Future conditional, part 3

Spoiler alert: If you have never seen The Matrix, you might not want to read this post.

Continuing from yesterday…

In The Matrix the Oracle tells Neo that he is not “the one”. He has the talent, she says, but he lacks the conviction.

Then she tells him that either he or Morpheus must die. The only way he can save Morpheus is to sacrifice his own life.

But neither part of her prophecy comes true. When Neo realizes this, he is confused. Morpheus then explains that the Oracle tells each person what they need to hear.

In other words, the Oracle did not describe the future to Neo. Rather, she described a future, which she knew would cause him to engage in a set of actions that would lead to a better future.

We see here the vector from A Christmas Carol to The Matrix. In the 156 years between the former and the latter, the use of prophecy in speculative fiction had become far more relative and nuanced.

By 1999, when The Matrix was released, Western culture had completely forsaken the concept of a single immutable future. It was now so thoroughly embracing the principle of a multiplicity of futures that the role of an Oracle had been fundamentally transformed.

We see this now in many contemporary time traveling narratives, including Continuum, Travelers and Frequency.

The voice of the Oracle no longer serves as a messenger of immutable fate. Instead, that voice now functions as a kind of New Age life coach.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *