LOST Theorizing & Literary Co-Workers

“At the end of your 8-hour shift, proceed to the Pala Ferry, which will take you back to the barracks.” So says one of the Dharma orientation films.

During last week’s season finale, we got a chance to see Pala Ferry, along with a few other oddities that set up quite a hefty third season.

Independent of the scurring about that so many of us are doing all over the interweb looking for tidbits of fact and fiction about LOST (I swear I get somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 google search referrals for LOST-related phrases every weekeday), my co-worker Dwayne has been on this Aldus Huxley reading kick lately. Specifically, he’s been reading the aptly titled novel Island. See if any of this sounds familiar…

Island is the story of Will Farnaby, a journalist who is shipwrecked on the island of Pala. On the island, he discovers a civiliazation born from a Scottish Secular Humanist medical doctor, shipwrecked on the island in the 19th century, and Pala’s original Mahayana Buddhist inhabitants. In other words, Huxley’s perfect combination of east and west. Other vaguely familiar traits of the island’s culture include drug use for enlightenment, self-knowledge, and pacification, separate group living for children (to avoid the inevitable damage their parent’s issues might inflict on them), group living for the elimination of individuality, and trance states for advanced learning.

Oh, and since the island’s inhabitants were avid Buddhists, they often made huge statues. (No word from Dwayne on whether any of them were FOUR-TOED statues, though.) In other Buddhist-related meanderings, a “dharmapala” is a type of wrathful deity. The name means “Dharma-defender” in Sanskrit, and “defenders” or “protectors” of the law (or, literally, of the Dharma) in English. In Buddhist iconography, they are depicted as fearsome beings, but they are all bodhisattvas or buddhas – embodiments of compassion that act in a wrathful way for the sake of sentient beings. Like, perhaps, The Others.

How do you keep a show like LOST interesting and continually moving? The same way creative works have survived for centuries… you rip off as many seemingly disassociated sources as possible, and you meld them into something that feels fresh and new. (At least they’re mining from top-notch literature. I’m still waiting for Shakespeare references to start popping up.)