notes on LOST finale

rearrangement of tropes into different patterns, configurations: basic level of storytelling. it is: aliens; it is: government conspiracy; the answer is: mayan ancestors, etc. no answer at that basic level will ever be satisfactory on a human level; humans are multi-story creatures, multi-narrative; we encompass many languages at once and therefore perceive many viewpoints at once (though we view them all through our own)

LOST allows us to rearrange those tropes as we guess and guess our way towards the conclusion. the rearrangement of tropes as the series develops is a fun experience; a story unfolding. but ultimately it is a story about letting go and moving on, about the problem of death interrupting life -- interrupting narrative. no one narrative will ever be satisfactory because it ends; it dies. LOST shifts forms, trying to escape death, but cannot, and comes to accept its own end (the shot of the empty island, the crashed plane): here is my corpse.

is it merely the story of a man's dying vision? well no. his father tells him that this is real, and that what happened was real. was it Real? well no. clearly not. it's a television show. so clearly it inhabits some realm between non-existence and the reality that we, the viewers, experience, and the status of that realm is up for debate. indeed, the show itself debates its own reality, again and again, posits it as an obvious and self-evident question. (even parodies itself in the Expose episodes).

the more interesting question to ask is: why am I uncomfortable with the thought that it was all Jack's dying vision? (if you're very upset by that thought, consider: he's not wearing the clothes he crashed in; he sees a plane successfully leave the island -- a plane which is clearly a metaphor for a soul leaving the body. yes, but is not entirely that metaphor -- it's a plane taking off, too).

do I want so much to believe that this fictional construct 'actually' happened that I am upset when I am told it did not 'happen'? clearly the show raises the question of quantum realities, and even if it was all in Jack's mind it still 'happened'.

but why it upsets me is the thought that these people who i began to identify with never loved each other -- that they never met each other except when they flew on an airplane together and then crashed and died. i don't like the thought that they never loved each other, never knew each other.

i have difficulty believing that all this was a vision to help jack accept his impending death because it seems strange to invent unfamiliar personalities to help him on his journey -- surely he would have taken people from his own life to help him

also if it was all a death-vision it's a rather cynical story, even a kind of joke the writers play on their audience: none of this happened, lol owned. these characters are too convincingly and tenderly rendered to be part of the writers' cynical joke.

the idea that the finale, the series, can mean many things to many people is in line with the series' experimentation with multiple realities

what is clearer than anything is that the writers intended these questions to be raised and not easily settled, that reality -- realities -- cannot be bedded so easily, nor resolved. who expected answers? people who seemed to have forgotten that LOST is a human construct, and that while the generic conventions make it appear as though the superhuman truth which the characters pursue is accessible to us, the viewers, it is only bits and pieces of truths we (they, the writers, all of us) have assembled as humans.

what is important isn't whether or not it was aliens, holy magic, mayan prophecy, electromagnetism, but how the arrangement of those tropes increase our appreciation of the infinitely mysterious bonds which connect us all

a lot of the unanswered questions are ultimately generic questions i.e. why was the dharma symbol on that shark? what was the glowing light? and the writers' answer is essentially what jack's been told over and over: "let go."

what's essential to the show and to human experience is emotional connection to other people, and the show's ending, as i interpret it, is clearly "we are all inextricably bound together in ways beyond our understanding, and Answers, Ultimate Truths, are only valuable insofar as they increase our reverence for those bonds."

what is the island? it is whatever we need it to be in order to 'die to self', to surrender to our commitment to other people

the man in black is a man who throws off his commitment to his family in order to pursue self-actualization; his actions isolate him forever from the human race.

"what happened, happened." also, LOST is a story about faith. if we want to believe that these things actually happened to the losties -- then we can. the show leaves that option open to us.

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