I started to see the matrix today. More specifically, the semiotic web as described in Patrick Dunn’s text on Postmodern Magic. The semiotic web/matrix is the totality of interrelated symbols and meaning that chart our experiences.
The term matrix or lattice has connotations of being crystalline and rigid – an oppressive sentiment that may be apt for the film the Matrix – which is why the web description is more appealing to me. It occurred to me however that the description of the semiotic web is still lacking something, or at least, it was for me.
The symbols are ALIVE. Do not view the semiotic web as a collection of things/points/nodes. The Net of Indra is a beautiful metaphor worth thinking about, and although the gems are like things, their identity is partly eroded and partly composed by the fact they reflect all the others. i.e. the identity of a thing is contextual (its place in the semiotic web). A change in one affects the others. But even more than this, the symbols are the landscape of our desires, ideals and motivations – which makes them decidedly ACTIVE. Imagine the landscape topology, with rivers flowing between peaks. Then consider the topology of the semiotic web:
In a crude sense, the symbol of a wall or obstacle serves to channel most ambulatory beings towards symbols of access and passage. Otherwise we would walk into walls more often! The very nature of the semiotic web serves to channel energy and direct us. More significant symbols, like ideals (and arguably gods) similarly distort the web, so that energies flow in different directions. As a ball rolls downhill into a depression, as the gravity well draws in objects, so too does the semiotic web guide and influence.
This is why I love Aikido so much: It works within the semiotic web so well. Rather than cruder approaches which might strike blows to deal with threats, Aikido literally takes advantage of the individual’s situation and interrelations within the web. Aikido is a form of magic made manifest – and as you get better at it you start to see the channels of people’s intentions. A bit like the scene in Donnie Darko when he starts to see the space-time worms emerging from the solar plexus, you start to see these energy flow more clearly, and how to direct them in different ways. I think a true master never has to fight, simply by virtue of avoiding conflicts before they even erupt.