Tuesday, August 14, 2007

"Sensei Jacob"


LOST viewers were "formally" introduced to Jacob in Season3 along with John Locke. And for once, we know as much about Locke's experience as he does, though there isn't all that much info unfortunately. I find that the little information that we have on Jacob so far is pretty creepy, for lack of a better word.

His personality appears to be a moody and cantankerous one. He reminds me of the old geezer martial arts master Pai Mei in Kill Bill 2. You know the type, one of those Zen masters who acts and speaks only in riddles, where everything means the opposite of what he's really saying, and who challenges everything that you do if you forget to "empty your cup" before accepting his training. I kind of like Pai Mei, but I don't like Jacob very much so far.

Like the mystical Zen masters of legend, there is an otherworldly aspect of Jacob's wisdom and powers, and we don't know what that's all about yet. We don't even know where he came from. And like any good old-fashioned hermit sage, you apparently don't ask for visitation with Jacob, he has to ask for you. The nerve! In Zen philosophy the highest is supposed to be the lowest, and vice versa. That's also how Jesus describes aspects of spiritual hierarchy. But Jacob seems to be taking full advantage of his power over the island (or with the island) and you'd better not question it. Still, most of the time when Jacob is referred to by the Others, they call him a great man, so he must do something right for the most part. Unless of course the Others are too afraid to speak the truth about him, for fear that he would "send them into the corn field" like the bad little boy in that creepiest of all Twilight Zone episodes!

Another somewhat Zen-like attribute of Jacob's is his sparse living quarters. He doesn't seem to require more than a rickety old hillbilly shack with a wooden table and chairs, no lights, a painting of his favorite hound, and some jars full of disgusting looking liquids on the window sill and other decrepit accouterments. I don't remember seeing a fridge in the shack, so perhaps he doesn't need to eat either. For all we know though, in another dimension that he lives in he could have a Biltmore mansion and he just pretends to be the sparse-living old sage in front of the Others.

The mystery of Jacob is one that I am most looking forward to learning the answers to. He has been a background entity in the show for a long time, ever since someone made the first ambiguous "Him" reference. Personally I kind of hope that he would be Magnus Hanso, who on his ship the Black Rock was somehow swept up into another dimension via the natural "Casimir-like" effect of the island. He could have been floating in and out of dimensions for eons (to him) and somehow has the power to affect the course life in other places in time because of this. On the other hand, trying to figure out who Jacob is with the sparse and conflicting information that TPTB have given us, almost makes me a cranky as Jacob! I would love to know what other people have put together with the bits and pieces that have been fed to us so far.

25 comments:

Lisa said...

Hey Capcom-
Interesting comparisons of Jacob to Zen- I'm just rewatching Season 3 and between the Locke comment that "forgiveness isn't one of their strong suits" Juliette flashbacks and Ben cancer revalation(even when Juliette only said it was a tumor)... I'm wondering how "forgiveness" and consequence/penance fits in with Jacob- and your Zen-master post here is a good fit to my question/theory from this this morning.

Myy theory/question may already be out there and it assumes a few things that I'm not thoroughly convinced of (but obviously don't rule out): first that Jacob is real and has powers, second that Ben is Jacobs emissary to those on the island.

With that said, here's my theory/question:

Jacob entrusted Ben with solving the fertility problem of the Island. Ben recruits Juliette. Fertility problems continue, lives are lost.

When Juliette wants to leave- Ben says that Jacob will cure her sister. Ben did not ask permission to offer her this deal- and thus, when Jacob finds out, Ben is confronted with an ultimatim by Jacob. "Yes, I'll save Rachel to keep Juliette here....but if( some condition that obviously hasn't been fufilled by Ben) then you will pay by taking on Rachel's cancer" or, Jacob is simply wrathful and went back on a promise to Ben or made good on a threat to Ben.

If we look at Jacob from this kind of "powerful man" assumption that's been alluded to (and assume that it isn't an illusion) I think that he's inflicted Ben with this cancer as a consequence of his actions or attitudes. How does that fit in with Zen? I don't know much about it- would be curious.

capcom said...

Ooooh, a transfer deal!! I like that! I never thought about the fact that the curing of Rachel might be a swap deal for Ben. Your thoughts on Ben's mission failure might also explain his obsession with the fertility problem over all other missions, as Richard opines to Locke on the hill. Because probably come-heck-or-high-water Ben is going to fix that problem! Wow.

As far as consequences are concerned, I guess that the Zen theory of the return of your actions, i.e. karma in Buddhism, might explain what you mention about Ben's cancer as a consequence. And in most philosophies there is the "reap what you sow" aspect. They have also said that Jacob is not a forgiving man, so that would also fit in with your theory.

I really like your theories! I know, it's hard to line things up in our brains when there are so many swiss-cheese-holes that TPTB have left in the plot info, but we can only do that best we can to understand what is happenening. :-) Do you have a blog where you write out your theories Lisa?

Lisa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa said...

PS. Back to Ben- I think that the ben/rachel swap was a CONDITIONAL kind of thing- Ben thought he could make all of Jacob's stipulations work and he could escape the cancer and/or he didn't think Jacob would go through with it.... (begging the question, if Ben is not a liar, and the cancer was cured, and Ben avoided it, where would it have gone? Jacob's jars?)

therefore, while he was surprised about the tumor (ex. "what the heck went wrong? what didn't I do?) he knew so definately that it WAS cancer because that deal had been struck!

Lisa said...

Delete above was me... revising... I knew I originaly picked the wrong term for something...sorry!

No blog here. I appreciate the encouragement, but am not among the LoCo's greatest theorists and experts! I have, however, really enjoyed your and Memphish's blogs in this hiatus!

"Transfer" - I like what you call it. I kind of think of it as a mix of Yin/Yang + Newton's Law+ Object Permanence (that term comes from child development, all that means is that a baby becomes aware that an object exists, even if they can't see it anymore) ;-)

In otherwords, EVERYTHING exists- decisions, death, life, love, consequences, relationships.... etc. For every action on the island, there is an equal and opposite reaction off island (and possibly vice versa if time travel is truly involved). For example, Sawyer's redemption (which I believe is coming) might = Jacks downfall. Kate's freedom might have been "bought" at the expense of one of her "equals" on island. I'm not sure that it checks out in all circumstances... but its one that I really think would be cool to see play out.
You bring up, "reap what you sow"--- that mirrors what Sawyer hears "it'll come back around" ;-)

I do think that some things/cycles can be modified or even "stop"- and this is where it starts getting a little more far fetched.... but possibly when a character, like Charlie, has redeemed himself - he's taken accountability for his actions, faced and overcome his problems, I think that maybe in this case, "resolved" things can "die" and no longer be part of the equation. I don't know if that makes much sense as I write it, hope so.

memphish said...

Interesting ideas from both Capcom and Lisa. As for the idea of balance remember when Boone died, Aaron was born or vice versa.

As for Jacob, it is really, really hard to grasp why people [like Pickett and Bonnie and Greta and the rest of the Others] would place so much faith in an invisible man apparently trapped in a falling down shack. At least the Wizard had the good sense to surround himself with a flashy palace and smoke effects. Which I guess could mean that where the Wizard was a fake, Jacob is real? [Head starting to cramp.]

I want someone to ask Juliet what have you been told about this person Jacob and what have you seen that scientific you absolutely believes that he can cure your sister's cancer. [Side note -- I don't think Rachel's cancer came back, but was a lie by Ben, but I very much like the idea that karma would strike him with the thing he knew kept Juliet in line.] I mean what is the line people are buying about Jacob?

Lisa said...

memphish-
agreed- my theory rested on the assumption that jacob was real/powerful- something I'm not sure of, but we did see a glimmering image in the cabin didn't we? must be something! What? I don't know!

I furthur like your condition that Rachel's re-occurrence of cancer had to be real (I'm also not convinced of that!)... but... with furthur thought, maybe Ben's lie about the cancer is the reason that he got it. ("it'll come back around")

Maybe the transfer thing (IF it has any merit) also works on the island- as you bring up Aaron and Boone. I thought about that as well! Who knows! Most of the time someone comes up with something that might work with a finite set of circumstances.... it gets blown out of the water in one flashback! Its one time its just as cool to be wrong as correct... because you're off on a new set of mysteries!

What is the line they're buying about Jacob? Now THAT is a mystery? And....how about WHO sold the line to BEN? Who now seems to be selling it to everyone else?

Lisa said...

memphish said...
"Which I guess could mean that where the Wizard was a fake, Jacob is real? [Head starting to cramp.]"

I almost logged out, then I thought about your post...what an interesting point to ponder.... the Wizard himself was not necessarily fake- the illusion was a fake representation of him, the people's perception of him was fake.... but he did exist! There was a real person behind it all.

So, back to Capcom's question... assuming that Jacob is real in some sense...the bits and pieces we do know.... what is real and what is an illusion? and who created the illusion, Jacob himself? Ben?.... so, as with the wizard, do we need to be very careful about what we are told to believe/illusion vs. what is true? Even when we can see it with our own eyes?

cool_freeze said...

I LOVE KILL BILL 2!!! :)

Be back later with thoughts on your thoughts. :)

capcom said...

Wow, great conversation ladies! The thing that made me think of transference when reading your idea, was what Hurley said to Jack about transference (when Jack was wacking the logs when he was mad at Sawyer) as in the psychobabble definition. I always wondered why TPTB would throw that little blurb of Hurley's in there, unless it was just to give more insight into Hurley, i.e. letting us know that he is no dummy and actually did pay attention to what was going on around him in the sanitarium.

On the idea of actions and reactions, I like that, especially if the Island is itself some kind of super-reactive-thingy, actions might be magnified within the sphere of this.....thingy. :-) Like within The Box, and, be careful what you wish for on the Island.

I have to say that I really don't know what to think about Jacob and that I am totally open to anyone's ideas about him. So much info about him is rather contradictory, I just don't have a clue. And like you said Memphish, how could so many people think that such a cranky and unforgiving guy is so great?! I guess we need a flashback on Jacob, dangitt!

Hey Lisa, you have good ideas too, don't sell yourself short! I didn't really think that I could think up enough to babble about on a blog, but when Memphish started hers she inspired me to try. I figured that if I flopped and couldn't think of things to say, I'd just shut it down and go back to just posting on other blogs. :-) It is pretty fun to be talking on everyone's various take on the show on their blogs!

cool_freeze said...

Capcom, I totally agree with you. I NEVER thought that I would be able to keep blabbing on about a tv show, but I did and have. It's something that I enojoy very much. I enjoy your take on all of it as well.

I have been trying to get word out that I will be starting a blog that involves as many LOST bloggers as possible...just something extra to everyones blog.

The funny thing about this article is that I had rewatched Kill Bill 2 right before the reveal of Jacob. My brain was overloaded with ideas. Now I just haven't thought much about it.

Lisa said...

hey- thanks again, re: no blog its a matter of confidence, and time... you are catching me with 2 weeks off...after this...welllllllll....

great catch on the Hurley "transference" comment. it fits the cause/reaction theory...I'm terrible with details, better at the big picture- hopefully as i rewatch epis, i'll catch a few more "little things" with a more critical eye!

I do think that memphish brings up great questions... we'll need Jacob's flashback too before long just to see how/where/and from whence he came!

capcom said...

Ditto about blogging CF! And I was also inspired by Fenris, because he kept saying that his comments on the TLC blog were too long so he decided to put the really long ones on a blog instead. That seemed like a good idea for me too. I might start up an art talk blog soon, now that the nephews are back in school and my babysitting duties will have shrunk back considerably. :o) Not that I won't miss them, they have become my new best friends since retirement!

Well it's nice to read your thoughts while you can post them Lisa. You're right, Memphish is getting some great revisiting questions, and I really appreciate her bringing up things that jump out in hindsight on the first two seasons for us. I have loaned all my DVDs out to various family members for catch-up before Season4 and I can't do any re-watching right now! :-( I even loaned out my Season3 VHS that I taped during the season. Big mistake. :-)

memphish said...

Funny Capcom, I'm too possessive to loan out my DVDs. Actually someone has Disc 1 & 2 of S1 of mine right now, and it's all I can do every day not to ask them to return it. But the good news is I know more people who are getting hooked this summer.

Synchromystic Librarian said...

for some reason, I am convinced Him and Jacob are 2 different entities, Jacob may have told parables channeled through Ben about Him who would come to the island to "save" them and in turn the world and Locke is Him

capcom said...

Heh, I would only loan them to family Memphish, and that is bad enough!! But like you said, come time for Season4, there will be more "real" people that I can talk to about LOST. :-) My brother has a very analytical mind, so I am looking forward to him getting addicted to it, mwahaahaaaaa.

That's interesting Synch. My head has been keeping a couple of categories for the "Him" and "Great Man" distinctions as well. It seems like sometimes Jacob is the great man, but then, Tom mentioned that, "A great man once said..." and those were Hanso's words, according to TLE. Maybe they were firstly Magnus' words, who knows?

Now Locke being the Him that will come to help, is an interesting idea!

memphish said...

SL, that raises a point a was thinking about the other day. Why would post-Purge Others quote Alvar Hanso?

Synchromystic Librarian said...

other losties are convinced Jacob is Magnus, I am thinking Alvar was able to channel (Magnus/Jacob) and then the mantle was passed to Ben after killing his father and now it is Locke's turn

when Desmond asked Locke if Locke was HIM, Locke said yes (even though he may not have completely realized that yes himself is HIM
)

Lisa said...

Hey again-
Capcom, I laugh at your "back to school comments"... your time frees up as mine gets crazed! NOW is my downtime!

SL- VERY keen observation about Locke saying yes to being "HIM". I took it to be a shot in the dark to save himself.... but who knows you may be onto something.

capcom said...

That is true about Locke, and that is the side of him that bothers me. What I mean is that he will just dive right into the unknown without any discretion, consequences-be-damned. For all Locke knew, whoever was on the other end of the gun (Dez in this case) was supposed to shoot "Him"! Locke is a knucklehead at times, with his childlike abandon.

capcom said...

BTW, according to the new Lost magazine just out, Jacob's profile was played by some guy on the production team, so we might as well not get to wired about figuring out what actor's profile it is like we did. When the real Jacob shoes up in full light, he may be an entirely different guy. Which is kind mean, because TPTB know how much we would scrutinize that flash of a face and how it would affect us! :-) I'll go back to check the magazine and make sure that I am correct on this.

Lisa said...

re:Locke--- so either he's a guy that doesn't or can't envision consequences (doesn't and can't = two different things in my book!) OR he is an absolute mastermind who is just as manipulative and as "in control" as Ben- who is maybe (if we stretch the theories of time travel and predictions) seeing a few steps ahead!

that, I believe is all a toss of the dice right now as far as viewer speculation!

capcom said...

Right Lisa, unfortunately that's all we've got to go on for now. :-(

Also, I agree that "doesn't" and "can't" (and even "won't") are entirely different intentions by a person, but they often have the same disasterous results, which ever one is acted out. I think that the Locke character sort of does that, as in whatever he decides to do or not do, something always blows up! :o)

memphish said...

I'll go on record that Locke is not a master manipulator. He operates more on wish fulfillment. If I really, really, really want it to turn out this way then it will. Daddy will love me; Helen won't leave; I'll have a family; etc. Amazing how that doesn't work out for him. (Read last sentence as dripping with sarcasm.)

Capcom, as for that thing about Jacob, it agrees with everything I've heard about that Jacob from Michael Emerson's statements that we've seen but not heard him before and never will hear him, to Damon's statement to Kristin at E! that Jacob had not been cast as of June 2007.

capcom said...

That's spot-on about Locke Memphish! That's exactly how he operates!

Interesting about Jacob too. Hmmm.