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Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Who Is Number 1?

    If No.6 is the alter ego of No.1, then when the various No.2's who speak to No.1 on the telephone, must surely have recognised his voice, being that of No.6! Well they would, if that was the case, only it wasn't. Because at the time, no-one knew who No.1 was during much of the production of the Prisoner, not right up until the very end with Fall out in fact. The production crew thought No.1 might turn out to be the Butler, or that No.1 would be Lew Grade, who was head of ITC at the time. But in the end Patrick McGoohan made himself No.1, as he once said "Who else could No.1 have been?"
    So all through the 16 episodes of the Prisoner, No.1 wasn't anyone at all, simply a supposed voice on the other end of a telephone! It was once written that No.2 is the only person to have spoken to No.1, but that is not the case. The Supervisor-No.28 once spoke to No.1 in the episode It's Your Funeral!
Be seeing you


  1. I would say the confrontation with Number 1 is the apex of an ongoing process.
    Number 6 goes against the Village, the Rousseaunian/Marxian commune, to contend for his right to be a free individual in a world no longer recognizing one such a right - as No.2 says, in the 2nd episode, the post-Cold War future of man is to be the one of a social insect in a Global Village; communitarianism.
    Anyway, in "Once Upon a Time", Number 6 defeats the machinery of the social whole, the "Human god on Earth", the Absolute (this comes from Hegel).
    I.e., he vanquishes the machinery's efforts to assimilate him, and ends up questioning and pushing the machine into a corner instead: "why don't you resign?"
    Yet, what he accomplishes with this, is to place himself above a capitulating, yet still functioning machine (the slave-master dialectic). That's the point we're in when we move into "Fallout". There, we see the full social mechanism, tipified in that post-democratic, theatrical, "Parliament of Man".
    It bows to Number 6, it lets him lead it, yet this is dialectical leadership; meaning Number 6 can't reorder it from scratch, he can just add his own contribution (the I of individual) to a collective monster. So, the totalitarian collective is now also made up of ego-driven people (I-I-I), which naturally makes for a bit of theatrical chaos and mayhem.
    So, Number 6 makes what seems to be the obvious choice, to do away with the whole thing altogether.
    Yet, coincidently, he comes up with the crux realization that the fight was never against the Village, the insane collective. This was merely a blurred reflex, a proxy, of the real opponent; an inner self mirroring (and, in this sense, leading) the Village into his own inner reality. In other words, the Village is an opponent, in that there is something inside Number 6 to give it importance, to make it matter; this is the real leader of the Village.
    So, Number 6 has to break it, and it of course starts with breaking the way he looks into the present to see the future, by his hopes and expectations -- the crystal ball. Then he also gets his animal self under control. But, *unlike* Jacob, he also destroys the black and the white; the notions of good and evil. Jacob strenghtened these and thereby placed himself under God. Number 6 destroys these and thereby tries to take on the role of god.
    So, there he goes, to create a new order of things. Destroy the old order (the Village), by a "love" revolution (very reminiscent of the Frankfurt Group and Tavistock), and set up a new one, starting right at the center of London. And, in this, the last 5 minutes of the episode are quite obvious in their symbolic elements. One of these elements is the part where Number 2 goes into Parliament to create a new political order, as a Socialist, and he has "police collaboration", let's call it that. Thump thump Thunder in the background.
    For me, this finale was a disappointment. I was expecting Number 6 to really surpass the human order of things; not to go about creating a more efficient updated version. In the end, he doesn't really destroy the Village, he incorporates it into his own self and he is the driver to act it out into the world. He is the driver for Number 2's prediction in the 2nd episode. The dialectical process worked. And this won't do, really.

    Excuse me for the lenght of my comment. Thank you for your excellent blog!

  2. Hello Miguel,

    I am happy for your contribution, so there's never any need to be excused for any length of comment, all are always enjoyed. And I'm pleased that you like my blog.

    You have obviously put a great deal of thought into the content of your comment, and have gone into 'the Prisoner' on a far deeper level than I personally would do.
    You wrote of the finale 'Fall Out' as being a disappointment for you. Well it was for me the first time round, as I thought certain things would be explained in the ending, but of course nothing was explained, and which turned out only to be the beginning. However in later years, after writing a manuscript based on 'the Prisoner,' a novel, I found that 'Fall Out' was the most logical ending, or beginning, the series could have had.

    Be seeing you