LOST Theories - DarkUFO

Lost and the Mirror Stage by caleb

I should preface this theory by stating that recently I've been inundated with a large amount of academic discourse centering on such greats as Heidegger, Lacan, and Merleau-Ponty. I'm also a huge Lost fan (been watching since season one, whoop whoop) and while reading these last few months I couldn't help but notice parallels between my feelings watching the last season, and the theory.

One parallel in particular stands out.

Lacan's Mirror Stage is an infuriatingly obtuse description of a phenomenon that he understands as occurring in all humans, during development. Its primary motivating desire is one towards UNITY. That is, a little baby is characterized by DISUNITY (flailing arms, intermittent drives for food, comfort, perceptual lack of structures). It doesn't have a problem with this disunity, because it knows nothing else. When a baby looks into the mirror, however, it sees the BODY IMAGE, and thinks that it is WHOLE. It feels some correlation between its movements -- the flailing arm here, and the flailing arm there, and recognizes sameness. Lacan thinks this recognition is in fact a MIS-recognition, and that the mistake of thinking we are unified via the mirror image or the gaze of the other is a primary cause of a lot of unhappiness.

How does this coincide with Lost?

From day one the show has enticed us with the possibility of unity...but it was a unity that only was pointed at occasionally, in the big 'reveals' of the show and the denials of consequence in lieu of FATE. Example: Jack meeting Desmond in the hatch, the numbers pervasive presence.

The whole show has weaved a tapestry of intriguing possibilities -- possibilities that we have STRIVEN to resolve into ACTUALITIES. Why?

The smoke monster is the prime example. Throughout the show its conveyance has signified contradictory meanings: it's material (can throw people around, adheres to the laws of physics and sonic fences) yet appears to be retain cognitive faculties reserved only for the mystical (reading minds, Judging good and evil). It is formulated, yet formless, benign yet malignant...in other words, complete only in its indeterminacy. We may have even hoped for an answer in seeing its ORIGINS, but as we have experienced in Across the Water, such origin stories do nothing but point at "something over there". We don't know really whether the smoke monster 'is' any "thing" or any "one"...not even the Man in Black (we never saw what happened to him after going over the waterfall). We can only guess and assume and postulate, according to our own innate struggle with attempting to resolve disunity into unity.

And when J.J. Abrams talks about his magic box that he's never opened, and mystery, he's really talking about the unified image of the self projected in the mirror, that we all WISH we could BE, but know we are not -- hence the indeterminacy, and hence our identification with it. It's the reason Lost is so "fun" -- because it is an instantiation of our own personal struggle with identity, with unity.

The show is ultimately satisfying because although the CONTEXT of disunity -- the Island -- ultimately remains a mystery, the CONTENT of the disunity (the characters of the show) are ultimately resolved. They experience sudden flashes of realization which affords them perspective, and concreteness. They experience their entire lives, flashing before their eyes, before becoming complete-in-death.

Hopefully we'll all experience such moments, irrelevant of how confusing our own personal islands may be.

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