Machine Learning for Photographers

How Photographers Can See Like Machines

Image Segmentation

To better study and look at images, segment the images (something I learned from machine learning):

How do machines see images?

To start off, I want to state that humans are far superior to machines in almost every way. Let us not get fooled by the ‘golden calf’ of AI (artificial intelligence):

The purpose is for us to leverage machines to make better humans.


Trying to use humans to make better machines.

To re-iterate:

Let us leverage machine learning to better improve ourselves.

So I don’t think the purpose is for humans to see like machines (remember Arnold S as the Terminator, when he sees the world in black-and-red). What I propose is that we study how machines see images, as a way to guide how we can better see as humans.

Or in other words:

Let us study machine learning, to better understand how we (as humans) think and see!


The interesting thing about how machines see images:

They simplify it.

When I study my own black and white photos, I believe my best photos are my simple photos. Even if you study great artists like Picasso and Matisse, they always strived for elegant images– simple and elegant. Think of Matisse’s cutouts — he was able to abstract the human body into the simplest shape, form, and color.


Figure (the subject) and ground (background): you want maximal contrast between the two elements.

One thing we can use: “Gaussian Blur” in Photoshop, to abstract the images, to just see the position of our visual elements, and to simplify the contrast:

Does the photo work well as a small thumbnail?

To better understand whether your compositions are strong or not– look at them as small thumbnails. If your photos work as small thumbnails, it probably means your composition is strong!

Bounding Boxes

There is already artificial intelligence that can automatically put ‘bounding boxes’ (little red boxes) around subjects. This is how self-driving cars see pedestrians (not to run them over):

Even more insane– machines can automatically color, segment, and classify different subjects in a scene (real time):

A simple way we (humans) can look at photographs:

Let us put little red boxes around different visual elements in photos.

The Cherry on Top

For example, I like to look at the ‘cherry on top’ for subjects in the photograph– small details which I find interesting. For example, in this photograph, this little boy in the background is a detail I love:

But this is the difficult thing– most people (when they see the picture really small, perhaps on a phone), they won’t see the detail of the boy in the background:

This is why I like printing out photos big– so you can actually see small details!

And to be honest, 99% of your viewers won’t notice these ‘cherry on top’ details in the photo. But it doesn’t matter– as long as YOU see the detail and like it– that is enough!

Color Segmentation

We can also apply gaussian blur to color photos, to better understand the color palette of our photos:

I used the color picker in Photoshop (hotkey “I” for “I[eye] dropper”). And painted these colors:

If I make the background grey, you can see the colors:

So you can see the basic colors: rogue red, pale yellow, and green in the bottom-left.

Keep the colors simple

For color photography, I generally think the simpler, the better.

For example this picture of this woman, the primary color is pink (with Gaussian Blur applied):

The final with the background subtracted:

Which details do you look at in a photo?

If you use the concept of a ‘bounding box’ — you can use it as a tool to identify things you find interesting in a scene– like the woman smoking a cigarette, and two Red Bulls in her left hand.

Feature Map

When you are shooting photos, try to abstract your vision — simplify it.

For example, this is why I recommend shooting high-contrast black and white mode, because it helps you see better when you’re taking photos.

For example on a RICOH GR II, I recommend using the ‘high contrast black and white mode’ in JPEG, and when you’re composing your photos, keep the photos simple.


This is how silhouettes work — we create a ‘feature map’ (the gradients between black, grey, and white.


Also another way to look at photos; try to simplify the edges, to see the textures in the photo:

Silhouette of Faces

Another idea:

As humans, we intuitively know the proportions of a human face, and also the silhouette of faces.

To see better, let us apply maximal contrast to the photo:

Then, a cyan cutout of the woman:

Conclusion: The Future of Photography

I’m currently doing more studying on Augmented Reality (AR), especially the ‘AR CORE’ platform from Google, as well as their “Tensor Flow” platform. The basic idea I have is this:

One day, while you’re taking photos on your photos, you will get compositional grids, and ‘bounding boxes’ to help assist your compositions.

I already have this functionality on “intelligent Auto” mode on my Lumix G9– when I am composing a scene, the LCD screen will automatically put a yellow box around my subject in the frame.

Augmented Reality for Photographers

I think the future of photography is this:

Photographers will leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to take better photos (improved composition, or awareness of subjects).

The future is already here

For further reading, I recommend:

  1. Research “AR CORE” from Google
  2. Research ‘computational photography’
  3. Check out the Google AI Experiments
  4. Download some “AR” (augmented reality) apps on your phone or iPad and play around with it
  5. Think about how photographers, individuals, and artists can leverage virtual reality, augmented reality, and machine learning to make better art!



The Philosophy of Calvin and Hobbes

Morals, ethics, Composition, Philosophy, and Human Psychology of Calvin and Hobbes

Beauty is relative

What does it mean to be “cool”?

Live life to the fullest

Life with danger and adventure, not stupefying safety:

Take risks, and live life on the edge!

Being clever!

On Money

Minimalist story telling

Also the ability for kids to be creative and innovative on their own!

On war and peace

On the futility of weapons:


Innovative creative storytelling

Inside the mind of a child. As adults we should think more creatively — like children !

Dynamic motion

Love the compositions

Arabesque / curve composition:



On freedom and liberty

Funny commentary on oppression and censorship, freedom and opportunity:

Why isn’t the world unfair in my favor?

We don’t mind that the world is unfair, but we want it to be unfair in our favor!

Dictatorship vs democracy

Simple happiness

The joy of doing “nothing” (sometimes the best way to spend your time is precisely to do nothing):

On being indignant on your own mistake

Or not admitting when you were wrong, or when you made a mistake. Or blaming others:

“Yes” vs “No”

Modify the rules so you can win!

Live life according to your own self-made rules!

Don’t add guilt

Quiet break in the dialogue and panning out (frame 3):

Physical versus literal attributes

We should describe people via their personality, not how they look!

Make things fun for kids to get them to do what you want

Play along:


Many Americans wanting more of the pie, for nothing?

Our expectations are always in comparison:

Deceptive advertising

Kids being mischievous is good!

Perhaps good for their creativity and ingenuity?

I did this too as a kid at age 2// my mom told me it was my first lie. I said, “Samchon (uncle) did it!”

Create a new category via fusion

The innovative ideas of children

How to take a bath, faster and more “efficiently”:

manipulate others with psychology

Turn boring things fun by making it into a game!

Women centric

Changing gender norms, in the 1980s!

Imperialism and colonialism

On the rat race

Disappointment from our fantasy and expectation and reality

Psychology, “affective forecasting”. We forecast how something we do will emotionally affect us…but we’re usually wrong! For example we think if we buy a new car, home, camera, phone, gadget, clothes, etc — it will bring us lasting joy; but it never does!

Umberto Boccioni

12 Lessons Umberto Boccioni Has Taught Me About Art

Umberto Boccioni: a true genius artist, one of the forefathers of ‘Futurism‘; an art movement which emphasized speed, modernism, the city, and to me– is an incredibly optimistic/positive artistic outlook!

1. Destroy the cult of the past

Destroy the cult of the past, the obsession with the ancients, pedantry and academic formalism.

This paves the way for the new!

My takeaway: appreciate the ancients; but don’t let them hold us back from starting NEW things!

2. Encourage daring originality!

Elevate all attempts at originality, however daring, however violent.

If something is original, innovative, different, and new — it is good! Let us encourage daring artists!

3. Ignore art critics

Regard art critics as useless and dangerous.

Art critics are just artists who are too afraid to attempt their own art. Disregard their petty comments.

4. Don’t think of art as ‘good’ or ‘bad’

Rebel against the tyranny of words: ‘Harmony’ and ‘good taste’ and other loose expressions which can be used to destroy the works of Rembrandt, Goya, Rodin..

5. Glorify our present-modern world!

Support and glory in our day-to-day world, a world which is going to be continually and splendidly transformed by victorious Science.

Love science; don’t just romanticize the past.

6. Don’t make a factual portrait of people

What was the truth for the painters of yesterday is but a falsehood today. We declare, for instance, that a portrait must not like the sitter.. .To paint a human figure, you must not paint it; you must render its surrounding [aura-like] atmosphere. Space no longer exists.. .Who can still believe in the opacity of bodies, since our sharpened and multiplied sensibilities has already penetrated the obscure manifestations of mediums? Why should we forget in our creations the doubled power of our sight, capable of giving analogous to those of X-rays?

Much more interesting to make a portrait to render someone’s presence and feeling — not just a picture-perfect image.

7. Dynamism!

The gesture which we would reproduce on canvas shall no longer be a fixed moment in universal dynamism. It shall simply be the dynamic sensation itself. Indeed, all things move, all things run, all things are rapidly changing.. .We would at any price re-enter into life.

Don’t just have fixed images; let us convey the feeling of ‘dynamic sensation’. After all, life is always rapidly changing, and in a state of flux, evolution, and progression!

8. Let us create more than a picture!

A time will come when the picture will no longer be enough. Its immobility will become an archaism with the vertiginous movement of human life. The eye of man will perceive colours as feelings within itself. Multiplied colours will not need form to be understood and paintings will be swirling musical compositions of great coloured gases, which, on the scene of a free horizon, will move and electrify the complex soul of a crowd that we cannot yet conceive of.

A still photograph by itself is a bit stale; how can we create new colors, new forms of art, to show the deep complexity of human life and the soul?

9. The line never ends

No one can any longer believe that an object ends where another begins.

The line will never cease; it will go on forever.

10. Sculpture is based on planes, volumes; which dictate their forms

Sculpture is based on the abstract of the planes and volumes that determine the forms, not their figurative value.

11. Create art which shows the state of the human mind!

Not only have we radically abandoned the motive fully developed according to its determined and, therefore, artificial equilibrium, but we suddenly and purposely intersect each motif with one or more other motifs of which we never give the full development but merely the initial, central, of final notes.. .We thus arrived at what we call the painting of states of mind.

12. Create visual sensations in your art!

Let us explain again by examples. In painting a person on a balcony, seen from inside the room do not limit the scene to what the square of the window renders visible; we try to render the sum total of visual sensations which the person on the balcony has experienced; the sun-baked throng in the street, the double row of houses which stretch to right and left, the beflowered balconies etc. This implies the simultaneity of the ambient, and, therefore, the dislocation and the dislocation and dismemberment of objects, the scattering and fusion of details, freed from accepted logic and independent from one another. In order to make the spectator live in the center of the picture, as we express it in our manifesto the picture must be the synthesis of what one remembers and what one sees. You must render the invisible which stirs lives beyond intervening obstacles, what we have on the right, or the left, or behind us, and not merely the small square of life artificially compressed, as it were, by the wings of a stage set. We have declared in our manifesto that what must be rendered is the dynamic sensation, that is to say, the particular rhythm of each object, its inclination, its movement, or more exactly, its interior force.

Create a ‘dynamic sensation’ in the eyes, heart, and soul of the viewer.

What rhythm, movement, and force is inside your image?


Study futurism to have more hope, optimism, and excitement in life!

I seek to be a futurist photographer; use modern technology/science to improve our quality of life, and to promote optimum through our art/photography!


Also read the ‘Manifesto of futurist painters’ below:

Manifesto of Futurist Painters

by Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carra, Luigi Russolo, Giacomo Balla and Gino Severini

11th February 1910


The cry of rebellion which we utter associates our ideals with those of the Futurist poets. These ideals were not invented by some aesthetic clique. They are an expression of a violent desire which boils in the veins of every creative artist today.

We will fight with all our might the fanatical, senseless and snobbish religion of the past, a religion encouraged by the vicious existence of museums. We rebel against that spineless worshipping of old canvases, old statues and old bric-a-brac, against everything which is filthy and worm-ridden and corroded by time. We consider the habitual contempt for everything which is young, new and burning with life to be unjust and even criminal.

Comrades, we tell you now that the triumphant progress of science makes profound changes in humanity inevitable, changes which are hacking an abyss between those docile slaves of past tradition and us free moderns, who are confident in the radiant splendor of our future.

We are sickened by the foul laziness of artists, who, ever since the sixteenth century, have endlessly exploited the glories of the ancient Romans.

In the eyes of other countries, Italy is still a land of the dead, a vast Pompeii, whit with sepulchres. But Italy is being reborn. Its political resurgence will be followed by a cultural resurgence. In the land inhabited by the illiterate peasant, schools will be set up; in the land where doing nothing in the sun was the only available profession, millions of machines are already roaring; in the land where traditional aesthetics reigned supreme, new flights of artistic inspiration are emerging and dazzling the world with their brilliance.

Living art draws its life from the surrounding environment. Our forebears drew their artistic inspiration from a religious atmosphere which fed their souls; in the same way we must breathe in the tangible miracles of contemporary life — the iron network of speedy communications which envelops the earth, the transatlantic liners, the dreadnoughts, those marvelous flights which furrow our skies, the profound courage of our submarine navigators and the spasmodic struggle to conquer the unknown. How can we remain insensible to the frenetic life of our great cities and to the exciting new psychology of night-life; the feverish figures of the bon viveur, the cocette, the apache and the absinthe drinker?

We will also play our part in this crucial revival of aesthetic expression: we declare war on all artists and all institutions which insist on hiding behind a façade of false modernity, while they are actually ensnared by tradition, academicism and, above all, a nauseating cerebral laziness.

We condemn as insulting to youth the acclamations of a revolting rabble for the sickening reflowering of a pathetic kind of classicism in Rome; the neurasthenic cultivation of hermaphroditic archaism which they rave about in Florence; the pedestrian, half-blind handiwork of ’48 which they are buying in Milan; the work of pensioned-off government clerks which they think the world of in Turin; the hotchpotch of encrusted rubbish of a group of fossilized alchemists which they are worshipping in Venice. We are going to rise up against all superficiality and banality — all the slovenly and facile commercialism which makes the work of most of our highly respected artists throughout Italy worthy of our deepest contempt.

Away then with hired restorers of antiquated incrustations. Away with affected archaeologists with their chronic necrophilia! Down with the critics, those complacent pimps! Down with gouty academics and drunken, ignorant professors!

Ask these priests of a veritable religious cult, these guardians of old aesthetic laws, where we can go and see the works of Giovanni Segantini today. Ask them why the officials of the Commission have never heard of the existence of Gaetano Previati. Ask them where they can see Medardo Rosso’s sculpture, or who takes the slightest interest in artists who have not yet had twenty years of struggle and suffering behind them, but are still producing works destined to honor their fatherland?

These paid critics have other interests to defend. Exhibitions, competitions, superficial and never disinterested criticism, condemn Italian art to the ignominy of true prostitution.

And what about our esteemed ‘specialists’? Throw them all out. Finish them off! The Portraitists, the Genre Painters, the Lake Painters, the Mountain Painters. We have put up with enough from these impotent painters of country holidays.

Down with all marble-chippers who are cluttering up our squares and profaning our cemeteries! Down with the speculators and their reinforced-concrete buildings! Down with laborious decorators, phoney ceramicists, sold-out poster painters and shoddy, idiodic illustrators!

These are our final CONCLUSIONS:

With our enthusiastic adherence to Futurism, we will:

Destroy the cult of the past, the obsession with the ancients, pedantry and academic formalism.
Totally invalidate all kinds of imitation.
Elevate all attempts at originality, however daring, however violent.
Bear bravely and proudly the smear of ‘madness’ with which they try to gag all innovators.
Regard art critics as useless and dangerous.
Rebel against the tyranny of words: ‘Harmony’ and ‘good taste’ and other loose expressions which can be used to destroy the works of Rembrandt, Goya, Rodin…
Sweep the whole field of art clean of all themes and subjects which have been used in the past.
Support and glory in our day-to-day world, a world which is going to be continually and splendidly transformed by victorious Science.
The dead shall be buried in the earth’s deepest bowels! The threshold of the future will be swept free of mummies! Make room for youth, for violence, for daring!

This translation by Roberto Brain (Apollonio, Umbro, ed. Documents of 20th Century Art: Futurist Manifestos. Brain, Robert, R.W. Flint, J.C. Higgitt, and Caroline Tisdall, trans. New York: Viking Press, 1973. 24-27.)

Part 1: Full Metal Jacket

Full Metal Jacket

I just finished watching ‘Full Metal Jacket’, and have a lot of food for thought. Warning: the film is extremely graphic, and there are a lot of spoiler alerts ahead.


  1. The ability for humans to become brainwashed and dehumanized, and to become insane. For example in the film, one of the fat cadets is slowly beaten down and dehumanized by the squad leader, and eventually goes ‘awol’ and ends up killing the squad leader, and himself.
  2. The strange relationship between people and the camera: During the film, there is a ‘meta-joke’ — there is a film crew interviewing the soldiers about their stances on the war. Also note in the film, whenever soldiers are being photographed or interviewed, they always put on a smile (because you’re always expected to smile for the camera).
  3. It is clear from the film that Kubrick is anti-war.
  4. Spoiler: At the ending scene, the one sniper who takes out 3 members of the squad is a young Vietnamese girl. Funny enough, the protagonist of the film (named “Joker”) is the most morale/ethical of them all: he gives a ‘mercy killing’ to the young girl, when the other soldiers (who are apparently ‘gung-ho’ cannot kill a person, when they are humanized, face-to-face). Also a reminder that in war, it isn’t just men killing one another– so many young kids are being killed, innocent civilians, and individuals (on both sides of the war).
  5. Ultimate takeaway for me: The insane ability for humans to become brain-washed. Therefore, when it comes to any institution (military, industrial, education), we must instruct people with wisdom. All humans deserve dignity; by removing dignity from humans, we become worse than animals.

Contact sheets

First of all, let us analyze the contact sheets of the film. I made screenshots on my laptop, and exported the contact sheets via the ‘Print’ function in Lightroom.

Study the general flow of the film– in terms of the camera angles, the colors, and the cinematography:


In terms of the cinematography, there is a lot to analyze:

1. Dehumanization

In the beginning scene, you see the heads of the soldiers getting shaved. To me, this is a symbolism of your individuality being cut out from you; you become another generic soldier:

Then you see all of his ‘individuality’ on the floor — symbolized via his cut hair:

2. Joking / fighting authority

The main character of the film (Joker) totally ‘trolls’ the squad captain, by cracking a joke. Later on in the film, he is respected by the squad captain ironically by standing up. Note the different camera angles used by Kubrick:

I quite like this frame, when you have a super low angle, looking up: it looks like you are in the shoes of Joker, looking up at the captain:

When Joker is asked to give a war cry:

Note the composition, shot head-on with a telephoto lens, with Joker dead in the center, and the sergeant’s head blocked off to the right of the frame (bookend):


Then this very innovative angle, from behind Joker’s head:

3. Moving background

Something I really love in Kubrick’s films: his use of the moving background. For example, when there is movement or action in the foreground or middle-ground of the scene, there is often something moving/happening in the background!

This is great because it makes the scenes feel more vivid, more dynamic, and more alive and “real”. Also the scenes have more depth, and the viewer is more transported into the scenes.

Part 3- Matrix

Part 3: Matrix

Let’s dive deeper into the rabbit hole with MATRIX:

How do you know what is real?

When Neo wakes up in the Matrix and chats with Morpheus, Neo contests and says, “This can’t be real!”

Morpheus then says,

“What is real? How do you define what is real? Real is just electrical signals interpreted by your brain…if we don’t perceive something… is it not real? Does it not exist?”

Food for thought.

Most of us never define the concept of “real”. To myself, something which is “real” is something which exists in the physical world. For example, my coffee cup is real, because it exists in the real world.

But at the same time, videos, pictures, and text which exist on the internet are “real”, yet not tangible.

I think a more important question is:

“Is this significant or not?”

Because if we think about it philosophically, there is a lot which is “real” which we cannot perceive. For example, humans cannot perceive infrared light with our eyes, yet– it still exists! But if we cannot perceive something– is it not real? I don’t think so.

Anyways, Neo realizes this truth via Morpheus:

‘You’ve been living in a dream world’.

The significance of this concept is this:

Many of us are living our day-to-day lives also in a ‘real life’ dream world. We are dreaming about the new fancy car, the next fancy home, the next raise at our jobs, and we are suckered by advertisements, false concepts of happiness, etc. Thus, we are effectively in a dream world as well.

The solution: Realize we are stuck in a false dream world (false world of consumerism), and wake up!

Why was the matrix created?

Question: Why was the Matrix built? Morpheus tells us that it was “built to keep us under control”, and to “turn a human into a battery”.

Neo revolts, and is overwhelmed.

Morpheus then says,

“It isn’t easy. But it is the truth. The mind has trouble letting go. Once you find the truth, you can’t go back. But if you could go back, would you want to?”

Ideas for us to process:

  1. In real life, what was built to keep us under control? Well, in my opinion, I believe that modern institutions/companies/government have the unintended side-consequence of keeping us all as generic worker-bees. But the optimistic thing is this: we can re-train ourselves to NOT be kept under control.
  2. The mind has trouble letting go: This is true. If you’ve created your own world-narrative for your entire life, and then you realize that it was a false reality– imagine the insane stress that your brain would go through to try to make sense of what is going on.
  3. Question: If you could go back (and become ignorant), would you? For myself, no. I would prefer to suffer under reality, than be a happy ignoramus.

You can change whatever you desire in the Matrix

The optimistic thing: inside the matrix, you can change whatever you desire– whatever you see fit!

I think the Matrix is just a metaphor for the real world. To be honest, most of us are living in some sort of “Matrix”; whether we are plugged into online video games, whether we are plugged into our jobs and email, or whether we’re addicted to some sort of online/internet/media culture.

This is the fun thing: You can warp/change/mold your own reality however you see fit!

But Morpheus says the ultimate goal:

“The human races needs to be free.”

Human batteries?

Philosophical question: are humans more than mere batteries?

I think so.

I believe the first problem is that humans always use analogies to describe humans/humanity/human nature/how humans biologically function.

We see this a lot in history, especially with the rise of technology.

During the time of steam engines and railroads, a lot of psychologists built up these theories that humans had to ‘let steam out’ when they got angry (using the analogy, that steam engines work on pressure). Consider the saying,

“Don’t crack under pressure.”

But humans aren’t steam machines, nor do our brains function like steam machines.

Or in modern times, we use the internet/computers as analogies to describe our humanity. For example:

  • “I’d love to help you, but unfortunately my bandwidth is maxed out.”
  • “Don’t ‘multitask'” (what computers are good at)
  • “I’m so tired and out of power.”

I believe the human being in terms of our biology is infinitely more complex than we realize. Even my friend Natalie Ma (studied Ph.D. in Biology at YALE) says that there is still so much uncharted territory in biology, and we humans still have so much left to learn.

Anyways, the practical takeaway is this:

Let us stop using ‘batteries’ and other technological-analogies to describe our humanity.

Tank teaches jiu jitsu to Neo

Morpheus then tells Neo, “We need training”. Neo needs to train himself and become stronger (just like we need to train ourselves).

This next scene I quite like: Neo meets the ‘operator’ (Tank) for the first time, and Tank is super excited and pumped, because he heard that Neo is the “one” (NEO spelt backwards). Neo is apparently the messiah-savior figure that Morpheus prophesies that will save humanity (note the obvious Jesus analogy here).

Anyways, Tank straps Neo into the console, and then “downloads” the Jiu-Jitsu program and other fighting programs into his brain. Note the funny-looking Floppy Disks (I remember having things like this as a kid):

Another thing which is interesting, if you study the UI (user interface) of the computer program, note how insanely dated it looks. In the time of the film MATRIX, it is supposed to be year 2100 or something. Why do computers still look like they’re from the 1980’s?

Lesson: Film-makers should be more ambitious when predicting future computer-interfaces and AI, just like how they hired Jaron Lanier when designing ‘Minority Report’, with the 3D interfaces.

“Whoa, I know Kung-Fu” – Neo

The human brain doesn’t work like a computer program. We cannot just “download” or “install” knowledge into our brains. Yet at the same time, I do like the idea that with enough intensity, dedicated focus, and effort– we can teach ourselves anything. This is a very optimistic philosophy:

Tank then asks Neo, “Do you want more?” Neo then says, “HELL YEAH!”

Morpheus checks up on Neo and asks him, how is he doing?

Tank then says,

“10 hours straight, he’s a machine!”

Which makes me wonder: if we trained ourselves with intense and dedicated focus for 10 hours straight, what could we achieve?

First fight against morpheus

Then one of my favorite scenes: the first fight against Morpheus.

Morpheus tells Neo that in this training program, it isn’t real.

Which makes you wonder: If you were inside the Matrix, and you knew that the rules of gravity were false; what rules could you break?

Which brings you into a deeper philosophy about real life:

  1. What rules of reality can be broken, besides physical laws which govern the world like gravity?

This takes us back to ‘first principles’ thinking from Aristotle. Almost anything is possible for us to do/achieve/create in reality!

Then the second question:

  1. What social rules can be broken in modern society?

Anyways, Morpheus then tells Neo:

  • “What are you waiting for? You’re faster than this. You’re stronger than this!”
  • “Don’t think you are; know you are!”
  • “Stop trying; just do it”
  • “I’m trying to free your mind Neo”.

Then we should also consider for ourselves:

  • What are we waiting for in our lives, if we wish to attempt do do great/epic shit. We’re smarter, stronger, and faster and more innovative than we think we are!
  • There is a difference between giving yourself ‘positive psychology’ to just trick yourself into believing something– versus knowing that you already are that state.
  • Don’t force yourself to try with “effort”; rather, let go, and let the work effortlessly do it self (Taoism concept of ‘wu-wei’)
  • Free your own mind: Don’t doubt yourself: you can do anything.

Morpheus also tells Neo: You must free your mind. And Morpheus also tells Neo:

“I can only show you the door. You’re the one who has to walk through it.”

I love this– because it tells us that in life, we always have the option of going through a certain door, or pursuing a certain path. Nobody can force us. We have free will!

Matrix Part 2

Matrix Part 2

Continuing our series on MATRIX:

Follow the white rabbit

I love this part — when TRINITY tells Neo to ‘follow the white rabbit’.

To me this is significant because in real life, we are given the opportunity to take a risk, to take a chance. Neo fortunately takes the chance and follows the white rabbit:

There is an ancient Venetian proverb:

The ocean is deeper the further you go into it.

The same philosophy with ‘following the white rabbit/follow the rabbit hole’ (concept from Alice in Wonderland).

In real life, we have the option to take the ‘safe’ option, or we have the option to go into an unknown rabbit hole. I think to live a more interesting/epic life, we should go down more unknown rabbit holes, and go on more adventures!

Window wiping symbolism

There is this funny scene, when Neo wakes up and he is late for his boring job.

The cinematography is this: you see a window with soap suds, being wiped off.

To me the symbolism is this:

Neo is about to have his ‘false reality’ wiped– so he can see ‘real reality’

On not taking risks

One scene is when Neo gets a call from Morpheus, telling him the agents are coming after him. He is instructed to go out of the building, and onto a very dangerous cliff on top of the skyscraper.

Neo then chickens out, and he says, “I can’t do this”, and he ends up getting captured by the agents:

I think the moral lesson is this:

If you don’t take risks in life, you will end up in a worse situation.

Take the red pill, or the blue pill?

Then one of the most iconic parts of the film:

When given the opportunity/choice, do you take the red pill (reality) or do you take the blue pill (false reality)?

To me, this is a great symbol of real life.

In real life, we have options for the red pill/blue pill:

  • Red pill: Pursue truth/philosophy in life
  • Blue pill: Ignorantly blissful

When you go on a journey of self-searching and studying philosophy, you realize that the road will be painful, arduous, and difficult, yet– you would prefer to discover the ‘truth’ of reality, rather than being a happy ignoramus (blue pill).

I particularly like the cinematography here, with the shift between the close-up on Morpheus’s hands (with the two pill colors), then a close-up to his reflective sunglasses, which show both his hands (and both pills), and the reflection of Neo:

Closeup of the hands:

Closeup of Morpheus’ sunglasses/reflection:

Good job Neo, taking the red pill!

You have the option.

Philosophical idea: Morpheus doesn’t force Neo to take the red pill; he simply gives the option/choice to Neo.

Same thing for us in real life– we always have an option in life– we can control which path to take!

Reality isn’t what we think it is

When Neo takes the red pill, he starts to realize…the ‘reality’ isn’t what he thinks it to be:


When I watched the film in 1999, (almost 20 years ago!) I was around 10 years old. I still remember when I watched this scene, I remember how shocked/horrified I was:

Essentially this is when Neo wakes up, and realizes the totally fucked up reality:

Humans are just little batteries.

Neo wakes up, and realizes that he is a slave. He is fed via this pipe which is shoved down his throat, and he is also “plugged into” the matrix, via the wire on the back of his head. Note his shock when he realizes this truth:

From a philosophical perspective, I wonder:

  1. In modern society, we are essentially like cows: we just shove food down our throats, via junk food.
  2. With modern technology (email, smartphones, etc), we are essentially ‘plugged into’ the matrix (mindless social media, blogs, websites, Netflix, etc).

The unplugging

The excruciating pain of unplugging from the false reality of the matrix:

Welcome to the real world

  • Morpheus: ‘Welcome to the real world’
  • Neo: ‘Why do my eyes hurt?’
  • Morpheus: ‘Because you’ve never used them before’.

Lesson: When you see ‘real reality’, it will be painful.

And I also love this metaphor of ‘rebuilding your body’. When you discover a deeper truth in life, you’re going to be weak…but you’re going to have to rebuild your metaphorical muscles to strengthen yourself for the real world:

Part 3 coming soon

Coming soon…

Until then, here are more of my notes for the film:


what is real? how do you define what is real?

real is just electrical signals interpreted by your brain…if we don’t perceive something… is it not real? does it not exist?

‘you’ve been living in a dream world’

built to keep us under control

turn a human into battery?

not easy, but the truth.
– once you go find the truth…u can’t go back. but would you even want to?

‘the mind has trouble letting go’

change whatever you want inside matrix; whatever you see fit!

human race needs to be free.

we need training.

‘you want some more? hell yeah!’

’10 hours straight; he’s a machine’

what rules can be broken…besides physical laws like gravity?

what rules in life can we break…what social rules can we break?

what are you waiting for? you’re faster than this. you’re stronger than this!

don’t think you are; know you are!

stop trying; just do it.

‘I’m trying to free your mind, neo’

how to free your mind // but i can only show you the door–youre the one who has to walk through it

you have to let it all go; fear, doubt, and disbelief. free your mind.

‘i thought it wasn’t real. your mind makes it real’

The body cannot live without the mind.

The system is our enemy

Most people not ready to be unplugged.

Fight the gatekeepers.

Agents; based on rules…break from the rules! The rules don’t apply to you!

Agents will never be as strong or fast as you an be // because others are held down by rules!

You can dodge bullets//you won’t have to dodge bullets!

Bullets can’t harm you! ***

Don’t run against agents; stand your ground and fight!

‘Ignorance is bliss’

What does food really taste like…and why?

‘To deny our very impulses…is to deny the very thing which makes us human’

Are you your memories? What if your memories aren’t real? // or what if you mis-remembered?

Try not to think of right or wrong; she’s a guide.

Help find the path; but there is no right and wrong

I can only show you the door; you must walk through it ***

The truth: ‘there is no spoon’

It isn’t the spoon that bends; only yourself! ***

Do you think you’re the one?

Temet nosce: know thyself (latin)

Without him,…were lost.

Im a guide; keep helping guide others *** // but others must find their own way , only show them the door.


Film as a more engaging philosophy ?

Make films that have philosophy?

FIRST MATRIX supposed to be perfect human world

How to direct your own evolution

‘I believe in something’ — we all need something to believe in!

Neo; Nobody has anyone done anything like this… ‘thats why its gonna work’

Agent smith: I need to get out of here…I need to become free!

Can you fly that thing? Not yet. [not yet!] ***

Symbolism of breaking chains?

I knew it; he’s the one!

You’re the one!

Theres a difference between knowing the path and walking the path

Everything the oracle has told me has become true; except this!

What is he doing? He’s beginning to believe!

My name…is Neo!

‘Neo; im not afraid anymore’

See everything is just green code???

‘You’re afraid of change ‘ // why be afraid of change?

A world without controls or borders or boundaries. ‘A world where anything is possible’

Where we go from there, is a choice I leave to you.