Tuesday, December 31, 2013

CONSCIENCE

People who have a religion should be glad, for not everyone has the gift of believing in heavenly things. You don't necessarily even have to be afraid of punishment after death; purgatory, hell, and heaven are things that a lot of people can't accept, but still a religion, it doesn't matter which, keeps a person on the right path. It isn't the fear of God but the upholding of one's own honor and conscience. How noble and good everyone could be if, every evening before falling asleep, they were to recall to their minds the events of the whole day and consider exactly what has been good and bad. Then, without realizing it you try to improve yourself at the start of each new day; of course, you achieve quite a lot in the course of time. Anyone can do this, it costs nothing and is certainly very helpful. Whoever doesn't know it must learn and find by experience that: "A quiet conscience makes one strong!" — Anne Frank

A productive use of dreams to review one's day to judge whether you have been good or bad as a matter of honor and conscience.

Viewers dwelled on science and culture to explain LOST's events.

Perhaps, we should dwell more on honor and conscience to explain things.

Conscience is an inner feeling or voice viewed as acting as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of one's behavior, i.e. he had a guilty conscience about his desires.

It's meaning is from Middle English (also in the sense ‘inner thoughts or knowledge’): via Old French from Latin conscientia, from conscient- ‘being privy to,’ from the verb conscire, from con- ‘with’ + scire ‘know.’


Were the actions of the characters driven by their "inner voices" which guided them subconsciously?
If there were no conscious intent, then these characters could not be judged for their intentional actions, whether right or wrong. It would erase any religious context to the show.

Or course, psychopaths have no belief that their cruel actions are wrong. In fact, they may have convinced themselves that there actions, including murder, are justified for a greater purpose.

We never really saw any of the characters "sleep on" a major decision, then the next day change course and do the exact opposite. Most of the actors were pretty stubborn in their opinions and beliefs. In fact, critics often quipped that the characters failed to think things through before taking action.

The concept that the island was a dream factory to have the characters re-live their past actions, to judge themselves for themselves, then learn from their experiences is interesting, but flawed.

Monday, December 30, 2013

UNIVERSAL ILLUSION

Nature News had a recent article which poses the question of whether the Universe is merely a holographic illusion.  There is scientific debate on how the universe operates, with string theory being one of the explanations. But science has trouble verifying its various theories.

A team of physicists has provided some evidence that our Universe could be just one big holographic projection. In 1997, theorical physicist Juan Maldacena proposed that in his model of the Universe, which gravity arises from infinitesimally thin, vibrating strings could be reinterpreted in terms of well-established physics. The mathematically intricate world of strings, which exist in nine dimensions of space plus one of time, would be merely a hologram: the real action would play out in a simpler, flatter cosmos where there is no gravity.

Maldacena's idea thrilled physicists because it offered a way to put the popular but still unproven theory of strings on solid footing — and because it solved apparent inconsistencies between quantum physics and Einstein's theory of gravity. It provided physicists with a mathematical Rosetta stone, a 'duality', that allowed them to translate back and forth between the two languages, and solve problems in one model that seemed intractable in the other and vice versa. But although the validity of Maldacena's ideas has pretty much been taken for granted ever since, a rigorous proof has been elusive.

Yoshifumi Hyakutake of Ibaraki University in Japan and his colleagues reported evidence that may prove Maldacena’s conjecture is true. Hyakutake computed the internal energy of a black hole, the position of its event horizon (the boundary between the black hole and the rest of the Universe), its entropy and other properties based on the predictions of string theory as well as the effects of so-called virtual particles that continuously pop into and out of existence. He and his collaborators also separately calculated the internal energy of the corresponding lower-dimensional cosmos with no gravity. The two computer calculations match.

“It seems to be a correct computation,” says Maldacena,  who did not contribute to the Japanese team's work. “(The findings) are an interesting way to test many ideas in quantum gravity and string theory," Maldacena adds. The two papers, he notes, are the culmination of a series of articles contributed by the Japanese team over the past few years. “The whole sequence of papers is very nice because it tests the dual [nature of the universes] in regimes where there are no analytic tests.”
“They have numerically confirmed, perhaps for the first time, something we were fairly sure had to be true, but was still a conjecture — namely that the thermodynamics of certain black holes can be reproduced from a lower-dimensional universe,” says Leonard Susskind, a theoretical physicist at Stanford University in California who was among the first theoreticians to explore the idea of holographic universes.

Neither of the model universes explored by the Japanese team resembles our own, Maldacena notes. The cosmos with a black hole has ten dimensions, with eight of them forming an eight-dimensional sphere. The lower-dimensional, gravity-free one has but a single dimension, and its menagerie of quantum particles resembles a group of idealized springs, or harmonic oscillators, attached to one another.

Nevertheless, says Maldacena, the numerical proof that these two seemingly disparate worlds are actually identical gives hope that the gravitational properties of our Universe can one day be explained by a simpler cosmos purely in terms of quantum theory.

The concept of "duality" was present in the LOST series. In fact, duality has been a theme of mankind throughout its history. Ancient people thought in terms of a dual system: heaven and earth, gods and man, fire and water, time and space, good and bad, etc. There was also duality taught in religious believes between the two worlds: material and spiritual. Ancient Egyptians took the concept further to state that after death, a person's soul splits into different forms, the ba and ka,  to journey through the underworld. So it is not surprising that human beings view the world around them through the concept of duality.

The LOST story structure wound up to be in two dual planes of existence: the island and the sideways worlds. Was one real and the other a projection? Were both real but in different time space? Or were both projections of the same universe but reflected back as illusions? The parallel that cutting edge science is still cannot figure out the universe, and LOST fans still cannot agree on what the show's main premise was is somewhat comforting and troubling at the same time.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

TRUE DESTINY

Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone - we find it with another. — Thomas Merton

There were several repeated themes to LOST. "Live Together or Die Alone." "Trust Me." "This is your destiny."

If you believe the show was about Jack, then read on.
If you believe the show was supposed to be about Kate, then read on.
Both camps could be right.

If LOST's tangled storyline stew gets boiled down to its essence, what happened to both Jack and Kate in the end? They found each other, again. 

If life's true destiny is to find the love of one's life, we are led to believe that Jack found his in The End. Kate. And if Kate's flight from justice, the other men in her life, were just casual experiences, then one could believe that Kate found her love of her life in Jack.

But she had Jack's affection at least twice, and kicked him to the curb.

And Kate was still married (to our knowledge) to the Florida policeman, Kevin Callis, the only man she made a real commitment (i.e. marriage). She had a childhood crush on her friend Tom. And during the bank robbery days, we were told that her boyfriend was Jason (but she may have just used him to get into the safety deposit vault.)

It would seem that Kate would die alone because of her tendencies to use men for short time periods, then flee the long arm of the law, or the pressures of being confined into a normal life (such as raising Aaron after her trial). If anything, Kate was destined to die alone.

And in The End, dying alone was a truth. Both Boone and Locke sat in the church alone. It is ironic that Locke preached, prayed and sought his true destiny, but he would wind up alone (even though Helen was with him in the sideways world).

Why Kate was rewarded with the company of Jack in the end may have to due more with what Jack wanted - - - subconsciously, he needed to "fix" one last thing: himself. Why he did not try to dream about reuniting with Sarah, his first love was obvious because she had moved on without him with a new husband and family. Or if Jack dreamed a quality life with an intellectual equal, then why did he not wind up with Juliet (who he had married and raised a son in the sideways world)? Because Juliet was connected with Sawyer. But Sawyer was also connected to both Cassiday (the mother of his child) and Kate. Kate may have been Jack's default because in some ways they were so alike in beating themselves down.

But that defies common sense. But most people would counter to say that love is not rational in the first place. Stranger couples are found in real life. Why not in fiction.  Maybe it was a matter of convenience to the writers.

Friday, December 27, 2013

LILLY POST-LOST

In a recent ST blog interview, Evangeline Lilly did not hide her motherhood after her son, Kahekill, with boyfriend Norman Kali in May of 2011. Just three months later, still carrying baby weight, she was on a plane to New Zealand to film “The Desolation of Smaug.”

But many people thought she had retired after LOST.  “I thought I had retired into what I thought would be a life of quiet motherhood and writing. I really didn’t plan to take any more acting gigs. It was five years before I took a meeting or engaged in a new project. I was so far off the grid that when Peter Jackson tried to find me for Hobbit, he wouldn’t reach me. But I think it’s good to take a pause now and then to de-stress and re-evaluate your life,"  Lilly said.

She also said she believes everyone must find "Your Inner Athlete."  Her LOST character Kate was always climbing trees. “That’s because I love to climb trees. It’s important to find what you love to do in an active way and then do it. If you love it then you will get moving, ” she remarked.

On her decision making, she believes that it is best to "Listen to Your Gut."  “I like to say I make cerebral choices. I will say, ‘Here is X, Y and Z. What should I do?’ We all know by gut instinct what works and what does not," she said.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

APPEARANCES

“Men, in general, judge more from appearances than from reality,” the philosopher Machiavelli once said.  His remark draws a sharp division between the obvious and the subtle, and suggests the need to look for the latter, whereas the former is often right in our faces.

Was LOST a series of appearances or real events?

That is a core question.

As viewers, we judged the events on the small screen as facts in a complex puzzle which was supposed to have a clear resolution (the reveal of the puzzle box lid for example). 

A classic example of judgment by appearance is the single guy at a bar. He looks across the way and sees a beautiful woman. His immediate response is that she is the woman of his dreams. Perfect in every way. All is fine and good until he goes up to meet her. The reality quickly hits him with her squeaky voice, and insane, incoherent thoughts of a psychopath rather than a potential girlfriend.

Appearances can be deceiving to down right dangerous. It depends on how the reality of perception is cloaked from the projected appearance.

LOST was good at projecting the characters interacting with the island dangers. But pull back for a moment and ask the core question again: were all those dangers real or were they illusions of reality?

It makes a big difference on how the show would be perceived by the fans.

THE FRANCHISE PROBLEM

There is a point where a long running franchise writes itself into a corner. At this point, the fans of the series have accepted the canon rules as fact. And such facts, even in science fiction tales, cannot be changed to suit the need for the character story to continue on forever.

This is the problem with Doctor Who, the 50 year old British sci-fi series. Yesterday, the 11th/12th Doctor, Matt Smith, made his farewell appearance as the main character. But under the terms of the Who franchise, a Time Lord can only regenerate 12 times . . . i.e. gather a new life cycle before dying. Under this season's episodes, Smith was actually the 12th Time Lord in his regenerated body . . . meaning that there was only one left, the final Doctor to be played by Peter Capaldi.

Which is the canon that fans know about. It is the Rule from the very beginning.

Things got a little muddled in this Christmas special, The Time of the Doctor, when head writer Steven Moffat crammed so many untied story strings together to make the special. Smith's Doctor, who previously helped stop a universal war by sending his home planet into a different hidden universe of time and space, finds the means to bring back his home planet, but at the cost of restarting the war that will destroy everyone. It is a typical big picture ethical dilemma that the main character has to solve. In this case, he decided to fight his enemies alone on a wayward planet that he knows from seeing his own future where he dies.

In an fuzzy moment, Smith attempts to explain that he should not be able to regenerate again because of the 10th Doctor's aborted regeneration may have used up his final reboot. Smith's character accepts that this is the end, but his companion whispers through a crack in time and space for help to his trapped home world. At the climax, the Time Lords for some unknown way, transmit to the Doctor another dose of life regeneration which he uses to destroy his enemies, save the planet, then make his final farewell.

That is all well and good, except it really unclear what really happened. Buried in the explosions and sentimentality, is a question of how the writer is getting around the most sacred story Rule of the series on how many times a time lord can regenerate. Even the television reviewers are confused at what the explanation was for the regeneration process.  On reviewer stated that  Time Lords granted the Doctor a new regeneration cycle, thereby saving him from death on Trenzalore and changing his future; that temporary rejuvenation is a 'reset' for the new cycle of regenerations to begin and the second phase of the regeneration is taking some time to start up, but he will soon change. However, another reviewer states that the Time Lords granted Smith's character only "one more" regeneration and not a new cycle (which would mean 12 more characters in the future). 

This story confusion is unwarranted and tricky since everyone accepted the fact that Smith's Doctor had one more regeneration to go. The fact that he suddenly needed an "extra" boost does not make sense since the aborted regen did not alter the prior Doctor's appearance (which shows the completion of the cycle). So, everyone assumed that the regeneration to the Capaldi Doctor was a given and no intervention by his home planet was required to accomplish it.

Because, if the one reviewer is correct in the assumption that the Time Lords can grant another full life cycle of 12 regenerations, and hence immortality, then the Rule was frivolous from the start. The need to "change" the rule so dramatically is to extend the franchise's main character is an easy way out, without the creativity to make a "new" doctor profile (i.e. someone to take the place of the Doctor character - - - would not violate the Rule). But executives and producers believe that the viewers are tied to the main character (in all the incarnations it is still the same man), but that is another false assumption, because as we have seen in the Star Trek franchise, fans will accept different captains, different ships, even different eras - - - so long as they do not violate the basic canon rules of the show. To mess with canon rules is to mess up the show's past history - - - to diminish it to irrelevance.

So the series producers need to quickly explain what they meant by Smith's final regeneration. Did it change the normal, steadfast rule which has been in place for 50 years, or was it convenient hocus pocus to extend the franchise's main character?

Fan reaction to the episode and continuity has been mixed, much like LOST's ending.

There is a vocal majority who believe that the show produced a McGuffin to get around the Rules to make the premise that there are no rules in the show's universe. A few have scanned the wiki-archives to find one small reference to the proposition that the Doctor's high council could "grant" an additional cycle of regenerations to a Time Lord. But how is that possible, especially if the high council is trapped in another universe and cannot get out into ours? And it seems odd that a species has the ability to "grant" another sequence of life force on a mere whim. Again, that would mean that no time lord would ever die, but they have in the past so much so that they were about to be wiped out during the Time War. The change in the principle rule of regenerations has taken many fans to questioning the future of the series; whether it has jumped the shark. More than a few have lamented that there should have been a better, more clever story line than just instantaneously but haphazardly giving a character another cycle of regenerations. These are the same criticisms we have been debating since The End finale of LOST.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

LEADERSHIP

Let others lead small lives, but not you.. Let others argue over small things, but not you.. Let others cry over small hurts, but not you.. Let others leave their future in someone else's hands, but not you. — Jim Rohn

Leadership was a central theme of LOST. Various individuals wanted to control the island, but they never said what they would do with it. For a few, there was a silence of purpose that was seen in their beady eyes.

Leadership and guardianship are two different concepts. A guardian is a person who takes it upon himself or herself to look after someone, usually a minor child or disabled adult. The guardian is a person with the authority to make decisions on behalf of their ward. The guardian fulfills the role of an interested parent in the welfare of their ward. A guardian provides the basic necessities of life to the ward: food, shelter, security, medical and educational attention. Some guardianships end when the ward becomes an adult, but some guardianships last until death.

Leadership is a broader brush stroke. A leader is a decision maker in a group of people. A leader brings to the group a collective purpose, strategy and a plan in order to for the group to succeed in its goals. Leaders can be in any walk of life: business, charity, religious or even family units. A person needs a strong personality to draw other people to their way of thinking. A leader has various tools to assume power over his followers, such as persuasion, personality, intimidation, fear, or withholding favor such as life's necessities. 

LOST had many strong and clashing leaders. In chronological time, the first leader we actually saw was Eloise when she was a young woman on the island. It was during a time skip when the castaways went to the 1950s to witness the Others capture the atomic bomb from the U.S. military (which in itself is a highly improbable event). But Eloise seemed to have the final word on matters, even overruling Widmore in a challenge to what to do with the strangers. We don't know Eloise's back story, but she is one of the few characters who knows how the LOST universe works, even though she explains it in vague analogies like "time correction" to Desmond. Someone who has the knowledge, the keys to a specific universe that other people cannot comprehend, can weld great power.

Widmore made his leadership mark more in the business world off the island. As a driven personality, Widmore was relentless in getting what he wanted in the real world. As a result, he acquired a vast fortune which he then used to buy loyalty of his soldiers. His leadership in the business world was apparently all for his quest to return to the island and conquer it. Whether Eloise actually indirectly helped Widmore find the island in Season 6 is a subject of debate, but she probably did since she had the sole means of finding it.

We then have the less driven leader like Horus. Horus was the man in charge of the Dharma Initiative on the island. He still reported to someone on the mainland, but he was in charge of the island group. Or so he thought, since Dr. Chang seemed to run the construction and science operations independently of Horus' input. Horus was the man in charge when Ben arrived on the island. Ben would later see weakness in Horus' power structure, which probably led Ben to devise his purge.

Ben was a role model for dictator leadership. He ruled with the iron fist of fear. He got the Others to follow him because he showed them he could kill without emotional strings, such as killing his own father. That act of rebellion seemed to be the new caveat for leadership of the Others, as Locke had to do the same thing in order to oust Ben. And when Locke arrived back at camp with Cooper's body, the Others suddenly had two viable leaders and they began to split (with Alpert siding with Locke; some followers wanted change).

Locke had failed at becoming the leader of the beach survivors. Locke had more success as the Other's leader until his decision making continued to be wrong. In order to stop the island time skips, he was told that he had to reset the frozen donkey wheel, and to die. Locke never understood the meaning of the latter. His death did not do anything to rally any island inhabitant to change or assume the leadership mantel. He was always considered a weak leader.

Another weak leader was Jacob. He was a sideline leader. The Others worshipped him like a god, which allowed their group leaders like Ben to manipulate people by claiming he had spoken to Jacob and this is what Jacob wanted them to do. But Ben never saw Jacob until the confrontation in the statue with Flocke. Jacob did not want to interact with the humans he brought to the island. Whether it was beneath him, like pets or lab rats to amuse MIB, Jacob was clearly disconnected with the idea of making decisions for other people.

In the same way, Jack did not want to make island decisions. He became the beach camp leader by default, as the survivors saw Jack, the Doctor, as an educated, smart and worthy leader because of his professional skills. He was their immediate best hope for survival from their plane crash injuries, physical and mental. But as the burden of leadership grew with Jack, he tried to make hard decisions but was stunned with the amount of push-back from his fellow survivors, including people like Kate. Jack's role as an island was one of convenience. He did not change the fate of his fellow castaways who slowly were killed off by the island events, including missions he led in the jungle. 

Though leadership was a large theme of the series, the role of leader seems to be secondary. There was a large story format of "follow the leader," as in the child's game - - - which could be an explanation of the constant not-well-thought-out mission sequences. Leadership was more a childlike game on the island, possibly because the island was run by a childlike power.

It is possible that leadership was merely a decoy, a ruse, a game of play to keep the island, as a supernatural childlike entity, occupied from tapping its destructive powers that could destroy the entire universe. The island guardian was needed to check the needs and welfare of the island itself, as a living being of vast power, otherwise the island child could go on a cosmic rampage which would destroy all Life on Earth. It is an interesting theory that could have been a light bulb moment for the series if that was the explanation of the show's premise, but sadly it was not the case. The leadership story arcs were merely a tennis match of back and forth power struggles that constitute filler material in the overall story.

Monday, December 23, 2013

RITUAL

As the Hatch alarm clock inferred, the island was a place of Death. It was strange how the people on the island did not dispose of their fellow man in the same ways.

When Ben executed his purge of the Dharma group, he took the bodies to an uncovered mass grave.
Ben also sought to kill Locke when he was pushed into the mass grave.He also gassed his own father in a mini-bus, and left his remains to be found by Hurley decades later.  When Ben kills Widmore, we do not see any action but leaving the body behind in the barrack cabin. Open burial seems to be disrespectful, but it would seem the choice of Ben's enemies and foes.

There were several bodies left in the remains of their accident, such as the pilot in the cockpit or Yemi in the passenger compartment of the Beechcraft.  There was no indication that the smoke monster's kiling sprees in the Roman village or to the Black Rock crew had any subsequent burial ritual.

Now, some suspect that the open burial allowed the smoke monster to "take over" a dead person's body and memories. That is why the Dharma group was explicit in their requirement that any fallen comrade be buried as soon as possible. 

The 815 survivors used two means of burial: fire, when they torched the airplane section, and burial near the bluff next to the beach. Fire is an ancient means to dispose of human remains. Jacob was stabbed by Ben in the statue, but Flocke made sure to incinerate Jacob's body in the fire. But Jacob would return (in at least a ghost form) to interact with his final candidates.

Another ancient means of burial was placing corpses in caves. Jacob did so with Crazy Mother and his brother, who were found by Jack, Kate and Locke (who called them Adam and Eve).

The Others also used a Viking funeral boat pyre. The example seen was Colleen, who died in her pregnancy, was set off into the water in a boat of fire while Juliet brought Jack to the ceremony.

In a few circumstances, people died and they were cast off into the water, such as Desmond killing the guards in the underwater communications station. Many passengers presumably drowned during the plane crash.

But in all the forms of island burial, there was no distinct religious element. There were few, if any, words spoken. It seemed like everyone on the island was resigned to this fate, death. It was just a matter of time; a slow waiting game against the island and its hidden jungle reapers.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

MYSTERY OF CINDY

Cindy Chandler was the middle section flight attendant on board Oceanic 815.  She has always been one of the most mysterious background characters of the series.

Her big close up is in the pilot when she is flirting with Jack. During that encounter, she gives him two bottles of clear alcohol (vodka), which Jack puts into his pocket. These bottles would later be used to sterilize Jack's severe laceration wounds to avoid a jungle infection. This is the first tie-back that Cindy is not who she seems.

Her next big event was dealing a drugged out Charlie in the first class lavatory. Charlie was getting his fix when the plane began its turbulence and suddenly broke a part.  Charlie wound up with the middle section survivors, but Cindy, who was within feet of him, wound up in the Tail Section camp.

There are two explanations for this major inconsistency. First, she was thrown clear of the cabin section and wound up on the other side of the island, but this is highly improbable. As strange as it seems, in the Other 48  Days, she appears relatively quickly during the initial beach rescues. Second, if she did land with the other middle section survivors, but she left or was transported to the tail section beach. This is also highly improbable because it took Ben time to send his spies to each camp. Another explanation is that Cindy was an Other planted on the plane so she knew her mission prior to the crash landing on the island.

While with the Tailies, Cindy was one of the women allegedly kidnapped by the Others. There was no apparent reason to take Cindy from the camp, except that she became close to the children, Emma and Zach, the real prizes. From the point of her abduction, she made no moves to leave the Others or seek rescue with her fellow 815 survivors. This leads credence that she was different than the other passengers and crew aboard Flight 815.

If she was a plant on the plane, then that would mean that she had some forecast with future events, i.e. giving Jack the alcohol to treat his wounds, or getting to the Tail Section to secure the children for assimilation into the Others community. This would mean that there was an evil intent behind the plane crash, and that it had some "control" over the life and death of certain passengers and crew members. It would also mean that Desmond's failure to enter the alarm numbers into the Hatch computer did not cause 815 to crash. It was a convenient coincidence that the island used to guilt Desmond into staying on the island in order to use the fail safe key.

One bothersome aspect of Cindy's character was her appearance. On the plane (above) she had short, reddish hair. But during the island time, she quickly is seen with long, black hair. Her hair length would not have grown that much in the time shown on the island. And why would she wear a wig in a hot, tropical climate if she was not hiding from anyone. It was one of these little things that does not make sense either for the character or in the context of the whole story line.

When MIB turns into Flocke and begins to terrorize everyone on the island, Cindy is at the Temple with Zach, Emma and another young boy. When it came to a decision to follow Flocke, Cindy took the children with her and left the Temple. Clearly, she took it upon herself to insure the safety of the children.

Which brings into play a similar parallel in island history. A stranger comes upon two children without parents. This stranger then adopts them as her own. Cindy's behavior after the plane crash mirrors Crazy Mother taking control over Jacob and MIB. In an odd footnote, could Cindy have been Crazy Mother? As a smoke monster, she could travel instanteously about the island, taking whatever shape shifting form she chose to adopt.

During the final episodes treks across the island, and the waiting, we lose track of Cindy and the children. Where did they go? They did not go to the Barracks because they were not seen during Widmore's final confrontation with Ben. They would not have gone back to the Temple, because Cindy would not want to have the children see the deadly carnage left behind by Flocke. She never went to the Hydra Station because everyone on the island, except candidates, were killed off by Widmore's men. So where did Cindy hide? Again, this is like what Crazy Mother did with young Jacob and MIB - - - hiding out in their own camp and telling them not to be involved with the Roman villagers.

One aspect of Cindy we do see is that she appears on the flight that lands at LAX (in the sideways world). But we don't see Zach or Emma. If everyone in the sideways world is dead, when did Cindy die? On the island?

There are some who believe that after Flocke's death, Cindy and the children joined the Island's new protector, Hurley, in living out his new era on the island. Except, we have no evidence of that happening. We only get a vague tip-of-the-cap from Hurley that Ben was a good island second-in-command. If Hurley was in charge of the island, why wouldn't he make sure that Emma and Zach were reunited with their parents in LA? Hurley had a strong bond with his family so why would he doom the children to stay on the island? Unless, of course, he could not change what they had become, i.e. spirits in the after life.

Or is it more reasonable than none of the people left on the island ever left the island. They would have stayed there as the next cycle of guardianship would unfold. Perhaps, Cindy took over for Hurley - - - to train Emma and Zach as the next candidates to take her place. But, that does not answer the real mystery of why the island needs a guardian in the first place.

I think from the circumstances, there is more to Cindy than just being a flight attendant who survived a plane crash. Her ability to stay out of the line of fire was uncanny. Her sudden devotion to the children was overprotective. She never once tried to leave the Others once she was allegedly kidnapped. She knew that following Flocke was the only way the children would survive, but then she took an opportunity to hide them away. Cindy seemed to know a lot more of what the island was and what was happening than the average castaway. But who or what Cindy was will remain a mystery.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

WHAT IF . . . RECASTING LOST

What if the LOST series main characters were played by other actors.

Think about it.

What if Ben was played by  . . . . Woody Allen.
What if Sawyer was played by . . .  Clint Eastwood.
What if Walt was played by . . . Justin Bieber.
What if Juliet was played by . . .  Brian from Family Guy.

What if Rose was played by  . . . a Kardashian.
That would mean Bernard would be played by an NBA player, maybe Charles Barkley.

What if Kate was played by . . . the Olsen Twins (it would explain split loyalties).
What is Jack was played by  . . . Hugh Jackman (for more facial emotional affect) or Kevin Costner (for less facial emotional affect).

What if Locke was played by . . . Mr. Clean from those TV advertisements.
What if Charlie was played by . . . the one brother from Oasis who is talking to the media.
What if Hurley was played by . . .  Roseanne Barr.

Yeah, that would be something.




THANKS

The LOSTheory blog has just turned a corner. More than 10,000 unique visits have been logged on this site. So, there must be still some interest in the series from fans. Therefore,  we will forge ahead with the discussions that is LOST.

Friday, December 20, 2013

SUNKEN ISLAND

According to a Celtic legend, there was an island approximately 120 miles west of Ireland in the North Atlantic called Hy Brasil. This island vanished from view a long time ago. According to Irish myth, the island is a phantom island, cloaked in mist, but which makes its appearance for one day every seven years. But no one can seem to find it, even though sailors have tried to map it since the early 1300s.

The island was supposedly inhabited by a race of super-intelligent people, who had technologies thousands of years ahead of its time.

Some theorize that this ancient legend follows the pattern of that of Atlantis. Atlantis was also a place ruled by highly intelligent people who were much more advanced than normal tribes roaming the continents. But Atlantis somehow vanished from the face of the earth, and any ruins of their civilization have not been found.

Which gets us back to the submerged island scene from Season 6 of LOST.

Many viewers thought this was a clue to the premise of the series that the island was Atlantis. The island had been described as a place, a ship, a space craft, a time portal, a localized worm hole, an illusion, a dream, a game and a time-space vortex. If one can find the answer of what the island was, then that should explain the other unsolved mysteries.

Just as a few have tried to tie the advanced Atlantis civilization to unexplained artifacts like Stonehedge or the Bermuda Triangle, it is hard to connect disconnected dots on map. Atlantis legends state that the island country was in the Atlantic Ocean. Our LOST island was in the Pacific. Atlantis was said to have a highly advanced technology. Our LOST island technology apparently stopped with the Dharma construction in the late 1970s-early 1980s. So there seems to be little connection between the legend of Atlantis and LOST's island except that they were mysterious islands that explorers could not find.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

SINKING FEELINGS

In Season 6, fans got a flash of the island under water.

There are only a few ways that an island can become submerged:

1. The volume of  ocean water increases, through the melting of glaciers or the end of an ice age. Scientists have confirmed that the rise in ocean levels have altered continent coast lines and flooded islands.

2. An earthquake could shear the base of the island, causing it to crumble. Islands are anchored on the seabed. Tectonic plates of the earth move under extreme pressure, so that a sudden joint or force could significantly alter the island's structural foundation.

3. Volcanic activity could have destroyed the island. Pacific Islands were created by volcanic activity, with the build up of cooled molten rock until the pile extends past the surface of the ocean. Likewise, a volcano can become active and its explosion force could have leveled an island.

The perspective that the island was underwater gave many viewers a sinking feeling that the series was taking a dramatic turn. It coincided with Flight 815 safely landing at LAX. At the time, what did that mean?

People immediately thought that the island events of the past five seasons must have been some sort of elaborate dream. For some who thought that, it was the jump-the-shark-moment. Other viewers theorized that the atomic bomb did go off, sending the characters back in time to moments before 815 crashed on the island. The bomb both re-set historical events, but also destroyed the island, sinking its artifacts to the ocean bottom. This theory was more palatable until the series continued to throw new current island events at us, including Juliet's apparent short-lived survival from the Hatch incident implosion. So some speculated that there had to be a separation of the characters story lines, i.e. a parallel universe was created which allowed the passengers to complete their voyage home to LA while at the same time, another universe kept the passengers trapped on the island. This would seem to be the closest explanation for what would finally occur in the end.

But it still left open questions. Because of LOST's extreme out-of-sync scene format, when did the island sink? Was it the jughead incident or was it after Hurley became guardian and he wrapped things up? Or was the island always under water, and it supernaturally trapped the passengers in a parallel universe? The show runners have never come out to explain the context of the sunken island.

So that leads to another possibility. The scene was inserted merely for "shock value." It was to confuse, divert and conceal the true meaning of the passengers landing at LAX so the final reveal that they were "all dead" could have the most impact.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

WHY KATE MATTERED

Just in the character's own background, fans had a love-hate relationship with Kate. Some fans really liked her, and some fans really hated her. But Kate's character provided an important role in the story structure.



She was the character most likely to be in the middle of the action. She visited five of the Dharma stations (Swan, Staff, Hydra, Flame and Tempest). She was probably on the most "missions" or jungle treks of the survivors. She was often the one (because her "tracking skills') to get her fellow castaways from point A to point B. As a result, Kate was the most captured/tied-up character on the show. This would put her in the center of the drama and danger being shown in the series; a proxy for fan involvement with the other characters.

Kate was also the point of conflict between Jack and Sawyer; and at times, between Jack and Locke on how things should be decided amongst the group. As the fans love-hate relationship grew, that feeling was also mirrored within the scripts for Kate's character.

She also had the most consecutive centric episodes: Pilot, Part 2, Tabula Rosa, Born to Run, Exodus, Part 1, There's No Place Like Home, Parts 1,2 & 3, LA X Part 2 and What Kate Does.  It would seem that the writers wanted the viewers to identify with the Kate character and her motivations. Kate's name may be derived from that of a character from John Steinbeck's Nobel Prize-winning novel East of Eden. Catherine is one of the main antagonists and, like Kate, sets her parents' home on fire as a young girl (killing both of them, as opposed to Kate who just kills her step-father) and spends most of her life from that point forward running from the law. Catherine later changes her name to Kate to further avoid detection.

Katherine is a Greek name which means "pure." Pure is defined as being not mixed or adulterated with any other substance or material; without any extraneous and unnecessary elements;  free of any contamination;  wholesome and untainted by immorality, esp. that of a sexual nature; and  perfectly in tune and with a clear tone. Kate's character was an unyielding, stubborn, independent woman with personal flaws in morality and judgment. Her inner conflicts paralleled the island conflicts in many ways.

She was one of two characters to have actually left the island twice (the other being pilot Frank). She was the celebrity-trial centerpiece of the Oceanic 6. Her story with Aaron was the compelling reason NOT to go back to the island. She was also the reason Jack turned into a bearded, drug-addicted, suicidal mess.

When she leaves the island for the final time, she is only one of five main characters to be alive.

As for the Numbers, Kate was in 108 episodes. Kate is the only one of the Oceanic survivors and candidates whose candidate number is not one of "The Numbers" or a multiple thereof. The only survivors on the list in addition to Hurley, Locke, Sawyer, Jack, Jin and/or Sun, and Sayid are Kate, Michael, and Shannon. Shannon's number is 32, a multiple of 4 and 8 and Michael's number is 124, a multiple of 4. Kate's number is 51, which is not a multiple of any of the numbers.

However, she was the "variable" in the final equation. Even though her number was crossed off the candidates list, Jacob gave her the opportunity to take over his guardianship. As a result of still being a candidate, Kate was in the position to fell Flocke, who thought she was no longer a candidate, with a bullet.

She is also the second-to-last person to be awakened prior to Christian's funeral in the sideways world. Jack was the last to be awakened, which makes the story foundation come back full circle since it was supposed to be Kate to be the leader after Jack was to be killed off in the pilot episode.

She also served the purpose of giving Jack someone to move on with into the next stage of the after life. For Kate not to be by his side at the end would mean that Jack's island sacrifices would have no reward.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

DIGESTING CLUES

When the 815 survivors finally get into the Hatch, Desmond uses the opportunity to flee his bondage to the computer and The Numbers.

He instructs them what to do every 108 minutes; then tries to escape. Jack chases him through the jungle. He confronts Desmond, who remembers Jack from the stadium stair run. Desmond asks Jack about the woman Jack said he "failed," and as Jack becomes emotional while pointing a gun at Dez, Desmond says "go ahead and shoot me." When Jack does not, Desmond presses on: what ever happened to the girl? Like pulling a tooth, Jack tears up and Desmond pushes for an answer. Jack's failure is his sudden admission that he married her. The situation quickly defuses, and Desmond runs off into the jungle while Jack sulks back to the Hatch.

During the same episode, the alarm timing begins to wind down. Locke begins to input the Numbers into the computer terminal. Hurley arrives and suddenly becomes aware that Locke his repeating "his" cursed numbers. He wants him to stop. Locke continues: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 32. Hurley then changes his mind and says "go ahead." But as Locke was going to press EXECUTE, Jack returns to tell him he has the wrong number. The last one is 42, according to Desmond. Locke corrects the input, but he refuses to press execute - - -  he wants Jack to do it, but Jack yells at him that he will not push the button on faith. The button is pressed and the timer is re-set, and Locke takes the first watch.

During Hurley's first "watch," he is shown in the Hatch pantry: first gorging on an Apollo candy bar; then a bag of chips, and then he opens a cardboard box and lifts out a fully cooked steak dinner on a white plate. He takes a large bite of the steak, when his dream is interrupted by Kate who shows him that it is time to re-set the computer.

In this short, condensed and emotional episode, we have three important elements explode to the surface. First, the emotional breakdown of Jack in the jungle. This is the first time we really see Jack break from his calm, cool and collected leader role. Second, we have Locke trying to impose his will on Jack - - - blindly taking on faith the importance of pushing the buttons. Jack believes nothing will happen if the alarm goes off. This is a precursor to show that infallible Jack is wrong. Third, it puts dreams of Hurley front in center into the Numbers mystery. There was no reason for Hurley to dream about food when he had access to real food in the pantry. Food had always been the trigger for Hurley's emotional and mental depression. It foreshadows more island mental illusions, including the return of Dave.

If we look at these events through the spectrum of Hurley alone, we can postulate that Desmond could represent Hurley's desire for love. Desmond was desperately trying to win back Penny. He would risk his life to get her back. Hurley on the other hand never fought for the love of a girl. Also, Jack could represent Hurley's desire to be a strong, effective and forceful leader. These are character traits that a low-end fry cook like Hurley would want some day. Hurley's career path was stuck at Mr. Cluck's. And finally, Hurley's dream at a critical time brings into play why Hurley's past experiences (whether true or not) such as the Numbers continually show up in the series. The reason could be as simple as that the Numbers are all in Hurley's head, and the events happening to Hurley then are also happening in his head.

Monday, December 16, 2013

WIPE AWAY

We make such messes in this life, both accidentally and on purpose. But wiping the surface clean doesn't really make anything any neater. It just masks what is below. It's only when you really dig down deep, go underground, that you can see who you really are. — Sarah Dessen

The housekeeping analogy of wiping away one's mess does not make one's life any neater can be applied to LOST, at various levels.

First, the creators and writers of the show steadfast refusal to discuss or explain the meaning of their series to their fans is a swipe against their former viewers. Now that years have past since the show ended, and numerous fans have devoted a great deal of time, thought, resources and sweat equity into preserving their memories, wouldn't the show's inside people want to tell their viewpoint on the series? Because the open question genre of a drama and mystery show, which leaves major plot points hanging, is actually not a genre at all. If an inspector (viewers) come to a builder's new home construction site, the inspector should have the right to hear how the builder (show producers/writers) created their foundation and built their structure in order to pass inspection.

Second, as a character study, most of the characters made major messes in their lives. From failed parental relationships, to serious accidents, to failed love relationships, to criminal activity to murder - - - LOST ran the gambit on twisted character flaws. Now, most of the characters could have wiped the surface clean and continued on with their miserable little lives and secrets but for the Flight 815 flight crash on the island. Metaphorically, the flawed characters had to go through their own personal "hells" in order to a) recognize their personal faults; b) trust and believe in other people for support; c) take chances not just for themselves but for others; and d) accept change to create a new path to erase any regrets.

If you don't care on how or why the characters were put into this personal hell to work through their inner problems, then LOST can make sense. But if you want to know more than just symbolic personal character development or reaction to the mysterious events on the island, then LOST continues to be a frustrating exercise in logic and common sense.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

AWAKENING

There was a great emphasis on the main characters "awakening" in the sideways world - - - to remember the "importance" of their island time together - - - in order to "move on" in the after life.

The term "awaken" refers to a process which most fans do not acknowledge as a premise for the show.

To "awake" means to stop sleeping; wake from sleep; or to cause (someone) to wake from sleep. It could also mean to regain consciousness or to become aware of a realization. It can also be to become active again, such as "there were echoes and scents that awoke some memory in me."

However, the adjective of awake means not asleep, i.e.  the noise might keep you awake at night.

So what did this mean in the context of LOST?

The most obvious would be that the characters were in a dream state; that they were not awake. If we put that into the situation of the island, that means all the characters and actions were part of a complex dream world. If it was a complex dream world, was it the dream of a single person or a collective network of separate dreamers interacting with each other.

If the latter is true, then how would the main characters be "together" in the dream world. There are a few possibilities:

First, all the characters are together in one place. For example, a medical hospital undergoing various treatments. As they are hooked up to their medical equipment (including life support and computer EKG readings), their subconscious filters through the system and interacts with the other patients who are in a similar dream state.

Or, all the main characters are actually children in an orphanage. This would explain, in part, the deep rooted parental issues, betrayal and abandonment. It would also feed the persistent character trait of personal loneliness.  Children in an orphanage would naturally dream intense fantasies because they believe their current lives are dark and lonely.

Second, that the characters are in a coma state - - - either as a result of accidents or as part of grand scientific research experiment. The latter would tie into the Dharma experimentation in mind control and manipulation of unique energy systems. The human brain is the most complex energy system in the planet; and one which most mainstream science still does not fully understand. By containing the brains of diverse individuals in a deep control group (such as in a coma state), the researchers could feed their minds with various scenarios to see how they react. For example, inject the terror of a mysterious smoke monster into their minds to see how they would process that information in their patient's dreams.

Third, that the characters were actually "awake" but in a virtual reality that was the island. This could also be an experiment on how the brain works in regard to virtual soldier technology. We know that the defense department and government agencies have used virtual reality systems to train soldiers for combat missions. This would be a leap forward in technology, almost Avatar like, dealing with missions in real time. Perhaps in the future, as referenced in an old Star Trek episode, wars would be fought by soldiers in a virtual reality setting, to avoid the human pain and suffering of real warfare.

But if the characters were participants in this virtual combat world, why would they not "remember" it. If the technology was sufficient to implant the game program into their minds, it probably would have been just as easy as to erase or block those memories once the characters were no longer needed in the experiment.

So the concept of awakening in the series had to mean that the characters woke up or remembered something critical in their past (i.e. the island). After losing their conscious to a virtual dream world called the island, the characters were put back into normal situations to live normal lives as shown in the sideways world. Now this would work perfectly as a reasonable explanation of the entire series except for one critical plot detail. In the sideways world, everyone was dead.

This gets us back to the last definition of the word: to become aware of a realization.

I have thought for a long time that knowledge is power. If one knew what was going on at any moment in time, they could control their own destiny. Early on, I thought that Rose became fully aware of what the island really was because the pain of her incurable cancer was gone after the plane crash. Rose became aware on the beach that she had died in the plane crash. That is why she thought everything would be alright; that she would meet up with her husband soon.

This is also why Rose and Bernard later broke away from the survivors and their dramas with the island inhabitants. They knew that what they were up to was not "real." Rose and Bernard wanted to keep to themselves so they could enjoy the "extended time" they were granted, together.

It would also explain why we did not see Rose and Bernard "awaken" in the sideways world. They did not have to awaken. They already knew of their deaths while on the island.  It would seem that all the LOST souls had to awaken by themselves - - - and once each individual came to the realization that they were actually dead, could their souls move on in the after life (as depicted at the ending of the sideways church scenes).

Everything up to that point was the individual's subconscious not wanting to let go with "life." It was fueled by the regrets of the characters; the things they never experienced in their life (such as Hurley finding a true love in Libby). Somehow, some one gave these lost souls the opportunity to live a second life on the island in order to experience those past events and maybe soothe their regrets.

If that is the case, then Jacob would be more like Clarence from It's a Wonderful Life than the Devil. He brought the people to the island. And the island gave them a second chance to find trust, love, friendship and a sense of purpose. It gave those lost souls a second chance before final judgment.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

POLAR BEARS

LOST writers put the show into overdrive when it had polar bears running about on a tropical island. It was one of those impossible situations because polar bears would die in tropical climates.

There are many theories about why polar bears were on the island.

The first theory was that Dharma brought polar bears to the island to manipulate their genes so they could adapt to warmer temperatures. Some believe evidence of this is contained on the Blast Door map which stated  "STATED GOAL, REPATRIATION ACCELERATED DE-TERRITORIALIZATION OF URSUS MARITIMUS THROUGH GENE THERAPY AND EXTREME CLIMATE CHANGE." If Dharma was concerned about "the end of the world" through global collapse of the environment, it could have been looking to find a way for animals and humans to adapt to the massive eco-disaster as foretold by the Valenzetti Equation.

However, the gene experimentation on the polar bears seems weak considering that most American zoos have polar bear exhibits in climates well above the natural Arctic habitat.

The second theory was that Dharma was using polar bears to train them to do certain tasks. When Sawyer and Kate were locked up in the cages, Mr. Friendly told them the bears took little time figuring out how to receive fish biscuits from the cage machine.

Dharma was training polar bears to turn the frozen donkey wheel in order to move the island. The evidence of that is the polar bear (with Dharma dog tag) skeleton found in the Tunisia desert, around the same place as Ben wound up after he turned the frozen donkey wheel. We can assume that the early Dharma folks were concerned about the energy fields, as it killed at least one worker in the Orchid station. As a result, the science team conditioned the polar bear, a strong animal, to move the donkey wheel so as not to risk human life. Polar bears were chosen because they could tolerate the cold chamber where the wheel was located (which in itself is contra-indicated because the deeper one goes below the surface of the earth, the hotter it would get). But after some time, the concern over humans using the donkey wheel must have subsided as both Ben and Locke turned it and wound up okay in the desert halfway across the globe.

A third theory is more simple: polar bears were brought to the island to mess with visitor's minds. Dharma was all about mind control (see, Room 23). What is more disorienting to a visitor in a tropical jungle than being confronted by a large polar bear? The expression on Sawyer's face was priceless when he was firing rounds at the charging polar bear. It also brought to the the first major mystery, as spoken by Charlie to the fans, of "where are we?" This mystery of what was the island; where was it located; and what was its purpose is still unresolved.

But some may consider the polar bears as another writer twist of throwing something that should not belong in the normal course of events. It is a prop designed to confuse viewers with the aura of mystery but with no answers forthcoming (i.e. the theory that the writers were just making up things as they went along to keep fan interest whether it made sense or not).

The polar bears could also symbolize the main characters: people who were out of their normal place, being manipulated by forces unknown to them, and losing control over their own lives.

Friday, December 13, 2013

THE RIGHT TO CHANGE

You have a right to experiment with your life. You will make mistakes. And they are right too. No, I think there was too rigid a pattern. You came out of an education and are supposed to know your vocation. Your vocation is fixed, and maybe ten years later you find you are not a teacher anymore or you're not a painter anymore. It may happen. It has happened. I mean Gauguin decided at a certain point he wasn't a banker anymore; he was a painter. And so he walked away from banking. I think we have a right to change course. But society is the one that keeps demanding that we fit in and not disturb things. They would like you to fit in right away so that things work now. — Anais Nin

There is something to be said about the personal right to change course. The only person who can live your life is yourself.

The main characters of LOST were an unhappy group. They were troubled by their personal problems, career ruts, and family issues.

Was Jack happy being a surgeon? Yes, he was good at it - - - a miracle worker - - - but he did it to get his father's approval, which did not happen.

Was Kate happy as being a runaway criminal? Yes, she was good at it - - - a real Houdini - - - but she she did it to get her mother's approval, which did not happen.

Was Locke happy with his clerk job at a box company? Yes, generally since he had no motivation to do anything more since he was wheelchair bound. But his plight was the direct result of Locke trying to win his father's approval, which did not happen.

Was Sawyer happy being a con man? Yes, he was good at it  - - - a smooth operator  - - - but he did not get what his original objective was, that being to seek revenge on his parents' con man, Anthony Cooper. Sawyer would come to terms with Cooper only after Locke summoned him to the island.

Was Sun happy in her marriage? No, she had planned to flee Jin at the airport, but at the last minute, perhaps because of guilt or family honor, she stayed with her husband, dreading the future with him.

When everyone boarded Flight 815, their lives were pretty much set in stone. They had forgone change in their lives. They would continue to be stuck in a rut. There was no motivation to change the direction of their lives.

Until the plane crash. The island turned into a summer camp experience for the unhappy souls. As Jack stated early on, a person's past was no longer relevant on the island. Everyone had a chance to be someone different.  Second chances don't come along very often. Jack was aware of it. He wanted to make the most of it. And he did, by doing something his father criticized him the most: not being a great leader because he could not make the difficult life and death choices. In the end, Jack did make that ultimate choice, sacrificing himself so a few of his friends could escape the island.

Whether that was true change or a mere diversion is debatable. Even if it was a sidetrack like the sideways world, then at least a part of Jack changed as a result. And maybe that is the simple lesson of the show: any change is possible if you want to change.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

FRIENDS

Life is difficult for everyone. We all have stress and we all need someone in our lives that we can lean on. Never think that you cannot talk to someone because they have problems too or that your friend or loved one would be better off without you or your problems. You'll soon find out that they need you just as much as you need them. — Joshua Hartzell

 The consensus is that the cast members who wound up in the sideways church at the End needed each other in order to get into the after life.

That may be true, but were they really friends? 

Friendship is the emotional bond and personal conduct of individuals towards others in their group;  a state of mutual trust and support.

It is fairly clear that most of the main cast had no true friends prior to landing on the island. We never saw them hanging out shooting the breeze with a friend or close colleague. Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Sayid, Locke, Desmond - - - they really were loners. Hurley and Charlie used to have best friends, but events changed and broke those relationships. Even Ben had one childhood friend, but we don't know what ever happened to her.  Due to Ben's power lust, he had no adult friends but followers.

But even throughout the island events, the main characters really did not form strong bonds or undivided loyalty or trust amongst each other.

Jack never trusted Locke. Locke never trusted Jack.
Kate was flippant on whom she aligned herself with, either Sawyer or Jack.
Hurley was friendly to everyone on the island, but he was probably closest to Charlie until Charlie decided to make his move with Claire. 
Sawyer only trusted Sawyer.
Ben sought the trust of the candidates, but it was all a manipulation.

How Ben became Hurley's island buddy post-Jack guardianship is one of those mysteries that we will never know. Congenial colleagues, maybe.

So in the church, we have a mixture of people who really did not get along with each other. Rose and Bernard left the group over the group's petty bickering and insane confrontations with danger. Desmond was always the lone outsider in the group after the Hatch imploded. Penny was never part of the island circle. And Jack and Kate's relationship was one of love-hate; why they sat together was that was the best leftover among the group. Even Locke had no friend sitting next to him in the church finale. In the sideways world, he had a perfect life with Helen. But she was not with him. How sad was that?

 I think friendship is a major theme in the series. But even throughout the dangers of the island, the bonds of friendship between the major characters was weak. Many veterans come back from the battlefield stating that the men in the foxholes became their best friends. It was the situation and need to survive that brought units of individuals together as a single mind. But once they return home, and disperse across the country, it is rare that those veterans keep in contact. They move forward in their lives.

The concept of moving forward is another theme in the series. But even as the island events ended, it seems the LOST souls never truly wanted to move on. That is evidenced by the fact that they wound up together in the church, not knowing what would come next.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

THE DARK

A major theme of LOST was fear. Many characters dreaded the jungle, the unknown wild, and the appearance of the smoke monster. They also feared the island's Others and the dangers they posed to their survival.

Fear of the dark is common and an almost universal fear for at least a part of our lives (usually some part of our childhood). Though it's not so much the dark that we fear, but the unknown. There is an inner sense of danger that brings it to the conscious mind. Things one cannot see can hurt you. This trait or human characteristic is from early man's development, when mankind was not the top predator in his environment. 

As humans mature, we internalize the real odds of something dangerous hiding in the dark, and that calms us in appropriate situations, but that fear can come back when we are in unfamiliar places. The reason we are all afraid of the dark at times is because that fear gave us an advantage during our evolutionary history. Since man relies upon his senses for survival, taking away one of them (sight) because of darkness would naturally lead to anxiety about what could be out there in the dark.
Ancient man quickly learned that many predators prefer the cover of darkness to hunt and over time that association strengthened into a subconscious absolute: stay out of the dark because that's where the danger is.

 

While fear of the dark can manifest itself as an acute reaction—like panicked screaming when someone suddenly turns out the lights, or as insomnia, as a recent study conducted at the University of Toronto suggests—it more commonly manifests as foreboding anxiety. The emotion of anxiety plays a specific role in our behavioral responses to stimuli just as the emotions of love, anger, and sadness do, acting to increase our ability to cope with stress and more fully exploit beneficial opportunities.

Each emotion can be thought of as a computer program designed to accomplish some specific fitness task particularly well. If the current task is courtship, romantic love is helpful. If one is being betrayed, anger is useful. If a tiger is attacking, then fearful flight and avoidance are best. If people are disapproving, then social anxiety may be appropriate. Different emotions, however, must be orchestrated, just as endocrine function must be coordinated in an endocrine orchestra. Emotional responses must fit changing adaptive challenges, with each emotion fitting a particular kind of situation.

Specifically, anxiety increases your awareness of situations that may damage your reproductive resources. Not just your vital signs, but your relationships, income, social standing, physical features; anything that makes you more attractive to the opposite sex and more likely to reproduce.
Unlike anger or sadness, which occur in direct response to a specific event, the study showed responses to environmental cues indicating a potential future loss with anxiety prior to the expected event, since that's when it is most evolutionarily beneficial. Our ancestors who best recognized and responded to these cues increased their chances of survival and reproduction compared to their more less-aware peers.

Since that response is correlated with natural selection, certain cues—such as snake- or cat-eye patterns, spider-like objects, and darkness (where the snakes, leopards, and spiders all live)—more easily invoke that emotion. This is the result of generation upon generation of early humans reacting to and subsequently preparing for dangers such as these. That's why many ancient threats—uncontrolled fire, spiders, snakes, predators, and darkness—are more easily instigate a negative response, even in small children, than modern threats like automobiles, nuclear war, or guns do.

While anxiety is deeply rooted in our psyche, it is not entirely instinctive. We also learn fear and anxiety responses from our parents. If a small child is frightened of an new or unknown object and its mother responds in a calming manner, the kid learns that the item is not a threat. If the parent responds with apprehension herself, however, the child's fears are confirmed and enhanced. This allows for offspring to rapidly learn of the dangers around themselves without actually having to be bitten by snakes, mauled by lions, or be electrocuted by a penny in the wall socket while simultaneously figuring out that everything from leaves and small rocks to thunder and scary scenes on TV aren't actual threats.

It is a system that is based on experience and transfer of knowledge, but triggers an instinctive response. This subtle gnawing emotion has been honed and refined over millennia by both nature and nurture into a vital survival response that remains as useful in the modern world as it did in the Neolithic Period of Humanity. As environmental cues have changed over time, anxiety over social interactions and property such as finding shelter and not starving to death, remains the same. Humans have the inner voice that tells us to keep safe so you can live to reproduce another day. 

The fear of the dark, and by extension the fear of the unknown, are hard wired tools to make sure humans don't ever forget the basic purpose of all human beings. Fear itself is a survival mechanism.

BIGGEST WINNER

If one looks back at the series, who was the character that got the most he or she wanted - - - who came out most ahead in the series?

I initially thought of Eloise Hawking, who in the context of the conclusion of the sideways story arc, got what she wanted: her son, Daniel, would not "awaken" and leave her to join the others in the after life church. It would seem that all of the elaborate trials, hurdles, manipulations and events on the island were orchestrated by Eloise in order to keep the 815 survivors from taking Daniel away from her. Eloise was the one who seemed to know everything about everyone and how this universe operated.

But Eloise's motivations may have been an elaborate singularity. The character who achieve more personal goals was Ben Linus.

Ben accomplished much in his island life:

1. He killed his abusive father.
2. He purged an entire community of Dharma workers.
3. He banished his leadership rival, Widmore.
4. He took absolute control over the Others.
5. He kidnapped Alex and made her his "daughter."
6. He needed a spinal surgeon and one fell out of the sky.
7. He loved manipulating people and events to gain more power.
8. He had people fear his commands.
9. He developed a cult of followers.
10. He also "survived" a fatal chest wound when he was a boy; to be reincarnated at the temple.
11. He had the power to control time.
12. He had the power to summon a violent smoke monster.
13. He got revenge on Widmore for killing Alex.
14. He got revenge on Jacob for not believing in him.
15. He got his life spared by the mercy of one of Jacob's followers.
16. He got a new purpose from Hurley.

Despite all the evil bloodshed Ben contributed to the island events, he would wind up in the after life a humble high school teacher who had concern for his students. He would have a different relationship with his father. He would seek out a relationship with a past bitter enemy, Danielle Rousseau. He got the personal option NOT to move on with Hurley, in order to proceed to with his plan to create A Wonderful Life for himself in the sideways world. How Danielle or Alex would ever forgive Ben for his sins once they awakened their memories is unknown. Like Eloise, if Ben could keep those memories suppressed, he would achieve is ultimate goal of having a real family life with the Rousseaus.

In a bizarre twist, Ben actually came out well ahead of any of the main characters in the end. He really got everything he ever wanted without any truly bad consequences. Ben's fantasy life was lived and coming true in the after life.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

QUANTUM EXPERIMENTAL VIEW

There is a new way to look at the LOST conundrums.

It is an analogy often used to explain difficult situations in the show, The Big Bang Theory. It is called "Schrodinger's cat." Schrodinger's cat is a thought experiment, sometimes explained as a paradox, devised by Austrian physicist Edwin Schrodinger in 1935. Though he never actually created the experiment, he wanted to illustrate a problem in one interpretation of quantum mechanics as it  applied to everyday objects. The issue Schrodinger had was the this interpretation of quantum mechanics did not yield a description of an objective reality but dealt only with probabilities of observing, or measuring, various aspects of energy quanta, entities that fit neither the classical idea of particles nor the classical idea of waves. The act of measurement causes the set of probabilities to immediately and randomly assume only one of the possible values.

Schrodinger's experiment postulated that a cat would be placed in a sealed box with a vial of poison. The poison would be released at an unknown, random time. This uncertainty of what is happening inside the sealed box presents the possibility that a cat that may be both alive and dead, depending on an earlier random event. This thought experiment is also often featured in theoretical discussions of quantum physics.  In the course of developing this experiment, Schrodinger coined the term Verschr√§nkung ("entanglement").

LOST is the cat in the magic box we all call our television sets.

Based upon the information we have received, we did not know whether the characters were dead or alive at any given moment in the series.   Also, the show featured themes that included paradoxes (time travel events), various aspects of unique energy properties (the heart of the island) and most certainly the entanglement of various diverse character lives with each other. Faraday thought of the island dynamic as a measurable place in time and space, until he found that the set of probabilities could be adversely affected by "variables," which in some viewers minds meant the free will decisions of the characters.

Further, Ben clearly described the concept of the Magic Box to Locke. Ben said that if Locke wanted something badly, the magic box would produce it. Locke wanted to see the box, but Ben scoffed that aside. In Locke's case, suddenly Anthony Cooper was captured and on the island (as he said right after an automobile accident; and that the island was hell). At the time, Locke's whole life revolved around the betrayal of his father and the revenge he sought for the downfalls in his life. Those strong emotional thoughts created the situation where Locke could confront his worse nightmare face to face.

The island as a magic box does not yield an objective reality, but dealt with the probabilities of observing various aspects of a person's life outside the classical ideas of religious thought (judgment, punishment, penance, accountability, and redemption). It gave the main characters various opportunities to relive difficult moments in their lives, to give them second chances or the possibility to change (their perceived outcome of key life events). The island could be viewed as one large interactive, interpersonal experiment in which the viewers got an inside peek of the events transpiring therein.

Monday, December 9, 2013

JACK'S WORLDS


No man is able to make progress when he is wavering between opposite things. ”
— Epictetus 

As a follow up on the last post, there is something to be said that Jack was caught in a trap.

Jack was a man by all appearances to have a great career, special skills, admired by colleagues, wealthy and stable. He had an even temperament even in times when miracles were needed for his patients. In some ways, he was a constant dreamer.

But outside his public persona, Jack had his own demons. He had a hard time coping with women; his personal relationships would sour; and he had an addictive streak towards alcohol and drugs as a means of escape. And it appears he tried to escape - - - after his divorce, he went on a bender to Thailand to meet an exotic woman. Why a skilled spinal surgeon would flee his career to to go island native is unexplained.

So during Jack's life, he lived in two separate worlds. The world of medicine where he sought acceptance by his father, and the dream world where his personal life would be perfect. Jack was a perfectionist. He had to be when cutting around a person's spinal cord. But those skills would never transfer to his interpersonal skills.

Next, Jack gets trapped between two worlds on the island. He is an important focal point for the survivors: he has the medical skills to keep them alive and well while they waited for rescue. Jack also gave the aura of being a calming presence which led his fellow passengers to push an uncomfortable leadership role on him. At the same time, he wanted to run away from the responsibility and accountability. He saw people like Kate and Sawyer who had little cares except for their own well being. He must have been envious of their personal freedom as Jack spent his entire life studying and mastering science to get his father to notice him.  After a while, the island did give Jack the opportunity to explore his wild side - - - get outside his comfort zone, and lead adventurous missions as a commander.

But once he left the island, Jack broke down mentally. He turned into a shell of his former self: needy, greedy, alone, disheveled, and on the brink of suicide. But apparently at the same time, his soul was running through an opposite world where Jack had a very stable and content after life in the sideways world where he had a relationship with his son.

The concept that the series was really about Jack's mind bouncing back and forth between various worlds is intriguing because Jack's eye is the beginning and the end of the show. The conflict was not with other people or smoke monsters, but the real conflict was within Jack himself.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

STAIRWAY

Try to imagine what it took to get to The End.

Then try to figure out why it took that path.

Trying to work backwards from memory of the key deaths that allowed the main characters to move forward, I found an analogy to the Stairway to Heaven.



It seems that each step needed a death, a sacrifice, a closure.

We don't know why some 815 passengers died while others survived the crash. We don't know why the Tail Section survivors were killed off to leave just Bernard alive. We don't know why Daniel was killed off by the time skip nose bleeds (considering he was never on the island before and had a "constant" in his own theory). It did not stop the time quirks on the island. We don't know why Charlie killed himself (he had an opportunity to open the station door and leave with Desmond). We don't know if Juliet accomplished anything tangible when she died after she was recovered from the site debris. Ben got his revenge by killing Widmore, but that did not stop or appease MIB. Sayid took the submarine bomb down the hallway (and created a more dangerous situation by not closing any blast doors to minimize the impact of the blast). Sun's entrapment was improbable and staged, as was their farewell which did not take into account their child on the mainland. We don't know if immortals like Jacob or shape shifting smoke monsters like MIB can ever really "die."  But it seems all those deadly steps led to Jack collapsing in the bamboo thicket to die. The place where his island adventure began ended in the same place.

Now, a few people could conclude that Jack never left the bamboo thicket. He was thrown to the ground and laid there, semi-conscious from his injuries. He could have imagined the entire series in his head. Jack, the hero, in his own mind, "fixes" things in a plane load of broken people. It seems more plausible than the apparent random death steps to get the souls to the sideways church.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

DISSOLVING ISSUES

It recently struck me as odd that throughout the series, MAJOR CRISIS (life or death) problems seem to fade away, lose survivor interest and become non-issues without any true resolution.

It is like the attention span of a child being bombarded with multiple stimuli. Once he has had enough of one thing he goes on to the next.

Things started off in a logical manner. The survivors needed food and water, so they plundered the plane and baggage for supplies. When the threat of disease from the dead bodies (and boar attacks), the survivors torched the plane's fuselage.

When there was an issue of safety with the reveal of the smoke monster, the camp started to become divided. It got worse when they were running out of drinkable water. When Jack found the water fall cave, his plan was to move the survivors to this safer location. But he was rebutted by half the group. So the significant water issue and relocation faded away from being a crisis to a non-factor.

Then there was the natural drive to be rescued. When no one showed up for weeks, Michael got the ball rolling on building a raft to get into the ocean current and cargo traffic lanes. Despite this being the only viable option, very few survivors actually helped with the plan. And after Michael's boat was ambushed, the survivors remaining on the island no longer planned on how to seek rescue or leave the island. It was only at the very end of the series did the subject come up with the Ajira plane.

The next great crisis was the attacks by the Others. Again, in a moment of personal safety, the panic was felt throughout the camp. But after a while, the idea of enhanced security at the beach was dropped like there were no problem by most of the survivors. Out of sight out of mind.

Then there was the infection or disease which Desmond and Claire were told about. The Others had a serum to ward off the effects of the infection especially in pregnant women. It was said to be fatal. If there was a serious pathogen on the island, it faded from memory quickly. Some fans believe that it is was just a false ploy to gain confidence of the survivors or keep people dependent on those in power.

The time travel and time skips were major issues for those main characters. Instead of trying to figure out what was truly going on, and possibly use the supernatural properties to their advantage, they just rode the time rifts like surfers until they stopped. And afterward, the time skippers did not discuss their adventurous plight with any of the non-skippers.

The story pattern is fairly clear: set up an improbable situation. Throw the main characters into a dangerous mix. As that story line is about to unravel, set up a new improbable situation and drop the old one. One of the better examples of this switch was when a small group went on a mission to stop Ben from using the poison gas plant. The unguarded facility was used briefly as a "trust exercise" between the survivors and the freighter science team, but there was only a faux emergency. And once that mission ended, the poison gas was never referenced again, including when the candidates were about to brainstorm how to defeat Flocke.

Because of LOST's story format, the individual story events seem to show the final pattern of a preschool pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey game.