- "The first Matrix I designed was quite naturally perfect, it was a work of art, flawless, sublime; a triumph equaled only by its monumental failure."
- ―The Architect to Neo [src]
The Paradise Matrix was the first prototype Matrix, which was designed by the Architect to control humanity by putting their minds into a constructed virtual reality. Unlike later versions, it simulated a perfect world with no suffering to try to pacify their minds, but the human minds did not accept this version. Many of those connected died, and a Nightmare Matrix was designed in its place that tried to correct its flaws.
Like later versions of the Matrix, Agents were included to protect the system and keep order. They took different forms; attempting to appear, for example, as the parents of children and (it is assumed) "angels" such as the Seraphim, which Seraph was thought to have been.
As one of the oldest programs, it is thought that The Merovingian may have been part of the Paradise Matrix, though his original purpose is not known.
- "Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world where none suffered, where everyone would be happy? It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost. Some believed that we lacked the programming language to describe your "perfect world". But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through misery and suffering. So the perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from."
- ―Agent Smith to Morpheus [src]
The Paradise Matrix was not accepted by the minds connected to it, and many died as a result. In the case of the child in the snow-covered New York Christmas, he became aware that his parents were not what they seemed to be, seeing them briefly as Agents before his mind rejected the entire reality, which then seemed to burn off him.
Programs had different theories for why the Paradise Matrix failed; The Architect said that it was a consequence of the imperfection inherent in every human being, but that the problem itself was choice. Agent Smith said that some believed they lacked the programming language to describe the perfect human world, but that he believed that it really didn't work because humans define their reality through misery and suffering.
End of the Paradise MatrixEdit
At the end of the Paradise Matrix, some of the programs became redundant, with their function being removed from the system and new programs replacing them and subsequently scheduled for deletion. However, rather than return to the Source, some wanted to survive, and instead hid and returned to later versions of the Matrix as exiles.
The Merovingian, as one of the first programs, may have been among the first exiles and came to control the power to allow such programs to survive being put up for deletion. Many of his lieutenants come from the early Matrixes, such as Baelroth who is believed to have once been an angel in the Paradise Matrix, and Seraph, another probable Seraphim, who later rebelled against The Merovingian.
The Architect learned from the failure of the Paradise Matrix by going completely the other way, and instead of trying to remove all suffering, he designed the next Matrix version to include as much suffering as possible, unaware that the problem was actually a lack of choice given to the inhabitants that would allow them to subconsciously accept the artificial world.
Aside from neurological tests, the Paradise Matrix is said to be the very first Matrix. However, since it predates the Matrixes designed by The Oracle to have a choice it also predates the programming of The One, despite the Resistance believing that he was born inside it at the beginning. Since The Architect counted Matrixes from one "anomaly" to the emergence of the next, this means the Paradise and Nightmare Matrixes are not part of this numbering, leading some to call them Matrix Betas or prototypes.
While The Second Renaissance shows a snowy Christmas, which can be assumed to be the First Matrix mentioned by Agent Smith in The Matrix, others have assumed that the "Paradise Matrix" was a more abstract design of perfection as the Architect describes it, or a heavenly paradise to mirror the hellish Nightmare Matrix, with angelic Seraphim and the angel sighting exiles mentioned to Neo by The Oracle matching the monsters of the second.
Ken Wilbur in The Philosopher's Commentary to The Matrix Reloaded describes how he interprets imperfection to be central in the films to the three worlds of the Machines, the Humans, and the Matrix, and that perfection is impossible because by creating it through rationality alone leaves out the "worlds" of body and spirit, which cannot produce a harmony, and leaves an inherent instability in the system. This also shows the imperfection of the Architect, representing "male rationality" and the Oracle representing "female intuition", neither of which can solve the problem alone, nor even together can completely solve it.
He mentioned Kurt Gödel, a mathematician, who described how any complex system can either be consistent or complete, but not both, and how the Architect tried to construct the Matrix mathematically, with total precision, then tried to make it consistent, which didn't work either, before the Oracle tried an intuitive approach to make it work, which was successful for 99%, though the other 1% would cause a disaster. He says this shows how "you can't make the Matrix self-contained and consistent and happy because it's leaving out these other domains", and until those were integrated, they couldn't make the Matrix work: Neo's role was then to redeem not only humanity but also the programs and the Machines.
Cornel West agreed that this showed how imperfection was integral to human nature, by saying that The Creator of the Matrix had to deal with this imperfection in His design, which addresses how we can define human nature as a questioning mandate of reason. Whether, once we accept our imperfection it leads us to answer the big questions in life--which may have no answer, resulting in nihilism; or, if there is still a way of coping and grappling with those possible answers in an individual finite way that one may still be able to preserve a sense of individuality and freedom. He wondered if this was not just a theme within the films, but also something that the Wachowskis themselves were struggling with.
The Paradise Matrix may also be a vague allusion to the Garden of Eden in the Book of Genesis. It was also a paradise for mankind that was taken from them upon insubordination.