Saturday, April 21, 2007

A Short Treatise on Vicious Circles

One of the great mysteries of Lost is why they seem to constantly insert sophisticated concepts derived from philosophy, literature, religion and even physics into a show where the fans tend to think on the level of:

Why do only black people fall from the sky?

Was Charlie sporting an Applause guitar by Ovation? Because I have one, and that would be really cool.

anothr epoint i would ike to mention is an assosiation of Jack and Sawyer with Grey's anatomy's (a show which i am falling deply in love with) McDreamy and McSteamy aka Derek shepard and Mark sloan....

I could go on, but I have a recap to write. The point is: WHY? Why bother to fill these episodes with obscure references to difficult concepts that the fanboys and shippergirls can't even marginally understand? References to Hume, to Locke, to Joseph Campbell, the Book of Genesis, quantum physics, Heidinger's Cat! It seems like an awful lot of work for nothing, doesn't it?

Well, let's not be like that. Let's see if we can be worthy of all the efforts these writers put into muddying up the waters and confusing us and making up shit that makes us think we should be thinking about what it means.

Let's start with Hume:

As in DESMOND David Hume, our protagonist of the week. Like Des, this bewigged philosopher from the 18th century was Scottish. And like Des, he was mostly interested in what causes what. Or how things cause other things. And whether there's any point to believing in free will, since maybe it doesn't even matter what we think we will ourselves to do. Maybe it's all set in stone and we're just drawn along and forced to play our parts like cogs in a machine. Although something causes our not-free will to act like it's free, the original cause, and that's what Desmond went in search of this episode.

How much does Desmond hate saving Charlie now?

Desmond had a dream. It started with Hurley pulling this pose

and ended with Charlie pulling this one.

It would seem, to the Philosopher Hume, that Hurley pulling the cable causes Charlie to eat the arrow, which in turn causes the next part of Desmond's vision - the part he likes, the part he wants - where his beautiful Penny comes to rescue him, just like she said she would so long ago. And Desmond clearly has had it with saving that skinny little Englishman. He decides to take matters in his own hands and MAKE his vision happen this time. In other words, Des wants Charlie to die in order to cause Penny to appear. Good for Desmond, not so good for Charlie.

But how can this work? If Desmond didn't go and recruit his band of brothers

would any of these things happen? Would the helicopter girl have just waited up in space for Desmond to get Hurley to pull up the cable and Charlie to step on the rope? What about Jin's ghost story?

Didn't see that in the vision. Maybe that's what screwed it all up!

In any case, the helicopter girl

did arrive. She wasn't Penny. If Desmond had let Charlie go, would it have been Penny? That doesn't make much sense, didn't make much sense that Desmond was a monk in non-Catholic Scotland either or that they made wine in a country where there isn't enough sun available to grow grass, let alone grapes...but we digress. We're pretending the writers are geniuses here today, OK?...So. Space suit girl was not Penny.

She was however, an avid reader. Of the Portuguese translation of Catch-22. And this is where 18th century philosophy collides with the 20th century.

See, now that humankind has evolved past simple mechanistic explanations of the universe, we are still left trying to sort out the paradox of our existence, and Catch-22 is a book that reminds us what a futile, self defeating joke we're left with when we try to cause something to happen. In that book, the Army will discharge anyone who is insane...but you have to request the discharge personally...and only a sane person could think they might possibly be no one can possibly ever get discharged as insane! It really sucks. It's a circular self referential paradox. A kind of absurd HELL where every action causes an action that causes the first action to repeat itself, and there's never any escape. And this is where Desmond is now.

Come on, Charlie, would it be so bad to just die already?
Desmond is still willing to save Charlie. But he's getting damn pissed about it. Because saving Charlie only causes Charlie to be in danger of dying again. What's the point?

To help us get this point ... well, not really, because I'm pretty sure no one got it...they digressed into one of their favorite misunderstood references, The Holy Bible. The, wine... the monks bottled was named Moriah, for the mountain where the Original Mean Daddy - Abraham - agreed to slaughter his son Isaac like a boar to show his allegiance to God. You can see this as another paradox. Abraham had to break God's law, and commit the ultimate sin of killing an innocent because God himself ordered him to break it. Poor Abraham was as trapped as poor Desmond...but of course poor Isaac

was most trapped of all. Abraham deferred to God - the biggest Cause of them all - and he was freed from his vicious moral dilemma. But Desmond does not defer. He exercises free will, he uses his own conscience, and the cycle continues, viciously, on and on...or at least until the season finale.

So what does this have to do with SEX?

Because, face it, that's what we all really enjoyed in this episode! You think this was a subplot, unrelated to the larger story, that the blasted, infernal, nauseating triangle has no story telling function other than to cause the online shippers to make fools of themselves week after week as their hopeful predictions one by one fail to come true? Au contraire! I have found the connection!

You might think it was a little bizarre, a little unnatural, a little unrelated that Kate was mooning over Jack in this episode.

After all, he recently deserted her with murderers and blew off her apology and has been tripping over himself trying to be Juliet's white knight. And you might think it was even more unrelated that her spurned spoonlicking flirtation sent her into Sawyer's tent to...lick something a lot sweeter.

But, actually, no! It all makes sense now.

See, Kate being with Jack

causes her to seduce Sawyer,

which in turn causes Jack's heart to break

...well, actually it causes Jack to become super happy and content. Which causes Kate to go mental.

That, in turn, causes her to seduce Sawyer again! Which causes Jack to become even happier.

Which causes....well, this could go on forever, as you can see!

Will Kate break out of this hellish cycle, and start loving this beautiful man for himself?

When she does ...

will Jaters join Charlie on his death watch?

Will free will prevail or are they all trapped in the vicious cycle of Cause and Effect over which any self willed acts are an illusion?

That's how I saw the episode anyway. But I could certainly be wrong. Other Lost fans have different opinions:
Could the Island be the home of the Blair Witch? You never know. When the Losties start trekking their way through the forest they start acting a little crazy and hearing voices like those insane kids in the movie did when they started trekking their way through the forest.

Does Richard Alpert get his own make-up drop? Or does raccoon eyes buy it in the real world when he's out there stalking his employees' relatives?

Unified theory of a rather have a redneck in the backseat of a car than bill gates in a micro-film.

I don't think there is a greater proof of the randomness of our existence than the Lost fanbase. The question really is - Can a TV show successfully throw enough high quality intelllectual red herrings at a mostly insane fanbase and cause any of them to understand whatever the hell story they are trying to tell?

Until next week...

Animation courtesy of Spunky at LF

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