Friday, October 21, 2016


As October creeps toward Halloween, with scores of creepy clowns popping up along the roadsides of America, the season gets us back to one element of LOST - - - dream theories.

But in this holiday season, nightmares.

One can broadly classify dreamers into two categories:

1. The upbeat, positive daydreamer who fantasizes about a better life for him or her self.

2. The depressed, anxiety ridden, negative sleeper who tosses and turns at night with ghastly visions of danger and horror.

Many scientists believe that dreams during sleep have major conscious contributions to a person's life. They believe that dreams are the mind's computer running simulations of potential events to gauge how the person (sleeper) will react if the simulation comes true. This is part of a probable ancient self-protection mechanism to teach instinct and survival skills.

The human mind is a complex thing which probably has hard wired in itself self-preservation.

So, one could presume that people who have happy dreams are living happy waking lives.

The counter part to that presumption is that people who have nightmares are living unhappy lives.

There is probably a gray area of people who lead mixed waking lives (people who are caught in a rut, dream of better things, or at times fear the worst.)

When you look at the scope of LOST's story lines, most center upon what would consider a negative path. The drama that incorporates danger, death and violence is easier to comprehend and compel viewership.

Each of the main characters on the show had deep seeded concerns about their lives. There were more negative emotions driving character actions than happy-go-lucky personalities.

Many characters had deep, unresolved emotional issues such as abandonment, abuse, social anxiety disorders and irrational fears. Many characters were heading down the road to nervous breakdowns, anti-social behavior or addiction/retreat from society.

So it is no wonder that these characters "wound up" together in the same place.

The place (and what it represents) is a matter for another discussion. But the series may have been an attempt to work through the characters underlying secrets, unresolved conflicts and personal angsts in the form of living island nightmares (real and imagined).

Monday, October 3, 2016


In 1973, a movie called Westworld captured the sci-fi world with its realistic but imaginative look at an artificial intelligence based theme resort. The concept has rebooted itself in an HBO series.

In the original movie, guests could chose to live out their sexual pleasures in either a Wild West town (filled with brothels, prostitutes, drunks and gunslingers) or at a Roman orgy (with its own backstabbing senators, harlots and slaves).

The sci-fi foundation for the movie (adapted from Michael Crichton’s popular book) was that advanced robotics would come to recreate the human body to almost flawless perfection. The skin, eyes, pores, hair and features would look and feel real. The artificial brain would be almost as fast as a human brain. The last leap would be whether the androids would find a consciousness in their programs.

The drama unfolds when the robots malfunction. The gunslinger goes on a killing rampage when its "do not harm guests" governor malfunctions.

It is a classic trope of machines taking their program intelligence into conscious rage against their human creators.

This does go back to one theory of LOST. A few viewers believed that the island itself was a Westworld-type creation. It contained human robots interacting with "guests" in an adventure theme park setting. The theme was a cross between Survivor and Robinson Caruso. Two teams, the 815ers and the Others, battled to control the island. Each team was filled with robots to churn the game activity.

One example was Patchy, the Other who apparently died several times during the series. Yet, he continued to pop up to turn a story line gruesome. He was like the gunslinger in Westworld who continually got gunned down by a guest, only to return after repairs.

There is no clear distinction between who were the "guests" and who were the android game players. One could assume flight attendant Cindy was an android as an Other she mixed with both groups. One could think Jacob was also robotic. Even though his body was burned to cinders, he appeared again to the 815ers in human form to guide them on their island decisions. Even Desmond, who was jolted in the EM machine, and had program glitches (his visions) could be considered an android prop in the storylines. Even Locke would be considered a hapless robot since his form was found dead in the Ajira hold at the same time he was walking the island (with new character program of Flocke).

If you put LOST into the context of a Westworld sci-fi world, it does add some unique "what ifs" in the mythology of the series.

Monday, September 19, 2016


According to Stephen Hawking, there are plausible explanations for no paradox in time travel:
“A possible way to reconcile time travel, with the fact that we don't seem to have had any visitors from the future, would be to say that it can occur only in the future. In this view, one would say space-time in our past was fixed, because we have observed it, and seen that it is not warped enough, to allow travel into the past.”
Carl Sagan made a similar argument during a NOVA interview in the 1990s: “Maybe backward time travel is possible, but only up to the moment that time travel is invented. We haven't invented it yet, so they can't come to us. They can come to as far back as whatever it would be, say A.D. 2300, but not further back in time.”

So, time travel may indeed be possible, but you can’t go back any further than the point at which the time machine was first invented in the space-time line.

This line of reasoning would mean that there would be little chance of a time traveling paradox - - - i.e. going back in time to kill Hitler before World War II. But it also stops future paradoxes since the time traveler would not not what the future holds when he arrives in the future so he cannot change it. But perhaps, his mere presence in the future would cause changes that could alter the future - - - but then, is his arrival already part of that future time line?

The Hawking-Sagan reasoning was not applied in LOST. The characters quickly time skipped to the past (1970s) and to the future-present. There was no logical or systemic way the island took only a few characters along for the time ride, while leaving others in different time periods in the same place. In LOST's time travel loops, it is more likely that there were not truly time-space jumps but hallucinations, simulations, vivid dreams or laboratory rat experiments to challenge and change the main characters behaviors.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


The Guardian (UK) reports that the old stories from ancient Egypt will get a modern translation.

Toby Wilkinson said he had decided to begin work on the anthology because there was a missing dimension in how ancient Egypt was viewed: “The life of the mind, as expressed in the written word.”

The written tradition lasted nearly 3,500 years and writing is found on almost every tomb and temple wall. Yet there had been a temptation to see it as “mere decoration”, he said, with museums often displaying papyri as artefacts rather than texts.

The public were missing out on a rich literary tradition, Wilkinson said. “What will surprise people are the insights behind the well-known facade of ancient Egypt, behind the image that everyone has of the pharaohs, Tutankhamun’s mask and the pyramids.”
Hieroglyphs were pictures but they conveyed concepts in as sophisticated a manner as Greek or Latin script, he said. Filled with metaphor and symbolism, they reveal life through the eyes of the ancient Egyptians. Tales of shipwreck and wonder, first-hand descriptions of battles and natural disasters, songs and satires make up the anthology, titled Writings from Ancient Egypt.

Penguin Classics, which is releasing the book on Wednesday, described it as a groundbreaking publication because “these writings have never before been published together in an accessible collection."

Wilkinson, a fellow of Clare College and author of other books on ancient Egypt, said some of the texts had not been translated for the best part of 100 years. “The English in which they are rendered – assuming they are in English – is very old-fashioned and impenetrable, and actually makes ancient Egypt seem an even more remote society,” he said.

There was a heavy ancient Egyptian theme in LOST. I spent many days trying to translate the set hieroglyphs to determine meaning of the show's plots and basic premise. I always thought there had to be a reason for such difficult detail of set design with the hieroglyphs to NOT mean something important in the show mythology.

The Book of the Dead was the text that stated the ancient belief system of what happened to a person when they died (their body and soul would separate and reunite after a journey through the underworld). But this new book will translate everyday life of the Egyptians: from stories, songs and writings of average farmers to give us a view of what this society was thinking and doing thousands of years ago. I suspect it will be a fascinating read.

Friday, September 2, 2016


Monday, August 29, 2016


A recent article in suggests that some researchers have found evidence for an alternative possibility: that dreams are a form of threat simulation, readying your brain in the rare event that you do find yourself confronted (pantsless or otherwise) with a dangerous situation.

According to this theory, outlined by cognitive researcher Jim Davies, dreams act as a dress rehearsal for dangerous scenarios in real life. Support for the idea comes in several forms, beginning with the fact that our most vivid and memorable dreams tend to be more like archetypal nightmares.

"They have a tendency to feature negative emotions—fearful, angry, and anxious dreams are more common than happy ones," Davies writes. "And the things we dream about tend to be biased in the direction of ancient dangers rather than more modern ones. We dream about being chased by animals and monsters more than having our credit card defrauded, even though most of us have very little real-life experience of being chased by animals (or monsters)."

Additionally, there are clues to the purpose of dreaming in the way the human subconscious responds to real-world events. In 2008, researchers at Tufts discovered a shift in the way people dreamed immediately after 9/11, as dreams about being attacked increased in intensity and frequency. But while people were having more and worse nightmares, they weren't about plane crashes or terrorism; the central imagery of their dreams remained unchanged, suggesting that their brains were reaching for an ancient script about being under threat —and rehearsing for the possibility of a future catastrophe—rather than reliving the memory of the recent tragedy. Per the researchers, the evidence pointed to dreams being an "emotionally guided construction or creation, not a replay of waking experience."

Another curious link between dreaming and disaster-preparedness: the phenomenon of prescient dreams. Though not formally researched, anecdotes abound from people who've dreamed of a frightening experience only to then live through it in real life. For instance, in 1983, 20-year-old painter James Murphy III survived a terrifying fall from his job site atop the Rip Van Winkle Bridge in upstate New York, plummeting more than 150 feet into five feet of marshy water on the coast of the Hudson River. In an interesting wrinkle, Murphy's mother reported that he had dreamed about falling the previous night, and that in the dream, he took a tuck position upon entering the water, protecting his head and neck—a move he repeated the next day when he plunged into the Hudson. Did dreaming his way through the fall beforehand contribute to Murphy's quick thinking, and subsequent survival, in that critical moment? The theory of dreams as threat simulation suggests that the answer is yes.

There's a lot to learn yet about why and how we dream, and per Davies, the most likely explanation is that dreaming is a multi-faceted and multi-functional process. But in the meantime, everything we know about the usefulness of mental "practice" supports the idea that dreams help prepare you to navigate the waking world. Studies show that visualizing yourself performing a skill makes you substantially better at it. And for the minority of people who are capable of lucid dreaming—the practice of recognizing when you're in a dream and taking control of the narrative—there's no end to the things you can learn to do while you're asleep.

"You can rehearse any skill in a lucid dream," Daniel Erlacher, a researcher at the University of Bern, Switzerland who led a study in which lucid dreaming led to improved performance in a coin toss game, told the Harvard Business Review.  "It has been well established that athletes who mentally rehearse an activity can improve their performance, and it makes sense that dreams can achieve the same effect."

And much like the reports of prescient dreaming, anecdotal evidence certainly supports the concept of rehearsing for real life in your dreams (be they lucid or not). German researcher Paul Tholey, who founded the scientific study of dreams (oneirology), for one, used himself as a guinea pig.
"He claimed that by practicing in his dreams, he’d learned to snowboard so well that he could do it without bindings, which is almost impossible," said Erlacher. "I’ve spoken with people who went snowboarding with him, and they watched him do it. So there has been some validation."

Thursday, August 25, 2016


In Dying to Wake Up, Dr. Rajiv Parti, the Chief of Anesthesiology at the Bakersfield Heart Hospital in California, writes in his new book that an experience from "the Divine" changed him forever. 

Following this experience Parti gave away his mansion, quit his career, and opened a wellness clinic.
Parti claims to provide "rare details of heaven, hell, the afterlife, and angels." According to Parti, during his near-death experience he encountered "archangels" and his deceased father who showed him "through the tortures of hell."

Parti purports that to this day he still converses with angels and "spreads their wisdom to the living."
While there have been many books published by people that have experienced something similar to Parti, the book genre isn't without its critics.

Neurologist Oliver Sacks, author of the book, Hallucinations,  wrote these "life-altering religious experiences" are "hallucinations," and that "whether revelatory or banal, are not of supernatural origin; they are part of the normal range of human consciousness and experience."

What strikes me from this summary account of Parti's experience is that mirrors the basic premise of LOST.  Jack was guided through the tortures of the island hell by his deceased father, Christian. And once Jack survived his initial island test in the underworld, he gave up everything to return to save his friends.

The title invokes another theme of the show, "waking up."  In the after life, the characters had to "wake up" to the realization that they were dead. So what was their experiences prior to that revelation? 

Could each of the characters be going through separate near death experiences that funnel into this island hell gateway? As we speculated in the past, each of the main characters had a back story element where they could have died in real life. 

The idea of Jack's deceased father shepherding him through the stages of death, preparing him for the after life, is an appealing notion. It reinforces major religious symbolism. It also reinforces the bonds of friendship can cross barriers, including death.