The Reality of Movies

Inception was released on DVD this week, and having a weakness for struggling with reality, I knew I had to see it again. Now, people with a far sturdier grip on life than myself have been blogging about the movie since the summer, writing posts both profound and critical. I wrote an earlier post on the movie, toying with its retelling of the Theseus myth. This time, I am wrestling with the wonderful burden of having a subconscious mind. The crux of the movie is when Cobb has to decide which world is real: Mal’s or his own. The movie, of course, refuses to divulge the answer.

With a finesse that I had previously experienced with the original Matrix movie, Inception ups the ante on what we consider reality. “Reality” is a problematic concept, a bi-product, we are told, of consciousness itself. Reality is generally viewed in exclusive terms, and most of us spend our days in what I learned to denominate “naïve realism,” the concept that what we perceive is pure, unadulterated reality. Perhaps not as Inception or The Matrix, or even eXistenZ would have us believe, scientists today tend to agree that the world is not as it seems. The quantum world has opened up levels of reality undreamt of even by Einstein whose God did not play dice. This is perhaps one of the greatest challenges to traditional religions.

Although many religions gladly point out that there is a mythical reality behind what we experience every day, there is no hard evidence to back up these assertions. This is not the same as declaring they don’t tap into that reality, it is just that we have no final arbiter as to what that reality is. Having been in the business of religion all my life, I am absolutely certain that it isn’t what any fundamentalist group declares it is. They make claims about reality that would leave Jesus scratching his halo-encircled head. Is it Cobb’s, Neo’s, or Allegra’s reality or is it Hawking’s, Witten’s, or Greene’s? I simply don’t know. I just put the disc in an press the play button.

2 thoughts on “The Reality of Movies

  1. The very Arrogant...Henk van der Gaast

    Steve, you keep on putting in very short quips on science which is the underlying basis for “reality”.

    Whilst science will never know everything for a number of reasons (new science in 10 million years will not have our experience if you understand cosmology a tiny bit and our science will never understand every thing either) the fact remains, we have done enough to understand the basics of life. “you get drunk and you fall over ” is a tenet of science now, then and forever until we stop getting drunk.

    No matter what we produce in science you wont get past the experiential stuff that science has already explained.

    If you write a post on what is “yellow” it would be arrogant for me to tell anyone how they perceive yellow. V. J. Ramachandran discusses these matters far better than I or any of my colleagues could.

    Science is astounding. It is brain blowing. Is it something to compare to in popular mythology? Never, it provides question and comparison, not popular art philosophy.

    Lets face it, in a room full of predictive, singular, applicative (and without overwhelming evidence study) philosophy would mark a single abstract to sciences journal output.

    The references?.. science likes to base its reference to measurement rather than hearsay. Even the history departments bug bear.


  2. Pingback: The Reality of Movies | Sects and Violence in the Ancient World | Feed-O-Matic

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