Matrix is a Latin word meaning „womb.” The actual womb out of which a newborn comes into the world is surrounded by a universe of words, habits, experiences of domination and discrimination, ideologies, gestures, stories, and images that become part of the newborn before he or she begins to tell their stories.
Learning to speak and perhaps later to read and write, one realizes that the words and concepts imparted by one’s elders are used by less familiar people, too, and that they often exist in written form as well. They come from a space that reaches out far beyond the single person with his or her individual heritage and tradition. Traditions, too, consist of human relationships. Each of them is a narrative matrix that is related to other narrative clouds, nurturing, and influencing each other. The traditions, in turn, are embedded in the abundance of nature and the cosmos without which they cannot exist.
Each individual matrix is unmistakable and thus can’t be identified by empirical, sociological data or analyses, no matter how many different intersectional approaches one takes. Indeed, statistical data on the way humans are embedded into certain contexts can have an enlightening effect, but they will never be able to predict one’s actions and difference.
Conceived as a part of a narrative matrix, an old text, for example, can be read as a letter in which long-deceased ancestors or predecessors are sharing their experiences. These ancestors can no longer be consulted as people from the immediate environment. But it is possible to exchange ideas and opinions about their words with contemporaries, to learn, to research, to translate old words or gestures or rituals into a personal matrix that makes sense to us.
In this way, through intervital dialogues, people gradually are able to relate to what they have imbibed from infancy, and to what has been passed on to them from the beginning. Since each matrix is stable and mutable at the same time, one’s individual heritage is integrated into processes of transformation, from which new, post-patriarchal traditions may take form.
Since humans are intertwined with the matrix world throughout their lives, since they always remain dependent and needy despite their freedom, human communities must see themselves as analogous to the first physical matrix. Thus, they must ensure that all are provided with everything necessary – for example through an economically viable basic income.
Sharon D. Welch, A Feminist Ethic of Risk, Revised Edition, Minneapolis 2000