“And my only intention, for all my racing, was to stay in the same place." Issac Asimov “The Red Queen’s Race”
I have an “Alice Complex.” I don’t know why I put that in quotes… I made that phrase up. Whatever.
If we’ve ever met in any capacity (virtually, personally), you are probably aware that I am slightly obsessed with “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass.”
Always have been.
It’s not like I flit about with floppy blue bow in my hair, curtsying or anything but I really dig the symbolism within these completely-inappropriate-for-kids-Walt-Disney-effed-it-up-for-everyone classics.
Luckily, the writers of LOST, share my obsession.
And I am thrilled that they do. They can totally hang in the rabbit hole.
As an aside, I’m totally voting that shitty singer-songwriter, Jewel, who named her shitty 2006 album “Goodbye Alice in Wonderland,” OUT of the rabbit hole.
Sorry… I’ve been harbouring that resentment for three years.
In “Through the Looking Glass,” The Red Queen declares, "even a joke should have meaning."
The Gryphon, however, has no use for such analysis, preferring his "adventures first… explanations take such a dreadful time."
These Wonderland natives represent two separate sensibilities, in this case, the merits of seeking meaning versus acceptance of the “nonsense,” without necessitating explanation...
This is very much the conundrum of the LOST viewer, and highly representative of the two "camps" we fall into.
There are those of us who search for answers and meaning in every bit of dialogue, and those who are content to accept the story of LOST as a fanciful tale, devoid of meaning but entertaining nonetheless.
As far as his own whimsical narratives, Lewis Carroll himself furthered this divide, as he was fond of answering inquiries surrounding intention and meaning, by stating that he "didn't know."
Sometimes, he'd get sassy and say that though he may have had ideas regarding meaning as he wrote a piece, it often evolved so far from what it was at it's inception, or at times, would fall away completely, that he wouldn't deign to explain it's "meaning" now.
The Man Behind the Mad-World
This musing, though certainly Wonderland-centric, would be completely incomplete without a bit of investigation into author Lewis Carroll’s personal life and literary catalogue, as a whole.
Both are massively influential on LOST.
Charles Dodgson (a.k.a. Lewis Carroll) was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, which is one of the largest colleges in the Oxford University system.
“Oxford,” as in Daniel. And Eloise Hawking.
He was a mathematician and logician and published several books on the subject.
Math and numbers seem somewhat important on LOST.
* The number “42” has been seen a few times (read: every 108 minutes throughout S2 and countless times before and since.)
* Carroll oft used the number "42" in his writings. He is said to have had something of an "obsession" with it.
The following passage from the beginning of his poem, “The Hunting of the Snark,” would likely resonate intensely with the survivors of Flt. 815.
I love the allusions of “forgetting” your own “fame,” and losing oneself, along with the physical objects we value.
Washed away, left behind, abandoned…whatever the case, the only choice is to start anew.
“There was one who was famed for the number of things
He forgot when he entered the ship:
His umbrella, his watch, all his jewels and rings,
And the clothes he had bought for the trip.
He had forty-two boxes, all carefully packed,
With his name painted clearly on each:
But, since he omitted to mention the fact,
They were all left behind on the beach.” Lewis Carroll “The Hunting of the Snark”
What’s in a name?
Lewis Carroll was the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, who wrote both the "Alice" and "Looking Glass" books.
Charles and its derivatives are popular monikers in the land of LOST.
Charlie Pace, Charles Widmore, and Charlie, (the child of Penny and Desmond) all bear the name.
Claire physically bears an intense resemblance to the Disney-fied, innocent, blonde depiction of Alice.
Claire's last name, Littleton, sounds lots like Alice's last name, Liddle.
FURTHER, Claire's mom's name is "Carole.” Like, Lewis "Carroll"
Also, Claire's aunt and Carole's sister is named "Lindsey,” just as I am named "Lyndsey."
This actually means nothing whatsoever, but because this is my column, I am allowed to point out shit like that.
Distortion of Time in Alice and LOST
I loved the initial subtlety of the introduction of "time" as an element on LOST.
Early in the series, the references could easily be missed...
Charlie changes the writing on his bandages to read "Late" from the earlier version, which read, "Fate."
Jin was delivering a watch for Mr. Paik, which is why he and Sun were aboard Flt. 815, and then kicks Michael's ass when he "steals" said watch, on the Island.
Sawyer reads "A Wrinkle in Time."
In later seasons, the references become more evident and their importance is heightened.
We spend mass amounts of time watching the "button" clock tick down and re-set, every 108 minutes.
We learn about Mittelos Bioscience. Mittelos is an anagram for "lost time"
Mrs. Hawking and her "future / past" OCD are introduced.
Finally, in the Season 3 finale "Through the Looking Glass", we are given a taste of things to come in the series first ever flash-forward.
By the time Daniel starts experimenting with late-landing rockets and the dead doctor from the freighter washes up two days behind schedule, we are well aware of the importance of "time," as an element on the show.
Speaking of Daniel, he has always been a bit of a White Rabbit / Mad Hatter hybrid for me.
In the S5 premiere, "Because You Left," he scurries past Juliet and Sawyer as they traipse through the Jungle, and says "Excuse me, I'm going to need the two of you to pick up the pace. Okay? Thanks."
In that moment, Daniel was incredibly reminiscent of The White Rabbit in the opening scene of "Alice."
He hurries about, obsessed with time, yelling about being "too late."
On the Rabbit, Lewis Carroll has said:
"The White Rabbit is nervous and always in a hurry. However, he is confident enough about himself to contradict the King of Hearts. Because Alice follows him, he gets things moving again whenever he appears during the story. In a way, he is some kind of a guide through Wonderland for her, if only unintentionally."
As far as the Mad Hatter’s connection with Daniel, the parallel also seems to live in the obsession with "Time."
The Hatter concludes that Time itself has been "murdered" and resigns himself to a life of perpetual tea parties.
Since Time is dead, it is always six o'clock and six o'clock is always "tea-time."
The Mad Hatter character in both "Alice" stories (who is never seen without his bow-tie, as our Daniel is never seen minus his precious neck tie) is said to have been inspired by Theophilus Carter, an inventor and servitor at Oxford. Maybe they could’ve just named the Daniel character “Oxford.”
I mean, if they were really trying to drive this correlation home, and it seems like they are.
Holes (Black and Rabbit), Wells, Hatches, Tunnels and such...
Rousseau lived in one, Alex hid in one, John found crafty ways to rappel into them on multiple occasions, and there's a strong possibility that the Island is caught in one... let's have three cheers for HOLES!
In the opening text of "Alice in Wonderland," we are told that:
"The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very deep well. "
*Kate and John entered the Swan through a hole beneath the Hatch.
They later found a door, which proved to be a far easier access method.
*Charlotte instructs the survivors to "find the well" in lieu of the not-yet-built-Orchid Station.
* In S5’s premiere "Because You Left," Aaron watches cartoons and points out that "Choo-Choo" was headed toward the "tunnel" to which Kate replies, "Choo-Choo knows better than that. He goes into that tunnel, he's never coming back out."
This feels like an obvious Alice allusion towards the idea of entering a space from whence "coming back out," is impossible.
Similarly, post-fall, Alice wanders through a long, dark, hallway and wonders how she is "ever to get out again."
"Then you should say what you mean” March Hare
Just because it's a smidge farcical at this point, I feel he need to bring up the point that neither Alice nor the characters on LOST seem to be able to "Say what they mean" OR "mean what they say". Ben lies, Kate withholds, Sawyer scams, and Sun, Juliet, and Charlotte, instantly flip their ‘second-language switches’ the moment times get tough.
Communication may be key, but apparently our LOST-ies didn't get the memo.
Through the Looking Glass
I loved Season Three of LOST. In spite of the Nikki and Paolo infestation and the fact that critically, it was considered the weakest of the series, I just dug it completely.
I love me some Others, and I was intoxicated by the "loyalty" issues that were explored.
And the finale! Ugh, the finale was genius. "Through the Looking Glass Parts One and Two," introduce all sorts of shocking wonder.
The obvious reference to "Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There" is revealed when Charlie decides to give his life to save the rest, in underwater station The Looking Glass.
But as is always the case with LOST, the references run deep.
Through the Looking Glass (the book) utilizes the imagery of a chess game and focuses on time and space (specifically time running backwards) as a plot device.
This LOST episode flipped the script for us as well; for it is here that we are introduced to the phenomenon that IS the "flash-forward."
No longer are we living in one space and remembering the past, but suddenly the future is fodder for examination and the entire game is officially changed.
Chess Boards / Black Vs. White (a.k.a. - Good Vs. Evil)
* In "Raised By Another" Claire is caught in a dream (tres' Alice,) in which she runs into the Jungle and sees John Locke playing with black and white checkered cards, and looking possessed with some demonic eyes. One Black. One White.
* In "Dues Ex Machina," the glasses that Sawyer dons are made from two broken pairs. The result? One half is white and the other black.
* In "Enter 77," John Locke plays an "un-winnable" (according to Mikhail) game of chess against a computer, in The Flame station.
* Charlie loses a shoe when taking his Death-dive into the Looking Glass station. The shoe is adorned with a black-and-white chessboard design.
* In the S4 finale, Sayid finds Hurley sitting alone at a chessboard... he reveals that he is "playing with Mr. Eko." Super creepy.
“If you drink much from a bottle marked 'poison' it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later.”~ Alice Liddell
The forth episode of S1 provides our first glimpse of the Alice-like world which figures prominently into the Island's mythology.
In "Walkabout," Jack first sees the ghost of Christian in the Jungle. He steals some moves from Alice and her White Rabbit, and chases after him, to no avail.
Once again, Jack sees the ghost of Christian.
However, this time Jack does catch up with him and is obviously freaked out.
"Dad?" he inquires.
Christian's gives Jack a look, which plainly says, "Your dead father is haunting you in the Jungle, and that's the craftiest thing you can come up with?" and wordlessly heads back into the trees.
Jack gets all Alice-like again and starts chasing "rabbits".
Jack should've listened to a bit more Jefferson Airplane, because the lyrics are very clear in their warning that "if you go chasing rabbits, and you know you're going to fall..."
And fall, Jack does.
Off a precipice. Luckily, as he hangs precariously from a tree branch, Locke appears and helps him up.
White Rabbits are a running illusion and theme throughout the series...
* John Locke uses The White Rabbit as a metaphor while speaking to Jack, to introduce his position on "fate."
He says, "Is your White Rabbit a hallucination? Probably. But what if everything that happened here happened for a reason?"
* They are used by The Others in their fertility experimentation.
* A lucky rabbit's foot is gripped by the pilot of the Coast Guard plane carrying the Oceanic 6 back to Honolulu in the first part of "There's No Place Like Home"
* Also in this episode, Hurley's Dad gives him the keys to the Camaro and the key-chain is also a Rabbit's foot.
* In the second part of the S4 finale, "There's No Place Like Home", a poster bearing The White Rabbit's image is displayed on Aaron's bedroom door.
* And, as we just learned in last week's episode "316", Jack's Grandpa loves magic shows. Especially those prominently featuring white bunnies. Or Rabbit's.
In Lewis Carroll's "The Hunting of the Snark," the idea of the importance of repetition with regard to consequence is presented...
"I have said it thrice:
What I tell you three times is true."
In "The Moth," John Locke applies this same importance to Charlie's request to reclaim the drugs he’d surrendered during the previous episode, "House of the Rising Sun.”
After using Charlie as "bait" to entice a boar he is trying to catch, John tells a mid-withdrawal Charlie that he will give him his drugs the third time he asks and that this is "one."
Carroll's team is hunting a Snark, and Locke is hunting a boar, but the parallels ring true, and aren’t beast-specific.
Something Nice Back Home
In a flash-forward, Jack reads Aaron a passage from Alice:
"I wonder if I've been changed in the night. Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? But if I'm not the same, the next question is, 'Who in the world am I?' Aha, that's the great puzzle."
He then tells Kate that his father used to read him that story. He doesn’t mention that he used to chase his un-dead Dad all over that ridiculous Island. Just saying...
“That's the effect of living backwards, it always makes one a little giddy at first“ The White Queen