I wish. I wish more than anything. But I can’t imagine you with all your complexity, all your perfection, all your imperfection. Look at you. You are just a shade of my real wife. You’re the best I can do; but I’m sorry, you are just not good enough.
I mentioned in my previous post that Ariadne was the only symbolic name in Cobb’s dream, but now I’m not so sure about that. I was thinking lately why Cobb’s projection of his wife is so malicious, when it hit me… His wife’s name, or at least his projection of her, is called Mal. You know, as in malicious. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but then again, perhaps not. Remember, mal means “bad” in French, and Marion Cotillard, the actress playing Mal is also French. Coincidence? No, when it comes to Christopher Nolan’s movies, I don’t believe much in coincidences.
What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient… highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it’s almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed – fully understood – that sticks; right in there somewhere.
However, I wasn’t sure at first what to make of this Mal. Why is Cobb’s projection of her so malicious?
Is it merely a projection of his guilt, or is it something even more sinister? Something that lies much deeper within his subconscious? Is it the inner voice we all possess within us, the voice that clings to us, trying to drag us down in its negative spiral? The voice that constantly reminds us of our regrets, our failings, our fears, our doubts, the voice that grabs us by the throat and refuses to let go. This may be the true inception which we all deal with to a certain degree. How often have we not believed so strongly in the idea that we have failed in some way. An idea that often has no real basis in reality, but is purely incepted by that malicious inner voice.
I miss you more than I can bear… but we had our time together. And now I have to let go…
If this is the case, then Inception is not merely about Cobb trying to cope with the loss of his wife, as terrible as that may be. Cobb is actually locked in a struggle against himself, a struggle to retain possession of his consciousness, a struggle that almost of us are probably familiar with. In that regard, the presence of Ariadne takes on even more significance than what I implied earlier. Ariadne is the other voice we possess within, and she and Mal are basically two sides of the same coin. If Mal is the voice that tries to drag us down, the parasite that clings to us through our pain, then Ariadne is the voice that lifts us up by enabling us to let go of that pain.
I kind of regret now that Mal didn’t play a much more prominent role in my initial article on Inception, but it’s her that I had the most trouble writing about, and I just grew frustrated and impatient before I had a chance to think it through properly. In fact, I regret that I published the whole article much too soon. In this specific case, I should have listened to my inner critic and taken the time to work on it. It should have been much more about the contradictions between Ariadne and Mal. The kind, understanding voice that is always with us through even our darkest moments versus the parasitic, malicious voice that always appears out of nowhere hoping to tear us down. If there is a topic I am obsessed about, a topic that really applies to me, it is this everlasting struggle between our inner good and our inner evil. I curse myself for being so impatient and that I didn’t recognize this much sooner; sometimes we can be so oblivious to what should be most obvious…