Friday, July 16, 2010


The ultimate aim of all love affairs ... is more important than all other aims in man's life; and therefore it is quite worthy of the profound seriousness with which everyone pursues it.
Arthur Schopenhauer
(David Foster Wallace)

I am reading a novel.  An opus.

The novel is entitled Infinite Jest by the late David Foster Wallace.  I don't know much about the life or times of the man Wallace, but it is bitingly clear to me 500 pages into his 1100 page magnum composition that his mind belongs on the echelon of the genius.  Somewhere in the midst of the words on the various pages is a plot line involving a film that is so entertaining that it kills.  The viewer will never stop watching it.  They will loop it and loop it ad infinitum until death arises from within.  One scene spins a story about scientists discovering a product that is so stimulating, that if a rat has a choice between a button that injects them with this stimulant, and another button which will feed them, the rats choose the button which gives them the stimulus every moment.  They never choose the food.  They starve.  Even if the stimulant is taken away, the rats continue to search for it, pushing anything and everything that remotely resembles a button.  Just for the hope.  Until death.

David Foster Wallace, writer, genius, died on September 12th, 2008, by way of suicide.  He will likely be known forever as the auteur behind Infinite Jest.

Enter Inception - 2010.

The first thing we must recall when recollecting this piece of work, is that bellowing low pitch horn. Can you hear it yet?  It is like some hellish alarm clock for the resurrection from the deep of some long forgotten Nephilim of old.  Remember it, and let it bounce from one side of the skull to the other.  Over and over it reverberates.  Let it roll.  Over and over.

 (The man himself - Christopher Nolan)

Where did Christopher Nolan, the auteur of Inception, last leave us?  If I may: He left us pondering the notion of overcoming the generally banal and limited aspects of reality by contriving manipulative situations that give birth to myth.  Since he made Memento (my recollection of Following is too slight to make any comment on its philosophical worldview), Nolan has begun to tinker with the beginnings of a search for something that can be attained beyond nihilism.

I maintain that nihilism is not a livable philosophy.  It cannot be lived through.  One is forced to off oneself, or find a 'believable' rabbit-hole to climb through.  Finally, with the birth of Inception, Nolan has set the table.  I am right.  Clearly.  Hop, hop, hop we go -- to another realm to stow.

What makes Inception different than Nolan's previous outings: the starting world.  It appears to me that Inception begins with nihilism as the status quo.  We are deeply enmeshed within the dream world as the first fruits of escapism from the very getgo of motion.  Remember back to The Prestige, as the final lay-out reveals that the world is solid and hard.  We have to be birthed into skeptical thoughts.  In movie lore the extraordinary is presumed, and so Mr. Nolan has had to breastfeed his gnawing audience into stoic adolescence.

(such stern resignation - Arthur Schopenhauer)  

And if Inception begins with this unbeliefism, where does it find its end?  

This: the good doctor leaves us with a choice (is it his own choice as well?).  We can accept the lack of.........  crap, I forgot to add this thought.

This thought: the nihilist German philosopher (or do we just call him a skeptic?) Schopenhauer, concluded that man's desires will never be fully met.  He established that our wills, those very things that drive us towards specific goals, will not be fulfilled.  In other words, holy moments, transcendent times, and divine serendipities aren't real.  At best we are deluding ourselves when we claim contentment.  At worst we are simply lying.

 (classic 'Bard')

Back to the this: "To be or not to be, that is the question".  Nolan echoes Shakespeare.  One option is to invent through creative means some way to prove Schopenhauer wrong.  We can be, and be in such a way that we disprove Schopenhauer's position.  We can be in order to have the holy moment.  We can be, in order to live for the ecstatic transcendence of something totally other.  Or, we can die.

Inception offers that choice, and I do believe it is a very real choice, that suicide is a possible answer to the riddle.  If only we knew what the answer to the riddle was solving.

I suspect that Nolan is a prophet of our general cultural consciousness.  We will turn our eyes in the coming years ever more to the limitlessness of the human mind.

It's all so exciting.  God have mercy on us.

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