You'd think we'd start with Jughead. The episode is telling us to start with Jughead. It's part of the Universal Plot. But there are plenty of questions to be raised in this episode, and one thing was deceitfully subtle. I originally planned to focus on that subtlety, but my DVR has a habit of randomly deleting scheduled recordings (thanks, Comcast!), so I didn't get to watch the episode closely until the following day. For good or ill, that provided more time to find a lot more going on. The key symbol of the episode is the cracked bomb, threatening to release a lot more than it would seem to hold; it's an apt symbol for the episode itself. Rather than batter readers with a term paper, this post is broken up into sections that you can click on to jump down to. So first let's lay out some structure, and you can choose which section(s) you'd prefer to read:
- The subtle reference will take up most of this post,
- After that is the narrative sandbox: Jughead? DeGroot? Smoky? The compass? Theresa? Ms. Hawking? Who knew what and when?
- If you'd like to read some masterful detective work on Jughead and its connection to physicist John Archibald Wheeler, the person who coined the terms black hole and wormhole, check out Doc Jensen's Entertainment Weekly preview of "Jughead." He dug deep and found something solid.
- The Otherville Book Club at DocArzt. In a synergistic handshake, a quick run-down of the texts in each post here will also go up at www.docarzt.com. Doc Arzt (Jon Lachonis) is then linking back to these Powell's Books pages. If you'd like to get a quick look at just the texts, or wander in theory land for a while, check that page. Majordomo Jon Lachonis is also the author of Lost Ate My Life, a book chronicling how new media like blogs have helped shrink the distance between audience and artist.
The Subtle Reference
On to the subtlety: We find out from Richard that the soldier-types are in the year 1954. This is right after the Korean War ended, and those M1 Garand rifles were still in use. But look at those soldiers again; they're not just white males, there's also a black soldier, and they're being led by a woman -- in 1954. We can glean from the episode that the equipment is lifted off at least some U.S. soldiers (as per Miles' comment that they just walked over the graves of four U.S. soldiers). But the Others' ad hoc military appears decidedly forward-thinking for the 1950's. Add to this a little Latin flavor provided by the Others Widmore/Jones, Cunningham and Juliet, and we have the makings of an important Renaissance influence. (And doesn't this answer why the blast door map was written in Latin?)
We know the island was supposed to be an ideal community. In Western literature, the idea of a planned, ideal community stretches back to 1516 and Sir Thomas More's publication of Utopia. Structurally, More wrote the book anachronistically, finishing the second part of the book before the first, then came back and filled in the rest. He also attempted to create a new Utopian alphabet that resembles geometric glyphs; the British Library has a page of the glyphs on their web page.
Heavily influenced by Plato's Republic, More wrote the book in Latin, the language of Renaissance scholarship and, as Juliet says, "Others 101; gotta learn Latin-language of the enlightened." But More's book is a bit of a two-faced work. The title itself is a pun; the Greek ‘topos' means ‘place', but the ‘U' is the trick--both Eu and Ou in Greek sound like how we pronounce the ‘U' in ‘Utopia.' ‘Eu' means ‘good,' so ‘Good Place,' but ‘Ou' means ‘no,' so "No Place."
Where's that Lost island again?
The name games don't end there. Although More wrote in Latin, many of the names are corrupted Greek. In "More's Strategy of Naming in the Utopia," James Romm called it a carefully constructed verbal ambiguity (you can get the article here, but it requires JSTOR access through a library). In Chapter 3, "Of Their Magistrates," the official hierarchy goes the Syphogrants, then the Tranibors (who answer to the Archiphilarchs). The names seem meaningful and resonate Greek, but any attempt at sensible translation breaks the rules of grammar. The best one can get out of Syphogrant is "manipulator," and Tranibore is "bench-eater" (ben-cheater), which both seem pretty provocative for Lost themes. Considering More was a lawyer, "manipulator" and "bench-eater" may have some other meanings. Romm finally suggests that "the reader's temptation to meddle in these nomenclatural mysteries is quite strong," but our need to map real-world words onto invented places is first invoked, and then defeated, and that in itself is the lesson.
Utopia is related as a frame narrative, with More himself first meeting a character named Raphael Hythlodaeus who had voyaged with Amerigo Vespucci to the New World. But Raphael went a little farther, and came across this island called Utopia. The rest of the book is Raphael trying to convey what he discovered.
Can we trust Raphael? He may be a little two-faced as well; although his first name means ‘God heals,' his last name is Greek for ‘slinger of nonsense.' In other words, Utopia could be a good place that heals, or the entire idea is a traveler's tall tale because such a place could never exist--it's no place. More is having it both ways here, but why? Stephen Greenblatt offers one argument in his book Renaissance Self-Fashioning. Briefly, More was putting forth ideas that would get him in hot 16th century water (and he was eventually beheaded by Henry VIII). More took those parts of himself that could get him dragged before an authority and displaced them into his character Raphael. Furthermore, he made Raphael's name ambivalent, so a reader couldn't really tell if these were healing words or nonsense. Thus More was protected -- by his own fictional mirror twin.
But More's island holds a few more echoes worth listening to. His imagined community was strikingly progressive for More's era, and nearly communist in its lack of private property and promotion of shared space and material goods. There's a whole lot of equality going around in Utopia; all material goods are shared, and even population distribution is handled so no one area becomes over or underpopulated.
Gender equality is also present; divorces are granted by the Senate, women and men of all classes attend lectures, and women learn trades, are taught to read, and are trained as soldiers. This seems commonplace now, but it wasn't in the early 1500's. Also, note that the leader of the island guerrillas was a woman, Ellie.
When it comes to religion in Utopia, women can be priests, and priests can marry. Citizens are also free to follow whatever religion they like; Raphael notes that some worship the sun, the moon, a planet, or the incomprehensible Deity that pervades all. "They differ in this: that one thinks the god whom he worships is this Supreme Being, and another thinks that his idol is that god." Note the varieties of religious experience symbolized by the Lost island inhabitants, from Catholicism to Buddhism to Islam to ancient Egyptian symbols. However, the Utopians are not keen on atheists, but nor do they punish or coerce them: "a man cannot make himself believe anything he pleases." The faithless aren't punished, but neither can they hold any important social positions. Raphael explains if a man is afraid of nothing but the law, then there's nothing to stop him from finding ways around the law.
In matters of Utopian war, there are still more echoes. The Utopians aren't big on war; they find it abhorrent, so they prepare for war in such a way as to end it as quickly and efficiently as possible. Think back to "The Man Behind the Curtain" and the Purge, when the pacifist DHARMA Initiative -- searchers of peace through science -- were also ready to defend themselves, as are the Others. Raphael goes on to explain that if the Utopians have to go to war, there are two main objectives: 1.) Obtain that which had the Utopians had it earlier would have prevented the war, or 2.) Punish their opponent so severely that they'll never think of starting up against the Utopians again. The Utopians are also great shots with arrows, and "It is hard to tell whether they are more dexterous in laying or avoiding ambushes." Again, think Purge, the arrow attacks, and every time a gang of Others seem pop out of the trees and then melt back into the jungle without a trace.
Utopia is a very wealthy nation, and its assets stretch beyond the island itself. But since they abhor war, and only use it as a last resort, they choose another way to protect their holdings; they hire mercenaries. The Zapolets live 500 miles east of Utopia (remember that location), and are uncultured barbarians who live to fight and hire out their services to the highest bidder. This is also another name game; Zapolets is a strange dialectical portmanteau of "selling people." Being so wealthy, the Utopians often have their own private Zapolet-staffed Blackwater off securing Utopia's transnational interests. We now know that Charles Widmore was once an Other of some sort, living on the utopian island, and he too paid top dollar to mercenaries like Keamy in order to secure the island, which he seems to consider his.
Since More is channeling Plato, there's also the question of slavery to consider. The conditions for enslavement in Utopia are strict: Slaves are either prisoners of war taken in battle or are people sentenced to slavery for deeds that would get them capital punishment in Texas; Or slaves are poor people from neighboring countries who offer their labor. The slaves constantly work, but also get an education. No son of a slave can be made a slave, and the slaves of other nations can't be made Utopian slaves. One echo here rings through Lost: Roger Linus was a poor person from a foreign country who offered his services to the DHARMA Initiative. Horace Goodspeed, who helped Roger when Ben was prematurely born outside Portland, got Roger a job, but the DI made Roger into a Work Man. Like a Utopian slave, he was given the benefits of citizenship and his son received an education, but Roger had to do all the menial labor.
If a slave can also be a POW, that brings us back to Enlightenment philosopher John Locke's Second Treatise of Government. (Incidentally, Locke knew Latin, believed it was necessary for for education, and his Latin epitaph begins with SISTE VIATOR, ‘STOP TRAVELER.') In the treatise, Locke argues that the only justification for any slavery emerges from an act of war, where one intends to violate someone else's life -- Locke may have been writing with Utopia on his desk. This was discussed in the post for the episode "The Brig," where Locke cons Sawyer into killing Cooper. Locke's father had fulfilled all of the philosopher Locke's conditions for war, and qualified for slavery; he left Locke homeless as a child, conned him out of his kidney and left him again, and then tried to kill him. What Cooper did amounted to an act of war on Locke, and appropriately enough, when he was killed by Sawyer, Cooper was bound in slave chains in the brig of a slave ship.
The Overinterpretation Station
If you clicked down here, the above section laid out the connections between Sir Thomas More's book Utopia and the island of Lost, as seen in "Jughead" and previous episodes. More's land of Utopia is like a pre-Enlightenment Eden, and the line about the mercenary Zapolets residing "east of Utopia" rings of "east of Eden." So with that, here's the overinterpretation of the day: In More's book, the narrator Raphael relates how the Utopians save their baser work for the hunters. Hunting is seen as uncivilized and something more readily found in cultures like the Zapolets (whom Raphael refers to as huntsmen). Conversely, the Utopians are great farmers. In the comments for "Because You Left/The Lie," sosolost pointed out that Locke is still working through his identity crisis first raised in the episode "Further Instructions" -- is he a farmer or a hunter? When Locke is asked that question, the scene cuts before he can give an answer. However, when he later claims he is a hunter, he can't act like it. Locke seems to be a bit of both, and in some interesting ways; like Hurley wanting to be Hyde but always coming out Jekyll, Locke wants to be a hunter, but fate pulls him in the direction of the farmer.
The mythic trope of the hunter-gatherer vs. the farmer is allegorized in a number of familiar places. Basically, it reflects the conflict of the wandering man who lives in concert with nature vs. the civilized man who controls nature. The myths always display the civilized man winning out in the end (as he did historically), and include a female figure near the center of the conflict. Suggestion: Locke is an embodiment of the trope itself.
In Mesopotamia, the hunter/farmer myth is The Epic of Gilgamesh, the story of Enkidu, the wild man who is at one with the animals, and Gilgamesh, the city-builder and king of Uruk. Enkidu was causing trouble for the herders, so Gilgamesh sent the sacred prostitute Shamhat to tame him. It worked; Enkidu lost his wildness, but his energy was displaced into overcoming other challenges, so Shamhat sent him to wrestle Gilgamesh. This version of the hunter/farmer myth is rather even-handed, as no one dies in the fight, and Gilgamesh befriends (and civilizes) Enkidu. Recall Locke's crossword from the episode "Collision"; the clue was ‘Enkidu's friend,' and the answer was ‘Gilgamesh.' Locke and Eko's relationship also resembles that of Gilgamesh and Enkidu, starting as rivals and ending as friends when Eko/Enkidu is killed by Smoky/Humbaba. Despite Locke being cast in the Gilgamesh/farmer role, in "Further Instructions" Eko tells him that Locke will find his missing people: "After all, you are a hunter, John."
In Egyptian mythology, the hunter/farmer conflict is related through the brothers Set and Osiris, and their sister Isis. (Plutarch lays this out in Moralia, where he calls Set by his Greek name, Typhon.) Set is the wild one, the desert god of chaos who is represented by an animal, while Osiris is a dying-and-rising civilized god of the harvest. Osiris was busy living the good life with his sister/wife Isis, being king and making sure the Nile flooded, when Set became jealous of his brother's success and killed him, tearing Osiris into 14 pieces and scattering him around the land. This is where Isis steps in: she collected the pieces, reconstituted Osiris, and bore a son by him, Horus with the famous vertical strike below his left eye.
Horus, the nephew of Set, grew and eventually overcame his father's slayer, gaining his scarred eye and becoming the pharaoh of all Egypt. In this case, the civilized man is killed, but not forgotten. Osiris becomes a god of the dead, and both figures are symbolized in Horus, the son of the civilizer who unites Upper and Lower Egypt into one kingdom, and the war god who overcomes chaos. Egyptian mythology and Horus have been brought up quite a bit during recent seasons; along with the hieroglyphs, there's also Horace Goodspeed (another bloody-noser like Charlotte and Minkowski), and the vertical scar below Locke's right eye resembles the eye of Horus -- but note it's the equal but opposite eye, the left eye's mirror twin.
Then we get to the Old Testament and the sons of Adam and Eve; Cain the farmer, and his brother Abel the (hunter-gatherer) shepherd. The brothers both offered sacrifices to Yahweh, who clearly appreciated Abel's animal sacrifice more than Cain's grain sacrifice (Yahweh wasn't a vegetarian). As a result Cain became angry and killed Abel--the farmer overcomes the hunter-gatherer. Yahweh had to do something, so he banished Cain to the Land of Nod (wandering) east of Eden, and gave Cain some kind of mark; the mark of Cain denoted that he was cursed for committing murder, and that he was protected by Yahweh. Cain then went on to do what any farmer in this mythic trope does; he built a city, Enoch. The Jewish midrash develops the story a bit; each had a sister/wife (like Isis), but Cain found Abel's sister/wife more appealing and wanted Abel out of the picture, not unlike Set being jealous of Osiris, except the attacker roles are reversed. We've seen Juliet's mark of Cain for murdering Pickett in the episode "Stranger In a Strange Land." Locke seems to be the constant wanderer, even arriving on the island as the result of a walkabout, and now we have the wandering island, stuck in its own Land of Nod. And with Locke's luck, who could argue that he isn't cursed?
Connections? Not necessarily, but an echo (Eco, Eko) isn't a map. Yet we know that Locke embodies this hunter/farmer conflict -- he's both at once. He claims to be a hunter, but he's seen working the land in the "Further Instructions" flashback, can't bring himself to kill like hunter (the FBI agent at the farm, Cooper, Widmore), and is heading toward the farmer-civilizer role of a leader of people. Locke also has the naïve capacity to allow himself to be used by anyone; he gets played by Cooper, his mother, Jack, Sawyer, Ben, and possibly Richard and Jacob. LOSTcasts has done a good job of tracking Locke's missteps over the course of the narrative. Myths aren't necessarily cast in stone forever; they get passed around from culture to culture, adopted and adapted and used in ways that suits that culture's purposes, just as the hunter/farmer archetype is adapted to suit the Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Hebrew purposes. What's interesting about this is if Locke is an embodiment of the hunter/farmer mythic trope, then he should be used to different purposes by anyone who finds a use for him. If Locke is a walking myth, we can expect him to be manipulated for other people's intentions.
Thomas More's Utopia (laid out in the above sections) gave rise to a number of later works building on his political ideas and taking them in new directions. Of interest to Lost are Aldous Huxley's utopian and dystopian counterparts Island and Brave New World, and George Orwell's 1984. Huxley wrote Island to balance out the dystopian vision he laid out in Brave New World, a book which influenced Orwell -- Huxley was Orwell's schoolteacher at Eton.
Lostpedia also points out that Island begins with the protagonist, Will Farnaby, "lying there like a corpse in the dead leaves" and then waking with a start, just like Jack did in the pilot episode. The Pala Ferry of Lost hearkens back to the name of Huxley's utopian island, Pala, and the island's Queen Mother (the Rani) tells Farnaby "Nothing happens by Accident. There's a Great Plan, and within that Great Plan innumerable little plans. A little plan for each and every one of us." It sounds like the Rani was reading some Umberto Eco; she could have replaced "Great Plan" with "Universal Plot."
(If you would like to see a real-world megalithic manifesto of a kind of utopian vision, check out the Georgia Guidestones; these ideas don't just exist in fiction.)
Orwell's dystopian vision in 1984 introduced readers to Room 101, where the Ministry of Love re-educates subjects by using a subject's deepest fears against them. In Lost, this is echoed with Room 23, where Ben has Karl re-educated. But Room 23 also pulls from another dystopian vision, Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange (and Stanley Kubrick's cinematic adaptation of that work), which depicts an attempt at re-education in the hopes of more toward a more utopian society. In A Clockwork Orange and Room 23, both Alex and Karl are re-educated by being strapped into chairs, injected with drugs, their eyelids are forked open, and they are forced to view a multiple series of images designed to play on their subconscious. Lost adds a bit of a techno twist, with driving beats and backward-masked messages accompanying the flashing, intercut images on the screen.
Heterotopia: Other Place
There is one more take on the idea of utopia (laid out in the first section) worth noting. In a 1967 lecture entitled "Of Other Spaces," French critic Michel Foucault broached the idea of heterotopia, or other place. One of his first claims seems to conjure the current central conflict of Lost: "Time probably appears to us only as one of the various distributive operations that are possible for the elements that are spread out in space." Translation: time is part of space, we just don't experience it that way, and that becomes important to the notion of a heterotopia. Foucault then defines utopias as sites that don't exist, and heterotopias as counter-sites where "all the other real sites that can be found within the culture [are] simultaneously represented, contested, and inverted." (Note: Michel Foucault has no bearing on Foucault's Pendulum and Eco denies any influence, but some scholars disagree. His lecture is available in Diacritics 16:1, but library access is required.)
Foucault has a harder time getting to the point than I do, so here's an attempt at an encapsulation: a heterotopia is both a geographical and mental site that exists outside of conventional culture, and can reflect all the other established sites a culture has to offer. In short, it's an other place that exists in reality and either carries an echo of utopian possibilities (colonies, ships, cyberspace, Otherville), or a parallel place that contains negative elements in order to maintain utopian possibilities in conventional culture (prisons, hospitals, cemeteries, Room 23). He goes on to describe six principles of heterotopias. Of note for Lost are:
- The third: a heterotopia juxtaposes several sites in a single place, sites that would otherwise be incompatible (the Others, the DHARMA Initiative, the survivors);
- The fourth: heterotopias are slices of time, and function best when people absolutely break with traditional time (the entire narrative is now about the islanders and the Oceanic Six + Ben and Locke experiencing their own absolute break with time);
- The fifth: heterotopias are not freely accessible, but require permission and certain gestures (recall Ben and Locke's requirement to sacrifice their fathers to become an Other, or Mr. Friendly out in the jungle: "This is not your island. This is our island. And the only reason you're living on it is because we let you live on it.");
- And the sixth: heterotopias either create an illusion exposing real space, or create an other real space that is the equal and opposite of our space--a mirror twin (Otherville vs. the outside world, Otherville vs. the beach).
The idea of heterotopias has been influential on a good deal of speculative and science fiction since the 1970's. In the collection Political Science Fiction, Neil Easterbrook's "State, Heterotopia," explores the heterotopian models presented in Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, Ursula K. Le Guin's The Dispossessed, and Samuel R. Delany's Triton. In each book, a heterotopian civilization on a moon is at war with its more traditional parent planet, and each author presents a different imagined political response.
Heinlein, Easterbrook argues, heads in a libertarian anarcho-capitalist direction with a dollop of Ayn Rand (think Sawyer, Widmore). Le Guin's novel, subtitled "An Ambiguous Utopia," is in part a response to Dostoevsky's anarchist novel The Possessed, and imagines a more productive form of anarchism than Dostoevsky does (or possibly Mikhail Bakunin). Her model is more along the lines of Thomas More's, and is closer to the social structure of the Others. Delany's Triton, subtitled "An Ambiguous Heterotopia," is in part a response to The Dispossessed and displaces politics from group social action to the individual body. Delany's book imagines technology that can repair social problems by changing the body itself.
In Lost, this physio-techno politics is represented in many ways, such as with Room 23, where technology is used to socially reprogram Karl to fit Ben's imagined utopia; with some of the DHARMA Initiative attempts to solve the political problems through manipulating the Valenzetti Equation (like parapsychology); with the Skinner-like experiments, where a subject's psychology is manipulated through technological interactions; and through finding ways to zap people into different locations in time, possibly in attempts to re-engineer history.
The above writers are also familiar to Lost. Heinlein's novel Stranger in a Strange Land provided the title for the Jack-in-Thailand-with-Bai-Ling episode, and Le Guin's The Lathe of Heaven is a noted precursor to Ben's magic box, where thought can be manifested into reality (like Walt looking at a polar bear in a comic book, and then the bear appears out of the jungle). Given the above examples, Lost could arguably be read as a mass-media model of competing heterotopias.
The Narrative Sandbox
Jughead: When one hears the word Jughead, one's thoughts generally turn to a cryptic, gangly, and eternally hungry Archie Comics character who runs as fast as he can to wherever he's going, wears a crown beanie, and is a lot smarter than everyone else. He shares a last name with the dead soldier whose uniform the young Widmore wore, and his first name functions a little like the Utopia narrator's ambiguous last name, Hythlodaeus; Jughead is very intelligent, but his name is a euphemism for a fool.
The good old Oxford English Dictionary and American Dialect Society explain that "jughead" was first used in reference to WW I American Expeditionary Forces in the 1926 L.H. Nason novel Chevrons. By 1964 "jughead" was interchangeable with the U.S. Marine nickname "jarhead." The military angle is interesting; in 1954, the year that the the survivors flash back to the island, the U.S. Department of Defense and the Atomic Energy Commission commenced Operation Castle. This was a series of thermonuclear hydrogen bomb tests in the South Pacific's Bikini Atoll. Following on from WW II's Fat Man and Little Boy, the bombs dropped on Japan, the idea was to make smaller and more powerful bombs that could be easily dropped by an aircraft.
DeGroot: On March 22, 1954, Castle Yankee was scheduled to test a TX-16, codenamed "Jughead." The test was meant as a backup in case the March 1 test of "Shrimp" failed. It didn't; Shrimp packed a wallop more than a thousand times stronger than Fat Man or Little Boy, and the fallout poisoned islanders and Japanese fishermen in the region. Jughead was subsequently dismantled (or dropped on a mysterious electromagnetic island). This isn't hidden history, but the work of one professor at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland is worth noting. He chronicled these tests and their fallout in his 2004 book The Bomb: A Life.
His name: Gerard DeGroot.
No, this isn't the same Gerald DeGroot who started the DHARMA Initiative, the one who has been missing since the 1970's. No, this isn't part of any Alternate Reality Game. Note that's Gerard with an ‘r', not Gerald with an ‘l'. He's not a fictional character, and he's not playing a fictional character in reality like Rachel Blake.
But consider the subjects of his scholarship. Professor DeGroot has written on subjects that relate to the same eras and themes that motivated Gerald DeGroot's establishment of the DHARMA Initiative, like Student Protest: The Sixties and After (1998); A Noble Cause?: America and the Vietnam War (1999); Dark Side of the Moon: The Magnificent Madness of the American Lunar Quest (2006); and The Sixties Unplugged: A Kaleidoscopic History of a Disorderly Decade (2008).
Here is his University of St. Andrews web page. He was already a footnote on Gerald DeGroot's Lostpedia page, but the Jughead link seems too coincidental. Can this be a coincidence? A Scottish professor named DeGroot whose studies jibe with the same period and themes that led to the DHARMA Initiative? Maybe someone on the Lost staff was familiar with the real DeGroot's work, and used it as an influence. Maybe someone on the Lost staff saw that the community had found a Scottish historian with (nearly) the same name, and then went to The Bomb: A Life when drafting the "Jughead" script; that would be an interesting way to toy with the boundary between fictional narrative and real audience. In any case, it's some connection.
Smoky: If that's not enough, check out what Doc Jensen dug up on John Archibald Wheeler, the American quantum physicist at Princeton who coined the terms black hole and wormhole. He also helped create the first hydrogen bomb (like Jughead). Doc does a little yoga to make it from Jughead of Archie Comics to John Archibald Wheeler, but what locked it in for him was that Wheeler had his own pet name for something called the delayed choice double slit experiment.
One problem in quantum physics is if matter presents itself, at the quantum level, as a wave or a particle. A particular experiment demonstrated this problem: Fire a photon (a packet of light) at a wall with two slits, and depending on what measuring instrument the experimenter chooses, the photon either passes through one slit as a particle or both slits as a wave. It's called particle-wave duality.
Wheeler suggested the experimenter could choose the measuring instrument after the photon had passed through the slit/s, and the experimenter's choice will still determine whether the photon showed itself as a particle or a wave. In effect, the experimenter takes part in the creation of the past. Wheeler explained one could detect the start and end points of the photon, but in between was a "great smoky dragon" of uncertainty, it's tail at the firing point and its teeth on the measuring stick. From this, he claimed the past had no existence except for how it was recorded in the present.
A great smoky dragon that effects time -- if that doesn't sound suggestive. The experiment has been undertaken a few times now, successfully. A 2002 Discover Magazine article titled "Does the Universe Exist if We're Not Looking?" follows up on Wheeler's delayed-choice work. He had moved on to an almost mystical genesis-by-observation theory, postulating that our observations of the world "contributed to the creation of physical reality," including the future, present and past.
Compass: One of the building connections is with Locke and his compass. Richard gave Locke the compass during his flashes, telling Locke to show him the compass the next time he sees Richard because Richard wouldn't recognize him. Recall the flashback in the episode "Cabin Fever," when Richard visited a young Locke in California. We know that Locke was 5 years old when Richard visited him to try out the Dalai Lama test, placing objects that belonged to the previous leader and asking the boy "which of these things belong to you already?" Two of those objects are a knife and a compass.
In "Jughead," we learn that Locke was born in 1956, and gives Richard the compass in 1954; Richard doesn't seem convinced by Locke's claim the Richard gave him the compass. This means Richard visited Locke around 1961 or 1962. Since it's California and it's raining when Richard visits, we can guess it's probably winter, and if it's early in 1962, that would put Richard's visit some 42 years before Richard gave Locke the compass on the island during the flashes -- and there's one of the numbers, 42.
In 1962, Richard thinks the compass belonged to the Locke he met in 1954, but Locke received that compass from Richard in 2004. See the problem here? Neither of them really know whose compass it is; the Locke of 2004 thinks it belongs to Richard, and the Richard of 1954-1962 thinks it belongs to Locke. In any event, Locke chooses the knife (he wants to be a hunter). This needs some untangling. If Richard mistakenly believed the compass belonged to young Locke, and young Locke chose the knife, then he didn't choose wrong.
Compasses are also becoming increasingly important. Faraday has that complicated gold device in "The Lie" he uses to determine where they are in time, just like a compass determines where one is in space. Or maybe it's a flux capacitor, and it'll take 1.21 gigawatts to stabilize the island.
Theresa: We also learned that Faraday worked with a woman named Theresa at Oxford, and possibly tried some of the same kinds of experiments with her that he did with Eloise the rat. When Desmond finds Theresa in Oxford, she seems to be unstuck in time like Minkowski was. In the comments for "Because You Left/The Lie," Montand's Arm points out that in the season one episode "Deus Ex Machina," Locke has a dream where he sees a bloodied Boone repeating "Theresa falls up the stairs. Theresa falls down the stairs. Theresa falls up the stairs. Theresa falls down the stairs." Boone later tells Locke that Theresa was his nanny, and when he was young he would constantly use an intercom to call her up the stairs. She fell on one of these trips and broke her neck. However, the Oxford Theresa's consciousness seems to be flashing back and forth in a similar way, forward and backward, up the stairs and down the stairs.
Ms. Hawking: So Ms. Hawking is making her presence known again, and she knows Ben. Lostpedia states that on the season three DVD, Damon Lindelof called Ms. Hawking a temporal policeman who makes sure that the people who are supposed to be on the island get there. And that brings us back to Jughead (which Doc also pointed out); in 1990, an Archie spin-off comic began called Jughead's Time Police. Jughead was given a hi-tech beanie from some unknown benefactor (very Dickensian), and it allowed him to travel around time. His job was to make sure history stayed on course.
Recall the jewelry shop scene in "Flashes Before Your Eyes," where Ms. Hawking tells Desmond that pushing the button will be the most important thing he ever does. It seems Desmond's job helped keep the island fixed in spacetime. Now the question is why was pushing the button necessary? We know there was an incident, but we don't quite know what occurred. When was it? Here are some hints: When Desmond triggered the failsafe in the Swan station, causing the latest incident, that made the island detectable by Penny Widmore, and possibly the Freighties. We know from Miles that it took Charles Widmore 20 years to find the island the first time; unless Miles knew Widmore as a baby, that ‘first time' Miles refers to is probably when the Freighties found the island in 2004. (Miles is speaking sarcastically, so he's possibly not being specific.) If an incident triggers the island's detection, and Widmore started looking for it 20 years ago, that puts us back toward the mid 1980's, shortly before Danielle Rousseau arrived at the island Alex was born (if Danielle is to be believed). If this holds up, we may be seeing an earlier incident involving Rousseau and Widmore.
Who Knew What When?: A number of subtle hints from the 1954 Others seem to be seeds planted for for harvest later this (or next) season. One of the first came when the survivors first tripped the land mine and the Others captured them. Ellie walks up, points her gun at Faraday (via a first-person-shooter point of view shot, something not seen at least on this show), and says to him "You just couldn't stay away, could you?" This suggests she's seen
Faraday before intruders recently. When she asks where the rest of their people are, Miles cracks that maybe they were blown up by one of their land mines; Ellie responds "We didn't put them here, you did." When Ellie brings the survivors back to the Others camp, Richard says "I assume you've come back for your bomb." When Richard questions Faraday about where the other people are, Faraday won't tell him because he thinks Richard will just kill them; Richard responds, "We didn't start this, friend, your people attacked us. You come to our island to run your tests, you fire on us, and what -- you expect us not to defend ourselves?"
Dramatic irony is when the audience knows something the characters don't. We've seen it before in the shot cuts, like when the young Widmore complains to Richard that some old man couldn't track him and doesn't know the island as well as he does. Then the shot cuts to the old man Locke, looking out over a ridge having just tracked Widmore across the island. That's for us. But these cryptic remarks by the Others are something different; the Others know something that neither the survivors nor the audience do. That puts the audience back in the same position as the survivors we've been following all along, again fading the delineations between character and audience.
Here's a final example of that kind of character-driven dramatic irony: Faraday clearly knows more than he's letting on, about the island, Charlotte, all of it. We're left out of his loop. We know he went into the (story's) past and infiltrated the DHARMA Initiative, possibly to gather information about their work. Could he go into the future as well? If this is the case, perhaps he already knows what everyone's fate is, and he knows there is nothing he can do about it. Like with Desmond and Charlie, no matter what Faraday does, Charlotte will either A.) live, or B.) die. All he can do is try to calm her in the meantime. In this sense, Faraday takes on a role similar to Dr. Manhattan of Alan Moore's Watchmen, the scientist who, after a heavy-duty radiation accident, can experience all time. Dr. Manhattan knows when bombs will fall, when those he loves will die, when disasters will happen, all of it, but he accepts events: "I can't prevent the future. To me, it's already happening."
Who thinks Ellie is Faraday's mother? The enhanced episode of "The Lie" referred to Ms. Hawking as Eloise Hawking, Faraday's rat was named Eloise, and Faraday kept gaping at Ellie when she marched him off to Jughead: "...it's just... you look so much like someone I used to know."
Books mentioned in this post
J. Wood is the author of Living Lost: Why We're All Stuck on the Island