The Perceived and the Absolute Realities

The Matrix — a hierarchical structure

The film presents a dystopian future where humans and computers are at war. As a distraction and an energy source, computers have trapped most humans in an artificial simulation, called the Matrix. Thus, there are clearly two different realities: the perceived reality is the matrix; the absolute reality is the warring world. Further, we can see how the perceived reality is nested within the absolute reality, in a hierarchical structure. The Matrix is a completely different illusionary world, which exists within the ground reality of the war between humans and computers.

Harry Potter — a parallel structure

In the Harry Potter series, there are two main kinds of people: muggles and wizards. The muggles live in a different kind of world to the wizards. Their world is all the same, except that the muggles have a superficial and incorrect understanding of magic. Consequently, they dismiss and disapprove of magic. For them, therefore, the perceived reality is the world with electric toasters, and no magic. The absolute reality however is a world with magic, and no real use for electric toasters. Thus, the perceived reality can be said to exist alongside the absolute reality. The structure is therefore parallel here.

Shutter Island — an undeterminable structure

In this film, reality is understood through the existence of two equally plausible interpretations of the film’s plot.


Through this exploration of films, I conclude that there are multiple ways in which the perceived reality can be distinct from yet connected to the absolute reality. The connection may be hierarchical, parallel or even undeterminable. Thus, even if we are living a lie, it could be any of multiple different kinds of lies or just an illusion of a lie. This is a further complication for those determined to discover the absolute reality (the truth). Not only do they not know who’s lying to them (if anyone), they also don’t know what kind of a lie it is.

Thinking further

My exploration has left me with more questions than answers — each of which could be elaborate explorations in themselves. I will just list them out below for the curious readers, and my own future self:



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