Friday, May 14, 2010

What LOST Tells Me About the Universe

Another LOST post attempting to be general and specific spoiler-free. In 10 days the series will be over, no doubt with a few typical topsy-turvy moments in store. Fan reaction to the latest post has been divided. Some people feel like they've been taken on a long trip that points toward scientific explanations only to be detured suddenly to a myth at the heart of it, and they hate that. I think the same thing ... and I love it.

The point of this mythological season 6 of LOST is that the real drivers on the island are not mechanisms, or nanobots, or technology, or atoms of any sort. The real drivers are the personalities living out a story, again and again. I think it works, because I think at heart the universe is about personalities, not about mechanisms. It's about relationship and story, not about cool gadgets or clever plot twists. And when you tell a big story you had better focus on the people, not the mechanism, if you are to tell a true story.

So I think the story of brothers fighting is more important than the story of what exactly the glowing light IS or its chemical composition. This should have been clear ever since the writers pointed out that they really hate "Star Wars Episode I" because it tries to explain too much.

They are right. The universe is ultimately a mystery. (And an infinite regress: "This happens because two atoms collide." "But why do two atoms collide like that?") If it is a mechanism and personalities emerged from that alone, then it is meaningless. But rather, if it is at heart about personality, what gives it that personality?

This is where I don't expect LOST to get it right. I'm sure there will be some element of self-salvation in the end, which can be partially but never fully right, although I expect that to be through a group, which has something true in it.

When the series ends, I'm curious as to how it will fall short and how it will succeed. I'm sure there will be a little of both, and as a Christian, I'll agree and disagree. More than anything else, that's what I'm looking forward to.

PS: This kind of twist is a LITTLE bit like the end of "Otherland" by Tad Williams; but also it's better than Williams' conclusion in some ways. I'd have more to say if I thought anyone cared about Tad Williams' writing ...

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