Monday, August 2, 2010

Inception - A Movie Only A Dead Argentinian Librarian Could Love

Have you seen Inception?

I saw it the other night and all I could think was "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius."

That is an exaggeration. I did think of other things, like how much I liked the vintage urinals in the movie theater and where my carb count was for the day and would a small movie popcorn have that big of an effect on it.

But the movie did remind me very much of the first short story from the Jorge Luis Borges collection Labyrinths. 

In particular, the concept of complete world invention through thought.
The dream creation and construction that Leonardo DiCaprio and his revue were involved in was equal to world-building but the people who experienced those worlds were only living them through sensations, not through actual objects. This addresses the concept of idealism, an theory that our true reality is solely made up of the mind and not through material things.
In "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius", a large group of intellectuals and philosophers sought to create the world of Tlon through pure thought and insert it into society. By rewriting history and planting it in the libraries and encyclopedias of the world, they started to change the way people actually thought about the real world and they began to change what the world was.

Borges was aware of his influential place in society because he was a librarian and a librarian is an information specialist, acting as the arbiter of knowledge for their community and planting ideas in the populace, which is something I now appreciate as I used to think that a librarian's purpose was served in handing out the bathroom key, explaining why my glossy picture of pro wrestler Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka wouldn't properly be photocopied, and acting as a low-level authority in regional record bin disputes.

I think that what drives Wikileaks mad with paranoia to become a chronic version of your Mom looking under your mattress is the idea of institutionalized idealism on a larger scale. If our realities can be dictated and changed by information, then we may be (or already been!) subjected to a false version of what our world already is. That's exactly what every fascist government has tried to do - re-write history to make it your new reality. Take the example of Leon Trotsky, who was erased from Soviet History until 1989, despite being one of it's creators:

Here is Lenin and Trotsky having a grand old time ringing in the Bolshevik Revolution:

And here's Trotsky being "extracted":
Of course, it's not going into your dreams to fiddle with things but you don't need to physically be there to put something in it.

More on Borges later, but in the meantime, allow me to make good on some unfinished business: