I cannot know every particular of your thoughts on LOST, but I do know you consider that the series had relevance to you personally. I know this because of your emotional condition the first time you saw the finale nine months ago. You at least had a lump in your throat—and if your troubled state approximated the extreme condition of millions around the world, you succumbed to warm tears after the first or second revelation—in the hospital with Sun and Jin, or at the concert with Kate and Aaron and Claire and Charlie. I was among the stoics who fought tears through the finale. I lost my battle at the candy machine with Juliet and James.
You believe. Faith commands the centre of our shared appreciation of LOST, and it provides the essential foundation of any real understanding of the series. Our ranks used to include millions more. With warehouse worker Hector, they screamed, “We deserve answers!” If only they understood what we know: LOST gave us faith, and faith provides the answers. This essay is about the provider of faith, trust, and hope, the giver of Light: The Heart of the Island. The Source is the basis for everything that occurred since September 22, 2004. Let us take a closer look at this foundation of our common fascination.
The Physics of the Source
Some months ago I undertook a scientific explanation for the mysteries of LOST (read the article here: http://pearsonmoore-gets-lost.com/TheScienceofLost.aspx). Two facts surprised me. First, I found a technical basis for almost every one of the major properties of the Island, down to the green glow of the water at the Source and the destruction of the Tawaret statue. Even the extreme compass needle deflections which caused Sayid so much consternation (Lost 1.13) have been explained by scientists (in Hawaii, no less. Read the technical article, cited in my earlier essay, here: http://www.agu.org/journals/ABS/1995/95JB00148.shtml). Second, the one phenomenon I was sure I would be able to explain—the red glow emanating from below the pool around the Cork Stone—has resisted every attempt at reconciliation with current geological theory. I consulted with volcanologists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Volcanology Group and at the University of Hawaii. I spoke with geologists and paleomagetologists in California and British Columbia. Given the features of the light cave and the extreme electromagnetism of the Island, not a single scientist was able to construct a model consistent with the observation of a red glow originating beneath the floor of the pool.
One might argue that the red glow would be ascribed to lava or magma by those of us—including myself—who are not experts in volcanology. Surely Darleton could not have been expected to delve so deeply into the geological underpinnings of their fictional creation. Even those who demand answers to every question posed during the six years of the series would be willing to grant Darleton licence to fabricate a minor geophysical impossibility to advance the story. I would be willing to grant this, too, if I believed a scientific or quasi-scientific explanation was the writers’ intention. But this was not the intention.
Basis in Faith
There is a point at which we are obliged to bring an end to our quest for objective truth.
CLAUDIA: Where are the rest of your people?
GUARDIAN: There's only me.
CLAUDIA: How did you get here?
GUARDIAN: The same way you got here. By accident.
CLAUDIA: How long have you--
GUARDIAN: Every question I answer will simply lead to another question. You should rest. Just be grateful you're alive.
“Across The Sea” was not the writers’ attempt at a scientific or historical or social explanation for the Island. Every frame of the 43-minute episode stated emphatically that the explanation was mythological in character. The mythos of LOST had its origin in conditions and events that unfolded naturally from the Guardian’s time as Protector through Jacob’s reign and Hurley’s ascension to the See of Light. We are permitted to speculate about events and conditions prior to the images and words of Episode 6.15, but we cannot expect objective, non-mythological explanations.
The Source is literally and figuratively the defining boundary of LOST mythology. It is the starting point for every condition and event, every plotline and character arc. It is not subject to explanation or understanding. Rather, it is the common reference point for everything in the series. The Source explains; it is not in itself an object of our understanding.
Darleton did not intend to fashion a story predicated on known truths of science or history. LOST is not a procedural show like NCIS or House; there are no ruthlessly logical connections between characters and events, and there is no proof for any of the great mysteries, nor even for some of the small questions.
For instance, we know Jin-Soo Kwon, not Sun, was the sixth Candidate. We do not rely on advanced knowledge of Korean language and culture in making this assessment (according to Korean practice, Sun’s name would have been PAIK Sun, not Sun Kwon), but rather on the consistency of LOST mythology. Candidacy was conferred not by Jacob’s touch alone, but by Jacob’s intention combined with tactile contact. The scene at Sun and Jin’s wedding confirmed only the touch. We didn’t learn Sun was not a Candidate until the flight of Ajira 316. All of the Candidates traveled through time; since Sun, Frank, and Ben did not travel through time, they were not Candidates. Jin, unconscious on the floating remains of the Kahana, did travel through time, and therefore he was a Candidate. We have no proof to back this interpolation, but we require no such proof. Reliance on mythology is sufficient.
In like manner, we rely on the integrity of LOST mythology and apply judicious interpolation to arrive at solid answers for any of the questions posed during the series. Since the Source is the starting point for LOST, it must contain within itself an unambiguous answer to the foundational question of the show. Yet, other than the Guardian’s quite obviously biased statements about the Heart of the Island, we have very little information about the Source itself.
We rely on faith to understand LOST. I need to point out that this firm reliance is not the result of an incomplete story. The story is complete. In fact, even without “The New Man in Charge” epilogue, the story is complete. Everything that occurred in the little eleven-minute film could have been extrapolated from the 121 one-hour episodes; in fact, some of us correctly predicted events as portrayed in the epilogue several weeks before it was leaked to the Internet. We rely on faith because the writers intended precisely this type of understanding. Faith allows us to arrive at quite unambiguous conclusions regarding the nature of the Source.
The History of the Cork Stone
The dearth of logical, objectively true information about the Source must have been a stumbling block to those who sought a mechanistic understanding of the show. We have no reliable, non-mythological information about the Light, the Source, or the Cork Stone. No single character was given definitive insight into the nature of these elementary objects. From a sterile, logical point of view, LOST must seem to have been an extraordinary waste of time and effort.
We know nothing of the history of the Source. However, we do possess some information on the history of the Cork Stone, provided by Darleton during the audio commentary accompanying “Across The Sea.”
Damon Lindelof: If I were to have a theory that that apparatus we see in the finale with the stone sticking in the middle of the pool that's sort of blocking the light, maybe that apparatus wasn't created until after this event [the creation of the Smoke Monster].
Carlton Cuse: I think that's an incredibly likely deduction, Damon.
Damon Lindelof: It's possible people went down there and basically...
Carlton Cuse: They built something.
Damon Lindelof: Some people think the light went out in that shot [when the Smoke Monster rose out of the cave for the first time] but it was just the smoke monster obstructing the light. The light has not been diminished in any significant way but is probably largely responsible for what just happened.
This is useful information, especially since it superficially contradicts the written record contained on the Cork Stone. According to Lost Encyclopedia (not Lostpedia), the Cork Stone is etched with two lines of Egyptian hieroglyphs and two lines of Sumerian cuneiform script. These are the four lines of ancient text, translated into English:
Line 1: "Embrace that which the Balance hath weighed, let a path be made for the Osiris in the Great Valley, and let the Osiris have light to guide him on his way."
Line 2: "He hath reconciled the Two Fighters (Horus and Set), the guardians of life."
Line 3: "Break the immovable yoke that we may sleep."
Line 4: "That silence may reign and we may sleep."
The superficial contradiction is found in the languages chosen for the inscriptions. Egyptian hieroglyphs were current during the Classical Roman period depicted in “Across The Sea”; Sumerian cuneiform script, on the other hand, was an ancient and unknown form of writing by the time Jacob and his brother were born. The cuneiform symbols were not placed in error, though. We need to dig deep into the mythological significance to make sense of the Cork Stone.
The Mythology of the Cork Stone
The painting above should seem somehow familiar. The figure is that of an idealised falcon, rendered in the Egyptian fashion with wide body, wide head, and small wings held close on either side. The figure is idealised because it depicts an Egyptian god, in this case Horus, the god of daylight. The strange feature of traditional representations of Horus is the nature of the eyes. One eye is entirely white, with no pupil. The other eye is painted dark. This depiction of light and dark eyes is done to conform to the Egyptian myth of Horus and Set.
Horus and Set battled each other after Set, the god of darkness, killed Osiris, Horus’ father. Set plucked out one of Horus’ eyes, and the fight raged on. With no prospect of a victor, the other gods assembled to decide their colleagues’ fate. Initially the gods sided with Set but Osiris, from the land of the dead, sent a message to the gods, instructing them to choose Horus. The gods obeyed Osiris, Horus was declared winner of the contest, and Set was cast into the darkness, though not killed. After his victory, the gods located Horus’ missing eye and restored it. Horus was originally the god of Lower Egypt, while Set was the god of Upper Egypt. The myth of the struggle between Horus and Set, with Horus installed as victor, is understood as a parable for later unification of Egypt under the single god, Horus. The Pharoahs, after they died, were considered to personify Osiris.
The light and dark eyes are understood as the unification of night and day under the control of Horus. The light eye sees as the sun, while the dark eye sees as the moon, symbolically indicating Horus’ position as supreme ruler of both night and day. Horus is often depicted with a single eye, and sometimes, as in Jacob’s tapestry, only the eye itself—the Eye of Horus—is used to symbolise divine power from on high.
We didn’t see Jacob’s tapestry until the end of Season Five. But we had an important glimpse of Horus long before that. In fact, we saw a novel and quite memorable depiction of the Egyptian god in Episode 1.10, “Raised By Another.”
Claire’s dream showed Locke with one dark eye and one light eye in the configuration typically used to represent the post-battle, victorious Horus who reconciled night and day and Upper and Lower Egypt. The analysis of Claire’s dream will have to wait for a future essay. I mention it here only because the Season One dream supports the claim that the Source determined the survivors’ fate, and even their thoughts and dreams, from the earliest days.
The importance of Darleton’s statement that the Cork Stone was installed only after the Man in Black became the Smoke Monster is understood through the inscription. Since the Cork was installed on Jacob’s watch as Protector, he would have placed the Cork himself or he would have directed its installation. Having won the battle over “Set” (the Man in Black) he could justifiably consider himself the personification of wise Horus. That he commissioned the second line of the inscription ("He hath reconciled the Two Fighters [Horus and Set], the guardians of life.") can be taken as an expression of magnanimity, declaring both himself and the Man in Black as equal “guardians of life.”
The cuneiform script is more difficult to explain. We may well imagine dozens or even hundreds of interpretations of their significance supported by the events leading up to Desmond’s descent into the cave. Due to the antiquity of the writing we know the script did not originate with Jacob. The symbols and their significance would have been handed down from the Guardian, who would have known them herself or received them from the Protector before her. These two lines were the most precious words the Guardian knew. Jacob ensured their eternal propagation through history by inscribing them on the single object he knew would survive any change over the millennia.
The two ancient phrases inscribed on the Cork Stone hold the key to understanding every event in LOST. But before we can propose their meaning, we need to return to a deeper consideration of the Source.
The Ground of All Being
Not a single person living or dead can make such a bold statement. Even if anyone could summon the audacity to utter these two impossible words, we would immediately seek clarification through qualification: “You are what, pray tell?” I am my father’s son, my daughter’s father, my wife’s husband. I am a chemist, a writer, a linguist. I am, but only in relation to something or someone else. I cannot say simply I AM, because to do so would be tantamount to claiming non-dependent, necessary existence. There is in this world only one entity that can legitimately claim necessary existence, and She is not human.
Perhaps you considered my earlier claim, that “The Source explains; it is not in itself an object of our understanding”, was an innocent but unremarkable statement. It was not unremarkable at all. And it certainly was not innocent. In fact, in certain circles the claim would be considered tantamount to blasphemy.
Only the Creator can utter the unqualified statement “I AM.” The Creator is the only necessary (non-dependent) entity. No one created the Creator. The Creator exists before all else that is or ever will be, and is contingent on nothing.
The exploration of the Creator’s character is complicated in ways we need to delineate in order to make sense of the Source. I am going to consciously refrain from appealing to the revelation of any particular religious tradition, not because I wish to remain neutral, but because such discussions would unnecessarily complicate an already difficult philosophical concept. I do not dispute any aspect of revelation, and nothing stated in this essay should be considered a denial of the veracity, efficacy, or necessity of any religious doctrine or revelation. For the purposes of our discussion I am going to make statements that may be at odds with your understanding. In fact, some of what I write in this essay will not comport with my own understanding of the reality outside LOST. I am consciously framing the discussion to illuminate the core ideas of the series.
The Creator is not a being. Beings are those objects that are brought into existence by the Creator. In fact, the great twentieth century theologian, Paul Tillich, referred to the Creator not as a being, but as The Ground of All Being. The Creator is the necessary source (ground) of all created things, and as such is no being at all, but something above being. Tillich sometimes referenced the Creator as “God above God,” meaning the true, unknowable Creator above the divine entity we understand through revelation.
Professor Paul Tillich
This understanding of the completely Other—the Creator—is essential to a productive approach toward the Source. The few characteristics we might reasonably ascribe to the Creator I believe are best understood, for the purposes of coming to know the Source, as being founded on this radical concept of the Divine.
The Creator creates. Therefore the Creator has power. The Creator creates everything, and can create anything. Therefore the Creator has infinite power, contingent on nothing, answerable to no one. The Creator can create anywhere, at any time, simultaneously or sequentially, and is therefore omnipresent and not subject to the constraints of calendar or clock. The Creator adds to and subtracts from creation at will and uses the same infinite faculties to create and destroy, to unify and tear apart.
The Creator does not answer to us, does not necessarily conform Her will to ours, is not obliged to bring any particular aspect of creation into a form we understand. Because the Divinity is not a being, not a part of creation, not an entity we can understand or interact with in any way (again, not including or referencing mechanisms of interaction that may be available as proclaimed through revelation), the Creator’s presence is not going to be understood or appreciated as such. Fear and trembling are the most likely responses to an encounter with the Divine, for the Creator is completely Other, completely beyond anything we have ever experienced, completely beyond our faculties of comprehension.
The Source behaved in a manner consonant with an entity beyond any human understanding. It was powerful—perhaps infinitely powerful. Its power appeared in a form that virtually demanded of us a sense of fear and awe.
I do not claim that the Source is the Creator, or even that the writers intended that we devise or imagine any mental associations between Source and Creator. What I claim is that conceptualising the Source as something beyond human understanding is the most effective route toward a deeper appreciation of the series. You may choose to believe that nothing even remotely similar to the Creator as understood in established religious tradition was invoked by the writers. However, I hope you will at least consider the possibility that something akin to Tillich’s Ground of All Being has direct bearing and proximity to the behaviours of the Source.
I believe the Source was not Creator but rather the connection between the world we understand and the world knowable only to the Creator. The Source—the Island—is the umbilical connecting us to the Divine.
Properties of the Source
The writers were quite deliberate in their decision to leave the Source unexplained. We know only the colours it imparted to the cave above it and something of its behaviour. When the water flowed and the Cork Stone was in place, a bright, greenish-yellow glow emanated from the pool. When the Cork Stone was removed the water stopped flowing and drained into the Source. When no water remained, a dull, reddish to reddish-brown glow emanated from below the empty pool.
But we can assign phenomenological effects as well. The true character of the Source is beyond comprehension, the behaviours are inscrutable, but the results of the Source’s activity are well catalogued. Some of the results of the presence or actions of the Source were entirely beyond systematic understanding. Locke’s ability to walk was instantly restored. Rose’s cancer was cured. Wounds that should have required weeks or months to heal were instead mended in short days. Whispers engulfed anyone who walked the abode of the dead.
Some phenomena unfolded in a manner we believed consistent with the rudimentary theory of emerging, cutting-edge science. Places deep underground in close proximity to the Light were found capable of sending objects—or even the Island itself—instantaneously across the globe and forward or backward in time. We attributed these phenomena to the presence of exotic matter, manipulated in such a way that a Casimir Effect was propagated through the local environment, creating a displacement of material through a temporal vortex.
Other outcomes were of a type we believed partially or completely understood by long-established science. Pregnancies that should have been routine became instead death sentences for both mothers and babies. Metal behaved in strange and sometimes unpredictable ways. Forces at play on the Island were capable of loosing mercury amalgam fillings and instantly sending them through tissue and bone, carving a path through the brain and killing the hapless victim. Planes flying thousands of metres above the Source were subject to its strange effects, all of which were explained as an extreme form of electromagnetism seen nowhere else on Earth.
We should take care to avoid confusion regarding the true extent of our understanding. The observation of events unfolding in a manner consistent with theory does not indicate any triumph of our scientific knowledge. The dolphin inhabits salt water and possesses a sleek body similar in form to the shark. A large book could be filled, cataloguing the long list of similarities between dolphin and shark. We might be tempted to conclude the two animals are virtually identical.
In the same way, we might believe ourselves ready to conclude that because several Island behaviours conform to the well-worn conventions of electromagnetism we are therefore entitled to proclaim our perfect understanding of the events. We must keep in mind that any understanding of the true cause of Island phenomena is beyond our limited capacities. We have no knowledge of the true range and nature of the Source’s abilities.
The Personality of the Source
From the earliest episodes of LOST we were witness to the strange affinity of John Locke for the Island. During his first heart-to-heart conversation with Jack (Episode 1.05) he revealed that the Island was “different... special.” He was beginning to formulate the idea that their presence on the Island was no coincidence. By the end of Season One, the night air illuminated by bright torches, he conveyed to Jack his understanding of their purpose.
JACK: Who brought us here, John?
LOCKE: The Island. The Island brought us here. This is no ordinary place, you've seen that, I know you have. But the Island chose you, too, Jack. It's destiny.
These few pronouncements could have been understood as a peculiar manner of speech, an unintended personification of a rock he knew to be inanimate. But Locke made many such statements, conveying the clear idea that the Island had not only a purpose, but an awareness, a consciousness.
LOCKE [To Boone]: The island will send us a sign.
LOCKE [To Charlie]: What I know is that this island might just give you what you're looking for, but you have to give the island something.
LOCKE [To Boone]: The island will tell us what to do.
LOCKE [To Eko]: Boone made it fall. Then he died. A sacrifice that the Island demanded.
If Locke had been the only person attributing conscious awareness to a piece of ocean real estate we might have been able to dismiss his rantings. But he was not alone. Almost everyone who had inhabited the Island for an extended period spoke casually of the Island’s intentions, desires, and caprices.
BEN [To Locke]: I'm not going in there with you. The island wanted me to get sick and it wanted you to get well. My time is over, John. It's yours now.
ELOISE: I'm sorry to have to tell you this, Desmond, but the Island isn't done with you yet.
WIDMORE: The Island needs you, John. It has for a long time.
LOCKE: What makes you think I'm so special?
WIDMORE: Because you are.
JACK: You know, when we were here before, I spent all of my time trying to fix things. But...did you ever think that maybe the island just wants to fix things itself? And maybe I was just...getting in the way?
Several statements assuming an Island consciousness were made in such a way that we knew the parties to the conversation had a shared understanding of the Island’s personality.
RICHARD [To Widmore]: Jacob wanted it [saving Ben’s life] done. The Island chooses who the Island chooses. You know that.
BEN: You're the one who wanted her dead, Charles, not the Island.
WIDMORE: I hope you're right, Benjamin, because if you aren't, and it is the Island that wants her dead, she'll be dead.
Independence in Thought and Action
Knowing the cause of a particular event can be crucial to our broader understanding of Island phenomena. Although it is tempting to build complex theories around the actions of a particular character, we must challenge ourselves to avoid interpreting a situation in a way beneficial to a favourite participant in the Island drama. We must never become comfortable with convenient theories that do not take into account the details of a scene.
Many commentators, I think, lost sight of the complexity of interaction on the Island, especially in the final season, and particularly with regard to interactions between Jacob, the Man in Black, and the Guardian (“Mother”). These three were not the only characters in “Across the Sea” whose actions had the potential to drastically affect others’ lives.
We have seen broad consensus among the major characters that the Island not only had an awareness of self, but it was conscious of the characters roaming about its jungle and beaches. But the Island was no mere observer of events.
Ilana was one of the leaders in the last season of the saga. It was her job to protect Jacob and the Candidates. Though she arrived too late to do anything for Jacob, she did have the training and knowledge necessary to help the Candidates achieve the goal of wresting control of the Island from the Man in Black. She had been tutored one-on-one by the Protector himself, who treated her as a daughter. Jacob deemed her crucial to the responsibility of protecting the Island. With her unique and essential knowledge of Mittelos, we do not overstate her significance by claiming that she was the most important figure on the Island after Jacob. With Jacob’s death she became the most critical player in the 2000-year-old game. But long before she could assist in the selection of a new Protector she stopped on her hike with the Candidates, wiped her brow, and removed the dynamite bag from her shoulder. It was her last act on the Island.
BEN: Ilana. There she was - handpicked by Jacob, trained to come and protect you candidates, no sooner does she tell you who you are, then she blows up. The Island was done with her. Makes me wonder what's gonna happen when it's done with us.
It’s hard to know why the Island decided to remove Ilana from the game. Perhaps she would have become an impediment to Jack or Kate. Perhaps the single task she needed to perform had been accomplished. But we can be sure of at least one thing: Ilana’s death was not in keeping with Jacob’s plan. Neither was she executed by the Smoke Monster. Rather, she died because the Island needed her to die.
The Island could detonate explosives to remove people no longer needed, such as Michael and Ilana. It could manipulate conditions to prevent cancer in Rose but stimulate cancerous growth in Ben’s back. It influenced or directly intervened in dozens or even hundreds of events over the last two thousand years. And it accomplished all of these things without consulting Jacob, the Man in Black, Locke, or Jack. Those who survived this terrifying and wondrous place were the individuals who took to heart this truth: The Island has a mind of its own.
Coming into the presence of an entity possessing complete power over life and death and rebirth must be the most frightening task anyone can imagine performing. Two thousand years ago, someone took on this fearsome burden, placing an inscribed stone into the hole at the centre of the pool. The task had never been performed before because the Monster had never been created in the way Jacob had, by physically throwing his brother into the cave. He knew he had offended the Island, and in fact all of creation. He had unleashed a terrible evil on the world. In fitting the stone into its place in the pool, Jacob ensured that the Man in Black could never leave the Island, and he made amends with the powerful entity he had offended.
Careful preparation would have preceded the installation of the Cork Stone. Perhaps the pool itself and the aqueduct to the temple had to be constructed. But the most important consideration was the stone itself. It would serve as the physical impediment to the Man in Black’s departure from the Island. More than that, though, it would also serve as a promise—a covenant—between the Protector and the Source. Jacob fashioned a stone containing four important covenant statements, two in Egyptian, two in the ancient language of Sumer.
That Which the Balance Hath Weighed
The first covenant statement would have to acknowledge the Source’s power over life, death, and rebirth. This was perfectly accomplished with a tribute to Osiris, the continually reincarnated Egyptian god of death and life, in a quotation from the Egyptian Book of the Dead:
"Embrace that which the Balance hath weighed, let a path be made for the Osiris in the Great Valley, and let the Osiris have light to guide him on his way."
Osiris was the pharaoh of old, killed by his brother, Set, and consigned in death to the underworld. But he held power over life and death, and so he was reincarnated as the next pharaoh, the pharaoh after him, and then the next one, and so on, in perpetuity. Osiris was master of the underworld, and was the final judge to all who died, weighing souls in his balance pan to determine whether they deserved life with him in a perpetual state of bliss or gruesome death in the jaws of the god Amenti, who would consume the soul. The Great Valley was the valley of the dead, but because it would also be the starting point for Osiris’ next journey among the living as reigning pharaoh, the Great Valley would be looked upon as the nexus of life and reincarnation as well as death. In the mythology of LOST, the Heart of the Island corresponds to the Great Valley, since it is the place in which the power of life, death, and rebirth dwells.
The Guardians of Life
The second statement addressed Jacob’s error in violently forcing his brother to enter the holiest place on the Island and lose his identity as a human being. In setting himself above his brother as the Man in Black’s judge, Jacob had violated the rules established by the Guardian. Jacob made amends by drawing another statement from Egyptian mythology:
"He hath reconciled the Two Fighters (Horus and Set), the guardians of life."
This reference to Horus and Set was meant to symbolise Jacob’s relationship with his brother. Rather than declaring himself the Man in Black’s superior, the quote is meant to restore to the Man in Black the dignity he lost at the Source, and declares that both Horus (Jacob) and Set (the Man in Black) are equal guardians of life.
It was not Jacob (Horus) who reconciled the two fighters, but rather the Source itself, with the Cork Stone correctly in place to prevent either of the brothers from gaining ascendency over the other. As long as the Cork Stone remained in place, the brothers would maintain a balance that would serve the Island’s need for stability and protection. Thus again Jacob deferred to the power of the Source rather than assuming power or the appearance of power to his person. The quote made Jacob and the Man in Black equals, both subservient to the Source, both guardians or servants of life.
Jacob believed in progress. From the Guardian he learned a saying that stuck with him all his life: “Break the immovable yoke that we may sleep.”
The quote is from Tablet One of the Enûma Eliš, the Babylonian story of creation. At this early point in the story the gods were in strife with each other. Some of the gods were creating such unbearable noise that no one in the care of Tia-mat, who gave birth to the gods, could sleep during the night. Instead they found themselves sleepy during the day from their lack of repose in darkness. The situation was intolerable, and a delegation of the gods appealed to Tia-mat, imploring her to intercede among the troublesome gods on their behalf, saying to her, “Break the immovable yoke that we may sleep.”
There was no literal yoke, of course, but only the dreadful, unrelenting noise that created unnecessary strife and imposed an uncivilised disorder on the gods in Tia-mat’s care. The situation was not just, and it was not civilised. The call to “break the immovable yoke that we may sleep” was an urgent appeal to divine justice and human civility.
Jacob incorporated this pivotal covenant statement into the Cork Stone as his own pledge of justice and civility, and in recognition of the fact that justice and civility could reign the world only when humanity yielded to higher authority. By inscribing this ancient appeal to justice on the stone that was at the very heart of this world’s contact with the forces of life and death and rebirth, Jacob was establishing justice and civility as supreme among the virtues. By placing them at the heart of the holiest place on Earth, he established these virtues as those to which all human beings and civilisations must defer.
No civilisation can be opposed to justice and civility. This ought to be evident. The statement requires no syllogism; it is, in fact, a raw statement of identity standing on its own. But Jacob knew, and we see evidence every day, that those in power over others take delight and comfort in placing yokes on others’ necks, enslaving them, compelling them to conform to their unjust and uncivilised rules. The third statement is a pledge to bring an end to our tendency to wish to enslave each other. It is a hope for our future—for the progress Jacob knew we were capable of demonstrating.
The final covenant statement was also drawn from the first tablet of the Enûma Eliš. It is a desperate appeal to end the strife in the world. “That silence may reign, and we may sleep.”
When there is justice in the world, when women and men are civil with each other, with their neighbours, with those whom they serve and with those who serve them, when everyone can live together, none of us will ever have to fear that we will die alone. Silence will reign. That is, the world will know neither strife nor discord. The gods and humans and the rulers of women and men will live in harmony with each other. This was Jacob’s hope, his promise, his covenant carved in stone.
If we can’t live together, we’re going to die alone. If silence does not reign, we will never know peace, we will never possess justice, we will never enjoy any of the fruits of civlisation.
The message of LOST is that we can live together. We need not die alone. We know that we can do this because there are women and men like Jacob, Jack, John Locke, Sayid Jarrah, and Charlie Pace who consider these precepts, these foundations of our civilisation, more meaningful than even their own lives. In their sacrifice, we understand the essentiality of our shared humanity. It is something to savour, to appreciate, to share with our neighbours and especially our enemies, to teach to our children, to carry in our hearts.
February 2, 2011
Posted by DarkUFO at 2/03/2011 08:05:00 am 67 CommentsPearson Moore