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TOPIC: Possible origin of "Number 2"

Possible origin of "Number 2" 5 years 6 months ago #1898

  • doc3d
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While this can't be as easily proved as the pre-Number 6 identity of 'The Prisoner' being the spy John Drake, it seems possible, or at least plausible, that the concept of Number 2 as an evil CEO comes from Ian Fleming. In the 1961 James Bond novel "Thunderball" Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the leader of SPECTRE (SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion),is known to his colleagues as Number 2. Note this is only in the original book. In the film version they make him Number 1. Numeric designators are a common technique of masking identity in criminal cells and terror organizations, and there's a nice explanation of the process if you look up SPECTRE in Wikipedia, the fount of all knowledge these days. Within SPECTRE the number of the leader is constantly changing as opposed to 'The Prisoner' system of keeping the number (and its authority) and changing the man. It certainly seems possible that this Fleming numbering system was known to McGoohan and other people who ironed out the show's concept (no media production is ever the complete creation of a single mind). So,consciously as homage, or unconsciously because it was lurking in someone's subconscious, Fleming's idea could have surfaced in "The Prisoner". I'm not trying to say this Number 2 positing is an absolute, but nor do I accept the content of previous interviews as absolute, because history, in every case, is always revisionist.
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Re: Possible origin of "Number 2" 5 years 6 months ago #1899

Hello doc3d

There is an even more likely numbering system to be found in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. as McGoohan in an L.A. Times interview mentions that he was studying the show "because there is good stuff there". For more on this check out the Moor Larkin website:

numbersixwasinnocent.blogspot.com/2010/0...n-john-drake-of.html


With the above said McGoohan stated in an Oct. 1965 interview that he was interested in making a film about a society in the year 2000 where people have 'no names only numbers' and that 'leisure' is the goal of society and the citizens need the 'educated' "to cope with all that leisure'. McG in another interview in Nov. 1965 announces he has as his next project a planned limited TV series written and directed by himself to be filmed after Danger Man had wrapped production.

You may recall that No.6 promises 'leisure is our right' in Free For All and that all 'pleasures' in The Village are 'manufactured'. Further the New No.2 in Arrival states that for 'official purposes everyone has a number'.

'No number no phone call.',,, not even to Blofeld. ;)

BCNU

Tommcfearsom
Last Edit: 5 years 6 months ago by Tommcfearsom.
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Re: Possible origin of "Number 2" 5 years 6 months ago #1900

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Interesting thoughts, Tom...

Still ruminating. However, sourcing to 'The Man From UNCLE' is a fascinating idea, and new to me.

The only really intellectual component of the original canon, and in this I include the three paperbacks, is "The Prisoner" by the late Thomas M. Disch. Disch is a deep thinker, indeed, and his book, though it takes a few liberties with the TV show, is not to be missed.

Not that the entire 'Prisoner' concept isn't thought provoking, and in fact frightening when contrasted with the cult of leisure you cite, that those of us lucky or unlucky enough to be experiencing it are doing in the here and now...

For most of the world, where brute survival and ruthless oppression guides lives, the concept of leisure is unknown.

"The Prisoner" seems like it ought to resonate in us Conrad's almost-cliched line from "Heart of Darkness", "the horror, the horror" rather than cult adulation. But it doesn't, at least for me. Makes me want to revel in my good luck to possess at least a measure of leisure's freedom, and try to use it wisely. Alas, I miss the boat frequently on that score, mate, but I keep trying.

Now, where did my clever wife hide the bottle of Balvenie Portwood this time...

Be seeing you.
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Re: Possible origin of "Number 2" 5 years 6 months ago #1901

Hello doc3d

Perhaps to appreciate the terrors of a 'leisure society' you need a quick trip to Pleasure Island and experience the resulting consequences:

images.wikia.com/disney/images/8/88/PleasureIsland.jpg

i.crackedcdn.com/phpimages/article/2/9/5/4295.jpg?v=1

I also refer you to the 1968 comments of TV reviewer Rick Dubrow:

The prisoner resists compromising his individuality in this outwardly pretty village. And suddenly we realize we are watching the closest thing a television series has come to creating the world of "1984".

But at least in "1984" one knew the enemy was really an enemy. In "The Prisoner", there is a terrifying1y technicolor suburban-lawn type of atmosphere.

What is Mr. McGoohan
 trying to tell us? We know, of
course.

The village is a sort of ominous Disneyland, with piped-in soft music and public announcements over hidden loudspeakers. The community is planned down to the last horrible detail.

BCNU

Tommcfearsom
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Re: Possible origin of "Number 2" 5 years 6 months ago #1902

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The leisure society contained/controlled world has always scared the tar out of me. And I was a street smart city kid who roamed San Francisco unsupervised. It took Ralph Steadman's visions to make me understand why Disneyland and places like it gave me the creeps. One of his examples (there are many others):

www.flickr.com/photos/jeremyes/225132249...2251322494/lightbox/

The Prisoner's version was probably too subtle for me to make the connections initially, but I get it now... B)

Be Seeing You
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Re: Possible origin of "Number 2" 5 years 6 months ago #1903

Hello Doc3d

You will find that any first edition 'The Prisoner' novel by "Thomas M Disch" has a copyright of 1969 and that the dust jacket clearly states that it is based on the television series and is considered a 'new novel' of the TV original.

"Thomas M Disch" may well be a very fine writer but his novel can not be considered part of The Prisoner canon as it is published a full two years after McGoohan had written the final episode of The Prisoner in December of 1967.

At best it is an authorized pastiche much like the James Bond novels written long after Ian Flemming's passing, In other words it was written as part of the syndication marketing efforts of the TV series in the US in 1969.

It had absolutely no influence on the original TV series created by Patrick McGoohan.

BCNU

Tommcfearsom
Last Edit: 5 years 6 months ago by Tommcfearsom.
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