10 years of Inception

Inception is a special film for me. 10 years since I left hospital, bought my flat and one of the first films I saw was Inception at the Manchester IMAX and was blown away, so watched it and again and again (hey I was signed off with a brain injury – Inception was helping me)

Peering into the science of dreams with inception

Inception included a lot of the tips, used in dreaming circles. Things like the totem which is actually a reality check.

I also listened/read Inception and Philosophy and it brought a whole different perceptive to the film. As its 10 years, I’ll lightly spoil the ending

Everybody is so caught up with if the totem falls or keeps spinning. signifying if its still a dream or not. But he’s something which will change the way you think about inception again.

Does the top fall at the end of the movie after the screen cuts to black? If it does, then Cobb is awake; if it doesn’t, then Cobb is still dreaming. A careful examination of the film, however, shows us that this is not the case.

First of all, Cobb’s totem is extremely unreliable as a dream detector. Arthur specifically points out, when telling Ariadne about totems, that they work only to tell you that you are “not in someone else’s dream.” So even if the top falls, Cobb could still be in his own dream. Totems have this weakness because, if the dreamer knows how the totem behaves in reality, the dreamer could dream that it behaves that way; and obviously the owner of a totem knows how it behaves in reality. This is why you don’t want anyone else to touch your totem. If anyone gets a hint of how it is supposed to behave, they could dream that it behaves that way, and then your totem couldn’t tell you that you are not in their dream world.

Despite all this, Cobb tells Ariadne, specifically, how his totem works. When she asks if the concept of a totem was his idea, Cobb says, “No . . . it was Mal’s actually . . . this one was hers. She would spin it in the dream [and] it would never topple. Just spin and spin.” So the top can’t tell Cobb that he is not in Ariadne’s dream; she knows how it works. And in fact, since she is the architect of all the dream layers in the inception, couldn’t she have (even inadvertently) worked the law “All tops fall” into the very physics of the dreams she designed? How could spinning his top ever tell Cobb that he has left the dream layers of the inception?

And wait . . . what was that? Look at that quote again. The totem was Mal’s? Well that’s just great! Sure, Cobb thinks Mal is dead; and if she is, then he doesn’t have to worry about being in her dream. But Cobb thinks she’s dead because he believes the world in which Mal threw herself from the window (the real world) is real. The only way he could come to that conclusion, however, is by spinning the top and watching it fall—but wouldn’t that be circular reasoning?

Besides, who doesn’t know that tops fall after they are spun? We have no idea how Arthur’s die is weighted, or how Ariadne’s chess piece is supposed to work. But if Cobb spun his top in anyone’s dream, wouldn’t they dream that it fell? So sure, if the top did keep spinning, after the screen went black, that would tell us Cobb is still dreaming. But the top falling wouldn’t tell us anything!

Yes that and many other aspects of inception are deconstructed to a point my mind actually started to change/hurt. Not ideal for someone who just had a bleed on the brain but regardless I kept listening.

This book, research into dreams and other neuroscience books was how I came up with the idea of mydreamscape.

Welcome to mydreamscape.org

I spent quite a time afterwards thinking and researching how to create a service which allows people to share dreams but within a smaller social network, but hide details for people or groups. It was tricky as it could be solved with code but I was looking for something off the shelf.

I recently looked to see how dreamboard, lucidopedia and shadow are doing? Lucidopedia is no more, dreamboard seems to be around still but less prominent now. Shadow is still making big claims but who knows how much is hype and real? Looking at the kickstarter page, it seems to be all hype and people are peed off about it.

There is still something which keeps me thinking its a very good idea if implemented in a privacy preserving way. I thought about how it could work long and hard especially with abuse, but not seen anything which quite works the way I feel it could work… yet! Who knows maybe one day it will all make clear sense.

This is why Inception is a masterpiece and a 10/10 in my book.

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.

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