The Architect: Father of the Matrix
A lot of fans found the character of the Architect (played by Helmut Bakaitis) a bit ‘boring.’ He does seem to be a bit of a “one-dimensional” figure – sitting back in his big chair surrounded by monitors. Plus he comes off as uncaring – even mean – especially when compared to his counterpart, the Oracle.
This provokes some basic questions:
- Does it make sense to think she is ‘nice’ and he isn’t?
- As they seem very different, how do they work together?
- How do they each relate to “the Source?”
We will do our best here to bring a little excitement and better understanding into his profile!
Is the Architect ‘God’ in the Story?
The Architect identifies himself as both the creator and ‘father’ of the Matrix (and the Oracle as the ‘mother.’) The idea of God the Creator being called ‘father’ is found in several spiritual traditions.
In kabbalah, God is referred to by way of various personae, each related to how God deals with creation. This goes back to the text of Genesis 1:27, which refers to the “image of God” being both ‘male’ and ‘female’:
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
Thus we see the idea for both a ‘father’ and ‘mother’ aspect to God the Creator, in the first chapter of the Bible.
So who is ‘God’ here? The Architect? Both of them? Neither?
He’s Too “Right-Brained”
A deficiency with the Architect (as both he and the Oracle relate) is that he cannot deal with the diversity of human nature. This requires aspects of judgment and differentiation. These are functions of the left side of constriction, which is the domain of Understanding/Binah associated with the Oracle, the mother of the Matrix.
The concept of ‘choice’ emanates from the left-side attributes (i.e., exercising Judgment/Gevurah). The architect, functioning from the right side, does not have the capacity to comprehend all of the elements involved.
As the Oracle explained to Neo, in The Matrix Revolutions, the Architect does not ‘understand’ (=Binah) choice:
You and I may not be able to see beyond our own choices, but that man can’t see past any choices … He doesn’t understand them – he can’t. To him they are variables in an equation. One at a time each variable must be solved and countered. That’s his purpose: to balance an equation.
Subsequent to his unsuccessful efforts at creating a functional Matrix, he was able to move forward with the help of the Oracle program, as she had the attributes related to ‘understanding’ that he lacked. The two of them worked together as co-creators – “male and female” in building the Matrix.
The Architect as Wisdom
The right side column is considered that of ‘force’ or ‘expansion’ and designated as ‘masculine.’ Thus we have the ‘father’ concept.
The left side relates to ‘form’ or ‘constriction,’ and is called ‘feminine,’ and the ‘mother’ concept.
This masculine-feminine dynamic is rooted in Genesis 1:27. The “Image of God,” that we are “created in,” is the force/form, “masculine/feminine” foundation of existence.
Reminder: These designations have nothing to do with gender and are only applied this way when considering the function of spiritual emanations.
The two emanations of Chokmah and Binah are considered as ‘one’ in how they function. There is not one without the other.
The Architect requires the Oracle, just as she does him. The union of their characteristics provides the dynamic for everything in existence.
A Different Definition of Wisdom
In kabbalistic literature, Wisdom is not defined as experience or knowledge. It is the idea of a point, within which everything ‘exists’ before entering ‘creation.’ It is through Binah that all will later come into creation.
As stated in a commentary on the Zohar:
The Zohar breaks up the word chochmah itself into two words, koach, and mah. Koach means “potential,” and “mah” means “what is.” Thus, chochmah means, “the potential of what is,” or, “the potential to be.”
Zohar Selections translated and annotated by Moshe Miller
(Regarding this aspect of Wisdom, see our article on the ‘Potentials‘ in the Oracle’s apartment.)
Something from Nothing
So everything exists in potential within the Architect/Chokhmah at some point. A logical question to ask would be, Where did Wisdom/Chokhmah come from? What was ‘before’ that?
The point of wisdom is considered as, “being from nothingness (Yesh me-ayin). This is comparable to the idea of the ‘big bang’ in science. The explosion/bang (=Binah) coming from this single point (=Chokhmah) that contained everything in it.
We don’t know what “came before” that point, however.
This is the kabbalistic understanding of this verse:
Job 28:12 – Wisdom comes into being from nothingness (V’chokhmah me ayin.)
This prompts some questions:
- What is this ‘nothingness’ that Wisdom “came from?”
- What represents ‘nothingness’ in the Matrix films?
- How is the Architect the ‘creator,’ if he himself was created?
If the Architect is Not God in the Story – What is?
In our introductory material on the sefirot, we discussed the role of the uppermost attribute of Keter/Crown. This emanation is “above” all the other nine. The latter are associated with parts of the human body, whereas a crown is not part of the body.
Keter is associated with the unknowable – the world of pure ‘singularity’ beyond existence. In kabbalah it is called the “essence of existence.”
In the Matrix, the entity that is outside the existence of the Matrix and program worlds, is the Source. It is the ‘creator’ of the creator program, the Architect. The latter represents the idea of the immanent aspect of God within existence that we can relate to. The former is the unknowable transcendent concept of God.
No programs or humans know anything in detail about the Source – they only have a vague idea that there is something beyond. All attempts to identify what the source ‘is’ are incorrect – even those expressed by the Oracle and Architect.
As the Source is outside of their existence, it is effectively ‘nothingness’ to everyone. It is “no thing” in the same manner as the transcendent aspect of God is.
The concept of ‘creator’ in the Matrix is greater than what we’re shown with regard to the Architect. This corresponds to the idea that the ‘immanent’ aspect of God we can relate to, is a tiny understanding of what really is ‘G0d.’ For an excellent kabbalistic lesson on the idea of the “creator being created,” watch this 3-minute video by Professor Daniel Matt.
Let’s Go Down a Rabbit Hole
Now that we’re warmed up a bit …
It may seem illogical to think of the “singular point” of Chokmah as ‘expansive,’ while considering Binah as constrictive – when it’s the expansion of that point.
What’s going on here?
As we mentioned, these two emanations require one another – not only in how they function but in how we are to understand them.
The first thing to consider is that Chokmah is the ultimate expansive force. It takes us from the idea of the unknowable absolute ‘singularity’ (of Keter and pre-existence) and gives us an orientation point that we can relate to. That’s the biggest jump there is – we are going from 0 to 1. From nothing to something.
Within this finite point of Chokhmah, are contained all the possibilities we can know. Thus, Chokhmah acts as an expansion for us – yet (‘ironically’) it was caused by the above restriction/constriction.
The term for this restriction is ‘tsimtsum.’ This was the very first ‘action’ coming ‘from’ the transcendent aspect of God before anything existed. (This is a deep subject beyond the scope of this article. We will address this in “The M-Files” section on Matrix4Humans in the spring of 2021.)
Conversely, although Binah looks like ‘expansion,’ in reality it’s a constrictive force. This is because we can’t experience every aspect of something (hidden in the point of Chokhmah) at once. Binah enables us to have a relationship to an infinite concept in knowable ways.
This is how the Oracle relates to all the infinite possibilities of human nature. A single idea, packed with all potential found in Chokhmah. Analysis and unpacking come from Binah – and its ‘child’ at Gevurah:
Oracle: I thought you’d have figured that out by now.
Smith: Oh you haven’t figured that out?
This is why the Oracle says she is interested in one thing — the future. Binah, with all possibilities, is future-oriented. Chokhmah is past-oriented, there being one past.
A Crustacean Clue
As a fun (and hopefully helpful) example of this idea of ‘unpacking’ something, we turn to the Forrest Gump movie.
Let’s start with a simple idea:
“You can’t be more shrimp than a shrimp.”
That single shrimp is Chokhmah. Every possibility for shrimp exists in this “Chokhmah shrimp.”
This is where Binah comes in. Binah constricts all the possibilities of shrimp so you can experience them:
Shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich …
From Forrest Gump
A kabbalistic expression is: It is only through the garments of concealment that we can know what something is.
Maybe Shrimp Isn’t Your Thing
Another way this is expressed is that the light of Keter that is shown upon Chokhmah creates a shadow, which is Binah. All things subsequent to that are like ‘reverberations’ – further concealments of the original expansive force.
Thinking back to the Worlds of Existence, with each level of descent, we’re moving further away from the Creator/source, where it’s harder to “realize God.” Each level is caused by a ‘tsimtsum’ of the one before it.
This ‘decline’ directly relates to the “systemic anomaly” the Architect mentions, which permeates all through the Matrix that can (and will) result in the destruction of the Matrix.
This all relates to the Path of the One in the Matrix. Note that when Neo goes to meet the Architect, the door of light that he must go through becomes a single point that he himself passes into. We expand this in greater detail in our article on the door of light.
UPDATE: We will expand more on some of these concepts in our new “The M-Files” phase of the Matrix4Humans project in the spring of 2021.