A gathering place for those who love the ABC TV show Lost. This blog was started by a group of Fans who kept the Season 3 finale talkback at Ain't It Cool.com going all the way until the première of the 4th season as a way to share images, news, spoilers, artwork, fan fiction and much more. Please come back often and become part of our community.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
The Underworld and the Dead
A major theme in LOST is that of the Underworld. I have been slowly compiling some of the references, many of them with links back to Greek and Egyptian mythology, in order to attempt to make some sense out of it all.
1) Swan hatch hieroglyphs translate to "Underworld"
2) It's a volcanic island - many ancients believed volcanoes were entrances to Hell
3) The idea that "things do not stay buried long"
4) Apollo - corresponds to HORUS (and Horace?)...known for the healing EYE of Horus and is a symbol of rebirth and renewal.
5) Horus was the son of Anubis/Osiris (its difficult with some Egyptian mythos because they shift here and there, but both basically are gods of the underworld. Osiris is more the god of death, whereas Anubis became the gatekeeper and guide of LOST souls.)
6) Abaddon means "Destroyer" and in the Book of Revelations was the Angel of the Abyss
7) Cerberus was also linked to Anubis and is the three-headed dog guardian of Hades
8) Most of the Dharma stations are underground
9) There is an underground tunnel system that runs beneath the Barracks to where else we can only guess...also the one that delivers poison gas from the Tempest
10) Water is a heavily used symbol on LOST which also represents the unconscious and the underworld
11) Desmond is often compared to Odysseus, who made his own journey into the world of the dead
12) Smokey tried to drag Locke into some underground tunnel
I'm sure there's more.
In ancient tradition, the Underworld is quite simply the Land of the Dead. I want to make sure this is understood, and that I am in no way referring to the dreaded "P" word that had been repeatedly debunked. What I am referring to is the place where it was believed we all went to then pass through to the next life. It is represented by the Sun being chased across the sky by the Moon, only to be reborn each morning. Quite simply, this is the central concept of Egyptian mythology.
This is why so many prominent Egyptian leaders were buried with entire rooms filled with statues of soldiers, who would be their protectors in the next life. Some were buried with huge ships and anything and everything they would need for their journey through the Underworld.
If the Island isn’t really an Island, I would be inclined to believe it is a place "between", or the CENTER of all of these dualities the show throws at us, just like the axle of a wheel.
It’s in between linear time as we know it...
In between life and death...
In between existing in this dimension or plane, and not...
Remember when everyone was trying to figure out whether or not Claire was dead? Damon or Carton said something to the effect of the question not being "IS Claire dead?", but rather,
"What is dead?"
I would love to ask Miles this question. Our resident Ghostbuster certainly has some odd ways about him, such as when he asks to have a moment with Naomi’s lifeless body. He is then seen sitting over her, speaking to her, telling her, "You gotta see it through". As if that was not a strange enough thing to say to a corpse, he was actually saying it backwards. It was not until reversing the audio from the scene that this dialogue could clearly be understood.
Even though backwards-speak can relate to the unconscious/underworld, I do not think Miles is really speaking to the dead. I believe he is instead using his consciousness to somehow reach through time and is speaking to the dead person’s consciousness from the past when they were still alive. Think of it as a recording that Miles is using his brain to tune in to a specific ‘track’ from. Normally, his customized dust-buster creates the electromagnetic field he needs to send his consciousness back. He does not seem to need this device at all on the island however where we know already there are existing electromagnetic “properties”.
Another case to point out would be that of Charlotte Malkin, daughter to the psychic Claire consulted in "Raised by Another". As mentioned in a previous article, Charlotte experienced the “in-between” first-hand when she appeared to have died by drowning in a river. She later gives Eko a message from his dead brother, Yemi, suggesting that when she was unconscious she had indeed come into contact with the world of the dead.
Even more fascinating is what happened when she first awoke, immediately before an autopsy was about to be performed on her body. As evidenced by the transcript from the doctor’s tape, Charlotte actually calls out John Locke’s name!
Dr: This is a clear case of drowning. I’ll begin with a thoracic...
Assistant: Oh my God!
Assistant: She’s Alive!
Dr: I think she’s trying...
Charlotte: Let John Locke go (on)!
Dr: Try and calm down
Dr: Valerie get... she’s crying, don’t just stand there do something!
Is she not only able to see the dead while in this state, but also see through time? How on earth does she know about John Locke!?
For this answer I turn to Vonnegut. (and who doesn't love turning to Vonnegut?)
In "Slaughterhouse Five" (referenced on LOST both directly and indirectly), the protagonist, Billy Pilgrim, becomes "unstuck in time". He is kidnapped by a race of alien beings called the Tralfamadorians, who have the ability to see in 4-dimensions, with the fourth being TIME. The Tralfamadorians are able to see all of time simultaneously, past-present-future, and although they do not believe they can change events from their lives, they do have the ability to focus on any point they wish.
However, the most important idea from this novel is that about death - that because it is seen that all of time exists simultaneously, no one is ever truly dead . I believe there is something to this perspective that relates to how life and death are portrayed on the Island. Again it makes me think of it as a place that exists outside of this plane, this dimension...
And here comes the crazy - is this somehow related to the aging "issues" we have seen with at least one of our Island natives, Richard Alpert? If he is able to exist outside of time, then it might not have an effect on him. I even wonder if this is not the inspiration for Dharma's life-extension research.
All in all, I'm still not sure if I have any kind of Grand Unified Theory here...but there is something going on and this is where I've been headed with it all so far.
I hope if anything this is food for thought!
*I write about LOST because I love the challenge of deciphering the clues and adding the pieces together. My thoughts are based solely on the show, the LOST Experience, and random research, as I try to avoid spoilers, promos, and even future episode titles. I love to guess what is going on, but I also like to do so in a way that leaves some of the conclusions still up to you. I do not know the answers and am often wrong. Whatever the truth turns out to be, it has been the journey that has meant the most to me.*