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Friday, 19 February 2010

‘Lost’ philosophy.
Destiny vs Free Will.

'There is no purpose to life, but it’s not an accident.' — Richard Dawkins.

Statue of Taweret
Statue of Taweret.
What I like about ‘Lost’ is that it’s the kind of science fiction that has some ideas apart from action-packed sequences and convoluted plot, the leitmotif being whether the Oceanic flight 815 crashed by accident or design. Regardless what the creators idea was, it’s a classical question of causality and blind chance.
When Locke asks Sawyer why he thinks he got to the island, the latter grumbled that his plane happened to crash, then because his raft blew up, because the helicopter couldn’t carry extra weight, etc. To which Locke/the Monster answers, ‘That’s not why you are here’.

— Why are you on this island?
— I’m on this island because my plane crashed, because my raft blew up, because the helicopter I was on was riding one too heavy.
— That’s not why you are here.

Similar questions have been posed in Thornton Wilder’s THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY, where the characters were doomed to meet their deaths in the collapse of the bridge as a logical outcome of their lives and personalities. "Is there a direction and meaning in lives beyond the individual's own will?" was the question posed by the author, which is basically fate vs. free will. As a matter of fact, every time a number of people die or get injured in an accident a mind-boggling question raises its ugly head — did some superior force make it happen accidentally on purpose?

Some people believe there’s a cause for everything; others say it’s just a blind chance. Personally I’m inclined to think that chance is an unperceived necessity.

Everything is predetermined, but man has been granted free will — says one of the most unsettling concepts inferred from the Bible.

Either of these statements creates a contradiction.

If we blame everything on blind chance, there’s no guilt, redemption or reward for being virtuous, since there’re no logical consequences of your acts, but a kind of dice rolling. On the other hand if predetermination is a pivot around which our universe revolves, no matter what we do the result would be the same. So in both cases why bother?

Unless, of course, you trust in reincarnation and fear your sins and evil deeds in this life (Karma) will be visited on you in the next one. At least, to my eye, there seems to be more logic and justice in the last option. One way or another we all believe in something superior to us, even if it’s just a blind chance.

I tend to draw analogies between everyday life and physical processes, so our individual world lines are strikingly similar to Brownian motion (stochastic process) — the random movement of particles suspended in a liquid or gas. The way we mill around isn’t very different from the particles’ chaotic shimmying, while gas or liquid as a whole is actually driven unconsciously by some purpose. So is humanity, probably.

To its credit, the show is imbued with philosophical musings.

‘They come, they destroy, they corrupt’ — (the Man in Black).
‘It all ends once, everything before that is progress’ — (Jacob).

The definition of mankind that hits home.

As for the mysteries of the show, one of the possible solutions could be something along the lines of Jacob  and the Smokey being creatures (fugitives?) from a parallel universe that had got to the island through the portal created by electromagnetic anomaly, now engaged in turf war on neutral territory. The rest of the players would be their respective lieges.

White and black /dark and light symbolism runs through the whole story. But things are’t always what they seem to be.

Sometimes light/white is Lucifer’s glitter, and dark/black is wisdom and depth.
 Jacob isn’t a goodie at all, it’s the other way round, or both he and his so called nemesis are evil. Jacob got Sayid’s love run over by a car — hadn’t he distracted Sayid she would’ve been alive, connived at Kate’s vice, didn’t do anything to stop Locke from being thrown out of the window etc, and therefore manipulated the castaways long before the crash into going to the island by means of exploiting their weak points. They didn’t have any choice. So far his "divine touch" hasn't made the chosen any happier!

If Jacob is/were some kind of alien trying to destroy humanity or the Island, what better way accomplish the mission than to bring people to the island and let their greed raze everything to the ground, he wouldn’t have to sweat much himself?

Conversely, the Monster is apparently protecting the Island from humans, culling those unsuitable or dangerous for it.
Lost foot statue
'Lost' foot statue
'You can't kill him' means that Jacob mightn't actually be dead, he could have just changed form to fool Lock the Monster and catch him off-guard, or something along these lines. I found it suspicious that he didn't even try to put up a fight when Ben finally made up his mind and stabbed him.
The scales in the Cave must be an allegory of eternal equilibrium between good and evil.

Even after his death Jacob has at least some of the survivors on the string, he leads Hugo and Jack the Patsy out of the Temple, abandoning the others to their fate.
In the alt-verse/purgatory none of the leading characters have what they wish for and are in the same mess. As for the promises, by far the best manipulation tool, you know what they say, promises are like pie crust...

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  1. So what changed your mind between then and now? It seems like you enjoyed this show up until the final episode, I hope you still don't believe they were all dead the whole time...

    1. The stupid last season and finale that annulled the rest of the show. They might as well be dead all along, same difference.


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