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The Truman Show

A medieval view of the world.

"The Truman Show" is a film about a man, Truman Burbank, who lives a false life. Everything in his whole world is faked up. His wife is an actress playing his wife. Where he works is not really engaged in the business he thinks he's working in, but rather in a fake up of it. It's all a reality TV show and Truman has no clue because he was childreared into the show, so, for him, it is all real reality. But, like the man in the classic Medieval cosmographics picture (above), there is a real world beyond the bowl of heaven inside the TV studio where Truman lives his life thinking it's all really real. But it isn't. Maybe his name is "Truman" like Harry Truman who was (are we sure?) a true man: "The buck stops here" was the sign on his desk. And "Burbank" is where TV studios are located.

"The Truman Show" is an epistemological movie. It is fun but it is also profound: Are you, my reader, really really really sure you are not living in a faked up world, and if not faked up by Hollywood, then by the Abrahamic Deity, who, since He is Omnipotent and can do anything, maybe cooked up the fossil record to look like the universe is billions of years old when in reality He made it all in 7 days. Ot let's go back to Patrick McGoohan's classic TV series "The Prisoner". Is The Village populated by former spies who have had their minds fried? Or are they all actors trying to help find out who Number 6 was working for?

"Cogito ergo sum", of course. But what is the "I" who/that famously appears in the English translation? "I think therefore I am" -- who 'dat? Aren't I (e.g., you, my reader) being lived by my life at least as much as I am the captain of the ship of my soul? Where does any new ideaI have come from? It can't accountably come from me because then, ex hypothesi, it would not be new for me. In a New York Times interview in summer of 2021, Bob Dylan said that the lyrics of many of his songs "come to him" and he writes them down by taking inner dictation. What is real?

But does it matter? Of course it matters whether what I perceive as a mark on what I perceive on my arm is really a melanoma which I believe can kill me and I also believe would make me suffer a lot on the way to that final destination, or not. But what can I do besides asking whom I believe is a physician whom I believe should know something about this matter, about it? You do the best you can with the hand you've been dealt, yes?

On the other hand, what does any of this matter except in such situations of danger? I find Heraclitus's fragments very interesting to study. What difference would it make if some script writer in Hollywood had cooked them up for his my version of The Truman Show? Or if the proverbial monkey had generated them on a typewriter (they are short, so the probably of them happening by accident is not terribly small, like, say, a logorrheic Dickens novel)? Heraclitus's fragments are either worth studying or not, irrespetive of their provenance, yes?

The moral of this story is: Apart from exigencies of threats to one's material bodily/"spiritual" integrity, you can't go wrong if you treat everything anybody says as material for analysis not candidates for belief. Satan get thee hence! Rebbes get thee hence! The Revered Martin Luther King, Jr. get thee hence {I've seen the Promised Land and I don't trust that the light at the end of the tunnel is not a Vietcong with a flashlight). I want to live like Masud Khan wanted to live but the petty people around him didn't like it, so, since he did not, like Marshall McLuhan, have tenure, they did him in: Play with reality (that's a riff on the title of Donald Winnicott's last book which Khan edited). As psychoanalysts say but don't generally mean: "Everything is grist for the mill" [including, if you are his, her or other's patient, the analyst's own sexual and other fantaaies and behaviors in real life!].

Was it Albert Camus who said that he imagined that Sisyphus was happy? If I'm in a The Truman Show, I'm playing with my unnown TV show production crew along with them playing with me. What'cha doing' tonite, folks? Or am I making you work overtime? bradmcc@bmccedd.org  
 
 

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BMcC signature seal stamp. Modelled on 18th century messenger's letter box in collection of Suntory Museum, Tokyo. Japanese write poems and prayers on slips of paper which they tie into knots like this shape although with longer legs. Prayers are often tied to branches of trees which can look like they are covered with snow. "Symbol of a symbol, image of an image, emerging from the destiny that is sinking into darkness...." (H. Broch, "The Sleepwalkers", p.648) Always remember. Add value. (This image created not later than 21 May 2003)Invenit et fecit


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2022-06-16 20:50:59