THE PRISONER REMAKE – BRAIN IN A VAT REVISITED? OR THE MATRIX PART IV?

The long-awaited remake of the 1967 classic “the Prisoner” finally arrived in six episodes on cable this past three days and it actually was terrific.

it was very cool that they used original titles from the original episodes, but totally reworked the plot lines. Harmony in the original was a western shootemup, but was something different i this

Except for the weird ending. Which if you haven’t seen it, stop reading this blog now and go see it on rerun or buy the dvd or whatever.

ok, now let’s discuss what happened.

first, go read my prior post at https://pedrofeliz3b.wordpress.com/2009/11/01/i-am-not-a-number%E2%80%94i-am-a-free-man-the-prisoner-1967-about-to-be-remade-on-cable-tv/

entitled I AM NOT A NUMBER—I AM A FREE MAN!!! THE PRISONER (1967) ABOUT TO BE REMADE ON CABLE TV.

OK, we’re oriented.

The ending would have us believe that the village does not actually exist, but is a concept in someone’s mind. actually it’s a bit more complex than that, something about actuating our subconscious and living in it as if it were an alternate reality, but in order for it to happen, someone, either #2’s wife or the new #2, who ends up being #6, has his new girlfriend be the dreamer who dreams it all up in HER mind…

This is actually the “brain in a vat” theory expounded upon countless times in theory of mind, philosophy of mind and psych classes.

imagine if everything around us–everything–weren’t real and we were actually a brain in a vat?

ok, now imagine if everything around us weren’t real, but was someone else’s brain imagining what we’re experiencing, and she was the brain in the vat conjuring it all up?

and if she woke up and stopped conjuring, we’d see the world for what it was and the village would fade away….and we’d be back to reality….

the link to montague semantics and lewis alternate worlds posits are too startling to be coincidental.

the alternate realities also mirror another show, the Dollhouse, in which alternate personalities are imprinted on people by means of technology to the extent that their own memories cease to exist, and every different show becomes an alternate reality or universe of that imprint. Unfortunately, that show has been cancelled, but inevitably, like the Prisoner and the remake of the Prisoner, it is destined to become a legendary classic due to the issues it raises.

the remake of the prisoner actually takes not only as logically posible, but as true, lewis’ view that alternative worlds and alternative outcomes are of course logically possible, in short that all modals are equally plausible. All modal possibles are seen as equaly plausible and logical in the context of the Prisoner.

for example, in the real world, #2 and his wife cannot have a child, but in the dream world of the village, which is completely real to them, they have a child, 11-12. and he believes completely and fully that he is real. he even wants to leave the village, oblivious to the fact that he has no existence outside of the construct of the village.

Thus, if we can’t have a child, then we can have a child. Nothing is false, nothing is true. Thus, the ancient Protagoras was right when he said, quite literally, that he could prove any proposition true and false at the same time.

this is so lewis-montague possible worlds like that it’s scary.

and very much like the matrix, which in turn was based very much upon baudrillard, lewis and montague.

all of this too upon susan sontag’s “on photography” which argues that the plethora of visual images in todays society creates a cognitive distortion within us all in which what we see, images that we see, exert too strong a force upon us in terms of our interpretation of reality. In Sontag’s view, images can replace reality.

boy was that prescient.

this is very similar to what baudrillard argues, and sontag of course follows closely many of the french post-modernist deconstructionist writers in her seminal work and others like Artaud.

the remake of the Prisoner is nothing if not a seminal post-modern re-interpretation of the 1967 classic science fiction work.

the issues it raises about what is real, what ought to be real, and what we have a right to expect from life, from reality, from alternatives to reality, and from logic and life itself, are deep and moving.

I found this mini-series compelling and thoughtful.

Needless to say, Ian McKellen as #2, and Jim Caviezel as #6, acting performances were outstanding, as were Ruth Wilson as #313, along with many other fine actors and actresses, writer Bill Gallagher and director Nick Hurran (perhaps best known for Little Black Book), were all excellent

–art kyriazis

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