Monday, May 1, 2017

AUTHENTIC

Janet Louise Stevenson wrote, "Authenticity requires vulnerability, transparency and integrity."

In the fan autopsy of LOST series, there were conflicting results of whether the show runners captured the essence of the LOST experience and mythology to the end. To be authentic means being genuine; made or done in the traditional or original way, or in a way that faithfully resembles an original.

LOST started off gang busters as a media and audience favorite. The idea of combining the terror of a commercial plan crash and a mysterious island filled with characters with secrets captivated us. The quick pace of the pilot made us comfortable with the large ensemble cast. The foundation of the series was set: every character has a back story, but there are situations where one can erase their past to create a their new future.

In the quest to find a new future, the characters were set against various villains, dangers and unbelievable science bending physics. But we stuck with the characters as the plot lines began to weave, zig, zag and stumble like a 3 a.m. drunk. We felt empathy for the characters because we had glimpses of their vulnerability. We understood most of the them through the flashbacks of events that changed (or hindered) their lives. Many had been on emotional roller coasters, only to wind up on a wilder island ride.

But the writers were not as transparent as most wanted them to be. When you create a mystery, viewers expected an answer. (Note: even if the answer did not make sense.) When a character betrays another, you expect a complete explanation. When a character changes sides, we would like to know the reason why.

 Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; the condition of being unified, unimpaired, or sound in construction. The 6th season lost most viewers because the show runners had not been fully honest when they boasted from the beginning that they had the story fully worked out to the end. The hard dead lines and tangential plot lines that added confusion instead of Easter eggs led to a vocal minority saying "they are making it up as they go."  That complaint stings when you network has positioned the series as one of the greatest television events of all time.

The fast forward, sideways world still bothers most people. It does not have any unification, pairing or sound construction to the original story line. If you would have eliminated it in its entirety, it would not have had a great impact on the resolution of the island story lines. Instead, it caused more problems than solutions.

LOST was an original series that lost its way about halfway through its run. If the writers had kept to the original story principles instead of shooting for dramatic filler and strange plot twists, it could have been a more authentic classic.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

SUNNY DAYS


In the upcoming horror film “House of the Disappeared,” actress Kim Yun-jin portrays a mother fiercely protective of her children, inside a house that appears to be haunted by uneasy spirits.

She plays two versions of her character Mi-hee -- as a 40-something housewife, and a much older, grey-haired woman who has lost her children through unexplainable causes.

The younger Mi-hee has already been through a lot at the start of the film, having lost her first husband to heart disease and putting up with a second husband who has alcohol and rage issues.

“Simply put, she’s a strong woman,” Kim told The Korea Herald.

Kim animatedly described her role, one that she felt was “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

“At the same time, I tried to express her younger self as somewhat unknowing, despite her hardships, to highlight the gap between her and her older self,” she said.

Being able to display a rich range of emotions of a multifarious character -- from the confused mother to the terrified woman, and later in the film, an ill, grief-stricken ex-prisoner -- was fulfilling, she said.

“When else would I have the opportunity to lead a film with this kind of female character?”

It has been more than a decade since Kim came into international fame with the character Sun in the smash-hit US drama series “Lost,” which aired on ABC from 2004 to 2010. Since then, she has been among the few Korean entertainers -- alongside actor Lee Byung-hun -- to be active in both the US and Korea.

Kim says she is still in awe of the monumental status that “Lost” came to occupy on American TV. The show was a pioneer, one of the first to shed light on actors of different ethnicities, she said.

“It was a brave, but also very intelligent decision on the part of J. J. Abrams,” she said, referring to the show’s creator and renowned director who has helmed films such as “Armageddon” (1998) and “Star Trek Into Darkness” (2013).

After “Lost,” iconic multi-ethnic shows such as “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Heroes” followed, Kim pointed out.

The Character of Sun on LOST continues to have steady international work but tells of differences between filming roles in the United States and in Korea.



Maintaining a firm foundation in the Korean film scene helped her US activities, in terms of both experience and recognition, she said. Before heading to Hollywood, Kim had taken up significant roles in major Korean films such as “Shiri” (1999). Her filmography has come to encompass thrillers such as “Seven Days” (2008) and family dramas such as “Ode to My Father” (2014).

“Producers have to pay attention to the Asian market as well,” she said, in an age when TV shows are streamed internationally.

Having had the opportunity to work in two countries, Kim noted several differences.

“There are more roles that portray females as strong, warrior-like figures in the US,” she said. “There is a larger scope (for acting).”

But the most prominent difference is the age of the production crew and staff members, she said.

“In the US, my makeup artist was an elderly lady. She would put on my eyeliner using reading glasses. It’s something unimaginable in Korea.”

Kim called for better working conditions on Korean sets for the production crew. “That kind of experience can’t be bought. We need to let people feel like (working on a film crew) is a lifelong job. I think that will lead to the development of Korean cinema as well.”

The tendency to spotlight male characters as leads “is the same everywhere,” Kim said.

Since she was a young student growing up in New York after her family emigrated there in 1980, the actress, now 43, has been ruggedly pursuing the craft of acting.

Desperate for the stage, she would get up at 5 a.m. every day to ride the ferry from her home in Staten Island to Manhattan, transfer to a bus, and then take the subway to attend the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. Adhering to a strict schedule has become ingrained in her even when off set.

“I have unlimited energy in the mornings,” she said. “I so wanted to go to that school. It was something that was only possible as a kid completely obsessed with acting.”

With over 20 years of experience, the seasoned actress still goes through grueling auditions when pilot season dawns in Los Angeles -- and she still grapples with difficulties.

“‘La La Land’ is no exaggeration,” Kim said, referring to the recent film on struggling performers. “There have been times when casting directors were talking loudly on the phone right outside the room where I was auditioning,” she said. “I didn’t know what to do.”

But always craving her next gig, Kim hopes to fly back to LA once promotions for “House of the Disappeared” wrap up. “That’s my plan, at least. I still have a lot of hunger for acting and good roles.”

Monday, April 10, 2017

DARK MATTER WAVES

Physics is speeding toward finding theoretical particles and answers to universal questions.

Black holes are the dense gravitational objects that capture to not let light out. Scientists have found the mysterious "god particle," and evidence of gravitational waves (disruptions of the space-time) near black holes. The missing piece is called dark matter, which theorists believe makes up most of the gravity element in the universe. How all three of these things interact with each other is still not understood.

When most people think of time, it is a linear concept. Seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years . . .  a progression moving forward in an aging process.

When some scientists think of time, they think of it as a coordinate in space which could theoretically manipulated like folding origami paper. The sci-fi community knows this concept as "warp drive."

In order to conquer the vastness of space, physical propulsion will not work because the human life span will not allow deep space exploration. Brilliant minds insist there has to be another wave.

Tapping into the largest "resource" in space would help solve a propulsion question. If the universe is made up of mostly gravity. And if gravitational waves can be equated with waves on our oceans, it is possible that there may be deep space gravitational "currents" which can accelerate ships at great speeds across the galaxies.

Alien seed theorists believe that advanced humanoid races seeded the universe with proto-humans to allow them to evolve into civilizations. One could assume that enlightened elders would give their offspring the tools to solve complex problems - - - by applying known concepts and experiences to hypothetical problems. Therefore, the concepts of ships navigating on ocean currents can be an analogy to solve space travel. You just need to find comparable elements.

For if gravitational waves can be harnessed, then the concept of space time can be changed to artificially elongate human life spans. A human with an average life expectancy of 75 years could go through space time travel hundreds or thousands of years to experience something not possible from his Earth bound existence. Many theorists think that forward space time travel would be possible; but most think it is a one-way journey to the future.

If we look to the symbols in LOST, we can find some off-beat similarities to modern physics theories. The series "dark matter," was the mysterious black cloud of shifting matter. The Swan station's purpose of holding back a large electromagnetic charge from purple flashing the island can be viewed as a "wave" generator which shifts time and space of island inhabitants. The frozen donkey wheel was one such early generator as it took both Ben and Locke back in time and across the globe. And the island itself is symbolic of a black hole, so unique that it could not be viewed with the naked eye. It took an observation station and precise coordinates to find it.

Taken together, the island could have been a massive space-time travel experiment which may have been abandoned because of its inherit inability to be controlled by man.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

BETWEEN SLEEP AND AWAKE

The little clue about being "awake," from something, still haunts theorists.

The debate focus is on whether the sideways world was real, paranormal, heavenly or an illusion.

Scientists are researching the mental condition which occurs just before a person wakes up from sleep. There is a distinct period where things can happen to a person: experience a paralysis nightmare or sleepwalk. The sleep paralysis occurs when your mind wakes up prior to your body. The sleepwalking occurs when your body wakes up before your mind.

History is littered with references to "demonic" sleep attacks. No one knew why people acted strangely. Since it was not normal, the explanation had to be it was paranormal. The content of hallucinations can often be thematically linked to the feeling of paralysis –  manifesting as visions of an intruder in the bed who is physically holding the sleeper down. Records of incidents attributable to sleep paralysis can actually be found throughout history, in different cultures,  dating back as far as 400 BC. Some blamed witchcraft and curses.

Sleep paralysis is when your limbs are frozen but your mind is dreaming about a terrible thing, for example, a monster attacking you. Your mind races its instincts to flee or fight back, but your body does not respond. That increases the fear one feels in the moment.

Science states that a person could be awake and been dreaming at the same time. Sleep disturbances include types of parasomnia,  the inability to move, these periods of wakeful paralysis are often accompanied with vivid multisensory hallucinations. Effectively, imagery from your dreams can actually intrude into your waking reality.

The precise physiological mechanisms that result in sleep paralysis are still not entirely understood. What is known is that, typically, when we dream, our actions are confined to our imagination. We all have a built-in safety mechanism, which you can think of as something like a circuit breaker; it effectively blocks your brain’s motor planning signals from becoming motor action signals. This mechanism prevents us from physically acting out the actions that we dream of making. Thus, when you’re being chased by a monster in a dream, you don’t actually rise up and charge into the bedroom wall, or evolutionarily-speaking, tumble out of your tree. However, our brains are highly complex systems, and, as such, are prone to the occasional glitch.

One example is sleepwalking, which occurs when the paralysis eases too early, while you’re still asleep. On the flip side, sometimes the paralysis lingers – even after you’ve awoken. This typically happens just on the threshold of sleep – either just as you’re waking up or just as you’re drifting off. You can be conscious, with your eyes open, but be completely unable to move your body. Again, this is a fairly common occurrence, but the experience can be understandably alarming.

Such problems may be a consequence of more general sleep disruption. Researchers have shown that sleep paralysis experiences can be induced in lab settings when subjects are repeatedly woken from deep sleep. Researchers believe that 50 percent of people will experience at least one episode in their lifetimes.
Why would a person's mind act in such a strange fashion? One theory is that sleeping might serve to ‘consolidate’ memories from our waking life. The brain is de-fragment its information just like a computer software program corrects disjointed stored files. 
In 2000, a team of scientists at Harvard Medical School reported that participants who played the video game Tetris would continually report seeing game-like imagery, the iconic falling blocks, just before falling asleep. Similar results have been obtained using other types of video games.  This evidence has been used to support the idea that sleeping might serve to ‘consolidate’ memories from our waking life - consolidation is term that refers to the process of reinforcing and strengthening newly created memories. Experiments have demonstrated that people who are given memory-based tasks will perform better if they’re given the opportunity to sleep after learning. It seems as though after we’ve been engaged in a learning task, our minds might be using sleep as a sort of rehearsal space to practice problems.

But the sleep disturbances occur when the normal sleep process (and its mental sorting process) goes out of whack.

There is an old saying that you should never wake up a sleepwalker. It would be too traumatic for them to wake away from their resting place. People have had actual conversations with sleepwalkers. The idea that a person can be living in two "different states," awake and asleep is part of the issue with the LOST mythology paradoxes.

Were the main characters always awake? They were rarely shown sleeping - - - or was that purposeful to mimic the projection of a dream state. Why were clues such as "Illusion" on the name of a boat so clear at major story points? Why were Egyptian symbols of the dead used so often?

It begs the question of whether the characters were in some sort of "in-between" state of existence: partially awake (which accesses their personality traits) and partially asleep (which accesses their memories, fears, desires, emotions, etc.). Science research is beginning to think that there is such a place in daily human life.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

COMPUTER FUSION

Several theories describe the possibility that LOST was merely a technological construct of digital ties in the brain or brains of the main characters. A neuro-network fused together to share dreams, memories, fears and nightmares. The island story was merely the expunged data of a wired community in a bizarre experiment.

These theories may not be that far fetched after all. Science is continuing to press computer technology to new limits. Currently, it is trying to be integrated more into every person's daily life. From powerful hand held smart phones to wearable technology (like fit bracelets), humans are being merged into data collectors.

Google's Director of Engineering, Ray Kurzweil, who has made 147 predictions since the 1990s and has a success rate of 86 per cent, stated recently in a Daily Mail (UK) article that within the next 12 years the human brain will be directly connected to computers.

Kurzweil says when we live in a cybernetic society we will have computers in our brains and machines will be smarter than human beings.  He claims this is already happening with technology - especially with our addiction to our phones - and says the next step is to wire this technology into our brains.

Technological singularity is when carbon and silicon-based intelligence will merge to form a single global consciousness. "By 2029, computers will have human-level intelligence," Kurzweil said in the  interview with SXSW.

He believes that implanting computers in our brains will improve us."We're going to get more neocortex, we're going to be funnier, we're going to be better at music. We're going to be sexier," he said. 

But once computers are integrated directly into a person's brain, people can be networked like machines. The fantasy world of Ghost in the Shell seems to be the premise of this scientific research.  People will have the option of swapping their internal organs with sophisticated machine parts. 

But this begs to ultimate question: would this end our humanity?

Saturday, March 25, 2017

CREATIVE SOLITUDE

Albert Einstein wrote, "The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind."

Monday, March 20, 2017

THE GRAND EXPERIMENT

LOST had many controversial elements. One was that so much of the criminal activity on and off the island was not punished. One could literally get away with mass murder.


In civilized society, the rule of law, a code of right and wrong, is necessary to stop the general public from turning into aggressive savages. In some ways, the island was its own uncivilized society where the normal rules did not apply to the characters.


It is possible to equate this element with a new scientific study which attempts to map "criminal intent" in the brain activity of potential criminals. In order to convict a person of a crime, the prosecution must prove mens rea, or the "intent" to commit the crime. It is done mostly by circumstantial evidence and common sense. For example, if you carry a gun into a store and demand money from the clerk, you are intending to rob the store. Judges and juries often have to gauge a defendant's mental state at the time he or she committed a crime in complex cases or where the defendant may have mental impairment. They have to decide whether a defendant committed a crime "knowingly" or "recklessly." In some cases, the difference could be a matter of life or death.
A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has turned to the brain to find a basis for this distinction. The researchers were able to find distinct brain activity patterns that revealed whether participants knew they were committing a (virtual) crime or were recklessly taking a risk.


“All the elements of the crime being the same, depending on which mental state the court decides that you were in when you committed the crime, you can get probation or 20 years in jail,” said the study co-author Read Montague,  a neuroscientist at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute. “I can't think of anything more important than loss of your liberty, so understanding these distinctions or the subtleties in them is important.”


For this study, 40 participants played a game inside a brain scanner. They had to decide to carry a suitcase that could contain sensitive documents through a maze where they could encounter one or more guards. The number of suitcases and the guards were altered in each round of the game to play with the level of risk the participants had to take.


The researchers used a machine-learning method of data analysis that looks at activity across the entire brain to find patterns. This revealed two activity patterns that corresponded to the conditions in which participants knowingly decided to carry a suitcase containing contraband, or the conditions where the participants made an uncertain but risky choice.


The distinct brain patterns they found suggest that these two legally defined mental states—knowing and reckless—are not arbitrary, but indeed map to different psychological states.


Montague is quick to point out that this study is not something you could use to avoid harsher punishment.


“It has no implications within a courtroom, and probably won't for quite a while,” Montague told mentalfloss.com  “This is a proof-of-principle study that informs the idea of mental-state distinctions.”


In fact, what neuroscience in general could potentially offer in a courtroom is heavily debated.
Our relatively recent ability to scan the brain and look for otherwise undetectable injuries has raised the idea that neuroscience could be used to inform the circumstances of a criminal case. If you have a brain lesion, after all, your behavior could be profoundly affected.


Taking this scientific study to the LOST world, Dharma was interested in various aspects of brain activity. From manipulation to brain washing, Dharma and Ben used methods to control the Others and the survivors. But it is unknown whether the original Dharma researchers had more civil aspects to their experiments such as finding clues to criminal behavior through tests and brain scans.


In order to get samples from various types of people, it makes sense for the island scientists to bring various people to the island and let the boundaries of civilized society be negated in a new world where basic survival is the only thing that matters. Call it a grand experiment to determine how normal people react in an abnormal environment. And if it was an experiment on how humanity is changed under those circumstances, it would appear the verdict would be that normal people mostly fail both their own moral codes with increased criminal behavior.