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THE TRUMAN SHOW DISCUSSED

Section Index


  1. Discussing the Truman Show - Why?
  2. The Truman Show - Contents Synopsis
  3. A Life Portrayed
  4. A Life Entrapped
  5. A Life Violated
  6. A Life Left Behind
    Interlude: Metaphors
  1. Entrapment
  2. Explorations
  3. Cracks in Reality
  4. Obsession and Discovery
  5. Observation and Control
  6. Free at Last - New Perspectives

  What's Related  
  Subseq. Pages - Essays & Papers  
 






caveat: As can be inferred from the date of publication, this article may no longer represent my current views and style. It remains here for archival purposes to provide a sense of documentation and should be treated as such.

1: Discussing the Truman Show - Why?

My normal treatment of a motion picture would be a short review on my Movie Review Pages, nothing else, except of course it would be a movie related to any of the television shows also discussed on this site. But obviously, for 'The Truman Show', I chose another approach, an approach perhaps dwarfing the usual treatment of movies by me. So why do I do this? Just because there would be nothing else to do, or why then?

There are some movies which can really change or at least deeply infuence the way we think about life in general; there are movies touching us in a very special and fundamental way, reaching down into the basis of thoughts and emotions. The film discussed is not really a very emotional film, nor is it an intellectually very snobbish one. This movie is sort of the right mixture; it has basically - at least in my view - no label which could easily be attached to it (For which movie would that be easy? Well, with this one it is even more difficult) - sometimes there is just an idea so simple, so catchy but also so bright and obvious that one wonders why it hadn't been done before.

There is also the question of synchronicity: To me, 'The Truman Show' is such a synchronicity; a phenomenon where something one thought about or dealt with in a certain way is appearing in another form, in a strange linkage to the matter originally deliberated; with this movie, it is as if all my thoughts about reality, all my journeys into the world of quanta and post-structuralism and the holographic model of the universe are all of a sudden manifesting into a bigger fictional epic, into a shape trying to illustrate complicated matters in a deeply allegoric way. So, that's the personal touch, my personal interpretation giving it an importance which again could look very different in the eyes of another person.

I just mentioned interpretation - what a nasty thing, but the only way for us to deal with something. Interpretation per se is a personal, an individual matter; I do not want to let my views be taken as anything else but as my personal opinion. What is the world then but a mixture and rich combination of various personal interpretations and opinions, of different views shared somehow on a mutual basis and level and dimension? There is never an easy answer to what reality is; just forget my statement made the sentence before if you don't like it; I'm not sure I like it either. Some moment my perception of the world is that of a more static one; and another moment I tend to see nothing in it but holo-matter, even sometimes hollow pursuits.

So, 'The Truman Show'. A motion picture depicting the reality of a single person, a reality which is revealed to be nothing but fake; but for the main character it has been nothing but real; he wasn't able to discern the masks from the substance. The quest for what's behind and the quest for personal fulfillment combine in this movie to give us as well as Truman, the hero of the story, a glance behind the scenes of reality. This essay now will firstly focus on certain elements of the very story before indulging in speculations about reality itself. So let us take a look at this marvellous piece of movie history.

PJK
December 8th, 1998







2: The Truman Show - Contents Synopsis

Truman Brubank is a usual male adult age thirty, having a wife, a job, a house, friends. He lives in a beautiful little town near the ocean, and he wants to be an explorer. His dream is to one day travel to Fiji and perhaps even settle there on an uninhabited island. His father died years ago while on sea, so he fears the ocean most.

The ordinary life of Truman is but an illusion created for him - he is a star in a major television show, he is the main character without knowing it. The Truman Show, as it is called, airs twenty-four hours a day, each day in a year, and is now in its thirtieth year. The people around him are actors, paid to uphold the illusion, paid to do their job and create Truman's very own but not at all private little world. The audience can watch him via little cameras everybody on the set is wearing, and through secret cameras applied to various locations like his car, his house, his office; everywhere.

One day, a star falls from heaven. It is the spotlight simulating Sirius at night; but Truman doesn't seem to think about that so desperately. Once he met a girl whom he fell in love with; and who established contact with him to tell him the truth - but she was hindered from doing so. So she is gone, but he still thinks of her, makes pictures of her. The story then moves again to the present - strange events occur. He suddenly meets a guy who looks like his 'deceased' father, but is hindered from talking to him by some men in black. Through his car audio he suddenly overhears the observers following his course. So, after thinking about all those loose ends and irregularities, he tries to test reality. He sees studio equipment and employees where an elevator car was supposed to be; he discovers that there is traffic artificially created by letting people circle around a block.

So he takes his wife and tries to escape, but all of a sudden he runs into a traffic jam. Some minutes later, the road is suddenly clear, he procedes out of town but is hindered from succeeding by a sudden emergency. So he is being returned where he was; his father makes a reappearance, but Truman has changed for ever. He starts to lead his normal life again; everybody around him is happy again. The crisis is over.

All of a sudden, he is gone. The creator of the show and his team search him all over the town, but cannot find him. The broadcast is halted - for the first time ever. The moon transforms into a searchlight. All 'citizens' are searching for Truman. He stops the night and makes it be day. Then they find him - on a sailing ship headed for the horizon. Broadcasting starts again. So Christof, his 'creator', creates a storm, trying to hinder his property to succeed. Cold-bloodedly, he doesn't even stop when Truman is nearly killed. That he survives, seems to him like a surprise. Truman is setting sail again and steers for the horizon until his ship hits it. Christof talks to him over micro, his sound coming out of the clouds. He tries to 'reason' with his victim, but doesn't succeed. Truman heads towards the exit, and his girlfriend towards the studio. Truman has left his prison which had been reality for him for thirty years.

PJK
December 28th, 1998







3: A Life Portrayed

The audience of the Truman Show gets insight into the very life of an ordinary person; into his most private thoughts, into his most private moments; from childhood to adolescence Truman is, unknowingly, a media interest; his everyday life is being deconstructed in front of an audience of millions and billions of people. Secrecy does not exist.

What is the interest of the watchers, of the producers of the show? What can they learn from watching this ordinary guy; or don't they watch it out of an interest in learning but just out of curiosity? Is this interest in Truman's life really sympathy - or isn't it much more of an egotistic, self-serving activity just wearing the mask of serious interest in him? Is Truman to them a real person - or do they see him like they would see an actor in an ordinary television show?

For every act of observation, there has to be an interest behind it. In Truman's case, it surely is of no criminal investigation's interest. The audience comes naturally; like there also is always an audience for shows depicting "daily life"; which would then be sitcoms rather than soap operas. Why do we humans enjoy watching the, however fictional, life of others? One aspect might be comedic relief; but isn't this also kind of voyeurism? Are we really sympathetic, are we really interested in the fate and well-being of those we are watching? Or do we just imagine us being in such situations? Is this transference of own fears and hopes onto a public character?

Perhaps we see in the lives of others possibilities our own life is lacking; we see them as case studies, as examples of how the world could be like. Thus, the altruistic element would disappear - and compassion could only exist because what we'd be really doing then would be to imagine us being that other person. But while it might to a certain extent be fun to imagine oneself being Superman or James Kirk or who ever, why this attraction to the ordinary, the common? Perhaps there is also some guidance we seek; or we need a more down-to-Earth character to being able to laugh about oneself; to recognize certain properties of one's own in a fictional character.

Truman then would be the ultimate culmination of our needs: This time, it's not an actor but a real person behind the screen; this time it really is authentic. So just give the audience what it wants? Without taking into consideration the ethical dimensions? When there is a market, there must needs to be a product - so give it to them?

PJK
February 4th, 1999







4: A Life Entrapped

To being able to observe Truman, they have to control him - they imprison him. For as nice as it may look, it is a prison he is forced into: An entire small town is dedicated to Truman, its entire population paid to give him the illusion of a normal life. But whatever the imprisonment looks like, how harmless it might look and feel, it still is a jail; but with a very grave difference: Truman is not told he is a prisoner, he also has done no wrong.

Truman is like an animal in a zoo; but unlike those, he doesn't really belong to an endangered species, so not even this justification could be applicable here. He does not see the fences and walls he is entrapped by, he does not understand the nature of his fellow people around him - until a certain point of recognition. The plan of the studio is to keep him from gaining that knowledge. So the very first thing they have to control is information. Truman basically is kept in his confinement by an elaborate web of lies.

The justification of the studio and the creator of the show seems to be that they have adopted Truman; that they function as the parents. But would that allow them to take such radical action? Would that allow them to not only raise Truman but to control his entire life? When Christof looks at the sleeping Truman, is this love in his eyes - or isn't he just happy about his property? Truman, the pet, Truman, the slave, Truman, the thing. A slave, because he is denied the very rights even criminals have in jails; the thing, because his emotions are being played with, are seen as being distracting and unimportant. He is a character in a play - nothing more.

Like a slave, he serves a purpose another person has decided for him. Truman has been taken the right to make decisions of his own; he has been deprived of his rights of liberty, of pursuit of happiness. The only right he seems to have is the right of life: but this one only as long as his life serves its dedicated purpose. When he is on his flight, on the sea, he nearly gets killed - deliberately, by Christof. This is not the love of a caring father; Christof doesn't care about the human being, which Truman still is, but only about his property which has secured him a more than healthy share of profit; none of which of course ever was intended to pay Truman. That makes Truman even less loved than a pet.

There have been and are countries that do the same to their people that Christof is doing to Truman in this movie. What here is fiction, there it was or is reality. East Germany, for instance, was nothing but a prison for its people; same holds true for the entire prison house of nations, the Soviet Block, which now is gone - but which still unleashes the evil it created. A state has to consist of free people with well-known unalienable rights; any state that does not grant its people these rights, and deprives them from making their own choices, has lost its right to exist. Same is true vice versa: Who is the state but its people? The ones responsible for upholding human rights are we, the people. That gives us a much greater responsibility than we might usually think.

"The authority of government, even such as I am willing to submit to,- for I will cheerfully obey those who know and can do better than I, and in many things even those who neither know nor can do so well-- is still an impure one: to be strictly just, it must have the sanction and consent of the governed. It can have no pure right over my person and property but what I concede to it. [..] There will never be a really free and enlightened State, until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are de-rived, and treats him accordingly."[1]

PJK
February 7th, 1999







5: A Life Violated

When the fate of Truman unfolds, after we have discussed now his imprisonment; what comes to sight is an injustice of grave proportions; a vision as disgusting and distorted and extravagant that it very well might come true one day in this form; it has come true, as I already have stated, in a metaphorical way. Perhaps it is very convenient to think of human beings being basically good-natured. But the more I have learned from the past and the present, the more I've come to modify this notion, to reject it even to not so small an extent.

Being does not determine consciousness to the extent Marxist theory supposes it to do. There are too many examples against that supposition: Aristoteles and Alexander, Seneca and Nero, Voltaire and Frederick. Also, most of the evil brought upon the world was done by persons who were very well situated in an economic and also educational sense. And most often it is the simple people, those who are suffering great injustice and poverty, who would against all odds maintain a morality and goodness their leaders lack the more. And how should it be possible to change this if even those clinging to these moral principles, like Marxists and also all religions and philosophies, have failed on a larger scale?

If it comes to the very basics, the existence of the duality between light and shadow, good and evil, does not any more seem like a fairy-tale[2]. But the most drastic evil appears in the mask of righteousness: As Christof, too, the bad guy from this movie, indulges himself in justifications, constructing himself to be just fueling the wishes of the audience and thus even making himself something like a hero. His excuses, his propaganda, his lies make it easier for him to deal with the truth, with the truth of the crime he is committing. And perhaps, he eventually succeeded in silencing his conscience.

Who cares? Who really cares? Caring and sensitivity[3] will reveal true intentions - and the lack of them though will reveal what is hoped to be hidden. When all the masks and guises and artificial constructions are revealed and made transparent, when the truth of the crime will be obvious, then the crime itself may be overcome: And so, knowledge and education are the critical weapons of any resistance to injustice and evil. That's also the reason why any injust regimen applies the tactics of divide and conquer: Controling and restricting knowledge and information are the first things any kind of dictatorship will do. This also underlines the importance of the Freedom of Information Act.

Limiting the freedom of a human being with no criminal necessity is a violation of its rights as a human being. Goverments thereby are easily to be judged by how they treat minorities and individuals. Serving the masses is easy (and necessary for survival of a government), but it is not enough. But as much as I seem to have lost parts of my idealism; I still am certain that at the end, the truth will prevail. The rise of democracy has demonstrated that.

PJK
February 7th, 1999







6: A Life Left Behind

Truman has got a chance to leave his imprisonment; he got it not from Christof but through an outsider who has fallen in love with him. She opens his eyes to the truth and lets him understand the nature of his world.

When the first cracks in reality become visible to him, the illusion is gone - and will not come back. Once the first proof occurs, his sight and perception has changed for ever: A single doubt can destroy a whole edifice of belief.

Once this belief in the solidity of reality is gone, Truman's life has changed - and Christof has lost his control over him. Suddenly, the prisoner has transformed into a dangerous man; fighting for his freedom. When he succeeds, he proves that his mind has not been broken by the illusions cheating him.

Truman leaves his prison and thereby his world. He understands that step very well - that's why he is hesitating before he actually opens the door to the outer world. He has reached a point where only few of us have been, and he makes a step which is as unimaginable to him as it might be to us.

What does his step mean? While it is his leaving the prison Christof created for him, he also leaves everything he has known; except the woman which gave him the motivation to go on. He is an explorer; thus he has no fear of the unknown, of the unexplained. What is he looking for? What every one of us wants - freedom of choice, independence. He is looking for a home where he feels like a human being, not a thing.

PJK
February 8th, 1999







Interlude: Metaphors

Why tell a story instead of writing an essay or making a similar plain statement? Why choose kind of an artistic form - instead of just making one's point?

Also; and I know that I'm posing more questions than I probably will be able to answer (if that were my intention anyway) - what use is such a discussion of? To what end is philosophy?

It perhaps would often be nice to have something like an immediate practical application of philosophical findings or ideas; although sometimes such experimenting could be somewhat disastrous if the ideas were either not yet well balanced or even completely wrong or inapplicable. Philosophy basically is just what its Greek meaning would be: love of wisdom, love of thought and discussion. Philosophy is per definition a theoretical approach.

So philosophy is the theory; which most purely would manifest itself in essays or things like that. Would fiction then be of a more practical character? Sort of an invented case study? But also; doesn't fiction have a much more entertaining character than its sometimes dull and dry counterpart? The most effect but it would gain by identification of the reader with the characters; or at least some kind of recognition.

But somehow I just think that an essay or a scientific paper are not necessarily the most appropriate means of telling something. A work of fiction, or an otherwise altered form like a poem for instance, present much greater options; also, because they can operate on various levels and are richer therefore in art and expression. My favorite media of fiction then would be television and cinema - for the combination of text, images and music. Up to now, I've never read any book which I could honestly canonize to belonging to a superior form of art. I guess I again have arrived at personal preferences and anticipations. Who needs canonization anyway?

PJK
February 8th, 1999







7: Entrapment

Freedom is not just a political argument, not just a political or philosophical issue. It is foremost, determined by human nature, a basic necessity of ours, a very fundamental question determining our feelings, our motivation, our range of options and our actual capabilities. Freedom is not just an empty word; it is as important for human beings as nutrition would be. Restricting that freedom in a more than reasonable way surely creates problems.

A very crucial aspect demanding freedom for us is our curiosity, combined with our fight for survival. Entrapment hinders those functions from working normally; with severe consequences for mind and motivation. In the case of Truman, as he didn't know he was captured, he always dreamt of visiting strange places, like Fiji, and the sequence of all his attempts of reaching that aim surely has contributed to his recognition. As soon as understanding manifested within him, his mind just had one objective: to get out. Captivity either leads to massive escape attempts or to passivity; that's also why slavery or labor camps, apart from being plainly evil institutions, are of no long-term use economically. Human nature is not fit for captivity.

Leaving entrapments is also a question of power: We usually fight for independence, tend to aim for a self-sustained living. Concepts like pride and progress would also fit in here - derived perhaps from a biological and evolutional compulsion of creating a family and a houshold, and defending them against inimical outer influences. Self-reliance is also something we might give up to a certain extent; but that has to happen voluntarily: And it would be a constant warring over how much conncessions to make. Enforced concessions, without providing a reasonable basis for conceding, are of quite a restricted influence; which is best supported by the flaws within the concept of law and order - rules and regulations, which of course have to be both morally acceptable and reasonable, might be a good thing, but they won't work absolutely: Otherwise we would have a much lower crime rate. In contrast to Marxist theses, human nature cannot easily be transformed into goodness and peacefulness. The predator and the darkness inside never might vanish. We can try to contain those elements, but in combination with much more positive elements, they also contribute to human nature[4].

There is also a much more religious issue at hand with this topic; the questions of free will, of fate, of destiny, of what we really are. Those are questions for which no easy answers exist; or the respective answers would not be shared by the entire global community. I'd like to think that we have a certain range of options concerning what we will be able to do here. But the concept of an afterlife also to a certain extent implies a pre-existence of ours before our physical birth. So perhaps on a different level of consciousness we have made a certain decision which then would to a certain extent either determine or influence our condition here on Earth.

Also, however bright our personal outlook on life might be, we are constantly entrapped by our surroundings and conditions, beginning with our physical form of existence and continuing with all the restrictions, definitions and determinations our culture imposes on us, as we also do it ourselves[5]. So freedom in the most general sense would remain quite an illusion; but that must never be a justification to impose new measures of enslavement. We need freedom to live our lives as well as we need reasonable restrictions both to tame the predator inside and to create associations and definitions which help us to understand parts of the world we live in.

PJK
February 9th, 1999







8: Explorations

Truman dreams of Fiji, of a place where there probably is some spot yet to discover, still not within the greedy reach of civilization and technology. He looks for a place different from his own; he's also interested in what lies out there. But, as with many or most of us, he is still bound to his town; there he has his job, his house, his family. He has settled there, well, Christof has settled him there. But to depart from the picture: What is it our lives are like? Aren't we usually confined by whatever parameters to our usual surroundings; aren't we confined also because we want to? Who of us would really desire to live without a toilet, a shower, a heating or an air-conditioner, a refrigerator, a house, clothing; the list is quite long. I couldn't even survive without my computer and tv.

But how are those things possible? By sitting in or under a tree and occasionally hunting some wild animal for food? You don't get rewards for doing nothing. By rewards I not only mean money; affection and knowledge are much more important - although it is money which pays our living. And what we have to do is not always that much. But it needs a certain set of mind, and also courage, to get out there and try to shape one's own reality. And sometimes, there are people who are doing much more: They do not any more feel content by just moving within the usual parameters; they want to look into the faces of the unexplained and get some new answers.

Explorations are what have made us what we are to a large extent. There are no states, there is no technology without explorations; exploration and successive improvement, both intellectually and technologically, are the spark of intellect that separate us from animals. For this, for being able to explore, it is necessary to see, to train perception - to being able to foresee certain developments. Going out there into the dark is stupid; but going out there with a vision, with the will to find something which could help mankind - that's exploration. Well, sometimes such benevolent intentions might be missing; I see that. So let's just stick to vision and exploration.

Why is exploration necessary? For the improvement of the species. But why would such an improvement be necessary? Without adapting and improving, nature strikes back with the force of evolution. So technology is about protection. What are we protecting ourselves against? Nature - but what aspect of nature? The one endangering us. So we do not protect ourselves against nature, but against dangers coming from where ever - also from ourselves. Right now, one main task of technology we are desperately looking for is to protect us against technology itself; against the sins and mistakes of the past. And this will be our only way to save us: Sitting here and doing nothing won't help. Sticking to old concepts won't help. We need new options; new options come with explorations.

Explorations, when looking for new options, necessarily will have to look much more seriously for flaws within the old ones; the past must needs to be revealed and discussed; it has to be demasked, it has to surrender to the plain truth - also to the truth that there might not be a plain truth. There is of course fear of change; that's a natural response - again resulting from the need for protection. But it is not any more a conflict of different systems; the days when we could say it was a capitalist system against a communist one, are gone. What is today called a capitalist state is much different from the conditions when this concept was formed. Today, the necessities are different, today, we have to make something new. We will also make new mistakes; but then these will be ours, not the sins of the past. Even if past and present and future are one, as it will be at another level of consciousness, this is of no relevance to us: We live in the present; we can learn to a certain extent from the past; and we look into the future; to explore this undiscovered country.

PJK
February 10th, 1999







9: Cracks in Reality

The key to our understanding the world around us firstly is our perception which makes it possible to ask the question at first hand; without recognizing a certain problem, there would be no thinking about it - recognition thus very much determines knowledge. But perception is not always easy; it is something we are used to rely upon. But what happens when this reliance is not possible any more? What if our edifice of belief suddenly collapses into nothingness, into the void; what if our usual practices are not applicable any more?

The most striking example indeed for cracks within what we call reality are synchronicities; events which should be independent from each other instead follow a certain chain of thought important to us personally: For example, somehow you get to know a word or topic you've never heard of or used before; and suddenly it's all around you, thus appearing somehow out of nothingness and entering awareness. Reality seems to bend. How does it happen? The easiest explanation probably would be to accept the idea that the link between the several events is just in your mind, that it is just personal interpretation assuming a connection where there is none. But how to verify such a line of thought? Is this probably just an attempt to rationalize things to evade more complex or disturbing answers?

With the progress we make in several areas of life, perception step by step changes and thus also our way of life is being altered; constantly. It happens gradually, perceptible perhaps just from a historical perspective. And sometimes it is just small events, small, seemingly irrelevant variables, entering reality which then will transform it totally. Such a change will be remarkable when it occurs, and will be forgotten when it prevails. It is like buying a new stereo - when you do so, it is an important decision. But after some time, you get used to the new sound - and suddenly it's not new anymore but just regular. We tend to forget, we also are not easily able to withstand the inertia of life: We tend to stick to traditional concepts and methods because we have accepted them. So we are afraid of changes, but when they happened and daily routine sets in, the fear usually is forgotten - unless we are being reminded of it. Two years ago, I didn't want to have internet access because I thought it would be too complicated anyway. Now, I'm maintaining this web site and some others. Perception has changed, and with it reality. Small moves.

With those small moves, we are able to overcome traditional thinking and progress into the future. Once the future is the present, we'll have to overcome it again to enter the future of the future. There is no standing still, no rest, no peace in our time. With technology around us evolving, why are we usually so determined science as we know it won't change with it? What now is science fiction may then become reality. To explore strange new worlds - that means also, and mainly, to explore strange new dimensions of thinking and perception. Exclusion of possibilities just because of traditional thinking will not be an option; neither will abandoning science be one. But the edifice of scientifical thinking must needs to adapt to the new pace; and we have to think about all possible scenarios. The paranormal is para-normal just because we've neglected dealing with it in a scientific way far too long; that's also a reason why it can be misused so easily.

Phenomena like synchronicity indicate that we might already be part of transcendence but haven't realized it yet. We think of us being individual persons; we think so because it is the traditional way - the traditional Western way. There are other examples for accepting views because of no other explanation: The particle-wave duality of elementary particles for instance. Think about it. An electron sometimes is a particle and behaves like this, but sometimes it is a wave of energy and behaves like that. So we put it into a model, label it, name it a duality and have thus dealt with a crack within the edifice of reality. But sometimes, the truth might be crazier and even easier than we were able to imagine.

PJK
February 17th, 1999







10: Obsession and Discovery

A method of dealing with the problem of perception is that of testing the limits - that, to return to the initial topic of this essay, that is exactly what Truman does. A certain idea is manifesting in his mind, and he has to test it out. Did this idea now originate from a specific observation, or has it been no special event but a series of events which then culminated to form a certain occasion - or did the idea first originate in his mind? I think that this is like the chicken-and-the-egg discussion: It is a mutual combination of input. Or isn't it? We make the distinction depending on whither this thought originated from. But if there was no such border between mind and matter, such a discussion would be entirely pointless. Perception is reality, reality is perception? How to prove such an issue scientifically?

Going a step aback now, the next issue at hand is that of curiosity again. Curiosity is the main force behind any kind of research and investigation. Curiosity is the central point of perception - we only really perceive something when we are curious to perceive. This is the difference between hearing and listening, between passivity and activity - real perception, while also containing an element of consumption, is an active process - paired with the intention to understand the data input. This is also a crucial point again: Activity also implies change.

The circumstances around us determine our actions to a certain extent; but the other part is our consciousness, and our soul. We might determine how our outer circumstances look like, we might also to a certain extent explore our state of mind and our consciousness; but our soul? This is also a point where I strongly contradict the Marxist philosophy of being determining consciousness. If the religious or transcendental level is explicitly ignored, human beings are just being reduced to machines, to computers, to drones or pets - give them food and they'll be happy. It ain't that easy.

So when we try to ascertain the levels of necessity which could trigger or sustain or block a certain kind of behavior, we won't be able to get a definite answer. The actions of living beings cannot be calculated with absolute certainty. That might be due to the spark of life within us, which would make us different from machines. There is a certain thought which has struck me now: What if our lack to get hold of reality results from just the same reason? Might it be that our conventional view sees the universe much more as a thing than perhaps a living being of which we are merely humble body parts?

Obsession and discovery seem to be linked in a certain way, as it perhaps can also be seen by my writings. You see, when you are obsessed with a certain thought, it might eventually manifest itself in the most beautiful of synchronicities - and maybe existing just within the mind of the beholder. A circular argumentation? Isn't this the key consequence of the entire crisis of perception and representation? If all our searching and discovery is based upon perception, and it surely is, what are we describing? Reality - or what we think of as reality? But when there is no way of telling the difference, to what end is such a question? Speaking scientifically, a theory without proof, without being able to be proved, is worth even less than nothing. Well, the question then seems to be if science can be applied here, or if science rather is another victim of that discourse. Don't expect me to have the answers to those questions. And anyway, they would just be my personal perception.

PJK
February 17th, 1999







11: Observation and Control

Dealing with perception is also some kind of control mechanism. Control is a decisive factor here as it would process the data gathered, such an act being also a process of exclusion - applied in two different ways, depending on who has the power to actually being able to control anything; and also depending on who chooses to actually execute this power, and in what way.

What is the motivation then for the execution of power? And to what degree does it matter? Id est, does motivation justify actions which are not justifiable - does or can it serve as a legitimate basis for subsequent action? - If it comes down to results, motivation does not matter. If the result of a certain action is death, it cannot be undone nor justified[6]. But when two actions are to be compared, motivation might be a way to get behind it[7].

Power can also serve as a counselor, giving a certain guidance. Thus it can create structures meant to form a society or community of some kind. Such a structure could be a family. Power would originate from each member of the family equally, manifesting itself perhaps in different ways - functioning as a separation of power into different aspects, e.g. concerning the education of the children. But without care and true affection, a family could not work.

Power is also a system of checks and balances if it is supposed to work. This includes action like observation and control - but how and to what extent are they to be executed? And also, what's the legitimation at all? In the case of the movie, Christof clearly has no legitimate reason at all to control Truman - Truman has not had the ability to make a choice, he therefore has had no representation within the system.

Who cares? And who cares for whom or for what? Caring is originating from and also influencing motivation. How does the authority of a state or institution or person which doesn't care look like? Without true compassion and caring, the power of authority is necessarily repressive - for it wouldn't care about the consequences of decisions and actions. Without caring, observation is depriving privacy, without caring, all other motives are void. But caring must not be an exclusive act: To really care means to care about everything[8].

PJK
February 18th, 1999







12: Free at Last - New Perspectives

Truman is stepping outside his world at the end of the movie, he is leaving his entrapment, his prison which used to confine him physically and mentally, and he boldly makes a step after the other into the unknown. Behind him, there lie imprisonment and illusions and lies; what lies in front of him he doesn't know yet. But he's an explorer - he accepts the risks because both curiosity and necessity compel and thrust him forward. He hesitates, of course, for a brief moment, listens for a final time to his 'creator' - but the illusion is destroyed, nothing will bring it back.

The glimpse behind he is taking lets him think about what he might lose, the glimpse forward shows him what he'll gain. This is, most of all, freedom - in the most ideal sense of course. Taking it literally, he just exchanges one imprisonment for another, which is much lighter of course but still does not guarantee the total freedom he's looking for. But in a metaphorical sense, the sense I have tried to get behind throughout this entire essay of mine, it lets him get free of all bondages; he is free at last.

He leaves the system which has imprisoned him for so many years, he also leaves a system which is the very singular he has ever known. There exists virtually no other reality than this one; except in his mind. So he enters the mental vision of reality he has developed - his wish of escaping also having come true. He is able to do so because his perception has changed, allowing him thus to see behind the structures confining instead of supporting him. He leaves a system where he hasn't been cared for, a system which has constantly hindered him from pursuing his own agendas and dreams.

His step is beyond understanding for most of us; as we are trapped within the reach of our perception. Ours is a life of more or less fixed variables, accompanying us from birth to death, night and day; most of us even have accepted this as the only reality - but what we see around us is just what we interpret as being what we then believe it to be. We have constructed reality and believe in this construction; have accepted a certain fixation on what we perceive and what we are told to be perceiving. Well, but then, this is just working in theory - we might live within constructions, but we are certainly able to penetrate them and substitute them with something else when the time has come. What it is we are lacking though is the ability of complete insight, a possibility obviously not granted to the physical universe.

In addition and contradiction to conformity, we also have faith and a certain persistance to nevertheless try and proceed further into the future, into a new life, into a better life. I am again reminded of that by the balloon start made yesterday; again an attempt to circle the planet with an hot-air balloon, again after so many failures. If something fails, we try again and again until it will work, meanwhile trying to fix it that it may work. We do not give up that easily. And perhaps, one time, we will also be free, free of poverty and misery, free of prejudice and hate, free of borders and confinements, free of materialism and oppression, free of violence and terror, free of constructions and restrictions of perceptions; free at last.

PJK
February 18th, 1999

(The entire essay was minimally reworked by July 25th 2001, concerning spelling and minor corrections, while the substance of it was left intact.)






Endnotes

[4] cf. the concept of Yin and Yang, see Millennium: Dark Matters, part 5
[5] for further insight into discourses of power and classifications, Michel Foucault has made some contributions to that

For a bibliography, please check the Selected Bibliography page.





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