About

I write about technology, psychoanalysis, philosophy, design, ideology & Slavoj Žižek.

Appreciation

July 26, 2010

Misreading Inception with Descartes

Many people, particularly those who hate the movie, think Inception is making the simplistic Cartesian point: how do we know that what we take to be reality is not just a dream. This misinterpretation is not only incorrect, the movie actually takes up a position in direct opposition to this pseudo-deep wisdom.

The big debate is about who was right, Mal or Cobb, is Cobb still dreaming at the end of the movie that Mal, through her suicide, has woken up from? This is a false choice, because the final lesson of the movie is that to ask that question isn’t deep wisdom, it’s ultimately suicidal. The position of radical doubter that Mal occupies leads to her tragic death, and the final scene of the movie, with the spinning top does not invite us to question our reality. In this scene, when we look at the spinning top, wondering if it will fall or not, wondering if this is reality or a dream, we are looking through the world as if through Mal’s suicidal eyes.

The true meaning of the film is a Kantian idealist one: we have no access to the noumenal dimension of reality, of things as they are in themselves. We are in a dream, but there is no outer layer of reality in which we are dreaming it. In a certain sense, subjectivity itself is fictional, only existing as part of the dream. We ourselves are our own dream projections who would be destroyed if we tried to wake up from the dream.

Colloqium

Related Posts

August 5, 2014

The Cult of Sharing

The sharing economy's marquee startup Airbnb recently unveiled a new brand identity and positioning to help propel its international expansion. Airbnb's new wordmark and logo nicknamed "the Bélo" is said to have been the culmination of a year-long process, including a cross-cultural analysis to ensure their identity would be understood around

Read more →
January 6, 2014

The Agile Labor Union

In 2001, seventeen American, British and Canadian software engineers and IT managers met at a ski resort in Snowbird, Utah, to start a movement to remake the way software is built. Over the previous decade, the attendees had independently created similar processes for organizing and managing software engineering projects that broke

Read more →
February 3, 2012

There is Only Cyberspace

In a post on Cyborgology entitled _[There is No "Cyberspace"][1]_, PJ Rey rejects the concept of cyberspace due to its connotations of digital dualism. After reading it, I expressed my negative reaction on Twitter, and Nathan Jurgenson, co-creator of Cyborgology, kindly invited me to elaborate on this, which I will do

Read more →

Recent Popular Posts

February 13, 2014

Left Activism Goes Corporate: A Detour Through the Raw Food Underground

One of the most tedious features of the Silicon Valley Hype Machine is its endless repetition of progressive sounding marketing slogans about democracy and freedom, all while promoting a pro-business agenda. But it's too easy to read this as a sinister corporate ploy to co-opt the language of activists and twisting

Read more →
December 20, 2013

Civility: A Distance That Brings Us Together

Just in time for the holidays, Apple's marketing department released *[Misunderstood][1]*, an ad about a surly teenager absorbed in his iPhone in the midst of scenes of his family's idyllic Christmas togetherness. But he surprises everyone when he reveals that the whole time he was making a touching video for everyone

Read more →
January 26, 2014

Ten Parenting Lessons I Learned from Franz Kafka

Here's an adage which I think is true: every theory of parenting is implicitly a theory of society. It follows that even if you aren't a parent now, nor ever intend to be one, if you're interested in society and culture, you ought to be interested in the topic because the

Read more →