'Lost': 'Framing' the discussion
Doc Jensen on where to see a poster that holds two season 6 clues, and its very cool back story. Plus: New promo clip airs tonight; the addendums to the Dharma/Alpert ''Letter of Truce'' revealed and analyzed
EL CUATRO ES NUMERO UNO!*
Is the Spanish Lost promo coming to the United States?
The hot rumor in Lost land over a cold weekend was that ABC is planning to run the muy caliente* Lost promo by Spain’s Cuatro network, with Terry O’Quinn handling the voice-over. As this column went to post, I wasn’t able to confirm, though Lost insiders tell me that ABC has been considering the possibility of using the Spanish spot. Separately, Darkufo.blogspot.com reported on Sunday that ABC will be airing a new, 1-minute promo for Lost during tonight’s episode of The Forgotten. I can confirm that this is true — but it won’t be any version of the Cuatro promo. Most likely, it will be an extended version of ABC’s thematically rich if slightly less geektastic ”Amazing Grace” promo, which you can see right here:
NEXT PAGE: Spoilery fun…but only if you want it
LOST POSTERS FOR LOST ”POSTERS” (cont.)
What happened next was…odd. Scheer claimed that an outfit called ”Ronie Midfew Arts” was insisting that he was not authorized to produce Lost-themed art. (”Ronie Midfew Arts” is an anagram — ”Widmore Fine Arts” or ”Rewind Time So Far,” take your pick). Fortunately, Scheer and ”Ronie Midfew Arts” quickly reached a peace accord at a veritable Lost Yalta that was commemorated with a photo of Scheer, Lindelof, Cuse, and the mysterious ”Ronie Midfew,” although most of his face was turned away from the camera. Two things about this photo: (1) Fans seem convinced that in the photo, Cuse is wearing Lindelof’s glasses and Lindelof is wearing Cuse’s glasses (some season 6 clue perhaps?); (2) ”Ronie Midfew” looks a lot like the same Jensen Karp that I met not long ago. Probably just a coincidence…
From there, the Lost Underground Art Project began in earnest. How it worked: To buy the prints, fans had to crack clues at DamonCartlonAndAPolarBear.com, which revealed the location and time of events or flash-mob gatherings in various cities, at which place and time they’d get another Web address which they were supposed to share with Lost fans online. The first event: a DJ AM concert in Los Angeles, where the actor who played Young Ben, Sterling Beaumon, appeared and announced the website (actuallyitsketchup.com, inspired by the Hurley line from the season 5 episode ”The Lie”) for the first poster, a glow-in the-dark image of Hurley’s Numbers-cursed life by Tim Doyle. (DJ AM, a.k.a. Adam Goldstein, was a huge Lostophile and was supposed to have played a role in the Project’s grand finale. Tragically, Goldstein, 36, died on August 28 from a drug overdose.)
The Project only produced 200-300 prints of each poster, which were priced at $50 a pop. They sold out quickly. Quite often, the first person to buy a poster got a little extra somethin’. For example, the band Fall Out Boy helped promote the roll-out of artist Jason Munn’s Four Toed Statue poster during a Dallas concert (huckfinnwastaken.com), and the first customer got the Dharma-branded bass guitar that was used by Pete Wentz during the show.
But the fans who showed up at each event were rewarded, too — with a cool experience, and/or free, customized Lost swag for their trouble. In one instance, a lucky few got skate decks imprinted with a Dharma logo. And on one occasion, attendees got something really special, although I’m not sure all of them realized it at the time. Last month, at an event at actress Susan Sarandon’s ping-pong bar SPiN in New York, fans were treated to a cryptic snippet of film that included a glimpse of a new character named Dogen (Hiroyuki Sanada) and some season 6 imagery related to the late Charlie Pace. According to exec producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, this sneakiest of sneak peeks is part of their limited-exposure marketing strategy for season 6. Says Cuse: ”We don’t want to spoil the new season — but we also knew we couldn’t do absolutely nothing. So we’re going to be releasing some teases, but in a way where you have to seek them out, and won’t be spoiled if you don’t want to be spoiled.” To that end, Lindelof says Lost will be implementing some unconventional ”information and image delivery systems” to get the teases out — and will rely on those hardcore fans who love to ”trade in Lost information to broker information with each other.”
NEXT PAGE: Glyphs glitch
LOST POSTERS FOR LOST ”POSTERS” (cont.)
A perfect example of what Cuse and Lindelof are talking about is the final poster on ”The Lost Underground Art Project,” which will be unveiled tonight at the Gallery 1988 exhibition. I’m told the poster includes two season 6 teases. What does this mean? You’ll find out tomorrow, once the website for the poster hits the Web. Even if you aren’t able to buy it, you’ll be able to get a good look at it. If you follow me on Twitter (twitter.com/ewdocjensen), check in later tonight — I’ll tweet the website when I get it.
Cuse and Lindelof say they love all the posters and were grateful to have facilitated a campaign that celebrated and showcased the creativity (through the artwork) and resourcefulness and community (through the clue cracking and info sharing) of the fan community. The producers were loath to single out one poster as a favorite…but after much arm-twisting, they touted Ollie Moss’ John Locke poster, which resembles a Saul Bass-designed movie poster for a Hitchcock film. This poster also happens to be my fave (yes, I own a print), and you can see it at thatandbasketweaving.com. But Lindelof also gave a shout out to Eric Tan’s cartoony montage of ”The Crash” (icangetyoupeanutbutter.com). He says he digs the image because it reminds us that ”Lost is actually fun, too, and not all smoke monsters, death, and despair.”
I asked Karp for his favorite moment in the campaign, and I was struck by his answer. He said it was an event at the 44th Ward, a grilled cheese restaurant in Chicago, which turned into a proverbial last supper for the fans who showed. ”There was something about several dozen hardcore Losties, sitting around eating grilled cheese and talking Lost that just struck me as really, really cool,” says Karp, adding that it’s been hard organizing everything without getting totally spoiled for the final season: ”When I visit the Lost offices, I have to walk the hallways with my fingers in my ears.”
THE DHARMA/ALPERT ”LETTER OF TRUCE:” ADDENDUMS REVEALED!
Plus: What meaning lurks behind the season 5 DVD glyph? Maybe only Lostpedia knows…
Last week, I issued a challenge: translate the Egyptian hieroglyphs on the cover of the season 5 DVD, which went on sale Dec. 8. A couple dozen of you took that challenge, and I was pretty impressed… until I learned that Lostpedia.org already had the answer (or claimed to have the answer) to the glyph puzzle in its season 5 entry. Still, points for honesty to those of you who actually admitted they hadn’t done the cryptography themselves.
According to nearly all of you who wrote me, the glyphs translate into ”The summoned one ordains it.” For now, that’s my guess, too. I don’t quite yet have a theory for you to explain its significance…but I’m thinking it has something to do with Jacob’s final blood-blubbery words: ”They’re coming.” Sounds like a summoning to me. May one of the Jacob-touched time-travelers play a special ”ordaining” role in the drama to come? If so, the smart money is on Hurley. After all, the word ”ordains” is a derivation of ordination, which also refers to… numbers.
NEXT PAGE: Truce truths
THE DHARMA/ALPERT ”LETTER OF TRUCE:” ADDENDUMS REVEALED! (cont.)
I did get a few submissions that offered different takes on the glyph sequence. Robert Lee wrote me to say that his ”best guess” is that the glyph sequence translates as ”Heaven is death.” Ed Baczynski from the U.K. believes it says, ”Who will lead us?” I promised anyone who wrote me with a guess within the first 48 hours of the column’s posting would get a prize: namely, all four of Richard Alpert’s addendums to the ”Letter of Truce,” the peace treaty negotiated between the Dharma Initiative and the Others back in 1973. A copy of the treaty is included in the cool-yet-pricey Dharma Orientation Kit edition of the season 5 Blu-ray set. (We discussed most of the letter two weeks ago.) I also said I would share all four of those addendums with all of you this week — and so let’s now keep that promise!
THE FIRST ADDENDUM
”If the Dharma Initiative enters or violates any preexisting ruins on the island, the truce is violated.” [The word ”preexisting” is crossed out.]
ANALYSIS: As I’ve stated earlier, I am struck by Alpert’s use — and then deletion — of the word ”preexisting.” Maybe he thought, ”Why am I using this word? It’s unnecessary! Like there’s any other kind of ruins on the Island. I’m so verbose! Like Doc Jensen, I’d be a lousy Twitterer!” Still, I wonder if time loop theory (open loop edition) offers a different spin on this and three other addendums. Was Alpert allowing for the possibility of future ruins popping up on the Island? Were he and his Others building ersatz, ancient-looking debris — stage dressing and sets for the future drama to come?
THE SECOND ADDENDUM
”If the Dharma Initiative digs or drills any more than 10 meters into the ground, even in their designated territory, the truce is violated.”
ANALYSIS: In case you’re metrically challenged, 10 meters is not quite 33 feet. We learned in the season finale that the Others had hidden ”Jughead” in the ancient tunnels below the Dharma village. It would be safe to assume that this addendum was intended to protect that secret. Separately, we saw in season 5 that Dharma was pretty wantonly breaking this part of the truce. Radzinsky’s top-secret Black Swan team was drilling (quite loudly) into a pocket of electromagnetic energy. Ditto Dr. Chang’s Orchid project. How did Alpert not know of either of these Truce-violating projects? Or did he? More in a minute about how time loop theory might make sense of this rule — and Alpert’s apparent non-diligence in enforcing it.
THE THIRD ADDENDUM
”The Dharma Initiative pledges its term of residency will last no longer than fifteen years. At the end of this term, all facilities and personnel are to leave the island.”
ANALYSIS: This addendum is probably the one that jumps out as most provocative. The date of the truce was 1973. That means that, per the agreement, Dharma had to clear out in 1988. We know that didn’t happen, because the Purge went down around 1991. Was the Purge ordered because Dharma didn’t leave?
THE FOURTH ADDENDUM
”The D.I. can only The maximum population of D.I. members cannot exceed 216 at any one time on the island.” [The fragment ”The D.I. can only” is crossed out, so the sentence begins with ”The maximum…”]
ANALYSIS: ”216” is twice the sum of the Numbers (4 8 15 16 23 42), or 108 x 2. Coincidence? Regardless, the number is so extremely specific. Why?
NEXT PAGE: What’s Alpert’s grand part in it all?
THE DHARMA/ALPERT ”LETTER OF TRUCE:” ADDENDUMS REVEALED! (cont.)
What I find most conspicuous about Alpert’s addendums is that they raise questions, or put another way, invite curiosity. Certainly our curiosity — but I think it would have punched Dharma’s curiosity buttons, too. Knowing what we know now about hot-headed Radzinsky, I don’t think he would have been content to accept these stipulations without a second thought. In fact, I’m thinking he would have resented them. ”Why can’t we go in the ruins? Why can’t we drill deeper than 10 meters? Why can’t we stay longer than 15 years? Why can’t we bring more than 216 people to the Island?” It’s like the Garden of Eden: Tell Adam and Eve not to eat the apples, and all they want to do is think about the apples, and think about eating apples, and finally act on those thoughts. So…is it possible that Richard was playing the role of tempter with his rules? Could it be he was trying to goad Dharma into doing some or all of the things he was telling them they were prohibited from doing. (Ah, that recurring Lost theme: ”Don’t tell me what I can’t do!”)
Why would Richard want to manipulate Dharma into doing these things? The answer is time loop theory (open loop edition). The idea is this: There is an Island drama that has happened before, many times, and it’s supposed to keep happening, over and over again, for eternity. But as we learned from Desmond and the Season 3 Principal of Course Correction, the details of this looping drama can be altered, even if the final outcome cannot — or so we’ve been told. I don’t think that’s true. Indeed, the story of Lost may be chronicling a successful break in this tyrannical time loop. From this perspective, Richard may represent a group of people on the Island who are aware of this looping circuit and are charged with perpetuating it — or he may represent a group of rebels who are determined to bring the looping to an end. Application to the addendums: In either scenario, Richard, operating with knowledge of the future, was trying to control or coax Dharma toward outcomes that serve his interest with his curiously specific, provocatively tempting restrictions.
To be clear, this theory remains viable without making Richard some double-talking manipulator. Richard, charged with managing the time loop, needed Dharma to abide by these guidelines to protect (or negate) predestined events and was actually doing them the favor of being extremely specific. Still, given how wantonly Radzinsky and Chang were violating these addendums, believing that Richard was sincere about these rules means also believing that he was pretty sloppy about enforcing them. And I reject any theory that paints Alpert as sloppy! He’s too well-dressed to be anything less that hyper-diligent.
Regardless, those are my initial thoughts about the implications of Alpert’s addendums. What do you think? Post your thoughts in the message boards below — or send me your theoretical musings to email@example.com. We’ll do a round-up of reactions in a future column. That’s it for this week. I know I promised a revealing essay about the Man In Black, but we’re going to have to save that for our next meeting. Follow me on Twitter (especially tonight re: the Gallery 1998/Underground Lost Art Project opening) at twitter.com/ewdocjensen. I hope the holiday season is joyful, not exhausting, and…