Watching director Christopher Nolan’s new film Inception reminded me of the golden years of disco, when everyone was coked out of their minds — especially film makers — and thought every whim or tiny particle of an original thought was pure genius: “Oh, oh — and then we’ll have the arrondissements of Paris rise up into the air and turn in on themselves — accompanied by a cranking sound! Oh, dude, love it. You’re fucking brilliant!). As critic Stephanie Zacherak noted in her scathing review: “Wouldn’t it have been easier just to make a movie?”
The discursive, manic pace and ridiculous dialogue in Inception was another coke-mania-like reminder for me. Throughout, I regretted bringing my Night Guard to the theater, that device I sometimes wear to bed to prevent grinding my teeth. In fact, if I heard the word ‘subconscious’ uttered One. More. Time. — a term for the unconscious that even the Theosophists threw out when Blavatsky died — I was going to fire off a self-induced aneurysm.
Truth be told, I’m not really a fan of Nolan’s oeuvre. I got up and left in the middle of Dark Knight, so weary I was of meaningless explosions, the thudding score and the creepy sound of Christian Bale’s fake lower register whisper (again, reminding me of another golden years of disco moment: the rising popularity of porn and the way guys were supposed to sound who were portraying ‘sexy.’)
But my biggest objection to Inception is — surprise — related to symbolism. And its rape. Read more
A week after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion I scanned the above emblem of the swimming King, added the black blotches of ‘oil’ and printed the picture on paper to prop on my desk and contemplate. The illustration is from the legendary Atalanta fugiens series, by the 16th century alchemist Michael Maier, and like most alchemical imagery, the scene seems lifted from a dream or nightmare. A forlorn king, removed from his throne, floundering and bellowing for help. How does his story end?
A metaphorical link between Maier’s drifting King and the Gulf Coast holocaust — the largest ecological disaster in the United States’ history — seems obvious. But what has Maier depicted? What stage within alchemy’s many elaborate processes is this one? Is there a clue for us to follow in the brew. And how does that formula turn out?
It’s best to start at the beginning. Read more