“Dreams feel real while we’re in them. It’s only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange.” Dom Cobb
Don’t worry. No spoilers here. I will leave it to the many wowed by the dazzling spectacle of Nolan’s Inception to review the film’s theatrical successes. My fascination with it lay on an entirely different level than most film buffs will relate, and that is the very thoughtful depiction of the power of the unconscious mind. I was a little annoyed that they kept saying “subconscious,” a term that is not used in mind sciences but in the modern lay depiction of them, instead of “unconscious,” the stream of information that is dormant in the mind until specific provocation activates it in consciousness. I won’t even dwell on its reliance on one of my most grating pet peeves, which is a concept that is perfectly viable in Mind-Body-Soul alignment requires an external technological catalyst in order for the viewing audience to accept it. With regard to dreams, it is not only possible to control dreams and knowingly enter into the dream of another being, it’s a finely honed technique many refer to as dreamwalking. I have been aware of dreamwalking lifelong, and am aware that the unconscious mind conveys itself vividly through dream symbols, although the ability to forge a mindful connection between the unconscious and the conscious isn’t as quickly done as the film’s technique implies. Maybe I should get one of those machines.Anyway. For me the film’s strengths lay in its very accurate presentation of the dream world, thus, the dreaming mind. I can’t begin to express thoroughly how tired I am of dream dictionaries, mystics who insist that Regular Guy has no business interpreting his own dreams. Sure, having a handy index of alphabetized symbols scribed from the collective consciousness since the dawn of humanity is helpful. My ego’s not that big. My experience as someone who teaches dreamwork, though, is that while those tomes do a great job of describing common archetypes, they rarely actually help a person unravel symbolic meaning as it relates to her present circumstances. As for intuitives who imply that we are each not the captains of our dream vessels and navigating their star paths… I say Inception’s Cobb knows better.
Inception presents the dream world as it truly is: a reflection of the self. The Dreaming is the collection of symbols unique and wholly meaningful to an individual as presented by that individual unconscious. Rarely is an element of a dream truly interjected by another force, and when it is, the individual’s unconscious allowed it to be. Consider that everything greeting you in dreams is some facet of yourself–the beauty, the scenery, the horror, the relatives, the peace. All are components of you projected onto the screen of your mind for you and you alone to receive, process and use as agents of change in your life.
So maybe Hollywood still needs a mechanism to propel self-awareness. Fine. I’ll give it that. But the fact that it opened its audience to truths in controlling dreams, that it presented the potential to use dreams as catharsis for the self, and that it nailed the underlying mechanics of the dreaming human consciousness is a strategic and welcomed leap forward in mainstream entertainment.