Sunday, January 24, 2010

6-Lost, The Dark Tower & The Grail Quest

My last 3 posts have compared three pivotal Lost characters to the hero in Stephen King's Dark Tower epic, Roland Deschain -- The Gunslinger. This post will compare the world of Lost, as we understand it thru season 5, with the world walked by Roldan Deschain on his quest to enter "The Dark Tower". It will seek to identify the mythic journey the Lost survivors are on and in doing so will seek to find similarities between both Lost, the Dark Tower and the Quest for the Holy Grail.

My overview of Roland Deschaines and the Dark Tower
Lostpedia Dark Tower Theory
Stephen King's entry in Lostpedia
Wikipedia Dark Tower Summary

The transcendent theme of the Dark Tower stories is a hero's struggle with the morality of his actions on the journey to complete his quest. The destination of the Gunslinger is to enter the Dark Tower. For those on the Grail quest, the destination is to find the Grail. For our heros on the Island, their destination remains shrouded by the veil of Season 6. But it is vital to note that morality is not synonymous with the destination of a hero's quest. Salvation and healing my be what the hero and his world needs, but it is not necessarily the goal he initially pursues. The best example of this is the Grail Quest. You can have pious knights, lovable scoundrel archeologists, or Nazis searching for the Grail. (see: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)
The destinations are disticntly seperate from the accomplishments, and the morality of the journey that those on the quest enact. The destination and goal does NOT impart a moral path for those on the journey.
As Karlfried Graf Durckheim says, "When you’re on a journey, and the end keeps getting further and further away, then you realize that the real end is the journey."

For those looking for a destination to justify John Locke throwing a knife into a woman's back or all of the lies & machinations of Ben, they have missed the point. It doesn't matter whether the nazis or Indiana Jones get the grail. What matters is the actions they took on their journey and how those actions transformed them, and what they do with their treasure when they reach it. They may use it to save others, to heal the world's wounds, bring themselves power and domination or destruction, but they may also bring back not a relic of power, but a morality to guide a community to live justly, and they can not find that morality or the strength of will to use power wisely if their actions on their journey are not moral. This is not to say that heros have to be pure and pious, but it does mean that their struggle to find atonement is essential to their transformation and will define the outcome that their hero's journey will have on themselves and their world. Joseph Campbell in his book "The Hero with a Thousand Faces" notes that the transformation of the hero can be into: a warrior, a lover, a tyrant, a world redemmer or a saint.

Roland, the  does not start off to 'save the world'. Indeed the world that he knows is virtually destroyed. Every person, place or thing he valued is destroyed. His family and friends are dead. His country is overthrown and disolved in anarchy. His duty and every obligation placed on him from his position as a Gunslinger is defunct. The very fabric of reality of his world is disintegrating. Laws of nature fade, time and space disolve into entropy as reality itself dwindeles. His world is literally a "Wasteland", and he is willing to sacrifice anything to bring him one step closer to his goal of entering the Dark Tower. Roland comes upon his quest early in the his life. As his world crumbles, he finds a magic crystal ball (Merlin's Grapefruit) and within it he sees and covets the Dark Tower. The magic crystal ball is as evil as the ring of sauron and it fills the Gunslinger with obsessive, addictive and blinding desire to reach the Dark Tower.  The Dark Tower is the physical nexus of all reality in all universes, it is a focal point to wield the power of that focused energy.

But how is Gunslinger's quest for the Dark Tower similar to the Quest for the Grail. The Holy Grail is the cup that held Jesus' wine at the Last Supper and later is used to capture some of his blood from the cross. It is the physical counterpart of grace and forgiveness in Christian iconology, it represents the atonement realized by Jesus on the cross. This power for atonment is metaphorically represented by the mythical healing powers of the grail.

The Fisher King was charged by God with guarding the Holy Grail, but later incurred some form of incapacitating physicalwound as punishment for a sin of pride (usually represented by a wound which castrates him), and had to wait for someone to deliver him from his suffering. Just as the Fisher king in the Grail quest is maimed, so the land he rules is likewise denuded of its fertility. The Fisher King survives on the healing emenations from the grail but he can not use it to heal himself or his land. Indeed while he guards it, the Grail itself is concealed from him and he does not actually know where it exists. (Note: wikipedia notes that in many Fisher King stories, there are 2 kings, either a father/son or grandfather/grandson and one is represented as too wounded to leave the proximity of the grail, while the other is able to leave to gather fish to sustain themselves-perhaps some similarity between Jacob and his nehmisis, the man in black.)

Whereas the Gunslinger's quest has a very dark, originating motivation that results more from an evil 'infection', strengthened by Roland's desire; the Grail quest's leader, Galahand (an illegitamate son who mistakenly kills his father Lancelot) has a different motivation. Galahad’s motivation to seek the grail comes from his conviction that succeeding at the quest is the only way to preserve his legacy and to fulfill his destiny is to do something amazing. (A motivation I'm sure John Locke can relate to). While positive, it is not exactly the selfless, pious and virtuous motivation sometimes alluded to, for it is also motivated by desire, although a desire to do good, to cleave to the light.

The success of both quests are more a result of the transformation of the heros on their journey rather than their success in getting to point x, their quest's destination.

The Grail, according to Joseph Cambell in The Power of Myth, reprsents the "spirital path that is between parirs of opposites, between fear and desire, between good and evil." Perhaps between black and white, between faith and science. "The Grail becomes symbolic of an authentic life that is lived in terms of its own volition,...between the pairs of opposites of good and evil, light and dark...Every act has both good and evil results...The best we can do is lean toward the light, toward the harmonious relationships that come from compassion with suffering, from understanding the other person. This is what the Grail is about." This is also how the Gunslinger succeeds in his quest. He leans toward the light and risks all to help others, diverting from his quest, but in doing so he creates 'harmonious relationships' with his companions who become gunslingers in their own right and through their shared trials and sufferings become a ka'tet (brotherhood of fate) and join his quest, willingly risking their lives to advance Roland's quest, and together they achieve what was not Roland's quest, the salvation of his wasted world.

The mythic journey represented in the the metaphorical grail quest (and the gunslinger's quest) is to lead an authentic life of creation, where your actions spring from your heart and not from fear or desire or obligations. Indeed, the entire quest fails (the first time) when Perceivil meets the Grail King (Fisher King) and surpresses what he wishes to say (merely "what ails you") because of his knightly obligations. (Hurley in Some Like it Hoth, also notes how many problems could be averted if people just commuincated better). Guineivere, the mother of Galahand, one of the Grail Knights clearly defines what the journey of his quest must accomplish. “You’ll waste your life if you don’t accomplish something new, something entirely your own.” (Erskine 192). A wonderful adaption of the Grail Quest is found in the movie "The Fisher King" by Terry Gilliam and it a summary of it's themes can be found in Wikipedia.

Joesph Cambell notes in The Power of Myth "The theme of the Grail romance is that of the land, the country, the whold territory of concern has been laid waste. It is called a wasteland. And what is the nature of the wasteland? It is a land where evreybody is living an inauthentic life, doing as other people do, doing what you're told, (or what your fear or where your desires move you) with no courage for your own life. That is the wasteland, this is the box that we are locked into and must escape.

That is what T.S. Eliot meant in his poem THE WASTE LAND.  "I've never done a thing I wanted to in all of my life. I've done as I was told."

This just about sums up John Locke's life (As well as Jack & Kate & Sawyer). Once John is reacquainted with 'his father' Anthony Cooper, he is no longer in control over his own life. His desire for his father's approval and fear that his life is worthless unless affirmed by dad, destroys his life and he ends up in a box, as so fittingly represented by his dead-end job at Hurley's box factory. "Don't tell me what I can't do!" is a common refrain on Lost. Locke is as firmly enchained by his desire and fear as Roland Deschain is locked onto his merciless path, his ka, his destiny to wander in the wasteland in search of his Dark Tower. For Locke (Jack and Sawyer), transformation is only really possible when he deals with his own 'daddy issues'.

Joseph Campbell argues that "the impulses of nature are what give authenticity to life, not the rules coming from a supernatureal authority". Moral values are worthy to be followed not because they emenate from a pope-like figure, but because when they are enacted from compassion they help individuals and society's form harmonious relationships strengthened by the power of love and forgiveness. They result in measurably better people, living better lives. So blindly following Jacob's little pieces of paper will result in some very unhappy and unhealthy people (see Ben). So while most of our Losties are running on fear and desire (at least when they arrive on the Island), the Others are blindly following the orders of Jacob, as delivered in little pieces of paper to Ben.

In the Dark Tower, Roland the Gunslinger transforms through the shared compassion for and from his companions. He overcomes the desire for the Dark Tower enough to love his companions and their return of his love leads to the healing of Roland's soul and eventual salvation for his world. In the Grail quest, a simpleminded knight named Percival, referred to in the one adaption of the Grail Quest, as "The Fool", healed the wounds of the Fisher King with kindness to the king, asking him why he suffers and giving him a cup of water to drink. The king realizes the cup is the grail and is baffled that the boy found it, as demonstrated in the closing exchange: "I've sent my brightest and bravest men to search for this. How did you find it?" The Fool laughed and said "I don't know. I only knew that you were thirsty." \

The Gunslinger's quest succeeds in large part, because he 'detours' from directly following his quest in order to help people who desperately need help. The Gunslinger's destination is The Dark Tower, but it is his path, his journey which brings salvation to his world and atonement for himeself.

I believe Lost involves a similar quest and healing theme that will result from the transformation of the heros. Perhaps some Lostie, like Hurley will likewise overcome his fear and desires to act from his core, and of his own volition to communicate some simple message which will lead to a couple of improvments that will bring monumental changes to the story of the Losties. Perhaps they will also detour from their goal of getting off the island, and in the process find transformation to allow them to get past their fears to communicate with the others on the Island. And so might the Losties find salvation in their journey.

Well this post has gotten pretty long, so I am going to take a break. As you can probably see I have been very inspired by the various "Lost Supper" photos to tie in the Grail Quest with my review of the Dark Tower and Lost. I am very excited as we have only 8 more days to wait for some 'freakin answers'!

take it easy
it ain't all half bad
mr badd

p.s. Just some grail teasers to tantelize you til the next post.
After Galahad, Perceivl and Bors gain the grail, they entrust it to Percevil's sister and take it aboard a ship to the Island of Sarras.

Juliet's Mark Lostpedia Theories As part of his commuting Juliet's death sentence in "Stranger in a Strange Land", Ben orders Juliet to be marked instead. Jack asks Juliet to show him the mark and she reveals a strange symbol branded onto her lower back. The symbol looks somewhat like an upside-down cross (with the top line longer than the others), with two (or four) lines facing away from the center on the horizontal line. But instead of marking Juliet as a traitor and a killer, I believe it marks her as a protector of the Island. This mark is almost identical to the mark the protectors of the Holy Grail wear in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The Grail quest had 4 participants, 3 knights and Percevil's sister. The Dark Tower quest also has 4 key participants.

Maybe the theme of the Grail quest and the Fisher King can be better interpreted throughTerry Gilliam's movie "Fisher King".
(Tagline: 'A Modern Day Tale About the Search for Love, Sanity, Ethel Merman and the Holy Grail.)
Here both key characters have representions as the wounded Fisher King as well as the knights and as they transform and find compassion for each other, they both find atonement and the ability to heal the other.

"A central theme of the film, playing on the grail motif, is grace and forgiveness. For example, Jack's signature line in his potential sitcom is "forgive me," which after the shooting becomes a tormenting echo of his arrogance when he hears it repeated by the actor who took his place in the sitcom. Parry is seeking the Holy Grail, which held the wine of the Last Supper and, at the crucifixion, its theological equivalent, the blood of Christ - the physical counterpart of grace and forgiveness in Christian iconology. The Red Knight figment that Parry sees around New York represents his memories of the night his wife was killed; the dangling red drapes of the Red Knight's costume imitate the spray from the shot hitting his wife, and the flames recall the gun blast. In Wolfram Von Eschenbach's epic Parsival, the Red Knight was killed by Parsival (Parry) who then took his armor for himself. When Parsival introduces himself to King Arthur's court, Arthur names Parsival the new Red Knight."

Perhaps this brings a new light to the 'Red Shirt' worn by Juliet in the Incident. Will she re-emerge as 'The Red Knight' and protector of the Grail/Island?

Or perhaps Juliet will just end up like Desmond after the Swan Hatch imploded, running around the island naked, til Hurley loans her a shirt (Now there's a true moral test for a hero!?!)

Monday, January 18, 2010

5 - The Gunslinger Revealed - A Review of James "Sawyer" Ford

James Ford, aka Sawyer, aka Jim LeFleur is one of the baddest, bad ass characters in Lost.

Transformation and Atonement
No character has undergone more of a transformation, not even a paralyzed, down trodden John Locke.  And when the season five finale of the Incident ended, no character has suffered or sacrificed more then he to bring about the new beginning prophesized by Faraday and enacted by Jack.

James transforms from a selfish and completely self centered con man to an inspirational leader and a hero cut in the cloth of Han Solo and Indiana Jones. At times he resembles the wiley Odysseus or the evil trickster Loki but of all the survivors of Oceanic 815, he has most fully transformed into a hardened but morally centered hero akin to Sam Spade or Phillip Marlow.
But is he gunslinger material?

Gunslinger Qualifications: Background

Like the gunslinger Roland, James loses his entire world at a young age. His mother (like Roland's) betrays her husband and is gunned down. Like Roland, James is consumed by his obsession. But where Roland fastens onto a mythic adventure, James is fixated on the destruction of his personal world and the man he blames for his loss. He pursues the con man 'Sawyer' but becomes truely lost, as he morphs into the man he seeks. He becomes the con man who destroyed his life, even adopting his name as an alias.

So far, while there are distinct differences between Roland the gunslinger and James Ford, there are also many similarities. Roland too is morphed by the obsession of his quest and indeed even parlays with the man in black responsible for his mother's betrayal and his father's death.

The Gunslinger's character and growth as a hero

James/Sawyer's life is desolate. He has become what he had hoped to destroy. So desperate must he be to escape the life of 'Sawyer' and to rekindle the only purpose his life has ever known, that he allows himself to be 'played' by another con man, Hibbs, who has already once betrayed him once (the Tampa job). He is easily duped by Hibbs into traveling to Australia, to kill a man who Hibbs named 'Sawyer' who is in fact just a gambler running a food stand who owes Hibbs money.

James/Sawyer does receive 'critical' guidance on his quest to find and kill 'Sawyer'. After finding the fake 'Sawyer' he losses his nerve but Christian Shepard runs into James in an Australian bar and convinces him to complete his quest, urging him to take any action if it will bring him just a little peace.

And so Sawyer kills the wrong man in Australia. He is filled with self-loathing and is on a path of self-destruction.

On the island he seeks death and punishment but balks repeatedly at redemption.

He actively seeks death in his stand in front of a charging polar bear, punishment in his inviting of Sayid's torture for inhalors he does not posses, death again in his determination to be on the raft and his continual determination to have those around him hate him as much as he loathes himself.

He actively rejects any possibility of redemption (except perhaps a faint dream of it as he drifts on the raft toward his expected death when he sings Bob Marley) and cannot give up his obsession nor his self-hatred.

After returning to the Island after Walt is kidnapped and the raft destroyed, James/Sawyer begins to form strong bonds among the survivors. A spark is kindled between him and Kate  and it evolves into an off again / on again relationship.

James/Sawyer consistently rejects the respect of his fellow survivors, indeed, during the "Long Con" not only does he reject the new found respect of his fellow Losties, but his complex double dealings conspire only to gain him the hatred of his fellow Losties, apparently it is all he truely wants.
 James/Sawyer is trapped in a cage of his own making, but Hurley continually reaches out to him.

Hurley refuses to give up on him and James/Sawyer is easily conned by Hugo (like he was conned by Hibbs) into caring for his fellow survivors.

Hugo pretends that everyone is considering banishing him, and gets James make amends to gain their goodwill. He gives Claire a blanket and complements Arron "he's not as wrinkly as he was a couple weeks ago." He also helps Desmond catch a boar and prepares a feast for everyone.

Hurley thus 'cons' Sawyer into caring about his fellow survivors but it isn't until Hurley tells him why...because they need him as a leader, that James begins to 'want' to be redemmed. And when Sun scowls at him he no longer seems to desire the loathing he has wrought. He appears to now have the capacity to love others because they need him, and this transforms his view of himself enpowering him to become the leader the Losties need to survive.

In the mythological sense, Hurley sets the stage and prepares James for the challenges he is soon to face. And James/Sawyer does not have to wait long when John cons him (this con man is getting conned left and right) to follow him to kill 'Ben'. This is what brings James/Sawyer to enter down into the dark hold of the "Black Rock" to confront 'Ben' only to be brought face to face with Anthony Cooper and when Cooper refuses to read his letter, James strangles him. He slays 'Sawyer' and becomes James Ford.

James undergoes a classic trial of the hero. Decending into the depths to slay his father, in order to become his own man, and frees himself from the chains of the past.  And is not Anthony Cooper, James' true father. Whether or not he fathered James (a possibility) it was Cooper whose influece guides his entire life

James even has a methaphorical rebirth/baptism when he jumps off the helicopter to allow the others to reach the freighter. He arrives on the island without his shirt, another methaphor for having cast off his old life and starting a clean slate.
When the Losties find themselves in 1977 Dharma Town, he chooses to become Jim LaFleur, Sheriff of Dharma Town (fleur is an insignia or mark or flower on heraldry). Jim chooses to remake himself into a figure at polar opposites to the self centered con man he once was. He is now a leader, who puts others ahead of himself, he inspires loyalty and respect.

Jim finds Love...                                                                ...and suffers Loss

The gunslinger's quest
James has several very strong personal quests, to free himself from 'Sawyer', to find his life's path, to become a leader. Because of his strength, courage and eventually loyalty, he is strongly involved in directing larger events on the island. He bases his decisions and judges the actions of others from the strong moral character that ermeges within himself. He comes into conflict with John Locke after the destruction of Dharma Town when John Locke tries to force Hurley to come with him and Ben to find 'Jacob's Cabin'. But the same James Ford is loyal to John Locke when Locke risks himself going down the Well to save the losties from the time jumps.
James loyalty to Locke sacrifice, is the primary reason for him convincing Juliet, the other Losties, Richard Alpert and Horace to let them stay in 1977 Dharma Town to look for their missing friends. This may be one of the most important acts in setting the stage for a nuclear reset by Jack in the season finale "The Incident".

In many respects, his hero's quest was to become the man capable of keeping his friends in Dharma Town so they are there in 1977 when Jack, Kate, Hurley and Sayid return. At this point he has become a good man, an excellent and respected leader. A man who inspires loyalty and love. His decisions impact the very existence of the Island and it's inhabitants. Whether he has been in control over his own destiny or whether he has been a 'mark' in a very long con, remains to be seen. It is quite possible that James Ford/Sawyer/LaFleur has been transformed from a con man into a mark. Only season 6 can tell.

I started this review thinking that James Ford would be the easiest character to dismiss as the heroic gunslinger, but in the course of these ponderings, I believe his stature and heroic struggle comes clearly to light. Whether or not he is the gunslinger, he is presently the best man on the island (in any time period). A man among men. What else can I say....

he's "a complicated guy...sweetheart." Cheers

... The best chance for James Ford to emerge as the gunslinger of Lost lies in the nature of the enternal scam that is playing out between Jacob, the man in black and Fate itself. We all will have to wait for the fast approaching start to Season Six to find out the answers.

My plan is to post 3 blog posts before Feb. 2.
1.) My next post will probe the similarities between Lost and Stephen King's Dark Tower world,
2.) My second will scrutinize the prophecy given by the Man in Black to Roland Deschains in the climax of the Dark Tower's first book "Gunslinger". The Man in Black reads Roland's Fate in a deck of Tarot cards. He pulls: The Hanged Man, The Sailor, The Prisoner, The Lady of the Shadows, Death, The Tower, Life.
3.) My third and final post before the season opener will unveil a world shaking cracked pot theory to end all cracked pot theories. The name of my cracked pot theory is: Reversal: or the old switcheroo.

Well, that's all for today. Hope everyone had a great Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
take it easy, it ain't all half bad
mr badd

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

4 - The Gunslinger Revealed: A review of Jack Shephard

Happy New Year!
Let's get to it:
Jack Shepard as the Gunslinger on Lost.


Roland Dechains is foremost a leader. Yes he is a gunslinger, a stone-cold killer, but the quality that defines him foremost is leadership. The hallmark of leadership is the ability to inspire loyalty and motivate those that follow to sacrifice. And the only true way to do that is to lead by example. But what example does Roland make when we first encounter him in Vol. 1, The Gunslinger? Roland spends considerable time as a loner after he loses everything in his life (love, country, family, friends) and becomes a cold and bitter man.

For some time Roland even loses his duty and has only his obsession to his quest, finding and gaining the Dark Tower. Even retribution is subsumed to his fanatical obsession to his destiny to reach the Dark Tower. At one time it appears that all that remains from his past is his stoney determination and equally cold ability to deal out death.

Eventually he renews his duty and remembers the face of his father. He forms bonds with those drawn to his destiny, his ka, and finds a new family. Instead of sacrifices that his quest demands he has loyal and true friendds who are willing to sacrifice themselves as they join his quest. Instead of spending their lives like currency to barter passage to the Dark Tower, the love and loyalty that grows between them forms a strength to overcome the overwhelming challenges they face. Indeed not only does Roland love his fate-found friends, but their loyalty and desire to assist him and sacrifice for him, inspires him to teach them to be gunslingers. Their initial challenges provide the Roland with the choice to abandon them and continue his quest or risk his quest to save their lives.

And when they later find remnants of the world desperately fighting mysterious forces, Roland's duty as a gunslingeer is rekindled and he again risks his friends and his quest to serve the poor folk in their desperate struggle to survive.

Out of this cruicible is formed a band of brothers in destiny (Ka'tet) and instead of one lone gunsligner facing the hordes of the Crimson King, FOUR Gunsligners emerge to battle under Roland's banner. They are willing to kill and sacrifice not for his obsession but for his love. They make his quest their own. This is the leadership that one on the hero's journey provides.

Jack Shepard has the gunslinger's background.
He was a leader by birth. Driven by his father to follow in his footsteps, to become not a killer but a doctor. And his father drives him hard. As a youth he faces foes he can't not overcome, but will not relent.
Like Roland he Jack 'graduates' early. Jack attended Columbia University and then graduated from UCLA medical school a year faster than anyone else. His father sets the stage for future conflict with Jack by pushing him down. Christian Shepard preaches to his son from the school of hard knocks parenting.

He infuses Jack as a youth and adult with an inferiority complex that Jack will battle throughout his life. Indeed, Jack is infused with the need to battle and overcome impossible tasks. He will NOT walkaway, he will NOT surrender, He CAN NOT stop. This is duty as defined by his father, who does not believe Jack can deal with failure, so Jack is driven to never fail. So the inferiority complex morphs into a hero complex. And we later learn that if Jack is not fulfilling his role as a hero, if he turns off the hero's path and his quest, his life deteriorates.

Like Roland, Jack finds love (thru marriage to Sarah) but loses her due to his obsession to his duty. For Roland, his duty is protecting Gilliand, and he sacrifices Susan Delgado in his efforts to forestall a plot to overthrow his father's kingdom.

For Jack, his duty is in his complete and all consuming committment to his current impossible case from which he can not turn away.

He gives all of himself to these pursuits and leaves nothing for his wife to hold on to. Jack next obsession is with his broken marriage and he obsesses over this failure, and when he is unable to 'fix it' he turns on his father in a jealous rage of blame and hatred. (Perhaps for making him the man he is)

Jack is as cold and bitter facing his father as Roland is during his manaical pursuit of the man in black across the wastelands when he guns down the inhabitants of an entire town who are set against him by the sorcery of the man in black.
Like Roland his destiny is marked by mysterious forces. Roland hears an oracle from a demon bound within a stone ring and later his 'fortune' is told by the man in black using a tarrot deck. Jack's destiny is mystically marked on him by Achara in the episode "Stranger in a Strange land". And while we don't know what destiny, if any, will come from Jack's intercourse with Achara; Roland has intercourse with the demon of the stones in order to barter for his oracle and this later leads to the birth of his future enemy, Mordred Deschain.

Does Jack's character grow as a hero?
The key to this test, is the individual rising above their individual motivations to develop empathy and beyond empathy to atonement (or at one ment).

Jack grows from a reluctant leader on the island committed to saving his people, and finding rescue, to a man committed to his destiny. He begins by saving people, organizing them to action and inspiring them to follow him.

He begins by saving a man crushed by the plane's wreckage, he then moves to resucitate Rose, calm Claire, then save both Clarie and Hugo when the wing begins to crash on them.

He tends to the wounded but can not save them all, indeed he must take the marshall's life when Sawyer's botches an 'assisted suicide'.

He delves into the dangers of the jungle to retrieve the transceiver from the cockpit, saving Charlie from the monster and perhaps having an encounter with the monster that we have yet to discover.

He helps Kate find redemntion by giving her the same new start on the island that they all have received and helping her to face her demons. He falls in love with her and in turn perhaps is able to face his own demons.

 He again braves the jungle in pursuit of his 'white rabbit', the figure of his father, escaping death over a cliff with the help of John Locke, and eventually finds water and shelter at the caves.
When Ethan takes Claire and Charley he pursues relentlessly and brings Charley back from the dead.
He orgainzes them to seek rescue, saves Locke from being dragged down the Smoke Monster's Hole, fights off the Others, escapes from the Others,

uncovers the mysteries of the Island, and confronts and fights Locke to lead the Losties to rescue.

Indeed Jack is relentless in pursuit of finding rescue for the Losties, until he makes that fateful call to the freighter.

Once off the island he encounters demons worse then his obsessive compulsion to prevail. Having run away and hid he is eaten alive by the memories of those he left behind. He rebounds from madness, first allowing himself to be led back to the island and helping to draw back the other Oceanic 6. Once back on the island he is first listless with inaction, as he is unable to rekindle his relationship with Kate. But when the crisis hits, he becomes reinfused with purpose.

And what a purpose. To follow Faraday's mad scheme to nulify the energy below the future Swan Station by detonating a Nuclear Bomb--good ole Jughead.

He shows that he is still their leader and that the bonds that he forged during their 1st hundred days on the island have not been broken. He convinces them to follow him, leads them against the Dharma Initiative's security forces.

They suffers losses, but he perseveres not from skill or luck but because his friends stand by him, fight (and die) for him.

Til he succeeds at his purpose, (with Juliet's sacrifice) and detonates the core of the Jughead bomb.

Jack is an enigma of contradictions. On the Island he is the classic life affirming hero, saving:
the man pinned by wreckage by organizing the crash victims,
Rose by resuscitating her after the crash,
Claire and Hugo from being crushed by the plane's wing,
Boone from drowning,
Charlie from hanging,
them all by finding water,
Shanon from an asthma attack-using only the 'Force' of his will,
Sawyer from his infected bullet wound (with Kate providing the nursing)
Kate & James/Sawyer from being killed by Pickett,
Ben from cancer,
Locke from the smoke monster,
Juliet from being executed for betraying Ben,
again saves all the Losties when Ben orders the Others to kidnap all the Losties woman (with a little help from Hugo and friends)
leads them to the transmission tower and makes contact with the freighter (due to Charlie's sacrifice) bringing them closer to 'rescue'.

But, when their fortunes reaches the nadir and they are at rock bottom in 1977 Dharma Town, Jack reemerges as a leader but his plan, on it's face is not so life affirming as has been his past actions on the Island. He plans to fulfill Faraday's scheme to prevent the future from happening by blowing up a nuclear bomb to wipe out the Swan (and the Island).

So there are many elements of Jack's character which are troublesome when comparing him to the Gunslinger. Specifically his betrayal of his father. First by destroying his father's medical career (by being true to his own duty as a doctor-something we later learn that Christian is very proud of him for) but later by driving him back to alcoholism and out of AA from an insane jealous need to blame someone for his failed marriage.

Is the bomb another insane action taken by Jack when he faces a 'no win' situation.
Or is Jack 'in tune' with his destiny. Is detonating Jughead his transformative moment. This will all depend on where his quest takes him.

The 3rd test is the gunslinger's Quest
What is Jack's Quest. He is certainly driven to be the hero and his life falls apart when he turns from the hero's path. He seems to have a transformative moment when he recovers his faith, his will and determination and ability to lead in 1977 Dharma Town. Jack emerges from the inertia of guilt and finds a faith in his destiny to guide him on his path.

But while Jack becomes the hero--rediscovered and becomes relentless in pursuit of his quest in 1977 Dharma Town, he has not yet discovered the true nature of the quest he follows. He follows it instictively and we must wait til Feb. 2 and Season six to see if Jack is the true gunslinger and where his quest's path leads him, the Losties and their world.

Well that's enough for now.
Take it easy, it aint't all half badd.
mr badd