Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"A Message In The Island Conflict?"

Lost is a highly thematic piece of work, and often very allegorical, in addition to the basic surface story line. One of the reasons that we find it so compelling is all the sub-context and how we can discuss the many possibilities to these story themes. An aspect that I haven't seen blogged much about yet is the environmental angle, even though we actually discuss it inadvertently within the subjects of the island's properties, the DI's Valenzetti mission during TLE, and now Jacob's aversion to technology. But the environment is not even a topic on the Lostpedia "themes" page.

If anyone is familiar with the more upscale Japanese anime, the name Hayao Miyazaki stands out in the feature film area of the genre. His animated stories often revolve around an almost "Jacob-like" anti-technology theme of protecting the earth and its natural elements from overuse and destruction. In these stories his main characters are either zealous protectors, or abusers, of the earth who engage in conflict for either side. Each faction seems to have its logical arguments for what it does, in addition to having some ambiguously good and bad ethical qualities.

This sounds a lot like Lost. Are TPTB also offering this kind of message within their theme of protecting the island's properties? That is, do the island's characteristics represent the earth's natural wonders in general in the story? Now that I've looked at it in this way, it seems possible. Not in a overt sort of way like in a Miyazaki environmental film, but just as another underlying theme that TPTB have woven into the whole fabric of themes that make up the show. We have been shown in the finale of S3, that a fight to protect the island is what upcoming episodes are going to revolve around. And in Miyazaki fashion, we will have various groups of ambiguously inspired people that are going to battle it out. Some will be for the sides that want to maintain the island's natural environment, some who don't care and just want to leave it, and those who might wish to abuse its powers for gain.

Maybe in addition to all the other ways that TPTB suggest we look at both sides of a character's life and intentions, they are also throwing the environmental subject into the mix? And by the end of the story they might also attempt to inspire us to consider that there should be a way to find a happy medium somewhere in between rampant abuse of "this island earth", and forcing ourselves to live in harsh primitiveness like Jacob. Not to club us over the head with this ideology of course, but just as another one of the many underlying positive and redemptive themes in their story.

In case anyone is interested in learning more about Miyazaki's environmental anime:


Cool_Freeze said...

Yeah it is like we don't really know who the bad guys are...or are there really any "bad" guys? it seems everyone has a that could be good and bad...

Very interesting.


capcom said...

Right! It would be funny if the island ends up getting blown up no matter who wins. But I guess that can't happen since we know that Jack is going to try to get back there after he leaves.

Paula Abdul Alhazred said...


Excellent thoughts! I think you're right . . . there is definitely an environmental theme at play. I mean, you don't have to stretch things too much to see the whole polar bear on a tropical island subplot as a reference to current issues like global warming. And I also agree that the producers aren't trying to club us over the head with an environmental message, either. It just happens to be there.

The idea that the island represents our planet, or a planet, I've definitely seen that really since the beginning. There's a real theme there about rediscovering our connection to Nature (something which I think is partially symbolized by the island's Eden-esque feel). Also, I think the DHARMA Initiative storyline is really interesting in this regard.: They were basically environmentalists, but they wound up causing the exact damage they were trying to prevent.

This, I think, gets at the heart of what you're saying, which is how do we strike a balance between technology and nature? The DI clearly went to one extreme, believing science and technology hold the answers to all our problems. Jacob I guess is the other extreme, with a severe back-to-Nature, almost Old Testament view of the world. Surely, there has to be something in between.

This stuff reminds me a bit of Huxley's "Brave New World," where the two options are basically the slavery of a mind-numbing secular society where science is used to control people, or a primitive and savage state of religious madness and self-flagellation. Aldous Huxley said he regretted not providing a third option, one where a meeting point between the two extremes was available. He corrected this in his later novel "Island," to which there are a handful of references on LOST.

capcom said...

Thanks PAA! Well good for you for thinking of it before, the thought only just occured to me recently...I'm slow. :-)

You're right about the Eden aspect too, and the diametric (if that's the right word) consequences of the DIs efforts and how things really turned out. "The best laid plans of mice and men..." as it were. The universe has so much to offer whatever species has the intelligence to utilize it, but it seems that as humans beings we are destined to take things too far and then be sorry and want to go back to simpler times.

Very interesting about Huxley, I did not know that! A third faction would have been a better statement. And I will have to check out that other novel.

It's so great to be able to discuss these kinds of things with all of you! :-D

Paula Abdul Alhazred said...

Trust me, Capcom. I'm not so smart.

Anyway, I agree with what you said about humans taking things too far. I think that's probably a big part of what happened to DHARMA. It certainly seems like they started out with the best intentions, but they clearly meddled with some forces that weren't ready to be meddled with. I guess it's what happens when science is maybe taken too far. And I suppose Jacob, the Others and Locke might be demonstrating faith when taken too far, as they seem to possess a spiritual severity and sometimes rigid morality. Makes me wonder just how messed up these new characters are going to be . . .

capcom said...

Oh pshaw, PAA! :-)

You know, what you said about Dharma makes me think of the semiconductor industry that I just retired from. We all think that computers and microprocessors are wonderful, right? The smaller and faster the better! Well, if people knew what horrible chemicals are involved in the manufacturing of those microprocessors, and the mountains of toxic waste that it produces (on an hourly basis!), it might not seem so important to have a phone the size of a credit card anymore.

I mean, lots of attention is given to the waste from nuclear production/energy, and rightly so. But semiconductor manufacturing generates astronomical amounts of waste, not only in the acids and other toxic chemicals used, but in all the consumables like contaminated protective apparel and containers that get used in the process. Some day this will surface as an issue when some Greenpeacer notices it, I guarantee it.

Anyway, it makes me think of how the DI probably wished that they could undo some of the science mistakes that they made, and how in the future we might wish that we could undo some of the technological things that we've done also.

Paula Abdul Alhazred said...

It's horrible that we're producing so much waste. I mean, I'm as guilty of it as the next person, but I hope an agreeable method of cutting down on pollution and striking a better balance with our environment can be found soon. Otherwise we might DHARMA ourselves into oblivion.

memphish said...

A lot of what you guys are talking about with the 2 extremes and the existence or non-existence of a middle ground reminds me of all the philosophers referenced on LOST. They represent numerous utopic dichotomies as well as more pragmatic middle grounds.

capcom said...

Really Memphish? I didn't notice that, I'll have to check them out again. So far, I've only ever briefly scanned the wiki info on the people that have been referenced. Are any of the philosphers into the environmental aspects? Which makes me wonder if Walden's pond has ever been referneced on Lost, I can't remember. Well, off to Lostpedia to find out! :-)