July 19, 2010
Two days later, the movie Inception is still working it’s way through my mind. A few thoughts:
Dave saw it again and paid attention to some extra details, namely, the presence of Cobb’s wedding ring when he was in reality, leading us to assume, in fact, that the end WAS real and not another dream. Still maddeningly unclear, though.
But the fact that it IS unclear is what is so intriguing about this film. Life is confusing, and there is a sense that where we live, breathe, eat, and sleep is not ultimate reality. Do we, in our dreams, somehow attain to a more real state? Certainly, as a Christian, I hold to the fact that where we are living now is “the Shadowlands,” and as George MacDonald points out, we are longing for the land from whence the shadows fall. But Cobb’s dreams reflect not heaven or perfection, but rather, his subconscious mind struggling to grieve and let go of his wife, who got confused about which world was really real, and which was the dream.
Or did she? The things that make the dream world so appealing are the ability for the people in them to create. Creating is one of the great fulfilling things of humanity, but always limited, always somewhat frustrated in our current state. Cobb says to his friend regarding Ariadne, “She’ll be back. Once you’ve created a dream, reality just doesn’t cut it anymore.” (That’s a paraphrase.) Then there is the image of all those sleeping men in – ? – a middle Eastern country, maybe? – who go everyday to sleep for hours, or as their guide says, “to wake up.” What’s that about, aside from the longing to escape the reality of this imperfect world we live in, and to experience ultimate reality. And, as a Christian who believes that paradox does indeed seem to be at the heart of most truths, it’s uncomfortably similar to the idea that we must “die unto life.”
Another thought I had about the movie, if we put aside all the talk about which world was really real, was the sense of the sadness and disconnect of trying to reach a person who is struggling with depression or mental illness. The grief and misery of Cobb was palpable as he watched his wife with her delusional thoughts, her insistence that suicide was the only way, and her attempts to bring him with her, seemingly out of love but ultimately out of selfishness… What a sad, real picture of the struggles of a person dealing with mental illness! And Cobb had his guilt, because he planted the idea in her mind. My heart breaks for these fictional people who need grace! To forgive each other and themselves.
One more thought: to continue in my nerdy obsession with the Harry Potter stories, I can’t help but think of Book Five, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, where Voldemort uses “Inception” to lure Harry to the Dept. of Mysteries. Showing him the way through the shelves, planting the idea that there is something there he must get. Harry thinks it’s his own idea, and is confident in its reality when he speeds to the supposed rescue of Sirius Black, but alas! He should have practiced his Occlumency, so that there would have been machine-gun-wielding protectors in his mind, doing high-speed chases and shooting like crazy, to keep Voldemort far from his secrets. Okay, I think this last paragraph officially puts me over into the deep end. I better stop now.