So it turns out that Lost, according to its producers, was never really about anything more than lost souls. All that stuff about the plane crash, the people who survived the crash, the secret research, the warped dimensions, the people who got off the island and then back onto it again...all about lost souls. It was never as literal as getting off the island. It was about each character either finding his or her purpose, learning how to relate emotionally to other people and being about to move on, or not.
Mind you, I never watched so much as a single episode of Lost. I have my wife and a few friends to thank for the ongoing color commentary. My wife was addicted to Lost for a few seasons, but gave up after the plot got too obtuse and the hiatuses between seasons too long.
Seems like television’s spending a lot of time lately repairing lost souls. I’m not thinking souls in the evangelical sense. Rather, I’m thinking about television shows like 24, another show that developed a fanatical following about finding truth and honesty in a chaotic world. (I didn’t watch 24, either.)
I read one analysis that suggested that the huge audience for Lost was a reflection of how many people feel lost themselves, that watching Lost is how they’re working through the process of finding their own purpose or emotional center.
I was talking to a friend the other day who was disappointed and complaining about the embarrassingly simplistic plot of the latest blockbuster action movie about how people who study myth, literature and music say there are really only a few basic themes and archetypes that track all the way through history. I don’t remember the exact number, just that it’s smaller than you might think. People who study the history of humor say the most popular jokes told today are similarly just variations on jokes told in ancient times.
Much has been written about how Lost and 24 were ending their runs this week. The night Lost was winding down to its final sunset, I was driving up the Eastern Shore of Virginia, that narrow, mostly agricultural peninsula between the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay. It’s planting season on “the shore,” as they refer to it there. Miles of fields along Route 13 are freshly prepared for the planting of tomatoes, soybeans and other summer crops. Migrant worker camps are filling with Mexican workers who have replaced the African American and Caribbean workers who used to work the fields when I was a kid.
I mention all this because as I was listening to the radio and reading online about all the attention given to Lost and 24, nothing could have seemed as opposite to that talk as the Eastern Shore, which for all of it problems and limitations, is firmly attached to the ground and not at all lost.