Monday, February 15, 2010

8 - An Ending for Lost? Transcendence & Epiphany, The Journey is the Destination

My blog has attempted to think about the symbols, plot and characters of Lost by comparing them to the themes of Stephen King's Dark Tower series. I have tried to uncover the underlying mythological core of each story. I did this because I thought there might be some similarities that might point to a better understanding of the mysteries of Lost and where the story might take us (and maybe give us some friggin answers;-). But there have been many literary, movie and pop culture methaphors linking Lost to other stories, and whether the Dark Tower series is just one more thread in a rich tapestry of linked and overlaping themes and related myths, time will tell.

But my main effort has been to compare Lost to the Dark Tower (and the Grail Quest) in order to uncover how these stories present heroes and myths in order to discover the mythological purpose of the story itself. I had a crazy idea that I might get more information looking at the forest than studying the trees. I hoped that by trying to understand general mythological patters I might understand where the details fit in. (To see the universe in a blade of grass, or uncounted universes in a single rose).

I have grounded my rambling ponderings in Joseph Cambell's research into the power of the imagination and story telling to convey common mythic symbols. Joseph Cambell believed this goal was NOT to find the meaning of life (or of Lost), but to share in the experience of being alive as communicated through the stories we partake of. And through these stories to find not only compassion for the individual struggles of the heroes but to also experience the universal and ongoing experience of being alive. It's all about the power of the story to unfold a hero's journey along mythic quests which lead us to share in the experience of eternity in the life that is right before each of us.

The point is not to discover the 'meaning of life' but to share in the experience of being truely and fully alive. I can attest to this personally, in the joy I have have found sharing my thoughts and partaking in others mad ramblings in the community of Lost fans who enjoy theorizing, blogging and podcasting.

To share in the transcendence of the hero and to find a personal epiphany in the sorrows and triumphs of your own life that 'completes' the experience of the myth's hero. To see yourself as the hero of your own journey and to use this awareness to create, for yourself, the inspiration to create a meaningful life.

Joseph Campbell believed that the ancient mysteries and religions have lost their force, and that their symbols no longer resonates in our psyche. But this does not mean that myths are no longer important. Indeed he thought they were more important than ever.

For our Losties, their journey on the island has been to first discover themselves.
JACK: [smiling] ... I don't trust myself. How am I supposed to trust you?

JACK: Let's see where trust gets us. [Jack swallows pill]
There are no external sybmols that they can use to measure themselves or the path they should follow. Blindly following Science or Faith will not work. Where there was darkness now there is light, but where there was light, there is now darkness. The light of reason disipated ignorance, but it also disipated faith in a social framework of ordered roles and symbols. Reason has not given individuals something to believe in. You have to trust in something. We are compelled to believe and give meaning to the chaotic circumstances of our existence.

The Island of Lost is awash in dead symbolism that our Losties can not deceipher but which would be useless to them if they could. There are ancient egyptian gods and hieroglyphs,

tokens of budha, karma and hippie counter culture,

supernatural forces

 incomprehensible scientific theories,

social roles based on science and reason,

an ordered society based on unquestioning faith in a leader of supernatural ability,

Our Losties are adrift in myths and symbolism and our search for answers; whether aliens, supernatural forces, science fiction theories to somehow give meaning to the unfolding story mirrors their true give meaning to their lives and their choices.

Joseph Campbell thought that the modern hero is one who does not wait to be shown the path of his destiny and atonement. Indeed, society and the old myths no longer have the capacity to guide today's modern individual. "It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse. And so everone of us shares the supreme ordeal--carries the cross of the redeemer--not in the bright moments of his tribe's great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair."

The focal point of human wonder has passed from the boundaries of science to come back to rest on the crucial mystery of man himself. "Man is that alien presence with whom the forces of egoism must come to terms, through whom  the ego is to be cruicified and resurrected, and in whose image society is to be reformed." Man, understood in a mythic sense is a divine being capable of compassion and atonement, transformation and transcendence. And it is within the individuall, and not societal roles and obligations, nor religions or taboos, that the individual will find guidance to journey the hero's path and partake of "the measure of the inexhaustible and multifariously wonderful divine existence that is the life in all of us."

We contain our own eternity which we can touch in compassion, suffering and love. This is the message which we all can bring back from the hero's journey told in mythic stories and which we can use as a lampost to guide our actions in an uncertain world. We are not Lost if we can but find ourselves in compassion with those around us. The true mysteries of Lost need to be discovered in the metaphors and symbols which define "the destiny of man, man's hope, man's faith, as well as man's dark mystery."

We will not discover a white knight conquering an evil force, we will find ourselves confronting the light and darkness within each of us. The true quest is discovering that the journey is our destination and our destiny.

1 comment:

  1. could you please tell me where you got the image of the knight with gold and white armor? thanks you so much, Lynne (e-mail response would be appreciated- I'm at