Wednesday, August 9, 2017

INCARNATE

Every major religion has a creation myth that has elements of gods creating human beings on Earth. Several religions also believe that once a person dies, their spirit will be reincarnated into another person (or form).

The ancient Egyptians had a complex view of reincarnation. Their belief system is founded on two gods coming to Earth to begat mankind. The subsequent Pharaohs were believed to be the reincarnated souls of those original gods. Since they were gods, Pharaohs ruled with impunity.

But the incarnate god was not reserved just for royalty. The Egyptians believed that when a person died, his "ba," the spirit associated with one's character and personality, leaves the body to find a new vessel in which to be reborn. The souls of the departed continue to return to new bodies for an infinite cycle.

There have been several research papers on the subject. Scientists interviewed various people from different parts of the globe who claimed to have remembered clear details of their past lives. Scientists then would take this information and try to independently verify the recalled facts. In several instances, researchers concluded that the interviewees remembered things that they could have not known (personal information, names of relatives, phone numbers, houses, etc) that were not accessible to them in the present time.

There has always been a puzzle when reproduction happens in people. When the egg and sperm fuse, historically it was said there is a "spark of life," some form of energy which gives rise to fertility to the newborn. Theorists think that spark of energy may be a soul that the fuels the rebirth of a spirit.

On the other extreme, in the realm of B-movie sci-fi, science knows of all the elements of a human body, its chemical composition and structure. In theory, what is missing from the base elements is a form of electrical current that makes the human organs (including brain) function. In Frankenstein, the mad scientist uses lightning bolts to jump start "life" in a corpse. This "re-animation" is different than reincarnation since the former tries to re-use the old vessel to bring back a person's life.

It is not as far fetched as one would assume since emergency room personnel routinely revive cardiac arrest patients with electric stimulation. But in the re-animation world, it is assumed that the brain functions as a storage device for all memories, personality, speech, etc like a turned off hard drive. Turning the brain back on would revive that person's personality.

But the Egyptian view would say no. The dead person's character and personality is not located in the brain but in the spirit (or soul) of the individual. And once the person dies, their soul leaves the body so re-animation will not work.

In the Egyptian dead scrolls, it is said that the deceased spirits have to journey through the underworld to be judged before being reborn. And since one spirit can be reborn more than once, the journey could be fraught with danger.

In LOST, the island could be a representative underworld where souls travel to begin their journey to the after life. This would explain why certain characters, Mikhail Bakunin, could apparently die over and over again on the island. It could also explain how Desmond survived the Swan station implosion to be found naked wandering around the jungle (symbolic "reborn.")

One of the story principles in the series was giving the characters "a second opportunity" in life. Reincarnation would be a means to give a person (especially a tortured soul like Locke) a new beginning, a new life.

Friday, July 28, 2017

UFO

One of the great unsolved mysteries of LOST is the Island.

Some believe that the Island was its own character. That it may have been a supernatural being in its own right - - - so foreign to modern humans as to be "magic."

Others have tried to rationally explain the Island.

We know of few facts about the island:

1. It can move. During Faraday's rocket test, it was shown that the island was moving away from the ship. A real island cannot move across the ocean.

2. It had special light properties. When Faraday landed on the island, he remarked that the light was strange, that it may be bent. One of the theories of stealth technology is that the bending of light and reflection could cause an object to "disappear" to the naked eye. When the helicopter left the doomed freighter, Jack and those on the copter saw the island vanish without an ocean ripple.

3. It has unique electromagnetic properties. The Swan station was created to try to manage the EM properties so the island would remain in balance. When it was not in balance, the large purple flash would occur sending the island out of phase with time or space.

If you tie all three of these facts together you can come up with a plausible theory.

The island was a UFO.

Since earth islands are volcanic mountains that begin at the base of the ocean to crest above the water line, they do not move. Therefore, the Island is not an island.

Electromagnetic energy can be used as propulsion system. Several countries have been using technology to support monorail trains riding on a cushion of magnetism. The movement of the Island could be made as a result of the electromagnetism. This means that the Island has a powerful engine, probably underground in the forbidden zone, which allows the guardian to pilot the island to safety.

Stealth technology is also researching the use of bending light waves to mask radar patterns. Magicians use mirrors to make things disappear by light wave cancellation techniques. In a larger scale, the Island could mask itself by using EM energy to "bend" light waves to make the island disappear.

So what would be the purpose of a space alien having a stealth UFO in the Pacific Ocean?

Just as in other sci-fi shows like Star Trek, advanced space travelers would often create "observational posts" on primitive planets to gather data on the inhabitants, cultures and technology. A UFO disguised as an uncharted island would provide cover for any human wandering to it.

Further, mere observation could lead to more advanced testing and experimentation on humans. It was said that the guardian was the only person who could bring people to the island. The guardian must have been the captain of the ship. What better way to observe how humans interact than putting them in a survival situation on a dangerous island?

What would space aliens gain from such encounters? Information on human behavior, science experiments including DNA enhancement, mind control tests and possible allies in the off-island world. Wealthy people like Widmore may have been recruited by the Island aliens to obtain information that they could use (especially in defense technologies). The aliens could have given Widmore technology to make him rich, and in turn Widmore used his wealth and power to provide the Island with any resources it needed to survive, mostly human subjects.

UFO researchers believe that since the atomic age, at least 60 different space aliens have visited Earth and have been in contact with national governments. It may be too difficult for isolated ships to "conquer" the planet. But it probably easier to infiltrate world governments if aliens are after the planet's resources, such as gold which many scientists believe is a key element in deep space travel.

The UFO theory in LOST also answers the question about the long life of Jacob - - - he was not a human being. The smoke monster was not a human being. The aliens tried to breed human-alien hybrids on the island but those experiments failed (and why Juliet was summoned to the island). Space aliens could colonize Earth by interspecies procreation which would take human elements (compatible with Earth's environment) with the longevity of the alien races.

The UFO theory also can support the reason why Jacob and MIB wanted to "leave" the Island - - - they were so far away from their home planet their mission was a death sentence. They would rather die and end their existence than deal with the "never changing," corrupt and primitive humans.

Finally, with the real aliens gone, the Island ship would have been scuttled - - - which would explain the images of the Island resting on the ocean floor.

The Island as a UFO has some merit as being a plausible premise to the series.

Friday, July 21, 2017

(UN)SOLVED MYSTERY

There is a never-ending curiosity in people when confronted with an unanswered mystery.

People want to know what happened. It gives closure. And ending.

Without an ending, it leads to speculation, conspiracy theories, accusations and unprovable myths.

There have been a recent rash of stories on one of the great aircraft mysteries of the 20th century: the disappearance of famed female aviator Amelia Earhart. 

Many theories have been told about her ill-fated last trip across the Pacific Ocean. Some researchers claim that human bones have located a site on a remote Pacific atoll where  Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, may have died on their ill-fated attempt to circumnavigate the globe in 1937.

Search dogs were taken to Nikumaroro, part of the Republic of Kiribati, as part of the latest expedition to the atoll by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) and the National Geographic Society.

TIGHAR believes Ms Earhart managed to land on Nikumaroro - which was at the time an uninhabited British territory known as Gardner Island - but soon succumbed to hunger, thirst or illness. Evidence from this area includes parts of an aircraft hull, plexiglass from a cockpit, a zip made in Pennsylvania in the mid-1930s, a broken pocket knife of the same brand that was listed in an inventory of Ms Earhart's aircraft and the remains of a 1930s woman's compact.

This theory is allegedly supported by British colonial records in Fiji reporting the discovery of the partial skeleton of a castaway who perished shortly before the island was settled in 1938.

The TIGHAR expedition has coincided with the airing of a documentary on The History Channel in the US that claims a photo discovered in US archives proves that Earhart and Noonan were captured by the Japanese and transported to Jaluit in the Marshall Islands. The theory adds that they were both later executed. Les Kinney, a long-time proponent of the theory that  Earhart and Noonan were on a spying mission for the US government shortly before the outbreak of World War II, told the Associated Press the image shows Ms Earhart sitting on a sea wall with her back to the camera, Mr Noonan standing with a group of islanders and a Japanese survey ship identified as the Koshu towing a barge carrying the Electra.

Other researchers and government officials say they have been aware of the photo for several years but have discounted it for a number of reasons. The picture is too blurry to make any positive identification as to any subject.  TIGHAR also points out that the ship is too small to be the Koshu and that what Mr Kinney claims is the aircraft on a barge "is just an indistinct blob."

It has also been pointed out that the photograph is marked as being taken in 1940, three years after Earhart's disappearance. Recently, The Guardian reported that military history blogger Kota Yamano published the photo in its proper context, finding it after about 30 minutes of looking through Japan’s national library, on a page from a Japanese-language travel book on the South Seas. The book was published in 1935, two years before Amelia Earhart’s ill-fated plane took off, so she could not have been depicted in the History Channel story.

The Pacific islands have been an aircraft and vessel grave yard for centuries. During the war, island hopping for intelligence in military shipping lanes was a dangerous but vital activity. Because of the large scope of the Pacific Ocean, many planes had to ditch because of weather or fuel issues. Many remote islands could contain aircraft debris or human remains.

These stories are compelling because there was a famous person who went missing over the Pacific. No one truly knows what happened except for the fact that Earhart's plane did not arrive at its destination. Whether she crashed her plane or safely landed it, no one has any clear proof. Whether she survived an island plane crash is also speculation.

This is not unlike the fan speculation in LOST as to the origin story of Crazy Mother, the island guardian who "stole" Jacob and his brother from their mother when she was shipwrecked on the island. Crazy Mother killed her in order to raise her sons as future island guardians.

One fan theory was that Crazy Mother was Earhart, the long lost aviator. In the context of her plane traveling over the remote Pacific, Earhart may have had the same experience as Flight 815. She crashed on the island. She would have survived the crash like the 815ers. Her co-pilot may have succumbed to the smoke monster as it took Rousseau's crew. (It seemed that the smoke monster was more violent toward men than women.) Since time and space principles did not apply to the island, it is theorized that Earhart went back in time before the ancient Romans arrived on the island.

This would also pre-suppose that there was an island guardian before Earhart arrived in her 1937. That guardian must have also been trapped in the purgatory of guarding a timeless island from intruders. That guardian must have transferred his or her power to Earhart, making her an immortal being. But being immortal, as noted with both Jacob and MIB, has a terrible downside: the inability to live a normal life - - - being captured on an island with a limited to no purpose. You cannot even kill yourself to end the loneliness and frustration of being different.

The idea of having Earhart as an early guardian makes sense if you believe that her mental power channeled into creating later plane crashes on the island. It would have been something that she was familiar and could make survivors of a crash. She would have had to pass along this information to Jacob, as it appears he was the one who wanted and needed to have people come to the island so he could become mortal and die.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

BRAIN HACK

Gizmondo reports that rapid developments in brain-machine interfacing and neuroprosthetics are revolutionizing the way we treat paralyzed people, but the same technologies could eventually be put to more generalized use—a development that will turn many of us into veritable cyborgs. Before we get to that point, however, we’ll need to make sure these neural devices are safe, secure, and as hacker-proof as possible.

Researchers from the Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering in Geneva Switzerland have published a new Policy Forum paper to raise awareness of this new breed of neurotechnologies, and the various ways they can be abused. Importantly, the researchers come up with some ways to mitigate potential problems before they arise.

No doubt, work in neurotech is proceeding apace. Researchers are developing brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) that are enabling quadriplegics to move prosthetic limbs by using their own thoughts to patients who cannot communicate normally to spell out messages from mental impulses. With each passing breakthrough, we’re learning a little bit more about the brain and how it works. Most importantly, these tools are giving agency and independence back to amputees and paralyzed individuals.

Ghost in the Shell is a anime that broke new science fiction ground by imagining a world where human beings routinely implanted cybernetic modules to enhance their physical limitations. An individual with a cyberbrain could connect to the world wide web easier than logging in your social media site.

Just as Star Trek spawned many 21st Century inventions (including the iPad and smart phone hand held communication devices), the concept of technology upgrades to human beings is driving medical research and development.

There were numerous theories about what LOST was about. A few believed that the entire program was a fantasy inside the head of an individual(s), whether it be a coma patient, a dying patient, a mentally ill person or a computer simulation (like Avatar immersion.)

If one can access the human brain (which still is the most complex organic "computer" known to man), then in theory it is possible to hack it. We hack the brain all the time. When we use simple aspirin, we are hacking the brain's pain receptors to shut down. When we use recreational drugs, we hack the brain's pleasure zones to produce highs.

So it is theoretically possible to hack a human brain to take over or control the human mind. And once that occurs, one could send messages, images, sensations to a person's conscious state that could include everything that we saw in LOST.

Would such a program have any therapeutic effect? Maybe. If you had an individual who was unable to move, communicate or in a vegetative state, some people (parents) may want to have them (their child) at least "experience" humanity even if it is not reality but an elaborate illusion. Even elaborate illusions can create strong memories. For example, people still fondly recall when they first saw the original Star Wars movie.

If LOST was merely a study in character development, then a computer simulation run through a normal or abnormal subject could lead to interesting results, like all the story lines in the show.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

VULNERABILITY

Psychologist Brene Brown wrote, "Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they are never weakness." 

 In most dramas, there is at least one character who the audience can relate to in the clearest sense of being vulnerable. It helps enhance the "fear" factor viewers see when that character has to confront uncomfortable situations.

Who were the weakest characters on LOST? And did the audience gravitate toward them in an empathetic way?

Clearly, Hurley was a fan favorite. His back story of being a loner, overweight, not popular pulls on the heartstrings of most people as they themselves probably experienced similar things during their childhood. Even the demanding but loving stereotypical mother put context in how Hurley retreated into himself (to the point some say into mental illness.)

But when he won the lottery, most people believe he would have changed his personality because wealth solves most problems in life. But in reality, 90 percent of all major lottery winners lose it all within five years of winning. Most can't handle the money or fame. They spend without thinking. They are taken advantage of. Many families get torn apart. They regret ever playing the game.

The only significant change to island Hurley was that he was more open and social with the people around him. He felt comfortable in being the nice and funny guy in the group. But he kept the barbs and uncomfortable secrets about his past hidden. He did not want people to know he was a loser. He wanted to fit in. And in the beach survivor camp, he did fit in. As a follower. He did not want to face danger. He did not want to be a leader. He just wanted to make friends. The only time he went out-of-character was saving his friends from the Others by running over the bad guys with his van.

In the end, it is still not clear whether Hurley did change. His relationship with Libby may still have only been an illusion (from his days at the mental institution).

Locke had a different kind of weakness. He did not know his own limitations. He wanted to be a great man, a leader, and adventurer. But he washed himself of his one asset, his intelligence, in an attempt to become a popular-jock character. But he was never good at that. He was lanky, awkward and not very social. He moved from foster home to foster home so he could never learn how to make and maintain friendships. His lack of a real family caused him mental anguish to the point where his imagination took over reality in a quest to find his new family. It led him to a cult only to be betrayed as a stooge in a drug running operation. On the island, he started off as a father figure - - - a provider of food. But simple jealousy with Jack's quick ascension to the leadership role doomed any level of friendship between the two. Locke felt Jack was his rival; but Jack could care less about Locke.

Locke sought appreciation and acknowledgement with the enemy, the Others. He was too narrow minded to realize that he was being manipulated by Ben and Widmore to do their bidding. Once a fool always a fool. Locke died a foolish death at the hands of Ben. But the island inhabitants did not feel a great loss (even though a drug induced, panic stricken Bearded Jack used it as motivation to return to the island). Locke's image, as Flocke, after  taking over his body by MIB was the only time that people listened and feared him. But again, that was an illusion. The real Locke had no dreamlike victory he sought his entire life.

In the end, it was clear that Locke's fate was always to be alone. He was with the island people in the church, but he was by himself in the pew.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

CRACKED UP

Cracked had an article trying to answer the great unsolved mysteries of television.

Of course, LOST was one of those TV enigmas.

This is how it summed up the series and its ending:

What The Hell, Lost?

It begins with the basic premise question:  were the characters time-travelers, incompetent aliens, sexy magicians or spirits in the afterlife? Was everyone on the show dead? Was it all the dream of an autistic child?

Their  Explanation:

It's not the afterlife, and the island is magic. As for every other question, some were answered in an epilogue on the Season 6 DVD set, though they too can easily be summed as everything was an experiment by DHARMA.

Some DVD question and answers were referenced as support of their argument:

"What's with that giant bird from Seasons 1 and 2?" DHARMA experimented on animals!

"Why do women have pregnancy problems on the Island?" It's the electromagnetism!

"What was that weird thing in Room 23 that looked like a brainwashing video?" A brainwashing video! DHARMA used it to erase memories!

"Where did the food drops come from?" A warehouse in Guam!

"Why polar bears?" They were good candidates for testing!

>>>> Except, what about the elements not tied to the Dharma folks. Namely, all the island inhabitants, including the immortal guardians Crazy Mom and Jacob?  Does the island magic come from these immortals trapped on the island (for what reason?)? See, the question within the question madness?!

Sure, one can logically state that something out of the ordinary would seem to be "magic" to a primitive culture. For example, an isolated  island tribe with no contact with modern, western civilization could consider a helicopter as "magic" since they have never seen aircraft. But the pilot could "explain" to the tribe the basic principles of flight. In LOST, the explanation of "magic" has no basic principle in which viewers could believe. It is purely used in this context as a broad brush for a fantasy story (which intentionally did not want to explain its elements).

Friday, June 30, 2017

EVOLUTION

Harville Hendrix wrote, "Nature doesn't care that you are comfortable, only that you evolve."

LOST's creators continually stated that the show was more about character development than solving the myriad of  mysteries the writers threw at viewers.

In a typical character development, a person is put into an unfamiliar, often dangerous situation. The person then has to reflect on what is happening around him. He must determine based upon internal conflicts (experience, dreams, goals, etc) on how to proceed. It begins a journey of discovery, enlightenment, change and growth. Throughout the journey, he is tested, choices made, doubts created, strengths pushed to the limit to reach a final realization of one's self.

Weaved in this journey are themes we call life lessons. They can be coupled with moral tones, vices, bad choices, blind spots, naive behavior or self-destructive tendencies. But in the end, the character has to change, for better or worse, of the journey itself was meaningless. And the reader is left with a bitter taste of wasting time investing in a story with no true end.

Did LOST's main character have great personal development?

That remains an open question.

If we start with Locke as a young boy, we find that his life was a journey of mistakes, bad choices, social awkwardness and inability to find his place in society.

He was a miracle premature baby who survived his mother's car collision in rural, 1950s America. He was abandoned by his birth parents to grow up in foster homes as an outsider. He was smart, but wanted to be a jock. But he was not good enough so he fit into neither group. He became a loner. The more he grew up, the more sullen he became since he was missing the one thing other kids had: a family. So he spent much of his time trying to find a family unit. He would bounce from entry level job to job trying to find a permanent connection. But his deep seeded fears of abandonment and mistrust sabotaged most of his relationships. His fears were realized when he re-connected with his parents only to have his father steal his kidney and cripple him for life by pushing him through a high rise window.

So Locke's past contained so much baggage that he was a prime candidate for a character's "hero journey" of evolution. But did he did a hero's ending?

Sadly, no. Locke's sad life turned into a sad death.

The island "magic" apparently "cured" Locke's paralysis when he crash landed with the other survivors. He took it personally as a sign, a "miracle," a chance to be the person he dreamed he was going to be as a boy. Locke wanted to be a respected, swashbuckling, Outback, adventure-loving leader of men and lover of women.

Everyone on the island had an opportunity to shed their past and create a new self image.

In Locke's case, he started strong as being a hunter-food provider. But when the majority of the castaways gravitated toward the charismatic doctor, Jack, for survival, Locke became upset. He retreated to become a gregarious loner. Sure, he got along with many of the characters but most merely tolerated his ramblings. He never received the respect or admiration he thought he deserved.

He had an opportunity to become the leader of the 815 survivors, but Jack and Sawyer were chosen over him. He had an opportunity to become the true leader of the Others, but he could not bring it upon himself to kill his own father. 

Even when he "sacrificed" himself at ghost Shepherd's suggestion, only then did Sawyer give him faint praise after Locke turned the FDW to reset the island time skips.

When he returned to the States, Locke had several choices. He could have turned his back on the island and its harsh surreality. Or he could find himself back living a lonely existence in his new wheelchair. Instead, he was manipulated by Widmore like he had been manipulated by Ben to do someone's else's bidding. But Locke failed in his quest to get everyone back to the island.

In a seedy hotel room, Locke decided to commit suicide, a coward's not a hero's way out. Before he was about to do the deed, he was interrupted by Ben. Ben convinced him that his life still had value. That he was needed on the island. That he had to go back with him to make everything right. He had to go back to save his "friends." But after Locke slipped with the information on how he could get back to the island, through Mrs. Hawking, Ben strangled Locke whose last thoughts according to Flocke was "I don't understand."

Most viewers did not understand why MIB, the smoke monster, needed to inhabit Locke's corpse or assume his identity in order to overthrown Jacob. MIB did take Locke's memories to begin to manipulate the survivors, including those who let live after the Temple massacre. But if there was still a part of Locke in MIB's use of his memories, image or character - - - Locke failed to fight back or control MIB.

In the end, Locke winds up in the sideways church. He seems happy at the reunion, but how could he be? He sat in a pew alone. There was no one special present for him. Not his late girlfriend. Not his mother. No one. Throughout his life, Locke failed to make a special bond with any one person in order to "move on" in the after life. Locke's journey did not end in a hero's quest or salvation but as a sad footnote.