Courtesy Warner Bros

We get inspiration from a variety of places. It might not even be intentional. We catch sight of something, hear a snippet of conversation or music, and suddenly our mind is off on an unexpected tangent. Inspiration runs away with our concentration, laughs at our attempts to focus and taunts us with ideas and dreams until we finally sit down and bang things into some form of coherent work.

Let me give you an example, and I’ll speak in general terms rather than specifics. Maybe you’ll figure out something in the process, or maybe you’ll just be amused or entertained. It’s the least I can hope for.

Inception is pretty inspirational just in terms of getting an audience thinking, and it’s been on my mind pretty much since I’ve seen it. In particular of late, however, has been this piece of music used in its last trailer: “Mind Heist” by Zack Hemsey.


So why is this music from Inception making me think of this particular character? In thinking about it, there’s one line in the trailer that stuck out. Cobb says to Ariadne, regarding extraction, “Well… it’s not, strictly speaking, legal.”

The things this character does are not, strictly speaking, good.

He has a good goal in mind, like Tyler Durden looking to free the world from the bondage of corporate greed. And he may help someone in need, but only if it suits him. The means at his disposal almost all fall into the realm of dark magics, he consorts with demons, he’s an intellectual snob and shows a lot of signs of being a sociopath. He’ll hear something he’s done or is doing called “evil,” agree, and laugh about it.

But why?

We have to go a layer deeper, like diving into another layer of dreams. We need to uncover what motivates or at least gave rise to this sociopathy, even if it’s of a heroic nature. What might people consider evil, among his actions? Well, evil people tend to destroy things. Going back to the Fight Club example, at times something must be destroyed in order for something better to be created.

In the world in which our subject lives, there are malevolent forces far worse than he. If he wants to continue to enjoy life in general, and his particular lifestyle in particular, the world must be prepared to face and fight back against those forces. I am suddenly reminded a line from The Boondock Saints:

“There are varying degrees of evil. We urge you lesser forms of filth not to push the bounds and cross over, into true corruption; into our domain.”

I think that’s it. His goal, the underlying motivation for all he does, is to cultivate within himself the power to stand against evil forces on equal footing, unhindered by the constraints of societal morality and seeking a form of karmic, cosmic justice. He has seen evil, stared it in the face, and chosen to become, not the antithesis of it, but a rival of it, a rival firmly on the side of his allies but cut from the same diabolical cloth. To this end he must bend his will and all of his intent, playing things off with casual humor, devilish charm and ruthless cunning. Good cannot exist without evil, after all, and if one is necessitated to become evil, one might as well enjoy the experience.

Now that I’ve found the roots of this inspiration, all I need to do is put it in story form.

Have you ever explored inspiration like this? What have your experiences been? What were the results?