand than our hero. A man needs a religion to lead a revolution. Our hero does not know himself & is therefore more anxious about ascertaining his powers than about getting religion. His reluctance describes the difficulty of fighting against science. Science is the body of reason. It is knowledge & it is power. The reluctance to science is called soul. This is tied up with Neo’s choosing.
If soul is war against science, then soul is war simply. Soul is aware of the sacred, of the meaning of limits associated with mortality, whereas science is immortal. Obviously, the education of Neo for rule is an education about religion & the nature of belief. He is becoming undeceived by appearances, for one. For another, his educator is called Morpheus after the Greek god of dreams. He falls in love with a woman called Trinity, who seems destined for sacrifice.
The meaning of science is happily summarized in the name of the enforcer of science: Smith. His descent into insanity, self-recreation is inevitable: Science misunderstands immortality. It destroys the individual & therefore loses the possibility of ever thinking – science cannot return to the origins, which is what seems to be necessary for dreams & stories to be an education about rule. The secret of the origin of the human being is hidden to science.
In order to understand the nature of education for rule, in order to understand soul, you must consider two things. Let us provisionally call the ability of Neo to become undeceived, or independent from the matrix, soul. How can soul preserve body? Let us call the education of Neo about what is what enlightenment. How can the mind prevent itself from becoming science & therefore destroying soul?
This was the story that amazed & astonished youths most in the last generation.