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Why couldn't Cobb just spin the totem for Mal to convince her she's in reality?

At one point we see (In Cobb's memories) Mal playing with the top. It can be assumed that she spun the top of her own volition. It's just that the idea that her world wasn't real had so taken over her thoughts that she wouldn't even believe what she had always known to be truth before. That is how resilient and parasitic an idea is.

In addition, totems can only be used to prove that one is not in someone else's dream. If Mal's totem stopped spinning this could only prove to Mal that she's not in someone else's dream but she could very well be in her own dream.

Interesting point: Cobb planted the (spinning) totem in Mal's safe, and in so doing he implanted the idea in Mal that her world was not real. Presumably, Mal must have opened the safe at some future point, and saw it still spinning by itself (the totem had to leave the safe again for Cobb to use it as his own). This is a little paradoxical. Mal must have believed in the totem if, on opening the safe, she was to be persuaded that her world was unreal. But once persuaded, she apparently no longer believed in the totem - it's toppling didn't convince her of the reality of reality. But if she didn't believe in the totem any more, why is she still persuaded by the unreality argument? The totem had planted the idea in the first place! Paradox!   SO confusing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

Anon_170 asked the question 2010-07-30 08:25:36 UTC view / hide
Devon provided an answer 2010-08-02 00:18:40 UTC view / hide
Anon_271 commented 2010-08-04 00:56:06 UTC
I don't think thats true. When Arthur is explaining to Ariadne the idea of a totem, he tells her that she can't hold his die, because then she could presumably trick him by creating the same die in her own dream. This means that a totem cannot be created by anyone else, so if your totem works (e.g. Mal's totem stops spinning) you can't be in anyones dream. Although for Mal, she does mention that in her dreams, the totem never stops.
Anon_179 commented 2010-08-04 06:41:54 UTC
It is simple. One's totem shouldn't be known or reveal to others. Cobb mentioned that to Ariadne. Mal won't believe it if Cobb spin her totem in her face.
Anon_111 improved the answer 2010-08-04 13:58:04 UTC view / hide
Anon_111 improved the answer 2010-08-04 13:58:27 UTC view / hide
Anon_118 improved the answer 2010-08-05 02:27:45 UTC view / hide
Anon_103 improved the answer 2010-08-05 14:25:14 UTC view / hide
tardnug commented 2011-01-10 16:30:05 UTC
"If Mal's totem stopped spinning this could only prove to Mal that she's not in someone else's dream but she could very well be in her own dream"

either way Mal was convinced that they were in Cobb's dream. not her own....therefore spinning the totem wouldve proved that she was in reality... the only thing i can think of would be that the idea became so engrained in her mind that she just wouldnt believe anything else
Mark Roder improved the answer 2011-01-11 07:23:03 UTC view / hide
saiskee commented 2011-02-13 16:06:29 UTC
ugh
saiskee commented 2011-02-13 16:06:44 UTC
so much confusion
saiskee improved the answer 2011-02-13 21:07:51 UTC view / hide
Anon_241 improved the question 2011-03-04 22:28:56 UTC view / hide
pleasestopthisnow improved the answer 2011-03-04 22:29:06 UTC view / hide
Devon improved the question 2011-04-05 08:41:29 UTC view / hide
Devon improved the answer 2011-04-05 08:41:34 UTC view / hide
Jennifer McCandless commented 2013-06-12 18:41:21 UTC
For the "Interesting Point," Mal never had to open the safe again. She basically put the top in there, not spinning, and promptly put it out of her mind.

Cobb found the top; he spun the top; it continued to spin; Mal felt like Limbo was no longer her reality; they committed suicide by train to leave Limbo.

Those "constructs" they created in Limbo remain, including the safe. However, they themselves and what they brought with them to Limbo (such as the top) did not. This is supported by the fact that Cobb can take Mal's top with him into his own dreams now, because he carries the original (which we see him find on the hotel floor in the flashback to the night of Mal's death). It is not literally spinning in Limbo per se long after Mal's death.

The thing is that the idea that Cobb created in Mal, of her world not being reality, continued to reverberate in her psyche, and there was no way to fix it because they had left Limbo where the idea was originally implanted.

Jennifer McCandless commented 2013-06-12 18:41:39 UTC
For the "Interesting Point," Mal never had to open the safe again. She basically put the top in there, not spinning, and promptly put it out of her mind.

Cobb found the top; he spun the top; it continued to spin; Mal felt like Limbo was no longer her reality; they committed suicide by train to leave Limbo.

Those "constructs" they created in Limbo remain, including the safe. However, they themselves and what they brought with them to Limbo (such as the top) did not. This is supported by the fact that Cobb can take Mal's top with him into his own dreams now, because he carries the original (which we see him find on the hotel floor in the flashback to the night of Mal's death). It is not literally spinning in Limbo per se long after Mal's death.

The thing is that the idea that Cobb created in Mal, of her world not being reality, continued to reverberate in her psyche, and there was no way to fix it because they had left Limbo where the idea was originally implanted.

Jennifer McCandless commented 2013-06-12 18:41:43 UTC
For the "Interesting Point," Mal never had to open the safe again. She basically put the top in there, not spinning, and promptly put it out of her mind.

Cobb found the top; he spun the top; it continued to spin; Mal felt like Limbo was no longer her reality; they committed suicide by train to leave Limbo.

Those "constructs" they created in Limbo remain, including the safe. However, they themselves and what they brought with them to Limbo (such as the top) did not. This is supported by the fact that Cobb can take Mal's top with him into his own dreams now, because he carries the original (which we see him find on the hotel floor in the flashback to the night of Mal's death). It is not literally spinning in Limbo per se long after Mal's death.

The thing is that the idea that Cobb created in Mal, of her world not being reality, continued to reverberate in her psyche, and there was no way to fix it because they had left Limbo where the idea was originally implanted.

Jennifer McCandless commented 2013-06-12 18:42:04 UTC
For the "Interesting Point," Mal never had to open the safe again. She basically put the top in there, not spinning, and promptly put it out of her mind.

Cobb found the top; he spun the top; it continued to spin; Mal felt like Limbo was no longer her reality; they committed suicide by train to leave Limbo.

Those "constructs" they created in Limbo remain, including the safe. However, they themselves and what they brought with them to Limbo (such as the top) did not. This is supported by the fact that Cobb can take Mal's top with him into his own dreams now, because he carries the original (which we see him find on the hotel floor in the flashback to the night of Mal's death). It is not literally spinning in Limbo per se long after Mal's death.

The thing is that the idea that Cobb created in Mal, of her world not being reality, continued to reverberate in her psyche, and there was no way to fix it because they had left Limbo where the idea was originally implanted.

Jennifer McCandless commented 2013-06-12 18:42:09 UTC
For the "Interesting Point," Mal never had to open the safe again. She basically put the top in there, not spinning, and promptly put it out of her mind.

Cobb found the top; he spun the top; it continued to spin; Mal felt like Limbo was no longer her reality; they committed suicide by train to leave Limbo.

Those "constructs" they created in Limbo remain, including the safe. However, they themselves and what they brought with them to Limbo (such as the top) did not. This is supported by the fact that Cobb can take Mal's top with him into his own dreams now, because he carries the original (which we see him find on the hotel floor in the flashback to the night of Mal's death). It is not literally spinning in Limbo per se long after Mal's death.

The thing is that the idea that Cobb created in Mal, of her world not being reality, continued to reverberate in her psyche, and there was no way to fix it because they had left Limbo where the idea was originally implanted.

Earl Cooper commented 2014-01-03 16:57:40 UTC
You have to accept that something is true in order to believe. Belief requires an initial truth. Once belief is established it can no longer be challenged by the subsequent establishment of truth. This is why once established by the acceptance of alleged historical truth, religion can not be challenged by modern science. Believers believe based on the "truth" of historical events and then the belief can not be undone. Yes it is a paradox called inception.

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