Tron Legacy: Esoteric Analysis

Notice the pyramidal structure of the black on bottom and top, from which light emanates. This symbolizes the gnostic version of as above, so below - dualism. Its "Just a Game" because its an illusory world.

By: Jay Dyer I hate to always harp on gnosticism, but it's undeniably the recurrent theme of most sci fi and fantasy/cult films. Gnosticism is the ancient perennial tradition that descends from Egypt and (possibly) older civilizations. In its modern form, it comes to us from the Nag Hammadi documents recently discovered, whose tradition was passed down in the secret societies and occult orders, of which Freemasonry is a good example. I am not saying that Freemasonry is actually a lineage from Egypt, but that there is a similarity of doctrine that has come down through the ages. By the first century, the gnostic traditions flourished, rivalling and challenging other sects, becoming a force of its own. To put it simply, gnosticism posits that the present creation is a subordinate, evil one, wherein evil is given a substantial existence as the created order itself. Religions such as Manichaeanism are perfect examples of this trend, where a dualism is sometimes posited between a "good" God who is far away and unknown, identified with thought or light, and an evil deity or demiurge, identified as the Creator of this world. In the time of the rise of Christianity in the first three centuries of the Church, the gnostics were the chief opponents of the God presented in the Law and prophets of the Israelites, and charged God with Himself being evil.  Texts such as the Hypostasis of the Archons and The Gospel of Thomas are prime examples. The gnostics instead proffered that "Jesus" was thus a revolutionary reformer who tossed away all traditional concepts of Jewish theology, and brought in the new gnosis, or knowledge - the Gospel of salvation through enlightenment. It is to such patristic commentators like Irenaeus of Lyon and Tertullian of Carthage that we get an indepth glimpse into 2nd century gnosticism, from figures like Marcion.  But gnosticism is not just a reaction against the God of the Bible, it also shares many commonalities with ancient eastern religions like Hinduism and Buddhism, and thus exemplifies syncretism.  Themes such as pantheism and/or dualism, many gradations of archons, or gods or avatars that rule this kosmos, etc., all recur in gnosticism. In this regard, gnosticism is in many ways the inheritor of the ancient pagan religions, and particularly Egypt.  So with that said, we can now analyze the kind of symbolic scheme that is put forth as an image of our world as presented in Tron Legacy.

Daft Punk, who did the soundtrack and appears in the film, performs here atop the pyramid.

Central to gnosticism is the theme of redemption or salvation from this world through special knowledge, which constitutes the "gnosis." Generally, this is knowledge that has been lost, and must be recovered, often symbolized in literature or film by some magical object or memory, etc. In Tron, Flynn's (Jeff Bridges) son, Sam, must "save" his father from the "grid," or matrix, where he has become enslaved, having more or less forgotten his family in the real world. Sam, of course brings to mind "Sammael," another name for Satan in the biblical tradition, and this makes sense, given that Tron presents Sam Flynn as the savior of the feminine archetype, "Quorra."  This also mirrors gnostic themes, where the feminine principle, the Pistis Sophia is one of the archons of gnostic salvation.  Wikimedia notes of Quorra:

Quorra, the Pistis Sophia, revealer of mysteries and the psyche of the (cpu) world

"Prior to the conflict between the Basics and ISOs, Quorra was friends with Radia. She witnessed Clu's betrayal when he attempted to kill Tron and Flynn, and when Clu declared war, she - with the help of a prototype security program named System Monitor - attempted to warn Radia and the ISO's about him as well as combat the viral program Abraxas."

What is Abraxas? In the Tron story, Abraxas is a newly evolved life form, an “ISO,” like Quorra, that becomes a virus in the grid.  But what is Abraxas really?  You guessed it – a chief gnostic archon/deity, who figured prominently in the teaching of the famed heresiarch named Basilides, as well as many other occult traditions.  Again, clues are being dropped left and right as to Tron’s gnosis.

Clu and his archons seek to keep them trapped in the illusory grid world and escape to dominate the real world. Note the mirrored dualism again.

Further, Kevin Flynn, the gnostic creator of the grid has flubbed up – he created a mirror image god named “Clu” would be the ‘architect’ of the grid, making it perfect. However, Clu became enraged and jealous, having desired to be like the creator, who more or less reclined to the outer darkness of the ‘grid’ in a deistic fashion. Clu then took over the ‘city,’ keeping everyone in check with a programmed police state, constant entertainment and an empire.  It is the rebels who are ‘free’ from being programmed and who will constitute the casting off of deterministic enslavement. Clu’s goal, however, has been to erase the grid of the creator, should he be able to locate him.  Enter “Sam,” who is accidentally teleported to the grid in a most absurd fashion, and magically knows how to play that weird Tron version of death frisbee. “Tron” himself is a program ‘like the creator’ that figures not-so-prominently in the sequel, yet Metatron historically is an angel that figures prominently in some esoteric traditions, and is an angel like God.

Sam finds Flynn and Quorra just kinda hanging out, doing Zen and reading the classics in Flynn’s hip condo that pays homage to the celestial Victorian era interior design, like one sees at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey. These pretentious plot points are mind numbingly silly, but reinforce the time-bound, emergent nature of the ‘deity’ of this world (again consonant with gnosticism), Kevin Flynn. He is more or less an old buffoon, and what the perceptive reader is supposed to do is link him up with the kind of God as presented in the Bible. So Sam ends up in a ‘rebellion’ of sorts, engineered by a rebel program that is intended, I think, to be a kind of Lucifer.  The gnostic Lucifer, however. Clu is a kind of Satan, or adversary, and in this system, the Lucifer character is played by Michael Sheen and is a kind of Ziggy Stardust trickster, who foments rebellion, and ends up deleted.  In mythology, Castor is a twin god along with Pollux, who also ends up dead. Thus, the duality of the two worlds, the two mirrored Flynns, the constant duality symbolism throughout, including Flynn in all white, and Clu in all black, and so on, showing us again that the film is relying on a prominent gnostic principle.

Rebel program, Castor


So in the end, Clu, the creator god’s evil twin or Jungian shade, builds an empire and tries to leave the grid through the portal which is arbitrarily closing in 8 hours.  Sam ends up escaping into the portal with Quorra, while Flynn absorbs Clu (again, the Satan character) into himself. When he does this, he then explodes in a kind of digital, eternal recurrence big bang. We are then left to suppose that the grid-world ended, where Sam and Quorra will now live happily ever after in the real world. So, the Son Sam (Son of Sam?) redeems the feminine principle (see the gnostic Pistis Sophia), while the father/creator of the evil, illusory maya program world disintegrates, after having been reconciled and united with the evil principle.  Nothing could be more gnostic.

The real world Sam escapes to is the ‘real world’ where 80s video games are portals to the world of Pong. The familiar ‘real world,’ where sons of CEOs live in one room garages underneath overpasses.  I see you giggling. Tron Legacy is a visually awesome and the Daft Punk soundtrack is pretty rockin, but, the plot involves a lot of stupidity and loose ends, not to mention a very blatant and sloppy adaptation of gnosticism, yet it’s a gnosticism so lost in attempts at hi tech geeky cool and pretentious political and religious statements, it loses its way. Tron Legacy is worth seeing, if you can tune out the stupid story and just directly imbibe its gnosis.

17 Comments on Tron Legacy: Esoteric Analysis

  1. Great review! My thoughts exactly! Not only was this typical Gnosticism, it was typical modern “psychologized” Gnosticism where the “tyrannical”, “demiurgical” O.T God is presented as a restraining projection of the human imagination that must be “reingested” for Man to progress. I think Flynn even says he must reabsorb Clu.

    What do you think of the original Tron. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it. I remember my initial interpretation being that it was an orthodox Christian allegory, with the creator Flynn incarnating in the world of the Grid and sacrificing himself to defeat the devilish Master Control Program. However it might have been Gnostic instead, with the MCP representing the bad old demiurge of Mosaic Law. If this interpretation is correct perhaps there is more to South Park’s appropriation of the MCP as Moses.

    I’ve read that Bonnie MacBird, one of the writers of the original Tron based the first film loosely on the work of her husband Alan Kay, a noted computer pioneer and futurist. I don’t know much about him but here’s a vid where he briefly mentions the idea that our perceptions are really an artificial world.

    That at least has a somewhat Gnostic quality to it or at least Platonic. Speaking of which did you notice the whole Plato’s Cave thing with Sam and Quorra? She asks him what the sun is like and after he leads her into the outer world the sun is the first thing he shows her. Given the subtext I assume the Sun is meant to be taken as the Deep Unknowable truth of Shelley’s Prometheus unbound, or the Bythos or Plemora of Gnosticism, an impersonal God devoid of consciousness or qualities as opposed to the personal God of the bible.

    Like a similar Gnostic work, Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials Trilogy, the biblical God (in this case Clu) is shown as being opposed to beings that have sprung from random evolution; a phenomenon held up as the great miracle of the universe.

  2. Haha. Thanks for the compliment. Don’t sell yourself short though, I totally missed the Abraxis thing and Sam as Sammael. Apparently Quorra is Italian for heart. I wonder if they were going for a Metropolis reference: “The Mediator between the hand and the head must be the heart.”

  3. Given your mastery of cartoon lore, you’ll find this interesting:

  4. I remember commenting to you last year about meat and the scene in Children of Men where the cows are shown piled up dead. Saw this yesterday, and made me think of it….

  5. It even says they had “reproductive problems.”

  6. I’d like to nominate this song for the Jaysanalysis,net video intro theme song. Oh yeah, and its real.

  7. Yeah, you were probably right to be concerned about meat. I remember the whole Mad Cow thing in England a decade ago. They had to destroy millions of live stock over it. It was probably a government op to destroy national sovereignty be creating a dependency on foreign cattle. Maybe the globablist are getting ready to try and pull the same thing in the U.S. I was visiting relatives in England a few years after the safety ban on beef was lifted and had a burger. When I returned to Canada I discovered the ban had only been lifted in England but not in Canada (apparently our government still considered British beef poison at the time I ate it.) Long story short, to this day I can’t give blood in Canada for that very reason.

    Thanks for the G.I Joe link. I’m surprised Vigilant Citizen didn’t mention the episode where the twin towers shake apart and turn into rockets. I seem to recall this used to be up on that 9-11 in movies and tv site I mentioned before.

  8. I always thought ‘clu’ was a reference to ‘Luc’ (Lucifer), and SAM came from Son of ‘I AM’ (thus ‘Sam’)

  9. IN their concert pyramid , Daft punk are NOT on the top of it. That’s a subliminal message. Their position ( immediatly under the top) menas that they are messengers. That is present in symbolism of alot of worldwide personalities of star system. Ya, SYSTEM..

  10. As a quick pertinent tangent, as you mention Daft Punk were the ones who conducted the soundtrack of the movie.

    In any case, Daft Punk wrote a song not long ago named “Faster, Better, Harder, Stronger.”

    Not only do they perform in the song a top a pyramid [not sure whether your picture is from the same song] but the lyrics are quite telling.

    Although basic and repetitive, it could read as what benefits the comptrollers in a way:

    Work it, make it, do it, makes us
    Harder, better, faster, stronger
    More than, hour, our, never
    Ever, after, work is, over

    Its quite in your face how they state “make US” [who is us?] harder, better, harder, stronger. One could infer that they could be referring to any of the strongest secret societies/groups, and it wouldn’t be that out of the question. Just thought you’d appreciate that bit of information.

    Great write by the way. Digging it incredibly.

  11. Kevin FLynn is obviously symbolizing ‘God’, or ‘I-AM’, (Son of ‘I-AM’, thus ‘SAM’…referring to his son)

    CLU is just an anagram of ‘LUC’…obviously a reference to Lucifer.
    Interesting how ‘Flynn’ equals ’26’ in Gematria (Reduction Mode)…same number as ‘God’ in Simple English Form. Also, SAM equals ’33’ in Simple English Gematria…the number of Freemason obsession.

  12. Not a lot of critical analysis of this movie on the web. A search brought me to you. Thanks for your thoughts Jay.

    Aside from the incredible visual atmosphere of the film, the other key feature that struck me was the hubris of the basic theme- that an icon of industry and a tech “master of universe” (Kevin Flynn) could admit that he had been wrong about man’s destiny, that the basic transhumanist project was vain and misguided. This confession in a Hollywood narrative actually shocked me.

    There is no such hubris in the real world (even though we are now at least getting warnings on the dangers of AI from the likes of Musk, Gates, and Hawking). We are instead routinely being conditioned by our betters to accept our eventual replacement by humanoid creations, admonished over our own horrible imperfections (climate change, racism, etc.), and told that it is somehow our destiny to move aside for something better and post-human.

    The Tron narrative explains that this attitude is really just a cover for the innate human impulse to control others, to “perfect” them according to our own notions, which left unchecked eventually finds its expression in scientism, eugenics, and ultimately full-blown totalitarianism using the tools of technology to affect mass slaughter.

    The moral of Tron Legacy is a conservative one, which acknowledges that “perfection is unknowable but at the same time all around us”, and is symbolized by nature and the natural existence Flynn’s own son (compared to the unnatural existence of Flynn’s yin-yang alter-ego, CLU, and their unnatural Utopian world-building project).

    That the wildly progressive Hollywood culture can produce any movie that says family is what is fundamentally good in the world, and that technology and “progress” are false idols, is stunning. Tron Legacy was an anomaly in this regard that somehow slipped past the progressive filters, and I doubt we will ever see another film like it…

    I look forward to reading and listening to more of your analysis in the future.

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