Purpose – Part One

When I finally “met” the Narcons (564-576), it changed my view of the book drastically, and I focused on line very early in the Narcon section that said, “As equally vague as origin is the question of purpose,” but I’ll get to that later.

I was reluctant at first to make the following connection simply because it seems to have been overly discussed in popular culture and media, but the world that has apparently been constructed by the Narcons is not unlike that of “The Matrix.” However , in media, the idea that our world isn’t real or is a construct of some kind is not unique to “The Matrix” (“The 13th Floor,” “Dark City,” or even “Tron” come to mind), but it is the best example to explore.

Xanther seems to question reality, and she does, in fact, question everything  about the world that she assumes is real. At times, she seems to almost be able to sense things outside of her world. Her Narcon comments on her perception (574) when it says, “Xanther demonstrates not only self -awareness but selves-awareness bordering on transparency… Sometimes I swear she can see… other people’s Narcons! Sometimes she even seems close to seeing me…” Just like Neo in “The Matrix,” Xanther seems to know that something else is going on in her world, and she questions the world and her reality.

The Narcon also mentions how much data or computation it would take to know everything about Xanther and her possible actions (represented by TF-Narcon^9X (Total)) even for a few moments. Xanther is disturbed by the idea of counting (or computing) the number of raindrops during a rainstorm,  and during that scene, the author chose to print more and more numerous lines of the question “How many raindrops” on the page. These lines were running vertically down the page not unlike (among other things) how the “code” in “The Matrix” was presented visually. The Matrix’s code seems to be interactive and reactionary, and is only possible through input from the people plugged in to it. I don’t think the machines could process all the possible actions of the Matrix’s inhabitants, otherwise they would have been able to create a perfect system without any “glitches.”

Now, back to the idea of purpose. The Narcon(s) say that purpose is vague. I think that can mean a few things. First, to a Narcon, it’s purpose seems vague insofar as it is just meant to construct or compute the world and the people in it – but to what end? Second, what is purpose to a person? It can be argued that it is simply to survive and reproduce for the purpose of our species’ survival. However, I think our purpose is fluid. With as many people as there are, the survival of our species isn’t threatened if someone chooses or fails to breed. Therefore, our purpose is whatever we chose it to be, and it is also subject to change, whimsical or otherwise.

In “The Matrix,” purpose is an important concept. Agent Smith says, “There is no escaping reason; no denying purpose. Because as we both know, without purpose, we would not exist.” In this, I think he is talking about himself. As a program, he was created to perform a task, and without a task there would be no reason for him to exist. Similarly, the Narcons were created to perform the task of creating their world an it’s people. Agent Smith also says to Neo, “…it was your life that taught me the purpose of all life. The purpose of life is to end.” If, for example, TF-Narcon X was created to generate Xanther’s story, then it must have been programmed to do so. I assume the it was programmed to generate a story that is as close to real (whatever that might mean) as possible. Therefore, any possible “real” story must come to an end, and even if the Narcons generated every possible story, I would think the number of stories is finite. So, to TF-Narcon X, Xanther’s ultimate purpose is to end.

(Shawn Atkinson)

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