Monthly Archives: December 2010

The Inception Labyrinth

plasticine labyrinthI’m always the last person who watches a movie, so I hope nothing I reveal here is going to spoil it for anyone else. I am going to discuss it in detail, so if you haven’t watched it yet, you need to skip this blog post (spoiler alert). While it has nothing to do with finances, it has a great deal to do with how you create your reality. There are numerous theories about what Inception is all about, and they all come from the view of a person who believes they are awake in real life and dreaming when they sleep. That’s the wrong viewpoint, in my opinion. The way to really see deeply about what Inception is showing us is to view it as a lucid dreamer who already has an idea of what should and shouldn’t occur in a lucid dream, which is essentially what Inception is. It’s for those people who wish they were awake in their dreams, but never really got that far. Me, I used to dream this way repeatedly, so I’m going to venture to use this viewpoint to explain the dream. While it’s important to know whose dream you’re in to understand the dream, the real message is that it doesn’t matter whose dream it is. It only matters how well you see through the labyrinth.

Why a Round Laybrinth?

The scene where Cobb is testing Ariadne to see if she can be a good architect is pivotal. She tries a standard square maze a couple of times and it’s easily solvable by Cobb. Then, she builds a labyrinth and suddenly, he’s impressed. Is it coincidence that Ariadne’s namesake in Greek mythology is the daughter of King Minos, owner of the labyrinth where the minotaur lived? That Ariadne helped Theseus escape the labyrinth using a ball of thread and a sword. The labyrinth, like the mandala, has always stood for a symbol of Divine Self in a journey of self-discovery, the torturous path of the ego towards the God within. But, instead of finding center, here we’re trying to escape the labyrinth, which is clearly impossible from the viewpoint of the dreamer since only the Architect knows the grand design. To escape the laybrinth, one has to be aware the Divine Self created it in the first place.

Which Way is Up?

Another great technique in the movie, of which there were many, was the use of elevators, mirrors, and staircases to try to fiddle with our sense of perception or direction. A dreamer is tethered by gravity, so that up is always away from ground. But, for the Architect, there is no up, down, left, or right. That would never work in a round labyrinth. It would only be highly confusing. There is only in or out. What is within me and what is without, which obviously is a gray matter anyways. Now, I’m going to quibble with the film a bit, simply as someone that knows what would work in a lucid dream for an experienced dreamer and what was completely bogus. Most of these had to do with these elements used to warp our sense of perception.

  • Elevators – Completely laughable, creating gravity by falling was even more so. Gravity doesn’t exist in dreams, only the dreamers create that one, and it’s not done via elevators. That would be like using an atomic bomb to kill a fly. It’s simply ridiculous and too much work, and quite destructive of a lot of energy. It clearly indicates that if they’re trying to fiddle with gravity using elevators that they’re not just asleep, but stupidly asleep. However, it does a good job of screwing with a dreamers sense of direction, so in essence it is Christopher Nolan’s visual kick for the audience. For me, it was simply boring and I couldn’t wait for that ridiculous scene to be over. It worked quite the opposite for me. Instead of kicking me out of my current perception, it made me feel like I was falling asleep and had to be dreaming for it to be so obviously silly. Too much work!
  • Mirrors – Ariadne starts to learn how to create a dream world and starts to fiddle with mirrors. Mirrors are classic devices in lucid dreams, yet here they are showing up as a reflection of an existing world, right down to the minutest detail, just like they work in real life. It works so well, in fact, that Cobb warns Ariadne after he says he recognizes a place she’s created in a mirror that he knows, that she should never build dream worlds of places she knows as it is confusing and the implication is you’d get lost in your dreams. Ha, ha. Very funny! Must be why mirrors never show the exact duplicate of a real reflection in a dream world when you stare at them long enough. Besides, she breaks the mirror instead of stepping through it. A really dumb beginner’s mistake. Only someone who is still convinced they are awake while dreaming would do such a stupid thing. For one thing, mirrors are hard to conjure up and once you do, they are very valuable. You’d never just break it. For another, it shows you still believe that there is a real world and it’s the one that you’re currently perceiving. There is no in/out direction for you. It’s all out. That’s why it never occurs to her to walk into the mirror. Your world is only what you make it, and whether it’s from prior memories or not, it makes no difference. You’re still quite lost in the dream.
  • Staircases – The Escher-like staircases that go into infinity were clever only because they were a visual way to defy the sense of direction in many ways. Were they going up or down? If they were going down, how can they get someone who is running away, down the staircase? Maybe they are going in or out? You can’t tell because they are rectangular, not circular.
  • Falling Off Bridge – Here the directions have been deliberately reveresed. Falling off a bridge, falling down, is now going to take people UP through the dream levels when they reach bottom. So, can we really say that we’re on a certain ground level or are they all existing at one time, as the movie insinuates? If they do all exist at the same time, then why do we perceive up as a north and down as south relative to how we stand? If falling down on the second level is above the third level, then it is up, isn’t it? Maybe it is both?

Who Are All Those People?

Finally, I loved the explanation of why the people start to chase you in a lucid dream. Your subconscious has problems with your waking ego being present there and acts as a guardian of the dream world, and sees awakening you as a virus in the sleeping dream world that needs to be attacked. Something to that effect, anyways. Yet, all the attackers are no one other than you. In actuality, all the people in the dreams are projections of you. There is no outside them. Everything is a reflection of you in the grand multiverse, but their mission is to kick you back to reality. By this time, you may have figured out that it may just be another level of dream world. The problem is not whether the multiverse exists, as it most certainly does within every dreamer’s mind, the thing is when do all these others integrate back to Self and what happens then? What made them splinter off in the first place? Does the dance stop, does time stand still, but the dance goes on from another level? Are there truly physical guardians standing ready to make sure you don’t awaken on this level before it’s time? Does that mean they are more awake then us so they can keep us asleep? Why send out disinformation about what can’t and can be done in a dream? It’s almost as if someone is trying to influence us into believing that our dreams are limited and it all depends on whose dream you’re in whether you can escape it or not. Even when we think we’ve awakened, we’re still on another level of the same game and meanwhile, the guardians smirk at us. They had us sleeping soundly so we never even knew there was another level to the dream. It never occurred to us, but now some of us know there is. So, to keep us asleep they have to define the rules of the game and get us to believe them. Otherwise, we might awaken and for some reason, their mission is to make sure we remain asleep. Why? I’m sure if we knew the answer to that one, we’d be expelled from the game forever.

There is much, much more I’d like to discuss from the totem (another silly device, but has great metaphorical meaning) to the shapeshifting, which only one person in the movie exhibited, and for good reason. It would make people start to wonder why that person can change everything they look like, and yet if everyone has that power, they should simply heal the bullet wound, sprout metaphoric wings to fly, or become invisible so no one sees them in the dream. I mean, once you are in total control of your dream aspect, why do you need elevators, right? What is death, right? They then might ask themselves why it’s not possible in real life to change everything too, simply through being awake in the dream and that would kill the illusion that what you’re viewing on the movie screen has anything to do with waking up or reality.

If you opt to try to solve the labyrinth though intellect instead of insight, you find yourself going deeper and deeper. It may be towards a fake notion of reality or it might end up into a different perspective. It will be somewhere you haven’t been before. However, as the ultimate Architect of your own dream, you find the maze follows you wherever you go. There is only ambiguity and new openings or doorways until you finally exhaust all possibilities and the mind should then still long enough to find the insight in the movie meant for you alone.