The Decay of Place by Ad Hamilton04/08/2010
The Decay of Place
Further Adventures in Inception
By Ad Hamilton
*A rejoinder to You’re Not Wrong | Inception.
If you’re struggling to find the economic or social commentary here, I’d suggest the setup of Inception speaks for itself: Failing to resolve a daddy issue for some conglomerate’s heir apparent will result in a global energy monopoly. How did a child of no known achievement get in this position? Which is to say, how did some 24-year-olds at Lehman Brothers take down the West?
That the characters don’t sit in a dreamy bowling alley and voice these questions is just a matter of approach to the material.
For me, the film is much more about another problem of global capitalism: dislocation and the decay of place. Cobb earns huge fees, and is, in a sense, the most powerful individual in the world, but he can’t get home, even the smoking hole that’s left of it, without killing off a part of himself. The totems are the only link the characters have to even know if their physical position is real, let alone relevant or fulfilling.
Compounding this personal dislocation is a professional Disneyfication: the team creates endlessly diverting, ephemeral setpieces for adventure. We found Ellen Page, the best young architect in the world, and asked her to build us a video game to be populated by projections and only seen by six people, and she said it sounded like a dream job (no pun intended).
These people are as rootless as a Chinese I-Phone maker, and their work is as pointlessly ephemeral as an online advertising campaign, but like both, their banal existence is essential to the smooth hum of global production.
I don’t think the characters need to “explore” these themes. The need to fall down elevator shafts, plunge off bridges, or literally commit suicide to get out of this hellscape is sufficient commentary.
Ad Hamilton’s series “Single Servings” can be read here >>