Thursday, June 10, 2010

Were you REALLY watching Lost

So the 6 season trek is over and the fall out has been going for about two weeks. And boy have folks been trashing the ending of the show Lost. Words like 'waste of time', 'utter crap' and a lot of WTFs are out there.

But one thing has stood out from these comments. The firm feeling that these folks weren't really watching the show they were given. They made assumptions about what the show was and are reacting to the fact they were wrong.

So what did they think the show was? Easy. They thought it was a fun filled sci-fi action show with a mysterious island that was either Atlantis, or some similar place that we would be told by the end of the movie. With monsters and magic that would all be explained at the end also. Someone would pop up and tell us that aliens were attracted to this place that could jump from spot to spot following leylines to points of convergence where the Earth's magnetic force was strongest, blah blah. That all that 'magic' stuff was really just way advanced alien tech. That this island was the fount of all the myths and legends from all the culturals of the world. Or some such.

Trouble is, none of that is really true. Okay that last point is a maybe. Because it fits with the actual story being told. Cultural anthropologists and such have already put forth the notion that all the various tales of the world are about the same thing just the details have been eroded over time like a massive game of 'gossip' (or you might have called it 'telephone' as a kid). So that point isn't too insane and fits with the notion of universality that is within the show.

So what, you curiously ask, was the real story of the show. Simple. It was about the very nature of life and the struggle of man to figure it all out.

We have a group of varied people from different walks of life, but ethically, financially etc whose personal journeys have converged at this point place and time. This is symbolic of how we encounter folks every day, be it the clerk at the gas station, or a future spouse. These particular folks are dead in a spiritual but not literal sense. Their lives are all topsy turvy and just plain messed up. They are so mired in all that stuff that they can't pull themselves out alone although they all perhaps tried (because they believed they had to).

The plane crash gives them a second chance. It wipes the slate clean (a tabula rasa). What happened in the past doesn't matter, only what they do. They can stay the same people or recreate themselves in this kind of spiritual limbo.

What is important isn't what happens but how they react to it. How the various events change them, mold them, teach them. How they learn that they are not each an island to themselves where what they do doesn't matter but in fact ripples out to affect others. Change them, for good or for bad. All the way until their very deaths. And on their journey they make such strong connections to these particular folks that even after death, their very souls reach out to find the connections again.

Now I know what you are saying. This is a load of crap. None of this is in the show. I'm just spinning it to justify wasting my time every week for the last 6 years. I contend that you are the one what is wrong. You got so wrapped up in your smoke monsters and conspiracies that you weren't paying attention to the vast number of clues hiding under the riddles. Because it was there.


Well for one, how about the names. John Locke, Rousseau, Hume to name a few. These were all philosophers and writers contemplating the human condition and the nature of society. Debates like whether society is good or evil and whether returning to the savage nature would be how you find the core of a person's true soul and personality. Do you think Christian Shepherd was chosen simply because it sounded good? Doubt it.

How about the myths and legends. Folks debated if the island was Atlantis, Eden, Mu, or even something predating all of those things and actually being the source of those stories. Religious references were drawn from both Western and Eastern sources. Even so called New Age sources. Mentions of things like "points of strong magnetic forces" draw to mind tales like the Australian legends of song lines and convergence points (which also appear in Native American tales). Mixing sources wasn't about the writers being sloppy or making things up as they went along but rather a goal of showing a universality the same as not having a white bread cast that all speaks English in perfect mid-west American accents.

Heck if you really look at the various character stories there are overlapping tales that fit (with varying degrees of perfection) into Joseph Campbell's monomyth of the hero's journey. According to Campbell, that journey is THE tale in mythology. The core story of understanding life itself.

And then there were hints within the show. Mentions of good versus evil, tabula rasa. Even the oft repeated "Live Together, Die Alone" mantra. These were not just bits of cheesy dialogue. The whole Dharma project, which was supposedly in part about understanding the trumped up Valenzetti Equation were about life, society and so on. The point of the equation was less about the values of the numbers and more about the idea that you could change the 'end of the world' by changing any of those values. Other parts of the Dharma project were about creating the perfect society, as part of changing that value in the equation as well as understanding the forces of the Island (which could be viewed as life itself and how sometimes those forces can change you for the better, or drag you down and destroy you)

I challenge everyone that threw up their hands in disgust at the ending of the show to stop and consider whether you were paying attention to all these such details or were just going from week to week waiting for them to name the Island or explain the numbers. And even perhaps to go back and watch the show again. Only this time REALLY watch the show. Ask yourself 'why that name?' and 'why those words'. 

And if you still think that it was just a load of utter crap that they made up from week to week with no clue where they were going with it like the hack no talent writers you currently think they are. Well we'll just have to put this on the list of things we agree to disagree about and never speak of it again. 

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