Sunday, March 06, 2005

Islands on my mind

Been thinking about LOST and its significance as an allegory of cultural renewal and reinvention of the simulacrum, specifically, of America as television. What is LOST? Is it TV, as we may be tempted to believe by the title of the unofficial fan site on the web "LOST-TV"? Islands themselves and stories of island-making, by their liminality, can act as a stage for the re-working of meaning. What is lost in LOST is the past, which is slowly being reconstructed as the series progresses. What is lost is being able to communicate effectively through available technologies to the world, although here too we have the potential for technological salvation by the invention of a mysterious communication device by Sayid. What is lost is also how to get along with others, although it looks like this too may be rediscovered, episodically, as the survivors gain awareness of their situation; their hunger, thirst and isolation. What is lost is also material culture, though we have its wreckage and the remains of the plane's cargo which is rapidly diminishing. And here, in these diminished places, with the remains of the old, the series finds the space for its narrative of renewal and rediscovery. A quote from Dennings "Mr Bligh's Bad Language" echoes this idea of the meaning of island-making.

"Islands lie behind the screen of the sea. A screen as large as the Pacific Ocean thoroughly sifts the life that reaches an island. The few species of plants and animals that survive the sea, now without competition, play many variations on their own themes. All living things come to an island with only the capital of their minds, their instincts and their genes. In the case of human beings, they can also bring with them a select cargo of natural and cultural artefacts. Nothing is transported whole, however. The webs of significance are always darned...Island making sublimates a sense of alienation." (Mr Bligh's Bad Language by Greg Denning)

More to come on this, must stretch and rediscover my bodily parts such as toes and legs.

2 comments:

Glen Fuller said...

yo, did you see my blog post on LOST as part of the post-9/11 genre of yankee-doodle tv?

http://glenfuller.blogspot.com/2005/02/post-911-genre-of-television-shows.html

Your framing of LOST in terms of 'renewal' accurately captures a sense of the conflict and confusion around new beginnings, I reckon. We are all islands of lost-simulacrum trying to make our way home...

Ms M said...

Hi Glen,

I hadn't seen your post but your reading of it is really interesting. I'm fascinated by how, in all of these post-9/11 shows, there is this relentless rehashing of the problem and its solution, it reminds me of a kind of PTSD (Post Traumatic Simulacrum Disorder), a repetitive re-tele-visioning, as though somewhere in this god darned medium - if we stretch it enough, collapse it enough, rehash enough or have a sufficient number of spin offs, somewhere within this malleable medium that has televised so much of America's culture, the solution really will be found...