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Reality Or Shared Fantasy Your Choice (from Best Offer To The Matrix)

Uploaded 9/1/2020, approx. 46 minute read

My name is Sam Vaknin, I am a professor of psychology and the author of books, e-books, you name it, about personality disorders starting in 1999 with Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited.

And today I'm going to initiate a new series where I'm going to analyze popular movies using the latest bleeding edge, cutting edge, knowledge, research and studies in psychology, which is my field. I teach psychology, among other things.

So in today's segment, I'm going to analyze a few popular movies, including the Truman Show. And if you wait till the end of the video, the end of this video, I'm offering an analysis of the one and only one, the Matrix.

So, you know, persevere, survive somehow, because it's worth it. The prize is at the end of the price.

So I'm going to start with a fact, a mind-boggling fact actually. And the clinical term for this fact is mind wandering. We spend 30 to 50%. That's half of our waking life in a dissociative state. Between one third and one half of the time that we're awake, our mind wanders. We daydream, we fantasize, we plan.

But this is all done on autopilot. Our cognitions and the emotions attendant on our thoughts are not controlled by us. We don't control them. So we spend half of our waking life in an uncontrolled state, a dissociative state, absent, not here.

This has been discovered recently. And it's a shocking discovery, because we used to think that dissociative states comprise three to five percent of waking life. And even that was considered to be exceptional.

But now we realize that half the time we are not here. We're not here. We think we are here. We erroneously feel that we are here, but we don't control our thoughts and we don't control our emotions.

Second fact, what we regard as reality, this laptop, this chair, this table, this welcoming, what we regard as reality is not real. What we do is we sample, we take samples from the environment. We use our senses. We use our eyesight. We use our hearing. We use our tactile olfactory senses, smell. We use these senses to take small, tiny samples of reality.

Reality offers too much information. There is information overload. And so what we can't cope with this avalanche, this flood of information is going to swamp us, is going to drown us. We're going to, it's going to render us dysfunctional. We're going to freeze or flee, you know, flight or fight or freeze or fall.

So what we do instead, we ignore. We ignore sometimes 99 percent of the information and we take the remaining one percent and we send it to the brain. And there's a delay. We never see reality as it is. What we see is a microsecond ago. It's like we see the past. We never see the present.

And so we sample, we send it to the brain via the nerves. For example, the eye uses the optical nerve. The eye is a sophisticated camera and then it sends the signal via the optical nerve. It takes time. And then the signal reaches the brain.

And in the brain, there are programs like computer programs, like software, mathematical models. These mathematical models comprise knowledge about past experience, a model of the world, a theory about the world, theories about the minds of other people. This is called a theory of mind, theories about interactions. This is called the intersubjective agreement.

So a library of programs, a library of theories, like in a smartphone, numerous apps. And this signal goes into these theories. It serves as input into the theories. And these theories process the signal and they produce a false, fake narrative that has extremely little to do with reality. And it is this narrative that we inhabit.

We live 90 to 99% of the time inside our heads. We are fed by signals from the environment, which are highly filtered and highly sample. And then we construct stories and narratives. Even our memories are totally invented. That's why a year later, people remember things very differently.

People who were present in 9-11, who were meters away from the Twin Towers as they were collapsing, a year later, remember these events completely differently. They misremembered where they were. They misremembered who they were with. They misremembered the time. They misremembered what had happened, the sequence of events.

Memories are actually libraries. When we construct, when we remember, we construct the memory or reconstruct the memory. We take information from here, from there. We activate various softwares and various theories and we get a memory. It's totally, totally invented.

So what's the difference between reality and fantasy?

You remember in previous videos, I kept insisting that narcissists inhabit a fantastic space. They not only have grandiose fantasies, but they insist to include you in a shared fantasy.

But if each and every one of us lives in a fantasy, if each and every one of us reconstructs reality out of cerebral theories, neuronal theories in the brain, if we don't really get in touch with reality, if our mind wanders off half the tacking and we are not here, we are absent, what's the difference between us and the narcissist? In which sense are we not narcissists?

Everyone inhabits a fantastic space, it seems.

So I'm going to use a few movies, popular movies, to explore this topic and I hope you enjoy.


Let's start with a movie called The Best Offer.

The Best Offer is one of my favorite movies. It's about a guy called Virgin Oldman. He's an auctioneer. He helps to determine the price of art in public rule-based jousts. He's rich, he's middle-aged, he's well-respected, he is somewhat eccentric and very misanthropic.

If it reminds you of someone, for example me, you're right. He is an avowed bachelor, the kind of man who has transformed his fire world reclusiveness into a prideful ideology. He adores women, don't misunderstand me, but he adores women only of the two-dimensional kind in captive portraits which he suspends in a vault in the recesses of his gloomy mansion.

So he has this vault, this secret chamber where he has thousands literally of portraits of women hanging on the wall. He is also a con artist. He knows the correct prices of all the items, but he profitably misleads other people in cahoots with a swindler artist, Billy.

The movie revolves around this dichotomy, the price of everything and the value of nothing. Of course, the main protagonist's name gives up the game. The poet Virgil was publicly disgraced when he fell in love with a wily Lucretia.

And so this latter-day cinematic Virgil meets the agoraphobic Clare. He's smitten with her, he's besotted despite her extreme approach avoidance games, or maybe because of them.

Old man is supposed to auction off a collection of art and antiques that Clare had inherited from her deceased parents.

And then there's Robert. Robert is a friend of Virgil's and he coaches Virgil in the art of courting women. He's a kind of a pickup artist. And at the same time he reassembles, he's reassembling an ancient automaton from mechanical parts that Virgil finds strewn in Clare's strolling abode.

The movie is anything but subtle. You might have noticed.

And the reconstructed robot is a parable and a metaphor which corresponds to Virgil's own resurrection as a man and indeed a living human being.

It seems that the movie is saying Virgil's robotic days are behind him now that he had met the only love of his barren existence.

In Clare's home, it is in Clare's home that Virgil finds the broken pieces. Love and friendship bring Virgil back to life after decades of mechanical disintegration. And love does wonders for Clare as well. Love ostensibly heals Clare and eliminates, removes her agoraphobia.

And consequently she moves to live with Virgil. She cohabits with Virgil. And she confesses her emotions when Virgil entrusts her with access to his priceless collection.

Money is known to have this amorous effect on some people. Momentarily, momentarily suspended in time, Clare, Billy and Robert collude to deprive Virgil of his museal pride and joy. They want to steal his paintings to cut a long story short.

In the wake of the robbery, because they do steal his paintings finally, in the wake of the robbery, Robert leaves behind the now functioning Robert with a message, even a forger is an artist of sorts. After a spell in the mental asylum, Virgil is left to ponder whether Clare's passionate love-making and professions of love were as contrived as the forgeries that he came across in his career.

You see, Virgil was forging art and selling it. And now Clare forged his life for him.

And ironically, Virgil's forte was passing off genuine art as fake in order to deceive trusting clients into selling these pieces cheap. And now he's faced with the opposite conundrum, was Clare, a forgery, passed off as real art.

But the film raises more profound and troubling issues. Was Virgil truly conned? Was he deceived?

Granted, Clare did not spell out her agenda. She didn't come to Virgil and said, listen, Virgil, I'm gonna fake, I'm gonna fake the love affair so as to steal your paintings. Of course, she didn't do that. She didn't let on the con, the con.

But Virgil should have seen through her. He should have known better. He should have experienced the whole affair because he's an experienced man. He's a con artist himself. He's uniquely equipped.

His gullibility appears somewhat mysterious, contrived. It's as though Virgil wanted Clare to devastate the penal colony that his life had become.

Don't we often invite other people into our lives in order to disrupt our lives? Sometimes we feel trapped. Sometimes we feel incapable of growth. So we invite people, narcissists, psychopaths, because we want them to shake us. We want them to break us. This is creative destruction, creative destruction.

Clare was Virgil's agent of change. Clare transformed his life by ruining it. Clare sprang Virgil from his vault by emptying the vault's contents.

These paintings were his wardens and he was a hostage in the vault.

And then there's the question, was Clare for real? Did she really love Virgil? She appeared real enough to him, that is for sure.

But what if happiness is the outcome of a delusion and an insanity, a shared psychosis? What if we are happy when we are deceived? Denying reality and living in a fantasy makes some people elated, joyful, joyous, happy. People collude to create imaginary spaces like, I don't know, nation states, cults, religions, or romantic couples.

In these imaginary spaces, which are very often delusional, very often false, people feel safe, people feel optimistic and content.

And is such felicity, which is divorce from reality, is it real? Do we have to intervene with psychotherapy to wake up these deluded souls and reintroduce them to the world? Or should we leave people to their bliss, however outlandish?

If a woman comes to me and says, I love my narcissistic husband, he makes me feel happy. And with him, I feel alive. With him, the world is in color. I want to stay with him. Should I disillusion him?

Cult therapy, the treatment modalities that I had invented is based on taking away people's delusions, on forcing them to go again via trauma. Is this the right thing to do? Should people not be left to their own fantasies?

The surprising answer is that people who are both joyful and functional require no help, no healing, no behavior modification, even when their well-being is based on a patently fictitious, erroneous, delusional, unrealistic narrative.

If people are made cheerful by believing in the existence of God, by believing that their nation is superior, by harboring a grandiose view of their own talents and qualities, or by mistaking their spouse's behavior for love, good for them. As long as it does not interfere with functioning in any way, as long as it's not harmful to themselves or to others, they can sustain the fiction.

They can sustain the fantasy and the delusion, financially, psychologically, in any way, as long as they feel at ease with who they are, their egosyntonic. And as long as this is the case, all is well.

Placoids and Nocibros are often more effective than real medication.

Virgil was beside himself with happiness when he spent time with Clare. And that is all that matters. And that is all that should have mattered to him. He should not have ended in a mental asylum. He got something out of Clare. Clare gave him something. She gave him the imitation of love, the imitation of Christ, in a way. She gave him religion. She gave him happiness. It was all faith. It was all an act. It was all thought.

So who cares? Who cares? Virgil was happy.

Many would say that what Clare did to Virgil was unfair. She took away his prized possessions. She has manipulated his emotions, cruelly.

And I disagree. Clare gave Virgil two years of happiness. In return, she took all his paintings.

It strikes me as a balanced deal. The hell with the paintings. Give me two years of happiness. I'll give you anything you want. Better a short period of bliss, short period of joy, in an arid life, in a dead life, than no period at all. Virgil got the better deal, I think.

Money and property come and go. And when the ineluctable moment is upon us, when we die, we leave everything behind, like so many pieces of colored glass.

Happiness. Happiness is the treasure that keeps on giving for as long as our memory holds.

And Clare gave Virgil the lusting gift. She gave him the gift of happy memories. And took from him what?

Crumbling canvases, peeling paint, dead inanimate objects. She gave Virgil access to a real woman in lieu of the dead women whose portraits he morbidly collected and revered.

And finally, Virgil himself understood that he may have paid a steep price, but he did receive some valuables in return.

The de nouvelle, the end of the film, finds him in Prague, check here, patiently waiting for Clare to frequent her favorite aunt and restore him to those few moments of ecstasy, few moments of bliss, the only time Virgil had felt truly alive.

And this leads me to another film, a Russian film this time, Koma. Koma was made last year, 2019. It's a spectacular Russian film. And it poses a fascinating dilemma.

In the film, there's a medical scientist, a little like me, and he induces Koma, a vegetative state, in his subjects. So he chooses people and he puts them in Koma, thereby transporting them into a shared self-generated fantasy universe. All of them, all these people in Koma, they collaborate in creating a fantasy universe where they are happy. In this universe, they are happy. From time to time, they're being chased by black entities and gendered by the intrusion of technologies on their habitat. But otherwise, they're very happy.

And then, close to the end of the film, the evil genius has an argument with one of these people. One of these people wakes up, and so he has an argument with him. And the evil genius says, if you experience happiness, if you experience contentment, if you experience love, does it matter if these things are real? What is reality anyhow? What is reality anyhow?

If our minds accept a delusion, embrace a hallucination, fall into a fantasy, trust that an illusion is authentic and objective. Does it not make these things real, especially if these things are shared by many people?

If there is a delusion, a hallucination, a fantasy, or an illusion that are shared by many people, aren't they real? If God is a delusion, but it is shared by billions, doesn't it make God very real in the minds of these people?

And when people go to Lord to benefit from medical miracles, is it not real? Is it better to be a miserable person lonely, downtrodden failure in reality than a successful creative architect in a dream world?

If we can avoid life's abandoned losses and despondence, don't we have a moral obligation to avoid these things by all and any means possible?

In other words, if there's a solution, if by going to coma, we secure happiness for life, isn't this a rational actually move?

Moreover, do we possess the right to impose happiness on people unbeknownst to these people or against their will?

It's an interesting question. Is firewalling people from reality isolating them by disabling their brains? Is this one step too far? Do we need people's consent to remove them from harm's way?

The essence of all drug policies, anti-drug policies in the West is that the state has an obligation to protect people by making drugs illegal and there was a period that alcohol was illegal. The state was trying to protect people, protect people's health and now we are forced to wear masks and to socially distance and to self-isolate and to quarantine to protect not only others but ourselves.

So there is this belief. So if someone is unhappy, don't we have the obligation to remove them from harm's way to afford them the decor and the joy that they do deserve even by putting them in coma? If the only outlet to one's creativity is out of this world, should one not opt out of this world, out of one kind of existence and transition to another?

If you can be creative only while you're in coma, shouldn't you be in coma? Isn't creativity more important? What's the big deal about reality and how?

That's a narcissist way of thinking, by the way. In which sense is life? In which sense is a life that is confined to the mind and to its internal objects less real than a life that is embedded in a physical environment?

Is the good doctor in the movie good or is he here a Doctor Strangeland, a deranged and malevolent villain?

The film cleverly, wisely doesn't answer these questions. It leaves these questions unanswered as it should.

And as we migrate deeper into cyberspace, the postmodern equivalent of medieval heaven, these conundrums become ubiquitous and the lines of demarcation between virtual reality and actual reality become more and more fuzzy.

You see, look around you. Several television personalities now occupy elected high office, having played the very same roles on the small screen. The president of Ukraine used to play the president of Ukraine on television when he became the president of Ukraine. Donald Trump was a reality TV star and now he has reality as TV. History as reality TV is already here. And of course this inexorably leads to the masterpiece, The Truman Show.

The Truman Show is a profoundly disturbing movie. Profoundly disturbing.

On the surface, the movie deals with the worn out issue of the intermingling of life and media. There is an incestuous relationship between the media and life. This is doubly true in the age of social media.

Ronald Reagan, the cinematic president, was also a presidential movie star. In another movie, The Philadelphia Experiment, a defrosted Rick Van Winkle exclaims upon seeing Reagan on television 40 years after this guy was put in hibernation.

So there was a guy who was put in hibernation and then 40 years later they woke him up. And when he woke up, he opened the television and he saw Ronald Reagan. And he said, why know this guy? He used to play cowboys in the movies, but Reagan was president.

Candid cameras monitor the lives of webmasters, website owners, almost 24 hours a day. And the resulting images are continuously posted on the web. This is especially true with sex sites. These results are available to anyone with a computer.

The last decade, the last two decades, witnessed a spate of films. And all these films, all these movies are concerned with the confusion between life and the imitation of life, media, the media.

For example, there's a movie, an ingenious movie, called Captain Fantastic, another movie, Capricorn One, another movie, Silver Dollar, Wag the Dog, many other lesser films.

They've all tried to tackle this unfortunate state of things and its moral and practical implications. The blurring line between life and its representation in the arts is arguably the main theme of the Truman Show.

To refresh your memory, the hero, Truman, lives in an artificial world constructed especially for him. He was born and raised in this world. He knows no other place.

The people around him, unbeknownst to him, they're all actors. Even his wife is an actress. His life is monitored by 5,000 cameras. And his life is broadcast live to the world 24 hours a day, every day.

Truman is spontaneous. Truman is funny because he's unaware of the monstrosity of which he is the main cogwheel. He doesn't know that he is living in a stage set that his life is unfolding and unfurling in a movie. He doesn't realize that tens of millions of people are watching his every move.

Peter Weir, the movie's director, takes this issue one step further by perpetrating a massive act of immorality on the screen.

Truman is light. Truman is deceived and cheated and deprived of his ability to make choices. His control is manipulated by sinister, half-med Shylocks.

As I said, Truman is unwittingly the only spontaneous, non-scripted, so-called actor in the ongoing soap opera of his own life. All the other figures in his life, including his parents, are actors. Actors, can you imagine? Hundreds of millions of viewers and voyeurs plug in to take a peep to intrude upon what Truman innocently and honestly believes to be his privacy.

These people are shown responding to various dramatic or anti-climatic, clagmatic events in Truman's life. That we are the moral equivalent of these viewers, voyeurs, we are. When we watch the Truman Show, we join these hundreds of millions of people because we get a peek and a peep into Truman's life. We are accomplices to the same crimes and suddenly, you know, you sit back and say, wow, I'm one of these people. I'm collaborating in this crime.

It's a shocking realization. We are live viewers.

In the movie, there are celluloid viewers, fictitious viewers, but we are real. We both enjoy Truman's inadvertent, non-consenting exhibitionism exactly like the viewers online in the movie. We know the truth about Truman and the viewers in the movie know the truth about Truman. We are the same.

Of course, we are in a privileged moral position because we know it is a movie and they know it is a piece of raw life, the Deloitte.

But moviegoers throughout Hollywood's history have willingly and insatiably participated in numerous Truman shows.

The lives real or concocted of the studio stars were brutally exploited and incorporated in their films.

John Harlow, Barbara Stanwyck, James Cagney, all these people were forced to spill their guts in cathartic acts of on-camera repentance and not-so-symbolic humiliation.

Truman shows is the common phenomenon in the movie industry, on-screen and off-screen.

And then there is the question of the director of the movie, as God. And God is the director of the movie.

The members of his team, technical members, non-technical members, they obey the director. His name is Christoph Christ. They obey the director almost blindly. They suspend their better moral judgment. They succumb to the director's whims. Whims and brutal and vulgar aspects of his pervasive dishonesty and sadism.

The torture in this movie loves his victims. They define him and infuse his life with meaning.

Caught in the narrative, the movie says, people act immorally. Look at the Germans during the Second World War and the Holocaust. Look at the Holocaust.

Hannah Arendt said that evil is banal, the banality of evil. You know, people like you and me. They were the ones who massacred and slaughtered and gassed and cremated and tortured and raped and killed. People like you and me, non-demons, non-devils, nothing special. Pedestrian, middle class.

Infamous psychological experiments support this assertion. For example, students were led to administer what they thought were deadly electric shocks to their colleagues or to treat their colleagues bestially in simulated prisons. These students were obeying orders. And so did all the hideous genocidal criminals in history.

And the director asked, should God be allowed to be immoral or should God be bound by morality and ethics? Should God's decisions and actions be constrained by an overriding code of right and wrong? Should we obey God's commandments blindly or should we exercise some judgment?

And if we do exercise judgment, are we then being immoral because God and the director, Christoph, know more about the world, about us, about the viewers, about Truman?

If someone knows better than us, if someone is omnipotent, does it give him a special privileged ethical and moral position?

Is the exercise of judgment the usurpation of divine powers and attributes? Isn't this act of rebelliousness bound to lead us down the path of apocalypse?

These are very pregnant questions in this time of pandemic. It all boils down to the question of free choice and free will versus the benevolent determinism imposed by an omniscient and omnipotent being.

What is better, to have the choice and be damned, almost inevitably as in the biblical narrative of the Garden of Eden or to succumb to the superior wisdom of the supreme being or the state or medical professionals?

If we make choices, we often pay a horrible irreversible price.

Eve gave the fruit to Adam and they were both expelled from the Garden of Eden and we are paying the price to this very day.

But should they have made this choice, a choice always involves a dilemma. It is a conflict between two equivalent states, two weighted decisions whose outcomes are equally desirable, two identically preferable causes of action.

Where there is no such equivalence, there is no choice, merely the preordained exercise of a preference or inclination or proclivity.

When we have full knowledge and one of the alternatives is less than the other, less desirable, less efficient and of course there is no, it's a no-brainer.

These do not choose to make honey. A fan of football does not choose to watch a football game. He is motivated by a clear inequity between the choices that he faces.

He can watch football or cook. He likes to watch football. No-brainer, end of story, he watches football. He can read a book or go to the game. He goes to the game.

His decision is clear, predetermined, predetermined by his predilection by the inevitable and invariable implementation or the principle of pleasure. There's no choice here. It is all rather automatic.

But compare this to the choice some victims had to make when the Nazis forced a mother to choose between her two children. In the face of Nazi brutality, this is a choice. Which child to sentence to death? Which one to sentence to life?

Now this is a real choice. It involves conflicting emotions of equal strength. One must not confuse decisions, opportunities and choice. Decisions are the mere selection of causes of action. This selection can be the result of a choice or the result of a tendency, conscious tendency, unconscious tendency, biological, genetic, epigenetic.

Opportunities are current states of the world which allow for a decision to be made and which affect the future state of the world.

But choices are different. Choices are our conscious experience of a moral dilemma, of some other dilemma. Dilemma. We are caught on the horns of the dilemma. We are spared. We are disemboweled very frequently.

When Christoff the director finds it strange that Truman, having discovered the truth, insists upon his right to make choices, upon his right to experience dilemmas. Christoff is shocked. Why would Truman want to experience dilemmas?

To the director, dilemmas are painful, unnecessary, destructive, disruptive, at best. In the director's utopian world, the one he had constructed for Truman, this world is choice-free but it's also dilemma-free. Truman is programmed not in the sense that his spontaneity is extinguished. Truman is wrong when in one of the scenes he keeps shouting, be careful, unspontaneous.

The director and fat cat capitalist producers, they want him to be spontaneous. They want him to make decisions but they do not want him to make choices. So they influence his preferences and predilections by providing him with an absolutely totalitarian, micro-controlled, repetitive environment. Also, fake. Such an environment reduces, eliminates, minimizes the set of possible decisions.

So there is only one favorable or acceptable decision, one favorable acceptable outcome at any junction. Truman does decide whether to walk down a certain path or not but when he does decide to walk, only one path is available to him. His world is constrained and limited, not his actions.

Actually, Truman's only choice in the world leads to an arguably immoral decision. He abandons ship. He walks out on the whole project. He destroys an investment of billions of dollars, people's lives, people's careers. He turns his back on some of the actors who seem to really be emotionally attached to him. He ignores the good and pleasure that the show had brought to the lives of hundreds of millions of people, the viewers, and to our lives.

He selfishly and eventually goes away. And he knows all this.

By the time Truman makes his decision, he's fully informed. He knows that some people may commit suicide, others who bankrupt, endure major depressive episodes, do drugs. He knows he's going to inconvenience us, the viewers. We are going to be sorry to see him go. He's going to hurt us.

But this massive landscape of resulting devastation does not deter him. He prefers his narrow personal interest. And he walks.

But Truman did not ask. He did not choose to be put in this position. He found himself responsible for all these people without being consulted in advance. There was no consent, no act of choice involved.

So how can anyone be responsible for the well-being in lives of other people if he did not choose to be responsible?

Moreover, Truman had the perfect moral right to think that these people wronged him. Are we morally responsible and accountable for the well-being in lives of people who wrong us?

Truer Christians are, for instance. Narcissism.

Reframe the world. Everyone is out to get them. Everyone is envious of them. They're a bit paranoid.

Do you understand now why most narcissists don't feel any moral obligation towards you?

Moreover, most of us, most of the time, find ourselves in situations which we did not help mold by our decisions. We did not contribute to these situations. We are unwillingly cast into the world.

For example, we do not provide prior consent to being born. The most critical event in our lives is forced upon us. This fundamental decision is made for us.

This pattern persists throughout our childhood and adolescence. Decisions are made elsewhere by other people, parents, for example, teachers, society. And these decisions influence our lives profoundly.

And as adults, we are the objects, often the victims of the decisions of corrupt politicians, mad scientists, indecisive doctors, megalomaniacal, media parents, gung-ho generals, and demented artists. Not to mention half-crazed YouTubers.

This world is not of our making, and our ability to shape and influence the world is very limited and rather illusory and delusional. We live in our own true mansion. Don't you know that?

But does this mean that we are not morally responsible for other people who are in the same show with us?

And do you think the people in your lives are not acting, not faking, not lying to you all the time? If you do, you're very gullible, or intellectually challenged, or both.

We are morally responsible. Even if we did not choose the circumstances, even if we did not select and elect the parameters and characteristics of the universe that we inhabit, we are morally responsible.

The Swedish Count Wallenberg imperiled his life and lost his life, smuggling hunted Jews out of Nazi-occupied Europe. Wallenberg didn't choose. Wallenberg didn't help to shape Nazi Europe. It was the brainchild of the deranged director Adolf Hitler.

But when Wallenberg found himself, an unwilling participant in Hitler's horror show, Wallenberg did not turn his back. He did not opt out, did not walk away.

Wallenberg remained within the bloody and horrific set in the movie that Hitler was directing, and he did his best.

Truman should have done the same.

Jesus said that he should have loved his enemies. He should have felt and acted with responsibility towards his fellow human beings, even towards those who had wronged him so greatly.

Many would say, listen, in theory, yeah, great, turn the other cheek, this, that, love your enemies. But how many people are capable of that? That's an inhuman demand. Such forgiveness and magnanimity are the reserve of gods.

And the fact that Truman's tormentors did not see themselves as such. They didn't consider what they were doing to Truman Rock.

On the contrary, they believed that they had provided him with a fantasy, a wonderful fantasy, a tropical island. And they believed that they were acting in his best interests.

The producers and directors of a show, they believed that they were catering to his every need.

But their beliefs do not absorb them from their crimes.

Truman should have maintained a fine balance between his responsibility to the show, to its creators, to its viewers, to us, and his natural drive to get back at his tormentors, his vindictive impulse.

The source of a dilemma which led to his act of choosing is that the two groups often overlap.

Truman found himself in the impossible position of being the sole guarantor of the well-being and the lives of his tormentors.

To put the question in sharper relief, are we morally obliged to save the life and livelihood of someone who greatly wronged us, who hurt us, who tortured us, who tormented us, who abused us? Is vengeance justified in such a case?

A very problematic figure in this respect is that of Truman's best and childhood friend.

These guys grew up together. They shared secrets, emotions, adventures. And yet, this guy lies to Truman constantly and under the director's instructions. Everything this guy says is part of the script. It is this disinformation that convinces us that he is not Truman's best friend and true friend. A real friend is expected above all to provide us with full and true information, a reality testing to enhance our ability to choose.

Truman's true love in the show tried to do it, and she paid the price. She was ousted from the show. But she did try to provide Truman with a choice.

It is not sufficient to say the right things, not sufficient to make the right things, not sufficient to make the right moods. Inner drive and motivation are required. The willingness to take risks, such as the risk of providing Truman with full information about this condition, a true friend would have risked his role as an actor and subjected it, subjugated it to his role as a friend.

All the actors who played Truman's parents, loving wife, friends, and colleagues, they betrayed him. They betrayed him. They stabbed him at the back. They miserably failed on this score.

This is exactly what happens in a relationship with a narcissist.

A narcissist constructs a Truman show for you, and then he betrays you.

It is in this mimicry that the philosophical key to the whole movie rests.

A utopia cannot be faked. Captain Nemo's utopian underwater city was a real utopia because everyone knew everything about it. People were given a choice. It was an irreversible choice, irrevocable choice. You could choose only once, but you had the choice.

And the people who were with Nemo, they chose to become lifetime members of the reclusive captain's colony and to abide by its overtly and overly rational rules.

The utopia came closest to extinction when a group of stray survivors of a marine accident were imprisoned in the utopia against their expressed will.

In the absence of choice, no utopia can survive or exist. In the absence of full, timely and accurate information, no choice can exist.

Actually, the availability of a choice is so crucial that even when it is prevented by nature itself and not by the designs of more or less sinister or megalomaniac people, even when nature prevents a choice, there can be no utopia.

In H.G. Wells' book The Time Machine, the hero wanders off to the third millennium only to come across a peaceful utopia. Everyone is on the grass, you know, lying down, happy, pondering and contemplating passing clouds. His members are immortal. They never die. They don't have to work. They don't have to think in order to survive. Sophisticated machines take care of all their needs. No one forbids them to make choices.

There simply is no need to make choices. So, Wells says, utopia is fake and indeed in the book it ends badly.

Finally, the Truman Show encapsulates the most virulent attack on capitalism in a long time.


Grady, thoughtless money machines in the form of billionaire tycoon producers, exploit Truman's life shamelessly and remorselessly in the ugliest display of human vices and avarice possible.

The director himself indulges in his control mania. The producers indulge in their monetary obsession. The viewers in the movie and we, on both sides of the silver screen, we indulge in voyeurism. The actors vie and compete in the compulsive activity of furthering their petty careers.

It's a repulsive canvas of a disintegrating world. And perhaps the director, Christoph, is right after all when he warns Truman about the true nature of the world.

But Truman makes a choice. He chooses. He chooses the exit door leading to the outer darkness of the false sunlight in the utopia that he lives behind.

And this is the stage when you leave the shared fantasy, exit the shared fantasy.

The Nazis cannot understand why is it that you make this choice. He cannot understand that it's about making the choice. Where the choice leads you to what's outside the shared fantasy may be much worse than what's inside the shared fantasy.

But at least it's a reality and at least you've made the choice, which leads me to the promised matrix, the matrix, the matrix, the movie of all time.

First, let me remind you that it is easy to confuse the concepts of virtual reality and a computerized model of reality known as simulation.

Virtual reality is a self-contained universe. It's replete with its laws of physics, with its logic.

Virtual reality can bear resemblance to the real world or not. It can be consistent or not. Virtual reality can interact with the real world or not.

In short, virtual reality is an arbitrary environment.

In contrast, a model of reality must maintain a direct and strong relationship to the world. It must obey the rules of physics, the rules of logic.

The absence of such a relationship renders simulation, a simulation meaningless.

A flight simulator is not much good in the world without airplanes or without air or if it ignores the rules of nature.

A technical analysis program is useless without the stockaging or if it is mathematically erroneous.

And yet the two concepts, virtual reality and simulation, are often confused because they're both mediated by and reside on computers.

What is a computer? A computer is a self-contained universe. It's not a closed universe, it's an open universe, but it's self-contained.

The computer incorporates the hardware, the data, and the instruction for the manipulation of the data, the software.

It is therefore by definition a virtual reality.

Every computer is a virtual reality. A computer is versatile. It can correlate its reality with the outside world.

But a computer can also refrain from having contact with the outside world, from coordinating himself with the outside world, from aligning himself with the outside world.

A computer can be totally self-sufficient, self-contained, closed environment if he chooses so.

A computer can be virtual reality to the maximum, to the fullest.

And this is the ominous what if in artificial intelligence.

What if a computer were to suddenly refuse to correlate its internal virtual reality with the reality of the people who made it, its creators and makers? What if it were to impose its own reality on us?

What if a computer were to make his reality, its reality, the privileged reality, and our reality, this observant reality?

You remember the computer Hull 2000 in the Stanley Kubrick's movie 2001? It's a computer that took over. And that computer in the movie decided that its reality is the only reality and that the astronauts were wrong, that their reality was inferior and subservient and deficient and defective.

In the visually tantalizing movie The Matrix, there's a breed of artificial intelligence computers, and they take over the world.

These computers harvest human embryos in laboratories called fields. And then they feed these embryos through grim-looking tubes and they keep them immersed in gelatinous liquid within cocoons.

And this new machine species derives its energy needs from the electricity produced by the billions of human bodies thus preserved.

So the human bodies are kind of batteries in effect. Sophisticated, all pervasive human program called The Matrix generates a world inhabited by the consciousness of the unfortunate human batteries.

And ensconced in their shells, these people see themselves walking, talking, working, making love. This is a tangible, even olfactory phantasm must have fully created by The Matrix.

The people who are inside this delusion, they can't tell that they're inside an illusion. They believe they are in the real world doing real things with others. The computing power of The Matrix is mind-blowing. It generates the minutest details. It generates rims of data in a spectacularly successful effort to maintain every facet, however microscopic, of the illusion.

And suddenly there's this group of human miscreants, human misfits, outliers, outsiders. And they succeed to learn the secret of The Matrix. They form an underground. They live aboard a ship loosely communicating with a halcyon city called Zion, the last bastion of resistance.

In one of the scenes, Cipher, one of the rebels, defects. Over a glass of illusory, Rubicon wine and spectral, juicy steak, he poses the main dilemma of the movie.

He says, is it better to live happily in a perfectly detailed simulation? Or is it better to survive unhappily outside the simulation, free of its hold?

Is a happy delusion preferable to a miserable reality?

The Matrix controls the minds of all the humans in the world. It is a bridge between them. They interconnect through The Matrix. It makes people share the same sights, smells, and textures. They remember. They compete. They make decisions.

The Matrix is sufficiently complex to allow for this apparent lack of determinism and ubiquity of free will.

And the root question is, is there any difference between making decisions and feeling that you're making decisions, feeling certain that you're making decisions, not having made them?

So if you make decisions, it's one thing. What if you are sure that you are making decisions when you're not making decisions? Is there a difference?

If one is unaware of the existence of the Matrix, the answer is of course not. There's no difference.

From the inside, as a part of the Matrix, making decisions and appearing to be making decisions are identical states.

Only an outside, privileged observer, one who is in possession of full information regarding both the Matrix and the humans inside the Matrix, only such an observer, a kind of a God's eye point of view, only such an observer can tell the difference.

Indeed, perhaps this is the secret of God's power, that it is the perfect observer.

In quantum mechanics, there is an interpretation called the Copenhagen interpretation that says that the observer determines the outcomes of experiments.

What if there is the perfect observer, God, and we are his experiment?

Moreover, if the Matrix were a computer program of infinite complexity, no observer, finite or infinite, would have been able to say with any certainty who a decision was, the Matrixes or the humans.

I want you to understand this.

If you pass a certain level of complexity, the program itself becomes utterly unpredictable. You cannot reduce it back to its coding or to its component.

There are emergent phenomena. It's called epiphenomena. There are emergent phenomena that cannot be traced back to the ingredients or the components or the codelines or whatever of the program.

And so the humans inside such a program, they also become unpredictable. And we can't say when a decision is made, if it is embedded in the program, if it is an outcome of the program, if it is an inevitable outcome of the program, or if a human made it.

Because the Matrix for all intents and purposes is infinite compared to the mind of any single tube-nourished individual, it is safe to say that the states of making a decision and appearing to be making a decision are indistinguishable, at least subjectively.

No individual within the Matrix would be able to tell the difference. His or her life would seem to him or her as real as our life seems to us.

The Matrix may be deterministic, but this determinism is inaccessible to individual minds because of the complexity involved.

We believe fully. Many of us believe fully. I'm a physicist. Many of us believe that in the quantum realm, there is determinacy. Essentially, it's deterministic.

Einstein believed it as well.

And yet we can't determine this determinism because it's too complex.

When faced with a trillion deterministic paths, one would be justified to feel that he had exercised free unconstrained will in choosing one of these trillion.

Free will and determinism are indistinguishable at a certain level of complexity.

And yet we know that the Matrix is different to our world. It's not the same.

How do we know that?

Why is the Matrix not life? Why in which way is the Matrix not real?

It would be very difficult to define this rigorously, philosophically, logically. It's more like an intuitive kind of knowledge, for sure.

But that something is intuitive doesn't detract from its firmness and validity.

If there is no subjective difference between the Matrix and our universe, there must be an objective difference.

And so there's another case sentence.


This time, it is uttered by Morpheus, the leader of the Reiner. He says to the chosen one, the Messiah, that it is really the year 2199, though the Matrix gives the impression that it is 1999.

And this is where the Matrix and reality diverge.

Though a human who would experience both the Matrix and reality would find them indistinguishable, objectively, they are distinguishable. They're different.

In one of them, the Matrix, people have no objective time. Though the Matrix may have objective time, its constituents, its slaves, if you wish, do not.

In the other, in reality, people have objective time. And reality itself is governed by this objective time.

Under the spell of the Matrix, people feel as though time goes by. They have functioning watches, the sun rises, the sun sets, seasons change, they grow old, they die.

And this is not entirely a delusion. Their bodies do decay and die, as our bodies do.

The people in the Matrix are not exempt from the laws of nature, but the awareness of time is computer generated. The Matrix is sufficiently sophisticated, enormously knowledgeable, and maintains a close correlation between the physical state of the human, his health, his age, and his consciousness of the passage of time.

The basic rules of time, for instance, is asymmetry, are part of the problem. But this is precisely it. That's the crux of the matter. That's where the crunch is. That's the punchline.

Time in the minds of these people is program generated, not reality induced. It is not the derivative of change. It is irreversible. It's not an outcome of irreversible thermodynamic processes out there.

The minds of these people are part of the computer program. The computer program is a part of their minds. Their bodies are static, degenerating, degenerating in their protectiveness and the cocoons.

Nothing happens to these bodies, except in the minds. They have no physical effect on the world. These bodies affect no change. And these are the things that set the Matrix and reality apart.

To qualify as reality, a two-way interaction must occur. One flow of data is when reality influences the minds of people, as the Matrix does.

But there must be another flow of data, the obverse flow of data, equally necessary. It's a type of data flow in which people know reality and influence reality, affect it, change it.

The Matrix changes people. People cannot change the Matrix. The Matrix triggers a time sensation in people in the same way that the universe triggers a time sensation in us.

Something does happen out there. And what's happening out there is called the Matrix.

And in this sense, the Matrix is real. It is reality of these humans.

No one is denying this. And it maintains the requirement of the first flow of data, from reality to us.

But it fails the second test. The Matrix fails the second test.

People do not know that itexists, don't understand any of its attributes. And therefore, people do not affect the Matrix, irreversibly or in any other way. They do not change the Matrix.

Paradoxically, the Rebels are the ones who affect the Matrix. They're almost destroyed.

And in doing so, the Rebels make the Matrix real. It is a reality of the Rebels, because they know the Matrix and they irreversibly change the Matrix.

And so now, the equal partners in the generation of reality. And applying this dual-track test, virtual reality is a reality, albeit at this stage of a deterministic type.

Virtual reality affects our minds. We know that it exists. And we affect it in return. Our choices and actions irreversibly alter the state of the system.

When we play a virtual reality game, our choices affect what's happening. We script the game in a way. This altered state in turn affects our minds. And this interaction is what we call reality. Reality is a process. Reality is an interaction, not objects.

With the advent of stochastic and quantum virtual reality generators, the distinction between real and virtual will fade.

The Matrix, therefore, is not impossible, but that it is possible doesn't make it real.

I'll finish with a highly technical note, so you can turn off here, except those of you who like philosophy and logic, logic theory.

The second movie in the Matrix series, The Matrix Reloaded, culminates in an encounter between Neo, the one, and the architect of the Matrix.

So thinly, these guys got white beard and everything.

The architect informs Neo that he is the sixth reincarnation of the one, and that Zion, a shelter for those decoupled from the Matrix, has been destroyed before and is about to be demolished again.

The architect goes on to reveal that his attempts to render the Matrix harmonious, perfect, failed. These attempts had failed.

And the architect says, well, I had no choice. I was forced to introduce an element of intuition into the equations to reflect the unpredictability and grotesqueries of human nature. This inbuilt error tends to accumulate over time to threaten the very existence of a Matrix, hence the need to obliterate Zion, the seat of malcontents and rebels periodically.

God, or at least the architect, appears to be unaware of the work of an important, though eccentric Czech, Jewish, of course, Austrian, mathematical, logician, and genius, Kurt Gödel.

Kurt Gödel was born in 1906 and died in 1978. A passing acquaintance with Gödel's two theorems would have saved the architect a lot of time and, of course, demolished the Matrix franchise.

Well, I'm happy the director and the producers were ignorant of Gödel's work.

Gödel's first incompleteness theorem states that every consistent axiomatic logical system, sufficient to express arithmetic, contains true but unprovable sentences. Sentences that are undecidable cannot be proved.

So if you have a system that is consistent, that is logical, and that can express arithmetic, it also contains statements that you cannot prove. You know they're true, but you cannot prove them.

In certain cases where the system is omega consistent, both said sentences, the undecidables, the ones you cannot prove, and their negation are unprovable. The system is consistent and true but not complete. Not complete because not all its sentences can be decided as true or false by either being proved or by being falsified, refuted.

The second incompleteness theorem is even more earth-shattering. It says that not consistent formal logical system can prove its own consistency.

The system may be complete but then we are unable to show using its own axioms, its own inference laws that it is consistent.

In other words, a system cannot prove from and within itself using its own laws, its own axioms and its own statements, sentences. A system can never prove that it is consistent. It can prove that it's complete but not that it's consistent or it can prove that it's consistent but not that it's complete. Usually it cannot prove that it is consistent.

In other words, a computational system like the matrix can either be complete and inconsistent or consistent and incomplete.

By trying to construct a system that is both complete and consistent, God had violated God's theories and made possible the third sequel Matrix Revolutions.

Now no one wants to fuck with a clever dream, not even God. So that was a mistake.

Similarly, software applications such as antivirus, anti-spyware, anti-malware, firewalls, these applications aspire to comprehensiveness, completeness. This is likely to render them imperfect and inefficient using Godel's theory. Their detection rate is bound to suffer inversely affected by their scope.

The more complete the anti-malware program, the less consistent, the less the detection rate and vice versa. Malware pieces are computer code, strings of formal logical statements.

A consistent security program would inevitably come across undecidable propositions or sentences, pieces of malware that cannot be identified as malware.

The second incompleteness theorem explains false negatives and false positives, the misidentification of innocuous strings of code as malicious, the labeling of malevolent exploits as innocent.

This is because complete computer securities which are inconsistent or at least not provably consistent.

Thank you for surviving so far.

Everything I've discussed in this video of course has to do with narcissism and shared fantasy and concept of reality, delusions, illusions, fantasies, various aspects.

As you go through this video, as you listen to it, try to apply this philosophical argument, this philosophical argumentation and so on to your own world and to your own relationship with narcissists and psychopaths.

This is the core of narcissism, fantasy, a preference for fantasy, the rejection of life, the rejection of reality, and forcing you to become Truman in a Truman Show.

And you have choice. You can walk away, you can stay. If you stay, it entails certain things.

And if you walk away, there are consequences. It's not as clear-cut as it seems.

To say that everything is bad or good, right or wrong, black or white, that is a splitting defense mechanism. It's a primitive defense mechanism.

It's typical of borderlines and narcissists. The world is nuanced, shades of green, more than 50.

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