Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Horus vs. Anubis

Jacob vs. Esau?

This Popeyes was turned into Mr. Cluck's Chicken
The plot after last Lost's episode thickens, and I think regardless of our theories of the island, which expand with every new reveal on every new episode, I am beginning to think that the writers and producers intended this show to be one of the first in its kind to involve audience interaction. What with blogs, youtube, forums, and so on, and millions of viewers, it's no wonder when this is the age where you can produce on television a level of audience-induced direction, if that makes any sense. I noticed in Episode 5, "Lighthouse," Hurley was barking out everything the audience was thinking. In this past episode, "Sundown," Miles uttered something about Claire being wilder but still hot. All these statements mimic what the fans have been saying and thinking.

In fact, for a long time, Hurley has been sort of a viewer mindset/mouthpiece, when he says what is in direct line to anticipated (or documented) audience-who-doesn't-know-everything-but sometimes-knows-more-than-the-other-characters' mind. Sometimes these thoughts are so preposterous as to be completely smack-in-the-forehead funny. I can see the producers showing premieres of each episode to some cast of previewers, and one of them saying any of these lines below, and then the writers saying, yep that is what the audience will think exactly--let's give Hurley that line. Or just picking up on what the audience says after watching an episode and building that in to a later show. So, what does Hurley say? Was that a dinosaur? How do we know that wasn't a dinosaur if we didn't see it? I'm out here looking for some psycho with Scott and Steve, right. And I'm realizing. . . who the hell are Scott and Steve?

Other Hurley quotes (found online below):

[To Jin]Are you sure you don't speak English? There's a rumor that you do. . . Your wife's hot! You don't know?! Okay. . . that thing in the woods? Maybe it's a monster. Maybe it's a. . . pissed off giraffe, I don't know. The fact that no one is even looking for us? Yeah, that's weird. But I just go along with it, 'cause I'm along for the ride. Good old fun-time Hurley. Well, guess what? Now I want some friggin' answers! 

Well, you know, the whole fugitive thing. [Jack gawks at Hurley] He doesn't know? [Jack shakes his head]. Well how am I supposed to keep straight who knows what around here? I mean, Steve didn't even know about the polar bear.

So. . . Rose's husband is white. Didn't see that one comin'. 

So what do you think is the story with that Libby chick? I think I have a chance with her. I mean, it's a classic desert island scenario.
Did either of you see a guy run through here. . . in a bathrobe. . . with a coconut?
Did that bird just say my name?
I'll tell you how he knew. That guy. . . sees the future, dude. 

Dude, you stink. What is that, fish? Did you try to gut one yourself? How did you not learn that by now? I mean, we've been here like, three months.

Attention Others. Come in Others. If you're listening to this, I want you to know that we got you bastards. And unless the rest of you wanna be blown up you best stay away from our beach. . .

[To Jack]You'd look weird with a beard, dude.
[To Jack, who said the island hadn't been moved] Oh, really? 'Cause. . .one minute it was there, and the next it was gone, so. . . unless we, like, overlooked it, Dude, that's exactly what he did. But. . . if you've got another explanation, man, I'd love to hear it.

Okay. See, we did crash, but it was on this crazy island. And we waited for rescue, and there wasn't any rescue. And there was a smoke monster, and then there were other people on the island. We called them the Others, and they started attacking us. And we found some hatches, and there was a button you had to push every 108 minutes or. . . well, I was never really clear on that. But. . . the Others didn't have anything to do with the hatches. That was the DHARMA Initiative. The Others killed them, and now they're trying to kill us. And then we teamed up with the Others because some worse people were coming on a freighter. Desmond's girlfriend's father sent them to kill us. So we stole their helicopter and we  flew it to their freighter, but it blew up. And we couldn't go back to the island because it disappeared, so then we crashed into the ocean, and we floated there for a while until a boat came and picked us up. And by then, there were six of us. That part was true. But the rest of the people. . . who were on the plane? They're still on that island.

[To Sayid]You're not a zombie, right?

I believe Hurley mimics what the audience is thinking, most of the time. And the writers do this on purpose. The game's writers are ironically also playing a game with us by teasing us and involving us directly in the plot, using Hurley as our mouthpiece and the obvious popularity of the show and today's online interaction as a background to the show. With all the allusions invoked in the game, the producers expect the audience to research, read, and draw their own interpretations, and have given very little answers to many mysterious events, and have said they will leave us sated in the end but won't answer all of our questions, meaning, we are also the pawns, scrambling to discover who to believe, who is good and who is evil, etc.

I think the writers purposefully also included numerous allusions and mirrors to several very similar mythical tales. This makes people think a lot and research all these references in order to find commonalities with the Lost storyline that match a theory. I had thought Jacob and Man in Black might mirror Jacob and Esau, two brothers constantly at odds. Then this morning I was looking at the youtube video of the Hurley Bird scene, which some say is Horus (a falcon) representing Jacob, which would make the Man in Black his brother-at-odds, Anubis. I was also looking at my favorite scene by far, and favorite musical collage by far: I like how Three Dog Night's song in this montage references Shambhala, yet another mythical place alluded to in the show, a Tibetan Buddhist mythical kingdom full of peace, love, and happiness, and a few ancient texts. Only people with the appropriate level of karma can approach, though being a "physical place" is a misnomer since the place is hard to find and is described as a pure land in the human realm. It has been ruled by a line of leaders, one of whom expelled the heretics but allowed them to return; the Kalachakra monarch sees the world as dark and greedy, and joins to wipe out the dark force to give rise to the next Golden Age, a date calculated by a Kalachakra Tantra.
Many historical tales of creation, death, and so on mimic each other. Same as with tales of leaders and kings, mythical places, etc. Lost manages to allude to a lot of these things but I think is inspired by many of them rather than is directly telling the tale of Shambhala, Atlantis, Shangri-la, or whatever specific story. Lost is giving us a history lesson, which is why I think it's one of the most important shows of our time, because most shows are passive. 

The other night Sam, Morgan, and I went to see a double-header of Woody Harrelson movies, and along the way there and back discussed our theories about the island. I think we all agreed these two men Jacob and the mysterious Man in Black (who has been given no name yet) aren't inherently good or evil but are merely two players pitted against each other, who have been on the island for hundreds of years. 

We think all that happens is very cyclic in nature (i.e. duplicate names, even the same dialogs and scenes that appear again and again), which probably means that everything that happens on the island is another move by one of the players, and this game is somewhat repetitive. We get a hint about this in the pilot from Season 1, which had John Locke explaining the game of Backgammon, a 5,000-year-old-game to Walt: there are two sides, one light and one dark (not necessarily one good or evil). 

We see Locke and Walt, and sometimes other opponents, play Backgammon again and again. I'm looking at the island as if it were a game board, and Jacob and Man in Black as the two players. I see the characters as the checkers on that board. As we know, the game ends when one player uses a combination of luck, strategy/manipulation to move their checkers to their home board and then bear them off. The game, while somewhat based on luck (roll of the dice) has been studied by scientists creating computer-based Backgammon games. While computer-simulated games that were based entirely on luck had the computer winning about half the games, scientists also developed one called TD-Gammon, which used temporal difference, learning, and fuzzy logic to improve the play on the computer end, making games harder to beat and requiring expert players. The idea is fascinating to me, because it proves that even what we think of as luck is really based in math, which we know, but this reinforces a larger idea that is a continual motif in Lost. It has to do with science vs. faith and coincidence vs. luck, but I think Lost is just drawing up the possibility for the viewer that neither of these extremes (seen currently as the players--Jacob being a man of free will and Man in Black being a man of destiny) are not so opposite as we'd like to think and that luck and coincidence are purely based on the same principles but viewed as different entities.

There's even a "Jacoby" rule in Backgammon, used mostly in money games, which states that gammons and backgammons count only as a single game if neither player has offered a double during the course of the game. This rule speeds up play by eliminating situations where a player avoids doubling so he can play on for a gammon. Jacoby is the name of a Backgammon player who came up with the rule. His name was Oswald Jacoby, and his rule makes him seem impatient, as it speeds up the time of the game. One of his game opponents, and partner in a book, was John Crawford. 

Of course it is probably just coincidence that in Lost, Man in Black takes John's form, who is Jacob(y)'s main oppostion! The metaphorical game of Backgammon that Jacob and Man in Black keep playing is getting old. The same players are put onto this board over and over. That is why there are so many duplicate scenarios, what-ifs, and alternate timelines. Each time the game appears to be over, and the gameboard "island" moves, the players are brought back on board. This has been going on for hundreds of years, and Man in Black is tired of it and wants to quit playing. Jacob wants to protect his precious island game. Man in Black feels trapped by this scenario, and typical of all the historical mythologies of quarreling brothers, he mentions to Jacob if he could kill him, he would.
The numbers used in the Valenzetti Equation are 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42. I've written before about the significance of these numbers in a previous blog, but as of season 6 we are treated with the new knowledge that these numbers are lined up also with certain candidates on the wheel in the lighthouse. Jack was number 23, Sawyer number 15, Sayid number 16, and I don't think we know the rest yet. It would be interesting if these numbers also represented dice rolls or something else. I finally learned how to play Backgammon, but am no pro. You start off with checkers at various points, with 24 being the total points (ironically in the alternative LA X episode, Jack's seat I think shifted from 23 to 24). Two of these checkpoints, 8 and 13, are where a player starts his checkers. The other is 6, which has no significance in the Valenzetti numbers but is the number of the Oceanic 815 who got rescued. 

Are these numbers not only lottery winners, coordinates to get to the island, and a million other references, but also the winning combination of dice rolls + moves or checker pieces or points (metaphorically) that won the first game between him and Men in Black, or have been mathematically come up the most often, therefore Jacob had given these numbers to the candidates he thinks are most likely to win another game? Now whether these two men are gods or kings or biblical or other mythological people and either cannot kill each other because of creed or physical impossibility, we do know that in games, players don't really kill each other, they just play games. Sometimes they "die" in the game, but not in real life. They come back to play another game. It's hard to tell what exactly is going on between Jacob and Man in Black, and why they cannot literally kill each other (thus why Man in Black manipulated Ben into killing Jacob), but the game just got real. 

I can't help but think this game of manipulation and roll of the dice is just an ancient game, not literally Backgammon, of two men, Jacob and Man in Black. They've played this game for centuries (it's the oldest game!). For now I think all the characters listed on the wheel in the lighthouse and on the walls of the statue are just the pawn pieces, and my theory is that they are all interconnected back in the real world by either heredity or other circumstance--luck/coincidence--and that their plight on this show is an evolution since either they themselves or their progeny/connected others, keep getting chosen to come back to the island.

These others are generally people who have done something wrong in society's eyes and need redemption. They are continually manipulated by both sides to: "Come with me. If you don't, something bad will happen. If you do, you will get to once again have the most important thing in life." The followers follow with blind trust, almost as if they were. . . dun, dun, dun. . . nothing more than pawns in a game. The crux of it is of course they are all real people, and as any people, are completely dualistic in nature so are perfect pawns since they are easily bidded and manipulated. 

Thing is, Lost wouldn't be successful if we saw these characters as mere things or pieces--and the show does a great job at character development and appealing to the audiences' compassion to actually love these characters, even people like Ben who is like the world's worst unlikeable person at times. We keep getting the inkling that these people, mere pawns, are strong enough to begin to oppose these ancient leaders (who have worked through everyone from Ben's manipulation to Widmore to Paik to Anslo Corp to the Dharma Initiative to The Others to Locke to Jack, etc.).

Now that Jacob has died, however, there is a game breaker. Morgan thinks that Jacob is trying to replace himself via his continued manipulation of characters; the replacement candidates are not crossed  off on the list of people who have been candidates to come to the island, but this is sort of a vague point, because we're not sure how a new leader can re-trap the Man in Black. Man in Black had been trapped (in this game?) for centuries and has stated he wants to go "home"; as we saw in "Sundown" he is taking those who follow him in this exodus off the island. Everyone else on the island will die, who doesn't follow him, supposedly, at least from what we know now.
Anyway, this is long enough for now. In summary, though Lost writers have used a lot of different references to similar mythologies; all in all this seems like a game between two men, which has now encompassed many other "players" or "pawns". One wants out, and the other wants to stay. I have to think more on why Jacob appears to be a "free will" kind of man but insists on conserving this game, or at least the traditional value of it, whereas Man in Black who appears so evil as the smoke monster simply wants to get out of the game and go "home".
This game needs two players. Without one, the game is lost.

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