16 March, 2014

(Never) A Final Word Part 3

For Matt R. and Thomas D.

This final post on active (re)watchings of LOST has less to say and demonstrate than the previous posts, which were recently edited with minor changes and contain a few new links to short video clips. Reflecting on what has already been written, my treatment has been in the spirit of comparative literature and ancient religion. This isn't everyone's cup of tea.When my eye takes notice of a detail, phrase or word, I am often connecting or associating it with what has come before to me - either from my university coursework, independent studies, or lifelong empirical impressions. Is this tendency to reflect an inborn ability or learned? Does it alter what I perceive, changing one thing into another? Is it necessary to interpret what one sees to "understand" LOST?

There are no keys or rather, there are many a key to many a door. Entertainment is behind most doors and it is found to be cheap, high gloss, quick and easy to obtain. Pornography is the ultimate modern entertainment because it exemplifies all of these attributes to the highest degree. The Internet is its ultimate vehicle, and any book or article on the future of global connectivity rates increasing in the next few decades ought to point this fact out and devote a meager section to addressing it. Pornography however does not lend itself to multiple readings. Its function is to illicit a physical response of sexual stimulation for the viewer and no matter how well-crafted or "artistic" it is shot or produced, one is never brought beyond the boundary drawn by its closed narrative. See the failure of the vision of pornographer Jack Horner played by Burt Reynolds in Boogie Nights by filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson. Vision is occluded by the visual (Locke/Man-in-Black appearing as Locke). 

The above isn't critical interpretation, so much as common sense. If a piece of literature, film or television show instead of invoking a pleasure principle tries to address issues about the nature of knowing, the activity of human will in the world and our capability to love one another, then reading these pieces of art will be - couldn't be - otherwise than multiple and varied. I repeat, not in defense of my writing, but in supplication to the creators of all forms of art, that a closed reading is possible only if and when a form of entertainment is directly addressing the physical appetite alone. If there seems to be more, if there are passages, scenes, moments that cause you to feel or think otherwise, you are not watching from the realm of your body by itself. Your heart and your mind are also recognized, and that recognition must be responded to by an action that comes from you. I can at least say this essential thing and perhaps not much more about the division of the fandom over LOST.

I may have fallen prey to the three cardinal mistakes one can make when offering "help" to someone: Helping when help's not needed; Helping when it's just for one's own ends; Helping when you want good for another. Even if I have been given to all three or one, here however, is the final part of my soapbox stylings. One of my feet is already on the ground.

XLII. LOST as an unwieldy creation but merited achievement in its medium for our time & space

From my computer screen there is an article about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. In light of the writing of these posts, already more than a few remarks have been made to me about the circumstances of the disappearance of this plane and the initial setup for LOST . I put aside the resemblance because it's only a joke. My piece has been to say "Some folk just had to go back." With kinder hearts placed before our words we'd express concern for the 239 passengers whose lives have temporarily vanished off the radar screens of our world. But the words of the news are taken almost just as literally as the details of an invented story for us. Making it into the butt of our jokes is an ample way of avoiding real conversation about the event or to cover the fact that one hasn't anything thoughtful to say about it. "Those people are really lost" is all one can truly say.

On another tab, I have an article written by Damon Lindelof for The Hollywood Reporter about the ending of Breaking Bad written in October of last year. He does something sincere in admitting that while he was sitting down to talk about his reaction to the end of the show, the end of his own show remained with him. Lindelof talks about an "unhealthy obsession" with his finale. He indicates that he can't help but mention the feeling he had while involved in the writing process, says he felt "alive." Writing LOST was an experience for him as much as it was for the viewers. The necessary distance he wants to give between the show he wrote and Vince Gilligan's series is impossible because of an unavoidable association between them. The comments below his article are as long of a meandering shallow stream of praising, bickering and everything in-between as any other example of "dialogue."

Here, in an interview with Lindelof conducted a year later by John Lagomarsino for "On The Verge" on his co-writing  of Ridley Scott's Alien prequel Prometheus, the focus shifts subtly. It becomes an honest and revealing conversation about his legacy of LOST, the finale, the fan reactions, all with references and examples given by Lindelof for the benefit of any viewers. Take a moment to view the 24-minute, 39-second clip if you haven't already.

The central point Lindelof makes is about impact. "Did you love The X-Files?" he asks John. John loved the show. "What did you think about the ending?" John cannot remember because "it was so long ago." Lindelof shows that he doesn't remember not because the ending was good or bad, but because it was not impactful. Lindelof reiterates a revealing statement he has made elsewhere about the arc of his show up until season 3. From that season's end forward, when there was a finite amount of episodes contractually agreed upon and the story lines were drawn out, all interviews and publications containing his and Cuse's answers to questions about the end of the show being solvency for the series mysteries would be, as predicted, sure to disappoint.

What is hard to say as a writer is that the most assured way of satisfying your audience is by touching them viscerally, in the body. Mind games have a short-lived appreciation once figured out and overly sympathetic or melodramatic performance is hard to bear. How you go about striking balance between the head, heart and hand is where interesting and compelling things are situated and where there lives some quality of a thing that all creators receive from since time immemorial. It makes them feel alive and it answers the ringing call of life by life's own voice. It's about the nature of being (ontology), and we aught to take up caution in our thoughts and actions to seriously consider what Geoffrey Hill's lament that "the greatest tragedy of the last 60 years has been the extinction of the ontological reader" means for us all, not just for poetry in English.

My lady and I watched the finale, and my last viewing of LOST has been completed.

Asked later what she thought, she said "I thought they'd take it in a different direction."


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For the Observatory's Grand Opening