This is primarily a bookmarking post for future reference. I’ve been watching DVD collections of the Errol Morris series, First Person, over the last few days and found the episode, “One in a Million Trillion: An Interview with Rick Rosner,” particularly interesting. In the episode, Rosner describes how he sought to repeat the experience of going to high school several times until he could “get it right.” Rosner managed to forge transcripts, identification cards, and other materials and would then “transfer” into a new high school in a different state. Essentially he engages in a series of “do-overs” he compares to time travel (or at least the repetitions of an alternate-reality film such as Groundhog Day).
This desire for a do-over colors Rosner’s adult life, as well. Rosner describes his obsessive attempts to get onto the show Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Once on the show, Rosner loses on what he believes to be a poorly-worded question (“What capital city is located at the highest altitude above sea level? A. Mexico City, B. Quito, C. Bogotá, D. Kathmandu”), eventually spending the next several years of life seeking to get another chance on the show to make up for the faulty question (Rosner’s correspondence to Millionaire producers is available here).
Over the course of his research, Rosner develops, according to Errol Morris’s website, “a theory of cosmology in which the universe is seen as trillions of years old. ‘Why so old!?’ you might ask: To give the universe the opportunity to endlessly redo itself” (side note: these reviews offer a slightly different take on Rosner’s experiences).