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What’s the most resilient parasite? An idea. A single idea from the human mind can build cities. An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules.

This is the core premise of Christopher Nolan‘s new blockbuster Inception. I saw it last night. Inception is big, thrilling, mind-bending, and smart. (Smart for a blockbuster, I mean). I’d say it’s this decade’s Matrix. Watch the trailer on YouTube here, so you know what we’re talking about.

Let’s get into each other’s minds, deep into the subconscious. Let’s lucid dream for profit or power. Meh, who cares about profit or power but it certainly would be fun to walk about inside other people’s heads. (Being John Malkovich, anyone?)

Waking Life is a trip

I have long been fascinated by dream life. We spend one-third of our lives in another plane of existence where pretty much anything goes – we can fly, shape shift, jump through time and space, make love to strangers, murder friends, give speeches, eat muffins, become unicorns, climb mountains, escape the law, talk to dead relatives, or play drums in our favourite bands. We become masters of our own bizarre universes each night, and then we wake up and go to work and barely think about it until the next night’s epic adventure, battle, or love story begins.

That begs contemplation surely. What are dreams? And are we certain we can tell the difference between the “real” world and the dream world? This question, too, is raised in Inception.

In honour of the blessed state of dreaming, I present you my list of 5 great musings on dream life:

1. Waking Life (2001)
Oh man, this film is a mind-bender. It will rip open your cranium, poke around, expose all the flaws in our waking state, and leave you panting for more. Our protagonist shuffles around talking to eccentrics and philosophers about waking life and dream states, asking ever more provoking questions of himself and his reality. It was animated over real-life footage to become a dreamy trip through a beautiful and interesting world. I have used the light switch trick a number of times now, just to check. Watch the trailer here, seriously it is one of the best films you will find, both cool and smart.

Borges loved to blur the distinction between dream and reality

2. The Circular Ruins by Jorge Luis Borges
This short story from Borges’ Ficciones collection is haunting and truly beautiful. “The purpose which guided him was not impossible, though supernatural. He wanted to dream a man; he wanted to dream him in minute entirety and impose him on reality.” Is that not the dream of every writer?

3. Mulholland Drive (2001)
It’s just a dream. Another bizarre, perverse dream from the mind of David Lynch. Watch the trailer to get a taste. Be warned though, it’s a head scratcher. I had to watch it twice to even begin to understand it.

4. The Interpretation of Dreams, and On Dreams by Sigmund Freud
Freudian psychoanalysis applied to dreams which, according to the good doctor, provide a direct view of one’s subconscious. It’s all about wish-fulfillment and conflict resolutions supposedly. Interesting reading.

5. Inception (2010)
Multi-level lucid dreaming = fun.

Have any of you read or watched anything interesting on the topic that you can recommend?

And tell me, have you dreamed any big dreams lately?

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In a similar vein to an earlier post about books that get your knees knocking for adventure, let’s consider some films that evoke the freedom of the road, the wonder of nature, and the thrill of adventure. Here are six films that will make you wish you were richer than Bill Gates and could just spend the rest of your life travelling:

Baraka was filmed in 24 countries

1. Baraka (1992, Planet Earth)

This is the movie to see if you are even remotely interested in, well, life. If you have a passion for travel, photography, the natural world, or cultures then this film will probably have you mesmerised.

Read a review of Baraka by Eric Young.

2. The Motorcycle Diaries (2004, South America)

I watched this the night before I flew to South America to begin my own adventures, so it naturally resonated with me. While it is interesting to watch the social awakening in the young Che Guevara, and I defy you not to get a little misty during the river-crossing scene, it is the backdrop of mid-century South America – her landscapes, people, suffering, and beauty – that is the real scene-stealer.

Read a review of The Motorcycle Diaries on Ainulindale.

3. Into the Wild (2007, USA)

Directed by Sean Penn, it has been called his “love letter to America.” The film follows the travels of twenty-three year old Chris AKA Alexander Supertramp who finishes college, donates his life savings to Oxfam, and drives to Arizona where he parks in the desert, burns the money in his pockets, and walks off into the wild, determined to be alive in the world and, ultimately, to live off the land in Alaska.

Read a review of Into the Wild from sitting in the dark.

Peter Jackson's epic trilogy put New Zealand on the map

4. Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001, 2002 and 2003, New Zealand)

Something like one third of tourism in New Zealand these days is a result of people watching the Lord of the Rings and being floored by the scenery. The Tourism NZ department has joked that it was a 9 hour advertisement for the country. It’s pretty stunning.

Read a review of Lord of the Rings by JonnyB.

5. 3-Iron (2004, South Korea)

This film is a real charmer, although it has neither epic landscapes nor postcard picture scenery. I just remember being so interested in all the tiny details – what the apartments were like, the streets, the clothing – and determining to visit South Korea (I still haven’t but I’m still determined to).

Read a review of 3-Iron by Marcello.

6. Pride & Prejudice (2005, England)

For those Jane Austen fans among us. If you are loyally partial to the BBC adaptation don’t worry, Kiera Knightley does a better Lizzie than you’d expect. T he scenery in this film will make your heart pound and your breathing shallow (as will the sight of Mr. Darcy walking through the rain towards you). A guilty pleasure that will have you checking our airfares to England on Expedia.

Read a review of Pride & Prejudice by Katherine Cox.

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