Sunday, July 18, 2010

Inception Poses Compelling Questions

The new movie Inception poses important questions. Can one person enter the dream of another person? Can a person change the thoughts of another through dreams? If so, is there danger to either person? And, what are the moral implications? Many people would say no to the first question and be done with it, but not shamans, who practice such activities in their line of work. There are probably ethical and unethical shamans, so dreamer beware.

Regardless of your position on the answer to the first question, the movie posits some interesting, even compelling ideas about dreams.

That we have no control over what's in our subconscious mind. Since it's the sum of all the experiences we've had in our own lives, plus genetic information, plus species-type aspects like archetypes and myths, it's probably true that we can't control all the contents of our subconscious. However we can control some input like not watching scary movies, something I make it a practice to do. I made an exception for this movie because of its important subject matter.

That we can have a dream within a dream within a dream. I've experienced this quality. as an example, I dream I am living in a valley. I go to a school then home and to bed where I fall asleep and dream I am living in a forest. I hunt for quail then I lie down, fall asleep, and dream of...flying a kite. You get the idea.

That we always come into a dream in the middle, never at the beginning. I'm not sure whether this is true, but it might be. I intend to try to monitor my dreams to find out.

That we can consciously control our dreams and those of others. In the movie the dreamers inject a magic elixir into their veins with an IV to help them dream consciously at will. Research on this subject, often called lucidity, indicates people have varying degrees of abilities, some a great deal. It is a potential for human development. It's definitely one of my personal goals to dream more consciously.

That we sometimes don't know whether we are awake or dreaming. It's a common occurrence to awaken in surprise at realizing one is dreaming. It's also true that we sometimes exhibit slower brain-wave patterns while we are awake that allow us to daydream in much the same manner that we dream at night.

That our minds are more vulnerable when we are dreaming. Seems right to me. Our dreaming minds are also freer to travel, experiment, and play than our waking minds.

I enjoyed Inception. Despite the fact that all the main characters were criminals on a heist with no concern at all for the morality of their acts or for the pain they were inflicting on their victim, the film's idea and subject matter trumped the other issues. I loved seeing the human potential of conscious dream control dramatized.

Here's the link to the website, in case you want to look for yourself.