July 26th, 2010

The Insipidness of Inception. A Crime Against Art


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.

I make my living working with dreams: my client’s. I’m steeped in this world daily. And I respect and honor the dream realm’s mystery and power. As my friend, astrologer Heather Roan Robbins noted: For a dreamscape, Inception was nothing but special effects without a plot. And worse, you cared little about the characters. I would also point out the film’s dullard-like score; in place to remind you that “YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE EXCITED HERE …THIS IS A DANGEROUS SCENE! HAVE YOUR ADRENAL GLANDS START SQUIRTING NOW!”

The real crime of Incepton is its utter lack of soul. And this is representative of our culture’s dreamscape in general. We’re so starved for art that might align (or promises to align) us with heart and perhaps ‘deeper’ meaning (consider our rabid embrace of the movie Avatar), we’ll consider any idiotic, special FX bone thrown our way a ‘hit.’  Filmmakers who churn out shit like this should be working in the labor camps that manufacture video games, that’s the level of artistic engagement available with a film like Inception.

The drubbing, mind-numbing quality of television (i.e., reality tv shows), the death of the theatrical spirit that was born with the Greeks many years ago (oh, they’re remounting Showboat again, on Broadway, for the 800th time!?) is what spawns films like Inception — and the audience’s reception of them. Gurdjieff called this sort of phenomena a “pouring of the empty into the void.” Or to borrow a line from Gertrude Stein when describing Oakland: “There’s no there there.”

There was one element related to Inception that did ring true for me, and that was the film’s trumpeted slogan: “Your mind is the scene of the crime.” Jesus, I’ll say: A crime against art.

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