by Jeff Jensen
Image Credit: Mario Perez/ABCThe end of Lost is nigh, and with it will no doubt come… THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT. Will there be life after Lost comes to a close with “The End” in May 23? Will reality be able to soldier forth without Jack, Kate, Sawyer and friends flickering across our televisions? The answer — and this is a conservative estimation of the matter — is really, really uncertain. How are you spending the downtime until doomsday? If you’re looking for suggestions, I have a few.
First, visit the 815 Sentences About Lost project. Do this now, then come back. Best stuff you’ll read today about Lost. (A shout out to Todd VandDerWerff at The Los Angeles Times; I first read about the project in his column.)
Second, check out this painting that Marilyn Manson painted of Lost’s resident antichrist superstar, John Locke/Fake Locke. Neat, huh? I like the idea of Smokey manipulating the candidates through the paces of his mousetrap conspiracy while ironically humming: “We’re all stars now/In the dope show!”
Third, after staining your mindscape with Marilyn Manson’s reeking spiritual stank, soak your brain in the cleansing holy water of my essay on Jacob’s philosophy of redemption. You’ll feel like a better person for it.
Fourth: Start the process of filling the gaping Lost-shaped hole in your life by buying stuff! Click over to Damon Carlton and a Polar Bear to find some cool new posters and T-shirts that have gone on sale. I’m also told that the site will be giving away tickets for a pair of fun (and funny) Lost-themed variety shows produced by the Upright Citizens Brigade that will be held in New York and Los Angeles on Saturday nights. More details to come.
Fifth: Consume all things Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof. On Wednesday, they’ll be reading the top ten list on The Late Show With David Letterman. And on Thursday, they’ll be doing a Times Talk Live Q&A that you can watch/participate via movie theaters around the country.
The truth is, the culture is crackling with End-of-Lostness. It’s “Lost Day” on Twitter on Friday. Guess I’ll have to crank out mucho theory tweets via @ewdocjensen. The Paley Center — which will celebrate Lost this weekend at its New York and Los Angeles venues — is asking Lost fans everywhere to submit pics of their last official day of active Lost fandom. There’s an exhibition of Lost themed art at The Vilcek Foundation. There’s an auction of Lost props. And then, on Sunday: Lost viewing parties everywhere. In Los Angeles. In Cincinnati. In St. Louis. In Arlington, Virginia. In Columbus, Ohio. In Portland, Oregon. In Dallas. In Pelham, New Hampshire, at a movie theater called Chunky’s. (Check out this Business Week round-up of Lost culture festivities/grief rituals for more info.)
There’s one more significant event happening this week in advance of the series finale, maybe the most significant event of all: tonight’s penultimate episode of Lost! It’s called “What They Died For.” Let me tell you three things about it (SPOILER ALERT!): 1. It picks up where “The Candidate” left off two weeks ago. 2. The title would seem to suggest that someone will explain why Jin, Sun and Sayid had to die two weeks ago — and someone will do just that. 3. For an episode with such an ominous title, and one that ratchets up the tension and stakes in advance of the finale, “What They Died For” is a surprisingly funny outing. How do I know this? Because as I explained in last Friday’s Doc Jensen column, I got a chance to see the episode last week. Click over there for a more expansive preview and a few additional teases about the episode.
As for my finale plans, I intend to finish Lost the way I began it: on the couch, in the family room, with my wife by my side. Afterward, we plan on watching Jimmy Kimmel’s salute to Lost. (And not just because Jimmy tweeted a really flattering thing about me last week. I genuinely think Jimmy is really kinda funny!) I keenly recall watching a screener of the Lost pilot with Amy in July 2004, a couple months in advance of the September premiere. The second it was over, Amy turned to me and said, “Do we really have to wait two months for the next episode?” She was instantly hooked. I was more skeptical. “It’s easily the best pilot I’ve seen since Twin Peaks,” I told her. “But I have no idea how they’re going to keep this alive as a series. There’s no way this lasts more than a year or two…”
Words: eaten. My life? Changed. My life… now over? To be continued… and concluded.
Last week at “Lost Live,” a celebration of the series that showcased the music of Michael Giacchino, executive producer Carlton Cuse made a passing reference to last week’s episode “Across The Sea” and mentioned that the story was set in 500 BC. He may have been joking (though it seems most Lost scholars, including the folks at Lostpedia, have pegged the story as taking place between 500 BC and 200 BC), and I don’t think his intention was to make an official clarification on the dating of the Mother/Jacob/Man In Black drama. However, let’s pretend for at least this column that we can hang our theory-thinking caps on this 500 BC business. What was going in the world at that time, you ask? I’m glad you did! Because as it happens, some momentous, world-changing stuff was going on circa 500 BC — stuff that connects profoundly with Lost. For example:
1. Buddhism. Mother, Jacob and MIB were contemporaries with Guatama (also Siddhartha) Buddha, who lived from 580 BC-480 BC. The core ideas of Buddhism include the idea of “letting go” of the things of this world that keep us from recognizing and growing our spiritual nature and reincarnation and evolution of consciousness through a myriad of lifetimes.
2. Pythagoras. One of the most influential pre-Socratic philosophers, Pythagoras lived from 570 BC to 495 BC. He is famed for his mathematical theorems, his fixation with numbers, his mystery cult religion, Pythagoreanism. Core beliefs: “The Wheel of Life,” the view that existence is a cycle of life, death and rebirth involving the purification — or debasement — of the soul; and transmigration, a philosophy of reincarnation.
3. Heraclitus. Another essential pre-Socratic philosopher, who lived from 535 BC to 475 BC. Prior to season 6, I wrote an essay about his relevance to Lost. Heraclitus — known as “the weeping philosopher” due to his dim view of mankind and also as “the obscure” due to his penchant for expressing himself in the most cryptic fashion possible — believed that everything was made of fire and that everything was in a constant state of flux. He advocated the “unity of opposites,” that a state of tension between opposing properties (good/evil, peace/war, light/dark) was the natural way of things. He also believed that the logos of the world — its truth; its meaning — was ultimately unknowable, either because mankind is intellectually incapable of knowing it or simply doesn’t care enough to try.
Interesting. Mother certainly shared Heraclitus’ cynical view of people. And her sons Jacob and Man In Black definitely represent a “unity of opposites.” What Mother called “The Source” — the fiery heart of The Island and the junction of “life, death and rebirth” — sounds a lot like the “Wheel of Life” of Pythagoreanism. (By the way, sounds like Jacob and Pythagorus share a passion for numbers.) And as I explored in an earlier column, Lost seems suffused with Buddhist subtext… and having seen tonight’s episode SPOILER ALERT! I can report that there’s a few developments in the Sideways world that further bolster a Buddhist reading.
What do all of these (potentially irrelevant) allusions really mean for Lost? Well, I was going to suggest that when The Island gets a new guardian, the philosophical and religious ideas of his or her time become imprinted on The Island. But honestly, the main reason why I walked you through all this was… nostalgia. I’m not going to get many more chances to be crazy-theory guy. In fact, I can count on two hands how many more times you’ll hear from babble on about this show. 1. The new episode of Totally Lost, which you’ll find below. 2. My Instant Reaction to “What They Died For”; look for it tonight right after the episode airs. 3. My recap of the episode, posting tomorrow. 4. A Doc Jensen column posting on Friday. 5. An instant reaction to “The End,” posting on Sunday night. 6. My final recap, posting Monday. 7. One last episode of Totally Lost, date TBD. 8. One last Doc Jensen column, date also TBD. That leaves two extra fingers on those two hands. I shouldn’t let them go to waste. Perhaps I’ll put them to good use–with a surprise or two.