For the betterment of mankind and the advancement of world peace.
These were the stated goals of the Dharma Initiative. Dedicated scientists, conducting experiments and making breakthrough discoveries in six specific technical disciplines: meteorology, psychology, parapsychology, zoology, electromagnetism, and utopian social engineering. And all of it carried out on a beautiful island with comfortable living spaces and tasteful decor. The Fifth Dimension could have sung its praises: Peace will guide this island, and love will steer the vans. This is the dawning of the Dharma Initiative...
The well-rehearsed propaganda must have been appealing to our grandparents. Here was an organisation that lived its values, and valued peace over war, love over death.
Except the organisation was funded by a munitions and arms merchant who became wealthier with every Vietnamese village incinerated to dust by napalm bombs. Except the DI was run by a mathematician whose primary aim was to build “security systems”. And when Horace Goodspeed’s bully tactics weren’t aggressive enough, Stuart Radzinsky stepped in with handguns, rifles, and machine guns.
What was the Dharma Initiative? A band of peace-loving dropouts, or a group of power-hungry masterminds? Hippie utopia, or fascist nightmare? The Dharma Initiative is the story of happy image and harsh reality, idealists and schemers, the culmination of everything the Woodstock Generation believed in. This is the story of the Dharma Initiative.
Welcome to the Island
First Orientation Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctV6cQOUY88&feature=related
The Dharma Initiative’s mission, to improve conditions for mankind and to advance world peace, was focussed on six areas of scientific inquiry:
Utopian Social Engineering
A research station was dedicated to each of the six technical endeavours. For example, zoological studies were conducted at Hydra Station, electromagnetism was investigated at Swan Station, and psychological observations were made at Pearl Station.
The DI was founded by Gerald and Karen DeGroot, then graduate students at the University of Michigan, in 1970. The DeGroots, long-time associates of Alvar Hanso, were natural investigators with abiding curiosity in several far-flung scientific disciplines. They established the six major areas of inquiry to be pursued on the Island, and created an environment conducive to work centred on their vision of an ideal community.
Scientific work proceeded under tight security. “The Island has multiple research facilities, each with its own purpose and protocol. Throughout your day-to-day activities you may interact with Dharma personnel from these stations. We ask that you respect these team members’ privacy, and do not inquire about their work, as they are not at liberty to discuss it. But remember, it is for the greater good of the community.”
Tight security was justified on the basis of the difficult environment. The barracks were surrounded by a sonar fence, to “protect us from the Island’s abundant and diverse wildlife.” A stray wild boar could inflict severe injury, after all. But boars were not the only security concern. Hostile natives could be found as close as five kilometres beyond the sonar fence. “Any encounters with the indigenous people of the Island should be reported to the closest security personnel immediately.”
The Dharma Initiative After the DeGroots
The realities of Island life conflicted immediately with the DeGroots’ vision of a hippie paradise on Earth. Perhaps the DeGroots didn’t even know about the Hostiles, but it wasn’t long before Horace Goodspeed and Stuart Radzinsky realised they were not alone on the Island. Months or years later, they must have heard tales of a high authority, virtually a god, who controlled every move the Hostiles made.
Security concerns edged out the early ideal of a community focussed entirely on esoteric research. There was nothing at all esoteric about a Hostile levelling a Korean-War-era M-1 Garand Rifle at a scientist and shooting her dead. Radzinsky and Goodspeed had to revise the Initiative’s preliminary plans. One of the DI’s areas of research would have to be curtailed, and one of the stations would be devoted to security operations. The original intention of the Arrow Station was probably for meteorological or para-psychological studies, but it was hastily converted to a “mathematics” facility that was actually a security research bunker.
Horace may or may not have been a mathematician, but he would have had unique expertise in development of security systems. Security quickly became the number one concern as carpenters and contractors threw together the barracks housing. Goodspeed became the DI’s leader on the Island because he was the best hope of protecting the scientists.
Horace and his team would have become quickly acquainted with their most dangerous adversary. Whatever the fast-moving black smoke was, it could be contained neither by concrete wall nor rope barrier. Neither bullets nor clubs inflicted any harm on the beast. But Goodspeed had a secret weapon, even before he was called to the Island. It was a weapon guaranteed to keep the Smoke Monster at bay. He received that weapon from the DeGroots, though they probably did not say how they knew of its efficacy. The weapon was dynamite, and Horace had literally tonnes of it.
The Hanso Connection
We do not know the precise circumstances of the Black Rock’s arrival on the Island. We know that Jonas Whitfield, an officer on the Black Rock, paid hefty sums to a corrupt priest and prison officials on the Canary Islands to purchase Ricardo Alpert. Whitfield would have been paid for his troubles by the captain of the vessel, Magnus Hanso. Hanso, in turn, would have been richly rewarded by a patron.
The vessel was not on a trade mission to the Kingdom of Siam as advertised. We know this because we also know Magnus Hanso’s patron: Jacob. Jacob confessed to his brother and to Richard that he had enticed the Black Rock to the Island. It was Jacob’s plan to pay Magnus Hanso to bring several individuals of diverse background to the Island to determine their suitability as Candidates for the position of Protector.
It seems likely this last mission of the Black Rock was not its first. Developing strong rapport with a slave trader would require nothing more than a couple kilos of gold, and Jacob had stores of this metal in abundance. The difficulty for Jacob was not price but time. Mortals lived only so long, and getting on and off the Island was difficult. Quite likely, then, he would have arranged for several trips by a single ship. We can be relatively certain of this since Charles Widmore was willing to pay nearly half a million pounds for the Black Rock’s first mate’s log. It seems beyond belief that he would pay for pre-Island information on a non-descript sailing vessel. However, he would certainly pay any sum for unique information on the Island he planned to control. Therefore, the First Mate’s log almost certainly contained detailed information on the Island, and that information would have been obtained during the course of voyages to and from the Island completed prior to the Black Rock’s final voyage.
The wreck of the Black Rock contained information corroborating the view that Magnus Hanso was privy to unique Island information prior to his final voyage. Among the few items he carried were several cases of early nitroglycerin-embedded Kieselgur dynamite. It seems most likely that Jacob, intending to prevent his brother from killing everyone on board, would have advised Hanso to carry plenty of the explosive. It was the only nineteenth-century weapon capable of stopping the Man in Black. That Hanso did not use the weapon was probably the unfortunate result of being swept onto the Island. He had never had to use the dynamite before, because anchoring several hundred metres off the Island (during earlier voyages) he had never had to confront the Smoke Monster. Shipwrecked two kilometres inland, he was caught entirely off guard.
Information on the beneficial effects of dynamite likely made its way down the generations to Magnus’ great-grandson, Alvar Hanso. Alvar would have known the stories of the Island, and his position as munitions and arms trader would have given him access to the highest echelons of the United States military. He would have learned of the Island’s recent location from their failed test of Jughead in 1954. Or possibly he had earlier knowledge of the Island’s location and led the military there, perhaps intent on using their presence to establish a foothold for his eventual control of the Island.
Alvar Hanso’s pre-DI contribution was probably the Lamp Post. He knew of at least two and probably several historically accurate positions for the Island. To track its whereabouts would have been a relatively simple matter of hiring specialists in mathematics, geomagnetism, paleomagnetism, and early computers. He could hire the world’s experts because he was a billionaire at a time when millionaires were considered the wealthiest people on Earth.
Horace Goodspeed’s contribution was probably the one that earned him the position of Head Honcho. Goodspeed probably figured out that dynamite was effective not due to explosive force, but due to some other effect. After all, he would have received reports that dynamite had been used successfully, sometimes even catching the Smoke Monster off guard, but the beast seemed to sustain no injury, even when the dynamite was detonated in the middle of the smoke. But the dynamite was quite successful in deterring Smokey from continuing his attack. Intense sound waves were associated with explosions. The innovation of a sonic fence was almost certainly Horace Goodspeed’s idea, and his ticket to appointment as Head of DI Operations.
Alvar Hanso’s Big Adventure
(see also http://hoffittsfilms.blogspot.com/)
Hanso Industries was one of the first companies to launch a space satellite into orbit. The primary objective of the satellite was to study “the geophysical properties of the Earth, and its region of influence in space. One of the most important scientific discoveries of the Space Age has been the Earth’s magnetosphere, the region in space that is distorted by the Earth’s internal magnetic field. The primary goal of the Hanso science team is to explore the shock wave and transition region on the sunward side of the magnetosphere and its extended tail, with its neutral magnetic sheet, on the night side of the magnetosphere. While in orbit, the satellite’s secondary objective is to search for and observe any magnetic anomalies that may occur on the Earth’s surface.”
[I consider the Jerry Hoffitt video cited above to be the best fan-created Lost video ever made. It captures the feel of the early 1960s with perfect music, excellent stock footage, and a clear, steady, authoritative-sounding narrative voice. The quality is so high it could easily have been made by a professional film team of the time. This little video is an absolute gem!]
Geophysics was a hot topic in the late 1950s and early 1960s and was indelibly connected to the Space Race, being that the “Geophysical Year” took place in 1958 (only months after the launch of Sputnik in October 1957), and included some of the first major collaborations between Soviet and American physicists. Seven years later, in 1965, Hanso could cloak its satellite launch in the guise of a benign science project, using scientific jargon that would have been familiar to even lay people of that hyper-aware time. The “secondary objective” was of course its only objective, and it did not seek “any magnetic anomalies”, but anomalies of a single, unique variety: The magnetic fluctuations caused by the invisible Island. Hanso’s satellite could probably be considered the first and most important part of the Lamp Post Station.
We may never know Alvar Hanso’s true intentions. Magnus Hanso was a slave trader. Alvar and his father before him dealt in munitions and arms, feeding humanity’s hunger to destroy itself, growing wealthy beyond imagination from the destruction their products wrought.
Did Alvar Hanso have an epiphany? Did he turn away from a life and generations-long legacy of reaping rewards from others’ suffering? Or, in establishing and funding the Dharma Initiative, was he hoping to geometrically increase his own wealth and power?
We know he accepted some blame. Not for seeking wealth and power, but for selecting Thomas Mittelwerk as his successor.
“I am to blame. For training Thomas Werner Mittelwerk. For grooming him to be my successor. For giving him all the tools he needed to do the awful things he has. He cannot kill me, but he can keep me locked up while he kills millions...”
Mittelwerk’s genocidal plans were revealed near the end of the Sri Lanka video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PPCCcXarkc) , while Mittelwerk’s ability to manipulate public opinion became clear in his short “Reinvigorated Hanso Foundation” commercials (e.g., http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gQ-VgyCa7c&p=CC2A07C01A2AF3B3&playnext=1&index=8 and also http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hRIraJ9ltI&p=CC2A07C01A2AF3B3&playnext=1&index=18).
Even if Alvar Hanso could conveniently blame Thomas Mittelwerk for his foundation’s plan to kill millions of innocent people, we need to maintain some degree of neutrality in our thinking. After all, Mittelwerk did not wish to wipe out entire villages to establish himself as the greatest mass murderer of the twenty-first century. He was taking the final steps toward Alvar Hanso’s goal of preventing the inevitable: the destruction of all human life as predicted by the Valenzetti Equation.
The Valenzetti Equation
Alvar Hanso himself explained the key importance of the Valenzetti Equation to the work of the Dharma Initiative (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PPCCcXarkc).
“Why all the security, all the secrecy? The answer is simple: Your research is intended to do nothing less than save the world as we know it.
“In 1962, only thirteen years ago, the world came to the brink of nuclear war. The United States and the Soviet Union almost fulfilled the promise of mutual assured destruction.... After the Cuban Missile Crisis, both nations decided to find a solution. The result was the Valenzetti Equation. Commissioned under the highest secrecy, through the U.N. Security Council, the equation... predicts the exact number of years and months until humanity extinguishes itself. Whether through nuclear fire, chemical and biological warfare, conventional warfare, pandemic, over-population... The results are chilling...”
Valenzetti’s work demonstrated that humanity’s demise was inevitable. Nothing could be done to prevent the human race from being extinguished on the Earth.
“Valenzetti gave numerical values to the core environmental and human factors in his equation: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42. Only by manipulating the environment, by finding scientific solutions to our problems, we will be able to change those core factors, and give humanity a chance to survive.”
The entire work of the Dharma Initiative, according to Hanso in the 1975 Sri Lanka video, had the single goal of preventing the destruction of the human race.
Peace, Love, and Control of the Human Race
“This station is being built here because of its proximity to what we believe to be an almost limitless energy. And that energy, once we can harness it correctly, is going to allow us to manipulate time.” Unlimited energy and manipulation of time may not have been germane to a deeper understanding of the Valenzetti Equation, but they surely would be useful to anyone seeking control of the world.
While we may wish to believe that Alvar Hanso did in fact see the light, that the tens of millions of dollars he spent on the Dharma Initiative were the selfless investment of a man dedicated only to the advancement of humanity, we must consider the possibility that he had quite a different agenda. The historical record, and especially his family history, supports an initial hypothesis that Alvar Hanso was interested only in his own power, and not the preservation of humankind.
We cannot know what Hanso’s intentions truly were. But we can make reasonable extrapolation to a viable hypothesis based on the outcome of certain events on the Island. We can know him by the fruit of his collaborators’ work.
Security was not the primary objective of the Dharma Initiative. Whether for the advancement of humankind or the installation of Alvar Hanso as Emperor of the World, the DI had a single objective: manipulation of the Island’s unique powers through scientific study. We should not be confused, then, when Horace Goodspeed, by title and right the Head of DI Operations, was superseded in authority by Stuart Radzinsky.
Stuart Radzinsky, Ph.D., was the Director of Research of the Dharma Initiative. He was charged with the immediate development and exploitation of every one of the Island’s unique powers. He was given carte blanche by the DI authorities in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to use any means necessary to achieve the Initiative’s objectives.
Nothing, not even the lives of innocents, would thwart him in his single-minded pursuit of the Island’s raw power. If Horace Goodspeed stood in his way, he was empowered to push Goodspeed to the side. If a high-ranking scientist was in danger of life or limb, the work could not stop, even for the moment that might be required to free Dr. Chang’s hand from the crushing weight of metallic structures failing around him. If a worker died, Radzinsky knew he was authorised to bury the body in secret. The stakes were too high to ask this man to conform to social, moral, or legal constraint. Anything was permitted, as long as the action served the needs of the DI.
Radzinsky was not a maverick. Both he and Horace understood that Radzinsky was the de facto leader of DI operations, as was clearly revealed when Radzinsky used the threat of a call to Ann Arbor to clarify things for Horace. Radzinsky acted under clear and precise instruction, which certainly came not from the pot-smoking DeGroots, but from the ice-calm figure of Alvar Hanso.
Science Versus Faith
The Dharma Initiative became a sad footnote in the long history of the Island. Benjamin Linus spoke for the writers when he offered his summary of the DI’s greatest accomplishments:
LOCKE: Hey. Uh ... was he talking about what I think he was talking about?
BEN: If you mean time-travelling bunnies, then yes.
LOCKE: You do know that he said specifically not to put anything metal in there.
[Ben stares at Locke for a second, then gives a curt, exasperated nod and resumes the work of loading metal objects into the time chamber.]
The Dharma Initiative’s carefully planned experiments in the manipulation of Casimir space to realise object-specific time displacement were just so much nonsense to Benjamin Linus, who dismissed the work as “time-travelling bunnies”. Science and logic, for Ben and for the writers of LOST, are inadequate to the full knowledge of our place in this world.
The problem is the closed, self-referential nature of science and logic themselves. Science and logic are imperfect subsets of reality. If we rely on logic as revelation of reality we will discern only an incomplete, warped world far from true reality.
Science makes sensory observations, catalogues these data, uses the rules of mathematics and logic to create connections among the observations, and builds empirical findings into models of reality that we call hypotheses and theories. A scientist truly comfortable in her laboratory will never claim she is revealing reality, only a poor model for certain physical behaviours that seem to follow a reproducible pattern. There is no truth in science. Science is not a tool for illuminating the fullness of reality.
Science is confined by logic. If I expand the limits of research to any inquiry that might be included within the scope of logic, science, and mathematics, I must necessarily accept that certain limits nevertheless exist. Most importantly, I may not ever claim to investigate or to have discovered any facet of reality. The best I might hope to accomplish, even after a lifetime in the laboratory, is to establish the adherence of certain observed phenomena to models of reality that I create through inference, induction, and deduction. These models are most often referred to as theories, but they can never explain the real world. We rely on assumptions that negate any possible connection with reality.
One of the most important assumptions underlying science is Ockham's Razor (http://www.galilean-library.org/manuscript.php?postid=43832). In plain language, Ockham's Razor insists the scientist must accept the simplest solution to a problem as being the correct solution.
If I can imagine a chemical reaction as being the result of the collision of five molecule, but I can equally imagine that the reaction is the result of the collision of just two molecules, and if every observation I have made supports either of the fruits of my imagination, I must accept as valid and correct the imagined event that includes just two molecules. The reality may be that only one molecule is required, or seven molecules are required, or the event occurs only when there are sunspots on our solar system's star, but I can never know this. Even if the model I develop happens to support a theory that is close to reality, I may not ever claim to have elucidated even the slightest aspect of reality. I am allowed to conclude only that certain behaviours seem reproducible and that they also seem to adhere to a model consistent with Ockham's Razor and the other underlying assumptions of the scientific method.
I pick up a pen with the five fingers of my right hand. Science notes this fact, records the observations associated with the act. And that is all science can do. Science cannot tell us my motivation for picking up the pen, cannot predict what I will do with it, how I will do it, what the future outcomes will be, or how the ramifications of the simple act will ripple through the greater world, how the act will affect others.
Science cannot place even the simplest act within the continuum of reality. Complex interactions are so far outside the realm of pure science that they virtually defy adequate description. In fact, no interaction can be fully characterised. Science and logic must be forever partial, incomplete statements of certain events, and they can never claim to explain a basis in reality.
We say logic is “impartial”. Even if logic cannot connect events to reality, we believe it is at least fair, in the sense that it applies the same syllogisms regardless of context. But every new, misleading application of logic is a fresh occasion for warped interpretations. Logic is, in every sense that has meaning, entirely partial, incomplete in every way. Logic can never, ever be considered impartial. It is, in its very nature, an instrument of partiality.
Science: Instrument of Deception
Logic serves dark objectives.
Benjamin Linus was the unequalled master of deception on the Island. He achieved this distinction through misdirection and the correct application of logic. He knew observation and syllogism are open to broadest interpretation, and he was ready at every turn to provide a self-serving explanation of anything those within his sphere of influence observed. He knew people are all too willing to believe their observations are the full revelation of truth. All Ben had to do was provide a few well-chosen words and he could lead dozens of people to believe in the integrity of his command decisions.
“Why do you let them talk to you that way, John?” Ben’s words were simple and few, but they were perfectly placed to sow in Locke the seeds of doubt, fear, and anger. The implication of his words was that Jack and Sawyer, in telling Locke what to do, were treating him as they would a child. Jack’s assumption of control over Locke was an affront not only to the elder Locke, but a perversion of the correct order of things. That Locke willingly participated served to double the depths of this insidious subversion of the natural order. Locke’s reaction to Ben’s expertly-placed manipulation was predictable and served well Ben’s growing control over Locke. In like manner, Ben controlled the thoughts and activities of dozens of Others over the course of nearly twenty years.
Grounded in Faith
The heroes of LOST were grounded in faith. Sayid Jarrah and Charlie Pace were the two noblest examples of heroism in the six years of the series, and they were also the most observant of their respective religious traditions. In the great battle of faith between John Locke and Jack Shephard, faith won in a unanimous decision, with the former champion of science fully converted into the Island’s leading practitioner of faith.
Those convicted in their faith are sure of their purpose and destiny. Science not only cannot fathom the possibility of anything associated with destiny, it rejects any notion of purpose. Science is built on the shifting sands of hypothesis, theory, and syllogism. Faith stand unshaken on the firm rock of truth.
DESMOND: This doesn't matter, you know.
JACK: Excuse me?
DESMOND: Him destroying the island, you destroying him. It doesn't matter. You know, you're gonna lower me into that light, and I'm gonna go somewhere else. A place where we can be with the ones we love, and not have to ever think about this damn island again. And you know the best part, Jack?
DESMOND: You're in this place. You know, we sat next to each other on Oceanic 815. It never crashed. We spoke to each other. You seemed happy. You know, maybe I can find a way to bring you there, too.
JACK: Desmond, I tried that once. There are no shortcuts, no do-overs. What happened, happened. Trust me, I know. All of this matters.
Every action Jack took in that final episode mattered. From his prayer in the stream to his final instructions to the others, from his triumph over the Man in Black to his final embrace in his lover’s arms, everything Jack did was imbued with purpose and significance. He was resolute, strong, and effective precisely because he had given up every last morsel of scientific scepticism. Replacing the Cork Stone into the Source was the final and most important action in the entire series. The Cork Stone, inscribed with the foundational truths of human civilisation, was the symbol of each of the characters’ destinies, and witness and source of our own human dignity.
Conclusion, Part I: Indictment of Science
The Dharma Initiative did not fail because of the Incident. It did not fail because of the Purge. It failed because it was inherently flawed. It could never have uncovered the true secrets of the Island because it relied on fundamentally incapable tools in seeking the Island’s mysteries.
“Every question I answer will simply lead to another question.” At some point we have to surrender scepticism and seductive “impartial” scientific inquiry and accept on faith things as they are and must be. If we can never accept that there are fundamental truths upon which we can base our lives, we will never be secure in who we are, we will never possess the unshakable knowledge of the foundational precepts of our humanity.
If we are not sure of our inherent dignity as human beings, we will be able to imagine experiments aimed at discovering alternative explanations. Josef Mengele was a great scientist whose work advanced theoretical knowledge. I will not list here any of the experiments he performed. They were of such a nature as to nauseate even those with strong stomachs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josef_Mengele). In some brave but misguided scientific circles debate continues to this day regarding the appropriateness of applying Mengele’s data to “legitimate” science. From a strictly scientific point of view, data obtained from his experiments are as valid as any other technical information. From a human point of view, the reams of data are the worst imaginable form of pornography. The paper containing his records could serve us appropriately only as fuel for a fire.
LOST does not assert that scientists are misguided. Those of us who earn our living in the laboratory (I include myself) need not fear any comparison with Josef Mengele. LOST says simply that if science is to have any validity, it must be guided by the heart. If scientific endeavour is not informed by a firm reliance on the fundamental principles of human civility, it is not an activity worthy of our consideration or effort. The Dharma Initiative, guided by fear and lust for scientific power, was LOST’s premiere example of humanity gone awry.
Conclusion, Part II: Indictment of a Generation
The most recognisable saying of the late 1960s and early 1970s was “turn on, tune in, drop out”.
Activate your mind, seek to understand yourself by looking inward, and disengage from all commitments to the outside world. Turn on, tune in, drop out was Timothy Leary's slogan, and it became my generation's mantra. The Vietnam War was, in hindsight, a stupid and pathetic response to the perceived threat of Marxism. The "Domino Theory" was flawed, for it was founded on the notion that human beings--selfish human beings--would voluntarily give up their self-centred desires in exchange for collectivism and social tyranny. Leaders in the Kremlin and in the White House had not the intellectual tools to understand the Adam Smith's capitalism and Karl Marx's communism were opposite sides of the same counterfeit eighteenth-century coin. The gold standard of human economics is neither laissez-faire free market nor centrally-imposed five-year plan, but the commitment of human beings, governments, and religions to full and harmonious engagement with the physical and spiritual worlds.
Your grandparents, children of the Greatest Generation, decided to disengage. We smoked pot and hash. We drank Sangria, Whiskey, and Budweiser. We shot cocaine, LSD, and heroin. We wore love beads, dressed in Nehru jackets, flashed the two-fingered peace sign, and thoughts ourselves advanced in every way. We were for women's rights (well, ah, to a point, anyway...) and we even thought Negroes should have equality. Most of all, we were opposed to that oppressive military action in Southeast Asia, the one we saw every night on the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite in the form of dead, maimed, and dying soldiers in red-earth ditches, on green army stretchers, on Huey helicopters. "Hell no, we won't go" and "All we are saying--is give peace a chance", on their own, are among the finest sentiments of the human heart. But my generation suborned the ideals of peace to the lusts of sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. We agitated and marched and chanted for peace in Vietnam not because we understood the war to be unjust, but because we saw no reason to die in a far-off jungle when the orgasmic pleasures of responsibility-free life beckoned. "I'm Okay, You're Okay" and "If It Feels Good Do It" were closer to the governing mantra of my generation than any pacifist or humanist or religious ideals. We temporarily adopted those ideals because they suited our true objectives, which in the end proved to share not a single point of reference with any of the nobility of our parents' hearts.
Timothy Leary made an appearance on Mittelos. We knew him as Stuart Radzinsky.
The inevitable outcome of a Lucy-in-the-Sky-with-Diamonds, navel-gazing approach to life is the imposition of one's will on others. If the only reality we know is the gut-based impulses of self, we will move to ensure that others secure for us the satisfaction of our urges and desires. We wake from LSD-induced stupor to find our taxes are too high, our government far too socialistic, our responsibilities too broad and too deep. No PTA and bowling league and civic duty for my generation, thank you. That was our parents' life, not ours. Just give me my remote, a few blow-em'-up action movies on the wide-screen TV, keep my taxes low, and stop telling me to participate, damn it. Life isn't about giving. It's about getting.
LOST is emphatic about few things, but this is one of them: The Baby Boomer generation's response to life is wrong-headed, inhuman, and uncivilised. As I wrote so many essays ago (http://pearsonmoore-gets-lost.com/Magnificence.aspx), it is некультурный. If we are to survive, if we are to make an enduring contribution to this world, if we are to realise Jacob's Progress, we must engage. We are compelled, by nature, by our truest selves, by everything holy and wise and good, to engage with this world and with each other in every dimension of life, spirit, and will. We all need each other, for the only way into the Church of the Holy Lamp Post is with a Constant at one's side, and the only way to move on into the warmth and light beyond is as a group, the congregation of all those who have interacted in harmony with each other to improve the human condition. Goodness is not singular, but collaborative. LOST presents all survivors with a Demande d'engagement. It is not a choice. It is our truest and only sustainable destiny.
Parting Thoughts on Valenzetti: The Seven Samurai
Before the beginning of the sixth season I predicted what I thought to be the inevitable outcome of LOST: Seven of the survivors would collaborate to bring perfect resolution to the series (see the essay here: http://pearsonmoore-gets-lost.com/Magnificence.aspx). The numbers seemed to fade in importance toward the end of the season, and I concluded that my prediction had been wrong. After several weeks of digging into the final events of the series, I’m not so sure anymore. Perhaps my pre-season intuition was correct after all.
The Valenzetti Equation is canonical to LOST. Verbal reference to the equation was never made, but the idea was prominently displayed in one of the most cherished iconic images of the series.
The image above is taken from the lower left portion of the blast door map discovered by John Locke in Season Two. The green fluorescent letters in the middle of the image spell out this message:
--LOW PRIORITY ZONE FOR
POSSIBLE SITE FOR ABOVE-
GROUND STUDY OF FLORA
LOW RELEVANCE TO
The Valenzetti Coefficients correspond to the six final Candidates in the millennia-old game of backgammon:
4 John Locke
8 Hugo Reyes
15 James Ford
16 Sayid Jarrah
23 Jack Shephard
42 Jin Kwon
The six numbers add to 108, a sacred number in Hindu tradition. Another number sacred to Hindus is 51, associated with Shakti, consort-wife of Shiva, and thus the most important goddess in Hindu tradition. In LOST we know Number 51 by another name: Kate Austen. Kate’s name, not crossed out, appeared next to position 51 on Jacob’s lighthouse wheel. While several other names on the lighthouse wheel were likewise not crossed out, Kate was the only one from that group who figured in the final battle on the lava cliffs.
Just as Shakti is Constant to the most important figure in Hindu tradition, Kate is Constant to the most important character in LOST mythology.
In “Magnificence” (http://pearsonmoore-gets-lost.com/Magnificence.aspx) I figured the easiest way to break the Valenzetti Equation was not to change any of the coefficients, but to insist on the addition of a seventh term. I now believe this is precisely the event that took place to bring perfect closure to Valenzetti and LOST. A seventh coefficient, Kate Austen, was added at the last possible moment. Kate Austen was the seventh nail in science’s coffin. She was the unpredictable variable—the human potential for change—that Faraday referred to as the boulder in the stream of time.
Seven Samurai. The Magnificent Seven. The Seven Candidates. In all three cases, seven were required to change the course of history. In all three examples, four heroes paid with their lives, and three lived to recount their deeds.
A Final Word
We are Lost until we find and recognise ourselves. We find ourselves through each other, through an unbroken commitment to a Constant, through a trust and faith in each other and in our common humanity, through happy adherence to the civilised values inscribed on the Cork Stone.
The Dharma Initiative represented an artificial, science-based civilisation founded in scepticism, fear, and thirst for power. There were no Constants, no equality, no fraternity, no liberty. Consensus was achieved through coercion, as in the “unanimous” vote to kill Sayid, or from the long barrel of a rifle. Dharma offered no means of reconciliation, redemption, or recognition.
In the end LOST does not assert faith over science, nor good over evil, but rather identity and certitude over incoherence and doubt. Lacking foundation in any of the enduring attributes of human identity, the Dharma Initiative was doomed to fail.
The Dharma Initiative was a rich, multi-layered creation that brought colour, depth, and focus to an already thought-provoking television drama. It is one of the key attributes of an inimitable series that will be forever cherished.
On behalf of the Seven, Desmond Hume, and all of us on the Island, thank you. Namasté. And... good luck!
Posted by DarkUFO at 10/23/2010 07:57:00 pm 37 CommentsDharma , Pearson Moore