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We Are All Nought But The Fantasies Of Tommy Westphall

According to Keith Gow (and, apparently, prolific producer Tom Fontana), the lion's share of American television since 1951 were imagined by St. Elsewhere character Tommy Westphall.
"Here's the thing," Fontana has remarked:

[...] "It's my personal plot that all of television exists in the mind of Tommy Westphall, to this day. So 'Homicide' is still the musings; it's just that instead of looking at a hospital snow globe," as he did in the "St. Elsewhere" finale, "now he's looking at the police headquarters building snow globe.

"And because," Fontana adds, "we did the 'Cheers' crossover" â?? a few "St. Elsewhere" characters visited the Boston bar â?? "it would make all of 'Cheers,' which would then make all of 'Frasier,' also in the mind of Tommy Westphall. It only gets bigger and bigger and bigger."

Another conspiracy Fontana supports, with Richard Belzer, is placing Belzer's character of Munch on as many shows as possible. So far, the wry "Homicide" detective has appeared on "The Beat," "Law & Order," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "The X-Files" and, in cartoon form, "The Simpsons."

Keith Gow and compatriots at places like Crossovers and Spin Off Master List [CSOML] have taken the ramifications of St. Elsewhere [imdb] and Homicide: Life On The Street [imdb] crossovers out to many layers of hierarchy, extending as far back as 1951 [xls] (I Love Lucy), and including (so far) 164 television shows.

The St. Elsewhere/Homicide crossover universe are at the core of "Group 2" in the taxonomy of "shared realities" at the CSOML, and some of the ramifications can get mind-bending. For example, St. Elsewhere crosses over with the original Bob Newhart Show; since Newhart's 'Bob Hartley' actually dreamed an entire series, that made the entire run of Newhart a dream within a dream.

Somehow, I find the idea that we're all the imaginings of a fictional autistic child strangely comforting. It's so much more accessible and sensible than the notion that we're all the creation of an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and yet somehow interested deity... Contra Descartes, the universe suddenly seems to me to make more sense if I assume that God is a deceiver. Or a playful child.

[original link courtesy MeFi]


... the universe suddenly seems to me to make more sense if I assume that God is a deceiver. Or a playful child.

Well, there were/are philosophical and religious groups that envisioned a mythological demiurge, a creator of this world who was not the â??true godâ? or ultimate reality. And, this character was portrayed in different ways, from â??goodâ? to â??evil,â? or at least capricious, foolish, or ignorant.

Some moderns even consider the possibility of a physicist hacker. ;-)

This all reminds me of the poem by Robert Frost, â??The Demiurgeâ??s Laugh.â?

I think you have the right questions, Lynne. The right questions are the ones that you own and not the ones that are spoon-fed by others, IMO.

Iâ??ve always liked the Delphic maxim, â??know thyself.â? There were groups in our Western culture in the early Judeo-Christian milieu that did not believe in an omnipotent, judging, anthropomorphic deity as ultimate reality. Ultimate reality was unknown, beyond existence, infinite, ineffable. A shard or spark of this spirit could be discovered within us and â??accountabilityâ? came right back to the individual. But these weren't solipsists. The "kingdom" was inside and outside of us. Awareness of interconnectedness, reunification invoked compassion and personal responsibility. No carrot and stick theology.

Should not all people who possess all things know themselves utterly? Now, if some do not know themselves, they will not have the use of what they possess; but those who have learned about themselves will do so. [The Gospel According to Philip]

Thanks for the confirmation of my sanity, Peggy. I don't get those confirmations very often. ;-)

On [The Gospel According to Philip], I think that study in particular fell out during my younger years of study, where I discarded it as an "extension" of the New Testament because it did not validate itself.

I mean, theologically, it was within reasonable context, but seemed to be more about ideas about the New Testament than actual testimony or witnessing, as compared to the gospels of Mark, John, Luke, and Matthew. Those four, by the way all make reference in their specific letters to each other, both as a resource and a point of reference. That was a piece that was missing in the writings of Philip. I never took it much beyond that point because.... well, 25 years ago, that wasn't the point I was at?

Heh. That's not the point I'm at now, either, actually. But that's a whole different thread. I'm more receptive to "ideas" on existentialism and spirituality than I was, but less inclined towards them than I was.

I never really followed the Gnostic scriptures, in general, though, and know very little about them. And... I actually said I wasn't going to get into these kinds of discussions, but dang. You tempted me sorely.

Suffice it to say that I question now this "interconnectivity" that seems to be very much in many of my recent associations minds. No, "question" is the wrong word... at this juncture, "avoid" is much more appropriate. I just don't know that (at least for now) I want to know.


Hey, sâ??cool. The Gospel of Philip is only one of a number of writings from the Valentinian school and actually is an anthology of excerpts from other works that are no longer extant. Although you may find some terminology similar to that in the New Testament, Lynne, the meaning is usually different and quite metaphoric. You donâ??t find the atonement theology of what later became orthodox Christianity.

Even if youâ??re comfortable â??avoiding,â? but nonetheless should ever be interested in learning more about Gnosticism, I can recommend The Gnosis Archive, which contains introductory articles, an online library of Gnostic scriptures, book suggestions, and free online lectures. A Gnostic church, one modern adaptation with a mostly neo-Valentinian flavor, uses this site as well. And, there is a Yahoo group for discussion of Gnosticism with a historical focus. There are other sites to explore, but many contain misinformation, too.

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