Sunday, May 04, 2008

A King Lost, cont.

In the first half of this informal essay, I put forth the argument that much of LOST appears to be derived from the Stephen King universe of fiction. I would like to further that here, but specifically to King’s Dark Tower series. The seven Tower books are King’s self-described magnum opus: an epic borne out of his youthful desire to pen a Lord of the Rings epic melded with the Man with No Name western film trilogy and Browning’s “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came” poem, as well as an ocean of other works and influences such as Arthurian legends and the Wizard of Oz. The project became too much for King at the beginning of his career, and the seven books were eventually written over a span of more than 25 years (published over a span of 22), with King abandoning and re-engaging the project multiple times.

The basic plot involves an other-worldly “gunslinger” Roland who bands together with 3 New Yorkers from different times of the 20th century while on his quest to reach The Dark Tower. The Dark Tower is a binding nexus of the multiverse; an infinite number of alternate dimensions or parallel Earths. The tower is in peril and should the tower fall, all of the multiverse would be snuffed out.

The Dark Tower’s relationship to LOST is apparent from a number of connections. The tower exists on each Earth in the form of a rose, and this rose gives of a sort of anti-radiation that draws people to it and conveys a healing touch. The rose extends the life of some and cures a minor character of cancer. In LOST, the Island displays a similar ability, suspending the paralysis of John Locke and, more interestingly, curing cancer in a character named Rose. Roland emphasizes the role of “ka” (fate) within his band of “ka-tet;” Locke is similarly convinced that fate and destiny have called and banded the castaways to the island. The Dark Tower is threatened by the actions of vague, shadowy corporations (North Central Positronics, Sombra) whose abandoned machinations are continually come across by Roland’s band; Dharma and the Hanso Corp. play a seemingly identical role on LOST. In the fifth book, Roland’s ka-tet encounter and seek to put an end to a series of raids on a village by mysterious bandits that kidnap somewhat psychic or gifted children and return them as mentally inert; in season two, the castaways on LOST suspect the Others of the same evil. The Dark Tower is held by 3 crossing beams anchored at 6 ends by portals named after mythological animals (The Portal of Shardik the Bear, for example); Locke discovers a map of the Island which shows the 6 hatches, including The Swan, laid out in a similar manner around the hatch later to be revealed as “The Pearl.”

As LOST rumbles into its 4th season, my theory on what the Island represents as become largely shaped by The Dark Tower. I believe that the holy grail of King’s epic became the template for Team LOST’s mystery. I call it the Pinhole/Snowglobe Nexus Theory.

I take the central core of the Dark Tower’s essence: it is a binding nexus and integral to the fabric of our world. Unlike the Tower, I do not believe it is a physical place (or object) on Earth, I believe that it sits outside as in a parallel dimension or whatever comic book geek label which would more accurately fit. Desmond tried to sail away from the Island for months (Michael made a similar attempt with Jin and Sawyer) only to keep arriving back at the Island. I believe that is because that is all there is to find; that the Island is its own world. Obviously, there are ways to leave and enter; I believe there are several (if not many) “pinhole portals” that are not visible to the naked eye that allow crossing between Earth and the Island.

In The Dark Tower, portals allowed Roland to travel between his world and ours (and other parallel Earths) but were in the form of magical doors. An interesting aspect of Tower’s portals is that time was not aligned between the worlds: a different portal opened up into a different time, and time on one world did not pass with the same speed that it did on another. As Roland eventually approaches the Tower itself, time slowed and eventually came to a halt. This becomes very interesting, as LOST has increasingly planted allusions to time, most pointedly with Daniel Faraday’s rocket experiment. The head of the freighter has the last name Minkowski, shared with the scientist who built upon Einstein’s Theory of Relativity to form his theory of the Space-Time Continuum. It is my impression that the Tunisian Dharma bear fossil indicates that the bear wandered through a portal and found itself transported not just through space (Island to Northern Africa) but also through time (hundreds of years, at least), and that the Island sits outside of our Space-Time Continuum, acting as a nexus point.

Entering the Island is reminiscent of the Bermuda Triangle, always a favorite sci-fi Twilight Zone-ish premise. Only, there may be numerous Bermuda Triangles from which to enter; a sub leaves Portland, a plane takes off from Sydney, and plane takes off from Africa, a ship sails in the Indian Ocean…all of which arrive at this same island. Once in the Island, exiting may lead to anywhere or anywhen, depending on what portal you take. At the end of season 3, it was revealed that Ben had been rigorously jamming radio transmissions, and it could be that this was to keep outsiders from gaining access to the Island. Rousseau claimed that the boat she was on followed a radio transmission of The Numbers to the Island, perhaps suggesting that radio frequencies can travel through the portals just like people, or planes. This leads to my snowglobe theory. I think of the Island’s world as a snowglobe, painted black, and sitting in a dark room rendering it invisible. The portals act as pinholes around the snowglobe. Should a light glow from within the snowglobe, you could see the pinholes, and the way to enter the globe. The radio transmissions may be acting as this sort of beacon, showing the Others or Dharma the way in. Ben presses on Michael to follow an exact bearing so that he may leave the island, and Faraday presses to Frank that he must follow the exact same path of entry when he exits. The entry and exit points are both particular and crucial. Coupled with the Rocket experiment (note that the rocket would not have approached the island in the same way his the helicopter), I am led to believe that you may also enter the island at different time points, depending on “where” you enter.

So if the Island is a non-world nexus of space and time, its appeal to scientists (and opportunists) becomes evident. The extraordinary properties of the Island, from the healing to the magnetism, are intriguing enough (we were enraptured with the moon, too), but the prospect of using the Island as a stepping stone through time and space makes it a marvel that wars would be fought over.

To go back to the Dark Tower theory, it is my assumption that exploitation of the Island by people endangers it and likely threatens not only its existence but could touch off apocalyptic effects upon Earth and the Space-Time Continuum. Metaphorically, it acts as a statement about our ecosystem: corporations set against nature-communing hippies.

Maybe I’m correct about this, maybe I’m completely off base. If I am wrong, I will say that the Stephen King connections (Jeff Fahey also played the lead role in Stephen King’s Lawnmower Man film adaptation!) are so numerous that this was the greatest Red Herring of all time. Time, and the remaining 46 episodes will tell.



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