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Of Myths and Pisteutics (or when the waves of faith crash against the rocks of reason)

There's no place like home, but you can't go home again. That was already laid out in the monomyth structuring much of Lost's subtext, Joseph Campbell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces. The quickest way to show this might be:

  • A person leaves home to take care of some business. The person eventually crosses a threshold that divides the homeland from some other land.
  • There's a whole bunch of trials, temptations and dangers to be faced. If the person can successfully navigate those trials, the person's consciousness is changed. If the person doesn't successfully navigate the trials, well... (see Ben not being allowed back on the island)
  • After finally taking care of said business, the person eventually gets back home, but the person really isn't the same person as before because of the change in consciousness — the person is more like person2; same memories, same general identity, but a changed outlook that makes persona experience home in a different way. Person2 may even have a hard time relating to the homefolk because person2 can't express what it is she or he experienced out beyond the threshold.
monomyth model

If this sounds vaguely like Dorothy's journey in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, that's no coincidence. According to Campbell, this model was the basic DNA for all mythic narratives; Dorothy, Gilgamesh, Odysseus, Yossarian, a person's basic experience from birth through old age, a spiritual seeker's exploration of consciousness, going away to school or the military, you name it.

But stories are more interesting when they can manipulate the mode, break into new territory and redefine previously understood ideas. The Oceanic 6 have certainly returned home, but they're not quite the O6. They're more like the O62, and they couldn't tell the homefolk what they've been through even if they wanted to. (Who would believe them, and how would they explain the lack of an island?) In most monomythic stories, the person returns somewhat more than she or he was before leaving; the O62 are both more and less, in some ways exaggerations of their strengths and weaknesses. What's more, those strengths and weaknesses seem to be the reverse of what they were on the island: Sayid, the man who walked away from torture, is now Ben's hired assassin. Jack, the social leader and healer, is verging on a heavy case of delirium tremens and can barely manage himself, let alone a scalpel. Hurley (with the help of Libby) went from finding an inner strength and confidence in his own mental stability to playing chess with dead Nigerian warlords in the Santa Rosa mental hospital. Sun has gone from a near-shrinking violet who was looking for a back door out of her marriage to a corporate titan living for the memory of her husband. Kate, always on the run and making just the wrong choice at the right time, has become a pillar of stability in her role as surrogate mother. Ben has gone from a kind of island shaman-king to a permanent state of exile, stuck in a cycle of vengeance and samsara out in his own private Land of Nod. We don't yet know about Desmond or Lapidus, but we do know something about another islander, Locke. The news isn't good.

Locke ended up being the one in the coffin (although he was one of three options; if any leaks escaped, two other endings were ready in the wings, one with Sawyer in the coffin, and one with Desmond). Locke is now confirmed to be Jeremy Bentham, another in the Lost list of Enlightenment philosophers. And he's an interesting choice: When forging his ideas of utilitarianism and legal positivism, Bentham forcefully broke from the theories natural rights and social contracts put forth by the philosopher John Locke. Island Locke's name change introduces a narrative and metaphysical break that gives rise to all kinds of fun new complications, particularly when it comes to island Locke's uncertainty between faith and reason.

Rewind: One thing the islanders seem to be living in is a state of nature (especially the Others). Many Enlightenment thinkers had strongly-held opinions about the state of nature: Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) thought that life in a state of nature was "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." John Locke (1632-1704) differed from Hobbes, believing that the law of nature was reason itself, so in a state of nature people naturally and reasonably acknowledged each other's rights to life and property. Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) looked upon the state of nature more kindly than Hobbes, but didn't agree with Locke that reason emerged fully-fledged in the state of nature; reason, Rousseau thought, needed some sort of structure to help it mature.

All three believed that people were born into a state of nature with certain natural rights that were unconditional and not granted by some sovereign. Locke expresses his position in Two Treatises of Government (1690): "reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions." But there are some problems with Locke's position: it puts a lot of faith in humanity's natural inclination toward reason, and it claims that because something is (reason is the law of nature), then something ought to be (no one ought to harm another). Bentham, going off David Hume, would have a real problem with this logic.

These proponents of natural rights also argued for the need of a social contract to protect those rights; individuals would give up some of their personal liberty to an authority in turn for certain guarantees and protections (which happens on the island when Jack and Locke become the custodians of the guns in the Swan Station). Sometimes these contracts were used to justify political power, and other times they were used to justify revolt against political power. Bentham would also have a problem with whole notion of social contracts protecting anything like inalienable rights.

Island Locke certainly believes in some semblance of natural rights; he tries to afford people their right to pursue whatever endeavors they wish to on the beach, as long as they don't infringe upon anyone else's inalienable rights. This is is partly why Locke is so easily bamboozled by Sawyer in the season two episode "The Long Con." After Sun was attacked (apparently by the Others, but it was Charlie working for Sawyer), Sawyer tells Locke that a mob is coming for the guns in the hatch. Locke sees this as a threat to the social order that could lead to someone getting harmed, and hides the guns. He's of course followed by Charlie, who shows Sawyer where Locke hid the guns, and Locke's faith in people is once again taken advantage of.

But island Locke doesn't rely on reason in quite the same way his namesake would; his faith repeatedly crashes into the natural law of reason. Rather than look for rational explanations for some of his extraordinary experiences on the island — his regained legs, his visions, facing the smoke monster, the meaningful coincidences — he presumes a kind of mystical core to the island (with some evidence), and acts accordingly. This is a John Locke who forgoes reason in favor of the transcendental wisdom of nature. But we also know from his flashbacks that he wasn't always like this; he has an aptitude for the kind of rationally-based thinking that is part of Jack's profession, science. Locke's ambivalence between reason and faith is counterpointed by the name shift from a proponent of natural rights and the social contract to a critic of those very positions (recall that the island the O6 were found on, Membata, means ambivalence in Indonesian, and ambivalence literally means caught between two strong positions). This internal shift may have first clearly manifested when Locke snaps at Kate during the season four episode "Eggtown": "You may think this is a democracy, Kate, because of the way Jack ran things, but this is not a democracy." When Kate asks him if that makes him a dictator (which might be the Hobbesian move), Locke just says "If I was a dictator, I would just shoot you, and go about my day. Dinner's at six if you're hungry."

Which is all to say the shift from the conflicted island-based John Locke to the coffin-based Jeremy Bentham has been prefigured, and prepares us for some things to come. Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) was a philosopher and economist, proponent of English liberalism, the patron of University College London, utilitarianism, animal rights, and a slew of neologisms. As an economist, many of Bentham's ideas paralleled Adam Smith's free market capitalism; perhaps the economist Sayid was supposed to assassinate in Germany was actually Bentham/Locke. Bentham is also the architect of the panopticon prison, designed in a round with back-lit cells so a lone guard could see all the prisoners and the prisoners never knew when they were being watched. It was a way of institutionalizing social control of the conscience through surveillance, which French social critic Michel Foucault saw as characteristic of modern civilization. This recalls the Pearl Station's surveillance of the Swan Station, Abaddon's visit to Hurley, the Others watching from the jungle, and other such moments that light the spark of paranoia in the Lostaways. Bentham's original prison designs never came to be, but the British Parliament did give him £23,000 for his trouble.

As a utilitarian philosopher, Bentham's basic stance is that an action is right if it maximizes the happiness of those affected by its consequences, and wrong if it does otherwise (John Rawls expanded "happiness" to "the good"). The opposite of this is egoism, where the affects of an action's consequences on others are secondary to to subject's self-interest.

This was well on display when island Locke tried to reason with Keamy down in the Orchid Station, and Ben jumped from the shadows and stabbed the mercenary in the neck, despite the dead-man's trigger Keamy had wired to the bomb on the freighter. When Locke tells Ben he just killed everybody on the boat, Ben simply says "So?" and "It's not my problem, John." Not that Ben was acting in a utilitarian mode, but his follow-up response introduces a criticism of utilitarianism; if maximizing happiness is the goal of utilitarianism, can emotions be manipulated through fear or desire to alter a rational assessment of what would maximize happiness or the good? Ben's emotions over Alex certainly affected him, and he lays it out for Locke in a line that seems as overstuffed with meaning as Hurley's mother saying Jesus Christ is not a weapon: "Sometimes good command decisions get compromised by bad emotional responses."

Bentham's problems with natural rights and social contracts stem from a position known as legal positivism, a stringent empirical stance that claims for a law to be valid, one should be able to find an objectively verifiable source for the law. This is the Dragnet-like rigor of the scientific method — just the facts, verify the facts are accurate, and go from there. From this position, Bentham argued that the concept of natural rights were meaningless in any legal sense, "nonsense upon stilts," because they could not be objectively verified (try describing the contours and weight of 'liberty' or 'happiness').

Beyond their questionable legal nature, Bentham also argues that natural rights could not actually exist prior to any kind of social life. Rights are a function of law, and law is simply the command of a sovereign governing body — so scratch the 18th century ideas of a social contract protecting anything like natural rights, because for a contract to exist in the first place, some sort of sovereign body had to first enforce it (meaning a government existed prior the the enforcement of natural rights, which for Bentham were already meaningless). Besides, from families to tribes to nations, people have always been born into social situations; no state of nature ever existed where individuals granted themselves a right to 'freedom' or 'happiness' or 'property' outside of any social group; it's the sovereign of the social group that grants rights.

But just because some people are free, it doesn't follow that all people ought to be free and social contracts are required to protect that freedom (as Locke argues). For Bentham, this is putting the cart before the horse, a child giving birth to its own parent; first a law-defining sovereign body is construed, and legal rights follow. In his strongest argument against natural rights, Anarchical Fallacies, Bentham explains that if a people lack something like liberty, that's enough to give them a reason to want it; but having a reason for wanting liberty is not a right to liberty in itself: "a reason for wishing that a certain right were established, is not that right — want is not supply — hunger is not bread."

That is/ought problem comes from another familiar Lost brainiac, David Hume, who argues in A Treatise of Human Nature (1739) that just because a state of affairs is does not mean that something ought to be (like a law). One legal theorist demonstrates the problem with the following analogy: All animals procreate (true); all humans are animals (true); therefore all humans should procreate (false). An 'is' should not be confused with an 'ought.' Just look at the way some people are healed by the island and some aren't; until we get an explanation, we're left with the basic fact that just because some people are healed by the island, its doesn't mean everyone who gets injured ought to be healed by the island.

Locke seemed to be headed in a Bentham direction all season as he ruled New Otherton and prepares to lead the Others. This echoes the way the second half of the Lost narrative seems to be reflexing back on the first three seasons (the survivors becoming the Others, etc.). The social contract experiments of the early days on the island are now being challenged and disassembled, with one of the central figures of that social pact, Locke, taking on the mantle of one of his namesake's strongest critics (talk about self-hatred).

Getting back to the core of the matter: Locke's reason/faith ambivalence is embodied in the Orchid Station. At the Orchid, the way something appears on the surface is quite different from the reality of the situation. As Jack and Locke debate "leader stuff" outside the Orchid Station, Locke, knowing he's about to move the island, lapses back into his talk of fate, predestination, and miracles: "You know, Jack, you know that you're here for a reason — you know it. And if you leave this place, that knowledge is going to eat you alive from the inside out." When Jack tells Locke that it's just an island and doesn't need protection, Locke responds "It's not an island. It's a place where miracles happen. And if you don't believe that, Jack, if you can't believe that, just wait till you see what I'm about to do."

Hold everything — let's consult Bentham again. Among the many words he coined, one seems to describe what's going on here, pisteutics. Bentham described this as a willingness to believe some testimony without regard to the probability or improbability of the facts as indicated by the experience. In other words, do you believe something or not believe something despite what your own eyes tell you? Worse, do you act on those willing misbeliefs? Not only does this raise the reason/faith specter again, it recalls Bentham's argument about legal fictions — facts acknowledged as false, but then still acted upon as if they were true (like corporations being treated as persons under the law). Bentham's approach to legal fictions, it turns out, was an early foray into modal fictionalism, counterfactuals, and yes, possible worlds, the champion of which shares a name with Charlotte's father, David Lewis.

If Locke embodies the pisteutic principle, Jack is antipisteutic, unwilling to believe testimony without regard to the facts as indicated by the experience. When the island does pop out of spacetime, Jack still doesn't believe it, to which Hurley responds, "Oh really? Because one minute it was there and the next it was gone, so unless we like overlooked it, dude, that's exactly what he did. But if you've got another explanation, man, I'd love to hear it." Incidentally, we know that electromagnetism had a lot to do with the move, and the frequency of electromagnetic radiation is measured in hertz, or cycles per second. When the flash occurred, everything fades to complete white for a split second. This might have been foreshadowed by the judge's name in Kate's flashforward trial, Galzethron — an anagram for 'a hertz long.'

But when has Lost ever made distinctions between something scientific or something supernatural all that clear? How much of moving the island is actually a miracle of science? Down in the Orchid we find that the island's anomalous electromagnetic properties have created a kind of Casimir effect which the DHARMA Initiative used to play with spacetime and make time-traveling bunnies — call it electromagic. Way back in the first post of the season, it was discussed how the Casimir effect proved vacuums existed at the subatomic quantum level; Kip Thorne and Stephen Hawking theorized that if you could get your hands on something called exotic material (virtual particles) and employ the Casimir effect, you could possibly create a wormhole and, yes indeedy, screw with spacetime. Arthur C. Clarke, the author of 2001: A Space Odyssey (he wrote the book as Kubrick made the film), wrote that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. From that standpoint, the miraculous is just science not yet understood. Perhaps Locke's shift to Bentham will mark a shift from a pisteutic faith-based acceptance of phenomenon to reasoned analysis of what drives his mystical experiences.

So the mystical core of the island may, in fact, have a scientific explanation, but that doesn't mean its experience can't extend into something oceanic and mystical; it would be a fine way to bridge the divide between reason and faith. We saw the core of the island itself when Ben descended into its depths and turned what Cuse and Lindelof called the "frozen donkey wheel," which Ben uses to trigger some electromagic chain reaction popping the island out of spacetime.

frozen donkey wheel

Why is it frozen down there — is it just because it's so deep, or does it need to be cold for a purpose? What do the hieroglyphs on the wall say? And haven't we seen that wheel before?

The wheel is another example of the eight-rayed star symbol that has been appearing through Lost, and it's now become a mystical symbol used in a scientific context. It was on Mrs. Gardner's wall, engraved on a tree, on the ceiling of the Pearl Station, on a ceiling in Michael's flashback in "Special," it surrounded a porthole in the Looking Glass Station, and is branded into Juliet's back. (And since 2001: A Space Odyssey was brought up, it's worth noting that Stanley Kubrick has employed the same symbol in his work.)

eight-rayed star

This is an intriguing symbol that's not particular to any one culture or tradition, but retains some common traits wherever it ends up, particularly resurrection, rebirth and regeneration. Given the DHARMA Initiative's namesake, the go-to place is Buddhism and the dharmachakra, an eight-spoked wheel that represents the eight-fold path of Buddhism, as well as rebirth or escaping the cycle of rebirth (see: all the DHARMA Initiative material). Similarly, in Catholicism, an eight-rayed symbol known as the baptismal represents resurrection and rebirth; the number eight also has more biblical symbolic significance than can be enumerated here (see: Mr. Eko, Charlie Pace). Early Gnostic Christians used the same symbol to represent the eight fundamental Aeons of their Ogdoad, as well as resurrection. In some versions, there was a snake in the center of the symbol, which is another emblem of rebirth (see: Valis, Smokey). The Gnostics borrowed the eight-rayed symbol from ancient Egypt, where the symbol stood for the eight fundamental emanations of creation called the Egyptian Ogdoad (see: all the hieroglyphs, on the Swan Station countdown, Ben's back door to the back door of his closet, the pillar in the ice cave, Locke's Eye of Horus scar). Through some twisting moves of mythic borrowing and revising called syncretism, this symbol also ties the Egyptian goddess Isis via a back door to the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar and the star Sirius, and around again to the Gnostic wisdom principle Sophia. (The symbol takes its own hero's journey.) This all has implications for Juliet, the person with the eight-rayed symbol seared into her flesh.

Start with Ishtar, a fertility and wisdom goddess who went to the underworld to recover her dead consort, the shepherd god Tammuz. (Ishtar is also where the biblical name Esther comes from, and in the bible, Esther was of the tribe of Benjamin. Tammuz became a summer month in the Jewish calendar.) With Ishtar, Tammuz made nature green and brought life to the earth. The Babylonians ritually marked the high point of summer, when the crops dried up in the heat and the world became generally more difficult, as the death of Tammuz. This ritual death of the god occurred with the heliacal rising of the Sirius, when it rose on the horizon at the same time as the sun (this period is still called the dog days of summer). It's the hottest, driest time of the summer in the northern hemisphere.

Without her counterpart, the fertility goddess Ishtar could not sustain life on earth, so when Sirius rose with the sun, she headed to the underworld after Tammuz. As the story goes, Ishtar negotiated the release of Tammuz from the underworld, but Tammuz had to return for part of each year. The myth and its ritual mirror and mark how the seasons revolve and the earth cyclically lives, dies, and is reborn each year — it looks like faith, but it smells like reason. As it turns, out, Ishtar is also represented as an eight-pointed star on ancient Babylonian clay tablets, and the heliacal rising of Sirius mark the time when she goes to the underworld to recover the dead and renew life.

In the Egyptian goddess Isis, Ishtar has a cognate that embodies the principles of fertility an wisdom, healing and rebirth. Like Tammuz, Isis' counterpart Osiris died each year and went to the underworld. (There are other versions of this myth, like the Greek tale of Aphrodite and Adonis). When Osiris died, Isis wept until the Nile flooded, and then she went after him.

In ancient Egypt, the Nile was everything; it flooded each summer, and that flood made the fields fertile and guaranteed people would have food. Egypt's major geographical features are often linked to astrological features, and the Nile was seen as the Milky Way on earth (in contemporary religious services, you'll similarly hear "on earth as it is in heaven"). Another certain astrological feature identified when the Nile would flood each year — the heliacal rising of Sirius, just as in the Mesopotamian story. Sirius was identified with the Egyptian goddess Sopdet, who eventually became an aspect of Isis. And with that we have our connection between Isis, Ishtar, the eight-rayed symbol, and the concepts of death, rebirth, resurrection, and regeneration.

In Lost, we have Egyptian references in the hieroglyphs and Locke's Eye of Horus scar, and a Mesopotamian reference when Locke fills in the Gilgamesh clue in a crossword puzzle (and Ishtar appears in the Epic of Gilgamesh). The life-death-rebirth themes also structure much of the overall Lost narrative: Why do some people heal? How is Christian Shepherd up and walking? And what's the deal with pregnancies failing on the island? Judeo-Christian references are rife throughout Lost (Yemi, Charlie, Eko, etc.), and the eight-rayed symbol is a recurring motif. That symbol was also used by early Gnostics, who adopted it from Egyptian mystery schools; the Gnostics also figure heavily into Philip K. Dick's book Valis, which Locke gives Ben to read. At this point it appears the mythic Ishtar/Isis/Sirius/eight-rayed-symbol connections are extending into the Judeo-Christian-Gnostic elements of Lost, which is where we come back around to the wisdom principle of Sophia.

Caitlin Matthew's book Sophia: Goddess of Wisdom, Bride of God is a good primer for these connections; just remember that a lot of the links evolved more out one culture's useful borrowing of another's mythic tropes than any direct translation. The Egyptian foundational Ogdoad was comprised of four pairs of male-female mirror-twinned counterparts representing certain elemental principles: primordial waters, air, darkness, and endless space. This approach was another thing adapted into various Gnostic cosmogonies; the elemental forces were called Aeons, and different schools had their own versions of the eight foundational male-female counterparts (such as mind and truth, or word and life). Each pair of Aeons emanated another principle represented by two more mirror-twinned counterparts, and out of this came Sophia and Logos, divine wisdom and the word, which occupies a central place in ancient Gnostic teaching.

When Sophia was emanated, she separated from the Aeons and fell to earth, becoming like Isis and Ishtar a principle for wisdom, fertility and the life-death-rebirth of nature. Rather than lay out the litany of echoes between Isis and Sophia, suffice to say they are both significant influences on the concept of the Virgin Mary; iconography Isis holding the baby Horus is echoed in iconography of the Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus. Sophia/wisdom is also linked with the Holy Spirit, which facilitated Mary's virgin pregnancy. So when we see that eight-rayed symbol, we're looking at something that ties together eons of various mythic traditions associating astrological and earthly cycles, the cycle of life-death-rebirth, wisdom, and the feminine. To substantiate this connection of the symbol through Egyptian mythology back to Christianity, have a look at St. Peter's Square at the Vatican; the eight-rayed symbol covers the entire ellipse in the middle of square, and in the center of that symbol stands an ancient Egyptian obelisk:

St. Peter's Square

This brings us back to the bearer of the symbol, Juliet. Is she fulfilling some kind of Isis or Sophia role? She has the wisdom side down; like Jack, she's a scientist, specifically a fertility doctor — she's deeply involved with the processes of birth, and on the island, death. She helped facilitate Ji Yeon's birth by ratting out Sun's affair to Jin, which effectively helped the two reconcile and get off the island. Similar to how the Isis and Sophia figures are of two worlds, both cosmic and earthly, Juliet is both an Other and a visitor like the survivors. She is arguably the strongest female character with the clearest sense of purpose and direction, and often acts in a fairly utilitarian manner. Yet she faces one problem — she can't help pregnant mothers on the island come to full term. It's a dormant time on the island, where the living don't really age or die and new life can't emerge — rather like when Isis and Ishtar enter the underworld. The mythic mark on Juliet's back suggests her role could expand; given the way the second half of the Lost narrative seems to reflex back on the first half, she may even figure out how to help a birth come to term on the island. It would seem like a miracle, but it would be accomplished through her reason.

To punctuate the idea of some broad-scale narrative mirror-twinning, the end of "There's No Place Like Home" has a clear mirror-twin in the end of the first season's finale, "Exodus"; it's as if the narrative itself is on its own monomythic journey. If the last three seasons are mirroring the first three, season four can be understood as something akin to season one2. At the end of season one, Michael, Jin, Sawyer and Walt are out at night on the open water when they're found by the Others; that scene is mirrored at the end of season four (one2) when the O6 are found at night by Penny's boat out on the open water. But whereas the first water encounter ended up being an attack that sent them back to the island, the rescue in "There's No Place Like Home" took the survivors away to something like safety.

But were they really rescued? Hurley, Jack, and Sayid returned to a hell, not a home, and both Jack and Hurley understand they need to be back on the island. The call Kate received in her dream was a backward-masked voice saying "The island needs you; you have to go back before it's too late," so Kate may be coming around to that position as well. And if fortune tellers are to be believed, Aaron is not supposed to be raised by another like Kate. The ambivalent nature of their rescue is captured in Miles's comment to Charlotte about her leaving the island "after all that time you spent trying to get back here." When Charlotte asks what he means, Miles cryptically responds "What do I mean?" Such little details are suggestive — the Orchid video went into rewind at 3:05 — and as Lost works its way back through this narrative journey, like any good myth, it's showing the audience a lot more than what's on the surface. Soon we'll be audience2.

Did anyone see the Hurley Bird this episode?

Books mentioned in this post



J. Wood is the author of Living Lost: Why We're All Stuck on the Island

119 Responses to "Of Myths and Pisteutics (or when the waves of faith crash against the rocks of reason)"

  1.  
    Crazy Bearded Jack June 3rd, 2008 at 11:14 am

    When I saw the Dharmacakra, I checked it out and noticed that it was part of the flag of the Kindgdom of Sikkim, located in the Himalayas. In "Lost Horizon" Sikkim is close to Shangri-La, the mythical village in which time passes at a different rate and the villagers are eternally young.

  2.  
    Codemorse June 3rd, 2008 at 11:17 am

    J -

    At last! I'm ashamed to admit that I've been feverishly clicking over to Powell's since last Firday, in the ope that your column would magically appear. I look forward to reading your thoughts, and to re-reading them when I go back over the fourth season later in the year. You and Doc Jensen are the only writers I read on a regular basis when it comes to Lost. I've tried others, but there's simply no comparison to your erudite, thoughtful posts.

  3.  
    Daylon June 3rd, 2008 at 11:26 am

    Hello, this is my first post. I have been lurking and reading this board for two years now. I wanted to say thank you to you Mr. J. Woods and your faithful posters for many fun days of cranium pain for me as I try to fathom all the thought processes and theorums. Thanks again and I look forward to the next season of LOST and reading your blog.

  4.  
    CPT June 3rd, 2008 at 11:32 am

    J,
    Have you given any thought to the possibilty that Bentham is a time-traveling bunny version of Locke? The Orchid video provides the possibility of true mirror-twinning with the production of Locke with a different perspective, both physically and temporally. It would certainly explain the ambivalence of the O6 toward Bentham and his "true" name. Indeed, wouldn't this represent the purest definition of "ambivalence"?

  5.  
    ElmoCarp June 3rd, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Just curious, but isn't the "frozen donkey wheel" seven spoked? The eight spoked symbol is like four long lines that intersect at their centers, which creates an mirrored-spoke opposite each spoke, When looking at the two photos of the donkey wheel (particularly the bird's eye view) it seems clear that there are only 7 spokes on the donkey wheel. This may seem trifling, but I just wonder if anyone else noticed this and if it alters/expands on the ideas raised in the blog.

    I truly have benefitted from the time taken to write this blog every week. It has increased my enjoyment of the show and also has provided a substitute for dialogue that is unavailable to me with my friends who watch. I hope you continue and I look forward to any additional blogs you may have during the hiatus.

  6.  
    ElmoCarp June 3rd, 2008 at 11:44 am

    You know what, nevermind. It still has that appearance, but every two spokes appear to be at right angles, so it must be eight spoked...Sorry for the lame post and thanks again for all the insights.

  7.  
    Crazy Bearded Jack June 3rd, 2008 at 11:59 am

    Another thing - Anthony-Ashley Cooper the first Earl of Shatseberry was the patron John Locke, while John Locke raised the 3rd Earl of Shaftersberg with the same name

  8.  
    luke June 3rd, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    Hi since Horace Goodspeed returned this season, I have been thinking about the title of a short story from college, Young_Goodman_Brown. The diagram at the top of the page has alot in common with the summary of the story in wikipedia.


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Goodman_Brown

  9.  
    J Wood (Post Author) June 3rd, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    Yeah, I apologize for the lateness on this one. I've been writing since the episode aired, but I've just finished up a semester, have been staring at way too many screens for work, and my right eye decided to take a break (ophthalmologist says its just overworked). So reading and writing has been a bit of a slog, which is why I've not been commenting as much; after a while, it's like the vertical hold goes wonky. But I get to wear a cool eye patch like Mikhail.

    CBJ, that's a good catch on the dharmachakra symbol; do you know if the dharmachakra figures into the novel, and if the novel develops any themes seen in Lost? I've not read it, but from what I know, it reminds me somewhat of The Razor's Edge. I bet there's some good studies out there about early-to-mid 20th C. lit about westerners heading to Central Asia looking to repair some gaps WWI and the depression left. If there aren't any studies out there, there should be.

    While I'm at it here, I'm planning a couple more posts in the next week or two. The main one will look at Georges Polti's 36 dramatic situations (1916); there are a lot of parallels here, if the Lost writers haven't looked at this, they'd be surprised to see how it maps onto their story.

    Campbell's journey monomyth also has a 17-part structure, and that looks about as mappable as Polti's. But what's interesting about these models isn't how Lost tracks with them, but where it diverges, kind of like having to know the rules before you can break them.

  10.  
    Kyle June 3rd, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    Sophia is known as Ma'at in Egyptian mythology, and Ma'at's symbol is a single upright ostrich feather. That same symbol is very nearly duplicated by the center character on the Swan's countdown clock when the station goes into system failure.

    The dead were judged against Ma'at's feather; if your soul was lighter than the feather, you could pass into the afterlife. Heavier, and your soul would be consumed by Ammit, a dog/crocodile/hippopotamus/lion chimera who shares a none-too-small similarity to Cerberus.

  11.  
    Lyle in Lansdale June 3rd, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    Thanks to J's previous emphasis on twinning I couldn't help but notice a link between Michael freezing the bomb on the freighter and Ben entering the frozen subterranean netherworld. Michael was freezing the bomb to prevent it from going off. Was the frozen donkey wheel being frozen by someone? Will it spin freely if the area isn't being frozen? What happens when it does spin freely?

  12.  
    JMan June 3rd, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    J wrote:

    "Locke ended up being the one in the coffin (although he was one of three options; if any leaks escaped, two other endings were ready in the wings, one with Sawyer in the coffin, and one with Desmond)."

    Just to be clear, I think those endings were filmed simply to obfuscate the actual (and logical) Locke choice. The fact that Locke was in the coffin WAS leaked early... a source of much controversy about spoilers on the net. Given the clues throughout, I believe that the writers never intended anyone but Locke (with Ben or Michael as red herrings) to be the end reveal all along.

  13.  
    yogi June 3rd, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Thanks JWood for another season of great reviews! Hope to see you again next season here at Powells.

  14.  
    normama1066 June 3rd, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Thanks J. Your blog is always so insightful. I was glad to read your thoughts on the "mirror" of Locke/Bentham. I had been saddened to think that Locke came to such a dismal end but now i am hopeful that he is just in the death part of the cycle and will be reborn.

  15.  
    NER June 3rd, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    It's worth noting that while Locke is almost ecstatic on his boast to Jack about the miracle he's about to perform, he doesn't actually have any involvement with the island moving - it's Ben who does all the work. Locke can't even find the right flowers that hide the elevator controls.

  16.  
    Oren June 3rd, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Just an observation about the Panopticon and the O6: it seems as if the O6 are imprisoning themselves by lying to the entire world about their island experiences and isolating themselves even from each other as if they occupy separate cells (Jack appeared quite alone in the flash forward at the end of this season). This ultimately leads to their (maybe not Sun and Aaron...yet) paranoia--Christian still haunts Jack; Hurley sees dead people; Sayid, as an assassin, must be ever cautious and always watch his back; and now Kate receives a spooky vision of Claire that forces her to cry, "I'm sorry" repeatedly. Jeremy Bentham, aka John Locke, could himself be that lone guard watching the O6, but they may all be clueless as to when they're actually being watched.

  17.  
    john June 3rd, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Did anyone else think the area where the wheel is located is a reference to Dante's Inferno, in which the lowest circle of hell is frozen?

  18.  
    faramir73 June 3rd, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    It's so good to read you again, J!
    About season endings' mirror twinning: I think season 3 and 4 finales are specular, in the sense that we see the same moment in time (I guess 2008, if not 2009), from different points of view. Significant is the stop and reverse driving of Kate after Jack's *we have to go back!*. I'm also guessing that season 2 and 5 finales will mirror each other this way, revealing that the scene of the phone call from the listening station to Penny by the portuguese-speaking guy is *not* contemporary to Desmond's failsafe key turning, but actually is the first and farthest flash forward we witnessed. That electromagnetic anomaly is something that happens two or more island shifts *after* Ben's one: Penny is helping the O6 to *find it*, with Desmond - may we see him in that same bed with Penny, at 3.05 am? Finally, the series finale and season 1's will be mirror twins, maybe with a nostalgic flashback to that doomed boarding of flight 815... or with a sad 'nostos', à la Schindler's List: the Circle will be metanarratively closed.

  19.  
    Codemorse June 3rd, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    J -

    I can't imagine any need for an apology. Your posts provide enormous food for thought about this show, and have deepened my viewing experience. If Lost's writers aren't aware of your work, they should be. It's done their work a great service.

    And I'd like to add a little food to the thought-banquet here with this mythological postulate:

    Are we seeing some Arthurian shadowing in the Lost tale at this point? We have Locke, the possible once-and-future King of the Island being sought after and eventually returned to his 'rightful place' by a mysterious and seemingly ageless mentor-figure (Alpert). We have Widmore, potentially the former 'King' of the Island, who possesses the possibility of developing into a Fisher King figure - a formerly great ruler who seeks but cannot locate the well-spring of his land's youth...

    Ah, there's probably too many literary references in this show already without adding more wood to the pile.

  20.  
    Handsome Smitty June 3rd, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Has anyone discussed the fact that Jacob told Locke to move the island, but Ben-I-always-have-a-plan wouldn't let him? It's obvious to me Ben is still the one in charge. Jacob meant for Locke to leave the island. The poor guy will just NEVER get it (isn't it obvious, now that he is/may be dead? Ben wanted to leave to get revenge. But he has in no way given up his desire to control Jacob/Island. Jack, of course, is the one meant to take over for Locke, who failed. Ben is no good guy - he's a psychopath, not a philosopher. That Jack has a greater connection to the island, I believe, is obvious, due to the presence of his dad.

    Can't wait until you put all these examinations of Lost into a book! I wasn't really a fan until I came across your posts, saw the complex connections you've pointed out. Amazing.

  21.  
    Charlotte June 3rd, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    John - I also thought about Dante in that scene. Any descent underground is a metaphorically descent into the underworld, and as the descent through the hatch into the Swan Station was the heroes' (the collective heroes of LOST) descent into Hades (to find future seer Desmond), this one was a descent into Dante's Inferno. Since it is the realm of those who have betrayed their lords, then it implies that Ben may have betrayed Widmore. Or maybe his turning the wheel was a betrayal of Locke?

  22.  
    Perelandra June 3rd, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Locke's encounter with Christian in the cabin had me thinking of Parzival, the innocent who neglected to ask the "right" question about the wounded Fisher King. So Christian coaxes him to ask "How do I save the Island?"

    Way out of left field, Michael trying to freeze the bomb reminded me of the sinful engineer-hero in the 19th C ballad "Jim Bludso." He stays on the burning steamboat: "I'll hold the nozzle agin the bank/ Til the last galloot's ashore". He dies but but is redeemed.

    More relevant: the trigrams on the DI logo are randomly scattered, not symetrical as in the traditional figure. This almost has to be deliberate on the show's part, to suggest the imbalanced, doomed nature of the Dharma project.t.

    Locke was Gilgamesh to Eko's Enkidu (with the Hatch as the harlot/barmaid) His search for meaning/immortality is unlikely to end any better than the ancient hero's.(Is Jacob Ut-Napishti?)

    Dragon-battle, brother-battle, and father-conflict are typical incidents in Campbell's monomyth that have also shown up on LOST. Then there's the triumph of the Hero over Tyrant Holdfast--Widmore?

    The layering mythologies and allusions is part of LOST's fascination. Thank you, Mr. Wood for your fine exegeses. See you in another season.

  23.  
    Jon June 3rd, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    I'm with CPT. It feels like we're due for a good con and what's better than faking your own death with your bizzarro twin?

    Why would the O6 call Locke Jeremy Bentham? As far as I can tell from flashbacks, no one gave a damn who John Locke (not the philosopher)was.

    And another thing, if the island has the power to keep Michael from dying just to keep a janitor around, wouldn't it maybe consider flexing its muscles to keep its resident guru from dying?

    Help me out here J.

  24.  
    sosolost June 3rd, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    Thank you J. Wood for all your fine work this season (and all seasons for that matter). I echo those who note that you bring so much to the Lost viewing experience.

    Your mention of birth/rebirth makes me think this also applies to the island itself -- at some point it will reappear/be "reborn". It's disappearance underwater was like a "baptism."

    I have seen/felt Campbell's "Hero" throughout much of Lost. Campbell's definition of a hero would seem to fit Locke, but I can't shake the feeling that Locke is still part of some sort of "long con" -- one that's being played out between Ben/Widmore and possibly others. Locke is necessary and is on a journey but, in the end, will he be the "true hero"? (Normama notes Locke's death/being reborn - this idea helps alleviate my "long con" feelings about Locke described above. The "old" Locke had to die so that when he returns to the island he will be reborn and will indeed be the hero/leader)

    Intriguing idea that Locke could be "the economist"

    over and out

  25.  
    Ginny June 3rd, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Love your posts, J! They are always worth the wait! I have a fairly heavy duty summer reading list thanks to your refernces! Your theme for this final season 4 episode brought to mind a quote by TS Eliot, "we shall never cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time". It's one of my favorites because it shows the complexity of our learning...not in linear terms but in terms of an ascending spiral where we may return to the same spot over and over again but on a different plane.

    Kind of like you said about Lost audiences...1 and 2, etc. We see similar scenes but with a different understnading and on a different level. Also, what you said about the island being dormant in time, the dead don't really die, the living don't age and life cannot be born to those who concieve on the island made me think of Keats' "Ode to a Grecian Urn". It's always spring, always green, always youth, always beauty! Maybe that's what needs to be undone on the island...it is stagnant. Thanks again J for getting those cerebral juices flowing!

  26.  
    Crazy Bearded Jack June 3rd, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    J -
    Actually quite a few parallels. A plane crash in which a few survivors end up finding a "hidden" civilization. The inhabitants of said civ are freindly though. There is also a time difference and aging comes into play. It's been awhile so I'm fuzzy on it...

  27.  
    itsMrsB June 3rd, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Again, an incredible interpretation that is going to require a lot of thought and reading to understand. There is so much here to digest, and even more so in Lost.

    Ever since our Losties went through the Looking Glass, they have become
    mirror images of themselves and events on the island have become mirror images of the island on the other side of the looking glass mirror.

    Juliet may well be iconic of fertility and the virgin birth, yet it is Claire who Charlie saw, along with his mother, in his vision back in season 2 - fire and water. "Save the Baby, Charlie" and that is what Charlie tried to do as he slid through the fluid "wrinkle in time", sacrificing his life so that.... so that, what?

    In the last days upon the island we have witnessed the death (likely death) of 3 female characters we have grown to love over the past 3 years. These three women, Danielle and Alex, plus possibly Claire, have had a connection from way back in season 1.

    When Alex was "stolen" from Danielle she was raised with so much love from the otherwise non-emotional Ben. She was indeed this super detached leader's achilles heel, and it cost Ben his freedom as well as the loss of the daughter he so loved.

    But who is to say how Ben became Alex's surrogate parent? Could it in anyway mimic how Kate became Aaron's doting mother? Will this love of Aaron be Kate's undoing? Can we say that Kate "stole" Aaron? it was Claire who disappeared. Perhaps, 16 years ago Danielle disappeared and Ben found himself the father of this young toddler or infant by default. Parenthood changes people. We watch the death of our own childhood freedoms and take on the loving mantle of protector, nurturer, provider. Even if we, as parants fail in the eyes of our children, our own change has been just as real.

    It is interesting that Charlotte has tried for a long time to get to the island again. Now our Losties mirror her quest (as does Ben). How many times (or should I say, time lines) has this quest to refind the island consumed people on the island. Did Christian seek to come back to the island and go crazy looking for it? Widmore? Paik? Kate's stepfather and her mother?

    Even on the last day, Kate and Jack our fighting to control everything. Kate tells Sun to get in the helicoptor with Aaron and she, Kate, will find Jin. Why didn't Kate take Aaron and let Sun seek her own husband? Then Jack comes and mirrors Suns words "I won't leave without you (him)" and takes Kate back to the helicoptor. Slowly, slowly Sun realizes Jin isn't on the coptor and that when she sees him she is powerless to return for him. I only hope that another scene with Sun and Jin and a boat is mirrored - the episode where Sun shot Colleen and then jumped into the water to swim away. I hope Jin managed to do the same this time. However, I don't think Sun will ever let anyone take control of her destiny again.

    Strange as it sounds, I feel bad for Ben. He gave his all to the island, and got kicked out of Eden and replaced by the clown image of his mirror self. Is fate a fickle bitch, or is Jacob? And what is Jacob? Is he the turtle that carries the world on his back?

  28.  
    J Wood (Post Author) June 3rd, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    Oren, that's the right spin on the panopticon idea, at least from Foucault's point of view -- that people internalize their own self-surveillance, kind of like how a lot of people won't speed on the highway because they don't know if there's a cop behind a billboard. Foucault was on to something; just look at London, with cameras on every corner. Shortly after 9/11, Homeland Security asked us to spy on our neighbors, so we never knew if we were being watched.

    When I was writing, I was trying to figure out what level of hell the ice cave might have been, but the problem is what tradition do you use? The Greeks had Tartarus, Dante had hell with a few different ice places, there's like four or five ice hells in Buddhism, so I decided not to go with it and hope it would be brought up here. I think the ice is key, but I'm just not sure where it connects. I did like how it mirrored the whole froze battery thing; that tells me that the core of the island might be some kind of engine, or at least potential energy.

    Faramir, I think you're dead-on about the specular ending. There was already a good example of that sort of introducing-a-new-perspective: the Nikki and Paolo episode. For whatever else that storyline was worth, they salvaged something by introducing that technique, which they can start to capitalize on. It reminds me of that hypercube idea -- we're getting to see dimensions we would normally never see.

    On the Arthurian, Parzifal, Fisher King ideas, those are all valid, for a good reason -- they're versions/adaptations of the ancient dying god motif. The god dies, and the earth dies; in Egypt, the Pharaoh was god on earth, and the kingdom thrived if the Pharaoh made sure the crops grew (and if they didn't grow, the Pharaoh had to answer for it). Many European kings were also seen as god's emissary's on earth, and in a similar way, they were linked to the fertility of the land. In the late 19th/early 20th centuries, James Frazer and Jessie Weston did two massive studies on these ideas, The Golden Bough and From Ritual to Romance (respectfully). They were big influences on writers like T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, Yeats, Pound, Hemingway -- a lot of the modernists. It's very similar to the way the same motifs of Ishtar and Tammuz ended up in the Isis and Osiris story, and the Aphrodite and Adonis story -- syncretic borrowing and cross-influence, let simmer for a few hundred years, and a new tradition emerges that has strong hints of previous ones.

    Smitty, I didn't bring it up in the post because I don't have enough to go on yet, but I'm not even sure that's the same Locke that's now Bentham. I looked and looked, and I don't see Locke's scar on Bentham. There's a shadow in that area, but it's not where the scar is. But that could just be funeral make-up, too, and I think they're cagey enough to leave that an open question for now. But maybe this is another HD vs regular def issue; I went back and got some HD screengrabs of episodes where Kate seemed to have lost her freckles, and you can see them in HD, but they're very hard to see in regular def. But in later episodes, you can clearly see them in regular def.

    If Jack is more connected to the island than Locke, Locke's becoming a hyper-rational Bentham figure (and Jack sort of losing his grip on reason) plays right into that. It'll be interesting to see how that pans out -- and a nice spin on faith reconciling with reason.

    Perelandra, didn't you note that the Orchid logo had DHARMA written over a bar, and that messed up its balance? I've been noticing that in a few logos. I don't yet know enough about what the trigrams mean, but that might be a good summer project.

    There's something I wanted to work into the post about the symbol and didn't get in; I'm going to go back and try to get it added. But just in case, here it is:

    If you want some more definite evidence of the eight-rayed symbol linking up to Christianity, check out St. Paul's Cathedral in Vatican City. There's a massive square out in front of the cathedral, and that symbol covers the entire square. What's more, in the center of the symbol, there's an obelisk from Egypt. You can see an image of it here -- make of it what you will, but it sure seems suggestive.

  29.  
    Asilgrass June 3rd, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    I like what Handsome Smitty says about Jack being the one with the real connection to the island. I have decided that Locke failed the tests because he was never supposed to be the leader. I think Jack is supposed to be the leader. 1st because his father is there. 2nd because he has the most connections to other losties. Claire is his sister. Desmond ran the stadium with him. Christian and Sawyer were on a bender together before Christian died. AnaLucia was in Sydney with Christian. THere's more of course, and I know there are lots of connections, but...

    I also wonder if possibly the terrible things that have been happening since the O6 left the island are not happening on the island at all, but are instead happening to the O6?

    So much to think about. Unfortunately we have plenty of time!

  30.  
    23skidoo June 3rd, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    @ Perelandra: The scene in the cabin between Locke and CShep is very much reminiscent of Parzival having to ask the right question. But what's even more Parzival-like is the O6 and Superfriends leaving the island and then not being able to return. Parzival tried and tried to return to the Grail castle, and only succeeded when he let loose the reins and allowed his horse to carry him where it may through the forest.

    Atlantis has been brought up many times before in reference to the island, but the parallel struck me particularly hard during the scene in which the island disappeared. I half-remember a story that Atlantis sunk because the Atlanteans used a powerful ray-gun-like weapon (which drew its energy from its island, btw) that ripped the island in half and caused it to sink below the waves. (I may have read that in a book about Edgar Cayce, who predicted we would discover Atlantis in the late 1960s, so take it for what it's worth.)

    I must say, I was preparing myself ahead of time for the spacetime-jumping island, but I was still disappointed that they actually went that route because it's too easy for such a fantastical event to devolve into absurdities. For example, there's already debate that the polar bears were being used to push/pull the frozen donkey wheel, which would explain how a skeleton of one ended up in Tunisia. But this ignores two far more basic questions: Why build a device that uses draft animals to unhinge the universe? And how exactly does the diameter of the earth (if Tunisia is opposite the island) play into using said device? Ben and the polar bear just as easily could have ended up on Mars, the Orion nebular or inside a black hole. Technology, sufficiently advanced, may be indistinguishable from magic, but it should be distinguishable from a David Copperfield trick.

  31.  
    23skidoo June 3rd, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Eh, nebula.

  32.  
    J Wood (Post Author) June 3rd, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    (That should be St. Peter's, not St. Paul's.)

  33.  
    leah June 3rd, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    I took some notes the day after the finale, to quell the swirling vortex of thoughts in my mind. At the time I had nowhere to post it, so I'll just post it all now, though a couple of things have already been mentioned or alluded to above:

    Mirror misjudgement: Keamy comes in for Ben, taunting him but trying to keep himself alive by telling ben that if he dies, so do “innocent people” on the freighter. Why did he think this would be motivation for ben? Does he even know who ben is and what he’s done? I would have been surprised if “innocent lives” had changed ben’s behavior. He misjudges ben like ben misjudges him with alex. They are exactly alike: cold-blooded, selfish killers.

    Orchid: this is weird. Did the dharma people know about the time-travel/arctic cave the orchid was built on top of? Seems they did, because there is a dharka in the closet. But if there was no intention for anyone to go there (seems this way because the only way to get to it is to blow up the “vault”), why the parka? Is the freezing of the cave intentional? If so, how is it accomplished? Are we to think of it as a mirror to Michael’s freezing of the battery to keep the explosives asleep?

    Moving the island. Merely in time, or also in space? The video mentions both, but says that the rabbit will be moved only in time, 100 miliseconds to the future, making it appear that the bunny has disappeared and then reappeared. If that is telling us about the island, then it only “disappeared” for 10 months? As in, at the same time that Ben arrives in Tunisia, the island “reappears” in the same place? Or maybe Ben’s Tunisia date has no bearing on the island’s date of return. Or—could the island have been moved into the past? What if it was moved 10 months into the past, as Ben was moved 10 months into the future? If that island then popped up “next to” our island… maybe it’s the second island from season 2! Remember Sawyer thought they were on the same island, but they weren’t, and then they took the little boat ride over? What if our island went back exactly 10 months, was plopped down next to our present island (the spinning of the earth?), and now there were two islands. Then, at the exact moment that Ben “moves” the island, that one disappears with the present one (because the 10 months was up). This doesn’t work, because the “future” island should pop back into place when the “present” island disappears, and what really happens is that they both disappear. BUT, if the second island really were a future version of our present island, maybe that’s how Ben gets his omniscience about the future. There would be future losties on that second island (as well as future others, I guess). But they didn’t encounter any, so I think my theory doesn’t work. Any thoughts?

    I’m sorry, but John seems completely clueless, as he has since season 1. He looks like someone who wishes the island has power, hopes he is special, and is inferring meaning into everything. Granted, he has experienced some interesting phenomena, but he is the only one that has taken it to the extreme. This was highlighted when Ben gave him a little video to “occupy” him while Ben got some work done. Like he’s a toddler watching a cartoon to keep him out of dad’s hair. I don’t really know what to make of the Others finding him so special, though. And now he’s dead, after coming off the island to warn the O6 to go back? Weird. Sayid didn’t kill him, right? Or maybe he’s been bitten by some version of the Nikki/Paolo arachnid, and will awaken once returned to the island with the O6. (Sleeping beauty?) Do we know the cause of death? Hanging? Shooting? Car plowing into dumpster?

    Re: alternate endings. I’d like to know if any of the cast knew who was actually in the coffin at the end of the episode before they watched it last night. Do you think they shot those alternates to prevent spoilers? If so, they could have kept it down to only a couple of people who actually knew who was in the coffin, instead of dozens. I remember jorge garcia saying when he peeked into the cabin, they shot a scene where it was himself sitting in the chair, not christian shepherd. So maybe they’re just throwing out red herrings to the cast and crew to make sure nobody spoils these big mysteries before they air?

    Also, could someone remind me where/when/in what context we saw the 8-pointed star branded into Juliet's flesh? What do we know about it?

  34.  
    Daniel Harold Hammermeister June 3rd, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    I have a feeling that dead Locke is going to be born again hard as a time-traveling Jacob.

    I think Michael's last words before he took off in the boat at the end of season 2 were: "Who are you people?" And his last words before he apparently died were: "Who are you?"

    One thing I found hard to believe is when Jack tells them to lie Kate says it's too difficult to pull off. But the fact is it would be much more difficult to pull off telling the truth that the island vanished.

  35.  
    janet in venice June 3rd, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    things i keep hearing ppl say, that have gone unadressed: ben had ways of going out in the world and coming back before he turned the wheel. his passport said 'dean moriarty'-the name he chose when he was 'on the road'. If philosopher Jeremy Bentham was the repudiator of phiosopher John Locke, historically, it makes sense that Lost's Locke would take a road name repudiating his own ideas when he decides to leave the island and go into the world on missions. We've seen Locke lose faith more than once before-- [his legs failing with boone at the drug plane, smashing the monitor in the swan hatch, reaching for the gun in the charnel pit...]--it would seem he does so again and repudiates himself by choice of his traveling name.
    Ppl are speaking of him as though now he's dead, so we won't see any more of him. NO! please remember the coffin reveal was a flashforward, and there is a lot of story left to tell- about what locke does on and off island before that moment arrives chronologically.
    J wood, thanks for introducing me to bentham's ter 'pistateutical'. now i have a word for some of the idiotic congnitive disconnections i witness all the time, that make me want to scream. [fundamentalists insisting the world was created no more than 6k years back, despite fossils and carbon dating, anybody?...] [not excluding myself. I see where I've been guilty of doing it in my life, too.]
    my roomie and i have been counting all the mirror twinning examples pouring out of this season, which you, J Wood, got us doing...
    and i want to say that i hope to high heaven that we get another worthy ARG to unravel while they make us wait for season 5. if they don't give us one, we ought to invent our own.

  36.  
    Will June 3rd, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    I had the same thought about Juliet facing the challenge of bringing a full pregnancy to term on the island - but I think it's going to be her true heroine's test: her own. With Sawyer. Scene One began with them reconnecting on the beach, over a bottle of rum, thinking everyone had died....

  37.  
    J. Wood (Post Author) June 4th, 2008 at 6:07 am

    Jon, I think the key reason the island didn't save Michael on the boat has more to do with narrative symmetry than anything else. In some ways, Michael is Charlie's mirror twin this season. Charlie was supposed to die and didn't, Michael tried to die but couldn't. In both cases, they fulfilled almost prophetic roles with machinery that guaranteed certain events could occur; Charlie turns off the signal jammer in the Looking Glass, and Michael sabotages the freighter engine.

    But looking back, both Charlie and Michael end up serving very specific narrative roles. This makes me think back to Flann O'Brien, and people like Sam Beckett and Eugene Ionescu, who wrote works about characters who were self-conscious of their status as literary characters caught in a narrative. Charlie and Michael don't have that kind of awareness, but they way things turn out and the way their fates are manipulated, at least from an audience perspective, the needs of the narrative itself are placed above a character's personal drives.

  38.  
    J. Wood (Post Author) June 4th, 2008 at 6:09 am

    Jon, I think the key reason the island didn't save Michael on the boat has more to do with narrative symmetry than anything else. In some ways, Michael is Charlie's mirror twin this season. Charlie was supposed to die and didn't, Michael tried to die but couldn't. In both cases, they fulfilled almost prophetic roles with machinery that guaranteed certain events could occur; Charlie turns off the signal jammer in the Looking Glass, and Michael sabotages the freighter engine.

    But looking back, both Charlie and Michael end up serving very specific narrative roles. This makes me think back to Flann O'Brien, and people like Sam Beckett and Eugene Ionescu, who wrote works about characters who were self-conscious of their status as literary characters caught in a narrative. Charlie and Michael don't have that kind of awareness, but they way things turn out and the way their fates are manipulated, at least from an audience perspective, the needs of the narrative itself are placed above a character's personal drives.

    (I'm on board for the con; ever since Locke got his own back by getting Sawyer to kill Cooper, I've thought Locke has a few more tricks in his cargo pockets than he's willing to let on.)

  39.  
    Jeffrey June 4th, 2008 at 7:10 am

    Kurt Cobain (another suspicious suicide) said of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" that all he did was write a Pixies song. Nirvana was playing on Jack's first trip to the funeral home, the Pixies "Gouge Away" the second time. I was first hep to a Pixies allusion in this episode even before I heard the song: Miles t-shirt says (I believe) "Softer Louder" which is the song dynamic the Pixies then Nirvana are most famous for.
    Last summer on this post I suggested listening to Frank Black's "Teenager of the Year" as it deals with lots of "Lost" stuff - Black is a huge Bradbury fan and the driving force of the Pixies who even have a song called "Into the White". Knowing that Terry O'Quinn was the only actor already cast with him in mind, I wonder if there is a connection to his old show "Millennium" which starred another actor as someone named FRANK BLACK! Its logo was a snake eating its tail.
    BTW, the "Into the White" concept reminds me of what in an old post I mentioned of the connection of "2001" with Poe's "Narrative of A. Gordon Pym which ends with an otherworldy creature stepping out of a total white flash on a tropical island.
    And since I'm on a music jag, this underground donkey wheel episode actually now makes sense (kinda) of Warren Zevon's "Monkey Wash Donkey Rinse" with its "left eye right eye" and "going to a party in the center of the earth". Both Black and Zevon are well-noted and transplanted commentators of Los Angeles of which "Lost" spends a good deal.
    Anybody notice the sign in the funeral home directly behind Jack as he gazes down at Locke: SAFETY FIRST Don't Try To Lift More Than You Are Able.
    I also liked the father/son dynamic of Ben and Locke in the Orchid with Ben getting so distracted by Locke's childish questions that he finally sits him down in front of a TV.

  40.  
    Jeffrey June 4th, 2008 at 7:20 am

    What's the deal with fertility queen Juliet: she seems to be hitting on everybody's boyfriends? Even Faraday got a meaningful glance.

  41.  
    Charlotte June 4th, 2008 at 7:26 am

    I also think that Michael died as an act of atonement for killing Ana-Lucia and Libby. But the Island would only let Michael die when he had fulfilled his purpose.

    As for Locke's death, Locke has always been working in opposition to his destiny, at least until he came to the Island (or was brought to it to finally fulfill it). I think that since he was never intended to become paralyzed, that the Island healing him was simply course correction. Locke seems to have finally accepted his role as leader of the Others, but possibly something in the post-Island move days has him once more resorting to working in opposition to his destiny.

  42.  
    Jen June 4th, 2008 at 9:15 am

    So what about Desmond's vision of Claire getting on the helicopter? Wasn't the condition of Charlie's dying that Claire would be rescued? Or is that vision still to be fulfilled (in the future)?

    Any ideas?

  43.  
    kevin June 4th, 2008 at 9:22 am

    Hello, this is my first comment but possibly not my last. I just wondered if anyone else saw a similar connection that I did. When Penny's boat rescues the Losties the name is Searcher, which immediately made me think of John Ford's mythic western The Searchers. There's some very obvious parallels between both stories.

    As I recall the Ford western starred John Wayne searching for Natalie Wood who has been captured by Indians. The Indians of course represent the hostiles/savages/The Others and anyone who falls into their hands risks being transformed into a hostile/savage/Other. This is not unlike the Others of the Island who are also hostiles. Several of the Losties including Locke and Claire and Sawyer (those left behind) will eventually become part of the Others. We've already seen Locke become the new leader of the Others as was perhaps his destiny.

    The action of The Searchers takes place in the lawless west not unlike the lawlessness of the island.You can kill, torture, kidnap to your heart's content if you feel you are justified in doing so. And the John Wayne character, a man named Ethan as I recall, wasn't sure if he was going to save the Natalie Wood character or kill her if she was beyond saving. Was he savior or executioner?

    These rolls--savior/executioner have been entertwined throughout Lost. Jack as leader and savior but at one point he had a gun to Locke's head and he pulled the trigger. Locke as executioner of Naomi. Sawyer as executioner of the Locke's con artist father. Yet each has at one point been a savior.

    If there's other connections to this I would like to hear about it.

  44.  
    Nathalie June 4th, 2008 at 9:40 am

    Now this is a crazy long shot, but perhaps the e entire point of that stupid Niki/Paulo episode was to set up the possibility of a faux-death created by a compound from the island. What if Locke is using the same venom to fake his death as a lasst-ditch attempt to gather the 06 in one place?

    Of course, another part of me thinks Sayed killed Locke (surely Ben of all people knows how to odo and endrun around the island's wishes).

    Along these lines, I sarted thinking about the Sayed/Ben relationship. We know Sayed started working for Ben after Nadia died. But when we see Sayed in Germany during "The Economist" he's supposedly trying to help his friends. I assumed at the timem the friends Ben referred to were those left on teh island. But what if they're the rest of the 06. After all Sayed did appear to rescue Hurley n the finale.

  45.  
    Charlotte June 4th, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Jen -

    My idea on that is that it will happen at the end of the series. I don't believe that Calire is dead, but that she has become one of the Lotus-Eaters (the Others), like Cindy and the kids. There are forces that have told Claire that she has to raise Aaron and are trying to keep them together, while other forces are trying to split them apart. I think the vision of Claire that Kate had was these forces using Claire for their ends. But who are thes sides?

    If Aaron loses his mother at a young age, it will continue in the tradition of Ben and Locke losing theirs. And since I believe that Aaron is meant to be a future leader of the Others, this would fit in with the plan of Jacob and/or the Island.

    But the psychic told Claire that her goodness was necessary in raising Aaron. He mentioned danger in Aaron's future without her, but will he be in danger or will he cause it?

    Right now, it looks liek the Island wants Aaron to grow up without his mother, possibly so that he becomes the ruthless leader that the Island feels that it may need at some point.

    Remember that Desmond's flashes weren't of events within a confined time-limit. It took many days for his "Naomi vision" to reach its fulfillment with his reunion with Penny.

    (My apologies for any misspellings. I can't see my entire post as it's being cut off on the right)

  46.  
    CHoward June 4th, 2008 at 10:01 am

    Codemorse: Indeed J and Doc are excellent at commenting on and parsing Lost, but I may suggest Therese Odell at the Houston Chronicle's Tubular page -- she offers really great insight as well. I use all three to get me through the Lost-withdrawl.

  47.  
    Charlotte June 4th, 2008 at 10:10 am

    Another thing I found interesting in this episode is that, as much as it mirrored other season finales, it also was in opposition to them. Whereas in the first three season finales, the Losties were going from a state of physical unity to one of separation (1: the raft, the Black Rock troop, and Sayid and Charlie rescuing Claire's baby; 2: the "List" group, the beach group, and the boat group; 3: the beach group and the going-to-the-tower group), this season had the Losties separated for most of the season, though trying to finally unite on the boat for rescue (except for Locke). This resulted in a complete separation of the O6 from the rest of the survivors. "Live together, die alone" may take on a new meaning in the upcming seasons, especially as we see Locke, who is not completely separated from the Losties, is dead in the future.

  48.  
    NER June 4th, 2008 at 10:43 am

    The Golden Bough is one of the books that does seem conspicuous by its absence on the show, although it does fall into that slightly overused set of references used for this thing - Heart of Darkness, The Wasteland, From Ritual to Romance, the White Virgin, The Hero With A Thousand Faces....

    And I suspect someone is going to quote that passage from Eliot's "Little Gidding" (mentioned back there by Ginny) by the final episode.

    Like in John Fowles' The Magus, which I'm sure must have been brought up in an earlier column.

    I'm also betting that after Sayid's remark about paranoia we're going to see V, Gravity's Rainbow and especially Against the Day on someone's bedside cabinet.

  49.  
    Charlotte June 4th, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    Sorry, that should have said "Locke who is NOW completely separated from the Losties, is dead in the future."

  50.  
    The Original G Man June 4th, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    Janet in Venice said "his passport said 'dean moriarty'"

    It makes me wonder if Sawyer has ever called anyone "Sherlock" on the show?

  51.  
    Perelandra June 4th, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Yes, I was the one who noticed that one of the trigrams on the Dharma logo is obscured. If we could see it, it's broken line, solid line, broken line. (yin/yang/yin) This symbol is called K'an and is associated with danger, the pig, the ear, the second son, water& the moon. This doesn't seem especially helpful.But there's a crosslink to Philip K. Dick here. The I CHING is crucial in his finest novel THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE. Dick ueven used this divination system (by coin-flipping, yarrow stalks)to help him plot the book.

    But water is certainly a symbolically significant element (and not just because they're on an Island). Water has many meanings besides cleansing and rebirth, it's also possibility, potential, and life itself. Paracelsus had his Water Elemental (the Undine) feminine but the usual sytem of the Four Elements has Water and Fire Male. (Note the sexes of the four Founders in HARRY POTTER). In LOST, we've had people drowing, parched by thirst until spings were found, convenient rain often paired with curious manifestations,a treasure in a pool, conspicuous water bottles this season, and water running through Charlie's and Desmond's misfortunes. Freezing is a perfect way to "hold back the waters," to deny a gift to the rest of the Cosmos.

    In Christianity, baptismal fonts and baptistries traditionally have eight sides because 8 stands for the first day of the week in the New Creation. An excellent source for this kind of lore is Annemarie Schimmels' THE MYSTERY OF NUMBERS.

    In Hinduism, the one who turns the Cosmic Wheel is a "chakravartin" and world-ruler.

    Although Campbell, Weston, and Frazer have had much influence on the arts, they've been thoroughly debunked as guides to the deeper meanings of mythology.

  52.  
    sosolost June 4th, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    Janet says: ben had ways of going out in the world and coming back before he turned the wheel. his passport said 'dean moriarty'-the name he chose when he was 'on the road'

    After reading that, it occurred to me -- why would Ben have his Moriarty passport with him when he lands in Tunisia in 2005? Last we saw it on the island was when Sayid found it in the drawer of the hidden closet. I'm sure after Ben was allowed back in new Otherton, he could've gotten it then but the fact that he had it w/ him indicates he knew he was going to leave the island one way or another. Either the way he and Richard and the Others were somehow able to leave the island in the past OR he knew he'd be turning that wheel at some point. And, don't forget, he had obviously been to that hotel in Tunisia before.

    Jen: So what about Desmond's vision of Claire getting on the helicopter? Wasn't the condition of Charlie's dying that Claire would be rescued? Or is that vision still to be fulfilled (in the future)?

    I'm still bothered by this too -- did Charlie really have to die/sacrifice himself?? Maybe for himself/his own redemption he did, but it would seem that that act did not result in Claire/Aaron getting on the helicopter.

  53.  
    leah June 4th, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    sosolost: I was thinking the same thing when I read Janet's post. Then I remembered, right after Keamy shot Alex, before doing anything else, Ben disappears into his secret room, ignoring the several other people standing there watching him. For what, we don’t know: perhaps to snag a fake ID or two? Also, the fact that he cares not that he’s just shown everybody his secret digs may indicate to us that he is not planning to return (ever), so it doesn’t matter. If he did go to get his passports at that time, while at the same time presumably summoning smokey, he knew exactly what was about to happen. Just like Keamy looked into his secondary protocol manual to find out that Ben would head for the Orchid, Ben was already preparing to do just that, and he had a pretty good idea of what would go down when he got there. So he’s either really smart (and self-controlled, for all of this planning and conniving right after watching his daughter executed) or he knows a lot we don’t know (the future?).

    also, a potential epiphany: when desmond turned the failsafe key and the sky turned purple… ya think he could’ve moved the island, just like ben moves the island with the frozen donkey wheel (and the sky turns purple)? Along those lines, what if our island used to be near Indonesia (Sunda trench) and that’s why Widmore planted wreckage there? What if it popped into spacetime just under Oceanic 815, and the resulting purple-sky ricochet was what tore the plane apart and made it crash?

  54.  
    viking June 4th, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Thank you , sosolost -- that same thought about Ben having the passport with him in Tunisia means he HAD to grab it at some point when he went into his hidden room during the assault on New Otherton to summon Smokey. Which means he had to know he was going to be leaving, which may well mean that those who have said that Locke is still Ben's pawn are probably right.

    Ben saying to Locke, "How many times do I have to tell you, John -- I ALWAYS have a plan!" as they approached the Orchid takes on a more significant meaning now.

    Not to mention Locke's comment about Ben never telling the whole truth. Makes you wonder why John believes him at the Orchid when he says that he has to do it and can never come back? Heck, why would WE believe him? His statement to Jack at the funeral home about all of them going back together puts the lie to what he told Locke.

    I think I'm starting to move into the camp that thinks Ben either killed Locke-as-Bentham himself, or had someone other for-hire killer (not Sayid) do it. Ben always has a plan...

  55.  
    viking June 4th, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    Rats, something got messed up when I posted that last comment. The first sentence should read:

    "Thank you, sosolost -- that same thought about Ben and the passport crossed my mind when I read that post. Ben having...."

  56.  
    T. Allen June 4th, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    A comment, and a question. Comment: after his death, Jeremy Bentham's body was preserved and mounted on display at University College, London, in a cabinet called the "Auto-icon." (The cabinet originally included his head, but this was repeatedly stolen by students and so now is locked away; the body on display has a fake head, made of wax.) The episode's last exchange between Ben and Jack suggests that LOST's 'Jeremy Bentham' may also have an eventuful posthumous career.

    Question: This is a couple of episodes back, now, but I'm still wondering: what do people think Juliet was REALLY doing when she said she was taking out Jack's appendix?

  57.  
    eve June 4th, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    I couldn't help but think when I saw Ben turning the wheel, how much it reminded me of Jesus carrying the cross. Ben's struggle with the wheel, the light shinning down on him and when he looked up and said, "Are you happy now, Jacob?" This so reminded me of Jesus on the cross saying to his heavenly father, "Why have you forsaken me?"

  58.  
    Ginny June 4th, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    Eve...great observation! Kind of like in the first season when Locke looks into the hatch and beats on it asking what do you want from me? Then the light shines out! We later find out it was Desmond.

  59.  
    leah June 4th, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    Any idea why Jack decided to say Boone, Libby and Charlie were the 3 that initially survived and then didn't make it to rescue? I'm racking my brain, but can't really think of any commonality or significance.

  60.  
    Green Drake June 4th, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    J Wood, U Rock. You make my head hurt sometimes with your literature but that why we love you. You do the dirty work and we reap the benefits.

    Say, anyone else bothered by the whole Walt scene. It seemed like it was all forced and contrived by the writers.

    First off, in an earlier episode Walt saw his dad out the second-story window in NY. Then when he visits Hurley at Santa Rosa he asks the big guy why they haven't visited him.

    Why would the O6 visit? How would they know where he is.

    Then Walt asks Hugo why everyone is lying. Hurley said it was because they are trying to keep everyone safe on the island. Walt: "Like My Dad?"

    Ummm, how would Walt know that his dad went back to the island.

    Walt had no contact with Michael and even if he did, Michael was told by Mr. Friendly that he wasn't going back to the Island but rather work on a Freighter.

  61.  
    Jeffrey June 5th, 2008 at 12:11 am

    As I mentioned earlier, Jack is listening to the Pixies' "Gouge Away" on his way to re-view Jeremy Bentham. This song is about Samson in the Book of Judges. So, is Locke a post-haircut Samson? He certainly has Samson's egotistical qualities - with a donkey's (frozen?)jawbone as a weapon, to boot. Keep in mind Samson's eyes were gouged away when reflecting on the last verse of Judges: "In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes." Very Hobbesian...very Island Locke's non-democracy...very Bentham-like in its utilitarian implications. What are Locke's (non)pisteutic eyes telling him?

  62.  
    Perelandra June 5th, 2008 at 9:52 am

    I suspect that those three characters were named as survivors who died for the very practical reason that the actors are willing to do cameos "haunting" or in flashbacks. Each has already appeared in a hallucination

  63.  
    leah June 5th, 2008 at 9:54 am

    He said that “Jeremy Bentham” was the only one to visit him (though thinking back, none of them would realistically not refer to him as “Locke” except to keep it a surprise for us, the audience). So I guess he figured if Locke could find him, any of the O6 could have, had they been properly motivated. Locke may have also told him that his dad had returned to the island (Ben already told him that Michael was Ben’s man on the boat).

    Also, I don’t know any way Michael could have possibly escaped death, but what if somehow he had made it back to the island in time for the movement and all the subsequent “bad stuff”? Probably not.

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing what happens on the island, and hopefully some of the scenes between “Jeremy Bentham” and the O6. I’d like to see what it was like to be on the island when it moves. *Sigh* Okay, I guess we’ll have to hold off on that for a few months.

  64.  
    leah June 5th, 2008 at 9:55 am

    Sorry, the above speculation was in reference to Green Drake's questions about Walt visiting Hurley.

  65.  
    viking June 5th, 2008 at 10:22 am

    leah said: "Any idea why Jack decided to say Boone, Libby and Charlie were the 3 that initially survived and then didn't make it to rescue?"

    They're three that Jack knows to in fact actually be dead. He's covering his bases in case other 815 survivors turn up in the future -- he's reasonably certain (at that point anyway) that those three won't. Add to that that probably it sounds more "plausible" that more than the O6 survived the crash, and that some of the survivors died during their time on the fake island.

    Of course, that was before Charlie started visiting Hurley, and he didn't know about Libby visiting Michael...

  66.  
    Handsome Smitty June 5th, 2008 at 11:03 am

    John is "Lost" in the sense he lacks reason, is all emotions.

    Ben is "Lost" in the sense he lacks a soul, or heart, and is all reason.

    Jack is "Lost" only in the sense of his relationship with his father. Jack shows both emotions and reason; being a doctor you need both. Jack also has a mother, while John and Ben don't.

    "The Island" is "Lost" itself, not sure who to align itself with, and trying to find itself at the same time. Both John and Ben want to use the Island for their own selfish reasons: Ben for power, John for purpose (Heroic). Jack has no true interest in it, but his father has somehow connected him to the island. His father "gets" the Island, that it is lost and trying to find it's way home. Jack must save/help the island to save his nephew, Aaron, from becoming trapped like John, Ben and Island.

  67.  
    Handsome Smitty June 5th, 2008 at 11:10 am

    John not looking the same in the coffin could be the effect being on the island. Ben seems to be getting younger, so maybe John regresses there as well.

    How or where or why would there be double/twin of him? I had the feeling during "The Economist" Ben himself had to have had a twin. While not disproved, time/space travel seems more likely.

  68.  
    Born of Fire June 5th, 2008 at 11:23 am

    J-

    Interesting connections with Frazer and The Golden Bough and the Modernists. This also leads us to a connection with another Lost eponym, C. S. Lewis. Although Frazer had a different kind of influence on Lewis. Ironically, Frazer played a key role in Lewis becoming a Christian. While Frazer presented his thesis as discrediting the truth claims of religions, Lewis took the ubiquity of the dying god myth as evidence that all of these different myths might actually stem from a central Truth. He eventually came to believe that in the historical person of Jesus Christ, this true myth had become incarnated into space, time, and history.

    This belief is certainly a major part of what inspired the Narnia stories. Our experience with Christ is what it looked like when that True Myth was incarnated into OUR space and OUR time. The Narnia books are partly a result of Lewis supposing what it might look like incarnated in a DIFFERENT space and DIFFERENT time.

    I wonder if perhaps this sort of "suppositional" storytelling is part of what's going on in Lost, as Cuse did state in an interview once that the Narnia books were definitely one touchstone for what they were trying to do with the show.

    With that in mind, I'm still very anxious to learn more about Charlotte and see how her story develops. There's obviously a reason for naming her after Lewis, but that hasn't been developed much at all yet (possibly due to the strike and the shorter season I suppose.)

    Another noteworthy connection that I'm not sure has been mentioned yet is the connection between Joseph Campbell's work and the Star Wars movies. George Lucas has stated that The Hero With a Thousand Faces was the primary inspiration for Star Wars saga. And of course we're all familiar with the numerous Star Wars references on Lost.

  69.  
    Cheryl June 5th, 2008 at 11:41 am

    This article appeared May 22, 2008 in, ironically, a magazine called The Economist.

    According to calculations made several decades ago by Evgeny Lifshitz, a Russian physicist, Casimir repulsion should be possible—but you have to replace the vacuum with a fluid. The maths suggest that in order for this to happen, both liquid and plates must be made of carefully chosen substances. This is because the repulsion is caused by electromagnetic charges induced in the plates and the liquid by the virtual particles, and the forces produced by these charges depend on the materials you use.

    Scientifically, this could explain why the donkey wheel was frozen - to keep the electromagnetc charges from happening.

  70.  
    leah June 5th, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Smitty: I think the speculation that there could be 'more than one' of John was stemming from a mobisode that showed more of the Orchid station orientation video (it was circulating on the web, you can probably find it by doing a search on YouTube). In that video, the white-coated doctor is holding a bunny with a number 15 branded on it. He's explaining the Casimir effect and such, and another bunny with the same number drops out of the sky. Everybody freaks out and says the two bunnies can't see each other! and such, and the video goes blank. It's presumably related to the vault and the exotic matter and time travel. We shall see.

  71.  
    leah June 5th, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    Ooh, I'm excited about connections with Narnia... I've been wanting to read those again....

  72.  
    ruggerport June 5th, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    Leah: I believe that Desmond explained the 815 crash when he went back over his log and saw that the date of the crash corresponded to a day when he was distracted (?) and did not enter the codes on time.

    Great comments.

  73.  
    John Moustache June 5th, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    @ Leah.

    Just a clarification: The plane crashed not because Desmond turned the fail-safe key, but because he let the clok run down to zero whilst dealing with Kelvin Inman. Right?

  74.  
    leah June 5th, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Oh yes; you are both right. The did not crash with the turning of the failsafe key. So he probably did not move the island, causing the plane to crash. But he still could have possibly moved the island when he did turn the failsafe key? Maybe not. Or maybe it doesn't matter anyway.

  75.  
    leah June 5th, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    Is there anyone out there in blogland who understands the theory of the Casimir Effect? I’ve been reading up on it (casually), and from the explanations and examples that I see, it lookes like another name for this force is *gravity*. The explanation goes that if you have two metal plates in a vacuum and bring them in very very close proiximity to one another (within 100 micrometers), they stick together, presumably because the forces outside pushing in are greater than those pushing them apart from the inside. These plates are theoretically completely free of electromagnetism.

    Now, from what I can remember of my engineering classes, the outer space is a vacuum, and the planets and stars and black holes all exist in relation to one another, exerting gravitational forces due to their masses. For example, the sun is huge, therefore it exerts a large attractive force on the earth and other planets, and a minimal force on other very distant stars. The earth, in turn, is much much smaller than the sun, but is in relatively close proximity, and does have an appreciable mass, and so it also exerts a gravitational force on the sun, albeit a much smaller one. The orbits of all planets, moons and stars are owing to this interbody gravitational force.

    So here’s the idea: two metal plates in a vacuum are attracted to each other non-magnetically when they come within a very close proximity. It is said that this attractive force diminishes exponentially with the distance between the plates. I wonder, if the plates were significantly larger (more mass), would that attraction occur at a greater distance? Perhaps the distance of attraction would increase proportionately to the mass of the plates. Like the sun, earth, moon and stars, with their masses and distances relatively figured in, we are dealing with gravitational forces, are we not?

    Another question for someone with more knowledge and understanding than I: are virtual particles, anti-matter and whatever exists in a vacuum related to the mathematical concept of “i”? (As in, the square root of negative one, the “imaginary set”).

  76.  
    Janet the Shmanet June 5th, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    These last two episodes have some wonderful, sly humor. After Ben gives him some very detailed directions, Locke says he has just one question. "Yes," I say out loud as I'm watching, "What is an anthurium?" But Locke asks a different question (that Fisher King thing again?) and there's a funny moment in the next episode where the two characters discuss
    his lack of horticultural information. Hey,he's a hunter, not a farmer. I also love the moment where Ben informs my heart-centered Hurley that the saltines he is wolfing down are 15 years old. Timing is everything and Michael Emerson's was perfect.


    Leah, the episode where Juliet is marked was "Stranger in a Strange Land". Remember the end? It's a discussion of Jack's mark---the translation of his tattoo is revealed to be,"He walks amongst us, but he is not one of us." That's what it says, Jack admits, but that's not what it means. Leaning forward in my seat, I wonder: what does it mean then? More mystery.


    Eve, I can't' really see Ben as a Christ figure. It's an interesting difference though. Christ's surrender to the despair of perceived abandonment precedes his total surrender into the moment and God's hands. Ben's angry resignation to Jacob's will seems more like a begrudging compliance. I liked his earlier and somewhat wistful confession,"I used to have dreams too, John."

    T. Allen, I must admit that in the last scene of the episode, the head of Locke/Jeremy Bentham looked like it too was made of wax!

    Ginny, I also love that line from "Little Gidding" and thanks NER for mentioning that it is also quoted in one of my all-time favorite novels, The Magus. Author John Fowles called it "an immature work by an immature mind". Maybe that's why I like it so much.

    This blog is pure 21st century technocommunication fun. Thank you, J. Woods! I used to only be hooked on Lost, now I'm hooked on your blog too. Where else could I find such a complete and interesting discussion of Western philosophy? You're the best!

  77.  
    Shayne June 5th, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    Thank you so much for this mind-expanding blog! It certainly enriches "Lost" for me.

    Apologies if I'm repeating what others have said, but here are a few thoughts that struck me when reading the comments above.

    Sosolost said,
    'Your mention of birth/rebirth makes me think this also applies to the island itself -- at some point it will reappear/be "reborn". Its disappearance underwater was like a "baptism." '

    The talk of birth, rebirth and baptism made me think of John 3:05, the verse referred to on Eko's stick, and a direction that's been used repeatedly since. The verse, in the New International Version, is 'Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.' This is commonly taken to refer to baptism, which of course echoes (pun not intended) Eko's insistence that Claire and Aaron be baptised to be saved (itself a word loaded with meaning).

    And regarding Narnia:
    - Time moves differently there than it does in our world. When people from our world return to Narnia after an absence of a year in our time, they might find three years have passed, or centuries have passed.
    - Jack's words about his tattoos ("That's what they say. That's not what they mean.") has always reminded me of what Lewis has a character say in "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader": ""Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is but only what it is made of."

  78.  
    the puma June 6th, 2008 at 1:13 am

    Hello everyone! JW thanks for sharing your thoughts with the rest of us. Your insights enhance our Lost experience. I also appreciate the rest of you for all the effort and passion you include in your postings.

    OK now that the love fest is over

    I had a question regarding the time on the island. It has been established that time is slower on the island. However, the press conference with the Oceanic 6 the time line was current. If time is slower on the island and they were on the island for over three months. The current time line should be longer.

    Another observation I had when Ben was turning the frozen donkey wheel. He was turning it clockwise as if he was moving the time of the island ahead. Perhaps to move the island he had he had to bring the island to a different time as well.

  79.  
    LostFan June 6th, 2008 at 6:57 am

    Great food for thought!

    Did anyone actually see anthuriums in front of the Orchid station? I noticed torch ginger, but no anthuriums. However, maybe the camera just didn't zoom in on anthuriums (if they were there) -- or you need HD to notice them.

    Also, did anyone else think that, just at first glance, Jack's mother looked like Kate??

  80.  
    Messenger88 June 6th, 2008 at 9:53 am

    ...and when those were lifted up from the earth...for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels." (Ezekiel 1:21, often speculated as the description of a flying saucer/UFO)--I thought that this was an intersting passage, given Darlton's advise to keep reading the Bible, I sought out prominent mentions of wheels, and found this to be most interesting. Additionally, in Matthew 2:11, JOHN says, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh AFTER me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear..." Biblically speaking, John is the harbinger of the Christ, one who comes in the spirit of Elijah to precede the Messiah. Also in Matthew chapter 2, John is in the wilderness, dressed as Elijah would have been, much like the primitive dress our Others have reverted to...so I think the question is, now that John/Jeremy is dead, who is to follow? A Shepherd to lead the people, perhaps? Or a child shall lead them?

  81.  
    Philip June 6th, 2008 at 10:09 am

    J. Wood:
    "The symbol takes its own hero's journey." That's a wonderful insight. Just as literature read at different points in one's life is different and takes on a life of its own so goes the symbol. You're damn good!

  82.  
    Yes June 6th, 2008 at 10:40 am

    J Wood, The two other endings were meant to make it hard for the crew to leak the ending, as they have in the past. They never intended to use the other endings, just confuse anyone on the set who planned on spoiling everyone.

  83.  
    Thomas June 6th, 2008 at 11:11 am

    Interesting stuff as always.
    As to my thoughts:

    I actually think that they’ve established that time on the island moves exactly like time in the general world, which is why the time they were on the island matched the time the general world had lost track of the flight. The trick is that if you attempt to access the island by any route except heading 305, there’s a transition zone where time is a variable, so people and things are affected. As a result, the rocket sent to Daniel takes 31 extra minutes to reach the island, the doctor’s body shows up on the island before he died, and Desmond and Minkowski among others get unstuck in time.

    It also struck me while reading the info in the blog on the connections to ancient Egypt that the teleportation sites aren’t really that far from there. The dig site where Charlotte found the Dharma polar bear skeleton at was in Tunisia, and Ben presumably was at or near Tunisia since he was shown going to Tozeur, Tunisia initially. Our old friend the four toed statue remnant suggests there’s been people on the Lost island for many years, so perhaps they had dealings with the old North African powers (Egypt, Carthage?), which would explain the similarities.

    Watching the island disappear, I did find myself coming back to the idea proposed by other people that the Lost island is being set up as the original Atlantis. Technologically advanced? Someone was smart enough to figure out how to harness the Kasmir effect before Kasmir came up with the idea. Gone in a day? Now you see it, now you don’t. It does make sense, at least to me.

    Looking forward to next season and more blog fun.

  84.  
    D-Train June 6th, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    Had a question about the finale that I was hoping someone smarter than me could answer:

    We saw the out of sync boat and island timelines with Faraday's experiment and with the Ship's Doctor being found dead on shore days before he was killed on the boat.

    So why would Keamy's dead man switch have not had a similar delay?

    That has really bothered me as it seems like a pretty blatant logical breakdown.

  85.  
    leah June 6th, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    D-Train: I like Thomas's explanation, above, of the time differences. Also, we've seen that radio communication doesn't seem to have the time delay problems. The freighties talked to people on the boat without any seeming delays, the morse code was answered immediately, etc. And the remote trigger would have been communicating with the explosive device similarly.

  86.  
    Morrick June 6th, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    A tiny addendum regarding the very interesing symbology of the eight-rayed star: eight is also the number of the Dharma Stations. Curiously, according to the various Orientation videos, the stations' count seem to be six: the Swan Orientation video says "2 of 6", the Pearl Orientation video says "3 of 6" and the Orchid Orientation video says "6 of 6", but they're actually eight: the Staff, the Swan, the Pearl, the Arrow, the Flame, the Orchid, the Tempest and the Looking Glass.

    Considering the Dharma logo is an octagon, it makes perfect sense, although I found strange that the count on the Orientation videos only considers six stations.

    (Long-time lurker, first-time poster. I discovered J. Wood's reviews time ago through the DarkUFO website. I want to thank Mr Wood for his excellent work and insights, which make the whole Lost experience even richer and more thought-provoking.)

    Cheers,
    Rick

  87.  
    Crazy Bearded Jack June 6th, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    Another funny thing...in the book "The Survivors of the Chancellor" by Jules Verne (Referenced earlier - it's the book Regina was reading upside-down before she jumped off the ship) there is a "pikrit of potash" basically a functioning bomb in the book, and the crew continues to wash the deck. It is revealed that this is because of fire, but at first most of the passengers just think they are trying to keep the ship overly clean. I noticed that one of the crew members on the Kahana was washing the deck as Michael worked on the bomb. I'm reading the book right now, and it made me laugh to see another reference.

  88.  
    Phutatorius June 6th, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    This comment will be merely a series of disconnected ramblings – nothing too cogent or organized. All this talk of The Wasteland, The Golden Bough, From Ritual to Romance, etc. reminded me of the books I was reading and getting excited over back in the 70’s, along with Moby-Dick, The Man in the High Castle, and others. But don’t forget to add to that list one more: Santillana & von Dechend’s “Hamlet’s Mill.” It’s worth a good long look if you like the mythic aspect of LOST. I find it equally suggestive where LOST is concerned. Speaking of Moby-Dick and the “donkey wheel” I was reminded of the varying interpretations of an ambiguous painting (like the one in Kate’s California suburban home) which Ishmael found at the Spouter Inn. A whole congeries of interpretations was offered, such as “It’s the breaking up of the ice-bound stream of Time.” As to the donkey wheel itself, I thought it resembled the ratchet wheel found in old mechanical clocks and watches – the kind that is designed for a pawl to fit into.

    One final disconnected thought: watching the finale, once again I got the feeling that Jin was not Ji Yeon’s father. It came from the scene where Sun tells Michael (of all people) that she’s pregnant. Why would she do this? Michael, at first, seems disconcerted by Sun’s sudden revelation, but quickly recovers and merely congratulates her. The other time I had this suspicion was in the episode titled “Ji Yeon” during Hurley’s conversation with Sun. She wore an oddly ambiguous expression, or so I thought, when Hurley mentioned Jin’s status as the baby’s father.

    As to the person who mentioned “Against the Day,” did you really finish it? I gave up in disgust on page 918 (it’s nearly 1100 pages long). It was my impression that most readers didn’t get even that far. A-and I read “Gravities Rainbow” three times – back in the 70s, naturally. Like I said, just a few disconnected ramblings.

  89.  
    viking June 6th, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    Unlike physical objects, radio waves travel in all directions at once (and at the speed of light), so some of them would have gone out the 'right' coordinates and come back in the right coordinates. We saw that way back with the Flame station, when Minkowski was monitoring the TVs right after the crash of 815.

    But we also saw a hint of radio waves being affected by the weird 'time field' around the island too. I remember a scene (2nd season, I think) when Hurley and Sayid were listening to a radio while sitting on the beach at night, and the music was very definitely 1940s big band style. Now, there are current radio stations that do have shows that feature music from the 40s, but I think now that that was a subtle, early clue to time being a little strange when things travel to and from the island.

    But physical objects have to come in on a certain bearing to not be affected by the time field. Daniel's rocket came in on one slightly-off bearing, so it arrived 31 minutes late. The Doctor's body drifted in on another bearing, and thus arrived xx minutes early.

    All in all, I'm starting to think that the theory that Ben didn't actually, physically move the island -- he moved the 'right portal' to some other bearing/location. So either:
    1)the island is physically in the same place, but you'll never actually find it there unless you stumble on the right bearing, or
    2) the island was never physically there to begin with, and what was there was just the main portal to it.

    Assuming Ben is telling the truth about the person who moves the island not being able to go back (and Ben telling the truth is never something we can easily assume :)), #2 is the more likely scenario. With #2, the person who moves the island would have no idea where the new portal is, unless someone from the island came out and told him/her how to find it.

    So maybe Locke/Bentham told Ben where the new portal location is. I'm not sure why the O6 would have to return as a group -- I'll just figure the writers will tell us that next year.

    I also had the thought that the O6 really don't need to go back together at all. Ben (he-who-always-has-a-plan) knows about Jack and/or Sayid's connection to Desmond, and Desmond's connection to Penny Widmore, and he's hoping that the 'must all go back together' will get Jack and/or Sayid to flush Desmond and Penny out of hiding to Ben can exact the revenge he swore to Charles Widmore he would take. Or some combination of the two.

  90.  
    Gmaupin June 7th, 2008 at 7:11 am

    Just for fun: recently returned from Phildelphia and a trip to the Rodin Museum there.
    At the lower left of the Gates of Hell, his huge doorpiece filled with humans, humans and more humans,
    Rodin has placed a single small and half-buried mechanism. Which looks ever so much like a
    Frozen Donkey Wheel.

    'Til January...

  91.  
    Don June 7th, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    Re: " Aaron is not supposed to be raised by another like Kate." Did the psychic say that or did she say Aaron should not be raised by "an Other." ? Also, the wheel would not be frozen because it is undergoound? Isn't the temperature 55 degrees F when yu reach 6 feet or so. I thought that it was interesting that the island is hot and and the wheel was frozen, and it took
    ben to another very hot locale.

  92.  
    Don June 7th, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    Also, Locke's head in casket would look waxen, as do most embalmed corpses.

  93.  
    Markus June 8th, 2008 at 5:47 am

    Just an observation, but for those who love the light-dark mirroring stuff, anyone else notice that Hurley was playing the black pieces when he was playing chess with Mr. Echo?

    I really would like to know just how much Daniel understands about what the island truly is. Maybe it's just the scientist in me, but he really seems to have a handle on what/where/how the island is. He seems to take otherwise extraordinary events with a calm that seems to speak of prior knowledge.

    I'm also curious as to Sun's overture to Widmore regarding their "common interests". When Jack was told by Ben that 'everyone' had to make it back to the island, could that include Widmore/former island inhabitants of any kind?

    Thanks for the blog posts, and especially for the new additions to my reading list while we all wait until Lost resumes.

  94.  
    Paul June 8th, 2008 at 8:25 am

    Thomas raises the possibility that the island is Atlantis. One of the great unanswered questions about Ben turning the donkey wheel is why it was there to begin with. It certainly doesn't look like Dharma set it up as part of their "silly experiments." When Ben goes down the dark hallway and arrives, we can see a stone with the mysterious hieroglyphics. Note also that the passageway into the donkey wheel and inscriptions look very similar to those in Ben's secret secret room. This connection leads me to believe that the smoke monster is something ancient as well.

    Another great unanswered question - how did Widmore and his minions know that the 815 passengers were on the island? Since he has no way seemingly to reach the island prior to the hatch implosion, nor any contacts on the island, the fact that he knows is very puzzling. - and troubling.

  95.  
    The One True b!X June 8th, 2008 at 10:41 am

    "i want to say that i hope to high heaven that we get another worthy ARG to unravel while they make us wait for season 5."

    What, you didn't see the ad for Octagon Global Recruiting during the finale?

  96.  
    libfemcatlover June 8th, 2008 at 11:23 am

    Just throwing this out there for speculation: Subject: The Orchid Station Question: Does the Orchid somehow split anyone in close proximity when an "event" occurs? Observation: Three distinct names for a familiar narrator of Dharma Videos: Dr. Marvin Candle, Dr. Mark Wickmund and Dr. Edgar Halliwax Supposition: are they three different entities that have been created by some anomily in the Orchid station as in #15 bunny appearing twice in the orientation video? Could the latest Orchid Station event have created a second John Locke now named Jeremy Bentham? Can there be two, perhaps three or more of the same person here? Could explain Locke being on the island and Jeremy B. being in Los Angelas? Creating another distinct person who happens to mirror another? This intrigues me no end. Anyone else think about this possibility? Just wondering.

  97.  
    Charlotte June 8th, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    I don't think that the LOST Island is Atlantis, but rather that Atlantis is one of the many incarnations of the Island. That's why the technolog of the wheel is so old. Richard may be one of the original inhabitants from this time or before, and has somehow achieved immortality.

    This implies that the Island (or the wormhole) actually does move, possibly to different areas in the vile vortices. In the 19th century it was in the Indian Ocean, where the Black Rock found it. That encounter may have prompted a moving of the Island, possibly by Magnus Hanso for his own purposes of exploiting the Island. Richard may be a survivr of a purge against the original inhabitants betraying his own people in the same way Ben later did.

  98.  
    Phutatorius June 8th, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    With respect to Sun's overture to M. Widmore: maybe she's just conning him. Wouldn't that be just like LOST? As to waxen-looking Locke in the coffin, I think they did a really good job on him: He looks like he's really dead!

  99.  
    David June 9th, 2008 at 5:53 am

    I've read most of the comments posted, but skimmed a few.

    Here's my question:

    With time being different between where the freighter was and where
    the island is/was, how could Juliet see it burning from the beach? Shouldn't it have been burning for some time?

  100.  
    Jeffrey June 9th, 2008 at 7:43 am

    Phutatorius,
    I also thought Michael's reaction to Sun was a bit strange and it was later mirrored by Michael telling Jin to leave since he's "a father now" which Jin takes goodnaturedly - not a reaction I expected since these two have a antagonistic history over Sun. I'd have thought Jin would be piqued by this - unless Jin really has changed. But Michael is also a father - one who sacrificed the Losties for his son - but his own sacrifice reverses this and since his relationship with Walt is broken I guess he doesn't think of himself as a father anymore.
    Unless there's more to Walt's parentage than we know!

  101.  
    NER June 9th, 2008 at 7:45 am

    "...how did Widmore and his minions know that the 815 passengers were on the island?"

    I have a mad theory that Widmore (or someone) knew that a particular combination of passengers (and/or dead body) on the 815 would draw it to the island, and he was responsible for the manipulations that got Jack, Clare, Hurley, Walt etc onto the same flight. He had Frank replaced as pilot by one of his minions so that no one else knew about the plane's path until too late. This would explain how the fake 815 crash business could have been organized and set up so quickly.

    Although, of course, it's probably more complicated than that.

  102.  
    Charlotte June 9th, 2008 at 10:18 am

    libfemcatlover - That's an interesting theory. I've been intrigued by all the aliases that many of the characters use, and it would be great to turn that around and have some of the names for duplicates or "future beings" (not sure how else to describe that concept, but it's what happened in the original Comicon Orchid Video with the rabbits with the same number on it). On the other hand, the scene with Hurley and Sayid leads me to believe that Jeremy Bentham is just John Locke.

    Possibly the O6 going back to the Island will be a 'course correction'. Will they get there at a time before Locke dies?

  103.  
    lib June 9th, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    libfemcatlover - Maybe you caught this or even were implying it in your post about the narrator of the Dharma Videos -
    but did you notice the commanality between the 3 names - candle, wick and wax?
    Dr. Marvin Candle, Dr. Mark Wickmund and Dr. Edgar Halliwax
    That has to mean something in the Lost world.

  104.  
    Perelandra June 10th, 2008 at 7:42 am

    Last night I showed the Pilot Episode to a visiting friend-who loved it and wants to see the whole series. But was was struck by how many themes and patterns were already embedded in the opening hours, right down to Kate insisting on "going back for Jack." An opening eye, ominous rain, black and white playing pieces, and even symbolic shoes were there from the beginning.

    But what of the scene in which Claire says that she hasn't felt the baby move for a day--a bad sign that late ina pregnancy. No sooner does she take a bit of Jin's sea-urchin meat then the baby kicks. Did he die and have his body taken over by another consciousness, as may have happened to Christian's corpse? Pregnancy by eating is an old mythic plot-point. Then Aaron's name would signify his role as a speaker for another who cannot speak well. Previously, Claire had been asked, "Do you know what it is?" Was that turn of phrase significant, rather than "Do you know if it's a boy or a girl?" Just musing.

    Vincent the dog is an angelos (angel literally means "messenger"). Possible inspiration: St. John Bosco's guard dog.

  105.  
    jbentham1 June 10th, 2008 at 9:58 am

    The entire island and series, a panopticon. J Wood is as accurate in analysis as I've seen yet.

  106.  
    lizzybeth64 June 10th, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    “Two lost ships, one with no sails, one with no rudder.” (to paraphrase a line from the song Two Lost Souls from the musical Damn Yankees).

    Water is a major theme; our friends are literally surrounded by water, the rain falls in buckets, people drown, they swim, they fish, they shower, they use boats, and rafts, and submarines. And they listen to music about water washing away troubles, about the ebbing and flowing of hope, and rainy days. Starting with the first season when Hurley is listening to his headphones and we hear “Wash Away” by Joe Purdy, “I’ve got troubles, oh but not today, cause they’re gonna wash away.” We hear Claire asking the couple who wants to adopt her as of yet unborn baby if they know “Catch a Falling Star” (and put it in your pocket, save it for a rainy day). In Hurley’s revived Dharma van we hear Three Dog Night signing “Wash away my troubles, wash away my pain, with the rain in Shambala. Wash away my sorrow, wash away my shame, with the rain in Shambala.”

    Back to the two lost ships, one with no sails – Jack, one with no rudder – Locke. I think that they are each other’s constants, Jack providing the practical steering, and Locke providing the hopeful sails (you have to believe you’re going to get the wind…). I think they were both brought to this water logged place to work together to save this ship, one with his rudder, and one with his sails. The theme of water brought Desmond there, his race around the world in a sailboat and presumably Des’s failure to press the button brought down Oceanic 815. Both Jack and Locke were on that plane and they were both there for the same reason – they had to be there. Jack was there because his father’s death – Jack had to be there, to do the responsible thing, to steer. And Locke was there because of Abaddon’s cryptic suggestion that he try the Walk-About – Locke had to be there to prove that he could do anything he wanted to do, to trust the wind would be there to move the sail.

    Jack and Locke both had to be on that flight. Their stubbornness put them on the same flight. Jack stubbornly fought to be on 815 and not a later flight. Locke stubbornly fought to go on the Walk-about as a paraplegic only to be sent home. The island brought them there together. That’s why bad things happened on the island when Jack left. Locke was sailing, but no one was steering.

  107.  
    bongzilla June 11th, 2008 at 10:35 am

    So J. Wood, give up the goose. Where the heck did you see the Hurley Bird? What time marker in the show?

  108.  
    John Norris June 11th, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    The instant the island vanished, I formed a new theory of Lost - one that may not set well with the "no sci-fi" school of fans. But:

    The island is a vessel, a space/time ship of some sort, long ago crashed or run aground, stranded in our little corner of the universe. 'Jacob' is the crew, a single surviving individual or (I suspect more likely) a collective remnant of consciousness. Given the apparent cross-purposes of the two Christian Shepards, there may be two survivors or factions: One seeking escape, the other seeking dominion over the natives.

    It's the ship's crew that truly is lost, cast away in our backwater place/time.

    Marooned, without a means to repair what's broken and thus flee homeward, Jacob has done what any survivor might: Try to get some help from the locals. For centuries (at least), Jacob has been drawing on the human capital that has come his way, enhancing it, expanding its capabilities. As he learned more about us, he also learned how to choose and call likely helpers to his shore: The Black Rock didn't end up in the middle of the island by accident.

    There's a lot of human drama wrapped around this, much of it driven by people like Widmore (Hanso?), Alpert, Ben and others who've come to see and manipulate some of the marvels around them. The Dharmites and the Oceanic 815 survivors are just recent additions to the roster of humans manipulated in service to the ship.

    When Ben shifts the donkey wheel, he sets the ship into brief, unpredictable motion: That's why moving is a last resort. And it's a disaster for Jacob: He's gathered nearly all the resources he needs for escape, and suddenly key pieces are lost to him, left behind when the island shifted. Now he's calling, prodding the missing to return, to make good on his plan of escape. "Help me," indeed.

    If there's a word of truth in this, no one will be more surprised than me. But when the light went white and the island vanished, this wild speculation is what I saw.

  109.  
    Perelandra June 11th, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    John Norris's plausible idea reminds me of the medieval legend in which sailors land on an unknown island and camp. But when they try to build a fire, the "island" plunges into the sea because it was really a
    giant turtle heavily encrusted with seaweed, barnacles, etc.

  110.  
    David June 12th, 2008 at 2:53 am

    John Norris' comment is number 108.

    How weird would it be if his theory was correct?

  111.  
    Andy June 12th, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Please reveal where you saw the Hurley Bird.

  112.  
    Westy June 15th, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    to libfemcatlover:

    I believe you're right. Something caused Candle (or whomever was the original) to split into at least three separate people: Dr. Marvin Candle, Dr. Mark Wickmund and Dr. Edgar Halliwax. These are not simply alias of the same person. Their names are similar because as soon a new Candle appeared, it had to be worked out how to distinguish that person from the other, already existing Candle and one of the Candles wanted a new name somewhat similar to his old one. I can’t speculate on the science of how it happened (this is a work of fiction, after all), but I think it was done accidently in the course of time travel experiments.

    Here’s how I think it could have happened. On a given day, Candle goes into the time booth at 10:00 a.m. and sends himself into the past one hour. Since Candle already existed at 9:00 a.m. that day, when Candle the time traveler steps out of the time booth at 9:00, he becomes an additional Candle. Now there are two Candles in existence at 9:01 a.m. There is no difference between them, except the memories of Candle 1 are one hour different from Candle 2 - the time traveler; that is, Candle 1 did not yet experience the hour between 9 and 10 a.m. If Candle 2 had breakfast at 9:30, he would no longer be hungry after stepping out of the time booth at 9:00, but Candle 1, not yet having had breakfast, would still be hungry. (Obviously, I’m speculated about the specifics of the experiment.)

    So while they are the same man, they have now become two distinct individuals. Each thinks they are really Candle - and they are. But, like identical twins who are split from the same egg, they will now be leading separate lives. For the sake of everyone around them, at least one of them had to take a different name. It could be that both decided to change their names, hence we have a Dr. Mark Wickmund and Dr. Edgar Halliwax, or the experiment could have been tried again and third Candle resulted.

    Now if you remember the Orchid Orientation film - found here:

    http://lostpedia.com/wiki/Orchid_Orientation_Film

    ...there is quite the little freak out about keeping the rabbits apart. It appears that something very horrible will happen if the bunnies get near each other. Will the very fabric of the space/time continuum be ripped apart? (Forgive the Trekie talk.) I don’t know, but these people are clearly afraid.

    Which brings us to Locke/Bentham. It’s possible that another Locke cropped up as a result of Ben messing with the time booth or moving the island through space/time. Perhaps the new and old Locke encountered each other, setting off the very bad thing that Candle (actually Dr. Edgar Halliwax in the Orchid video) was afraid of and Bentham said happened on the island. But how is this Jack’s fault? (I have no idea yet.) And perhaps one of the Lockes decided to change his name to another English philosopher.

    While we don’t know if Locke’s character is aware that his name is the same as the famous English philosopher John Locke, I think it’s safe to assume he does. The real John Locke is taught in some grade schools in America, and most high schools and colleges, as an influence on the Founding Fathers. While Jeremy Bentham is not as well-known as Locke, I think it’s safe to assume that Lost’s Locke also knows that there was an English philosopher named Jeremy Bentham. It also seems within character that Lost’s Locke was somewhat vain about his name’s association and would want his extra persona to also be named for a philosopher, as opposed to simply naming himself Joseph Key.

    The Widipedia entries are interesting for Locke and Bentham. Here’s a section that Lost fans may find particularly so:

    As requested in his will, his body was preserved and stored in a wooden cabinet, termed his "Auto-icon". ...it was acquired by University College London in 1850. The Auto-icon is kept on public display at the end of the South Cloisters in the main building of the College. ...The Auto-icon has always had a wax head, as Bentham's head was badly damaged in the preservation process. The real head was displayed in the same case for many years, but became the target of repeated student pranks including being stolen on more than one occasion. It is now locked away securely.

    Note the corpse we see in the season finale is not named Locke, but Bentham. I think it is indeed Bentham, not Locke, in the coffin.

    I think, too, that we’ll find out that there are many such versions of many people on this show. Time is looping around, causing many different realities or time lines to be set up. Charlie is dead, but also here, after all. I think one example of this is the supposed staged wreck of the Oceanic plane in the Sunda Trench. I don’t think it was staged - why believe Tom (speaking for Ben) or the ship’s captain (speaking for Widmore)? I think it really is the same plane, with the same passengers. Oceanic did crash in the water in the Indian Ocean and it crashed on the island, too, in another time line.

  113.  
    DocH June 17th, 2008 at 10:16 am

    Nice dissection Westy. Now explain Ben. Tunisian Ben assumed the Dean Moriarty identity once he arrived there. An identity he has utilized before. Does Ben know that there is a second (original) Ben still back on the island? Or was he not xeroxed and strictly a solo act? Now apply that to Locke/Bentham. Bentham as an assumed identity the original or Bentham as a required identity by a duplicate?

  114.  
    Westy June 25th, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    I don’t think we should assume that if Locke and Bentham are two different individuals, than Ben and Moriarty must be two different individuals. On this show, different things happen to different people; and as Ben himself said, moving the island is “unpredictable.”

    At this point, I don’t think there’s more than one Ben. Ben’s use of an alias on occasion does seem to be connected with his travels, but purely for expediency. He has many passports squirreled away in his secret room and, like Tom, it seems likely he is one of the Others that can come and go as he pleases. It’s apparent that Widmore, at least, has been after him for a long time, so it would be prudent for him to have some false IDs.

    Many other characters have assumed alias’s throughout the show. Sawyer, Kate, Locke’s father, Hurley, Christian, and Ana Lucia come to mind immediately. In these cases, they were deliberate names changes that had nothing to do with new time streams or alternate realities. There was also an initial confusion about several people’s names among the Losties, most notably Ethan is misidentified.

    Identity is one of the underlying themes in Lost. Consider Jack’s tattoo flashback in the 3rd season:
    Achara says, “I am not a tattoo artist. I am able to see who people are. My work is not decoration; it is definition.” This flashback has always bothered me. It didn’t seem to quite fit into what we knew about Jack up to that point and it’s hard to time this event in his life. Even the good people at Lostpedia’s who work on the timeline could only place this vaguely “between 2003 and 2004.” So what is this flashback about? Maybe we should be asking, “Which Jack?”

    Even more interesting from Season three:
    [Locke looks at his father gagged in the room which Ben showed him.]
    LOCKE: Dad? What is this?
    BEN: You tell me. You brought him here.
    LOCKE: I didn't bring him here.

    This has been nibbling at my mind since I first saw it. It is so astonishing that Cooper is on the island and Ben is so emphatic that Locke brought him there. But Locke has no memory of doing so. Maybe Locke should have said, “This me didn’t bring him here.”

  115.  
    DrJohnHong June 26th, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    Dear Joley,
    Egads, what happened to my liberal arts college days. Back then, what you wrote would have made sense faster. Ugh, I'm so slow, but your words are great food for thought. I love how you take an amazing story from LOST and dive into the matrix of it. Thank you.
    www.DrJohnHong.com

  116.  
    tom January 16th, 2009 at 3:39 am

    are you going to come back for the new season?

  117.  
    martha February 4th, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    I was reading something about Leary’s 8-Circuit Model and it all started rushing into my mind. J mentioned Leary in some earlier post (linked to Alpert) while I was going trough it I realized the eight-rayed symbol appearing constantly in lost, so I linked to it and seemed to me that the 8-Circuit Model reflects a lot into the lives and situations of the characters but there is one in particular that called my attention.
    In Leary´s Model the eight and final phase called the Psycho-atomic Circuit “allows access to the intergalactic consciousness that predates life in the universe and lets humans operate outside of space-time and the constraints of relativity. It tunes the brain into the non-local quantum communication system” this immediately reminded me of Desmond´s ability to travel in time, to “unstuck his consciousness” and experience time-space different from the rest of the people. More recently, in the 5 season premiere Faraday claims Desmond is very special for able to do so. My mind is on hyper speed now; I just wish my fingers were as fast, so what you think about this?

  118.  
    kurye March 26th, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Powell's Books - PowellsBooks.BLOG - Of Myths and Pisteutics (or when the waves of faith crash against the rocks of reason) great artice thankyou
    ..

  119.  
    Barry May 24th, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Man, this stuff was good.....

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