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Something Twisted Back Home

The appendix is a weird thing. Its full name is vermiform appendix, and it's a vestigial organ at the base of the large intestine, packed with useful bacteria once used to help us break down high-cellulose veggies. Charles Darwin compared vestigial organs to silent letters in words; the letters aren't pronounced, but they offer clues to a word's origins. Over the ages, as our diet became more refined, that original purpose of the appendix was lost, and we were left with a worm-like thing hanging out in our guts.

However, recent research suggests the vermiform appendix may have actually evolved into serving some other purpose in conjunction with the immune system; when good bacteria is wiped out of the digestive system because of some illness, that useful bacteria can be replaced by the stuff sitting in the appendix. This is especially useful in under or undeveloped areas, where sanitation is lacking (like the tropics).

In other words, the appendix is a kind of security system. "Vermiform" also means "shape of a worm." Seen any worm-shaped security systems lately?

 

Smokey freightraining through Otherville

 

This isn't to say Smokey is some kind of vestigial appendix, but it is an entry point into the astonishing development of narrative parallels and mirror twinning that the end of the fourth season is developing. (I nearly included a photo of an inflamed appendix, but it was really unsightly.)

After "The Shape of Things to Come," it was increasingly clear that Sawyer is becoming the de facto guardian of Claire and Aaron. Something protective has been triggered in Sawyer. This episode, "Something Nice Back Home," is the tenth episode of the season; if we look at previous tenth episodes going back, we have "Tricia Tanaka is Dead," where we see Hurley's dad Cheech abandon him and we find the corpse of Roger Linus; "The 23rd Psalm," where we learn how Eko was stolen as a child to be raised as a warlord and Walt seems to contact Michael through the Swan Station computer; and "Raised By Another," where Claire's baby daddy ditches Claire, and she gets these warnings from Richard Malkin:

"It is crucial that you, yourself, raise this child";

"This child parented by anyone else, anyone other than you – danger surrounds this baby";

"Your nature, your spirit, your goodness, must be an influence in the development of this child";

"There is no happy life—not for this child, not without you";

"It can't be another. You mustn't allow another to raise your baby."

It seems there's a developing parental theme around tenth episode of each season. And Sawyer may have some reason to feel a bit parental; seeing Claire with Aaron may have sparked some latent fatherly drive he left behind for Clementine, whom his former partner Cassidy claims is his daughter.

Let's break this down a bit: Clementine is of course the subject of the famous folk song, where the daughter of a gold miner is lost. One of the best films by famous Western director John Ford is a morality play about anarchy vs. civilization called My Darling Clementine (named for the song). The film was about Wyatt Earp (played by Henry Fonda) and leads up to the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, but rather than stuff the film with impending meaning, as Roger Ebert points out, Ford tends to focus his film around domestic concerns—and don't forget Sawyer's real name is Ford. Sawyer's former scam buddy/lover, Cassidy, also shares the same name as Neal Cassady, the real-life person who gave rise to the literary figure Dean Moriarty—one of Ben's alter egos. Dean Moriarty is also a character in Ken Kesey's book structured around the idea of Maxwell's Demon, Demon Box.

We now know that Claire is indeed not raising Aaron, and Aaron is indeed being raised by another/an other. Could this be the reason Jack is so crazed about getting back to the island in the flashforward from "Through the Looking Glass"? "We made a mistake," he claims, and "We were not supposed to leave."

Speaking of "Through the Looking Glass," the Alice in Wonderland reference was unmistakable in this episode, and suggests we're heading back down the rabbit hole (if we ever left). The scene Jack reads from is out of the second chapter, "The Pool of Tears." This is just after Alice has fallen down the rabbit hole and is trying to find a way out of the small rabbit door. She first drinks the elixir that makes her very small, but she forgot the key on the table, and then has to eat the cake that makes her very large so she can reach the key. But when she becomes large, she realizes she'll never get through the door of the room and begins to weep. Alice eventually begins to shrink, but grows smaller than she was before, until she is chin-deep in a pool of tears she wept when she was massive. Moral: No adjustment is right; each leads to future unforeseen problems. What's more, the steps one takes to solve a problem can lay a trap later on.

Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are both notable for their indulgence of logical fallacies; false dichotomies, tautologies, causes are confused with effects, and minor absurdities are stretched to their logically absurd conclusions. (When those who are soaked in Alice's pool of tears need drying off, the mouse tries to help by telling the driest story he knows, the history of William the Conqueror.) In short, down the rabbit hole, that world becomes the mirror twin of the other. If the Lewis Carroll nod wasn't enough, Kate's holding the mirror for Jack's gut check should bring home the idea. Jack demands that Kate is the one to hold the mirror; indeed, Kate is still holding that mirror up to Jack when they're off the island, and Jack is Kcaj, the opposite of what he was on the island, a man twisted inside-out who's still losing to Sawyer despite having won his freedom. For Jack, the worm, or vermiform thing, has turned.

But we know why future Jack is twisted—it's the SAT analogy question of the episode: Christian is to Jack as Charlie is to Hurley. Both Christian and Charlie were manic substance abusers at one point; both are making regular post-mortem appearances to their respective Oceanic Six members, where they are far more cleaned up than before; and Charlie was one of the most Christian of the survivors. Both figures provide just enough weight on the fate scales to tip Jack and Hurley's mental balance, and turn them each into clonazepam-eaters. (Clonazepam is an anti-convulsive and anti-anxiety drug that, when abused, can lead to psychosis.)

Christian Shephard isn't just appearing to Jack, though. He also appears to Claire, and her one tossed-off line that at least she's not seeing things anymore after the rocket attack on her cottage suggests she's been seeing Papa Christian for some time. Don't forget that Jack and Claire are half-siblings via Christian, which helps the Millennium Falcon shot make a little more sense; Luke and Leia were sibs (twins) whose ghost-dad would appear on occasion. (Does this make Christian Darth Vader or just Anakin?)

The Star Wars nod may only be window dressing, the old wookie prisoner gag to misdirect us. (Or as Doc Jensen has been suggesting, there may be some kind of ship buried under the island with a busted hyperdrive, and Smokey has been waiting for ages for the right humans who could possibly help it run again.) But Christian's double appearance suggests something possibly more interesting than jedi knights. There's an Indo-European root word that needs to be brought out first, ghos-ti. This is an interesting word; it originally meant a stranger to whom one has reciprocal responsibilities. From this, we get both guest and host. The ghos-ti is a stranger or alien in the home. Of course, guests can be unwelcome, and hosts can be rude, and sometimes when the responsibilities aren't adequately reciprocated, guest and host can become enemies. Along the linguistic way, as the Indo-European languages diverged off into Latinate and Germanic tongues, and ghos-ti also picked up two other particular meanings:

hostile

ghost

 

From the season three episode, "The Man Behind the Curtain":

BEN: Are you one of them?

RICHARD: One of whom?

BEN: A hostile.

RICHARD: Do you even know what that word means?

Ghosts, mirror twins of corporeal lives, are of growing importance here. Claire is seeing ghosts, Miles is in sync with Ghostworld, and Miles is a bit confused by Claire; after Keamy and company shock and awe Otherville and Sawyer saves Claire, Miles begins to notice something odd about the Australian. (It's worth noting that Sawyer's attempts to save Claire and Aaron are rather out of character—there is no gain for him in the exchange, it's all expenditure, an authentic sacrifice.)

Maybe Miles is intrigued by Claire because she didn't actually survive that rocket attack. I'm still curious how Keamy and his mercenaries showed up walking through the jungle after that grinding by Smokey. The teaser for the next episode showed Horace Goodspeed talking to Locke, announcing he might not make any sense because he's been dead for twelve years. Cuselof recently stated in a Popular Mechanics interview that they tend to come down on the scientific explanations for things, so this will be interesting. Don't forget The Invention of Morel, where the ghost-like apparitions had a mechanical (but no less unsettling) explanation. (By the way, shout-out John and his comment from last week's post that Cimi is the Mayan glyph/word for death.)

To keep stitching things together like Jack's lower-right abdominal (eight stitches, by the way), the doctor whom Hurley didn't believe existed is named Dr. Stillman. Many viewers picked up on a possible Paul Auster reference right away. His themes generally focus on protagonists being confronted with the vaporous nature of their own identities (and identity in general), and this is often presented in fairly metafictional ways. Auster is very much of the school of Samuel Beckett, Franz Kafka, and a whole host of French critics and writers.

In 2007, Auster wrote and directed the film The Inner Life of Martin Frost, which was a film first mentioned in his novel, The Book of Illusions (2002). The film itself (the one that appeared in theaters to the consternation of nearly every critic) featured a writer who meets a mysterious woman whom he can't be sure even exists. She may be a figment of his own psychosis, he may be writing her into some sort of existence, she could be a ghost, a stalker, or something else.

Auster's Book of Illusions is a return to the themes of his breakthrough work, The New York Trilogy (1985-86). The first tale of the trilogy, City of Glass, is an anti-detective novel that many readers of Bad Twin thought may have been the model for the Lost book Bad Twin, due to their shared anti-detective novel architecture. The detective of City of Glass is no detective; he's a writer named Daniel Quinn, and his wife and son are gone (dead? divorced? unclear). Quinn is contacted one day by someone asking for Paul Auster of the Auster Detective Agency. With nothing else going for him, Quinn decides to be Auster's dopplegänger and take the case.

The case: A professor named Peter Stillman (Dr. Stillman) had a son named Peter Stillman. Peter Sr. studied philosophy and religion, and became obsessed with discovering the original language of God. He locked Peter Jr. up at two years old, thinking if little Peter was not polluted by the language of others, he would develop a natural language where words would be interchangeable with the things they referred to. After years of this, Peter Sr. realized that Peter Jr. was a basket case and his work was a failure, and in the midst of burning his notes, his home caught fire. This led to the authorities finding the shattered Peter Jr. and locking Peter Sr. away. Peter Jr. inherited Peter Sr.'s fortune, and needed to be taught how to be human over the next few decades. Peter Sr. is now getting out of prison, and he's been writing his son. Peter Jr. and his therapist/wife want to hire a detective to protect Jr. from Sr. (More daddy issues.)

The thing is, the more Quinn (pretending to be Auster) gets into the case, the less stable the case becomes. His clients disappear. His mark realizes he's being followed, and has conversations with him in the park about the nature of language, and Humpty Dumpty. But Quinn isn't even sure he has the right man; when Quinn went to the train to follow Peter Stillman after his release, two men got off the train who could have been the Stillman in Quinn's photo, one shabby and looking like he just got out of prison, the other well-groomed and looking like a well-to-do scholar. Quinn had to adjust and make a choice, and like with Alice, each adjustment leads to unforeseen problems and consequences that force Quinn to finally question who even he himself really is.

That's the first book of The New York Trilogy. The second book is aptly named Ghosts. A slimmer and possibly unnerving story, it features a very Reservoir Dogs cast of names long before Tarantino was scripting his film: Brown taught Blue how to be a private eye. Blue is hired by White to investigate a guy named Black. The more Blue investigates Black, the more White becomes the focus of his questions. Why? Because White and Black are the same person, a writer who is writing a story about being investigated by Blue. Guests and hosts, enemies and ghosts; this is the kind of head-twisting game that the Swan Station is built on.

The third book of the trilogy is The Locked Room. Let's wait to see what happens with Jacob.

Alice in Wonderland and Paul Auster aren't the only literary nods in this episode. The quick one that nearly gets by is when Miles is staring at Claire, and Sawyer gives him the restraining order.

MILES: What are you, her big brother?

SAWYER: No, I'm the guy who's gonna put a boot in your face unless you say 'Yeah, I getcha'."

In George Orwell's 1984, the character O'Brien tells Winston Smith of the "intoxication of power" that will occur once Big Brother has exacted total obedience: "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever." This isn't to suggest that Sawyer will become a fascist powermonger; Orwell's Animal Farm has been a point of reference in the past, and whether through Ben, names, or through the dialog itself, we've seen the importance of language in Lost.

1984 is, like City of Glass, another text concerned with language and the way language shapes the way we experience the world; it's where we get the adjective Orwellian when we talk about twisted political rhetoric (free speech zones and enhanced interrogation). The idea: alter your terms, and you alter your perception; alter your perception, and you alter the way you experience the world; alter the way you experience the world, and you alter the way you interact with the world; alter that interaction, and you alter the world. How different would the world be if in India a cow wasn't sacred, but just something waiting to be packaged and served? Or if in 1954 the Knights of Columbus hadn't convinced the U.S. Congress to add "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance as a symbolic bulwark against the a-religious Soviet Union? O'Brien talks about how wiping out human history with controlled language, and how Big Brother will always find and enemy to defeat, because the enemy will always be redefined to describe whomever is getting their face stomped.

There are other mirrored parallels to be found in this episode. Kate's handing Jack a razor in the flashforward ties us directly back to Jack getting his tummy shaved before his surgery, which also marks the place where Jack acknowledged his feelings for Kate – "it has to be Kate" holding the mirror.

We've seen some important paintings in past episodes as well; keep an eye on the paintings in Jack and Kate's place. Most people probably had their eyes drawn to Kate's ass when she jumped Jack in the hallway. The painting down the hall behind them, however, somewhat echoes the shot we saw on the island when Miles seems to recognize that something is up with Claire. (I'm waiting to see more of this, though—painting echoes, not Kate's ass, not that there's anything wrong with either.)

The painting on future Jack & Kate's hall wall, and Miles when he realizes something is up with Claire.

When Kate and Jack have it out at the end of the episode, Jack's line about Aaron – "Your son? You're not even related to him!" draws us straight back to Ben's confession about not being related to Alex, just before Keamy puts a bullet in Alex's skull.

Jin's recognition that Charlotte speaks Korean mirrors Michael learning that Sun speaks English in "House of the Rising Sun," only no one threatened anyone's fingers back in September of 2004.

Finally, Rose asks the important question to be answered in the next few episodes: How did Jack get sick on that island?

Books mentioned in this post


  1. Demon Box
    Used Trade Paper $5.95

  2. Through the Looking-glass (99 Edition) Used Trade Paper $3.00

  3. The Invention of Morel
    Sale Trade Paper $6.98

  4. The Book of Illusions
    Used Trade Paper $5.95
  5. The New York Trilogy: City of Glass;...
    Used Trade Paper $6.95
  6. Bad Twin (Lost) Sale Hardcover $1.00
  7. 1984
    Used Trade Paper $10.95
  8. Animal Farm: A Fairy Story
    Used Trade Paper $7.50



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

79 Responses to "Something Twisted Back Home"

  1.  
    luke May 3rd, 2008 at 7:27 am

    Luke and Leia were twins, not half-sibs

  2.  
    ds May 3rd, 2008 at 7:37 am

    "Rose asks the important question to be answered in the next few episodes: How did Jack get sick on that island?"

    Another twinning, undiscussed in this article is that both Ben and Jack have gotten sick on an island where you are not supposed to get sick.

  3.  
    Leah May 3rd, 2008 at 9:45 am

    I just watched "Next" with Nic Cage and Jessica Biel, which is based on PK Dick's The Golden Man. One line stuck out at me: "Every time you look at the future, it changes. Just by looking at it. And that changes everything else." Directly related, of course, to Desmond's flashes with Charlie, but it also got me wondering... we, the audience, are looking at the future of the O6. I wonder if our looking at it is changing anything. (But to us it isn't the future, just the more recent past).

    Also, I thought they said these ff's were gonna go in order from furthest back to island time? This one was clearly after Kate's trial ff. What's up with that?

    J: good call on the parenting themes. This episode was rife with that. Someone over at celebritology speculated that maybe the "favor" Kate was doing for Sawyer had something to do with Clementine & Cassidy, which is a good guess, but I don't know why she won't tell Jack about it. Plus, whoever she was talking to on the phone seems to know Jack, because when he wals in she says him by name, instead of saying, "my fiance is home" or whatever.

  4.  
    Ginny May 3rd, 2008 at 9:58 am

    Great post...love the literary connections and all the mirror image that I didn't pick up. One correction...Luke & Leia were twins in Star Wars...same mother & father.

  5.  
    Jeffrey May 3rd, 2008 at 10:24 am

    I noticed that the hospital is St. Sebastian which would "side" with Jack's appendix and the saint's martyrdom. As a "side" note - Yukio Mishima was entranced by St. Sebastian to the point of committing public sepuku as warped political theatre coming down on the "side" of O'Brien, who BTW is a major player in "Black Dossier". Terry O'Quinn's old TV show "Millenium" even had an episode titled "The Hand of St. Sebastian" that dealt with the origins of the Millenium Group.

    Those paintings and the living room of Jack & Kate's reminded me of the apt. in "Eyes Wide Shut" which dealt with the possible mirage of something nice to come home to after a night of almost-cheating. Hurley's comment to Jack that things are too perfect suggests the sub-text of "Eyes" that Dr. Bill is wish-fullfilling all we see. One reviewer even thought that since Dr. Bill drinks Bud out of a can he is actually a blue-collar worker imagining what a New York City doctor's life is like - and what an obviously ersatz NYC looks like. This fantasy world of a perfect life to which Hurley alludes is also dealt with in "Mulholland Dr." which would bring it back to "Lost's" LA setting. Jack also looked a bit like Michael Corleone brooding in the shadows over his woman's betrayal and sundry daddy issues.

    J's allusions to Paul Auster reminded me of the film "Smoke" co-starring Harrold P. (Michael) and dealing with shifting perspectives based on time. The business with the doppleganger on the train is similiar to Robbe-Grillet's "Repetition" which as I've mentioned before takes place in Sayid's split-identity city of Berlin.

  6.  
    Juno Walker May 3rd, 2008 at 10:34 am

    Nice one, J.

    Btw, in term of Star Wars references, when Jack woke up and was walking into the kitchen, he steps on a Millennium Falcon. A nod to Doc Jensen, perhaps? Ha.

    And yes - Kate has a fine ass.

    Juno

  7.  
    Eric May 3rd, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Awesome analysis. I really have to read more. When Miles asks Sawyer if he's "big brother," I didn't catch the 1984 reference, because I hadn't read it. But I had caught something Lost has been doing with many characters for a long time, primarily Jack and Sawyer - transference. Kate is constantly misdirecting her feelings for either, while both are more alike then any of them realize. Jack is, of course, Claire's actual big brother, but Sawyer is uncharacteristically being Jack-like and taking care of her instead. On the flip side, when Jack trips over Aaron's toy he yells "sonuvabitch," which is Sawyer's favorite catchphrase. It's even been brought up in the show, when Hurley asks Jack about transference as he's chopping wood - something Sawyer usually does when he's trying to be contemplative.

    These sorts of relationships occur in a complex web. There are huge parallels to be drawn between Jack and Sawyer, Jack and Locke, and Locke and Sawyer for instance. I even think ghost Christian is starting to transfer his intentions with Jack onto Claire. He first tried to lead Jack to the caves (and perhaps a certain destiny) in White Rabbit. But Jack has over the course of seasons 2 and 3 denied that destiny, and perhaps Christian is trying with Claire instead.

  8.  
    Joe Hogan May 3rd, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    Another interesting analysis by our favorite literary anti-detective.

    Paintings in Lost are often important, as you say. The painting in the hall when Kate literally jumped Jack seemed to me to be the perfect Lost illustration. In my view of it, it shows a silhouetted figure of a person sitting on a tea saucer that floats in either an ocean or among the clouds. At the right edge of the visible frame, behind a cone shaped sculpture on the table in foreground, is what appears to be an hourglass.

    The painting is full of mystery, vagueness and a clear reference to time. The saucer brings to mind another passage from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. In the chapter called "A Mad Tea Party" the following song appears:

    "Twinkle, twinkle, little bat! How I wonder what you're at!
    Up above the world you fly, Like a tea-tray in the sky. Twinkle, twinkle--"

    The Mad Hatter then recounts that, "`Well, I'd hardly finished the first verse, when the Queen jumped up and bawled out, "He's murdering the time! Off with his head!"

    The resonances are curiouser and curiouser.

    The other very painterly shot that struck me was that of baby Aaron placed neatly at the base of a tree with his blanket arrayed rather like the petal or leaf of a flower. This image reminds me of a painting, but I can't quite place it. I thought that it might be one by Henri Rousseau (quel coincidence). The nearest one of his is "The Dream", in which a nude woman reclines on a couch in a deep jungle with various beasts peering through the underbrush (rather like Sawyer and Co. while hiding from Keamy).

    If anyone knows of a better match for this image I'd love to hear about it. Otherwise I'll just have to chalk it up to anxiety and I'll have to tame it by dropping some Klonopin and pounding the Newcastle Brown Ales like the good doctor.

  9.  
    Kadayi May 3rd, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Quality read as usual J. I think I'll have to rewatch the episode now, if nothing more than to check out that painting (Kates ass was too distracting the first time around). You really think Claire is dead though? I thought Sawyer was warning off Miles over Claire because he was kind of staking his territory (it could happen), and it looked like feeding time for Aaron and it's just plain rude to stare.

  10.  
    Leah May 3rd, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    One interesting thing I noticed: both times Jack sees Christian in the FF, he is standing in approximately the same location (right side of front desk at main entrance). AND, both times he sees his dad, the same doctor lady (Erica) calls his name and snaps him out of it. Anybody make anything of that?

  11.  
    Kyle May 3rd, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    I like how the smoke detector going off for no apparent reason was the method by which Jack found Christian's apparition in the hospital lobby.

  12.  
    Paulo Marreca May 3rd, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Hello J.

    Great recap as usual. I've just watched the episode
    again to check the newspaper Jack reads in the kitchen
    at the beginning of the episode. I realized one
    thing: how come Jack has no scar from the surgery?
    Shouldn't 8 stitches have left some kind of scar?
    Any thoughts?

    Paulo Marreca

  13.  
    Paulo Marreca May 3rd, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    Sorry. After viewing the kitchen scene in the flashforward a few more times, I've finally seen it. Kind of hard to notice, but it's there. Perceivable only when he picks up the glasses of wine. For a moment, I thought the absence of a scar might corroborate Hurley's fear that the Oceanic 6 have died...

  14.  
    J Wood (Post Author) May 3rd, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    Just a quick note -- Luke & Leia twins fix is in the data pipeline.

  15.  
    Dave May 3rd, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    Luke and Ginny -- thanks for the correction. We've changed the text to correct the sibs/half-sibs error.

  16.  
    Leah May 3rd, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Eric: cool observation about transferrence with the characters, especially Jack and Sawyer. That's kind of creepy, especially thinking about Kate and how she's been involved with both. Further along that line and also related to a comment by Kadayi, Sawyer is really taking up a protective role, and not only with Claire and Aaron. He's trying to protect his "people," against Ben, the freighties, and even Locke. He also tried to protect Hurley when he told him to come along and got in the faceoff with Locke.

    Alice in Wonderland references definitely interesting, especially the lines Jack is reading to Aaron, something about waking up a different person....
    And that Christian used to read that story to Jack, and now Christian is in the role of the white rabbit, always just out of sight, stringing Jack along, on the island and off.

  17.  
    Leah May 3rd, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    Another possible instance of twinning/transfer: Kate sleeps with Sawyer (a lot), apparently for reasons other than love (sympathy, guilt, jealosy, etc), all the while apparently loving Jack. Jack kisses Juliet (to prove something to someone) and similarly strings her along emotionally, all the while loving Kate.

    Actually, maybe Jack and Kate do deserve each other.

  18.  
    Ginny May 3rd, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    The scene with Aaron on the leaves by himself in the jungle crying when Sawyer finds him reminded me of those pictures that a photographer does with babies posing in differnet backgrounds. Or kind of like the baby Jesus in the manger on his back lying in the cradle of hay. So if we do something in the present that may change what has happened in the past it stands to reason that will change what happens in the future? But if Ben can go back and forth from present to future as some have suggested does that mean that things could change for the Losties in what is now the present on the island?

    I love your posts J because you have such a vast knowledge of so many other books, movies, philoshers, mytholgical characters, scientists etc that play into Lost and it helps broaden my reading lists and knowledge. I'm like a sponge! Thanks for doing these and keep up the great work!

  19.  
    G May 3rd, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    Christian vs. Erica....he is shown on the right,
    she on the left. He is male, she is female. He
    is white, she is black. One is evil, one is
    good? Also, this show is about lists. All of
    the Oceanic 6 are NOT on "the list." Ben stated
    this at the end of season 2 when a list was made
    to capture Jack, Kate, Sawyer and Hurley. I am
    assuming that the "official list" was made by
    Jacob and because the O6 are not on his list,
    they are the ones who free to leave the island.

  20.  
    Leah May 3rd, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    Aaron in the leaves: looks like the Anne Geddes photos, right? That's the only thing I can think of.

  21.  
    jennyfey May 3rd, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    the discovery of aaron on the leaves was also reminiscent of another biblical story, that of moses, found set adrift. and who is moses' brother but the empowered speaker aaron? probably just another fun homage, but we know aaron has a larger role to play. does he have a moses-like destiny to set the losties free?

  22.  
    viking May 3rd, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    Leah said:
    "Also, I thought they said these ff's were gonna go in order from furthest back to island time? This one was clearly after Kate's trial ff. What's up with that?"

    No, they never said that. In fact, Darlton have said in a couple of interviews (and maybe even the podcasts) that part of the puzzle for the audience this season is figuring out the sequence of the flash forwards and when they occur.

    The only statement they made about the order of the flash forwards was after the Sayid episode, where some viewers were confused about the order of his flash forwards (i.e., did he kill the guy on the golf course first, or the woman?). Darlton said that one thing you can count on is that the events shown in the flash forwards within an episode are in chronological order -- they wouldn't cheat and "pull the rug out from the viewers" by playing with time within the flash forwards/backs.

    So we're slowly being able to build the sequence of the flash forwards, but are still missing a piece or two.

  23.  
    Jeffrey May 3rd, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    I thought Aaron in the tree looked a bit like the adrift Baby Moses. I also thought it interesting that when Jack checked Kate on her not even being related to Aaron he was unknowingly alluding to the fact that HE is. BTW that was a heartbreaking scene and another nail into Jack's guilt coffin.

  24.  
    Paul May 4th, 2008 at 7:02 am

    Regarding Swayer, his character has been undergoing a subtle transformation for some time. Recall that after "The Brig", when he exacted revenge on the real Swayer, he was reeling for several episodes. In "Through the Looking Glass" it seemed that he gave into his dark side when he shot a defenseless Tom in cold blood after the latter had surrendered. However, in the first episode this year, he was very solicitous toward Hurley after Charlie's death - asking if he was ok and wanted to talk about things. And he took up residence in the same Barracks house as Hurley - no longer the loner he was in season 1.

    Another interesting twining - As we now know, Locke was right in taking out Naomi in "Through the Looking Glass" - she was the leader of the mission, and no doubt would have been working with the mercenaries to capture Ben and kill everyone else. Ben, too, warned Jack not to make the call in "Through the Looking Glass". Now, it appears that Locke and Ben are on their own working on behalf of the island and, by extension, the others and the losties. (Hurley will be there only for the short term.)

  25.  
    Hyperspace Cowgirl May 4th, 2008 at 8:21 am

    Interesting insights! Something else to
    consider is the fact that Christian Shephard is wearing white tennis shoes, in fact, he is always wearing them in his on-island appearances. For the first time we see him in Jack's future and he is wearing the shoes. Given the Kesey-Alpert-Kerouac tie
    reference, I think that Dr. Timothy Leary fits in nicely here. Tennis shoes were his footwear of choice even when he was wearing a suit. Is it possible that Shephard, Richard Alpert and another person going by the alias Dean Moriarty are behind the incident on the island? Has Ben been masquerading as Dean Moria
    rty in place of the original? Christian
    Shephard, most likely, would have used the
    alias Leary.

    I think it also important that physicists refer
    to anti-matter as the evil twin of matter. The
    fact that the paintings featured in this episode
    feature things and people in negative space is
    important.

  26.  
    Patton McGinley May 4th, 2008 at 8:24 am

    Cool analysis as always, J.W.

    I didn't make much of the Millennium Falcon bit until reading the comments. I can't remember which one -- possibly "Eric May 3rd, 2008 at 11:06 am" where he talks about the Jack-Sawyer transference (more on that, later). It suddenly hit me that Jack stepping on the Millennium Falcon toy is a symbol of Sawyer's presence, so to speak. Obviously not his physical presence but his emotional one. Jack is suspicious of having a rival for Kate's affection (flash-back to the Island?). Kate is still keeping promises and secrets for Sawyer. Sawyer has been frequently compared to Han Solo -- the thieve with a heart of gold archetype -- as well as making plenty of pop cultural references to Star Wars. So, Sawyer's lingering presence becomes symbolized quite literally as a "pain in Jack's foot" (yeah, the cliched phrase is "a thorn in my side" which goes back to the appendix).

    We also get a fairly strong notion that Sawyer and some others are still alive on the Island (something we've suspected) when Jack says that Sawyer choose to stay. This leads me to some speculation on the Jack-Sawyer transference. Sawyer transforming into a protective leader and choosing to stay suggests that he is coming to feel some need for the people who get left behind or chose to stay -- Rose for instance. They need another "Jack" and Sawyer, as Jack's supposed opposite and rival, is it.

    Leah: I don't think there is too much of a mystery about why Kate wouldn't tell Jack about her "favor" to Sawyer. As someone else points out Jack and Kate "deserve each other" -- they're both a big bundle of conflicting emotions (OK, Jack is a much bigger bundle of conflicting emotions, but...). I think Kate still feels something for Sawyer, at least enough to keep her promise to not tell anyone else about Cassidy and Clementine. What I have to wonder is did Kate tell Cassidy about Sawyer's true fate or is she maintaining the Oceanic-Six story. If she did tell Cassidy does that mean Cassidy is in store for a visit from Mr. Abaddon or worse?

    One last thing: was anyone else "relieved" to see that Aaron can stand? The closing scene of Eggtown and the early scene of Jack reading to him both feature him laying down. It's probably just my weird anxieties but I starting to worry that something was wrong.

  27.  
    steph May 4th, 2008 at 10:18 am

    although the theory that Claire is dead would prove extremely interesting I don't believe that's the case--because if it were Ghost Charlie wouldn't be trying so hard to give the message that Jack(and I'd assume Kate) should not raise Aaron..meaning only Claire can, so she must be alive.
    hehe yay for more Star Wars references! hehe i know i'm way off but..if Jack's Luke..and Claire is Leia than Sawyer is ,of course, Han.soo..Leia/Han,right?

  28.  
    Eric May 4th, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Thanks for the compliment Leah. I just took Alice in Wonderland out of the library, and hope to read it before the finale.

    Twinning and mirroring happens a lot on this show - I wonder if its a way of reinforcing certain themes. Claire abandoning her child, despite the prophetic need to raise him mirrors Michael's desperate attempts to stay with Walt, despite the world's apparent desire to keep them apart. Compare "Raised by Another" and "Adrift."

  29.  
    Nan May 4th, 2008 at 11:55 am

    Very interesting read and recap. What I noticed. Upon Jack being called, it is the voice of Juliet and then Kate that is saying Jack. In the shower scene it is Juliet's voice you hear and then Kate's.

    I Googled Dr. Stillman and came across an actual doctor -
    "Dr. Stillman's research focuses on how DNA replication is duplicated in cells, a process that ensures accurate inheritance of genetic material from one generation to the next. He has contributed to the elucidation of the mechanism of DNA replication of human viruses and to the processes that ensure accurate replication of the human genome and its associated protein structures called nucleosomes."

    Which I thought interesting.

    When Sawyer calls Miles a name, I thought he said Donner. And Donner's pass was the first thing that came to mind. So I Googled Donner and came up with Richard Donner. He was director of many TV shows and Movies. One was "The Omen" - tv was a Twilight "Nightmare at 20,000 feet" Just look him up to see more.

    But then I read that he actually said Donger - from 16 Candles and is about an Asian guy.

    Something interesting, the people who could have recognized Christian at the cabin, Sawyer who met him in Australia, Claire, his daughter, and Miles, who not recognizing him but who might have been able to "talk" to them are led away from the cabin.

    But the one thing that struck me most was Bernard - when he was trying to talk Jack into letting him put him under he asked Jack - "Wouldn't you prefer to be dreaming of something nice back home."

  30.  
    Jeffrey May 4th, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    Nan,

    I too thought that was Juliet's voice and at first just thought that the makers of "Lost" were messing with us. But as the episode went on, I think as I've said before that all we see is some kind of wish-fulfiilment on Jack's "torn between two lovers" part. And as Dorothy's mantra tells us "There's no place like home."

  31.  
    KWeed May 4th, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    About Rose's question...

    I think that the island made Jack sick to try to prevent him from leaving.

    I also believe that Ben's tumor was inflicted upon him by the island; however, I'm not entirely sure about the reasons behind it. It could have been a way for the island/Jacob to keep Ben "in check" when it comes to his power/ego. Or, the tumor could have been a result of Ben's time-traveling. Or, it could have been a way to keep Ben from time-traveling. Any thoughts on this?

  32.  
    Leah May 4th, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    Maybe we should try to keep a running tally of the people we think are still alive on the island (in the future), from what has been said. Although I can't imagine Claire parting with her child, steph made a very good point in that ghost Charlie wouldn’t be inferring that Aaron should go back to Claire if she were in fact dead. We still don’t know who/what ghost Charlie and Christian and other apparitions are. Are they smokey? Are they ghosts? Are they alive? We know that the O6 left a lot of others (and Others) alive on the island. Charlie has said, “they need you.” Jack said that Sawyer chose to stay behind. Charlie is trying to reunite Aaron with Claire. And Sayid asked Ben how he got off the island, so he was still there when they left. And we know that Jin was prepared to stay behind as long as Sun could get off. So although any of these people could be dead, we might assume they were alive when the O6 left. Anybody else have any ideas?

    I also wonder, with the intensity that she wants to get off the island, what happens to Juliet. I don’t think she’d stay behind willingly, but maybe since she wasn’t on Oceanic 815 it’s not feasible for her to go. Or maybe she did get off. Or maybe she loves Jack so much she wanted him to be happy so she let Kate go with him.

  33.  
    Asilgrass May 4th, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    Who do you think Kate was talking to on the phone? I think everyone assumes Cassidy, but I'm don't think so. I do think that whatever she's doing involves Clementine. But if Kate meets Cassidy, she'll already knows Cassidy from her own past, and if she meets her that will be the first thread in learning "how connected" they all were before the plane crash. If it wasn't Cassidy then who?

  34.  
    Cheryl May 5th, 2008 at 7:43 am

    The beeping of the smoke detector reminded me of the beeping that the computer/numbers made in the hatch. Another mirror twin....

  35.  
    Joe Hogan May 5th, 2008 at 7:46 am

    Ginny and Leah are right, baby Aaron in the tree does remind one of Anne Geddes photos, although none that I can find on the web are very close to the composition of that shot. Given the child's name, I rather like the Moses reference.

    Also, Asilgrass brings up an interesting point. But if Kate and Cassidy meet and realize they have met previously, that could be the beginning of enlightenment for the losties. It could the opening that leads to the series resolution in two more seasons. After all, the first show this year was call, "The Beginning of the End". All these numerous well planted interconnections can't be left ignored. They have to come to some resolution.

  36.  
    Matt May 5th, 2008 at 8:19 am

    Future Jack didn't have an appendectomy scar. Just saying...

  37.  
    Messenger88 May 5th, 2008 at 8:48 am

    Another possibility with Aaron at the base of the tree: The Buddha reached enlightenment at the base of a tree, the lotus flower is a Buddhist symbol representing a "rising from the muck". Perhaps the "petal" appearance is a reference to the lotus and Aaron is the tiny Buddha.
    Also, I think Kate's voice from the shower was intentionally ambiguous, but I don't think it was actually Juliet's voice.

  38.  
    Christian Shephard’s Third Glass of Bourbon May 5th, 2008 at 9:26 am

    Interestingly, too, the "mysterious woman" from The Inner Life of Martin Frost is named... Claire.

  39.  
    Vince May 5th, 2008 at 10:52 am

    Matt- To see the scar go here.

  40.  
    Kalia May 5th, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    I think the picture on the right looks a lot like Charlie with the hoodie over his head.

  41.  
    Bryan May 5th, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    J.-
    After seeing "1984" and "City of Glass" in the same sentence, I immediately thought of the novel "We" by Yevgeny Zamyatin. Written in 1921 it served as a model for Orwell's "1984" as well as Huxley's "Brave New World" and more recently the tv series "The Prisoner" and possibly the Dharma initiative and the Valenzetti equation. It has been a long time since I've read this so I can't pull any direct comparisons to Lost but one of the lines within which I will never forget is: "There is no final revolution. Revolutions are infinite."
    That is a good thing in my opinion.
    And so is this blog.
    Thanks!

  42.  
    Ike May 5th, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    I have to say, J, that I enjoyed your blog on this week's episode at least as much the episode itself this time around. There were quite a few little details I didn't pick up on that you noted!

    There's a bit I wanna add about the Star Wars references, though. You wondered if Christian would be Vader or Anakin in this particular analogy, and I think he'd be Vader. To wit: Damon Lindelof said last year, I think, that Jacob was the Emperor Palpatine of their show. The all-powerful guy who was manipulating the major forces behind the scenes to serve his own agenda.

    Now, you very astutely made the connection that the relationship between Jack and Claire is a carbon copy of the relationship between Luke and Leia. Remember what Obi-Wan told Luke in the first film, that his father had died when a man named Darth Vader killed him? The truth, of course, was that Anakin became Vader, and Obi-Wan later defended his statement in spirit, claiming that what he said was true "from a certain point of view." What if everything Lindeluse has been telling us about Christian being "dead" is also only true from a certain point of view?

    Now, I want to dip briefly into the relationship between on-island Christian and Jacob. We saw them in the cabin, in the season premiere, and they seemed to be cooperating together insofar as one could tell what was going on at all. If we were to continue in the Star Wars analogy, if it's the slightest bit accurate, I would say that the Christian we see in the past is the real and original Christian. However, that Christian died upon arriving at the island, and whomever we've seen walking around may in fact be a version of that same person, physically, but still someone else entirely.

    Also, I was very flattered by the shout-out you gave me in last week's blog. Made my day, in fact. :)

  43.  
    amir May 6th, 2008 at 9:02 am

    thanks for your wonderful comments .I just want to note that in this episode we saw that the rules changed .For the first time we saw the corpes of dead guys" karl and Rousseau " ,the smokey didnt kill keamy and his friends and jack got sick on island.may be this episode was the turning point for the whole story!and we should take care of the new rules!

  44.  
    drabauer May 6th, 2008 at 10:56 am

    Fascinating essay, as always. Two years ago I wrote an essay comparing Lost's use of the numbers with Auster's The Music of Chance, posted at Lost Studies Online: http://loststudies.com/numbers.html#chance

  45.  
    Phutatorius May 6th, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    I was impressed with your etymology of ghos-ti/host/ hostile, and Alpert’s question, “do you even know what that word means?” as he waggles his hands in that classic salesman gesture of his. There’s also the remark that Tom makes in “The Hunting Party” (I think) about inviting yourself into someone else’s house, etc. Good work on coming up with such a nice subtlety.

  46.  
    Thomas May 6th, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    Just getting caught up here after a weekend vacation. Excellent stuff as always folks.
    I appreciate that the position of Aaron in the tree may well have some significance, but you're leaving one very important question unasked. Why did Claire leave Aaron behind? She wakes up terrified that the baby isn't beside her, sees Aaron being held by Christian(?), and apparently willngly leaves her son behind to follow him?! Mind you, I don't have an answer, but this seems almost certain to me that it will matter. I also wonder if Miles saw or was at least aware of Christian Sheppard that night, and what role he has to play in all this.

  47.  
    Rash May 6th, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    While the island has had some healing powers for some it has been just to opposite for others.

    Wasn't Danielle's entire crew killed by a mysterious illness on the island -- unless of course she lied and was actually just an outcast from the others.

    Then we have Ben's tumor and now Jack's appendix. It seems that the island has a more deliberate purpose as to who gets sick and who gets well.

  48.  
    Annie May 7th, 2008 at 10:30 am

    Rash: There have been theories floating around that Danielle's crew's 'sickness' was actually the disturbing effects of the time-shifting, ala Minkowski and Desmond.

  49.  
    Leah May 7th, 2008 at 11:12 am

    I was also wondering, as one or two mentioned above, whether the "island" made jack sick to keep him from leaving, although i think all of this about the "will of the island" is a little far-fetched. I hope there is a better explanation for things going on than a strong-willed piece of firmament.

    thomas: i guess everybody is wondering why claire would leave her baby in the leaves, but there haven't been any clues. the first thing i thought was, well now she's disappeared, and that's how kate came to have aaron. but that doesn't really make sense, because i don't see kate feeling responsible for aaron, especially being so fiercely protective, and adopting him as "her son," unless claire had specifically asked her to do it. Or maybe something else happens that makes her feel like it’s her mandate to adopt him as her own. So I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

    Miles definitely saw Christian, and saw Claire call him “Dad.” But I have no idea what’s going on with Christian Sheppard, so that’s something else we have to wait on.

    Interesting observation, amir, about the rules changing. I don’t know if they have or not, but it wiill be interesting to see if things all over the island are different after Alex’s murder (if all of the “rules” of the island have changed, not just the “rules” between Widmore and Ben).

    Rash also has a very good point: the island doesn’t heal everybody. Maybe there are some “rules” involved with that as well. The healings we know of are Rose’s cancer and John’s paralysis. Other than people seeming to heal more quickly than normal, are there any other examples? Maybe Patchy with the sonic wall, but that one is unclear. And what are the examples of non-healing? Ben’s tumor, Jack’s appendix, everyone who has died (Boone, Shannon, Artz, Anna Lucia, Libby, Pablo & nikki, Tom & crew, Charlie, various Others, Goodwin and Ethan…). It seems maybe all of the deaths have been violent, right? We haven’t seen anyone get sick and die, except what we’ve been told about pregnant Others. Any thoughts?

  50.  
    Asilgrass May 7th, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    Didn't Sawyer call Miles "Donger" as in "Long Duck Dong from Sixteen Candles"? This may be nothing, but that was a John Hughes film, and I think the whole show is coming down to a "Breakfast Club" (another iconic Hughes' film) ending where the Losties realize that they're all a "Hero, a criminal, a runner, an addict, a leader, a man of faith, a man of science etc, etc."

  51.  
    Etham May 7th, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    I think the painting looks more like Ben in his green parka in the desert than Miles on the hill.

  52.  
    Dave May 8th, 2008 at 7:18 am

    Cheryl, thanks for pointing out the beeping twin. I couldn't figure out why that agitated Jack so much.

  53.  
    David May 8th, 2008 at 8:13 am

    Hey, good stuff. First-time reader. I was hoping you might mention that the fire alarm that went off in ep10 might have been set off by some kind of 'smoke'. Christian perhaps in some way being connected with the smoke monster? Or maybe that was obvious, or maybe it's nothing.

  54.  
    Vince May 8th, 2008 at 11:42 am

    Jack heard a beeping sound, not an alarm. He removed the battery from the smoke detector, as one would do when a battery needs to be replaced. If the alarm would have sounded it would have made a loud, distinctive sound. So we know that the alarm wasn't set off by Smokey(Christian), but obviously he had something to do with the battery, summoning Jack to the lobby. If Smokey/Christian are one, it would have been great to hear the alarm sound due to the smoke reference.

  55.  
    J wood (Post Author) May 8th, 2008 at 11:48 am

    I'm trying to catch up with this while I finish year-end reports, payroll, and a bunch of other dull office stuff.

    But I thought I should mention this on the word derivations from ghos-ti:

    First (and this may be needless background), Indo-European is an imagined language that gave rise to both the languages of Europe, Iran, the Indian subcontinent, Anatolian languages, and more.

    All scholars really can show is where certain words, syntax, etc. have relations with words, syntax, etc. of other languages, which point back, evolutionarily, to some prior language. It's a little like tracing a linguistic genome.

    So ghos-ti is one of those genetic codes. In Latin it morphed into two words for stranger, hospis (friendly) and hostis (antagonistic). From hospis we get hospitality, from hostis we get hostility.

    In the Germanic languages, ghos-ti morphed into different words for stranger, and the positive/negative categories are less delineated (guest, ghost). A guest or ghost could be either friendly (an invited person, Caspar), or antagonistic (an invader, the Headless Horseman).

  56.  
    J wood (Post Author) May 8th, 2008 at 11:50 am

    David -- Smokey setting off the smoke alarm, I love that! That makes so much sense.

  57.  
    warplayer May 8th, 2008 at 11:53 am

    @asilgrass: Nice pull! I totally LOLed here at the office when I read that. Great post again J, can't wait for tonight!!

  58.  
    J wood (Post Author) May 8th, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    The notion that the island made Jack sick to keep him there is intriguing -- I'm keeping my eye on that one.

    The question of ghosts also got me thinking:

    Ghosts just aren't supposed to be, at least according to known science. Cuselof have asserted that they're trying to provide most things, even the weird stuff, with scientific explanations.

    There was also that line Lindelof had in a previous podcasts, that if something happened in the past that didn't happen before, the universe has a way of swooping in and course-correcting things.

    I'm wondering if the ghosts, as it were, aren't really ghosts, but the result of dead people having not died due to some time-tinkering, and that we're heading towards another course-correction where the dead return to dead.

  59.  
    Vince May 8th, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    David — Smokey setting off the smoke alarm, I love that! That makes so much sense. J wood

    It doesn't make sense, since the smoke alarm didn't go off. See my earlier post today. The question is.... if the show's creators wanted us to draw a correlation between Smokey and Christian, then why didn't the smoke "alarm" go off? It would have been a perfect opportunity to use the alarm. Instead, the smoke detector just beeped due to a low battery, most likely caused by Christian. It seems to be a subtle nod that Smokey and Christian are not the same. Would it have been too obvious to sound the alarm if the two were the same? Did the alarm not sound because Christian was in human form? Did the writers miss a good opportunity, by not sounding the alarm, if the two of them are one entity?

  60.  
    Paul May 8th, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    Re: ghosts and time, perhaps the whispers are "cracks" in the space time continuum, whereby what was spoken at some point in the past (or future) seeps through in current real time due to the unique properties of the island. Miles might be especially sensitive to this, which would explain how he knew the Kate told the truth about Naomi's death and how he knew about Rousseau and Karl.

  61.  
    simple-truths May 8th, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Re: the tree and Aaron:
    (from wickopedia)

    "According to Buddhism, after his Enlightenment, the Buddha spent a whole week in front of the tree, standing with unblinking eyes, gazing at it with gratitude. In religious iconography, the Bodhi tree is easily recognizable from its heart-shaped leaves."

    The painting in Kate's apartment reminded me instantly of stylistic paintings depicting Buddha. (On the other hand, it looks like a sail boat , perhaps the tiny craft that carried Moses to the reeds... on the other hand it is a Rorschach image (completely based on interpretation.)

    To paraphrase Campbell's The Power of Myth: There is only one myth, repeated over and over again in every language, every era, every culture. It is The Myth of Creation.

    References to myth, allegory, literature, drama, cinema, theater, art, religion and science aside.. I think Lost presents a bigger picture. Something bigger for us to contemplate and understand.

  62.  
    Suz May 8th, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    My money is on Penny not being Widmore's real daughter.

  63.  
    Leah May 8th, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Re: smoke alarm. True, actual smoke would fully set off a smoke alarm, but if that happened everyone in the building would come running, and Christian was only trying to get Jack. We know there was at least one other person in the building (Erica) and probably a lot more, as it is a hospital, right? It does seem like more than coincidence that Christian was sitting there when Jack came out to see why the smoke alarm was beeping. And good call on the beep sounding like the hatch computer beep. That makes things seem very dream-like.

  64.  
    simple-truths May 8th, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    I think Plato's Allegory of the Cave is the paradigm, the bare bones structure for Lost. The rest, all the titillating, juicy detail we love to pick apart.. it's all wonderful, creative metaphor and allusion. Culture, society, film, myth, drama, literature, science, physics, politics, modern morals and ethics, whatever, anything goes... Once you've established a basic premise it's time for everyone to come out and play. Looking to Plato for inspiration is probably as good as it gets. ..And everything old is new again.

  65.  
    simple-truths May 8th, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    Have to do this in sections.. too many words..so here goes:

    Lost In The Great Wasteland? Is the Media the Message?

    Here's my take:

    Lost is a comment on Media, Message and Meaning. It's about the perpetuators, the players, and the prisoners. Lost is a comment on who and what we are once we assume one of these roles. And we all play at least one role. Media has become a huge chunk of our reality. If not reality itself.

    Lost is a reference to the Allegory of the Cave. Some of us are Plato's 'prisoner,' trapped within our darkened room/cave, watching moving shadows on the wall. The prisoners of today's cave are the Media's captive audience.

    The captive audience is transfixed by the reality of moving shadows.. Shadows projected by the light of of 'absolute truth.' This light shines behind moving puppets: actors who 'manufacture truth.' When the actors speak, their voices echo against the wall. The prisoners, the captive audience, hear and see the projected images and sounds of a 'false reality.' But is it a false reality? The captive audience has spent a life time in the cave. At what point did the captive audience begin to forget that they were in a cave watching shadows. Forget that the light of a television monitor is reflected light, the voices of the actors bounce back at us, echoing our own voices?

    Lost is a story within a story within a story, almost ad infinitum... and as such it goes into many interpretations of the Allegory of the Cave. From the broad strokes of Plato's epistemological meanings to Socrates' ontological interpretations... To the cognitive, political, and even sociological, ethical and moral implications of the Cave Allegory.. anything goes, it all works.

  66.  
    simple-truths May 8th, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    Lost goes all the way in and all the way out.. In studying the cave from the outside-in the writers stand as observers and creators of the parallels between today's world and the Cave Allegory. Media vs Reality is what I've chosen to see as the writer's focus. But the writers are also free to look at many implications of darkness and delusion vs illumination and meaning.

    Mirror images abound in Lost. Buddha and the Wizard of Oz are in the mix, balancing the yin and the yang, Alice is up and down the rabbit hole, literary allusions and metaphor and myth and even science, cosmology and physics are the writer's playthings. But Lost is also concerned with dark and light in sociological , ethical and moral issues. Things such as Ignorance vs Education. Terrorism vs Heroism. Sacrifice vs Greed. Even addiction vs Cognition. (In fact I think the prisoners in the cave are addicts... but that’s probably a sub premise.)

    In the darkness of the cave the darkest parts of the human mind creep about. In the light of the sun there is illumination: brilliance, clarity and good. Once we escape being a shadow prisoner our mind is set free. As the Allegory of the Cave points out, there is no greater freedom than illumination.

    Right now the story line in the cave-world, paralleling our journey as human beings in today's world, is at the point of allowing the confined to leave the shadows, to live again. But they have to risk blindness in order to see.

    When one of the captive audience in the dark leaves the cave, when he or she turns away from the darkness, eyes will be blinded by the great light coming from outside.. and shapes moving in that outside light will look blurred, less real than the shapes of the shadows inside the cave. (Have you ever turned from staring at a monitor to looking directly into daylight? It's no fun.)

    When a prisoner leaves the dark cave and turns to the light it is so overwhelming, so blinding, that it takes a great deal of time to comprehend that light brings a startling revelation that there is a larger, greater reality, and the shadows in the cave itself are simply a one dimensional, fictitious by- product of that great reality.

    Once someone leaves the cave and 'sees the light' they would not want to return to the cave, even to free others... but of course in Lost as well as in life, survivors are compelled to turn back.. to help and rescue.

    The captive audience in the cave probably does not want to be freed and will also be afraid of the rescuers. Returning to the darkness of the cave would require a shift in perception for someone returning from light. Their eyes would not readily adjust, so it would seem to the cave dwellers that those who had left had been 'blinded by the light,' diminishing their powers. No one in the captive audience of the cave would want to leave with the survivors to meet that fate.

    In the cave, without discovering the source of the light, no one can contemplate a greater meaning a greater reality . Outside of the cave it all becomes clear. So...Who will escape, who will not. And does it matter?

    Who, who among us who lives in the comfortable darkness of reflected light, the hypnotic repetition of false truth... who would even want to leave. Who wants to be blind sighted by reality? Who wants to make the terrible trip into the unknown.

    Anyway, all of this might be totally off the mark. Because the Media is a night hunter, a raptor. It takes no prisoners.

  67.  
    simple-truths May 8th, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    Oh, darn.. a friend just read my theory and told me that the MATRIX has been compared to Plato's Allegory of the Cave.
    I looked on the internet and sure enough.. there are lots of comparisons. And they all make an odd and differen but interesting kind of sense. At this point, discouraged, I'm going for a thesis linking LOST and Winnie The Pooh. I'm sure I can beat the bushes for correlations that back that one up too.

    But I'm sticking by my theory of the writers pointing to the fact that the general population of the U.S. (at the least) are shadow watching prisoners, and I'm still interested in everything all of you have to say. Details. This blog is about the thinking man's details. And the details are fascinating in themselves. I guess I'll have to go that route from now on.

    By the way Leary video taped his own death. And I think he was flying on a 'trip' when he did it. MAYBE THAT TIES IN. Or maybe I'll just have to pray for a self videotaped death by the white tennis shoe man.

    Aaron was the 'good brother' in East of Eden , he grows up to become an episcopalian priest.
    (priests are commonly compared to Shepherds.) So baby Aaron may have a calling. (outside of being Baby Buddha which makes more sense, being Motherless, and under the Bodhi tree and all.)

  68.  
    KWeed May 9th, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    About Christian triggering the smoke detector's low battery indicator...I don't think smokey or even the concept of smoke was the connection. I think it was electromagnetism.

    "An electromagnet forms when electric current flows through a wire and produces a magnetic field around the wire. This essential link between electricity and magnetism was discovered by Hans Christian (ahem!) Oersted in 1820, when he observed that an electric current in a wire passing over a compass deflected the needle.

    Electromagnets are found in many applications from doorbells to motors to television cameras and computer disk drives. [For example:]

    Inside an electric motor, current flows into a coil of wire, and a magnetic field forms. Other magnets inside the motor are attracted or repelled by this magnetic field, causing the coil to spin, which in turn powers the machine."

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/resources/campcurr/telecommunication.html

    I believe that Christian's appearance interferred with the electromagnetic field in the smoke detector, which made it beep.

    I've experienced odd occurances like that on my own. For example, while staying at The Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, my clock radio would make eerie buzzing noises at weird times of the day and night, which I attributed to all interferance from the billions of electronics housed within the hotel, the casino and the city itself.

    I found another interesting correlation between Christian (who is presumably dead or a "ghost"), electromagnetism and the smoke detector:

    "Ghost hunters will tell you that ghosts are believed to emit some kind of electromagnetic field, so called EMF. However, when asked why they believe this, many cannot give a good scientific answer because When it comes to using EMF detectors, may folks have no clue on how to use them properly or the ability to determine man-made sources such as (AC), which is alternating current, from natural ones (DC), which is direct current.

    The problem is amplified by the fact that most meters are calibrated at 60Hz AC, the same frequency as household wiring and other man-made electrical systems. They were not designed for what we are using them for, such as paranormal research."

    http://www.sgha.net/articles/ghosthunter_emf.html

    Ghosthunters can confuse the EMFs of everyday electronics with perceived EMFs of ghosts, which would seem as though the two might interfere or correlate to each other.

  69.  
    KWeed May 9th, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    I like my electromagnetic theory so much that I'm going to expand upon it. In the Thursday, May 8, 2008 episode, Christian supposedly tells John Locke that he has to move the island.

    There is general agreement that the hatch with the numbers houses a large electromagnet.

    I'm guessing that John will need to use the giant electromagnet to move the island. Not in the physical sense in that the electromagnet will be used to power an island-sized submarine, but in the space/time/dimensional sense of "moving the island".

    I think electromagnetism is the key to almost EVERYTHING - the key to the time traveling (wormhole theory), the key to the medical miracles(magnets are considered by many to have healing properties), the key to keeping the island "hidden" from the rest of the world (electromagnetism can disrupt a compass and disrupt electrical instruments), the key to the precognitive abilities we've seen (the human brain is affected by electromagnetism - hence the nose bleeds), the key to the "ghosts" that exist there (ghosthunters believe that ghosts emit levels of electromagnetism, it might be possible that a giant electromagnet could keep the "ghosts" on the island instead of letting them pass on -OR- it might be possible that a giant electromagnet could allow them to exist in another dimension, if you pair wormhole theory with a human brain's response to electomagnetism (http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/jun2000/961712256.Ns.r.html))..

    Ok, so now I'm going to go off the deep end... Maybe Jacob IS the electromagnet - in effect, a giant brain. I know it seems like a ridiculous sci-fi plot or a comic book storyline (hmmm...COMIC BOOKS), but, afterall, a human brain is essentially an electromagnetic control center.

    This might explain why Jacob spoke to Locke via Christian - the "brain" needed a body - or why Jacob speaks through other "ghosts" who have passed. This could also explain why Jacob or "the island" speaks to people in dreams, because human brain waves are at different levels while in the REM stages of sleep. It could explain why Locke is a chosen one and why the Others were so interested in Walt, maybe their "special gifts" are a kind of electromagnetic intelligence that enables them to communicate with Jacob (and allows them to survive after falling out of 40-story buildings or "appear in places [they] shouldn't be").

    Phew! Now I'm ready for you guys to poke some (worm)holes into my theory...

  70.  
    KWeed May 9th, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    P.S. The electromagnet is either a natual phenomenon of the island itself or it's man-made. If it's a natural phenomenon, then the magnet IS Jacob. If it's man-made, then Jacob is the creator (and maybe the Captain of the Black Rock).

  71.  
    eric May 10th, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    For the first time it is hinted that Jin and Sawyer are alive and well on the Island:

    Sawyer isn't hinted. Jack says to Kate that he decided to stay, yet jackwas the one who saved her life and got her of the Island.

    Jin talks to Sharlet and demands that she get Sun and their child of the Island. and that is what he promises Sun as well near the station. I only thought he was alive. Now I am sure of it.

    J great blog and guys and gals great comments.

  72.  
    Born of FIre May 11th, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Hi J,

    I think you and I are tending to differ on how we interpret Cuselof's words from the interview with Popular Mechanics (popularmechanics.com/blogs/science_news/4260693.html?nav=RSS20)

    To me, they seem to be telling us that we shouldn't necessarily rely solely on science in explaining the mysteries of the show, particularly when Damon says, "we never promised a show that was based entirely and grounded in science. It's nice that it's able to do that, but we reserve the right to go in the direction that the uber-plan directs us." To me, this indicates that in the end there very well may be things that are left inexplicable by a completely scientific account.

  73.  
    cindee May 12th, 2008 at 11:06 am

    About the smoke detector in the hospital, I have a hard time believing that it would be an ordinary, little, battery-operated detector like we have in our homes. Wouldn't it be a little more sophisticated and hard-wired into the hospital's electrical system? Just wondering.

  74.  
    farleyc May 12th, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    When are we going to hear your thoughts on Cabin Fever?
    That was chock full of mysteries I'd love to here your
    take on!!

  75.  
    Amy May 12th, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    Thanks as always for the wonderful analysis. I never feel complete after watching Lost until I've read this.

    I've merely lurked here until now, but I was thinking last night about this episode and wanted to share: first, how perfect an image it is for Jack to insist that Kate hold a mirror for him to perform surgery on himself. Metaphorically, this is the role of all women in Jack's life: to reflect back to him his ideal self, purged of inadequacies. (If I were smarter, I could probably relate this to Lacan, but I won’t even try.) Then, we see this very dynamic playing itself out in all its dysfunctional glory in the FF. Kate wants Jack to be the responsible father she never had; Jack wants Kate to prove to him he’s not his father. He rigs the deal by making her indebted to him – “I saved you” – but then, for that very reason, her validation of him is void. She’s an inadequate mirror, an inadequate Other, by which to see/define himself.

    Also, interesting that Jack loves women that allow him to be cast as hero - the very role his father tells him he “doesn’t have in him.” Talk about being haunted by a ghost.

    I liked this episode.

  76.  
    Nancy May 12th, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    Just wondering where the post is for Cabin Fever?

  77.  
    Scandibaby May 12th, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    When can we expect a commentary on Cabin Fever,
    otherwise known as Destiny is a Fickle Bitch?

  78.  
    J. Wood (Post Author) May 12th, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    Hi folks --

    We've had storms here the past few days, and the power grid is pretty rickety. I lost power Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and couldn't see the episode until Friday night/Saturday. So "Cabin Fever" was running behind. It's also why I've not been able to get on here -- had to replace a motherboard due to power constantly turning on and off. (If that ever happens in your area, unplug your computer and disconnect the ethernet.)

    But the post for "Cabin Fever" is now live, and I tried to put some extra work into it to make up for the extra days.

  79.  
    Jose Galisi Filho September 20th, 2010 at 9:21 am

    Dear Mr. Wood,

    The site Tropico is proposing you an written interview about your book “Living Lost”, the show as mythology of the present and other issues related to the 11.09 coded in the series. I have been carrying interviews in Germany since 1998 and in 2001 I have met in Hamburg the former Mohammed Attas s professor at the Harburg University and the Spiegel Chairman Stephan Aust.
    We believe our readers would greatly benefit from the interview and expect that you may open a space in your schedule for us.
    Looking forward for your prompt answer.
    Sincerely,
    Jose Galisi Filho

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