Monday, May 24, 2010

Lost in Lost

Okay, I admit it – I got sucked into Lost. A couple of years ago I watched a few episodes from the first season and got hooked. I went out and bought all the seasons on DVD and immersed myself in the storyline preparing for the new season that year.

It didn’t matter that it didn’t make sense. It was terrific storytelling and we were told the writers had it all mapped out. In fact, it was so well mapped out, we were led to believe, that the season of the writer’s strike, they were upset that some of the plot development from that season would not get in, or would be rushed.

This gave me comfort. So, I could live with my confusion. After all, I knew one day it would all fall into place – the writers had it all plotted out. One day all would be revealed and I would be able to say, “So, that’s why the polar bear was there; that’s where the smoke monster came from.”

So, here I sit after the series finale – my hopes dashed. It turns out it was all a sham. There are no real answers; in fact, it doesn’t appear there was a “real” story. It seemed left open to my, yours, their, interpretation as to what it all meant.

We are left to debate what the smoke monster represented, why the polar bear was there, whether or not anyone even survived the crash. For that matter, was there even a crash at all; or was this just a group of the dearly departed (and we’re not talking airline departure, but deceased) sitting around collectively creating an imaginary plane crash so they could create an imaginary island, ultimately realizing they were all dead so they could move on to the next point?

In the end, this was just an overly drawn out storyline (creatively presented, though it was) to get to a spiritual punch line, rooted in Eastern religions. The spiritual undertones were always there. After all, the “Dharma Initiative” is clearly drawn from Hinduism and Buddhism. So, I am not surprised that the finale would have spiritual dimensions. What surprised me is that the writers decided to wrap everything up in a neat little far eastern worldview that really didn’t say anything.

Among the final scenes in the Church, Jack stands by his father’s casket and behind him is a stained glass window. Each pane contains the symbol of a world religion. The lower left pane is a wheel with spokes (like a wagon wheel), a symbol commonly used by new agers to explain that all religions lead to the same God. The hub of the wheel represents God and the spokes are the various religions. This, it appears, was the secret of Lost.

Recent polling indicates that about 25% of Americans hold some version of this view of religion and God. As such, there are probably quite a few folks who are perfectly happy with the way it all turned out. However, for this viewer, the conclusion was as senseless as the spiritual theories it espoused.

When Seinfeld premiered, we were told it was a story about nothing and we bought into it and enjoyed the ride. Perhaps, if the Lost creators had just told us up front this was a story about nothing I would not feel so much like I had been savoring over a menu filled with wonderful meals, only to be told the kitchen is closed. In such a case, I might be left to try and concoct my own meal with the ingredients available to me, as I have been left to do with Lost.

In the end I must try and piece it all together myself, as must you. No doubt we will draw different meanings and interpretations of the series. And, from the show’s creators’ perspective, I am sure that is okay. After all, the eastern spirituality espoused in the show holds that there are no absolute truths. You have your truth and I have mine.

Make sense? Of course not.

So, in the final analysis we have a group of characters, who may never have been alive at any point in the series, living in an illusionary world of their own making until such time as they can find one another and come to the collective understanding they are all, in fact dead. Upon reaching such point they can then move on with their…er, life – now my head is really spinning – or, next life (can you spell REINCARNATION).

If you haven’t been watching Lost this probably didn’t make any sense to you. Don’t worry, I watched every single episode and, as you can tell, it doesn’t make sense to me either.

For those of you who enjoyed it and love the ending, I am glad for you. As for me, while the journey was quite enjoyable, upon reaching the destination it turned out to be a road that should have been less traveled. Well, that's my truth anyway.

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