The Plight of the Post-Doc


What we can all learn from Inception

If you felt like going to the movies in my grad school town, you just, you know, went to the movies.  You met up with your friends maybe 15-20 min before showtime, bought tickets, got seats. Normal, right?  This is not the case in New York.  At least, this is not the case in New York if you want to see anything even remotely new, popular, critically acclaimed, artsy, or in IMAX--if Knight and Day is at the top of your queue, by all means, live in the moment.  

Not only are most movies worth seeing sold out hours before showtime here, but people line up crazy early to get the best seats.  Like, 90 minutes early.  For a city whose residents always seem to have somewhere to go and something to do, New Yorkers love waiting in line.  We wait in line for cupcakes, to get into Trader Joe's, and of course, for Apple products.  The immense planning and standing around (not to mention pre-order ticket surcharges) required to enjoy a night at the movies means that J and I only head to the cinema when it's something we really feel like we need to see on the big screen, which means that we pretty much only see things in IMAX.  Go big or go home, amirite?

This weekend we capped off a lovely day of water-based activities with the 1 am showing of Inception at the Lincoln Center IMAX.  

It.  Was.  AWESOME.  

I want to marry this movie.  It's beautifully shot, clever but not overly smug, impeccably edited, and has a well-thought out internal logic that's surprisingly followable and mostly consistent.  The themes, too, go well beyond the whole Matrix-y what-is-"real"-reality business, and I thought there were some pretty good messages that basically anyone could take home and apply to their own lives.

One of the big ideas in Inception is that of not letting your past decisions haunt you--actively choosing not to be crippled by regret.  It's what LDC's character has to do in order to Get the Job Done, and as a reminder, Edith Piaf's "Non, je ne regrette rien" wafts in throughout the movie, penetrating each dreamer's consciousness, signaling an imminent return to wakefulness.    

I'm currently writing up a project I did over the last year or so, and I'm realizing I could have done it better.  Not that what I did isn't scientifically sound, but if I'd made some different decisions--say, collected blood from my animals, or used a different method of euthanasia, I could be asking a lot more interesting and revealing questions.  At this point in the game, every publication I put out is important, and I feel like I didn't really maximize this one's potential.  

And no, I can't do it again.  I've got neither the time nor the money (nor, to quote Nicholson, the inclination) to re-do everything.  What I can do is make the most of the data I do have, find the most appropriate journal for it, and allow all those "if I'd only"'s not to get me down, but to fuel my future work.  

Like Leo, I have a Job to Get Done.  You probably do too!  And like Leo, we have all probably made some decisions we wish we hadn't.  The key to success, just as Leo learned, is to face those decisions head on, acknowledge them, but refuse to let them own us.  OK?  It's settled, then.  Can we pinky swear on this?


PS- Candid Engineer also has a similarly-themed post up now.  Go read, if you haven't already (though you probably have)!


Anonymous said...

It comes out today in antipodeanlanddownunder.

Can't wait.

I haven't heard people talk so much about a movie since the Matrix1 or Pulp Fiction or Fight Club or the Usual suspects.

Awesome. Must find out if it's on Imax.


Candid Engineer said...

ZOMG, it was the best movie EVAH. We bought tickets the day before and showed up an hour early to see it in IMAX on Sunday night. Absolutely loved it, and I can't wait to see it again.

Do your best! No regrets! Yes, the movie did fit in with the themes of my mind as of late...

Anonymous said...

You should try the Regal theater in Battery Park (2 blocks west of the WTC). They often have tickets available for new movies if you walk up 5 minutes ahead of showtime, no problem.

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