Spoon Week continued:
Byter Brett sent me an email in which he took me to task about one of yesterday’s spoon photographs:
“Spoons must be shaped differently Down Under, because Flight From Servitude looks to me like it's made from what we here in the States call forks.”
Brett is right. I followed a commentary on the work and was focused on the ends of the implements, not the tines. I was also looking at a smaller pic than the one posted, which I had converted to a larger size and thereby made the tines more obvious.
The above is a convenient segue to the next quote, taken from The Simpsons episode where Bart and his family visit Australia. At an Australian pub, Bart is playing with a pocketknife when a man comes up to him:
Man: “You call that a knife, this is a knife.” (He holds up a spoon).
Bart: "That's not a knife, that's a spoon!"
Man: "All right, all right, you win., I see you’ve played knifey spoony, before."
See the clip by clicking on:
So Brett, all right, you win, I see you’ve played forky spoony before.
Spoon Boy: "Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead... only try to realise the truth."
Neo: "What truth?"
Spoon Boy: "There is no spoon."
Neo: "There is no spoon?"
Spoon Boy: "Then you'll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself."
Matrix film buffs will well know the above exchange.
So what does it mean.
The scene takes place when Neo meets the Oracle to see if he is “The One”, the prophesied person who will end the war between humans and machines.
In the context of the film, the world in which we function, our everyday reality, is an illusion. We get up, go to work, come home, watch TV... but none of it is real. Neo comes to find that when humans polluted the sky and cut off solar power access, machines took over and enslaved the humans to use their bioelectric energy as a power source. Billions of humans, everyone except a handful (who are the resistance) are comatose and hooked up to machines where they are fed implanted memories of the world as it was. Humans are bred and fed intravenously with the liquefied remains of the dead. This is the Matrix.
When Neo is to meet the Oracle, he has the above conversation with another of the candidates, a young boy dressed in Buddhist robes.
See the scene by clicking on the following link:
The boy is not identified in the movie by name, being credited only as Spoon Boy. What he tells Neo is also part of Buddhist philosophy (more of that later). There is no spoon because the spoon exists only in the Matrix, the simulated reality. It is not possible to change something that doesn’t exist, Neo must instead change himself. Someone has explained it as the world we know being like a reflection in a mirror, that that reflection is a collection of perceptions and experiences that we have had. We cannot change the reflection, no matter how hard we try. When we change ourself, the reflection will change.
On one level that is readily understandable. Some women repeatedly form relationships with abusive partners. Don’t try to change the partners, instead change oneself and select a partner who is not abusive. Alcohol abuse, overwork, depression... the answer lies not in change of the external factors but in oneself in selecting different circumstances or changing within.
On a deeper level, the words of Spoon Boy reflect one of the philosophies of Buddhism, the oneness of all things with our mind that relates to all in synchronised harmony. Just as Jesus spoke in parables, a lot of Buddhist instruction is contained in similar stories and dialogues called “koans”. A famous koan refers to Zen master Huineng (638-715 AD):
Two monks were watching a flag flapping in the wind. One said to the other, "The flag is moving." The other replied, "The wind is moving." Huineng overheard this. He said, "Not the flag, not the wind; mind is moving."
(I’m not saying that I understand all of this or that I subscribe to it. After all, if I am living in the Matrix with implanted memories, how do I know anything different?)
It reminds me of some old jokes:
Q: What did the Buddhist monk say to the hot dog vendor?
A: Make me one with everything.
Q: What did the hot dog vendor say to the Buddhist monk when the monk asked for his change from the $20 note he had given?
A: Change must come from within.