Friday, December 10, 2010

Inception and the Three dimensions of Power

Christopher Nolan´s science fiction thriller "Inception" has been  a massive phenomenon this year, yet it took me this long to actually have seen it. Was it as good as they claim? Yes, it was- albeit not as difficult to comprehend as some argue.

The whole plot centers around corporate espionage thieves, led by a man named Dominic Cobb (played by Leonardo DiCaprio). The thieves extract information out of the heads of the unsuspecting victims through means of shared dreaming. While dreaming, the mind is vulnerable and reveals the secrets to the voyers in the same dream space. But then the normal mission turns to something more daring: the attempt is to implant an idea into a person´s head, making him believe it is his own. The way to do this is "Inception": a-three-layered dream within a dream within a dream.

This whole idea reminds me of the concept on three dimensions of power, as visioned by Steven Lukes  (Power: a Radical View).
In the first dimension, the use of power over the other party is clearly visible to both sides (shall we say A and B). In the second dimension, the whole agenda is outlined by the party with power (A). So the issues B might have an interest in are not discussed or even a possibility. The reality is outlined by A, but B knows this.
Now, in the third dimension of power, the first and second dimension are incorporated. Use of power does not need to be visible or even an issue. The situation is deemed as natural, and B believes this to be in the best interest of him. B might even think the grand order is his idea. Complicated?  Lukes´ book is a fascinating read, and highly recommended for those who are interested in these sorts of things.

Christopher Nolan designed his screenplay for nine long years, and the initial idea resembled a horror movie. Luckily for us, he decided to turn it into a scifi heist film. In order to stay focused on his grand plot, he used this mind map of the three-layered heist:



Anonymous said...

Well, the movie was awesome, propably the best one this year. But, it wasn't difficult to understand, except afterwards when you start reading all these explanations about "what everything ment" and then you're really screwed....Before everyone explaining what it meant, I thought I understood it all ;O)

krista said...

good point. Maybe people are trying to conceptualize it too much. Reminds me of the "Matrix"-discussions, when it was released.