Friday, September 7, 2007

Lost

After watching all three seasons of Lost, I could not help but feel a distinct tinge of unsatisfied confusion of a good kind. I am sure that is by design and I will talk about this and some conclusions later on. I did some searching online, stumbled upon articles discussing "philosophy of Lost", and references to books such as "Lost: Why are we all stuck on that island", and many other rumblings that I decided it's time to say few words about this TV land phenamenon.

I am not going to blabber about namesake connections between John Locke in the island and the philosopher John Locke, who in my view, are similar as night and day. John Locke of Lost is the believer, the hunter and a mystic. John Locke of England thought up the idea of limited government, checks and balances, the representative body (the parliament). This Locke was friends with Isaac Newton, Lost Locke is friends with dead people and drug addicts. How's that relate? You guessed right. It doesn't. OK, there is some mad Russian in Lost who is named after a true Russian anarchist, but, c'mon. Is the Island Russian dude really an anarchist? He is an automaton who interestingly never seems to die. So the philosopher and historical connection angle to Lost is very weak, IMHO.

No - if a show captures the imagination of this many people, from all walks of life who have no idea of the philosophers and philosophies, then we must look deeper, perhaps subconcious connections that people are makng with this show and their life. SUch connections can only come from psychotic events that scarred US psyche, that are fueling its growth, that formed its foundation and backbone. We must relate Lost to how people LIVE, and work and think. Daily. We need to show how the twists and turns and the basis of Lost is connected to the times we are living right now, not to dead philosophers and other characters hundred years past. And terein lies the connection and the appeal of Lost.

Let's us start with the land:

The island of Lost represents United States of America. Any objections? The plane crashes, and people who are mostly Americans "land" on the island "by accident" - wasn't that how America was discovered if I am not mistaken? The (new) Americans are isolated for a long time from events and issues of the outside world, just like first Americans were when they founded their new country.

The people:

.. are a very mixed bunch which symbolizes a well-known US ideal of melting pot (or tomatoe soup) - people from diverse backgrounds unite in a common goal, which, for the first 3 seasons seems to be getting off the island. But by the end of season 3 finale, we saw that "getting out" was not supposed to happen, and this story line seemed to punish the people who did get out. On top of this, Lost island scenes, especially at the beach, are filmed in an almost paradiseseque fashion to make the island look very appealing, somewhere you would want to be at; White sand, blue, very blue sea, beatiful women and cool friends, characters of all stripes - who would not want to be there! Sign me up man! That's the feeling they want you to have.

Plus, I am sorry but the outside world seems to suck for most characters of Lost. John Locke had lost his kidney to his dad who was a con artist, Jack was divorced, Sawyer was in the slammer, Kate was on her way to prison, Koreans were unhappy, could not conceive, the black lady was nearing certain death. While I aggree certain amount of angst is these people's lives necessary as a dramatic tool, it is apparent that there is lots of it here which signals me all the passangers are better off on the island than not - on the island Locke can walk, black lady is cured, Koreans are happy and having a baby and Jack is acting as a leader while still practicing his craft, saving people's lives. Hence, the message is the island, therefore America IS GOOD. We are BETTER OFF HERE.

"The others" symbolize not only the natives of America, but at same time, also the indust-real mentality who is battling (and losing) with newly developing third wave society in America. You see, "the others" always capture, abuse, limit movement, hide information of/from the new arrivees of the island. In other words, they are practising high levels of second wave-jutsu on our characters. Remember Jack when he was captured in 3rd season and keeps asking information? Where am I? Who are you? But he gets no satisfying answers for a long time. Limiting the flow of information and freedom and manipulating people through these is a typical integrator elite occupation of this passe world. We of Third Wave still do remember this mentality and do not like it even if we encounter it subconciously - in this case, in a TV show. We do like however our heroes in Lost because they are on our side. They have skills, they are independent and they are good at forming a network. What is the motto of the show? Live together, die alone. It is the first speech Jack made asking people to hang together (or hang seperately -another pearl of wisdom from American history).

What's another interesting dramatic twist is that as much as "the others" try to limit the flow of information, these "island Americans" do get information through other channels. Just like in a Third Wave society information starts flowing around, over, under the integrator elite which weakens their hold on the ruled people, new islanders, or John Locke for instance, seems to get his information directly from the island. This is such an excellent dramatic tool that deserves a mention. Talking to the island so TW, I mean, he could have plugged his brain to some Matrix like observation machine for all I care, the result would have been the same - people figure things out in Lost, or, are on their way to.

In the beginning of the post, I mentioned events that scarred US psyche. This event is none other than September 11, obviously. Crashing plane, dying people, etc. Lost is dealing with this emotional scar as well as other Holywood productions - if you remember, the crashing plane happened to be the first thing that got saved when "Superman Returned" to our humble planet in its newest reincarnation "Superman Returns". Through this action the filmmaker answered a subconcious question/worry that "if man of steel was around, he would have saved us all" maintaining the heroes status and "saving the plane" in the process. The scene where Sman tells the passangers "flying is still the safest way to travel" after the rescue made me roar in laughter for this very reason. During Sep 11, Sman seemed to be conveniently far, far away, on a vacation under the red sun, not being able to save us, bcz after all, he can't be at two places at once.

Back to Lost, "the plane" in Lost is a symbol, a vehicle that brings people "to the island" saving them from their miserable lives and giving them a newer, better life with newer, better friends. Hence, the negative feelings associated with plane crash is battled through this symbolism, turning it on its head and making it something good. This was done to such a point that in S3 finale, Jack was eagerly trying to find a plane which would crash, yes you heard right, he wanted to be in a crashing plane so that he would be back on his beloved island.

This, in a nutshell, is the basis of the appeal of Lost. The island life, as in current life, is ever-changing full of surprises, dangerous and confusing, the bad guys are well known to our psyche in the form of industrealists, integrator elites who see people as "things" to be studied, proded and jailed, and "back to basics" and concepts like network, communicating and knowing people is very important in the society we are living in. Also, "do it yourself" approach is showcased heavily in the show which mirrors its coming back in TW society as well. I would like to add this does not make the islanders "go to nature" hippies who, scared from TW changes, went into another extreme and devolved into 1st wave and started to shun all forms of technology - no, Lost islanders like techology, in the form of Said, or others, they actively use, repair, seek it when they can.

Before I close: I think making an Iraqi a torturer and having him torture Americans is the best liberal revenge I've seen in TV so far, and if that's not a jab in second wave Bushies' eyes, I don't know what is. Taking a representative of a country abused by US and turning him into a hero is a kind of storytelling twist which still makes me watch US TV that shows, at the same time, progressive people are still alive and well in United States of America.

How much do I like the show? While I am not madly into it, it definitely has its moments (except the flashbacks, the lives are too regular for my taste) and it does make a pleasant and fun entertainment. My main entertainment meal happens to be "real" scifi with less confused people and more technology but I do enjoy an occasional foray into mystery, sea, sunshine and friendship of which Lost seems to have lots of. I will keep watching and posting my thoughts here.

Live together, die alone!

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