I interviewed Pearson Moore just as his new guide, “LOST Humanity,” crossed the one-week mark as the #1 bestselling book at Amazon.com in the Television Guides category. Moore has written twenty-five Lost essays since joining Dark UFO in August, 2010, and over sixty essays and articles since February, 2010. Pearson joined us from his office near St. Louis, Missouri, in the United States.
Dark UFO: Thank you for joining us.
Pearson Moore: It’s good to be with you.
Dark UFO: We've read your articles and hopefully read your new online book. Tell me a bit more about the person behind the articles.
Pearson Moore: Well, like I say at my website, I had a difficult childhood. We were so poor that I wasn’t born ‘til the fourth year of my life—my parents didn’t have enough money ‘til then.
Dark UFO: [Laughs]
Pearson Moore: [Laughs] No, it’s good you ask “who are you” because that’s the big question of Lost. Not “who are you” so much as “what does it mean to say who you are?” We establish our identity through our connections to people and the things we say and do. For most of us, Winston Churchill was the guy who said, “Never was so much owed by so many to so few.” He was the driving force behind England’s “finest hour”—the stubborn unwillingness to yield to the Nazis, even when London was being bombed and invasion seemed to be only days away. Now, you could go read about Churchill, and you should. You’d read about his military service, his rise to political power, his Nobel Prize in literature and the rest, but what you’d be doing is just finding out what he did and said—not so much what he thought or believed. I mean, look at this. He was the leader of the Conservative Party but he was best friends with the most socialist president the United States ever had.
Dark UFO: Roosevelt.
Pearson Moore: Yeah! Churchill had more in common with Franklin Delano Roosevelt than he did with most of the members of his own party, and it’s because Churchill and Roosevelt saw things pretty much the same way. They believed the same things.
Dark UFO: So what do you believe?
Pearson Moore: I believe in 1789 much more than 1776 or 1917.
Dark UFO: The French Revolution, not the American Revolution?
Pearson Moore: Exactly. Jefferson expressed the right ideals, but he didn’t live them. He was consumed by the hypocrisies of his life—the fact that he believed in freedom but he owned slaves, the fact that he believed strongly in a Creator but couldn’t find a church that adhered to any of his beliefs. His hypocrisy gets played out endlessly in American social life. Probably always will. Now, I’m not saying the French Revolution was perfect—not at all. And especially what happened in the years after the storming of the Bastille. It was awful. But it’s the closest thing we have to an expression of our true humanity—Les droits de l’homme et du citoyen and all that. The key is always the third part of the triune statement of belief. In the U.S. you’ve got ‘Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ So being happy—or wealthy or powerful or whatever—is what it’s all about, and that’s the problem, ‘cause that can never be what life’s all about. But the American Dream is what life IS all about in the U.S. I think the more complete and accurate statement of who we are is the 1789 idea: Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité. See, it’s the third part again that’s important. Ask an American about liberty and equality. “Yeah, everybody’s got an equal chance, we’re all free,” yadda yadda yadda. No problem there. But that “Fraternity”—she’d just come back and say “What the hell does brotherhood have to do with anything?” It’s literally a foreign concept to Americans to consider people around them as sister or brother.
Dark UFO: Do you think Lost talks about “Fraternity”?
Pearson Moore: I think it definitely says some interesting things about our relationship with each other. But it’s probably more interested in “Paternity” than “Fraternity.”
Dark UFO: How did you first learn about Lost?
Pearson Moore: It was Christmas, 2006. We were visiting family and friends in Minnesota, and I saw the Season One and Two DVDs on our friends’ bookshelf. I put the first DVD in about 4:30 in the morning. It was incredible. I’d never seen anything like it. I watched straight through, ‘til 10:30 at night, and then I started in on the second season first thing the next morning. There was so much to think about! The ideas were amazing.
Dark UFO: You say Lost developed new ideas, things never before seen on television. Give me an example.
Pearson Moore: Sure. There’s a bunch of good examples, but the one that always comes to mind first is the need for a Constant.
Dark UFO: Desmond needed Penny.
Pearson Moore: Yeah, but it’s a lot more than that. Everybody who made it to the church at the end of the show was there with their Constant. It wasn’t coincidence. They needed each other as a group, but they needed each other as couples, too. At a very personal level they needed someone. They couldn’t move on alone, and they couldn’t remember on their own, either. They were who they were only because of others. And all of that goes to the whole thesis of the show.
Dark UFO: But how is that unique? Many television programmes assert that people need each other.
Pearson Moore: Yeah, but not in this comprehensive, do-or-die kind of way. In Lost, if you don’t have a Constant, you don’t get to move on. You don’t even get permission to sit in the pew to wait for the light. Poor Ben was outside because he had no Constant.
Dark UFO: Wasn’t that his choice? Hurley invited him in, but Ben said no, he had to work on some things.
Pearson Moore: You could look at it as choice, but I see it as destiny. Ben maybe thought he could go inside the church, but he couldn’t. His Constant was Alex, and he let her down big time when he said the words that led to her death. What he had to work on was obvious from the context of the series; he had to work on his relationship with Alex—get her safely into adulthood. It wasn’t a choice for anyone. Having a Constant was a set-in-stone requirement, and that’s what makes LOST different from any other television drama, or any other “philosophy” if you want to put it that way. I don’t know of any religion or philosophy that says you gotta find a “significant other” before you can go to heaven, or even get into the antechamber to heaven.
Dark UFO: You said the Constant is tied to the thesis of Lost. What is the thesis? Actually, what is Lost?
Pearson Moore: [Laughs] You might as well ask, “What’s the meaning of life?” Everyone who’s a part of Lost—everyone who’s seen it—is going to have a different idea about what it all means.
Dark UFO: But what do you say it means?
Pearson Moore: Lost is a statement of the personal basis for civilisation. We’re connected to each other, but not through impersonal or even social avenues. We’re connected at the deepest level, person to person, in positive and negative ways. It’s the one-on-one connections that Lost is concerned with. I’m part of civilisation not because I pledge allegiance to its ideals, but because of the people who’ve affected me most in life, for better or worse. All of us are pulled in three directions—it’s at least three directions—and this is the way we relate to society, through these deep, personal bonds.
Dark UFO: So the characters of Lost were prisoners, they were forced to go in certain directions by the people connected to them?
Pearson Moore: Well, it’s not quite like that, I think. It’s more like the characters were bonded—they were “joined at the hip.” Now, that bond has its own trajectory. The couple doesn’t decide on that trajectory, they just decide to bond. I suppose there’s an element of inevitable compatibility—love at first sight and all that—but I don’t get the feeling Lost has much to say about that. Lost is concerned with the Constant couple itself, and the trajectory established by that joining at the hip. It’s Jacob’s Progress, sparked by the joining into a couple.
Dark UFO: It seemed like each character had only one Constant. You’re saying everyone had three Constants?
Pearson Moore: No! Sorry! I didn’t explain my thought. What I meant to say was everybody had three types of relationship—three direct, personal connections—and each connection was different in flavour. Jack was connected to his Constant, Kate, but also to his antithesis, Locke, and then to his redemptrix, Christian. With Kate he was on a trajectory toward emotional or spiritual wholeness. But that wasn’t enough for Jack. It’s not enough for any of us. We all need some primary concern—it’s like the central trajectory of our lives, and for Jack that was Science. He had to work out what Science was in his life, and to do that he needed to be connected to his antithesis. How else could he work out what science meant, without struggling over it? He couldn’t struggle alone, you see? He had to struggle with someone, and in Lost that struggle has to be with one person, not with some objective, impersonal concept. So he had to struggle with Locke.
Dark UFO: [Laughs] And Locke won the struggle.
Pearson Moore: [Laughs] No, I’d say they both won. Their trajectory was toward faith, which was the other side of the coin Jack carried in his pocket. One side said “science,” the other side said “faith.” They’re the same thing—just two different expressions of the same idea. They’re both ways of exploring the universe. You could say Locke “lost” the battle, since he wanted to kill himself, but that’s not right. His demise was pre-ordained. Locke had to die so Jack would live. Locke was “the sacrifice the Island demanded,” for real. Through his death, Locke converted Jack and put him on a new trajectory. The Island needed Locke to die because the Island needed a Protector, and that Protector was Jack.
Dark UFO: In "LOST Humanity" you explore four routes to understanding Lost. Are these the only ways to know the series?
Pearson Moore: Everybody’s going to figure out their own way to understand it. I saw disorientation, literary analysis, metadrama, and chaos theory as the best ways to really get to the core of Lost. I really think all of it just boils down to relationships. You can even look at literary analysis that way. In my book I go through this long literary analysis of Jack’s first meeting with Locke.
Dark UFO: In “White Rabbit.”
Pearson Moore: Right. Yeah. The scene where Locke gives his white rabbit speech. It’s chiastic—their meeting is like layers of an onion—that’s what chiasm is—and you just peel back those layers ‘til you get to the core, which was “This Island is different. Special.” But the thing is, those layers were just defined by the dialogue between Jack and Locke. This first argument over Science and Faith was the Jack/Locke trajectory. Even if we can analyse it from a literary point of view, we’re really not doing justice to the writers’ intention when we do that. The argument was personal. The battle between Science and Faith was personal. In fact, I really oughta say the battle was between Jack and Locke and their understandings of Science and Faith. They advanced in knowledge and understanding only because they struggled with each other. It’s the deepest kind of progress or understanding, when we struggle with each other at a personal level. Conceptual understanding is all a bunch of nonsense, at least in the world of Lost. Even the Cork Stone was personal, not conceptual.
Dark UFO: I wanted to ask about that, too. You've written extensively about the Cork Stone. Why is it so important to LOST?
Pearson Moore: Well, it’s the core idea, isn’t it? Four ideas, really: “Make a path for Osiris,” reconcile Horus and Set, break the yoke, and “let there be silence” so we can sleep. They’re really two sets of rules drawn from the Egyptian Book of the Dead and the Sumerian myth of creation, called the Enuma Elish. These are Lost’s way of telling us what civilisation is. It’s what all the battles were about for the whole six years.
Dark UFO: That’s a bit dense.
Pearson Moore: [Laughs] It’s metaphorical. Osiris is the judge of the dead, so he’s a metaphor for an authority beyond our control. We don’t judge Osiris, he judges us. We can’t control him. In fact, we can’t understand him. For Lost, Osiris is the Heart of the Island, or the Source. It’s Authority, and that’s the first rule of life: There’s always some kind of authority over you. The second rule is metaphorical, too. It talks about reconciling Horus and Set, which are stand-ins for Jacob and the Man in Black. See, Horus and Set were two Egyptian gods who fought each other. Horus controlled the day, Set controlled the night. It’s the whole “light and dark” thing we’ve seen since the beginning of the first season. Horus and Set refer to Jacob and the Man in Black, but really they refer to any thesis/antithesis pair, like Ben and Hurley, or Faraday and Radzinsky, or Desmond and Eloise, or Jack and Locke. There has to be a balance, because the thesis/antithesis pair always has to be locked in battle. You gotta have balance. It’s just one of these fundamentals of the universe. So that’s the Egyptian rules: Authority and Balance.
Dark UFO: But there are two others.
Pearson Moore: Yes.
Dark UFO: The Sumerian rules—the ones written in cuneiform.
Pearson Moore: Right. The Enuma Elish. Okay, this stuff is different from the Egyptian myths. For one thing, it’s probably older, but the concerns are different, too. Both of these sayings—break the yoke so we can sleep, and let there be silence so we can sleep—they’re both from the first tablet of the creation story, which goes on for quite a few tablets—I don’t remember how many. There’s a lot of them. But it’s the first tablet, so the gods have just been created, and they’re young and kind of ornery. They’re like little kids, and most of them are still in the care of a kind of proto-god, called Tiamat. Some of the other gods are creating an unholy racket, like a big party going on all night, every night. Lots of noise. The better-behaved gods, the ones still under Tiamat’s wing, can’t sleep during the night, and they go around bleary-eyed all day. They finally appeal to Tiamat, and they say “Break this yoke so we can sleep.” I love the terminology, because it’s already deep metaphor, way back in 4000 B.C. or whatever it was. It’s not a literal yoke, it’s the younger gods’ figurative slavery to the caprices of the more rambunctious gods. It’s the first appeal to justice, the idea that we have to impose limitations on our freedom for the good of others.
Dark UFO: Something like the Golden Rule, then?
Pearson Moore: Kind of. Certainly the concern is the same—that everyone is treated with respect, which I suppose we can look at as the end result of justice. But remember, the young gods are appealing to Tiamat, not to the noisy gods. They’re not trying to work things out among themselves, they’re appealing to higher authority. So they’re not really saying “do unto others,” they’re calling on the divine police to compel the other gods to obey some kind of ideal of justice.
Dark UFO: The fourth rule sounds like the third one. It talks about sleep, too, doesn’t it?
Pearson Moore: Yes; it’s drawn from the same tablet. But I think of the fourth rule as being more like the second.
Dark UFO: How is that?
Pearson Moore: Well, this is where the Cork Stone really gets interesting. The fourth rule is “Let there be silence so we may sleep.” Silence is literally the lack of the awful noise the gods were creating, but it’s not an appeal to justice. It’s more like an appeal to harmony—harmony being the lack of discord, or noise—and it’s a calling out to the other gods this time, not a direct appeal to higher authority. The second rule is Balance, but it’s balance that’s imposed from above. The harmony, in the fourth rule, isn’t from above. It’s from the midst of the gods. You see, you can look at the four rules as being two sets of mirrored laws. The first two rules are from higher authority. There’s Authority itself, and there’s Balance. Below that we have Justice and Harmony. The last two are laws for the “younger gods” so they’re kind of like human versions of the two higher laws. Justice is the appeal to the first rule—to Authority—and Harmony is the appeal to our inner sense of balance. So the third rule mirrors the first rule, and the fourth rule mirrors the second rule. Human law points to divine law. We get light and dark yet again, so there’s opposition and contrast in several dimensions. I find it fascinating.
Dark UFO: So Authority, Balance, Justice, and Harmony were the real rules of the Island?
Pearson Moore: I look at the Cork Stone rules as giving us an idea of the structure of the Island. Some rules are just the way life is—like Authority and Balance. That’s just the way the universe is made. Some rules are human creations—like Justice and Harmony. I think the way it plays out on the Island is there are some rules—like having a Protector—that are just part of the fabric of the universe. There’s always going to be a Protector, because that’s the way it is. Now, how people get to the Island, who is allowed to come—those seem to be within the realm of what the Protector gets to decide, so these are the lower-order, human rules. At least that’s the impression I got after Ben’s advice to Hurley in the finale, when Hurley asked Ben to be his consigliere.
Dark UFO: You’ve written about themes and characters. Have you ever written an episode recap?
Pearson Moore: [Laughs] It’s because of recaps that I started writing on Lost.
Dark UFO: How so?
Pearson Moore: There’s some great recap writers out there, but I just couldn’t get into them. In Season Four and Season Five I’d watch an episode then go online over the next couple days and read blogs. I loved Vozzek69 and Doc Jensen and a few others, but I couldn’t read most of the bloggers. I tried, but I didn’t have the patience. I mean, I’d just watched the episode—usually twice—and I knew what happened. I didn’t need to read, “And then Locke said, ‘That’s where I disagree.’ And then Jack said, ‘So you disagree.’ And then Locke said, ‘You need to believe, Jack’ and then yadda yadda yadda. I just couldn’t read an entire article that did nothing more than regurgitate every line and action I’d already seen. I didn’t need to be told what happened, I needed to understand. Now, I know a lot of people can read a recap and get a lot out of it. It’s just not for me.
Dark UFO: So you started writing when Season Six began?
Pearson Moore: Yeah. I thought, “I not as smart as Vozzek and Doc Jensen and I can’t write like them, but maybe I can say something people will be interested in.” And I thought I knew how it would all end.
Dark UFO: Locke was going to get resurrected.
Pearson Moore: [Laughs] So you DID read my essays! Okay, I really goofed up there. [Laughs] But the idea behind the resurrection was really simple. I write novels. I figured the writers would have to adhere to certain storytelling conventions, and that led me to believe Locke would have to be resurrected. Well, that and all the ‘Canton-Rainier’ stuff about reincarnation and all that. I was wrong about Locke, but I think the writers adhered well to storytelling as I understand it, and that led to the insights on metadrama and chaos theory and all the rest that I think are useful in understanding the whole plot and character arcs.
Dark UFO: You’ve written essays about most of the major characters and even a few of the minor characters. Do you have any favourites?
Pearson Moore: When I first saw Evangeline Lilly I was awe struck. I’d just completed my first novel, “Trinity,” about a beautiful, kick-butt, take-no-prisoners, Michelle Rodriguez kind of heroine—but she looked exactly like Evangeline Lilly. I think it took ten minutes for my jaw to close again after I first saw her. The resemblance to the heroine in my novel was just unreal. Then in Walkabout [Lost Season 1, Episode 4] I was immediately pulled into Locke’s story. So Kate and Locke have always been my favourites, even when the writers weren’t making very good use of Kate.
Dark UFO: Are these the most important characters to the story in your mind?
Pearson Moore: I don’t know how to decide which character’s most important. You can say that Lost is Jack’s story—he’s the hero—but it’s like Christian said in the church—Jack needed every one of the people there. He couldn’t do it alone. I think that’s gotta be one of the important messages of Lost. I think the writers would agree that none of the major characters was most important. Well, maybe Nikki and Paulo were less important! [Laughs] But even Vincent had an important role to play. People think I’m joking when I say I’m working on an essay about Vincent. But I really am! It’s true! At least two scenes in Lost were seen from Vincent’s point of view. That’s just mind boggling. This isn’t a children’s story, yet here we have a dog showing us what’s going on. That was an important directorial decision, so it has meaning all by itself. And that’s why I have to write an essay on it.
Dark UFO: Sixty-three essays and you’re still not done?
Pearson Moore: Nope. Lost is so rich, a thousand of us could write weekly essays for the next five years and still not cover everything worth discussing and weighing and arguing about. It’s that interesting.
Dark UFO: What about a favourite episode? A favourite scene?
Pearson Moore: I’d say the bookends for sure—the pilot and the finale. And I suppose I’d add the bookends from each season—except for the Season Five finale.
Dark UFO: You didn’t like it?
Pearson Moore: I thought it was one of the weakest episodes.
Dark UFO: Interesting. Can you explain?
Pearson Moore: It just became like a weird soap opera after a while. First Kate was with Jack, then she was against him, then she supported him again. Everybody’s allegiances were going back and forth all over the map, fighting with each other, making up two minutes later and then all of a sudden working together. It was like “I’m fundamentally opposed to what you’re doing” and then three minutes later, “Hey, let me help you do it.” It just seemed too jerky, really poorly written. From a writer’s point of view, the whole thing violated economy, because it didn’t have to be so herky-jerky and complicated. It could have been a lot simpler, and that would have made a stronger story. I mean, usually Lost is complicated, and that works, but there has to be some underlying reason for the complication. If it’s just complication for the sake of complication then you’ve got melodrama. It’s artificial, and it just looks bad.
Dark UFO: But you liked the series finale.
Pearson Moore: Loved it.
Dark UFO: Why?
Pearson Moore: It tied everything together. It all starts with the Source and then expands from there.
Dark UFO: There is quite a vocal minority who would disagree with you.
Pearson Moore: I know. It’s hard to get people around that so they can see what Lost is all about. The problem is that most of the time we analyse. We pull things apart and that helps us understand. You can’t do that with Lost. When Jack opened his father’s casket in “White Rabbit” it was empty. Well, of course: The empty tomb symbolises the risen Christ. From there you can go directly to Christian’s name and say, “Oh, so he’s a symbol of Jesus.” Well, you really can’t do that, because it’s going to get you into trouble later on down the road. You can’t just do linear analysis and think you’re going to understand Lost. You have to put things together, not pull them apart. You gotta do nonlinear synthesis, not linear analysis.
Dark UFO: "Nonlinearity" figures prominently in your book. Tell me what "nonlinear" means.
Pearson Moore: The basic idea is that we’re going to a higher level of complexity. Now that probably sounds like it’s the opposite of where we want to be. Aren’t we supposed to be trying to understand Lost, not make it more complicated? But the thing is, if you go to a higher order of complexity, sometimes new kinds of symmetries fall out. You might be able to see something in three dimensions or five dimensions that was just completely hidden when you looked at two dimensions.
Dark UFO: Like the Lorenz Attractors.
Pearson Moore: Ah, you read the book!
Dark UFO: Yes. The Lorenz Attractor cleared up a lot of problems, I think.
Pearson Moore: Yeah. You wouldn’t think so, but it does. It’s the “Butterfly Effect,” applied to drama. It would take a bit to explain the connection, but I think I can simplify a bit for those who haven’t read the book. You take entire character interactions and you lump them together, and when you do that, you see trends you didn’t notice when you tried to pull scenes apart. So, with a nonlinear way of looking at scenes and characters, you’re really putting scenes and ideas and character interactions together, rather than pulling them apart. You’re synthesising, not analysing. That’s how you come up with things like the Ben/Hurley Lorenz pair, or thesis/antithesis pairing. They need to be together, because they’re in this dance-like struggle around the idea of honesty. But it’s not just honesty, it’s dishonesty, too. The mirror reflection has to be in there, just like science has to be the other side of faith. Using these synthetic tools—these nonlinear ways of looking at Lost—we understand a whole lot more than we can any other way.
Dark UFO: Hundreds of thousands of people around the world are rewatching Lost. Your book is selling well in Europe and the US. What is your take on the staying power of Lost?
Pearson Moore: Lost creates so many connections inside us. It’s not entertainment as much as it’s this deep, invigorating massage for the mind. Some people may have found it easy to understand, but I had to work at it! And I found the whole effort rewarding in a lot of ways. I’m guessing that a lot of people feel the way I do, that Lost kind of stretched us. It forced us to use thinking skills maybe we’ve never used before. It was a challenge—an exciting rush.
Dark UFO: What current TV shows are you watching?
Pearson Moore: I haven’t missed an episode of Survivor since we started watching in Season One. I watch Mad Men whenever it’s on and I tune into CBC for the news. I like George Stroumboulopoulos’ interview style, so I try to catch those whenever I can. CBC does historical pieces every now and then, and I’ll watch those. Other than that, I tried The Event, but it was dismal. The Walking Dead was okay, but in the end it was just a zombie series.
Dark UFO: Do you think you'll write in such depth again about a TV show?
Pearson Moore: Oh yeah. No, I’ve already signed on to write essays for one of the major Game of Thrones websites, and that will be keeping me busy through the spring. I’ll probably squeeze a book out of it, too.
Dark UFO: And you’ll still be writing about Lost?
Pearson Moore: As long as Dark UFO will have me, yes.
Dark UFO: [Laughs] Have you written on other topics?
Pearson Moore: I’ve completed three novels, all of them on Canada. Two of them are historical novels. The first one, “Cartier’s Ring,” is coming out in May and the other two ought to find a publisher later in the year. I could probably write about Canadian history the rest of my life, but I have other interests, too. My second Lost book, “LOST Identity,” should be coming out in a couple months, and I have two other projects going, one in nonfiction, and I have a steampunk novel called “Greenwich Steam” in the works.
Dark UFO: And you work for a pharmaceutical company?
Pearson Moore: Yes, full time. And I run a consulting business. I follow a 40-hour-per-day clock. I work only 28 hours, so that gives me eight hours to be with family and friends and four hours to sleep!
Dark UFO: [Laughs] Thank you for taking time to talk with me today.
Pearson Moore: My pleasure. Thanks.
Pearson Moore’s book, “LOST Humanity,” remains at the top of the Amazon.com bestseller list after over a week. You may purchase the book at http://amzn.to/dEA5yv
Posted by DarkUFO at 3/23/2011 10:24:00 pm 45 CommentsInterviews , Pearson Moore