A few weeks ago, I began a project comparing Dan Brown’s latest blockbuster crypto-thriller The Lost Symbol to ABC’s crypto-drama Lost. My sketchy hypothesis: Even though they are completely different stories, both entertainments share similar mystic / mythological / philosophical / conspiracy theory-ish reference points. I envisioned an academic endeavor with absolutely no redeeming intellectual value, that wallowed in being ridiculous and illogical. Just me, screwing around for geeky-silly giggles. Whoo-hoo! Screw screw screw! Giggle giggle giggle!
Naturally, given the great ambition and high stakes I set for myself (read: sarcasm), I found this project pretty easy to back-burner when my editors decided to assign me, like, real work (see: this week’s feature on Where The Wild Things Are, opening this Friday, and — taking off my impartial journalist’s hat for a sec — one of the best films of the year). Still, I have always remained tickled by the prospect of connections (loose or otherwise) between Lost and The Lost Symbol, and with extra time again on my hands, I return to the game with vigor and restored sense of fun: I’m finding that Brown’s slow-starting story is much more enjoyable when read through the cracked lenses of my bizarre Lost bifocals. To wit (or not):
In Chapter Five of Brown’s book, we learn that Katherine Solomon — egghead sister to Robert Langdon’s MIA pal Peter (I’m seeing her as Catherine Zeta-Jones) — pursues her brand of Dharma-esque research (Noetic Science, discussed last time) in a secret lab called The Cube, tucked away in a dark corner of an equally clandestine and outrageously huge facility owned by The Smithsonian Institute called the Smithsonian Museum Support Center. The SMSC is part geek playground, part storage locker for all the stuff that the Smithsonian can’t display in its various museums around Washington, D.C. (I think Ben Stiller and friends just found their setting for the next Night at the… movie.) The Lost connection? Comprised of various interconnected “pods,” the SMSC evoked for me Dharma’s network of once-connected Hatches (does the mysterious, not-yet described “Wet Pod” = The Hydra Station?) — or even The Island itself, in that it represents an exotic, off-the-grid wonderland junked with artifacts pulled from a broad swath of history. The Cube, located in the thick shadows of the empty Pod 5, got me thinking of The Swan, or The Orchid, or Dharma’s off-Island under-church terminal, The Lamp Post — all bunkers built for bleeding-edge weird science.
Something else that struck me as Island-esque: That the villain of The Lost Symbol is searching for “an ancient portal” of myth — shades of Lost rogue Charles Widmore’s global quest for The Island. (The early chapters of Brown’s book would like us to think that this “portal” is a literal portal — like maybe a gateway into some enchanted otherworld, not unlike The Island. My guess is this “portal” will actually be something much more figurative or metaphorical, like intellectual enlightment or a “born again” spiritual experience.) On the same page that Brown’s baddie drops his “portal” business on Robert Langdon, he also quotes the moldy occult maxim “As above, so below.” This is the golden rule of Hermes Trismegistus, the phantom father of mystical Hermeticism. Now, once upon a time, waaaay back during Lost’s third season, yours truly speculated that old Hermes might be the stir stick that whips The Island’s mythological melting pot. Three reasons:
No. 1: The Island trafficks in Egyptian and Greek arcana — and Mr. Trismegistus is considered by scholars as something of a composite of two similar deities, Hermes of Greece and Thoth of Egypt. Their areas of concern: writing and magic.
No. 2: The Island has exhibited far-reaching powers, shaping, subverting, generally influencing castaway lives, thus acting an agent of destiny or at least the embodiment of the concept of quantum entanglement — and the Hermetic maxim “As above, so below” encapsulates the concept of macrocosm / microcosm interconnectivity, that there is dynamic, causal relationship between eternal / mystical / quantum / hoo-ha and mortal / material / elemental / blah blah blah.
No. 3: Hermes had his own unique spin on reincarnation (“O son, how many bodies we have to pass through, how many bands of demons, through how many series of repetitions and cycles of the stars, before we hasten to the One alone?”) — and the whole biz of life after death, the testing and refinement of soul, and the long scramble through myriad cosmic grooves in search of destiny’s final, truest track smacks to me of what Lost is all about.
Yet lest you think this is even more ridiculous and illogical than I originally promised, I bring you our final Lost / Lost Symbol overlap of the day, one that actually has some kind of tangible merit. Skipping ahead a bit, we find in Chapter 22 that the bad guy — named Mal’akh, a variant of Malakh, Hebrew for angel or messenger angel (but it also sounds to me like Moloch, a bull-headed rival god to Yahweh) — has another name, too: Christopher Abaddon. Ring bells? It should: Charles Widmore’s now-deceased right-hand man — the one who wheeled Locke around the world during his ill-fated Jeremy Bentham digression — was named Matthew Abaddon. The ominous significance of “Abaddon”: It’s Biblical, referring to either to hell, or to a hellish entity — a demon, a “destroying angel of the apocalypse,” even freakin’ Satan himself!
Seriously, I’m not making this stuff up — I just sound like I am.
I’ll have more next week — along with a new, Lost-specific Doc Jensen column, as we begin counting down to the season 6 premiere. Three months, kids! Who-hoo! Giggle giggle giggle!