As to origins, Wiki sez,
The 39 Steps (1935), is often considered one of the best films from his early period. This film was also one of the first to introduce the concept of the “Macguffin“, a plot device around which a whole story seems to revolve, but ultimately has nothing to do with the true meaning or ending of the story. In The 39 Steps, the Macguffin is a stolen set of design plans. (Hitchcock told French director François Truffaut: “There are two men sitting in a train going to Scotland and one man says to the other, ‘Excuse me, sir, but what is that strange parcel you have on the luggage rack above you?’ ‘Oh,’ says the other, ‘that’s a Macguffin.’ ‘Well,’ says the first man, ‘what’s a Macguffin?’ The other answers, ‘It’s an apparatus for trapping lions in the Scottish Highlands.’ ‘But,’ says the first man, ‘there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands.’ ‘Well,’ says the other, ‘then that’s no Macguffin.’”)
Ok so Hitchcock meant I guess that the Macguffin ended up being irrelevant to the story, hence the silly name. These days, however the Macguffin has come to mean THE thing that drives the story, but also turns out to be really important in and of itself –and that’s how I mean it. So I guess I’m more in the George Lucas camp. But it’s really not enough that it just drive the story; A good Mcguffin has to have something mysterious, something aspirational, something metaphysical, something mind-blowing. It’s the thing that everyone wants, but oh my Lord what’s going to happen once it’s gotten! The story is defined by the not having, the not seeing, the anticipation. I’m not film theorist or historian, just a person who loves movies and appreciates metaphysical plot devices. I guess strictly speaking, there is a difference between the Unexposed contents plot device and the MacGuffin, but Able Danger blurs the distinction and is stylistically referential to both, so you’ll have to excuse me when I conflate the two terms. For me, the coollest Macguffin’s are…
Repo Man’s alien the trunk;
Pulp Fiction’s glowing suitcase
And, of course, the Maltese Falcon
Thus, the challenge for me was how to make a real object that could really exist that we could touch and feel and see, with authentic Heideggerian Dasein -like the Maltese Falcon (if it were really real -because we can easily imagine that there could be a Maltese Falcon in the real world), and give it metaphysical mind blowing importance like the glowing suitcase in Pulp Fiction or the glowing trunk in Repo Man. What if there was one real tangible Rosetta Stone like object for the modern age that could redefine everything?
As every Neocon will tell you, “We live in a post 9/11 world.” It’s like the difference between BC and AD. There is one thing, one event that lives in the minds of mankind more than any other that defines our time. Given this as our context, the ultimate Macguffin would be the thing that could flip that script. If we redefine how we understand the event, then, and only then, can we redefine our era.
So, what if there was a smoking gun that proved the identities and methods of the true architects of 9/11 ? I mean what do I know? But why would Cheney and Rumsfeld force the Able Danger program to destroy 2.5 terrabytes of data except to hide something incriminating? Able Danger makes the leap into fiction in supposing not only that the real Able Danger data still exists, but that the data could serve as the irrefutable proof of a Zeitgeist manufactured by the neocon media oligarchy. I won’t bore you with the details of conspiracy theories here. This blog section is about Macguffins and Thrillers! If you want to find out about Able Danger get started. The truth is out there. You should probably start with PNAC.