Friday, October 20, 2017

BRAIN LIVES ON

There is a haunting story from the UK Sun.

A UK study on what happens to cardiac arrest patients (where the heart stops) that "come back to life" indicates that brain activity continues after death. Specifically, a person's consciousness continues to work after the person has died. In other words, your brain knows you are dead when you die.

Dr. Sam Parnia and her team from New York University Langone School of Medicine  set out to find the answer in a much less dangerous fashion, looking at studies in Europe and the US on people who experienced "out of body" death experiences.

“They’ll describe watching doctors and nurses working and they’ll describe having awareness of full conversations, of visual things that were going on, that would otherwise not be known to them,” Parnia said.  Their recollections were also verified by medical staff who reported their patients could remember the details.

Death, in a medical sense, is when the heart stops beating and cuts off blood to the brain.
This means the brain’s functions also stop and can no longer keep the body alive.

Parnia explained that the brain’s cerebral cortex — the so-called “thinking part” of the brain — also slows down instantly, and flatlines, meaning that no brainwaves are visible on an electric monitor, within 2 to 20 seconds.


This study adds a factual context to several LOST theories. For those who believe that the series premise was contained inside the mind(s) of a character, then the after death experiences (which could seem to last for a long time like short REM dreams) could explain LOST's mysteries and inconsistent parts. For those who believe that LOST was staged in the after life underworld, the vivid life and death dreamscapes could be from the moments right after death - - - the brain pulling memories, fantasies and information from a still-active brain after the body has died.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

BIOHACK

The New York Post reports:

If you’ve ever tried out a virtual reality headset, you will understand the disarming sensation of pulling the headset from your eyes once it’s game over.

It’s incredibly easy to trick your mind into feeling sensations like fear, panic or even total calm and now — according to scientists in London — dreaming.


Scientists are beavering away at methods that can coax the brain into changing its perception of what’s real.


A group of scientists in London are putting volunteers into a dream state even though they are awake.
Carl Smith, director of the Learning Technology Research Center (LTRC) in London  that they have been successful in the process, called “context engineering.”


They can do this using a method called binaural beats, where a tone of a particular frequency is played into one ear and a different tone of another frequency is played into the other.


The brain tries to regulate the sound and creates a third tone that balances the two by creating an equal frequency.


Focusing on this third tone, a method called “delta entrainment,” allows people to drop into a dream state – without going to sleep.


Smith said:”When people want to go into a dream state they can do a 15-minute delta entrainment so their brain actually goes into the delta state, a sleep state, even though they’re not sleeping – and that’s just through listening to binaural sounds.”


It’s not just for inducing different levels of consciousness, these methods can help us regulate sleep patterns, calm us down and help us focus, they claim.


There are a variety of exercises you can perform to train your brain into focusing on senses we typically ignore.


This includes concentrating on your peripheral vision to gain a sense of calm, something athletes are adopting to focus their mind.


It’s part of a subculture called biohacking, which has gained notoriety among amateur scientists. 


The implications of this new process engineering the mind are intense. Tricking your mind to feel intense emotions such as fear and panic could be weaponized against an enemy. A soldier in a panic attack state is not concentrating on his training. He is vulnerable. A weak link.

The use of sound, a tone to stimulate delta sleep patterns, to force a waking person to go into a dream state seems like a plausible Dharma experiment. Viewers often questioned why the main characters were oblivious to their surroundings, the lack of questions to get answers, and a general malaise from the beach campers.

When Faraday remarked that the light on the island was "different," he was seeing it as being diffused or interrupted in its normal pattern. Like light, sound is also a wave form. It is possible that the island light refraction was a byproduct of tonal "context engineering" of the island inhabitants. In the last season, there was a strong hint that the characters had to "awaken" in order to be saved. Saved from what? An island experiment into mind control? The re-training of one's human brain to change into an altered state of consciousness to pass on to another dimension (as the ancient Egyptians believed in their burial texts)?

You can put all the characters missteps, misinformation, misguided missions and missed opportunities on the fact that they were sleepwalking through the series. Literally. Sleep deprivation by putting their minds into delta wave patterns mimicking sleep when they were not at rest. You could then "suggest" patterns of behavior like programming a computer to run simulations. For example, when Hurley's imaginary friend came to him in the island and convinced him it was all a dream - - - in his head - - - and the only way to "wake up" was to jump off a cliff, Hurley was going to do it until Libby showed up out of nowhere. And to keep Hurley grounded, Libby then became his unlikely girlfriend. This dramatic shift in Hurley's thought processes could be an example of how he was programmed to change course. And to keep him on the right path, Libby was constructed to give him a new purpose.

Is there a state of consciousness between being awake and being asleep? Does daydreaming create the bridge between those mental states. And can one scramble their defined positions to change a person's personality, thoughts, morals, goals and fears?

LOST was a series of manipulations. Powerful personalities were always looking to manipulate behavior in others. Some did it by intelligence. Some did it by force. Some did it by instilling fear. But the manipulation was to create order, obedience and leadership.

If these manipulations were a series of experimental biohacks, that puts the series in a new light. None of the characters were dead or truly alive. You could think you were immortal (like Jacob and Patchy) if those images were planted in your mind. They were lab rats in an open experiment.

But what was the end game of the experiment? If it was to get the characters to merge their collective thoughts to find the same finish line in the church, then they succeeded in that task. But what was the church? Was it the afterlife or was it merely the end of an elaborate video game? And the idea of the characters walking out into the bright white light (the symbolism of out-of-body death experience) could be the means of bulk erasing their memories by the scientists conducting the experiment.

Or it could have been a crazy military experiment to try to "expand" the territory of mankind by trying to find a way to "jump" into parallel universes or alternative realities (such as heaven after one dies and their spirit is released). One could have a great military advantage is one could control another world embedded in the present reality. People like Widmore saw the power in controlling the island (and its mind altering possibilities).

This news story sheds some more credence on a biohack premise to the show. The character(s) may have been mere test subjects outside the realm of Earth's physics and cultural common sense.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

LEGACY

When one looks fondly back at events during a lifetime, what stands out sometimes is the hardest thing to understand.

LOST. It was a show that ended the era of "must watch TV." There were no "binge viewing" services. There were no dark web pirated shows. Fans had to arrange their schedule to watch each weekly episode. You could record it for playback - - - to investigate the nuisances, hints, Easter eggs and theories.

LOST was an academic show. Fans went into chat rooms to discuss each episode. They began to post their own answers to the mysteries. The interaction between people after each show became more important than the show itself.

LOST was about building a community on a dangerous island. LOST fans built their own communities outside of the show because it was confusing, contradictory, fun, reckless, nerdy, nail biting and strange. The search for meaning when the show runners sought to do end runs around the truth was part of the show's charm (and down fall).

People researched to explain quantum physics to other fans. People investigated ancient Egyptian culture to translate the messages on the set props. People found meaning in the soundtrack song lyrics. The compelling back stories helped fuel speculation on what the characters would do on the island.

As weirder the story lines got, the more involved the fans got in the show. It was an addictive cycle of story, action, reaction and analysis. As one person's theory seemed to be vindicated, another tangent would make people's heads spin.

It was a roller coaster ride without rails.

Now, years after the last episode. Years after all the emotional autopsies. Years after the cast and writers said their final words. LOST continues to sit fondly in the memory banks of most viewers.

It is the legacy of the last grand network drama shows. Cable giants like HBO and start up streamers like Netflix have become the critic's darling content producers. But LOST would not be able to live in today's fractured digital landscape. Personal consumption of entertainment has become too personal. There is no longer a need to have a group watch and after-show discussion.  Most programs, including reality shows, are spoon-fed dribble lacking complex story telling.

LOST was a unique show with highs and lows, a rabid fan base, intelligent discussion and the atmosphere of college bull sessions in search of answers that really did not matter.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

THE JOURNEY

Poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote, “The only journey is the one within.”

The basic structure of a good story is a good premise, strong character development, action, reaction, conflict, choices and a journey's end.

The quintessential story arc in this generation is Luke Skywalker's journey to become a Jedi. From humble beginnings, a tragedy propels a naive young man into a dangerous adventure across the galaxy in search of truth, purpose and family. But throughout, the journey was within Luke's heart and soul - - - the mixed emotions, conflicts, set-backs and new friendships that affect how he would become a man.

Did anyone in LOST have such an heroic journey?

Sun defied her rich and overbearing father by marrying a poor fisherman's son, but her life did not end well.

Locke tried to rebel against his miserable life without a family, only to be crippled by his own father which led to a lifetime of mistrust and failure. His life did not end well either.

Kate was a bored, troublemaker as a child who kept her selfish ways of manipulating others in the forefront of her personal survival game. She had an opportunity to change (as did all of the characters) but she did not. She could never find true happiness in her life.

Sawyer was a vengeful boy who turned into the man he despised for destroying his family. But when he could have had a chance to led a family, he turned his back and fled responsibility. He took the easy way out because his personal bitterness and torment was his own internal best friend.

Sayid led a life of struggle and burden of responsibility. He did the dirty jobs. It affected his mental state. When he left Iraq and found his true love, it was taken away from him. In his journey to find her, he failed the woman he claimed to be the love of his life - - - and wound up with a woman he had only a short affair.

Hurley was an introvert scarred by his father's abandonment. He felt he was unlucky at life and that he was the sole cause of his own problems. But when he got lucky and won the lottery, a life changing event, he willed himself into more bad luck. In order to keep himself together, he invented his own best friend and checked himself into a mental institution to be safe from the world that brought him only bad luck. Even when he tried to change his life (by finding the meaning of the numbers), his plane crash lands on a dangerous island. He has an opportunity to re-invent himself but he never does. We don't know how much of Hurley's experiences and thoughts were real or imagined as some theories believe.

Jack may have been the closest to a clear path journey. His story starts as being a highly successful surgeon. He is at the top of his profession. He is well respected. He holds life and death decisions in his hands. But his demon is the lack of love from his father. His relationship with his father eats away at his soul to the point of jealousy, ire and mental breakdowns. The fact his father dies in a Sydney alley causes Jack to begin a journey into a downward spiral of personal torment. He becomes the reluctant leader of the survivors. His decision making becomes fragmented between himself as being the leader and good of the group. He decides to hide his island past when he is rescued, causing even more pain and suffering to the people around him. When Locke is killed, Jack has his final mental breakdown - - - the illogical quest to return to the island to fulfill some unknown reason. At this point, objectively he lost his ability to be rational. But since he left enough of the old Jack in the minds of his island mates, they joined him on a fateful journey back to the island. But the resolution on the island did not solve any of Jack's life problems. It was merely murky waters of his own discontent to the point of a suicide pact with the Man in Black as they went down into the Light Cave. Jack did not die a hero's death, but a foolhardy attempt to runaway from his problems. He did not have a personal redemption. He did not find the solution to save his friends. He did not get them off the island or home.  Jack's journey was the reverse path of Luke's. Jack did not find his journey's end with true answers to make his life great.

Friday, September 1, 2017

IMPORTING ACTORS & CONTENT

The Korea Herald had a long interview with a LOST alum.

Daniel Dae Kim is widely credited with having broken barriers for Korean-American actors in Hollywood. Since his debut in 1992, Kim has starred in popular series, including “Lost” and “Hawaii Five-0,” and has been outspoken in his advocacy of racial equality in the American entertainment industry.

Kim, who was born in Busan, South Korea but was raised in the United States, told reporters that he is branching out into producting Korean drama titles in the US. Next month, “The Good Doctor,” a remake of the hit 2013 KBS drama of the same name, written by Park Jae-bum, is set to air on ABC on Monday evenings.

In the original series, actor Joo Won is a pediatric surgeon with autism and savant syndrome. The ABC series will feature Freddie Highmore as Shaun Murphy in the role. The show also has a multi-ethnic cast of Antonia Thomas, Nicholas Gonzalez, Chuku Modu and more.

Kim said producing has given him a “surprising” amount of satisfaction and newfound freedom.

“As an actor you can only get the roles that you are given. As a producer you can create a world from the ground up and populate it with the types of people you want to see, ones that reflect the actual reality around you,” he said.


Kim is hopeful that more Korean TV dramas will be re-adapted for American television in the future -- his production company 3AD has several projects in the works -- but says they need to be tweaked for the American system and audience.

“You can’t just rely on romance. For a show to succeed in America you need something beyond a love story -- an engine that can keep it going for several seasons maybe," he said. Korean dramas tend to be hyperfocused on the intense emotions of characters, he noted. “I remember watching ‘Winter Sonata.’ There was a lot of ‘I love you but I can’t be with you.’ ... In Korean dramas, (the characters) feel everything 100 percent. If they’re in love, they’re deeply in love with their whole body, their whole being.  These things are, I think, unique to Korean culture and the way (Koreans) express (feelings). That’s one of the dangers of trying to bring a Korean format to America. Relationships are different in America. Things like divorce and family are treated differently.”

Regardless of the adaptation process for remakes, however, Kim feels original Korean dramas “shouldn’t change at all” and should remain true to their distinctive identity.

“That’s the character of K-drama.”

A growing hot topic in Hollywood is diversity. Many imported content from Asia has gotten whitewashed by casting non-Asian actors in main roles. Kim pointed out that many Asian-American actors get “tired of just waiting and hoping that someone will write” a multidimensional, fulfilling role for them, so they venture into the creative process themselves.

Recently, Korean-American actor Justin Chon of the “Twilight” film series wrote and directed the film “Gook,” which released in the US on Aug. 18. The film centers on two Korean-American brothers and a manager running a shoe store in Los Angeles when a riot breaks out and upends their business.

Kim predicts more of such movements will take place. He also believes that a gradual transition toward racial equality is taking place in Hollywood, though it may feel slow to many.

“I think it’s changing. We’re having roles for Asian men where they get to be sexy and funny. ... But it’s ridiculous that we still have to face those obstacles.”

Kim had a breakthrough role in LOST. His character did not speak English. He spoke Korean in the series. No viewers complained about it. It added to the realism of the show. It also emphasized the lack of communication between different cultures can lead to misunderstandings and problems.

South Korea's major export is K-Wave - - - its entertainment culture in film, TV and music. It is just getting started in America.



Friday, August 25, 2017

BRAIN HACK

With so many unanswered questions about LOST, time have given latent fans more science information to construct new theories about the show.

A new study published in eLife journal states that scientists have developed a way to remotely control your brain. By controlling the brain, scientists can send messages to your muscles that the person does not authorize. 

The experiment was done on a small scale but it has big implications.  Scientists stated that they were even able to prompt their test subject to run, freeze in place, or even completely lose control over their limbs. 

The effort, led by physics professor Arnd Pralle, PhD, of the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences, focused on a technique called “magneto-thermal stimulation.” It’s not exactly a simple process — it requires the implantation of specially built DNA strands and nanoparticles which attach to specific neurons — but once the minimally invasive procedure is over, the brain can be remotely controlled via an alternating magnetic field. When those magnetic inputs are applied, the particles heat up, causing the neurons to fire.

The study included experiments where were performed on mice. Using the new technique, the researchers were able to control the movement of the animals, causing them to freeze, lock up their limbs, turn around, or even run.

Despite only being tested on mice, the research could have far-reaching implications in the realm of brain research. This research could very well be an important step towards that future for neurological treatments and re-stabilization of movement for paraplegics.

It is interesting to note that the methods used in this research mimic some of the plot points in LOST. Dharma used human experimentation as a means of control. Surgical implants and mind control rooms were shown to have been used by Ben to control the Others and the 815 survivors. The idea of electromagnetic research to alter brain activity was a theme in series.

By piecing these elements together, one could forge a theory about the island's role in the characters development. If one can control a person's movements through DNA infusions (remember the virus plot line with Clarie?) with EM transmissions (which was the Swan station control center), the next level of experimentation would be using this system to manipulate mental processes as well as physical actions.

For example, the mad Russian Mikal happened to throw himself in the path of bullets and explosions at the whim of Ben. Perhaps, it was involuntary. Ben could have been controlling him through EM/DNA. Over time, he had to submit his free will to serve his master. 

The theme of free will and character choices were strong in the show. But certain power brokers like Ben and Widmore used mental manipulation to control people. But a scientific way to control people would be more efficient. Hacking a person's brain to manipulate their will and values would have been a powerful tool that anyone seeking power would want to possess.

Friday, August 18, 2017

REBOOT

Television is a sausage content factory that continues to re-boot old product.

One reason is that it is cheaper to produce if your company already owns the original content.
Second, if the original was popular, the theory is that you have a built in audience.
Third, executives love the concept of "evergreen" shows that continue to sprout spin-offs (like Star Trek).

Damon Lindelof was asked about the possibility that ABC would in the future re-boot LOST.

He understood the concept of the reboot, but he would not want to be part of it. He said his team tried their best to give closure to their characters. Any reboot of the series, he said, should not include the original characters for that reason. He said it would be interesting if another show runner took the mythology of the island and did something with it.

To be honest, a LOST re-boot would be a terrible idea.

For the two ends of the Ending spectrum, those who loved the character finale to those who hated it, those fan bases would have no compelling interest to watch a new LOST with their lasting strong feelings remain from the old LOST.

And if someone really wanted to do something different with the LOST castaway shell, well TBS tried and failed with the comedy, Wrecked.

ABC would like to try to re-mine the series "brand" for some profits. LOST was never a series that lent itself to syndication. As an hour long drama with twisting maze of plot lines, people cannot get into the series if they miss an episode or two. Half hour sitcoms like Seinfeld or MASH are syndication gold because each episode is a self-contained story.

Part of the problem with re-doing LOST is that much of the big premise foundation items are subject to open debate. A new LOST would probably have to answer those basic story elements which in some way would undermine the original series.  For example, if the reboot is about the Island, the new show runners will have to state what exactly is the Island: a UFO, a dimensional riff in time-space, a magical place, purgatory, the afterlife, hell, a military base like Area 51, virtual reality grid, the imagination of a comatose patient, the madness of a mental patient, or something else.

For example, if the new LOST states that the Island is actually an alien base used for centuries  to experiment on human beings (with the guardians as the immortal beings whose technology equates to "magic" to humans), then the themes of free will, self-determination and redemption of the original LOST characters are diminished since they were basically lab rats for superior beings. The "happy" ending may just as well have been a mental image implanted prior to extermination and autopsy.

If the new LOST was to follow the blueprint of the old series, would anyone really watch it? If another plane load of characters crash lands on the Island, what would be different? And the new show would challenge the alleged canon that the Island "was closed down" by Hurley and Ben.

It would be hard to take the DVD extra to create an entire series about Hurley and Ben closing down the island. Where is the drama in that?

Lindelof was clear he did not want his old characters or even any of the actors return to a reboot. He said the writers tried hard to complete each character's journey. Sending them back for another try on the island would lead to confusion between the stories. (In Star Trek universe, different spin offs kept their story lines apart but through the science-fiction manual of the Federation principles and technology. In LOST, there was not a deep set of iron clad rules and sci-fi principles to build a new tangent series.) So a hard reboot with the old characters would not work. And a series that focused in on the early days of the island would be fraught with open questions that were not answered in the original series, like who were Crazy Mother, Jacob and MIB?

Nostalgia for the series is fine. Continuing debates on show theories is fine. But to recast the show into something else seems to be a terrible idea.