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The following dialog is taken from the movie The.Matrix.Reloaded.2003:

Councillor: ...What is control?

Neo: If we wanted, we could shut these machines down.

Councillor: Of course. That's it. You hit it. That's control, isn't it? If we wanted, we could smash them to bits. Although if we did, we'd have to consider...what would happen to our lights...our heats, our air.

Neo: So we need machines and they need us. Is that your point, councillor?

Councillor: No. No point. Old men like me don't bother with making points. There's no point.

Neo: Is that why there are no young men on the Council?

Councillor: Good point.

Neo: Why don't you tell me what's on your mind, councillor.

Councillor: There is so much in this world... that I do not understand. See that machine? It has something to do with recycling our water supply. I have absolutely no idea how it works. But I do understand the reason for it to work. I have absolutely no idea how you are able to do some of the things you do. But I believe there's a reason for that as well. I only hope we understand that reason before it's too late.

I find the bold part pretty confusing. I don't see the logic behind it.

Why does Councillor say he doesn't like to make points?

And why does Neo respond by saying "no young men on the Council"?

And why does Neo feel that Councillor is holding out on him?

  • it's a joke, but a weird joke, a bit of a pun on the word point. I don't fully get it myself so I will let someone who has seen the movie explain. – hunter Nov 10 '14 at 10:32
  • Not so young men like me don't bother with the reason behind it. I just either know it or I don't, and when I don't, I will just enjoy the show. One thing I do remember, though, is that there were no young men on the Council indeed. :-) – Damkerng T. Nov 10 '14 at 10:32
  • Yes, that's a pun. The 2nd 'point' means 'purpose'. @hunter – Kinzle B Nov 10 '14 at 10:36
  • Nice imitation! Hope you will enjoy it! :-) @DamkerngT. – Kinzle B Nov 10 '14 at 10:39
  • The councilor is speaking in paradoxes, twisting language in upon itself (with the sort of puns one might hear at a junior high school cafeteria--. close your eyes and substitute Homer Simpson for Laurence Fishburne and Bart Simpson for Keanu Reeves, and the dialogue still works). Neo gets impatient with the double-talk: Why don't you tell me what's on your mind, councillor. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Mar 8 '16 at 10:58
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DISCLAIMER: Humor is highly subjective and based on context, so what follows is a single person's view of a suitable answer:

  1. Why does the councillor say he doesn't like to make points?
    The councillor not liking to make points is likely meant to be ironic humor; as a councillor, his job (boiled down to a single vague statement) is to hear points from others, make some of his own, and discuss them with his fellow councillors to come to conclusions. Then again, after serving as a councillor for so many years, he may be tired of his work...
  2. Why does Neo respond by asking if that's why there are "no young men on the council?"
    Neo may be doing one of several things:
    • Following the councilor's proverbial lead to play the joke out to its end and thus acting as the "straight man" (see Double Act) for the councillor
    • Missing the point the councillor is trying to make because he's worried about the councillor, which would also explain his later comment you ask about in #3.
  3. Why does Neo feel the councillor is holding out on him?
    I would imagine that Neo either saw the councillor's humor as using indirect language to talk about something with which he's not entirely comfortable (to invoke the colloquial phrase, the councillor was using the humor to beat around the bush). Neo thus asked the question to force the councillor to voice his concerns directly.

These aren't the ONLY valid answers (several folks posting comments to your question can attest to that), but after having watched the movie and reviewed the scene the passage is from again, I believe they are relatively accurate.

1

The important thing to notice about this exchange is that it begins when Neo accuses the Councillor of trying to make a point. Being this blunt and direct was a little rude, and so the Councillor teases Neo by throwing that word back at him. The humor here comes from repeating the same word. The councillor even uses a different definition of the word to keep the absurdity going.

At the beginning of the scene, he asks an open question, and it becomes a discussion about the relationship between the machines and the humans. Neo accuses him of trying to lead them to a particular conclusion, which would be the point of the argument. The councillor claims that was not his intention. He further claims an "old man" is no longer in the business of trying to make clever arguments.

Then he goes on to say "There's no point." This should be understood to mean that there is no value to that action. He might have a point (argument) but he does not see the point (value) in trying to convince anyone of it.

Neo tries to make a joke about the Council being full of other old men who do not see the value in having an argument. The old man continues to tease him.

Neo then takes a less direct approach and asks what is on the Councillor's mind. The councillor stops teasing Neo and explains himself.

  • Perhaps I lack some sense of humor. We don't talk like that in real life. I cannot see Neo is accusing the councillor. How is that? – Kinzle B Nov 11 '14 at 10:26
  • @KinzleB, while I can understand where you're coming from, there are times when conversations like this can happen. Under the duress of war (which is a VERY real concern in the films) the behavior of people can undergo marked change. I seriously doubt you lack some sense of humor, Kinzle B; you're simply looking at it from a different (and no less valid) point of view. – Omnidisciplinarianist Nov 11 '14 at 16:55
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In context, Neo is someone who is trying to change the world -- bring peace to Zion, defeat or disarm the enemy AI, whatever. The Councilor (like the rest of the Council) is someone who is just trying to preserve his civilization. There's a parallel between making a point and changing the world.

One way to read the subtext is as follows:

Neo: So, you want me to believe that we need machines (like the enemy AI), and they need us.

Councilor: No. I don't want to change what you believe. Old men like me don't try to change things. We won't live long enough for such changes to matter to us.

Neo: Is that why there are no young men on the Council? The young are too busy making a difference in the world?

Councilor: Good point.

Neo: If you're not trying to change my mind, what are you trying to do?

The Councilor then explains how he can understand the purpose of something without understanding how that thing works. He states that he believes Neo has a purpose, but he doesn't know what it is. He expresses his hope to learn that purpose soon. He implies his hope that it's a good purpose.

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Sorry for a untimely and inconsiderate 5 cents of mine. This is a flash response outwith having read everything that others had to say, since I feel very pressed for time but feel the urge to entertain my thoughts here.

My take is something more abstract and that the meaning is what is derived the very first time, the first impression this scene left on me in ~ 2004.

There is no point, only observation. Vini, vidi, vice - no, that is oversimplifying and something from Ralph Waldo Emerson comes to mind to express what my feelings are; Eastern science vs Western science. Where first is concerned with abstract and intangible, while latter is entrenched with practical and results. I think the point I am trying to get across is that: feeling, gut feeling or heart felt feeling, etc are above science, modern and western ways which are relational and observational are not the lens to look through at this dialogue. Instead it appealed to my other mind which is concerned with the vast and unknown, in this thought there is little room for logic ..(not to say that I am a studying statistics and data science and enjoy it/or want to enjoy it, also enjoy beautiful, yet in context of Matrix, it is what mind perceives that is in question, the truth - vast and unknown ).. but observation both external and internal, discipline(in sense of way of life), duty and other traditions that eastern cultures were entrenched in.

Lastly, unlocking the mind, the abstract and eastern cultures are are concerned with stoics philosophy in nature and from my perspective of 21st century is overwhelming and/or disconnected and distant. -- back to my real, western lifestyle

  • The Wachowski siblings wrote a lot of dialogue that has a kind of "deepness" to it which tends to fall apart on close examination -- it's only superficially deep. But the bold section in the quote has little to do with depth or sagacity, but is just a clever bit of dialogue playing on the word "point". It also is less meaningful than it might first seem. – Andrew Jan 3 '17 at 18:39

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