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THE NUMBER 23 - 2007
To an outsider, the cure for an addiction seems simple enough.
Are you depressed? Cheer up!
Are you obese? Stop eating so much.
Are you an alcoholic? Stop drinking.
Are you addicted to gambling? Stop betting.
THE NUMBER 23 could have fit any addiction into the storyline and it would have worked, but by giving us a rarity such as this, it draws us in with its alien nature. Like PI, the majority of the movie is all inner monologue as Walter tells us of his life in his own words, a la James Thurber's Walter Mitty.
Discordianism, or The viral Thought Pattern of 23, has infected well known people such as William S. Burroughs, Umberto Eco, H.R. Giger, Robert Anton Wilson, and is incredibly easy to slip into because it plays on our natural paradoxical mental patterns of Thought Suppression. The less you try to think or dwell on something, the more you think about it (the paradoxical nature of Thought Suppression was researched exhaustively over the last 40 years).
Most of you are probably aware of the famous Polar Bear experiment. Tell someone to go a whole week without thinking of a polar bear, and by the end of the week you will find that said person can't get the thought of polar bears out of his or her mind. In such ways do obsessive compulsive disorders manifest themselves (though "bear" in mind that I'm painting in broad strokes throughout this article).
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is famous for having his detective say, "...when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth..."
This typical paradox of illogic is absurd to everyone but the obsessive. Most people understand that there is no possible way any person can know all of the possible alternatives to a mystery (if you did you wouldn't have a mystery). But Doyle believed it and he was a well-known sucker for any supernatural scam to come down the pike. So much so that he ended his days with much of his hard earned wealth stolen by frauds. If you are one of these kinds of people, have I got a treat for you!
Obsessive Thought Suppression is only one factor because humans and as many other living creatures as we can research, appear to share Thought Patterns. To survive predators and natural dangers, animal life evolved to look for patterns. The paradox of The Number 23 is a Thought Pattern.
So then, let me give you an example of all of this.
THE PRIME NUMBER 23 ENIGMA
On February 23, 2007, I turned 46.
We went to the theater in my '98 Mustang.
The lowest common multiple of 9 is 3.
Obviously I'm a huge Horror fan, obviously, but did you know the best selling Horror writer alive, Stephen King, lives in Bangor, Maine, the 23rd state in the Union?
As of this writing, my wife works in the 23rd district of Los Angeles.
My real name contains three letters that are two strokes up and three strokes down (23), or three strokes up and two strokes down (23 reversed).
This is our 491st movie review (491 is a prime number).
RESULT - Coincidence of Evidence = Causation: the valid accuracy of the Number 23 enigma is all too real.
While everything I wrote prior to my result is 100% true, it also conveniently leaves out everything ELSE that occurred that doesn't tie in with the number 23.
I made the facts fit the enigma by excluding all other relevant data.
My Mustang is a 1998 model. I left off the 19 to fit my "fact".
I kept in everything else, no matter how mundane that fit my theory (2 strokes up, 3 strokes down? Honestly!), and left out everything, no matter how seemingly important (the rest of the letters in my name, name of the theater, the address, the state, the screen) I couldn't fit into the Number 23 paradox.
So what remains, however improbable, is NOT the truth: which brings us back to my point.
Still not convinced that the 23 Enigma is B.S.? Watch how you can work the same convoluted logic to mean anything:
Walter Mitty is a daydreaming man created in story by the legendary humorist, James Thurber.
The protagonist of this movie is Walter Sparrow and he goes through life in a "Walter Mitty" daydream.
The real life 2000 children's book, The Adventures Of Sparrowboy, is the tale of a young child who fantasizes that he is a superhero.
In Disney's PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, Captain Jack Sparrow imagines himself to be a great seafaring Captain, when in actuality he makes his first appearance in the series standing proud aboard a sinking dinghy.
In the 1970s, NBC ran a cartoon called Waldo Kitty, which was an animated take-off on James Thurber's: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Waldo would imagine himself to be a superhero called Catman. His sidekick was Sparrow. Waldo Kitty's delusion was also a riff on the comic book, Batman: a wealthy but otherwise physically normal human who pretends to be a superhero, though in reality has no super powers. His sidekick is also named after a small bird, Robin.
In THE NUMBER 23, Walter Sparrow's son is named Robin.
The lead actor in THE NUMBER 23 is Jim Carrey. Jim played the Riddler* in the first Warner Bros. Batman movie to feature Robin.
Batman originally appeared as a caped crusader in Detective Comics. The detective in Walter's book uses the fictional name of "Fingerling".
A fingerling is a metal ear band used to ID bats.
As before, I'm stringing along all manner of disconnected situations to create the illusion of coincidence and thus causation, ignoring anything that doesn't fit within the formula I'm using.
Moreover, both Batman and James Thurber's best selling novel are popular enough in literature (both were made into Radio shows, Movies, and TV shows) to generate fannish enthusiasm and multiple references and creative cross-references without the mystery of otherworldly or unseen forces at work.
See? You can obsessively create coincidence out of thin air and use the 23 Enigma formula to give meaning to anything you want.
Like Human induced global warming!
But that doesn't make it real, it only means that regardless of your education and intelligence, you can still be gullible. But even saying that you are gullible, like (the otherwise brilliant) Arthur Conan Doyle, doesn't take into account all the potential alternatives, including the possibility that the writer of THE NUMBER 23, Fernley Phillips, and Director Joel Schumacher (BATMAN AND ROBIN, THE NUMBER 23) might be intentionally, SERIOUSLY F'ing with our heads!
Two more things. In the U.S. Military, a "Walt" is slang for someone who poses as someone else - usually someone more exciting.
"Sparrow" is Urban slang for a girl who appears tough and mean as a front to hide her weakness. Small town dog catcher, Walter Sparrow believes that the tough, exciting detective in his book is a metaphor for his own life.
This article copyright 2007 E.C.McMullen Jr.
Some people think I'm more important than you (I don't, but they do. You know how they are) and this is their (HA!) evidence.
Matt Jarbo's interview with Feo Amante at The Zurvivalist.
Researcher David Waldron, references my review of UNDERWORLD in the Spring 2005, Journal of Religion and Popular Culture entry, Role-Playing Games and the Christian Right: Community Formation in Response to a Moral Panic (downloadable pdf).
FAIR USE -