Friday, October 24, 2014

THE GOLD NUGGET

In just about every endeavor, there is a certain amount of "gold rush" fever.  People are passionate about what they are really interested in . . . so much so that it can become all consuming endeavor to find deeper meaning. In historical context, people left their families, jobs, home to rush to areas far away on the prospect of finding gold or silver or a better opportunity.  For the vast majority of those, these journeys were fool's errands, for the only people who got rich in these fevers were the suppliers of mining equipment, food and shelter.

So was LOST's main characters involved in a fool's errand of their own?

A sense of survival, to rescue, to friendship, to protection, to redemption - - -  all seem to be worthy of all consuming passion and intense enlightenment.

Did the characters actually have to "survive" on the island?

Did the characters really need to be "rescued?"

Did the characters have real friendships or merely truce by convenience?

Did the characters have to protect each other from the unknown?

And did any of the characters actually redeem themselves?

It is really a harsh analysis because in the final season, the story line changed so dramatically to put everything before it in question.  The Jacob-MIB backstory put a supernatural god like control over everything that happened on the island. Though Jacob said he gave any visitor "free will" to make their own decisions, but at the same time Jacob and MIB were constantly manipulating the characters - - - attacking their fears, personality flaws, emotional states and desires. Some could say that the island was training human circus animals to perform surreal plays for the gods amusement.

If the characters were trying to find their own souls, to reform and redeem their past sins, did they actually find that gold? Not really. The island ordeal was a harsh existence with many deaths, psychological breakdowns and inconsistent alliances. The real miners for the golden ticket was Jacob and his smoke monster buddy (who we learn is not actually his real brother but some supernatural shape shifting spirit being).

It seems that only Jacob and the smoke monster could "survive" on the island. They were both trapped on the island for reasons not really understood. They get bored with each other, and bring inferior humans to play a game of survival without rules. And when they don't play to the violent nature expected, the captors send their wrath upon them.

It also seems that Jacob and the smoke monster were the only ones who really, truly needed to be rescued from their immortal prison. The survivors really had no lives to go back to, as Jacob told them bluntly. They were picked to come to the island because of their various deep rooted faults. They were castaways from society before they even crash landed on the island. It was MIB who desperately wanted to find a "loophole" to get off the island - - - which probably was as simple as getting some stupid fool to accept the responsibility of becoming the next imprisoned guardian (which mirrors Desmond leaving the Hatch confines when Locke found him).

Whether Jacob and MIB were actual "friends" is debatable; but at least they were held as equals in their own minds, which is the foundation for any friendship. Though presented as being immortal foes, one does not get the sense of real anger between them - - - more a resigned sigh that their confinement is never going to end. It was only when Ben killed his mentor, Jacob, did MIB's fake blood boil as he burned Jacob's body. But we still don't know if that was a real death, or part of the loophole catch to make the other candidates believe someone had to step up and take Jacob's place (thus opening the lock of their island cage). MIB's performance convinced Ben that Flocke was truly evil and had to be stopped . . . . but from what? It was all an elaborate con on the humans to get them to act a certain way - - - to kill each of the immortals by sacrificing themselves in dangerous situations. What right minded individual would do such a thing? In the past, no one did (which frustrated MIB to no end).

Jacob and MIB did not need protection from each other because they were island equals. The only rule was that each could be killed (released from bondage) only at certain times and in certain places at the hands of an inferior human being. There was no redemption in Jack, Kate, Ben or anyone else killing off Jacob or MIB. It really did not solve any of their personal problems. It did not make their world a better place. All the finale did was release Jacob and MIB from their island hell. (Some could say that the island experience kept the characters spirits linked as one to be reunited in the after life, but others would say that is just a Hollywood trope happy ending with no logical connection to the show's own mythology).

No, the only true "winners" in the series were the two characters with the least scene time.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

THE GAMES

When I heard about Hunger Games, I thought it was probably another food channel battle show. But it is a teen film with a familiar genre: the human hunt. I can see why the film was popular: it had an attractive lead in Jennifer Lawrence who teen girls could identify. She made a sacrifice to save her sister which starts the action toward a dystopian saga of human sport.  The ruling class look like arrogant French aristocrats who keep the peasant classes the outer districts in line by taking two people a year from their ranks to play a vicious winner take all contest.

This genre story line is fairly simple. A person is taken out of their normal routine, and placed in the position of being a hunted animal by some superior being, usually a pyscho millionaire hunter. There is no educational value to the exercise. It is pure kill or be killed mentality. Since humans are the clever ones in the food chain, hunting them is more appealing to the deranged masters.

In LOST, there have been several theories which involved the castaways being human subjects in various Dharma-like experimentation, from female reproduction to psychological evaluation such as watching monitors all day, and sending reports in tubes that go no where (unread). Or, Desmond being placed in a hatch to type in numbers every 108 minutes. Why would anyone need to video that cruelty? To measure the breaking point of the human spirit.

How people cope with the stresses placed upon them is something that scientists continue to try to measure. Even the benign folks at Facebook have been accused of secretly manipulating data streams in order to get reactionary information from its users. Toying with people's emotions seems to be fun sport for some, even in a digital world.

So let us assume the Dharma folk built their stations on the island for the purpose of human experimentation. The various stations were built to test the human operators tolerance for the mundane, the entrapment and the longing for home. Dharma had the ability to view its test subjects, and manipulate the controls to get reactions and more data. The facilities also contained Room 23, a mind control unit.

So what happens when the manipulated realize that they are being manipulated? They rebel, like in Ben's purge. But what takes the place in the new island order is really much of the same. Power corrupts, and newfound power is addictive. The captor leaders then use the same techniques to control their own subjects (the Others). Human nature is a endless loop.

As in the Hunger Games, there are rules, but they can be changed at any time to serve the purposes of the overlords. In an advanced society, technology is used to repress the lower classes. Also, in the Hunger Games, the key point of power to control the unhappy workers was to give them hope. For hope is more powerful than their fears.

Those in power will seek to maintain their power at all costs. So when an unexpected airplane crashes onto the island with survivors, the powerful believe that it is an immediate threat to their order. So spies are sent to the camps. The Others begin to kidnap the children. They spread "fear" through the new visitors in order to mask or destroy any hope they have for rescue or peaceful coexistence on the island. And thus the game of tug of war starts between the factions.

The survivors are like the district tributes, taking out of their normal world and placed in an unfamiliar and dangerous situation. They have to learn quickly, adapt or die. And the Others find hunting humans more fun than trying to avoid the confrontation with the smoke monster.

If one looks at the show as a battle between two factions, the old and the new, then LOST goes back to its pre-pilot roots of being a Survivor like drama show. Perhaps that was supposed to be the real direction of the show. But we will never know since the basic show outline quickly diverged from that path into sci-fi and supernatural mysteries.

The off-premise that the survivors would be pitted against the Others in a battle royal (Jacob vs. MIB as game masters) where sacrifice is badgered on individuals "for the good of their friends" like ghost Christian told Locke in the FDW pit.  Like in the game of Senet, the immortal island rulers could have set up the conflict in order to eliminate players. The game was finally over when Jacob's last ally, Jack, died on the island after the other survivors flew overhead.  (Both Hurley and Ben were technically followers of Flocke at the end). How this actually represents a "game over" moment is quite unclear because we don't know what the actually was the Jacob-MIB game.

Actually, LOST could have worked as a cooking show. Deposit 24 cooks on a deserted tropical island to fend for themselves, and make occasional "offerings" or tributes to their judges (in exchange for needed supplies). The contestants would have to live off the land, and survive the elements and each others if there were "no rules." If the stakes were high enough (one winner only), and losers were destroyed or sacrificed, would the nation view such a bloody spectacle? Probably. There was a undercurrent of cruelty throughout the series that taps the subconscious and whispers that it is only entertainment.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

HURLEY'S HEAD

One of the early LOST theories, and some still suspect one of the "craziest," deals with fan favorite, Hurley.  Hurley was universally the most likeable main character in the series.

But a popular fan theory was that Hurley is still in the mental institution and that each character is a part of his personality.

This is slightly different than Hurley (or some other character) was dreaming this all up (like a real bad Dallas cliffhanger solution).  This theory supposes that it is not a dream, per se, but a multiple personality disorder coming to life.

There is a bridge between the two places. Both at the mental institution and on the island, Hurley's "imaginary friend" Dave appears. In fact, at the mental institution, Dave tries to coax Hurley with food in order to escape the institution. Hurley hesitates, then stays (which is also odd, because Hurley was not committed so he could leave, supposedly, at any time). Then on the island, Dave tells Hurley that everything is all "in his head."  Only a last second intervention by Libby (who is also seen at the mental institution as a whacked out patient) saves Hurley from jumping off a cliff. In Dave's world, this would break the mental cycle in Hurley's head. From the show perspective, we are led to believe that Libby saved Hurley from certain death. For some reason, Libby's coaxing of Hurley off the ledge was not that of a lover, but like a nurse. But we know Libby is not a nurse, but a troubled patient. It is after that that Libby begins to reel Hurley toward her. If Libby was also an imaginary person, with some psychotic self-awareness that a multiple personality could manifest, then stopping "Dave" would be the only way to "save" herself in Hurley's complex mental world.

Libby could represent the caring person missing in Hurley's real life. Libby represents the romantic feelings that he cannot express to real people. On the other extreme, Dave appears to be Hurley's adventurous alter-ego, someone who is willing to take chances, risks, in order to get the nerve endings to tingle. If these two mental institutional characters are two ends of the spectrum, that sets up a linear character development plot line to dissect the series.

If we assume that Hurley is truly a troubled person, then the one event that set him over the edge was the alleged porch collapse incident where two people were killed. Hurley blamed his weight and presence on the porch for its collapse and resulting deaths. (However, we are never told that Hurley was actually injured in the incident. Some say that this may have been the gateway event for Hurley's own personal journey in purgatory; dying as a result of the porch collapse.) If Hurley truly blamed himself for two deaths, what if those two people were Dave and Libby? Since Hurley never acknowledged Libby as a patient when she came out of the jungle, could she also be "imaginary" like Dave? If so, then that squarely puts the island in the realm of mental illness and not a real place.

Then let's explore the some of other main characters in relation to this premise.

If Hurley was on the porch when it collapsed, killing two people, it is highly likely that he would have been injured as a result. We know he had some disdain for his regular psychologist who told him Dave "was not real." Hurley could have conjured a more sympathetic, miracle working alter ego in the form of Jack Shephard, who was similarly affected by serious daddy issues. Jack takes the form of internal healing for Hurley.

Then, we have Kate, who could be the musical persona of Hurley's mental state. As the girl next door character, Kate could function as possible love interest like the record store clerk, but real Hurley knows that he could never have such a girl. While Hurley is introverted, shy and dower on his prospects, Kate is the opposite - - - hard hitting, aggressive, manipulative and can put men on a string and pull them like a yo-yo. Kate takes the form of yearning for an exciting, adventurous personality.

Locke ties in with Jack in more ways than one. Locke could be the embodiment of two things: Hurley's actual porch injuries, and Hurley's internally perceived deficiencies in making friends, keeping a job, a lack of focus - - - the embodiment of all the darkest fears, such as dying alone. While Locke can scream "you can't tell me what to do!" Hurley cannot make such statements because he has repressed that will to stand up (even for himself).

Sawyer can represent luck. Sawyer was the one character who can make things look too easy. He can con money, change tacts, be quick witted and humorous, but also be cunning and strong. He is a
Robert Mitchum style "man's man" something that Hurley knows he could never be in real life. It is why the fire and gasoline combo of Kate and Sawyer would never work, because only opposites attract (or so that is the rules of relationships).

By "solving" his inner personalities with each other, Hurley can find some mental balance on his island. Remember, Hurley is the last man standing - - - in control - - - of the island, which could be symbolic of his mental state. And when the ending church scene is put together, it is another stage in Hurley's mind to come to a cliche "happy ending" for his imaginary friends.

A multiple personality disorder also erases all the plot line and continuity errors in the series because the events are not real but all in Hurley's head.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

THE ONE

Kate was The One.

Kate was the first character with a complex back story.
She was the first character guys immediately attached to: the cute, girl next door.
Kate was the most troubled character.
She had done horrific things in her past; she was a classic woman on the run.

And Kate was the One who really got everything she wanted, on her own terms.

For those looking for an alternative solution to the many tangled plots, Kate may be your answer.

She was in the center of most of the action, but she never got hurt.
If she wanted something, men jumped to her aid (no matter the consequences, which ran the gambit to sex to death). She was never accountable for her desperate actions. Other people took the brunt of the punishment that should have been directed toward her way.

Women envied her freedom. Men adored her spunky tomboy appeal.

If there was a series puppet master, it would be Kate.

We were told that Jacob was the island guardian, whose "touch" brought the candidates to the island. Jacob was manipulating people to replace him. Kate was a candidate, but somehow conveniently taken out of the equation because she became "a mother." But that was not true. She took Aaron off the island, and "pretended" to be his mother, but gave him back to his grandmother to return to the island. Jacob should have known that - - - but maybe he was also being manipulated by Kate.

Since it is best to be hidden in plain sight, Kate walked among all the interests and conflict groups. She got the adrenaline rush of the missions, but none of the dire consequences of being killed by the Others or the smoke monster. Everything seemed to fall her way. She was the luckiest person ever, or her thoughts and dreams manipulated and controlled island events.

The dream is the only way to explain the laughable, implausible and totally wrong legal resolution of her murder case. The whole O6 story arc was fraught with childish story lines and illogical conclusions. Why would Sun abandon her daughter to go back to find Jin, who everyone believed is already dead? Why would Jack turn into a madman after leaving Kate alone with Aaron? Why did not her Florida husband come to her side when her trial-of-the-century was being broadcast to the nation?  None of those items makes any common sense. They are more the delusional thoughts of a classic spoiled adult who turns away responsibility for personal adventure.

LOST was an adventure story, but it was Kate's adventure. She was used to gathering "red shirts" like the bank robbery gang who would die for her. She gathered up enough "red shirt" survivors to keep the blood pumping and tension high. She was an adrenaline junkie. That is why she volunteered for all the dangerous missions, knowing that she would get the rush but not bad consequences. The island was her own haunted house, a dirty trick she made for her new friends to experience.

Who is not to say Kate was not a supernatural being like Jacob or MIB? If past island history was true, then the real guardian of supernatural world would have been a woman. The gods who ruled life and the bounty of life were women, like Taweret, the goddess of Birth, Rebirth and the Sky. Sound familiar? That was close to the definition of the "life force." The island was the creation and re-creation of a woman-god. Kate is the only character who meets the criteria of being able to rule the island in plain sight. She is the one who gets off the island, but returns to re-connect her bonds to Jack - - - her only hope is that they can overcome the greatest obstacle, together, which would be defeating MIB. Once that happens, Kate does not stay - - - she leaves the island and Jack dies alone. A normal caring person in love with Jack would have stayed by his side to the bitter end. But this moment was a trap, set by Kate, to capture Jack's soul in the after life. For what is a few more moments on Earth compared to an eternity together in the stars.

A highly charged, highly complex series of events that one can consider one long blind date?

If a smoke monster can manipulate both matter and energy, why can it manipulate human emotions such as love?

When Christian states that everyone in the afterlife church is there because the island was the most important thing in their collective lives, one still has to question that viewpoint. Under normal circumstances, the most important things in one's life is family (parents) and loved ones (children and spouse). Is this the lonely losers club?

Kate was the most estranged from her loved ones: she killed her father, dismissed her mother, abandoned her Florida husband (and as a runaway committed various acts of adultery). Her character would have been the most likely to have been "alone" at the pearly gates (or the opening of hell's fire pit).

For example, Hurley was extremely close to his mother. As a momma's boy, don't you think she'd be in the final scene to comfort Hurley in the afterlife? Jack had his estranged father, but not his mother. He got along with her fine, so there is another disconnect to the church ending.

To alone Kate, Jack needed to see, speak and reconcile with his father in order to be with her. So one could argue that the church reunion was only stage dressing for Kate's spirit to get what she wanted: Jack, so you would not be alone forever. In some respects, the island was Kate's best life moment, not anyone else's. She needed friends and lovers in order to create some self-esteem, some self-worth. But at the same time, she was an unaccountable spoiled brat in how she dealt with people and problems. The church ending was her solution to her eternity problems. How interesting that she could have choreographed the events on the island (remember we never got the full beach deal conversation between Ben and Kate) in order to increase her status and control of her own immortality. If she was the puppetmaster, she put herself into the action, in a secondary role, to help guide the character developments and affection for her. She needed friends in order to survive the pit of damnation. The island could have been her cosmic con. She had the most to gain by the final union. Perhaps, this explanation will help smooth out the bitterness of why Kate wound up with Jack.

Monday, October 20, 2014

LIFE

I came across this interesting diagram. In the pyramid of Life, you get two choices.

Applying this to LOST should be a simple mental exercise.

Money was rarely the central motivational factor. It was more a means to an end. Widmore used his wealth to find a way to get back to the island (which led to his death). Hurley used his newfound wealth to find the origin of his Curse, the Numbers (which led him to the island and the unknown).

Children were never treated well in the series. There was one plot about how women died in their third trimester, and that the Others were kidnapping children for some unknown purpose. We were told that Walt was "special." And as a child, Locke was told the same thing. But having a child, even an apparent imaginary one in Jack's case, was fairly irrelevant to the story.

Time was used and abused in island story lines. The use of conflicting time travel theories did nothing to shed light on the understanding of the underlying LOST mythology. Time was a messy contrivance to create a faux sense of danger and drama.

How would a normal purpose balance the choices?

If one had children as a priority, money would give them the comfort and support. But on the other hand, people would want as much time as possible to be with their children.

If one did not care about children, then the focus would be on money and time. Time to make money as a singular goal does not make you a better person. More like an obsessive Scrouge.

What is missing from the chart is one component that everyone wants in their lives: happiness.

And a simple question to LOST viewers: were the characters really happy during the course of the series?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

HEART & SOUL

There is circumstantial evidence that a person's soul weighs approximately 5 ounces. This measurement was done immediately before and after a person passes on. Philosophically, death releases the soul and hence, its weight.

But man has weighed the concept of the soul since the dawn of time. Man's own origin stories, even from days of pre-religion, felt that man was more than an animal; that man had a higher purpose; that looking at the infinite stars at night - - - we had to have a sense of immortality.

It would seem logical that the soul would reside inside a person's heart. The heart is the engine that keeps one's body alive by circulating the blood and plasma to all the various organs. Literary circles have described a person as having a "good heart," or a "black heart" to characterize a personality.

Is the physical heart and the metaphysical soul work concurrently to make us special?

The LOST characters arrived at the island with hearts in various states of disarray. It must have been a burden upon their troubled souls.

One could consider that a person can only mend their heart by using his or her soul (enlightenment).

Purification rituals began from the earliest tribes and civilizations. The act of cleansing was deemed to be an important means of connecting to one's self, family, community and the heavens. To cleanse the burdens of the soul requires soul searching, understanding and change.

For whatever reason, the island was the laboratory for such soul searching. Jack grappled with his feelings and guilt of his relationship with his father. Locke grappled with his feelings of abandonment and loneliness. Kate grappled with her feelings of guilt and responsibility. Coming to terms with these basic but overpowering emotional states was the key to their character development.

LOST may have been an exercise in mending one's heart and soul. One has to look outside one's self to others in order to cure what ails you.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

HIDDEN MIRACLES

There are several important things captured in this image.

First, a pensive to surprised expression on Locke's face. He is looking down at his legs, which we would later learn were not functioning when he boarded Flight 815.

Second, he has facial scar above and below his right eye.

Third, he was ejected from the plane and landed on his back. Such a fall would be worse than the one from the building that caused his paralysis.

If time is not linear, but circular, then this moment in the series is a prime example of reliving the past in the present. But the one difference is that this fall from the sky reversed Locke's paralysis, which in most circles be a true miracle.

In the future, there was a deep theme of Egyptian mythology. Locke's scar could be a symbol of the connection to those stories. For example, Horus was an ancient sky god usually depicted as a falcon.
His right eye was associated with the sun god, Ra, the most important god. The eye symbol represents the marking around the eye of the falcon, including a teardrop marking sometimes found below the eye. The mirror image, or left eye, sometimes represented the moon and the god Djehuti, Thoth, a god the underworld.

In one myth, Horus and his brother, Set, are fighting for the throne after Osiris' death. Set gouges Horace's left eye. The majority of the eye was restored by another god magically, probably by Thoth. When the eye was restored, Horus offered it to Osiris in the hope of restoring his life. Hence, the eye of Horus was often used a symbol of sacrifice, healing, restoration and protection.

Sacrifice, healing, restoration and protection were all themes tied to Locke's character.

But the scar on Locke's face is on his right eye (the moon or underworld) and not his left (the sun). One could argue that this is reverse symbolism - - - that in the underworld non-sacrifice, infliction of pain, destruction and self-preservation are the goals. In fact, those reverse themes pair well with Sawyer's character, one of the few who got off the island alive.

For some reason, the island "healed" Locke to give him back the ability to walk and run. The purpose of this gift was to allow Locke to disrupt the groups he was associated with: first the survivors camp and then the Others. He did not restore order to these groups, but created conflict. He decided not to protect his friends or fellow castaways, but to protect the island for no apparent reason other than he saw its inner beauty. He took it upon himself to become a guardian of the island, which the island did not need for it had a powerful god named Jacob. So the island decided that Locke would be the anti-symbol of the myth of the eye of Horus.

Which means that the other survivor found waking up on his back in the jungle, Jack, would be symbolic of sun god, Ra. In Egyptian mythology, it was the sun god that took a dangerous, nightly journey through the underworld. If he was able to get through the perils and pitfalls of darkness, the sun would rise the next day. This captured the circle of life.

It was also a miracle that Jack was not severely injured when he fell to the ground. The island also gave him the miracle of life to begin his island journey. The camera focused on Jack's eye opening . . . . . . symbolic of the journey's beginning. Jack's first steps were to heal other injured passengers, to restore order in the group and protect them from the perils of the island, such as the Others attacks. It is questionable whether Jack sacrifices anything to the island (except his own life at the end of the series). As Locke's death was a small catalyst to get the Oceanic 6 back to the island, Jack's death on the island had no closing bargain. When his eye closed for the last time, the journey was over and if Jack was the symbol of the sun god, the sunrise would never happen again. The island would be no more.

When Locke arrives at the sideways church, he is in a wheelchair just as he was as he boarded Flight 815. But he is reminded that he does not need that wheelchair to enter the church. This may be the connection between the sideways world and the island plane crash. Some have argued that Locke's ability to walk on the island meant that he had died; and that Locke's inability to walk in the sideways world was his punishment for being unable to move on from the baggage he left behind during his mortal life. In both places, Locke was looking a miracle cure. But it seems only in death could he achieve that miracle.