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First They Came

First they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak up,
because I wasn't a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up,
because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up,
because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left
to speak up for me.

Pastor Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller


Inception - 2010


Nearly everyone I knew kept asking me whether I had seen Inception. Initially I assumed it was only a fad that would soon fade but when the hysteria only seemed to escalate around me, I finally succumbed to the temptation and, dear god, I ought to admit what a disappointment it was, since the intention of such cinema was to provide a vast, perpetually replenishing reservoir of raw material for the fantasies of millions of people, at which it had failed miserably.

The over-determined affiliation between cinema and dreams has been to borrow heavily from psychoanalysis. Right from its flickering around the time Sigmund Freud was working on his Interpretation Of Dreams, cinema was making its own way by trying to replicate the uncanny, image-making power of the mind since Freud believed that dreams were compounded out of the primal matter of the unconscious and the prosaic events of daily life. If he were alive now, he would have sadly laughed at how some are attempting to insult his work with such silly visual representations. I concur that there is plenty to watch in the film, but honestly there is nothing at all in the two and a half hours running time that counts as genuine vision. We get to know that the director’s mind is too literal and too logical to the full measure of the madness to let itself manifest in the characters. Instead of dealing with real confusion the director deals with an idea of ineffable ambiguity, which the subject he has chosen to treat most aptly warrants, but at which he fails, once again to deliver.

 The film doesn’t come even close to matching the allusions and impact he has tried to create by weaving in a primal nightmare, which is more like a diverting reverie. Inception trades in crafty puzzles at times, but there are no profound mysteries to be found in them, and the gestures in the direction of mighty philosophical questions that he is trying to answer are finally too tactful, too timid or perhaps Christopher Nolan was simply too busy to engage in working on them a little more. The cities that fold into themselves, the chases that defy the laws that usually rule space and time along with the pursuit of competitive advantage by well-dressed, unemotional chaps is hardly the stuff that dreams are made of, not forgetting the beautiful virtuosity as a conjurer of brilliant scenes and stunning sets, along with his ability to invest grandeur and novelty into conventional themes that have fostered the illusion that he is some kind of visionary which is acceptable perhaps by the commercial cinema audience, but hardly any fodder for the intellectually hungry.

 From here, I think, we need to shift focus, just for a moment, into another intrinsic part of human existence – reading. I remember when we were growing up, most of us feasted on material from Goethe to Jung, and by the time adolescence had knocked at the doors of our life we had been familiar with most of the theories that had shaped the minds before us and in a way we were somewhat in tune with what was anticipated in the nearest future based on the events of the day. Unfortunately, today’s technology dependent society is so very embalmed within its own constraints that reading is much of a luxury than a necessity to them and that’s were, with no offence to anyone, I was able to divide the people I knew into parts, A and B based on their summation of the film. The people who fell under part A knew that what they had seen was nothing earth shattering but a rather shallow attempt at the unconscious, as Sigmund Freud knew it, which was a supremely unruly place, a real maze of inadmissible desires, scrambled secrets, jokes and fears that surely Christopher Nolan cannot reach since he has limited access to it plainly because he has blocked his mind by the very medium he attempts to deploy with such unsuccessful skill. Then there are the people who fall under the category B who had no idea what had hit them when they saw it for the first time and expressed a desire to watch it a second time to decipher it. I think these are the people who need to, to begin with, keep aside their laptops and smart phones and pick up a book or two, not for me, or for that matter for the visionaries who worked hard to leave us what they did, but merely to save themselves the embarrassment of not having to make a fool of themselves before the people they know. They need urgently to focus at matters that are imperative to their inner and outer growth that they might have completely ignored or even discarded. If only they spared a moment and took time to read something substantial would they realise that Christopher Nolan has not done them a great favour with Inception. On the contrary, he has, in a funny way, shown us whom amidst us are intelligent, and who are not, not entirely by virtue of our cognitive intelligence but merely by the enormity of the knowledge we possess.

To sum it up, I think the answers to this supposed puzzle for those who still think it is a puzzle are very much evident in the film if you only know where to look for them. It sure isn’t a Rolls Royce in a Chevy’s body but quite the vice versa, and if after seeing it again, you still think that you haven’t got it, then you either need to get yourself a new set of spectacles or better yet inject your mind with an innovative inception.