Inception: Reality? Dream?

So as I said briefly last night, Inception is about the nature of dreams and their relation to reality. That got me thinking about the nature of reality. There’s so many questions raised by so many philosophers about the definition of reality.

And I’m not even going to start on the questions that religion throws at the concept of reality. When I was younger I used to really get worked up over the concept that essentially nothing could be real, that even if it was “real” we were all just a part of a larger picture. The question always gets posed that if this is all a dream shouldn’t we just do what we’d like?

The answer is simple: no. Much like anarchy, of course you could go around doing whatever you please, but Inception answers that there are consequences. The dreamer’s projections won’t like that and you’ll end up spending the rest of your dream in prison, or dead. As in anarchy, you could go around taking what you please and looting and killing, but there will always be people with more friends than you with bigger guns to keep you in check.

Another interesting notion raised in Inception is that the protagonists are always escaping from a maddening mob. In the “real world” there are always wars being fought by an unseen force. Of course we can put names to those forces but we’ve never seen the entire US army. Or know what goes on. It essentially is something that we trust happens. Thus if we don’t experience something first hand, does it really exist? Probably, but just for the sake of argument what if it didn’t?

There’s this notion that if we don’t see it, does it exist? If a tree falls in the woods and there’s no one there to hear it, does it make a sound? We know what China is, but if we are in Canada, does it exist? Are we just drawing it from our conception of what “China” is? Reality boils down to what one can interpret via the senses. The things I touch, taste, smell, and hear are concrete proofs of my existence. Then again, am I just imagining them? If we travelled there what would it be, the only way to reach it is by boarding a large contained space such as a plane or a boat. While in transit is our conception of “China” loading? It would be impossible to swim there. I have friends who have been there and they assure me it’s quite real.

My solution to it all, is that, like Inception, if this reality we call existence is just a dream, we should still enjoy it as best we can. Worst case scenario, we wake up, and only lost an hour in the grand scheme of things. And after living that life, we’ve still only burned five minutes, and above that, seconds, daydreams, just a concept.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the world is such an amazing place and so many amazing things have come into existence in the last fifty years that it’s a wonder that it happened at all. Hundred ton hunks of metal float through the air every day. I can make a phone call to the farthest part of the world. Internet seems to just happen mid-air and connect me when I open my MacBook or Blackberry. We no longer rely on weird buried cables across the sea (which sounds a little far-fetched if you ask me) to make international calls. This is reality? Not some great dream? Simply being sentient is kind of a great dream.

I haven’t even touched on what seemed like the biggest theme of the film: could one implant a thought into a person’s mind that they would believe they thought up themselves? That part is kind of too futuristic to really take into account. I guess if you had the technology. But on a modern scale, it’s possible with enough hard work and prodding. Brainwashing has been a cult classic for centuries. Of course it could be done but to do it one really needs to get to the core of a person’s essence. Winston Churchill did it (which rocked). So did Hitler (but that sucked).

I could ramble on and on and on,

    • dronemodule
    • August 6th, 2010

    ” could one implant a thought into a person’s mind that they would believe they thought up themselves? ”

    Its called ideology.

  1. Thanks! That’s the proper wording!

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