EW's ''Lost'' expert, Jeff Jensen, pictures what inspired Dharma's mission (and how John Lennon fit into it). Plus: the List of Loose Ends, part 1!
‘Lost’ (S2): Decoding Dharma’s mission…
Doc Jensen here!
Look at what I found — secret documents from the Island that suggest intriguing new Lost theories! Amazing that they would wind up on my desk just in time to give me something to write about for this week’s repeat-Wednesday Lost column! It couldn’t have worked out better if I had made up every single word of these absolutely no-kidding honest-to-God I-wouldn’t-lie-to-you 100%-authentic documents myself!
Let’s take a peek:
EXCERPT FROM THE DHARMA INITIATIVE MISSION STATEMENT
The Dharma Initiative was inspired, in part, by both the recent emergence of electronic media and the revolutionary impact it is having on society — and potentially, the human animal itself.
In his recent book The Medium Is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects — a play on his oft-quoted ”The medium is the message” — media theorist Marshall McLuhan writes:
”The medium, or process, of our time — electronic technology — is reshaping and restructuring patterns of social interdependence and every aspect of our personal life. It is forcing us to reconsider and reevaluate practically every thought, every action, and every institution taken for granted. Everything is changing — you, your family, your neighborhood, your education, your job, your government, and your relation to ‘the others.”’
It is McLuhan’s suggestion that the new electronic modality is reshaping the larger global village into a social construction reminiscent of pre-modern or more precisely primitive cultures — those marked by a strong sense of community and interdependence, where the needs of the group take precedence over the needs of the individual. If McLuhan is correct, this outcome has potentially game-changing ramifications for American society, whose defining dynamic — a free-market capitalist economy — might not survive the precipitant modification of drive and cultural values this evolution portends.
In other words: If John Lennon truly yearns to see the utopian world (or ”NuTopia,” as he puts it on his new album, Mind Games) that his song ”Imagine” sketches — ”no possessions… nothing to kill or die for… a brotherhood of man” — he need only live long enough to see the electronic age reach its inevitable maturity.
Of course, it’s possible if not likely that the dominant print modality might put up a fight. It might even win, considering it maintains the advantage of money, power, and of course, might. At any rate, McLuhan suggests this conflict is upon us already. He believes this current transition between mediums — print/alphabet to electronic technology — is creating the culture clash of our cultural moment (what he calls ”the electric drama”) here at the start of the 1970s, what McLuhan had dubbed ”the Age of Anxiety.”
McLuhan’s argument is that the human animal must learn to adapt in this changing environment in order to survive. He believes what is needed is an evolution of the mind to what might be simplistically described as a more nonlinear form of thinking, which is anathema to the print/alphabet modality: ”Survival is not possible if one approaches his environment, the social drama, with a fixed, unchangeable point of view — the witless repetitive response to the unperceived.”
And so, the goal of the Dharma Initiative: to study the effects of EM energy, in raw form, on the human animal — to compile an ”inventory of effects” — with the hopes of developing techniques that can control the transitional process between mediums and assure a peaceful segue to the next stage of human and social evolution?
To reiterate: our interest is only to manage the transition — not guide it, manipulate it, or alter it, or correct it. It would be immoral to consider otherwise.
We consider ourselves mere chaperones to this Great Dance… Fate has chosen mankind’s future path. We merely wish to make the road a little less bumpy…
…Most of our work will take place within the ”Initiative Suppressant Zone” of the Island, wherein encoded EMP signals will be directed at the 4 8 15 16 23 and 42 regions of the brain, affecting select cognitive and motor functions, and ”Whispering Trees” planted within auditory range will pollute the air with subliminal suggestion…
The hypnotic effect of the ocean waves should naturally work to our advantage, specifically in the evening hours, during sleep, when the human animal is more vulnerable to subliminal suggestion…
FROM MR. EKO’S DIARY
Deciphered from encoded dashes and notches on Mr. Eko’s stick
… Charlie is asking questions again — questions about faith, about religion, about God. He is what I would call a ”seeker,” though he is encumbered by too much doubt and cynicism to believe. And then, there is his glib and vaguely offensive sense of humor. For example, today, he wanted to discuss Karl Marx’s critique of religion being the ”opiate of the masses.” I told him that the Marxists I’ve known in my life were usually too busy ”redistributing my wealth,” if you catch my meaning, to explain the finer points of their political system.
Then he said, ”Really? I thought maybe you bloody well knew all about that Marxist stuff. I mean, anyone that stuffs heroin inside Virgin Mary idols must be really smart in addition to having a subversive sense of humor. Heroin inside hollow idols = ‘opiate of the masses’ = Religion. Get it?”
Sometimes, I feel like hitting Charlie very, very hard.
Anyway, we needed more wood for the church, so we went into the jungle to cut down more trees. We reached a thicket of banyans when the Whispers began. The Whispers do not scare me — nothing scares me — but they spook Charlie, and he wanted to turn tail and run. I said, ”Nothing will hurt you. My God is strong enough to protect us both.” This did not seem to assuage him, judging from the incredulous ”bloody hell!” look in his eyes. So, instead, I spoke with a language that unfortunately offers greater assurance to most men: I swung my ax defiantly and hard into the trunk of one of those accursed trees — and a shock of pain rippled up the length of my very ripped arms and rattled my very white teeth. I fell to the ground in agony.
Charlie began yelling, ”Did you hear that, mate? That loud metallic KLANG!? It happened when you bloody well hit the tree!”
We both looked at where I had struck the banyan trunk. Some of the bark had splintered off, revealing not wood underneath, but metal. We began peeling all the bark off the tree and quickly realized this was not a tree at all, but a metal tower. At about knee level, there appeared to be what you would call a ”motion detection sensor.” I waved my hand in front of it, and then, from a mesh speaker at about ear level, we heard whispering.
Charlie and I moved closer to hear it more carefully. I could have sworn this is what I heard:
”Build a church, Mr. Eko. Build a church…”
”Dear God… It’s me, Mr. Eko. Are you really here?”
MR. FRIENDLY’S TO DO LIST
By the well-glued beard hairs of my well-disguised chinny-chin-chin! Here we were, me and my Others crew, searching high and low for what seemed like ages hunting for ”The Thing” that’s buried in Station Three, which we were never able to find… and then that damn plane crashes in the ”Initiative Suppressant Zone” that the stupid Dharma people created — you know, the place where we dare not go, especially because of the Monster — and then that baldheaded Locke guy and his boy-toy disciple Boone stumble right over the very thing we’ve been searching for since forever! Good thing that Professor Xavier wannabe and his pals seem to have absolutely no idea what the Hatch really is, or the Big Secret that it really holds. Now, we need to get our hands on it. So here’s the Plan:
1. KIDNAP ”THE BOY”
Need him for bait to pull off master plan.
2. LURE SOMEONE AWAY
Use the interlinking Hatch computers; tailor a message to the specific person. Ideally, Michael or Claire.
STATUS Completed. Managed to nab Michael. Easy pickings.
3. ANTAGONIZE THE CASTAWAYS
Action plan: use the tropical hillbilly Robinson Crusoe costumes and pull a Qadaffi by drawing a line in the sand. Hopefully, by stealing the Boy and setting arbitrary boundaries, it’ll goad them enough to override the effects of the I.S.Z. and motivate them to come after us.
STATUS Completed. Plus, we got some of their guns by kidnapping Kate and ransoming her for the weapons Jack, Locke and Sawyer brought with them. All things considered, the fewer weapons they have, the better.
4. SEND ”HENRY GALE”
We’ll need some scrupulous reconnaissance prior to the endgame. Hopefully, Gale will be able to infiltrate the Hatch, check things out, make sure ”The Thing” is in there, and then send us a message via the computer. Plus: the castaways might need a little more goading thanks to that darn I.S.Z., which only gains in influence and power the longer they stay on that beach. But Gale’s the perfect Other for the job: he’s a master manipulator. He’ll get them chomping at the bit to come after us! (Might be a suicide mission, which is okay. Gale’s annoying, anyway.)
STATUS Completed. Got the message from Gale during the lockdown.
5. SEND MICHAEL BACK
Once we get the high sign from Gale, we’ll send back Michael with info that we are undermanned and not very well armed — which is true. That’s why we have to resort to this whole misdirection scheme to accomplish our plan. Hopefully, that info will seal the deal on pushing them to come after us.
6. INITIATE PROJECT ”BUM RUSH THE HATCH”
Michael will excite the castaways into coming after us in full force, leaving the Hatch unattended and unguarded. We’ll swoop in and start excavating the magnetic wall. And hopefully — if all goes according to plan — we’ll be able to retrieve ”The Thing” before the castaways realize they’ve been duped.
Doc Jensen, back in control: About a month ago, I asked you to send me your nominees for a little something that I brazenly titled ”The Ultimate List of Lost Loose Ends.” I envisioned this to be a compendium of the show’s many and varied unresolved storylines and unsolved mysteries; a handy-dandy user-friendly tool for armchair Lostologists everywhere.
I expected many of you to respond. I expected to gather a large numbers of loose ends. What I didn’t expect is that all of you — hundreds of you — would each send me large numbers of loose ends IN A SINGLE E-MAIL. Which has made the act of compilation and tallying rather challenging.
Here, a typical Loose Ends e-mail, from faithful reader Michelle Mennen:
”1. Why is Eko chopping trees?
2. Why does Eko carry the stick?
3. How is Gale so clean-shaven if he’s been alone in the jungle for months?
4. Why did the Others leave an entire arsenal in the Hatch?
5. Wouldn’t the extreme electromagnetic energy of the Hatch have affected the computers?
6. How was Walt able to communicate w/ Michael via the computer?
7. Wasn’t Desmond typing a message to someone on the computer before he bailed?
8. Who is HIM?
9. How did The Black Rock end up miles inland?
10. Are the missing combs and hairbrushes significant?
11. Were there two different Helens in Locke’s life?
12. Were Locke’s parents truly blood relatives, or all an Other scam?
13. What qualifies someone as GOOD to the Others?
14. What does DHARMA stand for?
15. Was Gary Troup on the plane?”
This list of questions, by the way, was in addition to the 20 other questions she sent me in a separate e-mail.
NONETHELESS! I have risen to the challenge of your obsessive fandom, and have compiled and tallied EVERY SINGLE LOST LOOSE END… almost. Truth is, I’m about halfway done. But I would like to share with you some preliminary results. And so, this week, instead of the Lost Mystery Hot Sheet, I give you:
TOP TEN LOST LOOSE ENDS
As voted on by you, the Lost fan. The most FREQUENTLY cited mysteries, in declining order:
What is the significance of the black and white stones found near the waterfall?
Submitted by Candace Alexander
Why do the Others use disguises?
Submitted by Candace
What are the Others doing to their abducted children?
Submitted by Candace
Where is Walt?
Submitted by Susan Horst
Burning Walt questions From Steve Noland: ”Why is Walt wet when he ‘visits’ our castaways? Why does he speak backwards? Why is he allowed to ‘instant message’ his dad?”
What is the Monster?
Submitted by Matt Tsuhlares
Burning Monster question From Richard Sussman: Could there be two (or more?) different Monsters — the black smoke monster that let Mr. Eko live, and the unseen beast that (allegedly) slaughtered the pilot?
Jack’s dad’s casket was found empty. What happened to the body?
Submitted by Jeff McElroy
Sidenote From David Kledzik: ”?in season 1 episode 1, when we see Jack coming out of the jungle, there is a man that is running and holding his head and saying something. This same person reappears in episode 5 as the coroner that shows Jack’s father’s body to Jack.”
Doc Jensen says Man, even I don’t watch the show this closely.
Who are the ”Adam and Eve” skeletons found at the waterfall?
Submitted by Jason Folster
Where is Michael?
ANSWER Hey! A question with an answer! Go figure! As of last week’s episode, he was passed out at Jack and Kate’s feet. Welcome back, Grizzly Dad!
And, running almost dead even for the top two slots:
Where is Desmond?
Submitted by Josh Hack, who also offered these thoughts: ”In the first episode of season 2, Jack’s flashback shows his early encounter with Desmond. When Jack stumbles while jogging in the stadium, Desmond offers his assistance AND A SIP OF HIS WATER. Given the repeated mention of some infection on the Island (and a vaccine), in addition to many characters hallucinating, could Desmond have intentionally (or perhaps unintentionally) infected Jack with some kind of virus, nanobot, or mind-altering substance that would ensure his arrival on the Island? Who is Desmond, anyhow? Could he work for [Dharma Initiative founders] the DeGroots ‘recruiting’ people for the Island Experience? Or maybe he’s as much an innocent as the rest, and was simply a carrier of whatever it is he passed along to Jack when he shared the water. The sip of water may seem like a small clue, but I believe it is somehow related to the infection on the Island. In the most recent new episode, we see Ethan drugging Claire with bottled water, so the precedent does exist within the show for such a thing to happen. The question remains: What was in that bottle of water that Desmond shared with Jack?”
Doc Jensen says I want to know what’s in Josh Hack’s water. And — drumroll, please! — the moment you’ve been waiting for…
What happened to Locke’s legs?
Submitted by Catherine Caton
Sidenote Matt Roeser asks: ”In the first-season episode called ‘Numbers,’ while Hurley is talking with his accountant in a skyscraper, a man falls outside the window, plummeting down to the ground. I’ve always wondered if that was just the ‘Hurley curse’ affecting someone in his general area — or if it has to do with one of the LOSTIES. Perhaps Locke: In freeze-frames, I’ve been able to see that the guy wears the same sort of short-sleeved shirt Locke does to work. Maybe this is how he lost use of his legs?! Taking a plunge off a building? Until we find out how Locke messed up his legs, this scene will still sit in the back of my mind as a mystery.”
Doc Jensen says I have a feeling it’ll be sitting there for quite a while…
DOC JENSEN AWARD FOR ”LOOSE END NOBODY ELSE NOTICED” GOES TO:
”My loose end nominee: Why is there a book on electrocardiogram (ECG) interpretation in the Hatch? I noticed this a while back, in one of the first episodes where they showed the interior of the Hatch. It jumped out at me because of the topic and because I knew it was a recent book — published by my employer in 2001. I think it’s the Guide to ECG Analysis, by Catalano, but I don’t have an episode tape to double-check. Why would Desmond need an ECG book? He didn’t seem to know about the Medical Hatch, which would be a more likely home for this kind of book.”
Nope: never would have caught that. But I am so glad you did.
It’s comforting to know I’m not alone in the insanity.
That’s it, folks! Tune in next time for the fully compiled and tabulated Ultimate List of Lost Loose Ends, plus: a list of my favorite Lost fansites, and a super-duper new theory about the significance of Rose and Bernard’s trip to the outback. I’ll give you a hint: