Inception – A Masterpiece With No Explanation Necessary



(This piece first appeared at  Click here to view).


As a word, it is a beginning. A start. A new place from which to go forth.

Now, however, it is a Christopher Nolan masterpiece blockbuster starring the spot-on Leonardo DiCaprio.

DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, a master world-builder who can enter your dreams and explore. He can plant ideas and take them just the same, delving into levels of your subconscious you didn’t even know existed.

He has a secret, of course…a secret that could destroy his compatriots, compromise a mission, and ruin him.

But is it real? Is any of this happening? Is the great architect only great in his mind? In his dream? Do his actions matter?

Inception creates an atmosphere of doubt, anchored by a thin string to reality. We are witness to Cobb’s madness and potential reconciliation, dangling as helpless yo-yos at the mercy of his all-powerful wrist – will he snap us up or leave us spinning in infinity? When the screen goes black, we are hanging suspended in a cinematic purgatory…a limbo where anything and everything just happened.

Confused? Good.

Inception has spawned a trend of explanations. There is one particular attempt at, comparing the cast and their exploits to the making of a movie itself. It is a complex and interesting explanation that gives a good framework for thinking about the film. Head over there and read it for yourself after you see Inception, and let me know what you think.

As for me? I’m trying to work the movie out in my mind, to see what it means for me personally, and for my realities.

After I saw the movie, I turned to my friend and said, “I’m not sure, but I think I may have just seen the best movie writing ever!”

Or not. It’s all a dream, you know, and it’s hard to tell.

But there is something wonderful in Inception…something that not only takes us to the deepest levels of the subconscious and dream, but also defies explanation. Eschews it, actually. For all of our attempts to explain Inception, we are left, in the end, in a deliberate gap…a place suspended in the middle of concrete reality and blissful oblivion. In some ways, explaining Inception is akin to saying, “Gee, it’s quiet in here!” The moment I observe it, it is gone. When I name silence aloud, I violate it.

Maybe instead of explanation, we need silence. Maybe we don’t need to know. Maybe Inception just has to percolate in our minds until the light comes on, free of other interpretations and free of the experiences of others.

At some level, I am convinced the whole of Inception is one big dream. Then again, I am also convinced it is the continuum of Om, where wakefulness and dream and silence blend together as necessary progressions.

But whatever the meaning and whatever the purpose, I am convinced I saw genius on the screen…even if it doesn’t yield readily to explanations.


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