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Saturday, July 24, 2010

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Kevin

When is the last time you saw a movie that was intelligent, but playful rather than pretentious? On one level it was like The Matrix meets Monty Python, but I loved the way it asked what is the difference between reality and perception --SPOILER ALERT-- while suggesting that there is an objective answer.

Babu Syed

Multiple levels of Faith http://babusyed.blogspot.com/2010/07/inception-leap-of-faith.html

Lank

You are so wrong, besides the "Pharmacist" who induces designer drug states throughout the film, there is the obvious black magic that uses people as a means to and end. I anticipated that this was going to be a great film, but all it was about was lying to a young man about his Daddy who was the "Big Bad Capitalist". Imagine, they portray limbo without salvation and without God? I have no faith in Catholic Bloggers anymore because so many of them are tuned into the latest fashions rather than the morality of the church. Not only is this movie anti-christ it is just plain evil on so many different sinister levels of manipulation and really just a compilation of some better movies. You are being spoon-fed.

Lank

Censorship for disagreeing with you? Shame on you.

http://bible.cc/isaiah/5-20.htm

Sandra Miesel

Virtuoso film making! What a coincidence that INCEPTION and the LOST finale would come out so close together. With the proliferation of media experiences, is society getting worried about the reality of Reality? Take a look at Nolan's PRESTIGE which also deals with reality vs. illusion, in that case in the environment of Victorian stage magic.

Luke

Lank,

St. Augustine said not to scandalize or allow yourself to be scandalized.

Pope Benedict XVI said to always assume the best intentions of others.

Father John Corapi said to be careful not to see the devil under every stone.

Personally I would follow these saintly men's lead... From one sinner to another.

Sawyer

Lank, get a life. A good movie doesn't have to have characters who preach the Gospel. And you think Catholic bloggers are not tuned into the morality of the Church? Have you explored this web site much? It is one of the most faithfully Catholic sites out there. Go back to your Veggie-Tales episodes. You sound like you'd be a bore to catch a movie with, or just a plain bore period. "Inception" is probably one of the best movies of the past decade.

Romy

This was a total macho flick. In Shutter Island, his (the character DiCaprio portrayed) wife's insanity was the source of the story. He could not handle it and deluded himself. Not so in Inception. Dom's wife's insanity was a consequence of his unbridled desire to manipulate people. He did whatever was necessary to get what he wanted. I had no sympathy for this character, Dom, and his scenes with his wife were done in an insincere manner. Perhaps DiCaprio meant to play it that way to emphasize his character's expedient attitude toward people.

Brain-in-a-vat

I'll agree with Lank on this. On the one hand INCEPTION looks like excellent cinematic eye-candy, but on the other hand it also appears to be just another GNOSTIC FANTASY. The sort that Hollywood just loves to produce.

Should we, as Christians, applaud yet another theatrical retread of a Phil K. Dick short story/novel?

Lank

See:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychonaut

and

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_magic

Lank

In the end, the "Mark" believed the LIE, not the TRUTH that his father thought he was a failure, and exactly why is he called the "Mark"?

Because his big Daddy was the beast, they call this hiding "in plain sight".

http://screenrant.com/7-new-inception-character-posters-robf-61586/cillian-murphy-inception-the-mark-poster/

Don't believe the LIE.

Carl E. Olson

I have no faith in Catholic Bloggers anymore because so many of them are tuned into the latest fashions rather than the morality of the church.

Oh, darn, and here I was hoping to corrupt your morals, rot your soul, taint your heart, steal your mind, and slash the tires on your bicycle. Give me a break. Criticizing a movie or questioning its purpose and motivation is one thing (go for it!), but rendering judgment on the intelligence and moral core of a blogger/blog based on enjoying a movie such as Inception is little different than the hyper-reactionary, hyper-pious, paranoid, judgmental Fundamentalist nonsense I happily left many years ago. It is such a familiar, tired song and dance:

1. "I feel as though this [book/CD/movie] is from the Devil."
2. "You enjoyed that [book/CD/movie]."
3. "Ergo, you are of the Devil."

Ah, feel the love.

On the one hand INCEPTION looks like excellent cinematic eye-candy, but on the other hand it also appears to be just another GNOSTIC FANTASY.

I'm hard pressed to see the gnostic fantasy in the film, although I assume you may be referring to how specialized knowledge and techniques are used to manipulate. But that isn't so much gnostic as it is about how technology and psychology can be used for wrong ends or selfish purposes. Actually, an argument could be plausibly made that the movie has a certain anti-gnostic angle to it, for Cobb (as I understood it) longed to be with his children in the real world, even as he battled the guilt from his selfish abuse of his wife's trust that eventually led to her death. Gnosticism, even in its modern forms, is about spiritual escape from the material realm, including ties to family; it claims to use an elite and secret knowledge, gnosis, to bring about such an escape. I still contend that Inception is most interested in reality and how we perceive reality--and why we perceive it as we do.

A movie's protagonist does not have to be a "good guy," even in the end, for a movie to be worthwhile. I found Cobb to be a very interesting and engaging character, but not necessarily a "good guy" and certainly not a hero. He is more like the protagonist in Walker Percy's Lancelot, who is desperate to find truth and to somehow grapple with his inner demons, even while he does great damage in the process.

Have you explored this web site much? It is one of the most faithfully Catholic sites out there.

Thank you, Sawyer, for the kind words.

Lank

Vanilla Sky meets Her Majesty's Secret Service meets A Scanner Darkly meets the Matrix...blah, blah, blah, yuck!

Gnosticism is a heresy condemned by the Catholic Church.

Keep calling evil good and see where that leads? No thank you.

Lank

BTW, the etymology of the name "Cobb" means supplanter, here is its definition:

Supplanter - one who wrongfully or illegally seizes and holds the place of another

Gee, that sounds alot like Cain.

Geremia

Inception is more existentialist garbage whose moral is that it does not matter if you have faith or not as long as you consider your fantasy-land real. This film was replete with relativism and skepticism.

Philosophically it was absurd. Here were the main points I gathered from it:

• Faith and doubt are discussed, but the conclusion is that having faith doesn't matter because you can't know what's real anyways. What did the Japanese businessman's non-faith avail him or di Caprio's character's faith avail him? They both ended up having the same destiny, no? So, freewill is an illusion, too.

• Skepticism is the only valid approach to life.

• Existentialism which, inter alios, Pope Pius XII condemned (http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xii/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_12081950_humani-generis_en.html) is true; it says we really do make life to be whatever we want it to be. Top remains spinning at end, or does it eventually topple? Was it dream or reality? Who knows? Does it matter? No, Nolan would say; existentialism says we can define our own reality to our liking.

• Relativism of truth: i.e., truth is whatever you make it up to be.

• Subjectivism / idealism / Cartesianism / Kantianism, i.e., ideas are all that are real. If the senses are to be 100% distrusted for determining what is real, Nolan is saying we are all as insane as the Dark Knight's Joker.

• Objective reality, for all practical purposes, does not exist. Every subject just makes up his or her own reality. This leads to solipsism and ultimately nihilism. Knowing this, it is even more obvious that this movie is a product of our culture of death.

• Murder can be justified as long as the person you are killing is someone's "projection." (Di Caprio's character snipes men in the snow scene to the architect girl's surprise; he justifies this by saying they are just another man's projection.)

Christopher Nolan should brush-up on some real, Aristotelean-Thomistic philosophy (http://www.ewtn.com/library/theology/reality.htm#04), but then maybe the movie would not have fooled the audience into thinking it is profound instead of absurd.

Also, artistically, it could've done without most of the car-chase and shooting scenes and confronted more head-on the philosophical issue it was raising, i.e., "What is real? What is being, existence? Etc," rather than hiding its ignorance in a silly plot scheme involving "kicks," "inception," and other Freudian, postmodern rubbish. If it were 1 hour shorter, it would have still been the same: absurdity at its best.

Carl E. Olson

Gnosticism is a heresy condemned by the Catholic Church. Keep calling evil good and see where that leads? No thank you.

I find your arguments gnostic. Ergo, you're a heretic. Really, your heavy-handed empty-mindedness is laughable.

It's been asserted that Inception somehow promotes or praises gnosticism. No evidence is given. As someone who has studied and written a bit about gnosticism, I don't see how the assertion holds up.

Top remains spinning at end, or does it eventually topple? Was it dream or reality? Who knows? Does it matter? No, Nolan would say; existentialism says we can define our own reality to our liking.

That's what Nolan would say? Really? Do you have a direct quote from him to that effect? Can you read his mind? Based simply on my viewing of the movie, I think you aren't giving Nolan enough credit as both a thinker and a movie maker. But, hey, apparently I'm one of those easily fooled, moronic dolts that existentalist nihilists like Nolan love to prey upon.

Brain-in-a-vat

I'm hard pressed to see the gnostic fantasy in the film, although I assume you may be referring to how specialized knowledge and techniques are used to manipulate.

Not so much, but that's part of it. I'm referring primarily to Gnostic cosmology, the hierarchy of heavens or "spheres" that make up their peculiar prison-cosmos. The "dreams within dreams" structure of the movie's narrative strikes me as being an example of that, especially given the director's claim that the film was inspired by films like _the Matrix_, _Dark City_, and _the Thirteenth Floor_:

"I think ours is of an older school, ours is more of 'The Matrix' variety and the concepts of different levels of reality," Nolan said. "The whole concept of avatars and living life as someone else, there's a relationship to what we're doing, but I think when I first started trying to make this film happen it was very much pulled from that era of movies where you had 'The Matrix,' you had 'Dark City,' you had 'The Thirteenth Floor' and, to a certain extent, you had 'Memento' too. They were based in the principles that the world around you might not be real."

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/apr/04/entertainment/la-ca-inception4-2010apr04/5

Also, if you bother to read this LA Times article, please note Nolan's references to the movie's maze-like character (especially in his final comments).

I'd contend that _Inception's_ gnostic character is most evident when focusing on its plot and setting. Sorry, I just don't see it being simply a Hollywood version of "Epistemology for Dummies."

BTW, I'm NOT arguing YOU are a gnostic, or that this blog is somehow advocating such spiritual rot. I'm just interested in discussing the movie.

Lank

Bottom line: Carl, you believed the LIE also. Turn off the 007 alternate personality and tune into the Human Person. Just imagine if a children who saw this movie said, "Oh, I can shoot someone here and they will wake up in the real world alive"; wait a second isn't that exactly what happened at Columbine? You never answered any of the moral dilemmas of designer drug use, murder, manipulation, lying, and the several important philosophical points made by Geremia. Until you do, you are just another guy with a blog with no authority and no credibility. Geremia, excellent post you only forgot the most malignant: "Solipsism" -(pronounced /ˈsɒlɨpsɪzəm/) is the philosophical idea that only one's own mind is sure to exist. Solipsism is an epistemological or ontological position that knowledge of anything outside one's own specific mind is unjustified. The external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist. In the history of philosophy, solipsism has served as a skeptical hypothesis." Nolan has no God, Nolan wants to fill reality with his little gods. This was the worst ensemble cast I have ever seen, so much talent wasted. The biggest mistake you made Carl was thinking anything that you saw on the screen corresponded to reality. God is reality.

Carl E. Olson

Thank you, Brain-in-a-vat, for the thoughtful comment and helpful quotes/links. Having read the full article and Nolan's quotes, I'm still not convinced of the gnostic angle, although there's no denying that modern existentialism shares several features with gnostic/neo-gnostic thought, as Hans Jonas remarked upon. It's interesting that Nolan, in the LATimes piece, states that the movie was originally going to be just a heist movie with the technological twist of being inside a dream world, but then developed more layers. Could it be that those of us who see a philosophically rich work and those who see a spiritually corrupting work are both overestimating Nolan and reading too much into it? A point of contention, it seems to me, is the ambiguity that Nolan teases throughout the movie and emphasizes in the final scene: some interpret this very negatively; others see it as raising meaningful questions without providing neat answers.

Lank: You come across like a Catholic Tim LaHaye: you think you can read hearts and minds and you thrive on judging people's thoughts and motives, but you don't have enough humility and humor to realize you're a complete jerk incapable of such God-like acts. I would say your approach to viewing movies is Fundamentalist, but that would probably be an insult to Fundamentalists. Believe it or not, it is actually possible to enjoy and appreciate works of art (whether high or low) inspired by or based in belief systems and philosophies that one doesn't adhere to, and to so without sacrificing one's own beliefs or being morally corrupted. Go ply your pietistic, ad hominem wares elsewhere.

Kevin

Good grief. The movie was playfully asking questions about the difference between reality and our perception of it while implying that there is an objective reality. That's a nice change from the intellectual oatmeal of relativism. If you think that every movie and book needs to be an exposition of true doctrine then go hide among some fundamentalists. In the meantime there needs to be Christians who are conversing with the outside world in terms they understand. St. Paul quoted pagan poets. Does that make him a heretic?

Alana

Interestingly, I was pulled back to my Catholic faith by Star Trek Next Generation (!) - not because it accurately reflected the philosophy or theology of the Christian faith (which it did not) but because it made me ask questions, stretch my thinking and begin a search for the TRUTH. This movie had the same impact on my 13 and 14 year old boys. They did not buy the premise of the movie or, in any way that I could see, believe they could create their own reality. Rather, they asked, "What is reality?" "How can I be sure?" Great questions and a great start to their own search for Truth.

discount coach

Let's write that letter we thought of writing "one of these days"! Remove from your vocabulary phrases like"one of these days"or "someday";

LarryD

The film looks intriguing. I liked how Nolan has rebooted the Batman franchise - oh wait, does admitting that make me a gnostic Eastern mysticism adherent who believes in meting out justice anonymously to protect my pro-capitalist identity? Oh well.

Apolonio

Wow. Geremia's comments are so absurd! I prefer the movie No country for Old Men rather than Therese and Flannery O'Connor rather than Mother Angelica's book. Does that make me a bad Catholic?

Anyway, loved the film. Here's one evident thing: Cobb tried to redeem himself but couldn't. In the end, he got stuck. Why? because one cannot save himself! So it's a great movie to show the necessity of grace.

Clare Krishan

"This was a total macho flick" May I aver? The genderedness was very well characterized, so much so that even if some fail to see a conscienceness of God in the fictional depiction of human nature, there's certainly a 'theothokos' figure: Ariadne's concern for purification of Dom's (Adam) memory to save their fellow sojourner's from eternal damnation via his concupiscence rooted in Mal(Eve)'s 'original sin' of preferring an 'inception' of reality to the Truth. Theologically speaking Ariadne is preserved from Mal's menacing by Dom's co-operation (communio) Thus if anything is to be critiqued it is the confluence of The Tempter with The Saviour in one character. But since the meme of fatherhood is key to the redemption of the hero, and that it goes by way of a fruitful relationship with a "selfless choice" (to 'descend to the dead' to retrieve the lost consciences, Fischer and Saito, in Limbo) suggested by a female (ie he was receptive to good, he "conceived") thereby buying time to resuscitate Fisher, who could then confront his own 'disappointed' demons).

Clare Krishan

[contd]
Who really planted the paper wheel in the safe - was it Eames, the master psycho-profile-forger macho "will" [ie might makes right] who planted the first Testament object in the imaginary safe-deposit box beside the hospital bed in the Snow Fortress dream world, or was it architect Ariadne's compassionate act to add the paper windmill confirming the son's fond childhood memory of a good father? The movie ends without telling us which "will" it is that Fisher will use to carry on in business, it's not clear if Saito's commercial caper was worth it, since the moral choice remains in Fisher's hands. I see the moment that Saito calls from the plane, his redemptive moment (right makes might) - he "pays" the price for the contracted 'inception' knowing that as a Tourist he was a privileged witness to the Truth, that the will to choose is mediated by the Good... that the beauty of an exiting unpredictable existence of encountering the Other is preferable to the blandness of Limbo centered on selfish desires...

Ave Maria gratia plena - a more chick flick you couldn't find, a man who loves his kids so much he goes to Hell and back for them... post-abortive women may not find my take a consoling one, the Church's teaching on Limbo is so vague as to make the premise of suicide a convincing alternative - how can one live in hope of heaven separated from one's babies in Limbo? That's something the Church needs to work on, I know these things move slowly, Abelard battled for a gentle version of Limbo against Augustine's black and white version of Hell alone. Let's hope the Heloise's of Heaven have a say in the Divine economy of grace, eh? Mary's FIAT gives us the means to believe it ... Faith, hope and love, the greatest of these is LOVE.

First, take the leap of faith ...

Clare Krishan

oops
"beauty of an exCiting unpredictable existence "
that was a clanger of a Freudian slip, no? (horror of exiting or joy of exciting, you get to choose!)

Clare Krishan

Dom=domingo? Saito=satan?

 Online Bingo Reviews

I am really pleased to post my comment on this blog .I love your blog by the way, I am gonna have to add you to my list of watched blogs

jordan retro 11

Morality is not really the doctrine of how to make ourselves happy but of how we are to be worthy of happiness.Do you understand?

Clare Krishan

For more on mazes, threads and christening Ariadne (Άδνον, a Cretan-Greek form for arihagne, "utterly pure") narratives, consider
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ariadne#Naxos
and how Titian's masterpiece 'colors' the mythical scene of 'shades' with sacramentals: the celestial corona, the clear blue extended into the heroine's robes, heightened by contrast to the draped red threads(*) of the heroine's flowing chasuble, the empty urn atop the abandoned shroud, the gracefully suspended animation of an annuciating Bacchus, the wee dog's feisty fidelity in the face of hordes, enebriated by 'animal spirits' oblivious to the the fragile beauty of the delicate blue columbines or gladiolus-bladed fleur de lys (on which the painting's two halves, eschatalogical hope vs existential angst, hinge see center of lower edge), the faun's hair shirt astride the flowering St John's wort plant, the oldest member of the group embroiled in a serpentine struggle of life and death with dark forces that threaten to overpower the whole canvas, and yet don't by some miraculous power that is not directly illustrated but assumed to reign supreme off-canvas, upper left, ie the source of the light that illuminates all the events playing out before us, casting the shadows that indicate from whence it rises at dawn).

Salvation history in the key of Greek myth.

Indeed, as our Renaissance forefather's recognized - have no fear - the best-told tales will always point to humanity's abiding Truth, we are destined for a greater glory. If we but trust in the quest to find the Way, the Truth and the Light will come to meet us, Deo gratias.
____
* echoes of the promises lying behind Rahab's offer of rope, the scarlet cord of Joshua 2:18, leading to the harlot's inclusion in evangelist Matthew's genealogy of Christ

jesse

I have always been a huge Michael Jordan and I have to say that most of the so called starts today, don't even deserved to be compared with him.

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