Fandom

Inception Wiki

Comments0

Inception: Beyond the Spinning Top

Ad blocker interference detected!


Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.

I am inundated by real world matters. I absolutely do not have the time to waste analyzing a year-old Hollywood sci-fi / fantasy summer blockbuster movie now showing on HBO.



Yet, here I am.



I am asking myself what kind of person would I need to be – what would I need to think, believe, and feel – to deal with fictional matters and real matters with equal appreciation and respect for their importance to me. To, in a sense, not care if the top falls or endlessly spins.

The answer I’m getting, or giving myself, which I don’t fully understand yet, is that I would have to be committed to change; a change to the quality of my world or myself. That kind of change would require new ideas and new “language.” Change I will not be able to engineer if I’m stuck using old programming languages like, for example, “COmmon Business-Oriented Language” or COBOL, one of the oldest programming languages. I believe it would require a “leap of faith” to a new state of being.

According to Wiki (@ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leap_of_faith), Søren Kierkegaard describes the core part of the leap of faith, the leap, by using the famous story of Adam and Eve, particularly Adam's qualitative leap into sin. Adam's leap signifies a change from one quality to another, mainly the quality of possessing no sin to the quality of possessing sin. Kierkegaard maintains that the transition from one quality to another can take place only by a "leap.” When the transition happens, one moves directly from one state to the other, never possessing both qualities. For Cobb, it involves a move from possessing guilt to a quality of possessing no guilt. Whatever else is ambiguous about Inception, this is not: Cobb’s guilt is real and his successful release of that guilt is real.

How and why can such fundamental change in being occur through dreams? Specifically, what is Inception telling me about the power of dreams, or shared dreaming, or movies, as it relates to the leap of faith to real change. I believe Saito is my guide to the answer.

On one level, Inception is the story of Cobb trying to steal ideas from, and then implant ideas for, Saito. First, the failure to steal an idea from Saito leaves Cobb at the mercy of Cobol Engineering; a state of being Cobb says he can live with. Next, Saito, without reasonable explanation, says he can offer Cobb an escape from that life and a return home to his children. Cobb’s first response is that no one can do that for him. Saito then instructs Cobb to choose to take a leap of faith and believe that Saito can bring Cobb home or face dying an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone.

Note the strangeness of Saito framing the choice in this way. Logically, Saito could have referred to a life on the run from Cobol, or a life missing his children. But a life filled with regret waiting to die alone? That seems like an unexplained leap of perception into Cobb to me. How could Saito know of Cobb’s fear of growing old, filled with regret, waiting to die alone? In any event, Saito has Cobb figured out exactly right, and Cobb takes the leap of faith Saito offers. (As an aside, think of how stuck Cobb would have been in his present state of being if he had allowed himself to be governed by Arthur’s rational authority. Cobb’s inspirations or “radical notions” ultimately govern Arthur throughout Inception, which is clearly to Cobb’s advantage. Otherwise, Cobb would not have been able to change his life.)

So what does Saito represent to Cobb?

One of the reasons contemplating the many messages in Inception is rewarding is because so much of it was done with such thoughtful care, including the choice of names for the central characters. The name Saito is Japanese for “purification wisteria” or “correct wisteria.” Wisteria blossoms are purple and droop in tapered clusters reminiscent of weeping willows. A Google search of “wisteria meaning” brought the following to the top of my search list @ http://www.whats-your-sign.com/wisteria-meaning.html (I’ve included the long quote below because it so perfectly describes the kind of purification or correction potential that Saito represents for (in?) Cobb in my view) --



“The wisteria meaning deals with: Honor, Memory, Patience, Endurance, Longevity, Exploration, Creative expansion, Releasing burdens, The duality of love, Victory over hardship.



As symbols of love we see the wisteria in the 1820s Japanese kabuki drama Fuji Musume (Wisteria Maiden). The Wisteria Maiden is depicted in a painting holding a wisteria branch, until one day she becomes smitten with a young man and steps out of the painting in an effort to capture his attention. Unfortunately, her attempts are futile. Her loves goes unrequited, and she sorrowfully steps back into the two-dimensional world of her lonely painting still holding her weeping wisteria.

Here the wisteria meaning and symbolism speaks of love lost, but also of the ability for the heart to endure in spite of rejection. In other words, here the weeping wisteria expresses sorrow, but it is also an incredibly durable vine, able to live (even flourish) through mistreatment and harsh conditions.”

To me, Saito represents for Cobb the ability to “correct” or “purify” himself of the torment of regret though the ability of his heart to endure in spite of rejection, unrequited love, or love lost. How or why does that work? There’s no rational reason to think it will. That’s why Arthur instructs Cobb to walk away. But Cobb takes the leap of faith, and it does work. Indeed, once Cobb accepts (or steals) that idea from Saito, or, through inception, the idea is successfully implanted in Cobb’s mind – the idea that through Saito he can avoid becoming an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone – Cobb appears to dream up how it will work.

One of my favorite, though very subtle, moments in Inception is when Ariadne walks out on Cobb and the whole Fischer enterprise. (BTW, in ancient Greek mythology, Ariadne is the woman who helps guide Theseus through the Minotaur’s labyrinth.) Cobb says she will be back and you can almost see him dreaming up the reason why she will return as he says it. All of the main characters are under Cobb’s direction after he accepts Saito’s idea, including Fischer; everyone except Mal. Mal is quite explicitly the personification of his regret, the thing he must overcome and release to change the quality of his life.

Perhaps ironically, Mal is the only character in Inception who is unambiguously not real and yet keeps Cobb grounded in the one unambiguous truth of the movie – that Cobb feels regret and guilt. It doesn’t matter if Cobb’s feeling of guilt is rational or deserved or imagined. It doesn’t even matter if they’re ever was a woman named Mal “in the real world” or if Cobb is still young and looks like Leonardo DiCaprio. The guilt Mal represents is real to Cobb.

And Cobb’s struggle to confront that guilt is what makes Inception ring true to me. Cobb scrappily, imaginatively, and courageously finds a way to confront guilt so powerful it won’t even allow him to imagine the faces of his own children. When he faces Mal, his guilt, it confronts him with great irrational intensity: “You killed me.” “You infected my mind.” “You betrayed me.” But you can make amends by living with your guilt – by living in the world you built together with your guilt!



Once Cobb confronts this terrible assault of guilt, Saito dies, which signifies to me that the need for Cobb to purify his guilt through enduring the pain of love lost is over. Saito is dead and Cobb knows it. Now that Cobb has confronted Mal, Mal’s ability to control Cobb is over. Mal is infuriated by this and stabs at Cobb. Ariadne is ready to kill Mal but Cobb orders Ariadne to stop. Cobb is in complete control of events now and he wants to say goodbye to Mal. Cobb can now see the way out of Cobb’s – Mal’s – guilt’s labyrinth without Ariadne.

Cobb tells Mal that “we had our time together and now I have to let go.” I believe, on some level, Cobb may mean by this that: I’ve lived with my guilt long enough. It’s time to let it go.

Then Cobb dies. He drowns in the van driven by Yusuf. At this point, both Cobb and Saito have died and are in limbo. Limbo: “The abode of unbaptized but innocent or righteous souls, as those of infants or virtuous individuals who lived before the coming of Christ (salvation); an intermediate state (of being)” (@http://www.thefreedictionary.com/limbo).



Cobb is ready to be reborn into another state of being, a state of being without Mal, without guilt.

In limbo, Cobb is bearded, disheveled and appears world-weary. He hunches over his food and holds his spoon like an old man, or a baby – slopping up the kind of soft food you serve very old people or babies without teeth.

Now, shockingly and inexplicably to me, Saito is an old man, alone, filled with regret, waiting to die alone. Why would Saito’s limbo life be the destiny that was awaiting Cobb if he did not change the quality of his being and release guilt? Saito had a wife and a mistress. Why didn’t they join him, or rather, why didn’t Saito imagine them with him in limbo?

I believe it’s because Saito was nothing more than the personification of Cobb’s ability to endure lost love and overcome regret and guilt. Once untethered from that task, Saito had no immediate usefulness for Cobb. Cobb had to decide to return, to be reborn, with Saito. It did not necessarily follow that Cobb would be willing to endure the heartache associated with love after overcoming his regret and guilt. On the contrary, many people whom overcome great feelings of loss and pain associated with lost love decide never to love again.

Cobb does not choose that path. Cobb chooses to be reborn with his ability to love, and the possibility of having to endure love lost, in tact. This time, Cobb has to tell Saito to take a leap of faith – to tell that part of himself capable of love to risk love again, however unreasonable a risk that may seem to be given what Cobb just had to overcome.

Really? I must be kidding myself. Cobb has to get Saito so Saito can honor their arrangement and Cobb can see his children again. That’s it, plain and simple, correct? This “purification wisteria” Saito as ability to love personified is a figment of my imagination – my own projection onto the movie, right?

Perhaps. Yet when Cobb finds Saito he goes beyond telling Saito it is a dream. When Saito remembers it’s a dream and asks Cobb if he came so that Saito will honor their arrangement, Cobb answers yes and to take a leap of faith. Earlier in their conversation, Saito recalls that he and Cobb were young men together. At best, that seems to mischaracterize and exaggerate the brief interaction Saito and Cobb have had to date. But, strangely, it seems to be exactly the right characterization of their relationship to Cobb. Cobb tells Saito: “Come back and we'll be young men together again.”



Come back and we’ll be young men together again? Absolutely nothing in Inception suggests that Saito and Cobb will return to a world where they will be young men together again. It makes sense though if Saito is the personification of Cobb’s ability to love and endure love’s pains and losses. At least, that’s the way I see it.



Irrespective of who or what Saito is, Cobb is in fact reborn without guilt and with his ability to love and endure its pains in tact. To me, this is confirmed by Saito’s awakening on the plane and Cobb’s ability to “return home” and look into the faces of his children – in his mind’s eye or otherwise. This rather happy ending in my opinion does not depend on Cobb’s literal return home, or his ability to look into the “real world” faces of his children.

Cobb’s change, his transformation, his rebirth, into a man without guilt who can love again is a more important reality, a more inspiring and emotionally satisfying ending, than his ability to skirt the law and hug his children again (assuming Cobb really even has any children) in my view. I’d rather imagine Cobb waking up from the dream of looking into his children’s faces again – waking up without guilt and with the ability to love again.

Listening to myself, it’s hard to believe I really believe what I just said. Doesn’t it make more sense to believe that returning to my own children would be more important to me than my feelings or state of being with respect to guilt and the ability to love? This doesn’t sound like me.

What would I need to think, believe, and feel – to deal with fictional matters and real matters with equal appreciation and respect for their importance to me? To, in a sense, not care if the top falls or endlessly spins. I don’t know, but I think I may find out. And I blame Dom Cobb.

By the way, “Dom” is a Roman Catholic Church title used before the names of Benedictine monks. One of the major vows these monks take is the conversatio moru, which is idiomatic Latin that has been translated to mean "conversion of life." “Cobb” is a variation of Jacob, which is a name that has been interpreted to mean “he who supplants” – that is, “someone who usurps the place of, especially through intrigue or underhanded tactics,” or “someone who displaces or substitutes for (another)” (@http://www.thefreedictionary.com/supplants).




Call me paranoid, but I suspect Christopher Nolan sent Cobb to perform inception on me! Cobb was sent to supplant some idea I had with another. I can’t trace the idea planted yet but I am already seeing evidence that it has taken root – not the least of which is my weird willingness to spend my valuable time trying to analyze Inception.



I am inundated by real world matters. I absolutely do not have the time to waste analyzing a year-old Hollywood sci-fi / fantasy summer blockbuster movie now showing on HBO.



Yet, here I am.



I am asking myself what kind of person would I need to be – what would I need to think, believe, and feel – to deal with fictional matters and real matters with equal appreciation and respect for their importance to me. To, in a sense, not care if the top falls or endlessly spins.

The answer I’m getting, or giving myself, which I don’t fully understand yet, is that I would have to be committed to change; a change to the quality of my world or myself. That kind of change would require new ideas and new “language.” Change I will not be able to engineer if I’m stuck using old programming languages like, for example, “COmmon Business-Oriented Language” or COBOL, one of the oldest programming languages. I believe it would require a “leap of faith” to a new state of being.

According to Wiki (@ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leap_of_faith), Søren Kierkegaard describes the core part of the leap of faith, the leap, by using the famous story of Adam and Eve, particularly Adam's qualitative leap into sin. Adam's leap signifies a change from one quality to another, mainly the quality of possessing no sin to the quality of possessing sin. Kierkegaard maintains that the transition from one quality to another can take place only by a "leap.” When the transition happens, one moves directly from one state to the other, never possessing both qualities. For Cobb, it involves a move from possessing guilt to a quality of possessing no guilt. Whatever else is ambiguous about Inception, this is not: Cobb’s guilt is real and his successful release of that guilt is real.

How and why can such fundamental change in being occur through dreams? Specifically, what is Inception telling me about the power of dreams, or shared dreaming, or movies, as it relates to the leap of faith to real change. I believe Saito is my guide to the answer.

On one level, Inception is the story of Cobb trying to steal ideas from, and then implant ideas for, Saito. First, the failure to steal an idea from Saito leaves Cobb at the mercy of Cobol Engineering; a state of being Cobb says he can live with. Next, Saito, without reasonable explanation, says he can offer Cobb an escape from that life and a return home to his children. Cobb’s first response is that no one can do that for him. Saito then instructs Cobb to choose to take a leap of faith and believe that Saito can bring Cobb home or face dying an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone.

Note the strangeness of Saito framing the choice in this way. Logically, Saito could have referred to a life on the run from Cobol, or a life missing his children. But a life filled with regret waiting to die alone? That seems like an unexplained leap of perception into Cobb to me. How could Saito know of Cobb’s fear of growing old, filled with regret, waiting to die alone? In any event, Saito has Cobb figured out exactly right, and Cobb takes the leap of faith Saito offers. (As an aside, think of how stuck Cobb would have been in his present state of being if he had allowed himself to be governed by Arthur’s rational authority. Cobb’s inspirations or “radical notions” ultimately govern Arthur throughout Inception, which is clearly to Cobb’s advantage. Otherwise, Cobb would not have been able to change his life.)

So what does Saito represent to Cobb?

One of the reasons contemplating the many messages in Inception is rewarding is because so much of it was done with such thoughtful care, including the choice of names for the central characters. The name Saito is Japanese for “purification wisteria” or “correct wisteria.” Wisteria blossoms are purple and droop in tapered clusters reminiscent of weeping willows. A Google search of “wisteria meaning” brought the following to the top of my search list @ http://www.whats-your-sign.com/wisteria-meaning.html (I’ve included the long quote below because it so perfectly describes the kind of purification or correction potential that Saito represents for (in?) Cobb in my view) --



“The wisteria meaning deals with: Honor, Memory, Patience, Endurance, Longevity, Exploration, Creative expansion, Releasing burdens, The duality of love, Victory over hardship.



As symbols of love we see the wisteria in the 1820s Japanese kabuki drama Fuji Musume (Wisteria Maiden). The Wisteria Maiden is depicted in a painting holding a wisteria branch, until one day she becomes smitten with a young man and steps out of the painting in an effort to capture his attention. Unfortunately, her attempts are futile. Her loves goes unrequited, and she sorrowfully steps back into the two-dimensional world of her lonely painting still holding her weeping wisteria.

Here the wisteria meaning and symbolism speaks of love lost, but also of the ability for the heart to endure in spite of rejection. In other words, here the weeping wisteria expresses sorrow, but it is also an incredibly durable vine, able to live (even flourish) through mistreatment and harsh conditions.”

To me, Saito represents for Cobb the ability to “correct” or “purify” himself of the torment of regret though the ability of his heart to endure in spite of rejection, unrequited love, or love lost. How or why does that work? There’s no rational reason to think it will. That’s why Arthur instructs Cobb to walk away. But Cobb takes the leap of faith, and it does work. Indeed, once Cobb accepts (or steals) that idea from Saito, or, through inception, the idea is successfully implanted in Cobb’s mind – the idea that through Saito he can avoid becoming an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone – Cobb appears to dream up how it will work.

One of my favorite, though very subtle, moments in Inception is when Ariadne walks out on Cobb and the whole Fischer enterprise. (BTW, in ancient Greek mythology, Ariadne is the woman who helps guide Theseus through the Minotaur’s labyrinth.) Cobb says she will be back and you can almost see him dreaming up the reason why she will return as he says it. All of the main characters are under Cobb’s direction after he accepts Saito’s idea, including Fischer; everyone except Mal. Mal is quite explicitly the personification of his regret, the thing he must overcome and release to change the quality of his life.

Perhaps ironically, Mal is the only character in Inception who is unambiguously not real and yet keeps Cobb grounded in the one unambiguous truth of the movie – that Cobb feels regret and guilt. It doesn’t matter if Cobb’s feeling of guilt is rational or deserved or imagined. It doesn’t even matter if they’re ever was a woman named Mal “in the real world” or if Cobb is still young and looks like Leonardo DiCaprio. The guilt Mal represents is real to Cobb.

And Cobb’s struggle to confront that guilt is what makes Inception ring true to me. Cobb scrappily, imaginatively, and courageously finds a way to confront guilt so powerful it won’t even allow him to imagine the faces of his own children. When he faces Mal, his guilt, it confronts him with great irrational intensity: “You killed me.” “You infected my mind.” “You betrayed me.” But you can make amends by living with your guilt – by living in the world you built together with your guilt!



Once Cobb confronts this terrible assault of guilt, Saito dies, which signifies to me that the need for Cobb to purify his guilt through enduring the pain of love lost is over. Saito is dead and Cobb knows it. Now that Cobb has confronted Mal, Mal’s ability to control Cobb is over. Mal is infuriated by this and stabs at Cobb. Ariadne is ready to kill Mal but Cobb orders Ariadne to stop. Cobb is in complete control of events now and he wants to say goodbye to Mal. Cobb can now see the way out of Cobb’s – Mal’s – guilt’s labyrinth without Ariadne.

Cobb tells Mal that “we had our time together and now I have to let go.” I believe, on some level, Cobb may mean by this that: I’ve lived with my guilt long enough. It’s time to let it go.

Then Cobb dies. He drowns in the van driven by Yusuf. At this point, both Cobb and Saito have died and are in limbo. Limbo: “The abode of unbaptized but innocent or righteous souls, as those of infants or virtuous individuals who lived before the coming of Christ (salvation); an intermediate state (of being)” (@http://www.thefreedictionary.com/limbo).



Cobb is ready to be reborn into another state of being, a state of being without Mal, without guilt.

In limbo, Cobb is bearded, disheveled and appears world-weary. He hunches over his food and holds his spoon like an old man, or a baby – slopping up the kind of soft food you serve very old people or babies without teeth.

Now, shockingly and inexplicably to me, Saito is an old man, alone, filled with regret, waiting to die alone. Why would Saito’s limbo life be the destiny that was awaiting Cobb if he did not change the quality of his being and release guilt? Saito had a wife and a mistress. Why didn’t they join him, or rather, why didn’t Saito imagine them with him in limbo?

I believe it’s because Saito was nothing more than the personification of Cobb’s ability to endure lost love and overcome regret and guilt. Once untethered from that task, Saito had no immediate usefulness for Cobb. Cobb had to decide to return, to be reborn, with Saito. It did not necessarily follow that Cobb would be willing to endure the heartache associated with love after overcoming his regret and guilt. On the contrary, many people whom overcome great feelings of loss and pain associated with lost love decide never to love again.

Cobb does not choose that path. Cobb chooses to be reborn with his ability to love, and the possibility of having to endure love lost, in tact. This time, Cobb has to tell Saito to take a leap of faith – to tell that part of himself capable of love to risk love again, however unreasonable a risk that may seem to be given what Cobb just had to overcome.

Really? I must be kidding myself. Cobb has to get Saito so Saito can honor their arrangement and Cobb can see his children again. That’s it, plain and simple, correct? This “purification wisteria” Saito as ability to love personified is a figment of my imagination – my own projection onto the movie, right?

Perhaps. Yet when Cobb finds Saito he goes beyond telling Saito it is a dream. When Saito remembers it’s a dream and asks Cobb if he came so that Saito will honor their arrangement, Cobb answers yes and to take a leap of faith. Earlier in their conversation, Saito recalls that he and Cobb were young men together. At best, that seems to mischaracterize and exaggerate the brief interaction Saito and Cobb have had to date. But, strangely, it seems to be exactly the right characterization of their relationship to Cobb. Cobb tells Saito: “Come back and we'll be young men together again.”



Come back and we’ll be young men together again? Absolutely nothing in Inception suggests that Saito and Cobb will return to a world where they will be young men together again. It makes sense though if Saito is the personification of Cobb’s ability to love and endure love’s pains and losses. At least, that’s the way I see it.



Irrespective of who or what Saito is, Cobb is in fact reborn without guilt and with his ability to love and endure its pains in tact. To me, this is confirmed by Saito’s awakening on the plane and Cobb’s ability to “return home” and look into the faces of his children – in his mind’s eye or otherwise. This rather happy ending in my opinion does not depend on Cobb’s literal return home, or his ability to look into the “real world” faces of his children.

Cobb’s change, his transformation, his rebirth, into a man without guilt who can love again is a more important reality, a more inspiring and emotionally satisfying ending, than his ability to skirt the law and hug his children again (assuming Cobb really even has any children) in my view. I’d rather imagine Cobb waking up from the dream of looking into his children’s faces again – waking up without guilt and with the ability to love again.

Listening to myself, it’s hard to believe I really believe what I just said. Doesn’t it make more sense to believe that returning to my own children would be more important to me than my feelings or state of being with respect to guilt and the ability to love? This doesn’t sound like me.

What would I need to think, believe, and feel – to deal with fictional matters and real matters with equal appreciation and respect for their importance to me? To, in a sense, not care if the top falls or endlessly spins. I don’t know, but I think I may find out. And I blame Dom Cobb.

By the way, “Dom” is a Roman Catholic Church title used before the names of Benedictine monks. One of the major vows these monks take is the conversatio moru, which is idiomatic Latin that has been translated to mean "conversion of life." “Cobb” is a variation of Jacob, which is a name that has been interpreted to mean “he who supplants” – that is, “someone who usurps the place of, especially through intrigue or underhanded tactics,” or “someone who displaces or substitutes for (another)” (@http://www.thefreedictionary.com/supplants).




Call me paranoid, but I suspect Christopher Nolan sent Cobb to perform inception on me! Cobb was sent to supplant some idea I had with another. I can’t trace the idea planted yet but I am already seeing evidence that it has taken root – not the least of which is my weird willingness to spend my valuable time trying to analyze Inception.


I am inundated by real world matters. I absolutely do not have the time to waste analyzing a year-old Hollywood sci-fi / fantasy summer blockbuster movie now showing on HBO.



Yet, here I am.



I am asking myself what kind of person would I need to be – what would I need to think, believe, and feel – to deal with fictional matters and real matters with equal appreciation and respect for their importance to me. To, in a sense, not care if the top falls or endlessly spins.

The answer I’m getting, or giving myself, which I don’t fully understand yet, is that I would have to be committed to change; a change to the quality of my world or myself. That kind of change would require new ideas and new “language.” Change I will not be able to engineer if I’m stuck using old programming languages like, for example, “COmmon Business-Oriented Language” or COBOL, one of the oldest programming languages. I believe it would require a “leap of faith” to a new state of being.

According to Wiki (@ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leap_of_faith), Søren Kierkegaard describes the core part of the leap of faith, the leap, by using the famous story of Adam and Eve, particularly Adam's qualitative leap into sin. Adam's leap signifies a change from one quality to another, mainly the quality of possessing no sin to the quality of possessing sin. Kierkegaard maintains that the transition from one quality to another can take place only by a "leap.” When the transition happens, one moves directly from one state to the other, never possessing both qualities. For Cobb, it involves a move from possessing guilt to a quality of possessing no guilt. Whatever else is ambiguous about Inception, this is not: Cobb’s guilt is real and his successful release of that guilt is real.

How and why can such fundamental change in being occur through dreams? Specifically, what is Inception telling me about the power of dreams, or shared dreaming, or movies, as it relates to the leap of faith to real change. I believe Saito is my guide to the answer.

On one level, Inception is the story of Cobb trying to steal ideas from, and then implant ideas for, Saito. First, the failure to steal an idea from Saito leaves Cobb at the mercy of Cobol Engineering; a state of being Cobb says he can live with. Next, Saito, without reasonable explanation, says he can offer Cobb an escape from that life and a return home to his children. Cobb’s first response is that no one can do that for him. Saito then instructs Cobb to choose to take a leap of faith and believe that Saito can bring Cobb home or face dying an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone.

Note the strangeness of Saito framing the choice in this way. Logically, Saito could have referred to a life on the run from Cobol, or a life missing his children. But a life filled with regret waiting to die alone? That seems like an unexplained leap of perception into Cobb to me. How could Saito know of Cobb’s fear of growing old, filled with regret, waiting to die alone? In any event, Saito has Cobb figured out exactly right, and Cobb takes the leap of faith Saito offers. (As an aside, think of how stuck Cobb would have been in his present state of being if he had allowed himself to be governed by Arthur’s rational authority. Cobb’s inspirations or “radical notions” ultimately govern Arthur throughout Inception, which is clearly to Cobb’s advantage. Otherwise, Cobb would not have been able to change his life.)

So what does Saito represent to Cobb?

One of the reasons contemplating the many messages in Inception is rewarding is because so much of it was done with such thoughtful care, including the choice of names for the central characters. The name Saito is Japanese for “purification wisteria” or “correct wisteria.” Wisteria blossoms are purple and droop in tapered clusters reminiscent of weeping willows. A Google search of “wisteria meaning” brought the following to the top of my search list @ http://www.whats-your-sign.com/wisteria-meaning.html (I’ve included the long quote below because it so perfectly describes the kind of purification or correction potential that Saito represents for (in?) Cobb in my view) --



“The wisteria meaning deals with: Honor, Memory, Patience, Endurance, Longevity, Exploration, Creative expansion, Releasing burdens, The duality of love, Victory over hardship.



As symbols of love we see the wisteria in the 1820s Japanese kabuki drama Fuji Musume (Wisteria Maiden). The Wisteria Maiden is depicted in a painting holding a wisteria branch, until one day she becomes smitten with a young man and steps out of the painting in an effort to capture his attention. Unfortunately, her attempts are futile. Her loves goes unrequited, and she sorrowfully steps back into the two-dimensional world of her lonely painting still holding her weeping wisteria.

Here the wisteria meaning and symbolism speaks of love lost, but also of the ability for the heart to endure in spite of rejection. In other words, here the weeping wisteria expresses sorrow, but it is also an incredibly durable vine, able to live (even flourish) through mistreatment and harsh conditions.”

To me, Saito represents for Cobb the ability to “correct” or “purify” himself of the torment of regret though the ability of his heart to endure in spite of rejection, unrequited love, or love lost. How or why does that work? There’s no rational reason to think it will. That’s why Arthur instructs Cobb to walk away. But Cobb takes the leap of faith, and it does work. Indeed, once Cobb accepts (or steals) that idea from Saito, or, through inception, the idea is successfully implanted in Cobb’s mind – the idea that through Saito he can avoid becoming an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone – Cobb appears to dream up how it will work.

One of my favorite, though very subtle, moments in Inception is when Ariadne walks out on Cobb and the whole Fischer enterprise. (BTW, in ancient Greek mythology, Ariadne is the woman who helps guide Theseus through the Minotaur’s labyrinth.) Cobb says she will be back and you can almost see him dreaming up the reason why she will return as he says it. All of the main characters are under Cobb’s direction after he accepts Saito’s idea, including Fischer; everyone except Mal. Mal is quite explicitly the personification of his regret, the thing he must overcome and release to change the quality of his life.

Perhaps ironically, Mal is the only character in Inception who is unambiguously not real and yet keeps Cobb grounded in the one unambiguous truth of the movie – that Cobb feels regret and guilt. It doesn’t matter if Cobb’s feeling of guilt is rational or deserved or imagined. It doesn’t even matter if they’re ever was a woman named Mal “in the real world” or if Cobb is still young and looks like Leonardo DiCaprio. The guilt Mal represents is real to Cobb.

And Cobb’s struggle to confront that guilt is what makes Inception ring true to me. Cobb scrappily, imaginatively, and courageously finds a way to confront guilt so powerful it won’t even allow him to imagine the faces of his own children. When he faces Mal, his guilt, it confronts him with great irrational intensity: “You killed me.” “You infected my mind.” “You betrayed me.” But you can make amends by living with your guilt – by living in the world you built together with your guilt!



Once Cobb confronts this terrible assault of guilt, Saito dies, which signifies to me that the need for Cobb to purify his guilt through enduring the pain of love lost is over. Saito is dead and Cobb knows it. Now that Cobb has confronted Mal, Mal’s ability to control Cobb is over. Mal is infuriated by this and stabs at Cobb. Ariadne is ready to kill Mal but Cobb orders Ariadne to stop. Cobb is in complete control of events now and he wants to say goodbye to Mal. Cobb can now see the way out of Cobb’s – Mal’s – guilt’s labyrinth without Ariadne.

Cobb tells Mal that “we had our time together and now I have to let go.” I believe, on some level, Cobb may mean by this that: I’ve lived with my guilt long enough. It’s time to let it go.

Then Cobb dies. He drowns in the van driven by Yusuf. At this point, both Cobb and Saito have died and are in limbo. Limbo: “The abode of unbaptized but innocent or righteous souls, as those of infants or virtuous individuals who lived before the coming of Christ (salvation); an intermediate state (of being)” (@http://www.thefreedictionary.com/limbo).



Cobb is ready to be reborn into another state of being, a state of being without Mal, without guilt.

In limbo, Cobb is bearded, disheveled and appears world-weary. He hunches over his food and holds his spoon like an old man, or a baby – slopping up the kind of soft food you serve very old people or babies without teeth.

Now, shockingly and inexplicably to me, Saito is an old man, alone, filled with regret, waiting to die alone. Why would Saito’s limbo life be the destiny that was awaiting Cobb if he did not change the quality of his being and release guilt? Saito had a wife and a mistress. Why didn’t they join him, or rather, why didn’t Saito imagine them with him in limbo?

I believe it’s because Saito was nothing more than the personification of Cobb’s ability to endure lost love and overcome regret and guilt. Once untethered from that task, Saito had no immediate usefulness for Cobb. Cobb had to decide to return, to be reborn, with Saito. It did not necessarily follow that Cobb would be willing to endure the heartache associated with love after overcoming his regret and guilt. On the contrary, many people whom overcome great feelings of loss and pain associated with lost love decide never to love again.

Cobb does not choose that path. Cobb chooses to be reborn with his ability to love, and the possibility of having to endure love lost, in tact. This time, Cobb has to tell Saito to take a leap of faith – to tell that part of himself capable of love to risk love again, however unreasonable a risk that may seem to be given what Cobb just had to overcome.

Really? I must be kidding myself. Cobb has to get Saito so Saito can honor their arrangement and Cobb can see his children again. That’s it, plain and simple, correct? This “purification wisteria” Saito as ability to love personified is a figment of my imagination – my own projection onto the movie, right?

Perhaps. Yet when Cobb finds Saito he goes beyond telling Saito it is a dream. When Saito remembers it’s a dream and asks Cobb if he came so that Saito will honor their arrangement, Cobb answers yes and to take a leap of faith. Earlier in their conversation, Saito recalls that he and Cobb were young men together. At best, that seems to mischaracterize and exaggerate the brief interaction Saito and Cobb have had to date. But, strangely, it seems to be exactly the right characterization of their relationship to Cobb. Cobb tells Saito: “Come back and we'll be young men together again.”



Come back and we’ll be young men together again? Absolutely nothing in Inception suggests that Saito and Cobb will return to a world where they will be young men together again. It makes sense though if Saito is the personification of Cobb’s ability to love and endure love’s pains and losses. At least, that’s the way I see it.



Irrespective of who or what Saito is, Cobb is in fact reborn without guilt and with his ability to love and endure its pains in tact. To me, this is confirmed by Saito’s awakening on the plane and Cobb’s ability to “return home” and look into the faces of his children – in his mind’s eye or otherwise. This rather happy ending in my opinion does not depend on Cobb’s literal return home, or his ability to look into the “real world” faces of his children.

Cobb’s change, his transformation, his rebirth, into a man without guilt who can love again is a more important reality, a more inspiring and emotionally satisfying ending, than his ability to skirt the law and hug his children again (assuming Cobb really even has any children) in my view. I’d rather imagine Cobb waking up from the dream of looking into his children’s faces again – waking up without guilt and with the ability to love again.

Listening to myself, it’s hard to believe I really believe what I just said. Doesn’t it make more sense to believe that returning to my own children would be more important to me than my feelings or state of being with respect to guilt and the ability to love? This doesn’t sound like me.

What would I need to think, believe, and feel – to deal with fictional matters and real matters with equal appreciation and respect for their importance to me? To, in a sense, not care if the top falls or endlessly spins. I don’t know, but I think I may find out. And I blame Dom Cobb.

By the way, “Dom” is a Roman Catholic Church title used before the names of Benedictine monks. One of the major vows these monks take is the conversatio moru, which is idiomatic Latin that has been translated to mean "conversion of life." “Cobb” is a variation of Jacob, which is a name that has been interpreted to mean “he who supplants” – that is, “someone who usurps the place of, especially through intrigue or underhanded tactics,” or “someone who displaces or substitutes for (another)” (@http://www.thefreedictionary.com/supplants).




Call me paranoid, but I suspect Christopher Nolan sent Cobb to perform inception on me! Cobb was sent to supplant some idea I had with another. I can’t trace the idea planted yet but I am already seeing evidence that it has taken root – not the least of which is my weird willingness to spend my valuable time trying to analyze Inception.


I am inundated by real world matters. I absolutely do not have the time to waste analyzing a year-old Hollywood sci-fi / fantasy summer blockbuster movie now showing on HBO.



Yet, here I am.



I am asking myself what kind of person would I need to be – what would I need to think, believe, and feel – to deal with fictional matters and real matters with equal appreciation and respect for their importance to me. To, in a sense, not care if the top falls or endlessly spins.

The answer I’m getting, or giving myself, which I don’t fully understand yet, is that I would have to be committed to change; a change to the quality of my world or myself. That kind of change would require new ideas and new “language.” Change I will not be able to engineer if I’m stuck using old programming languages like, for example, “COmmon Business-Oriented Language” or COBOL, one of the oldest programming languages. I believe it would require a “leap of faith” to a new state of being.

According to Wiki (@ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leap_of_faith), Søren Kierkegaard describes the core part of the leap of faith, the leap, by using the famous story of Adam and Eve, particularly Adam's qualitative leap into sin. Adam's leap signifies a change from one quality to another, mainly the quality of possessing no sin to the quality of possessing sin. Kierkegaard maintains that the transition from one quality to another can take place only by a "leap.” When the transition happens, one moves directly from one state to the other, never possessing both qualities. For Cobb, it involves a move from possessing guilt to a quality of possessing no guilt. Whatever else is ambiguous about Inception, this is not: Cobb’s guilt is real and his successful release of that guilt is real.

How and why can such fundamental change in being occur through dreams? Specifically, what is Inception telling me about the power of dreams, or shared dreaming, or movies, as it relates to the leap of faith to real change. I believe Saito is my guide to the answer.

On one level, Inception is the story of Cobb trying to steal ideas from, and then implant ideas for, Saito. First, the failure to steal an idea from Saito leaves Cobb at the mercy of Cobol Engineering; a state of being Cobb says he can live with. Next, Saito, without reasonable explanation, says he can offer Cobb an escape from that life and a return home to his children. Cobb’s first response is that no one can do that for him. Saito then instructs Cobb to choose to take a leap of faith and believe that Saito can bring Cobb home or face dying an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone.

Note the strangeness of Saito framing the choice in this way. Logically, Saito could have referred to a life on the run from Cobol, or a life missing his children. But a life filled with regret waiting to die alone? That seems like an unexplained leap of perception into Cobb to me. How could Saito know of Cobb’s fear of growing old, filled with regret, waiting to die alone? In any event, Saito has Cobb figured out exactly right, and Cobb takes the leap of faith Saito offers. (As an aside, think of how stuck Cobb would have been in his present state of being if he had allowed himself to be governed by Arthur’s rational authority. Cobb’s inspirations or “radical notions” ultimately govern Arthur throughout Inception, which is clearly to Cobb’s advantage. Otherwise, Cobb would not have been able to change his life.)

So what does Saito represent to Cobb?

One of the reasons contemplating the many messages in Inception is rewarding is because so much of it was done with such thoughtful care, including the choice of names for the central characters. The name Saito is Japanese for “purification wisteria” or “correct wisteria.” Wisteria blossoms are purple and droop in tapered clusters reminiscent of weeping willows. A Google search of “wisteria meaning” brought the following to the top of my search list @ http://www.whats-your-sign.com/wisteria-meaning.html (I’ve included the long quote below because it so perfectly describes the kind of purification or correction potential that Saito represents for (in?) Cobb in my view) --



“The wisteria meaning deals with: Honor, Memory, Patience, Endurance, Longevity, Exploration, Creative expansion, Releasing burdens, The duality of love, Victory over hardship.



As symbols of love we see the wisteria in the 1820s Japanese kabuki drama Fuji Musume (Wisteria Maiden). The Wisteria Maiden is depicted in a painting holding a wisteria branch, until one day she becomes smitten with a young man and steps out of the painting in an effort to capture his attention. Unfortunately, her attempts are futile. Her loves goes unrequited, and she sorrowfully steps back into the two-dimensional world of her lonely painting still holding her weeping wisteria.

Here the wisteria meaning and symbolism speaks of love lost, but also of the ability for the heart to endure in spite of rejection. In other words, here the weeping wisteria expresses sorrow, but it is also an incredibly durable vine, able to live (even flourish) through mistreatment and harsh conditions.”

To me, Saito represents for Cobb the ability to “correct” or “purify” himself of the torment of regret though the ability of his heart to endure in spite of rejection, unrequited love, or love lost. How or why does that work? There’s no rational reason to think it will. That’s why Arthur instructs Cobb to walk away. But Cobb takes the leap of faith, and it does work. Indeed, once Cobb accepts (or steals) that idea from Saito, or, through inception, the idea is successfully implanted in Cobb’s mind – the idea that through Saito he can avoid becoming an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone – Cobb appears to dream up how it will work.

One of my favorite, though very subtle, moments in Inception is when Ariadne walks out on Cobb and the whole Fischer enterprise. (BTW, in ancient Greek mythology, Ariadne is the woman who helps guide Theseus through the Minotaur’s labyrinth.) Cobb says she will be back and you can almost see him dreaming up the reason why she will return as he says it. All of the main characters are under Cobb’s direction after he accepts Saito’s idea, including Fischer; everyone except Mal. Mal is quite explicitly the personification of his regret, the thing he must overcome and release to change the quality of his life.

Perhaps ironically, Mal is the only character in Inception who is unambiguously not real and yet keeps Cobb grounded in the one unambiguous truth of the movie – that Cobb feels regret and guilt. It doesn’t matter if Cobb’s feeling of guilt is rational or deserved or imagined. It doesn’t even matter if they’re ever was a woman named Mal “in the real world” or if Cobb is still young and looks like Leonardo DiCaprio. The guilt Mal represents is real to Cobb.

And Cobb’s struggle to confront that guilt is what makes Inception ring true to me. Cobb scrappily, imaginatively, and courageously finds a way to confront guilt so powerful it won’t even allow him to imagine the faces of his own children. When he faces Mal, his guilt, it confronts him with great irrational intensity: “You killed me.” “You infected my mind.” “You betrayed me.” But you can make amends by living with your guilt – by living in the world you built together with your guilt!



Once Cobb confronts this terrible assault of guilt, Saito dies, which signifies to me that the need for Cobb to purify his guilt through enduring the pain of love lost is over. Saito is dead and Cobb knows it. Now that Cobb has confronted Mal, Mal’s ability to control Cobb is over. Mal is infuriated by this and stabs at Cobb. Ariadne is ready to kill Mal but Cobb orders Ariadne to stop. Cobb is in complete control of events now and he wants to say goodbye to Mal. Cobb can now see the way out of Cobb’s – Mal’s – guilt’s labyrinth without Ariadne.

Cobb tells Mal that “we had our time together and now I have to let go.” I believe, on some level, Cobb may mean by this that: I’ve lived with my guilt long enough. It’s time to let it go.

Then Cobb dies. He drowns in the van driven by Yusuf. At this point, both Cobb and Saito have died and are in limbo. Limbo: “The abode of unbaptized but innocent or righteous souls, as those of infants or virtuous individuals who lived before the coming of Christ (salvation); an intermediate state (of being)” (@http://www.thefreedictionary.com/limbo).



Cobb is ready to be reborn into another state of being, a state of being without Mal, without guilt.

In limbo, Cobb is bearded, disheveled and appears world-weary. He hunches over his food and holds his spoon like an old man, or a baby – slopping up the kind of soft food you serve very old people or babies without teeth.

Now, shockingly and inexplicably to me, Saito is an old man, alone, filled with regret, waiting to die alone. Why would Saito’s limbo life be the destiny that was awaiting Cobb if he did not change the quality of his being and release guilt? Saito had a wife and a mistress. Why didn’t they join him, or rather, why didn’t Saito imagine them with him in limbo?

I believe it’s because Saito was nothing more than the personification of Cobb’s ability to endure lost love and overcome regret and guilt. Once untethered from that task, Saito had no immediate usefulness for Cobb. Cobb had to decide to return, to be reborn, with Saito. It did not necessarily follow that Cobb would be willing to endure the heartache associated with love after overcoming his regret and guilt. On the contrary, many people whom overcome great feelings of loss and pain associated with lost love decide never to love again.

Cobb does not choose that path. Cobb chooses to be reborn with his ability to love, and the possibility of having to endure love lost, in tact. This time, Cobb has to tell Saito to take a leap of faith – to tell that part of himself capable of love to risk love again, however unreasonable a risk that may seem to be given what Cobb just had to overcome.

Really? I must be kidding myself. Cobb has to get Saito so Saito can honor their arrangement and Cobb can see his children again. That’s it, plain and simple, correct? This “purification wisteria” Saito as ability to love personified is a figment of my imagination – my own projection onto the movie, right?

Perhaps. Yet when Cobb finds Saito he goes beyond telling Saito it is a dream. When Saito remembers it’s a dream and asks Cobb if he came so that Saito will honor their arrangement, Cobb answers yes and to take a leap of faith. Earlier in their conversation, Saito recalls that he and Cobb were young men together. At best, that seems to mischaracterize and exaggerate the brief interaction Saito and Cobb have had to date. But, strangely, it seems to be exactly the right characterization of their relationship to Cobb. Cobb tells Saito: “Come back and we'll be young men together again.”



Come back and we’ll be young men together again? Absolutely nothing in Inception suggests that Saito and Cobb will return to a world where they will be young men together again. It makes sense though if Saito is the personification of Cobb’s ability to love and endure love’s pains and losses. At least, that’s the way I see it.



Irrespective of who or what Saito is, Cobb is in fact reborn without guilt and with his ability to love and endure its pains in tact. To me, this is confirmed by Saito’s awakening on the plane and Cobb’s ability to “return home” and look into the faces of his children – in his mind’s eye or otherwise. This rather happy ending in my opinion does not depend on Cobb’s literal return home, or his ability to look into the “real world” faces of his children.

Cobb’s change, his transformation, his rebirth, into a man without guilt who can love again is a more important reality, a more inspiring and emotionally satisfying ending, than his ability to skirt the law and hug his children again (assuming Cobb really even has any children) in my view. I’d rather imagine Cobb waking up from the dream of looking into his children’s faces again – waking up without guilt and with the ability to love again.

Listening to myself, it’s hard to believe I really believe what I just said. Doesn’t it make more sense to believe that returning to my own children would be more important to me than my feelings or state of being with respect to guilt and the ability to love? This doesn’t sound like me.

What would I need to think, believe, and feel – to deal with fictional matters and real matters with equal appreciation and respect for their importance to me? To, in a sense, not care if the top falls or endlessly spins. I don’t know, but I think I may find out. And I blame Dom Cobb.

By the way, “Dom” is a Roman Catholic Church title used before the names of Benedictine monks. One of the major vows these monks take is the conversatio moru, which is idiomatic Latin that has been translated to mean "conversion of life." “Cobb” is a variation of Jacob, which is a name that has been interpreted to mean “he who supplants” – that is, “someone who usurps the place of, especially through intrigue or underhanded tactics,” or “someone who displaces or substitutes for (another)” (@http://www.thefreedictionary.com/supplants).




Call me paranoid, but I suspect Christopher Nolan sent Cobb to perform inception on me! Cobb was sent to supplant some idea I had with another. I can’t trace the idea planted yet but I am already seeing evidence that it has taken root – not the least of which is my weird willingness to spend my valuable time trying to analyze Inception.


I am inundated by real world matters. I absolutely do not have the time to waste analyzing a year-old Hollywood sci-fi / fantasy summer blockbuster movie now showing on HBO.



Yet, here I am.



I am asking myself what kind of person would I need to be – what would I need to think, believe, and feel – to deal with fictional matters and real matters with equal appreciation and respect for their importance to me. To, in a sense, not care if the top falls or endlessly spins.

The answer I’m getting, or giving myself, which I don’t fully understand yet, is that I would have to be committed to change; a change to the quality of my world or myself. That kind of change would require new ideas and new “language.” Change I will not be able to engineer if I’m stuck using old programming languages like, for example, “COmmon Business-Oriented Language” or COBOL, one of the oldest programming languages. I believe it would require a “leap of faith” to a new state of being.

According to Wiki (@ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leap_of_faith), Søren Kierkegaard describes the core part of the leap of faith, the leap, by using the famous story of Adam and Eve, particularly Adam's qualitative leap into sin. Adam's leap signifies a change from one quality to another, mainly the quality of possessing no sin to the quality of possessing sin. Kierkegaard maintains that the transition from one quality to another can take place only by a "leap.” When the transition happens, one moves directly from one state to the other, never possessing both qualities. For Cobb, it involves a move from possessing guilt to a quality of possessing no guilt. Whatever else is ambiguous about Inception, this is not: Cobb’s guilt is real and his successful release of that guilt is real.

How and why can such fundamental change in being occur through dreams? Specifically, what is Inception telling me about the power of dreams, or shared dreaming, or movies, as it relates to the leap of faith to real change. I believe Saito is my guide to the answer.

On one level, Inception is the story of Cobb trying to steal ideas from, and then implant ideas for, Saito. First, the failure to steal an idea from Saito leaves Cobb at the mercy of Cobol Engineering; a state of being Cobb says he can live with. Next, Saito, without reasonable explanation, says he can offer Cobb an escape from that life and a return home to his children. Cobb’s first response is that no one can do that for him. Saito then instructs Cobb to choose to take a leap of faith and believe that Saito can bring Cobb home or face dying an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone.

Note the strangeness of Saito framing the choice in this way. Logically, Saito could have referred to a life on the run from Cobol, or a life missing his children. But a life filled with regret waiting to die alone? That seems like an unexplained leap of perception into Cobb to me. How could Saito know of Cobb’s fear of growing old, filled with regret, waiting to die alone? In any event, Saito has Cobb figured out exactly right, and Cobb takes the leap of faith Saito offers. (As an aside, think of how stuck Cobb would have been in his present state of being if he had allowed himself to be governed by Arthur’s rational authority. Cobb’s inspirations or “radical notions” ultimately govern Arthur throughout Inception, which is clearly to Cobb’s advantage. Otherwise, Cobb would not have been able to change his life.)

So what does Saito represent to Cobb?

One of the reasons contemplating the many messages in Inception is rewarding is because so much of it was done with such thoughtful care, including the choice of names for the central characters. The name Saito is Japanese for “purification wisteria” or “correct wisteria.” Wisteria blossoms are purple and droop in tapered clusters reminiscent of weeping willows. A Google search of “wisteria meaning” brought the following to the top of my search list @ http://www.whats-your-sign.com/wisteria-meaning.html (I’ve included the long quote below because it so perfectly describes the kind of purification or correction potential that Saito represents for (in?) Cobb in my view) --



“The wisteria meaning deals with: Honor, Memory, Patience, Endurance, Longevity, Exploration, Creative expansion, Releasing burdens, The duality of love, Victory over hardship.



As symbols of love we see the wisteria in the 1820s Japanese kabuki drama Fuji Musume (Wisteria Maiden). The Wisteria Maiden is depicted in a painting holding a wisteria branch, until one day she becomes smitten with a young man and steps out of the painting in an effort to capture his attention. Unfortunately, her attempts are futile. Her loves goes unrequited, and she sorrowfully steps back into the two-dimensional world of her lonely painting still holding her weeping wisteria.

Here the wisteria meaning and symbolism speaks of love lost, but also of the ability for the heart to endure in spite of rejection. In other words, here the weeping wisteria expresses sorrow, but it is also an incredibly durable vine, able to live (even flourish) through mistreatment and harsh conditions.”

To me, Saito represents for Cobb the ability to “correct” or “purify” himself of the torment of regret though the ability of his heart to endure in spite of rejection, unrequited love, or love lost. How or why does that work? There’s no rational reason to think it will. That’s why Arthur instructs Cobb to walk away. But Cobb takes the leap of faith, and it does work. Indeed, once Cobb accepts (or steals) that idea from Saito, or, through inception, the idea is successfully implanted in Cobb’s mind – the idea that through Saito he can avoid becoming an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone – Cobb appears to dream up how it will work.

One of my favorite, though very subtle, moments in Inception is when Ariadne walks out on Cobb and the whole Fischer enterprise. (BTW, in ancient Greek mythology, Ariadne is the woman who helps guide Theseus through the Minotaur’s labyrinth.) Cobb says she will be back and you can almost see him dreaming up the reason why she will return as he says it. All of the main characters are under Cobb’s direction after he accepts Saito’s idea, including Fischer; everyone except Mal. Mal is quite explicitly the personification of his regret, the thing he must overcome and release to change the quality of his life.

Perhaps ironically, Mal is the only character in Inception who is unambiguously not real and yet keeps Cobb grounded in the one unambiguous truth of the movie – that Cobb feels regret and guilt. It doesn’t matter if Cobb’s feeling of guilt is rational or deserved or imagined. It doesn’t even matter if they’re ever was a woman named Mal “in the real world” or if Cobb is still young and looks like Leonardo DiCaprio. The guilt Mal represents is real to Cobb.

And Cobb’s struggle to confront that guilt is what makes Inception ring true to me. Cobb scrappily, imaginatively, and courageously finds a way to confront guilt so powerful it won’t even allow him to imagine the faces of his own children. When he faces Mal, his guilt, it confronts him with great irrational intensity: “You killed me.” “You infected my mind.” “You betrayed me.” But you can make amends by living with your guilt – by living in the world you built together with your guilt!



Once Cobb confronts this terrible assault of guilt, Saito dies, which signifies to me that the need for Cobb to purify his guilt through enduring the pain of love lost is over. Saito is dead and Cobb knows it. Now that Cobb has confronted Mal, Mal’s ability to control Cobb is over. Mal is infuriated by this and stabs at Cobb. Ariadne is ready to kill Mal but Cobb orders Ariadne to stop. Cobb is in complete control of events now and he wants to say goodbye to Mal. Cobb can now see the way out of Cobb’s – Mal’s – guilt’s labyrinth without Ariadne.

Cobb tells Mal that “we had our time together and now I have to let go.” I believe, on some level, Cobb may mean by this that: I’ve lived with my guilt long enough. It’s time to let it go.

Then Cobb dies. He drowns in the van driven by Yusuf. At this point, both Cobb and Saito have died and are in limbo. Limbo: “The abode of unbaptized but innocent or righteous souls, as those of infants or virtuous individuals who lived before the coming of Christ (salvation); an intermediate state (of being)” (@http://www.thefreedictionary.com/limbo).



Cobb is ready to be reborn into another state of being, a state of being without Mal, without guilt.

In limbo, Cobb is bearded, disheveled and appears world-weary. He hunches over his food and holds his spoon like an old man, or a baby – slopping up the kind of soft food you serve very old people or babies without teeth.

Now, shockingly and inexplicably to me, Saito is an old man, alone, filled with regret, waiting to die alone. Why would Saito’s limbo life be the destiny that was awaiting Cobb if he did not change the quality of his being and release guilt? Saito had a wife and a mistress. Why didn’t they join him, or rather, why didn’t Saito imagine them with him in limbo?

I believe it’s because Saito was nothing more than the personification of Cobb’s ability to endure lost love and overcome regret and guilt. Once untethered from that task, Saito had no immediate usefulness for Cobb. Cobb had to decide to return, to be reborn, with Saito. It did not necessarily follow that Cobb would be willing to endure the heartache associated with love after overcoming his regret and guilt. On the contrary, many people whom overcome great feelings of loss and pain associated with lost love decide never to love again.

Cobb does not choose that path. Cobb chooses to be reborn with his ability to love, and the possibility of having to endure love lost, in tact. This time, Cobb has to tell Saito to take a leap of faith – to tell that part of himself capable of love to risk love again, however unreasonable a risk that may seem to be given what Cobb just had to overcome.

Really? I must be kidding myself. Cobb has to get Saito so Saito can honor their arrangement and Cobb can see his children again. That’s it, plain and simple, correct? This “purification wisteria” Saito as ability to love personified is a figment of my imagination – my own projection onto the movie, right?

Perhaps. Yet when Cobb finds Saito he goes beyond telling Saito it is a dream. When Saito remembers it’s a dream and asks Cobb if he came so that Saito will honor their arrangement, Cobb answers yes and to take a leap of faith. Earlier in their conversation, Saito recalls that he and Cobb were young men together. At best, that seems to mischaracterize and exaggerate the brief interaction Saito and Cobb have had to date. But, strangely, it seems to be exactly the right characterization of their relationship to Cobb. Cobb tells Saito: “Come back and we'll be young men together again.”



Come back and we’ll be young men together again? Absolutely nothing in Inception suggests that Saito and Cobb will return to a world where they will be young men together again. It makes sense though if Saito is the personification of Cobb’s ability to love and endure love’s pains and losses. At least, that’s the way I see it.



Irrespective of who or what Saito is, Cobb is in fact reborn without guilt and with his ability to love and endure its pains in tact. To me, this is confirmed by Saito’s awakening on the plane and Cobb’s ability to “return home” and look into the faces of his children – in his mind’s eye or otherwise. This rather happy ending in my opinion does not depend on Cobb’s literal return home, or his ability to look into the “real world” faces of his children.

Cobb’s change, his transformation, his rebirth, into a man without guilt who can love again is a more important reality, a more inspiring and emotionally satisfying ending, than his ability to skirt the law and hug his children again (assuming Cobb really even has any children) in my view. I’d rather imagine Cobb waking up from the dream of looking into his children’s faces again – waking up without guilt and with the ability to love again.

Listening to myself, it’s hard to believe I really believe what I just said. Doesn’t it make more sense to believe that returning to my own children would be more important to me than my feelings or state of being with respect to guilt and the ability to love? This doesn’t sound like me.

What would I need to think, believe, and feel – to deal with fictional matters and real matters with equal appreciation and respect for their importance to me? To, in a sense, not care if the top falls or endlessly spins. I don’t know, but I think I may find out. And I blame Dom Cobb.

By the way, “Dom” is a Roman Catholic Church title used before the names of Benedictine monks. One of the major vows these monks take is the conversatio moru, which is idiomatic Latin that has been translated to mean "conversion of life." “Cobb” is a variation of Jacob, which is a name that has been interpreted to mean “he who supplants” – that is, “someone who usurps the place of, especially through intrigue or underhanded tactics,” or “someone who displaces or substitutes for (another)” (@http://www.thefreedictionary.com/supplants).




Call me paranoid, but I suspect Christopher Nolan sent Cobb to perform inception on me! Cobb was sent to supplant some idea I had with another. I can’t trace the idea planted yet but I am already seeing evidence that it has taken root – not the least of which is my weird willingness to spend my valuable time trying to analyze Inception.


I am inundated by real world matters. I absolutely do not have the time to waste analyzing a year-old Hollywood sci-fi / fantasy summer blockbuster movie now showing on HBO.



Yet, here I am.



I am asking myself what kind of person would I need to be – what would I need to think, believe, and feel – to deal with fictional matters and real matters with equal appreciation and respect for their importance to me. To, in a sense, not care if the top falls or endlessly spins.

The answer I’m getting, or giving myself, which I don’t fully understand yet, is that I would have to be committed to change; a change to the quality of my world or myself. That kind of change would require new ideas and new “language.” Change I will not be able to engineer if I’m stuck using old programming languages like, for example, “COmmon Business-Oriented Language” or COBOL, one of the oldest programming languages. I believe it would require a “leap of faith” to a new state of being.

According to Wiki (@ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leap_of_faith), Søren Kierkegaard describes the core part of the leap of faith, the leap, by using the famous story of Adam and Eve, particularly Adam's qualitative leap into sin. Adam's leap signifies a change from one quality to another, mainly the quality of possessing no sin to the quality of possessing sin. Kierkegaard maintains that the transition from one quality to another can take place only by a "leap.” When the transition happens, one moves directly from one state to the other, never possessing both qualities. For Cobb, it involves a move from possessing guilt to a quality of possessing no guilt. Whatever else is ambiguous about Inception, this is not: Cobb’s guilt is real and his successful release of that guilt is real.

How and why can such fundamental change in being occur through dreams? Specifically, what is Inception telling me about the power of dreams, or shared dreaming, or movies, as it relates to the leap of faith to real change. I believe Saito is my guide to the answer.

On one level, Inception is the story of Cobb trying to steal ideas from, and then implant ideas for, Saito. First, the failure to steal an idea from Saito leaves Cobb at the mercy of Cobol Engineering; a state of being Cobb says he can live with. Next, Saito, without reasonable explanation, says he can offer Cobb an escape from that life and a return home to his children. Cobb’s first response is that no one can do that for him. Saito then instructs Cobb to choose to take a leap of faith and believe that Saito can bring Cobb home or face dying an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone.

Note the strangeness of Saito framing the choice in this way. Logically, Saito could have referred to a life on the run from Cobol, or a life missing his children. But a life filled with regret waiting to die alone? That seems like an unexplained leap of perception into Cobb to me. How could Saito know of Cobb’s fear of growing old, filled with regret, waiting to die alone? In any event, Saito has Cobb figured out exactly right, and Cobb takes the leap of faith Saito offers. (As an aside, think of how stuck Cobb would have been in his present state of being if he had allowed himself to be governed by Arthur’s rational authority. Cobb’s inspirations or “radical notions” ultimately govern Arthur throughout Inception, which is clearly to Cobb’s advantage. Otherwise, Cobb would not have been able to change his life.)

So what does Saito represent to Cobb?

One of the reasons contemplating the many messages in Inception is rewarding is because so much of it was done with such thoughtful care, including the choice of names for the central characters. The name Saito is Japanese for “purification wisteria” or “correct wisteria.” Wisteria blossoms are purple and droop in tapered clusters reminiscent of weeping willows. A Google search of “wisteria meaning” brought the following to the top of my search list @ http://www.whats-your-sign.com/wisteria-meaning.html (I’ve included the long quote below because it so perfectly describes the kind of purification or correction potential that Saito represents for (in?) Cobb in my view) --



“The wisteria meaning deals with: Honor, Memory, Patience, Endurance, Longevity, Exploration, Creative expansion, Releasing burdens, The duality of love, Victory over hardship.



As symbols of love we see the wisteria in the 1820s Japanese kabuki drama Fuji Musume (Wisteria Maiden). The Wisteria Maiden is depicted in a painting holding a wisteria branch, until one day she becomes smitten with a young man and steps out of the painting in an effort to capture his attention. Unfortunately, her attempts are futile. Her loves goes unrequited, and she sorrowfully steps back into the two-dimensional world of her lonely painting still holding her weeping wisteria.

Here the wisteria meaning and symbolism speaks of love lost, but also of the ability for the heart to endure in spite of rejection. In other words, here the weeping wisteria expresses sorrow, but it is also an incredibly durable vine, able to live (even flourish) through mistreatment and harsh conditions.”

To me, Saito represents for Cobb the ability to “correct” or “purify” himself of the torment of regret though the ability of his heart to endure in spite of rejection, unrequited love, or love lost. How or why does that work? There’s no rational reason to think it will. That’s why Arthur instructs Cobb to walk away. But Cobb takes the leap of faith, and it does work. Indeed, once Cobb accepts (or steals) that idea from Saito, or, through inception, the idea is successfully implanted in Cobb’s mind – the idea that through Saito he can avoid becoming an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone – Cobb appears to dream up how it will work.

One of my favorite, though very subtle, moments in Inception is when Ariadne walks out on Cobb and the whole Fischer enterprise. (BTW, in ancient Greek mythology, Ariadne is the woman who helps guide Theseus through the Minotaur’s labyrinth.) Cobb says she will be back and you can almost see him dreaming up the reason why she will return as he says it. All of the main characters are under Cobb’s direction after he accepts Saito’s idea, including Fischer; everyone except Mal. Mal is quite explicitly the personification of his regret, the thing he must overcome and release to change the quality of his life.

Perhaps ironically, Mal is the only character in Inception who is unambiguously not real and yet keeps Cobb grounded in the one unambiguous truth of the movie – that Cobb feels regret and guilt. It doesn’t matter if Cobb’s feeling of guilt is rational or deserved or imagined. It doesn’t even matter if they’re ever was a woman named Mal “in the real world” or if Cobb is still young and looks like Leonardo DiCaprio. The guilt Mal represents is real to Cobb.

And Cobb’s struggle to confront that guilt is what makes Inception ring true to me. Cobb scrappily, imaginatively, and courageously finds a way to confront guilt so powerful it won’t even allow him to imagine the faces of his own children. When he faces Mal, his guilt, it confronts him with great irrational intensity: “You killed me.” “You infected my mind.” “You betrayed me.” But you can make amends by living with your guilt – by living in the world you built together with your guilt!



Once Cobb confronts this terrible assault of guilt, Saito dies, which signifies to me that the need for Cobb to purify his guilt through enduring the pain of love lost is over. Saito is dead and Cobb knows it. Now that Cobb has confronted Mal, Mal’s ability to control Cobb is over. Mal is infuriated by this and stabs at Cobb. Ariadne is ready to kill Mal but Cobb orders Ariadne to stop. Cobb is in complete control of events now and he wants to say goodbye to Mal. Cobb can now see the way out of Cobb’s – Mal’s – guilt’s labyrinth without Ariadne.

Cobb tells Mal that “we had our time together and now I have to let go.” I believe, on some level, Cobb may mean by this that: I’ve lived with my guilt long enough. It’s time to let it go.

Then Cobb dies. He drowns in the van driven by Yusuf. At this point, both Cobb and Saito have died and are in limbo. Limbo: “The abode of unbaptized but innocent or righteous souls, as those of infants or virtuous individuals who lived before the coming of Christ (salvation); an intermediate state (of being)” (@http://www.thefreedictionary.com/limbo).



Cobb is ready to be reborn into another state of being, a state of being without Mal, without guilt.

In limbo, Cobb is bearded, disheveled and appears world-weary. He hunches over his food and holds his spoon like an old man, or a baby – slopping up the kind of soft food you serve very old people or babies without teeth.

Now, shockingly and inexplicably to me, Saito is an old man, alone, filled with regret, waiting to die alone. Why would Saito’s limbo life be the destiny that was awaiting Cobb if he did not change the quality of his being and release guilt? Saito had a wife and a mistress. Why didn’t they join him, or rather, why didn’t Saito imagine them with him in limbo?

I believe it’s because Saito was nothing more than the personification of Cobb’s ability to endure lost love and overcome regret and guilt. Once untethered from that task, Saito had no immediate usefulness for Cobb. Cobb had to decide to return, to be reborn, with Saito. It did not necessarily follow that Cobb would be willing to endure the heartache associated with love after overcoming his regret and guilt. On the contrary, many people whom overcome great feelings of loss and pain associated with lost love decide never to love again.

Cobb does not choose that path. Cobb chooses to be reborn with his ability to love, and the possibility of having to endure love lost, in tact. This time, Cobb has to tell Saito to take a leap of faith – to tell that part of himself capable of love to risk love again, however unreasonable a risk that may seem to be given what Cobb just had to overcome.

Really? I must be kidding myself. Cobb has to get Saito so Saito can honor their arrangement and Cobb can see his children again. That’s it, plain and simple, correct? This “purification wisteria” Saito as ability to love personified is a figment of my imagination – my own projection onto the movie, right?

Perhaps. Yet when Cobb finds Saito he goes beyond telling Saito it is a dream. When Saito remembers it’s a dream and asks Cobb if he came so that Saito will honor their arrangement, Cobb answers yes and to take a leap of faith. Earlier in their conversation, Saito recalls that he and Cobb were young men together. At best, that seems to mischaracterize and exaggerate the brief interaction Saito and Cobb have had to date. But, strangely, it seems to be exactly the right characterization of their relationship to Cobb. Cobb tells Saito: “Come back and we'll be young men together again.”



Come back and we’ll be young men together again? Absolutely nothing in Inception suggests that Saito and Cobb will return to a world where they will be young men together again. It makes sense though if Saito is the personification of Cobb’s ability to love and endure love’s pains and losses. At least, that’s the way I see it.



Irrespective of who or what Saito is, Cobb is in fact reborn without guilt and with his ability to love and endure its pains in tact. To me, this is confirmed by Saito’s awakening on the plane and Cobb’s ability to “return home” and look into the faces of his children – in his mind’s eye or otherwise. This rather happy ending in my opinion does not depend on Cobb’s literal return home, or his ability to look into the “real world” faces of his children.

Cobb’s change, his transformation, his rebirth, into a man without guilt who can love again is a more important reality, a more inspiring and emotionally satisfying ending, than his ability to skirt the law and hug his children again (assuming Cobb really even has any children) in my view. I’d rather imagine Cobb waking up from the dream of looking into his children’s faces again – waking up without guilt and with the ability to love again.

Listening to myself, it’s hard to believe I really believe what I just said. Doesn’t it make more sense to believe that returning to my own children would be more important to me than my feelings or state of being with respect to guilt and the ability to love? This doesn’t sound like me.

What would I need to think, believe, and feel – to deal with fictional matters and real matters with equal appreciation and respect for their importance to me? To, in a sense, not care if the top falls or endlessly spins. I don’t know, but I think I may find out. And I blame Dom Cobb.

By the way, “Dom” is a Roman Catholic Church title used before the names of Benedictine monks. One of the major vows these monks take is the conversatio moru, which is idiomatic Latin that has been translated to mean "conversion of life." “Cobb” is a variation of Jacob, which is a name that has been interpreted to mean “he who supplants” – that is, “someone who usurps the place of, especially through intrigue or underhanded tactics,” or “someone who displaces or substitutes for (another)” (@http://www.thefreedictionary.com/supplants).




Call me paranoid, but I suspect Christopher Nolan sent Cobb to perform inception on me! Cobb was sent to supplant some idea I had with another. I can’t trace the idea planted yet but I am already seeing evidence that it has taken root – not the least of which is my weird willingness to spend my valuable time trying to analyze Inception.


I am inundated by real world matters. I absolutely do not have the time to waste analyzing a year-old Hollywood sci-fi / fantasy summer blockbuster movie now showing on HBO.



Yet, here I am.



I am asking myself what kind of person would I need to be – what would I need to think, believe, and feel – to deal with fictional matters and real matters with equal appreciation and respect for their importance to me. To, in a sense, not care if the top falls or endlessly spins.

The answer I’m getting, or giving myself, which I don’t fully understand yet, is that I would have to be committed to change; a change to the quality of my world or myself. That kind of change would require new ideas and new “language.” Change I will not be able to engineer if I’m stuck using old programming languages like, for example, “COmmon Business-Oriented Language” or COBOL, one of the oldest programming languages. I believe it would require a “leap of faith” to a new state of being.

According to Wiki (@ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leap_of_faith), Søren Kierkegaard describes the core part of the leap of faith, the leap, by using the famous story of Adam and Eve, particularly Adam's qualitative leap into sin. Adam's leap signifies a change from one quality to another, mainly the quality of possessing no sin to the quality of possessing sin. Kierkegaard maintains that the transition from one quality to another can take place only by a "leap.” When the transition happens, one moves directly from one state to the other, never possessing both qualities. For Cobb, it involves a move from possessing guilt to a quality of possessing no guilt. Whatever else is ambiguous about Inception, this is not: Cobb’s guilt is real and his successful release of that guilt is real.

How and why can such fundamental change in being occur through dreams? Specifically, what is Inception telling me about the power of dreams, or shared dreaming, or movies, as it relates to the leap of faith to real change. I believe Saito is my guide to the answer.

On one level, Inception is the story of Cobb trying to steal ideas from, and then implant ideas for, Saito. First, the failure to steal an idea from Saito leaves Cobb at the mercy of Cobol Engineering; a state of being Cobb says he can live with. Next, Saito, without reasonable explanation, says he can offer Cobb an escape from that life and a return home to his children. Cobb’s first response is that no one can do that for him. Saito then instructs Cobb to choose to take a leap of faith and believe that Saito can bring Cobb home or face dying an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone.

Note the strangeness of Saito framing the choice in this way. Logically, Saito could have referred to a life on the run from Cobol, or a life missing his children. But a life filled with regret waiting to die alone? That seems like an unexplained leap of perception into Cobb to me. How could Saito know of Cobb’s fear of growing old, filled with regret, waiting to die alone? In any event, Saito has Cobb figured out exactly right, and Cobb takes the leap of faith Saito offers. (As an aside, think of how stuck Cobb would have been in his present state of being if he had allowed himself to be governed by Arthur’s rational authority. Cobb’s inspirations or “radical notions” ultimately govern Arthur throughout Inception, which is clearly to Cobb’s advantage. Otherwise, Cobb would not have been able to change his life.)

So what does Saito represent to Cobb?

One of the reasons contemplating the many messages in Inception is rewarding is because so much of it was done with such thoughtful care, including the choice of names for the central characters. The name Saito is Japanese for “purification wisteria” or “correct wisteria.” Wisteria blossoms are purple and droop in tapered clusters reminiscent of weeping willows. A Google search of “wisteria meaning” brought the following to the top of my search list @ http://www.whats-your-sign.com/wisteria-meaning.html (I’ve included the long quote below because it so perfectly describes the kind of purification or correction potential that Saito represents for (in?) Cobb in my view) --



“The wisteria meaning deals with: Honor, Memory, Patience, Endurance, Longevity, Exploration, Creative expansion, Releasing burdens, The duality of love, Victory over hardship.



As symbols of love we see the wisteria in the 1820s Japanese kabuki drama Fuji Musume (Wisteria Maiden). The Wisteria Maiden is depicted in a painting holding a wisteria branch, until one day she becomes smitten with a young man and steps out of the painting in an effort to capture his attention. Unfortunately, her attempts are futile. Her loves goes unrequited, and she sorrowfully steps back into the two-dimensional world of her lonely painting still holding her weeping wisteria.

Here the wisteria meaning and symbolism speaks of love lost, but also of the ability for the heart to endure in spite of rejection. In other words, here the weeping wisteria expresses sorrow, but it is also an incredibly durable vine, able to live (even flourish) through mistreatment and harsh conditions.”

To me, Saito represents for Cobb the ability to “correct” or “purify” himself of the torment of regret though the ability of his heart to endure in spite of rejection, unrequited love, or love lost. How or why does that work? There’s no rational reason to think it will. That’s why Arthur instructs Cobb to walk away. But Cobb takes the leap of faith, and it does work. Indeed, once Cobb accepts (or steals) that idea from Saito, or, through inception, the idea is successfully implanted in Cobb’s mind – the idea that through Saito he can avoid becoming an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone – Cobb appears to dream up how it will work.

One of my favorite, though very subtle, moments in Inception is when Ariadne walks out on Cobb and the whole Fischer enterprise. (BTW, in ancient Greek mythology, Ariadne is the woman who helps guide Theseus through the Minotaur’s labyrinth.) Cobb says she will be back and you can almost see him dreaming up the reason why she will return as he says it. All of the main characters are under Cobb’s direction after he accepts Saito’s idea, including Fischer; everyone except Mal. Mal is quite explicitly the personification of his regret, the thing he must overcome and release to change the quality of his life.

Perhaps ironically, Mal is the only character in Inception who is unambiguously not real and yet keeps Cobb grounded in the one unambiguous truth of the movie – that Cobb feels regret and guilt. It doesn’t matter if Cobb’s feeling of guilt is rational or deserved or imagined. It doesn’t even matter if they’re ever was a woman named Mal “in the real world” or if Cobb is still young and looks like Leonardo DiCaprio. The guilt Mal represents is real to Cobb.

And Cobb’s struggle to confront that guilt is what makes Inception ring true to me. Cobb scrappily, imaginatively, and courageously finds a way to confront guilt so powerful it won’t even allow him to imagine the faces of his own children. When he faces Mal, his guilt, it confronts him with great irrational intensity: “You killed me.” “You infected my mind.” “You betrayed me.” But you can make amends by living with your guilt – by living in the world you built together with your guilt!



Once Cobb confronts this terrible assault of guilt, Saito dies, which signifies to me that the need for Cobb to purify his guilt through enduring the pain of love lost is over. Saito is dead and Cobb knows it. Now that Cobb has confronted Mal, Mal’s ability to control Cobb is over. Mal is infuriated by this and stabs at Cobb. Ariadne is ready to kill Mal but Cobb orders Ariadne to stop. Cobb is in complete control of events now and he wants to say goodbye to Mal. Cobb can now see the way out of Cobb’s – Mal’s – guilt’s labyrinth without Ariadne.

Cobb tells Mal that “we had our time together and now I have to let go.” I believe, on some level, Cobb may mean by this that: I’ve lived with my guilt long enough. It’s time to let it go.

Then Cobb dies. He drowns in the van driven by Yusuf. At this point, both Cobb and Saito have died and are in limbo. Limbo: “The abode of unbaptized but innocent or righteous souls, as those of infants or virtuous individuals who lived before the coming of Christ (salvation); an intermediate state (of being)” (@http://www.thefreedictionary.com/limbo).



Cobb is ready to be reborn into another state of being, a state of being without Mal, without guilt.

In limbo, Cobb is bearded, disheveled and appears world-weary. He hunches over his food and holds his spoon like an old man, or a baby – slopping up the kind of soft food you serve very old people or babies without teeth.

Now, shockingly and inexplicably to me, Saito is an old man, alone, filled with regret, waiting to die alone. Why would Saito’s limbo life be the destiny that was awaiting Cobb if he did not change the quality of his being and release guilt? Saito had a wife and a mistress. Why didn’t they join him, or rather, why didn’t Saito imagine them with him in limbo?

I believe it’s because Saito was nothing more than the personification of Cobb’s ability to endure lost love and overcome regret and guilt. Once untethered from that task, Saito had no immediate usefulness for Cobb. Cobb had to decide to return, to be reborn, with Saito. It did not necessarily follow that Cobb would be willing to endure the heartache associated with love after overcoming his regret and guilt. On the contrary, many people whom overcome great feelings of loss and pain associated with lost love decide never to love again.

Cobb does not choose that path. Cobb chooses to be reborn with his ability to love, and the possibility of having to endure love lost, in tact. This time, Cobb has to tell Saito to take a leap of faith – to tell that part of himself capable of love to risk love again, however unreasonable a risk that may seem to be given what Cobb just had to overcome.

Really? I must be kidding myself. Cobb has to get Saito so Saito can honor their arrangement and Cobb can see his children again. That’s it, plain and simple, correct? This “purification wisteria” Saito as ability to love personified is a figment of my imagination – my own projection onto the movie, right?

Perhaps. Yet when Cobb finds Saito he goes beyond telling Saito it is a dream. When Saito remembers it’s a dream and asks Cobb if he came so that Saito will honor their arrangement, Cobb answers yes and to take a leap of faith. Earlier in their conversation, Saito recalls that he and Cobb were young men together. At best, that seems to mischaracterize and exaggerate the brief interaction Saito and Cobb have had to date. But, strangely, it seems to be exactly the right characterization of their relationship to Cobb. Cobb tells Saito: “Come back and we'll be young men together again.”



Come back and we’ll be young men together again? Absolutely nothing in Inception suggests that Saito and Cobb will return to a world where they will be young men together again. It makes sense though if Saito is the personification of Cobb’s ability to love and endure love’s pains and losses. At least, that’s the way I see it.



Irrespective of who or what Saito is, Cobb is in fact reborn without guilt and with his ability to love and endure its pains in tact. To me, this is confirmed by Saito’s awakening on the plane and Cobb’s ability to “return home” and look into the faces of his children – in his mind’s eye or otherwise. This rather happy ending in my opinion does not depend on Cobb’s literal return home, or his ability to look into the “real world” faces of his children.

Cobb’s change, his transformation, his rebirth, into a man without guilt who can love again is a more important reality, a more inspiring and emotionally satisfying ending, than his ability to skirt the law and hug his children again (assuming Cobb really even has any children) in my view. I’d rather imagine Cobb waking up from the dream of looking into his children’s faces again – waking up without guilt and with the ability to love again.

Listening to myself, it’s hard to believe I really believe what I just said. Doesn’t it make more sense to believe that returning to my own children would be more important to me than my feelings or state of being with respect to guilt and the ability to love? This doesn’t sound like me.

What would I need to think, believe, and feel – to deal with fictional matters and real matters with equal appreciation and respect for their importance to me? To, in a sense, not care if the top falls or endlessly spins. I don’t know, but I think I may find out. And I blame Dom Cobb.

By the way, “Dom” is a Roman Catholic Church title used before the names of Benedictine monks. One of the major vows these monks take is the conversatio moru, which is idiomatic Latin that has been translated to mean "conversion of life." “Cobb” is a variation of Jacob, which is a name that has been interpreted to mean “he who supplants” – that is, “someone who usurps the place of, especially through intrigue or underhanded tactics,” or “someone who displaces or substitutes for (another)” (@http://www.thefreedictionary.com/supplants).




Call me paranoid, but I suspect Christopher Nolan sent Cobb to perform inception on me! Cobb was sent to supplant some idea I had with another. I can’t trace the idea planted yet but I am already seeing evidence that it has taken root – not the least of which is my weird willingness to spend my valuable time trying to analyze Inception.


I am inundated by real world matters. I absolutely do not have the time to waste analyzing a year-old Hollywood sci-fi / fantasy summer blockbuster movie now showing on HBO.



Yet, here I am.



I am asking myself what kind of person would I need to be – what would I need to think, believe, and feel – to deal with fictional matters and real matters with equal appreciation and respect for their importance to me. To, in a sense, not care if the top falls or endlessly spins.

The answer I’m getting, or giving myself, which I don’t fully understand yet, is that I would have to be committed to change; a change to the quality of my world or myself. That kind of change would require new ideas and new “language.” Change I will not be able to engineer if I’m stuck using old programming languages like, for example, “COmmon Business-Oriented Language” or COBOL, one of the oldest programming languages. I believe it would require a “leap of faith” to a new state of being.

According to Wiki (@ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leap_of_faith), Søren Kierkegaard describes the core part of the leap of faith, the leap, by using the famous story of Adam and Eve, particularly Adam's qualitative leap into sin. Adam's leap signifies a change from one quality to another, mainly the quality of possessing no sin to the quality of possessing sin. Kierkegaard maintains that the transition from one quality to another can take place only by a "leap.” When the transition happens, one moves directly from one state to the other, never possessing both qualities. For Cobb, it involves a move from possessing guilt to a quality of possessing no guilt. Whatever else is ambiguous about Inception, this is not: Cobb’s guilt is real and his successful release of that guilt is real.

How and why can such fundamental change in being occur through dreams? Specifically, what is Inception telling me about the power of dreams, or shared dreaming, or movies, as it relates to the leap of faith to real change. I believe Saito is my guide to the answer.

On one level, Inception is the story of Cobb trying to steal ideas from, and then implant ideas for, Saito. First, the failure to steal an idea from Saito leaves Cobb at the mercy of Cobol Engineering; a state of being Cobb says he can live with. Next, Saito, without reasonable explanation, says he can offer Cobb an escape from that life and a return home to his children. Cobb’s first response is that no one can do that for him. Saito then instructs Cobb to choose to take a leap of faith and believe that Saito can bring Cobb home or face dying an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone.

Note the strangeness of Saito framing the choice in this way. Logically, Saito could have referred to a life on the run from Cobol, or a life missing his children. But a life filled with regret waiting to die alone? That seems like an unexplained leap of perception into Cobb to me. How could Saito know of Cobb’s fear of growing old, filled with regret, waiting to die alone? In any event, Saito has Cobb figured out exactly right, and Cobb takes the leap of faith Saito offers. (As an aside, think of how stuck Cobb would have been in his present state of being if he had allowed himself to be governed by Arthur’s rational authority. Cobb’s inspirations or “radical notions” ultimately govern Arthur throughout Inception, which is clearly to Cobb’s advantage. Otherwise, Cobb would not have been able to change his life.)

So what does Saito represent to Cobb?

One of the reasons contemplating the many messages in Inception is rewarding is because so much of it was done with such thoughtful care, including the choice of names for the central characters. The name Saito is Japanese for “purification wisteria” or “correct wisteria.” Wisteria blossoms are purple and droop in tapered clusters reminiscent of weeping willows. A Google search of “wisteria meaning” brought the following to the top of my search list @ http://www.whats-your-sign.com/wisteria-meaning.html (I’ve included the long quote below because it so perfectly describes the kind of purification or correction potential that Saito represents for (in?) Cobb in my view) --



“The wisteria meaning deals with: Honor, Memory, Patience, Endurance, Longevity, Exploration, Creative expansion, Releasing burdens, The duality of love, Victory over hardship.



As symbols of love we see the wisteria in the 1820s Japanese kabuki drama Fuji Musume (Wisteria Maiden). The Wisteria Maiden is depicted in a painting holding a wisteria branch, until one day she becomes smitten with a young man and steps out of the painting in an effort to capture his attention. Unfortunately, her attempts are futile. Her loves goes unrequited, and she sorrowfully steps back into the two-dimensional world of her lonely painting still holding her weeping wisteria.

Here the wisteria meaning and symbolism speaks of love lost, but also of the ability for the heart to endure in spite of rejection. In other words, here the weeping wisteria expresses sorrow, but it is also an incredibly durable vine, able to live (even flourish) through mistreatment and harsh conditions.”

To me, Saito represents for Cobb the ability to “correct” or “purify” himself of the torment of regret though the ability of his heart to endure in spite of rejection, unrequited love, or love lost. How or why does that work? There’s no rational reason to think it will. That’s why Arthur instructs Cobb to walk away. But Cobb takes the leap of faith, and it does work. Indeed, once Cobb accepts (or steals) that idea from Saito, or, through inception, the idea is successfully implanted in Cobb’s mind – the idea that through Saito he can avoid becoming an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone – Cobb appears to dream up how it will work.

One of my favorite, though very subtle, moments in Inception is when Ariadne walks out on Cobb and the whole Fischer enterprise. (BTW, in ancient Greek mythology, Ariadne is the woman who helps guide Theseus through the Minotaur’s labyrinth.) Cobb says she will be back and you can almost see him dreaming up the reason why she will return as he says it. All of the main characters are under Cobb’s direction after he accepts Saito’s idea, including Fischer; everyone except Mal. Mal is quite explicitly the personification of his regret, the thing he must overcome and release to change the quality of his life.

Perhaps ironically, Mal is the only character in Inception who is unambiguously not real and yet keeps Cobb grounded in the one unambiguous truth of the movie – that Cobb feels regret and guilt. It doesn’t matter if Cobb’s feeling of guilt is rational or deserved or imagined. It doesn’t even matter if they’re ever was a woman named Mal “in the real world” or if Cobb is still young and looks like Leonardo DiCaprio. The guilt Mal represents is real to Cobb.

And Cobb’s struggle to confront that guilt is what makes Inception ring true to me. Cobb scrappily, imaginatively, and courageously finds a way to confront guilt so powerful it won’t even allow him to imagine the faces of his own children. When he faces Mal, his guilt, it confronts him with great irrational intensity: “You killed me.” “You infected my mind.” “You betrayed me.” But you can make amends by living with your guilt – by living in the world you built together with your guilt!



Once Cobb confronts this terrible assault of guilt, Saito dies, which signifies to me that the need for Cobb to purify his guilt through enduring the pain of love lost is over. Saito is dead and Cobb knows it. Now that Cobb has confronted Mal, Mal’s ability to control Cobb is over. Mal is infuriated by this and stabs at Cobb. Ariadne is ready to kill Mal but Cobb orders Ariadne to stop. Cobb is in complete control of events now and he wants to say goodbye to Mal. Cobb can now see the way out of Cobb’s – Mal’s – guilt’s labyrinth without Ariadne.

Cobb tells Mal that “we had our time together and now I have to let go.” I believe, on some level, Cobb may mean by this that: I’ve lived with my guilt long enough. It’s time to let it go.

Then Cobb dies. He drowns in the van driven by Yusuf. At this point, both Cobb and Saito have died and are in limbo. Limbo: “The abode of unbaptized but innocent or righteous souls, as those of infants or virtuous individuals who lived before the coming of Christ (salvation); an intermediate state (of being)” (@http://www.thefreedictionary.com/limbo).



Cobb is ready to be reborn into another state of being, a state of being without Mal, without guilt.

In limbo, Cobb is bearded, disheveled and appears world-weary. He hunches over his food and holds his spoon like an old man, or a baby – slopping up the kind of soft food you serve very old people or babies without teeth.

Now, shockingly and inexplicably to me, Saito is an old man, alone, filled with regret, waiting to die alone. Why would Saito’s limbo life be the destiny that was awaiting Cobb if he did not change the quality of his being and release guilt? Saito had a wife and a mistress. Why didn’t they join him, or rather, why didn’t Saito imagine them with him in limbo?

I believe it’s because Saito was nothing more than the personification of Cobb’s ability to endure lost love and overcome regret and guilt. Once untethered from that task, Saito had no immediate usefulness for Cobb. Cobb had to decide to return, to be reborn, with Saito. It did not necessarily follow that Cobb would be willing to endure the heartache associated with love after overcoming his regret and guilt. On the contrary, many people whom overcome great feelings of loss and pain associated with lost love decide never to love again.

Cobb does not choose that path. Cobb chooses to be reborn with his ability to love, and the possibility of having to endure love lost, in tact. This time, Cobb has to tell Saito to take a leap of faith – to tell that part of himself capable of love to risk love again, however unreasonable a risk that may seem to be given what Cobb just had to overcome.

Really? I must be kidding myself. Cobb has to get Saito so Saito can honor their arrangement and Cobb can see his children again. That’s it, plain and simple, correct? This “purification wisteria” Saito as ability to love personified is a figment of my imagination – my own projection onto the movie, right?

Perhaps. Yet when Cobb finds Saito he goes beyond telling Saito it is a dream. When Saito remembers it’s a dream and asks Cobb if he came so that Saito will honor their arrangement, Cobb answers yes and to take a leap of faith. Earlier in their conversation, Saito recalls that he and Cobb were young men together. At best, that seems to mischaracterize and exaggerate the brief interaction Saito and Cobb have had to date. But, strangely, it seems to be exactly the right characterization of their relationship to Cobb. Cobb tells Saito: “Come back and we'll be young men together again.”



Come back and we’ll be young men together again? Absolutely nothing in Inception suggests that Saito and Cobb will return to a world where they will be young men together again. It makes sense though if Saito is the personification of Cobb’s ability to love and endure love’s pains and losses. At least, that’s the way I see it.



Irrespective of who or what Saito is, Cobb is in fact reborn without guilt and with his ability to love and endure its pains in tact. To me, this is confirmed by Saito’s awakening on the plane and Cobb’s ability to “return home” and look into the faces of his children – in his mind’s eye or otherwise. This rather happy ending in my opinion does not depend on Cobb’s literal return home, or his ability to look into the “real world” faces of his children.

Cobb’s change, his transformation, his rebirth, into a man without guilt who can love again is a more important reality, a more inspiring and emotionally satisfying ending, than his ability to skirt the law and hug his children again (assuming Cobb really even has any children) in my view. I’d rather imagine Cobb waking up from the dream of looking into his children’s faces again – waking up without guilt and with the ability to love again.

Listening to myself, it’s hard to believe I really believe what I just said. Doesn’t it make more sense to believe that returning to my own children would be more important to me than my feelings or state of being with respect to guilt and the ability to love? This doesn’t sound like me.

What would I need to think, believe, and feel – to deal with fictional matters and real matters with equal appreciation and respect for their importance to me? To, in a sense, not care if the top falls or endlessly spins. I don’t know, but I think I may find out. And I blame Dom Cobb.

By the way, “Dom” is a Roman Catholic Church title used before the names of Benedictine monks. One of the major vows these monks take is the conversatio moru, which is idiomatic Latin that has been translated to mean "conversion of life." “Cobb” is a variation of Jacob, which is a name that has been interpreted to mean “he who supplants” – that is, “someone who usurps the place of, especially through intrigue or underhanded tactics,” or “someone who displaces or substitutes for (another)” (@http://www.thefreedictionary.com/supplants).




Call me paranoid, but I suspect Christopher Nolan sent Cobb to perform inception on me! Cobb was sent to supplant some idea I had with another. I can’t trace the idea planted yet but I am already seeing evidence that it has taken root – not the least of which is my weird willingness to spend my valuable time trying to analyze Inception.


I am inundated by real world matters. I absolutely do not have the time to waste analyzing a year-old Hollywood sci-fi / fantasy summer blockbuster movie now showing on HBO.



Yet, here I am.



I am asking myself what kind of person would I need to be – what would I need to think, believe, and feel – to deal with fictional matters and real matters with equal appreciation and respect for their importance to me. To, in a sense, not care if the top falls or endlessly spins.

The answer I’m getting, or giving myself, which I don’t fully understand yet, is that I would have to be committed to change; a change to the quality of my world or myself. That kind of change would require new ideas and new “language.” Change I will not be able to engineer if I’m stuck using old programming languages like, for example, “COmmon Business-Oriented Language” or COBOL, one of the oldest programming languages. I believe it would require a “leap of faith” to a new state of being.

According to Wiki (@ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leap_of_faith), Søren Kierkegaard describes the core part of the leap of faith, the leap, by using the famous story of Adam and Eve, particularly Adam's qualitative leap into sin. Adam's leap signifies a change from one quality to another, mainly the quality of possessing no sin to the quality of possessing sin. Kierkegaard maintains that the transition from one quality to another can take place only by a "leap.” When the transition happens, one moves directly from one state to the other, never possessing both qualities. For Cobb, it involves a move from possessing guilt to a quality of possessing no guilt. Whatever else is ambiguous about Inception, this is not: Cobb’s guilt is real and his successful release of that guilt is real.

How and why can such fundamental change in being occur through dreams? Specifically, what is Inception telling me about the power of dreams, or shared dreaming, or movies, as it relates to the leap of faith to real change. I believe Saito is my guide to the answer.

On one level, Inception is the story of Cobb trying to steal ideas from, and then implant ideas for, Saito. First, the failure to steal an idea from Saito leaves Cobb at the mercy of Cobol Engineering; a state of being Cobb says he can live with. Next, Saito, without reasonable explanation, says he can offer Cobb an escape from that life and a return home to his children. Cobb’s first response is that no one can do that for him. Saito then instructs Cobb to choose to take a leap of faith and believe that Saito can bring Cobb home or face dying an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone.

Note the strangeness of Saito framing the choice in this way. Logically, Saito could have referred to a life on the run from Cobol, or a life missing his children. But a life filled with regret waiting to die alone? That seems like an unexplained leap of perception into Cobb to me. How could Saito know of Cobb’s fear of growing old, filled with regret, waiting to die alone? In any event, Saito has Cobb figured out exactly right, and Cobb takes the leap of faith Saito offers. (As an aside, think of how stuck Cobb would have been in his present state of being if he had allowed himself to be governed by Arthur’s rational authority. Cobb’s inspirations or “radical notions” ultimately govern Arthur throughout Inception, which is clearly to Cobb’s advantage. Otherwise, Cobb would not have been able to change his life.)

So what does Saito represent to Cobb?

One of the reasons contemplating the many messages in Inception is rewarding is because so much of it was done with such thoughtful care, including the choice of names for the central characters. The name Saito is Japanese for “purification wisteria” or “correct wisteria.” Wisteria blossoms are purple and droop in tapered clusters reminiscent of weeping willows. A Google search of “wisteria meaning” brought the following to the top of my search list @ http://www.whats-your-sign.com/wisteria-meaning.html (I’ve included the long quote below because it so perfectly describes the kind of purification or correction potential that Saito represents for (in?) Cobb in my view) --



“The wisteria meaning deals with: Honor, Memory, Patience, Endurance, Longevity, Exploration, Creative expansion, Releasing burdens, The duality of love, Victory over hardship.



As symbols of love we see the wisteria in the 1820s Japanese kabuki drama Fuji Musume (Wisteria Maiden). The Wisteria Maiden is depicted in a painting holding a wisteria branch, until one day she becomes smitten with a young man and steps out of the painting in an effort to capture his attention. Unfortunately, her attempts are futile. Her loves goes unrequited, and she sorrowfully steps back into the two-dimensional world of her lonely painting still holding her weeping wisteria.

Here the wisteria meaning and symbolism speaks of love lost, but also of the ability for the heart to endure in spite of rejection. In other words, here the weeping wisteria expresses sorrow, but it is also an incredibly durable vine, able to live (even flourish) through mistreatment and harsh conditions.”

To me, Saito represents for Cobb the ability to “correct” or “purify” himself of the torment of regret though the ability of his heart to endure in spite of rejection, unrequited love, or love lost. How or why does that work? There’s no rational reason to think it will. That’s why Arthur instructs Cobb to walk away. But Cobb takes the leap of faith, and it does work. Indeed, once Cobb accepts (or steals) that idea from Saito, or, through inception, the idea is successfully implanted in Cobb’s mind – the idea that through Saito he can avoid becoming an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone – Cobb appears to dream up how it will work.

One of my favorite, though very subtle, moments in Inception is when Ariadne walks out on Cobb and the whole Fischer enterprise. (BTW, in ancient Greek mythology, Ariadne is the woman who helps guide Theseus through the Minotaur’s labyrinth.) Cobb says she will be back and you can almost see him dreaming up the reason why she will return as he says it. All of the main characters are under Cobb’s direction after he accepts Saito’s idea, including Fischer; everyone except Mal. Mal is quite explicitly the personification of his regret, the thing he must overcome and release to change the quality of his life.

Perhaps ironically, Mal is the only character in Inception who is unambiguously not real and yet keeps Cobb grounded in the one unambiguous truth of the movie – that Cobb feels regret and guilt. It doesn’t matter if Cobb’s feeling of guilt is rational or deserved or imagined. It doesn’t even matter if they’re ever was a woman named Mal “in the real world” or if Cobb is still young and looks like Leonardo DiCaprio. The guilt Mal represents is real to Cobb.

And Cobb’s struggle to confront that guilt is what makes Inception ring true to me. Cobb scrappily, imaginatively, and courageously finds a way to confront guilt so powerful it won’t even allow him to imagine the faces of his own children. When he faces Mal, his guilt, it confronts him with great irrational intensity: “You killed me.” “You infected my mind.” “You betrayed me.” But you can make amends by living with your guilt – by living in the world you built together with your guilt!



Once Cobb confronts this terrible assault of guilt, Saito dies, which signifies to me that the need for Cobb to purify his guilt through enduring the pain of love lost is over. Saito is dead and Cobb knows it. Now that Cobb has confronted Mal, Mal’s ability to control Cobb is over. Mal is infuriated by this and stabs at Cobb. Ariadne is ready to kill Mal but Cobb orders Ariadne to stop. Cobb is in complete control of events now and he wants to say goodbye to Mal. Cobb can now see the way out of Cobb’s – Mal’s – guilt’s labyrinth without Ariadne.

Cobb tells Mal that “we had our time together and now I have to let go.” I believe, on some level, Cobb may mean by this that: I’ve lived with my guilt long enough. It’s time to let it go.

Then Cobb dies. He drowns in the van driven by Yusuf. At this point, both Cobb and Saito have died and are in limbo. Limbo: “The abode of unbaptized but innocent or righteous souls, as those of infants or virtuous individuals who lived before the coming of Christ (salvation); an intermediate state (of being)” (@http://www.thefreedictionary.com/limbo).



Cobb is ready to be reborn into another state of being, a state of being without Mal, without guilt.

In limbo, Cobb is bearded, disheveled and appears world-weary. He hunches over his food and holds his spoon like an old man, or a baby – slopping up the kind of soft food you serve very old people or babies without teeth.

Now, shockingly and inexplicably to me, Saito is an old man, alone, filled with regret, waiting to die alone. Why would Saito’s limbo life be the destiny that was awaiting Cobb if he did not change the quality of his being and release guilt? Saito had a wife and a mistress. Why didn’t they join him, or rather, why didn’t Saito imagine them with him in limbo?

I believe it’s because Saito was nothing more than the personification of Cobb’s ability to endure lost love and overcome regret and guilt. Once untethered from that task, Saito had no immediate usefulness for Cobb. Cobb had to decide to return, to be reborn, with Saito. It did not necessarily follow that Cobb would be willing to endure the heartache associated with love after overcoming his regret and guilt. On the contrary, many people whom overcome great feelings of loss and pain associated with lost love decide never to love again.

Cobb does not choose that path. Cobb chooses to be reborn with his ability to love, and the possibility of having to endure love lost, in tact. This time, Cobb has to tell Saito to take a leap of faith – to tell that part of himself capable of love to risk love again, however unreasonable a risk that may seem to be given what Cobb just had to overcome.

Really? I must be kidding myself. Cobb has to get Saito so Saito can honor their arrangement and Cobb can see his children again. That’s it, plain and simple, correct? This “purification wisteria” Saito as ability to love personified is a figment of my imagination – my own projection onto the movie, right?

Perhaps. Yet when Cobb finds Saito he goes beyond telling Saito it is a dream. When Saito remembers it’s a dream and asks Cobb if he came so that Saito will honor their arrangement, Cobb answers yes and to take a leap of faith. Earlier in their conversation, Saito recalls that he and Cobb were young men together. At best, that seems to mischaracterize and exaggerate the brief interaction Saito and Cobb have had to date. But, strangely, it seems to be exactly the right characterization of their relationship to Cobb. Cobb tells Saito: “Come back and we'll be young men together again.”



Come back and we’ll be young men together again? Absolutely nothing in Inception suggests that Saito and Cobb will return to a world where they will be young men together again. It makes sense though if Saito is the personification of Cobb’s ability to love and endure love’s pains and losses. At least, that’s the way I see it.



Irrespective of who or what Saito is, Cobb is in fact reborn without guilt and with his ability to love and endure its pains in tact. To me, this is confirmed by Saito’s awakening on the plane and Cobb’s ability to “return home” and look into the faces of his children – in his mind’s eye or otherwise. This rather happy ending in my opinion does not depend on Cobb’s literal return home, or his ability to look into the “real world” faces of his children.

Cobb’s change, his transformation, his rebirth, into a man without guilt who can love again is a more important reality, a more inspiring and emotionally satisfying ending, than his ability to skirt the law and hug his children again (assuming Cobb really even has any children) in my view. I’d rather imagine Cobb waking up from the dream of looking into his children’s faces again – waking up without guilt and with the ability to love again.

Listening to myself, it’s hard to believe I really believe what I just said. Doesn’t it make more sense to believe that returning to my own children would be more important to me than my feelings or state of being with respect to guilt and the ability to love? This doesn’t sound like me.

What would I need to think, believe, and feel – to deal with fictional matters and real matters with equal appreciation and respect for their importance to me? To, in a sense, not care if the top falls or endlessly spins. I don’t know, but I think I may find out. And I blame Dom Cobb.

By the way, “Dom” is a Roman Catholic Church title used before the names of Benedictine monks. One of the major vows these monks take is the conversatio moru, which is idiomatic Latin that has been translated to mean "conversion of life." “Cobb” is a variation of Jacob, which is a name that has been interpreted to mean “he who supplants” – that is, “someone who usurps the place of, especially through intrigue or underhanded tactics,” or “someone who displaces or substitutes for (another)” (@http://www.thefreedictionary.com/supplants).




Call me paranoid, but I suspect Christopher Nolan sent Cobb to perform inception on me! Cobb was sent to supplant some idea I had with another. I can’t trace the idea planted yet but I am already seeing evidence that it has taken root – not the least of which is my weird willingness to spend my valuable time trying to analyze Inception.


I am inundated by real world matters. I absolutely do not have the time to waste analyzing a year-old Hollywood sci-fi / fantasy summer blockbuster movie now showing on HBO.



Yet, here I am.



I am asking myself what kind of person would I need to be – what would I need to think, believe, and feel – to deal with fictional matters and real matters with equal appreciation and respect for their importance to me. To, in a sense, not care if the top falls or endlessly spins.

The answer I’m getting, or giving myself, which I don’t fully understand yet, is that I would have to be committed to change; a change to the quality of my world or myself. That kind of change would require new ideas and new “language.” Change I will not be able to engineer if I’m stuck using old programming languages like, for example, “COmmon Business-Oriented Language” or COBOL, one of the oldest programming languages. I believe it would require a “leap of faith” to a new state of being.

According to Wiki (@ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leap_of_faith), Søren Kierkegaard describes the core part of the leap of faith, the leap, by using the famous story of Adam and Eve, particularly Adam's qualitative leap into sin. Adam's leap signifies a change from one quality to another, mainly the quality of possessing no sin to the quality of possessing sin. Kierkegaard maintains that the transition from one quality to another can take place only by a "leap.” When the transition happens, one moves directly from one state to the other, never possessing both qualities. For Cobb, it involves a move from possessing guilt to a quality of possessing no guilt. Whatever else is ambiguous about Inception, this is not: Cobb’s guilt is real and his successful release of that guilt is real.

How and why can such fundamental change in being occur through dreams? Specifically, what is Inception telling me about the power of dreams, or shared dreaming, or movies, as it relates to the leap of faith to real change. I believe Saito is my guide to the answer.

On one level, Inception is the story of Cobb trying to steal ideas from, and then implant ideas for, Saito. First, the failure to steal an idea from Saito leaves Cobb at the mercy of Cobol Engineering; a state of being Cobb says he can live with. Next, Saito, without reasonable explanation, says he can offer Cobb an escape from that life and a return home to his children. Cobb’s first response is that no one can do that for him. Saito then instructs Cobb to choose to take a leap of faith and believe that Saito can bring Cobb home or face dying an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone.

Note the strangeness of Saito framing the choice in this way. Logically, Saito could have referred to a life on the run from Cobol, or a life missing his children. But a life filled with regret waiting to die alone? That seems like an unexplained leap of perception into Cobb to me. How could Saito know of Cobb’s fear of growing old, filled with regret, waiting to die alone? In any event, Saito has Cobb figured out exactly right, and Cobb takes the leap of faith Saito offers. (As an aside, think of how stuck Cobb would have been in his present state of being if he had allowed himself to be governed by Arthur’s rational authority. Cobb’s inspirations or “radical notions” ultimately govern Arthur throughout Inception, which is clearly to Cobb’s advantage. Otherwise, Cobb would not have been able to change his life.)

So what does Saito represent to Cobb?

One of the reasons contemplating the many messages in Inception is rewarding is because so much of it was done with such thoughtful care, including the choice of names for the central characters. The name Saito is Japanese for “purification wisteria” or “correct wisteria.” Wisteria blossoms are purple and droop in tapered clusters reminiscent of weeping willows. A Google search of “wisteria meaning” brought the following to the top of my search list @ http://www.whats-your-sign.com/wisteria-meaning.html (I’ve included the long quote below because it so perfectly describes the kind of purification or correction potential that Saito represents for (in?) Cobb in my view) --



“The wisteria meaning deals with: Honor, Memory, Patience, Endurance, Longevity, Exploration, Creative expansion, Releasing burdens, The duality of love, Victory over hardship.



As symbols of love we see the wisteria in the 1820s Japanese kabuki drama Fuji Musume (Wisteria Maiden). The Wisteria Maiden is depicted in a painting holding a wisteria branch, until one day she becomes smitten with a young man and steps out of the painting in an effort to capture his attention. Unfortunately, her attempts are futile. Her loves goes unrequited, and she sorrowfully steps back into the two-dimensional world of her lonely painting still holding her weeping wisteria.

Here the wisteria meaning and symbolism speaks of love lost, but also of the ability for the heart to endure in spite of rejection. In other words, here the weeping wisteria expresses sorrow, but it is also an incredibly durable vine, able to live (even flourish) through mistreatment and harsh conditions.”

To me, Saito represents for Cobb the ability to “correct” or “purify” himself of the torment of regret though the ability of his heart to endure in spite of rejection, unrequited love, or love lost. How or why does that work? There’s no rational reason to think it will. That’s why Arthur instructs Cobb to walk away. But Cobb takes the leap of faith, and it does work. Indeed, once Cobb accepts (or steals) that idea from Saito, or, through inception, the idea is successfully implanted in Cobb’s mind – the idea that through Saito he can avoid becoming an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone – Cobb appears to dream up how it will work.

One of my favorite, though very subtle, moments in Inception is when Ariadne walks out on Cobb and the whole Fischer enterprise. (BTW, in ancient Greek mythology, Ariadne is the woman who helps guide Theseus through the Minotaur’s labyrinth.) Cobb says she will be back and you can almost see him dreaming up the reason why she will return as he says it. All of the main characters are under Cobb’s direction after he accepts Saito’s idea, including Fischer; everyone except Mal. Mal is quite explicitly the personification of his regret, the thing he must overcome and release to change the quality of his life.

Perhaps ironically, Mal is the only character in Inception who is unambiguously not real and yet keeps Cobb grounded in the one unambiguous truth of the movie – that Cobb feels regret and guilt. It doesn’t matter if Cobb’s feeling of guilt is rational or deserved or imagined. It doesn’t even matter if they’re ever was a woman named Mal “in the real world” or if Cobb is still young and looks like Leonardo DiCaprio. The guilt Mal represents is real to Cobb.

And Cobb’s struggle to confront that guilt is what makes Inception ring true to me. Cobb scrappily, imaginatively, and courageously finds a way to confront guilt so powerful it won’t even allow him to imagine the faces of his own children. When he faces Mal, his guilt, it confronts him with great irrational intensity: “You killed me.” “You infected my mind.” “You betrayed me.” But you can make amends by living with your guilt – by living in the world you built together with your guilt!



Once Cobb confronts this terrible assault of guilt, Saito dies, which signifies to me that the need for Cobb to purify his guilt through enduring the pain of love lost is over. Saito is dead and Cobb knows it. Now that Cobb has confronted Mal, Mal’s ability to control Cobb is over. Mal is infuriated by this and stabs at Cobb. Ariadne is ready to kill Mal but Cobb orders Ariadne to stop. Cobb is in complete control of events now and he wants to say goodbye to Mal. Cobb can now see the way out of Cobb’s – Mal’s – guilt’s labyrinth without Ariadne.

Cobb tells Mal that “we had our time together and now I have to let go.” I believe, on some level, Cobb may mean by this that: I’ve lived with my guilt long enough. It’s time to let it go.

Then Cobb dies. He drowns in the van driven by Yusuf. At this point, both Cobb and Saito have died and are in limbo. Limbo: “The abode of unbaptized but innocent or righteous souls, as those of infants or virtuous individuals who lived before the coming of Christ (salvation); an intermediate state (of being)” (@http://www.thefreedictionary.com/limbo).



Cobb is ready to be reborn into another state of being, a state of being without Mal, without guilt.

In limbo, Cobb is bearded, disheveled and appears world-weary. He hunches over his food and holds his spoon like an old man, or a baby – slopping up the kind of soft food you serve very old people or babies without teeth.

Now, shockingly and inexplicably to me, Saito is an old man, alone, filled with regret, waiting to die alone. Why would Saito’s limbo life be the destiny that was awaiting Cobb if he did not change the quality of his being and release guilt? Saito had a wife and a mistress. Why didn’t they join him, or rather, why didn’t Saito imagine them with him in limbo?

I believe it’s because Saito was nothing more than the personification of Cobb’s ability to endure lost love and overcome regret and guilt. Once untethered from that task, Saito had no immediate usefulness for Cobb. Cobb had to decide to return, to be reborn, with Saito. It did not necessarily follow that Cobb would be willing to endure the heartache associated with love after overcoming his regret and guilt. On the contrary, many people whom overcome great feelings of loss and pain associated with lost love decide never to love again.

Cobb does not choose that path. Cobb chooses to be reborn with his ability to love, and the possibility of having to endure love lost, in tact. This time, Cobb has to tell Saito to take a leap of faith – to tell that part of himself capable of love to risk love again, however unreasonable a risk that may seem to be given what Cobb just had to overcome.

Really? I must be kidding myself. Cobb has to get Saito so Saito can honor their arrangement and Cobb can see his children again. That’s it, plain and simple, correct? This “purification wisteria” Saito as ability to love personified is a figment of my imagination – my own projection onto the movie, right?

Perhaps. Yet when Cobb finds Saito he goes beyond telling Saito it is a dream. When Saito remembers it’s a dream and asks Cobb if he came so that Saito will honor their arrangement, Cobb answers yes and to take a leap of faith. Earlier in their conversation, Saito recalls that he and Cobb were young men together. At best, that seems to mischaracterize and exaggerate the brief interaction Saito and Cobb have had to date. But, strangely, it seems to be exactly the right characterization of their relationship to Cobb. Cobb tells Saito: “Come back and we'll be young men together again.”



Come back and we’ll be young men together again? Absolutely nothing in Inception suggests that Saito and Cobb will return to a world where they will be young men together again. It makes sense though if Saito is the personification of Cobb’s ability to love and endure love’s pains and losses. At least, that’s the way I see it.



Irrespective of who or what Saito is, Cobb is in fact reborn without guilt and with his ability to love and endure its pains in tact. To me, this is confirmed by Saito’s awakening on the plane and Cobb’s ability to “return home” and look into the faces of his children – in his mind’s eye or otherwise. This rather happy ending in my opinion does not depend on Cobb’s literal return home, or his ability to look into the “real world” faces of his children.

Cobb’s change, his transformation, his rebirth, into a man without guilt who can love again is a more important reality, a more inspiring and emotionally satisfying ending, than his ability to skirt the law and hug his children again (assuming Cobb really even has any children) in my view. I’d rather imagine Cobb waking up from the dream of looking into his children’s faces again – waking up without guilt and with the ability to love again.

Listening to myself, it’s hard to believe I really believe what I just said. Doesn’t it make more sense to believe that returning to my own children would be more important to me than my feelings or state of being with respect to guilt and the ability to love? This doesn’t sound like me.

What would I need to think, believe, and feel – to deal with fictional matters and real matters with equal appreciation and respect for their importance to me? To, in a sense, not care if the top falls or endlessly spins. I don’t know, but I think I may find out. And I blame Dom Cobb.

By the way, “Dom” is a Roman Catholic Church title used before the names of Benedictine monks. One of the major vows these monks take is the conversatio moru, which is idiomatic Latin that has been translated to mean "conversion of life." “Cobb” is a variation of Jacob, which is a name that has been interpreted to mean “he who supplants” – that is, “someone who usurps the place of, especially through intrigue or underhanded tactics,” or “someone who displaces or substitutes for (another)” (@http://www.thefreedictionary.com/supplants).




Call me paranoid, but I suspect Christopher Nolan sent Cobb to perform inception on me! Cobb was sent to supplant some idea I had with another. I can’t trace the idea planted yet but I am already seeing evidence that it has taken root – not the least of which is my weird willingness to spend my valuable time trying to analyze Inception.

Also on Fandom

Random Wiki