Sunday, February 14, 2010

LOST in C. S. Lewis

Devoted reader (and fellow LOST nerd) Smamse brought up an interesting parallel between the story of Aslan and the White Witch in the Chronicles of Narnia (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe), and the events as they played out in the premiere. Specifically he thought it was interesting that Jacob seemed to offer himself up to be killed, much like Aslan did to the White Witch. Clearly there are differences and I don't necessarily endorse the parallel (I think it was more him pointing out a possible allusion being made by the writers as opposed to a direct comparison of the two stories), but bringing that up got me thinking about C. S. Lewis and the possible influence he might have had on the writers of this show (naming Charlotte after him might be indicative of that influence *Charlotte Staples Lewis - Clive Staples Lewis*).

The island does feel very Narnian-esque in some ways: the disconnect between it and the rest of the world (parallel dimensions), the way that time seems to act differently than it does everywhere else, the way that people sort of teleport onto/into it via a portal (or bearing) of some kind, and even the way that a force seems to "bring" them to it (the children being "summoned" to Narnia vs. the others being "brought" by Jacob to the island). Now I'm not trying to argue that the show's connection to the Narnia Chronicles is anything more than a friendly wink and a nod, but it's still certainly a possibility that Lewis was a major influence on some of the show's broader themes.

With that in mind I came across this link from Dr. McGrath's blog (returning the shout out! *seriously though, you should check out his blog if you're into anything religion related - Christianity I would say more specifically - or LOST/sci-fi*, he always has cool links and interesting conversations breaking out). It's actually a link to another LOST blog done by a "DocArtz" (why he would choose the most hated character this side of Nikki and Paulo is incredibly baffling to me, maybe he was being ironic). My personal issues with his name aside, I found this to be an interesting look at the Smoke Monster's take on John Locke at the end of "LAX Part 2". I thought this might be of particular interest to Smamse as I know that he is a fan of a somewhat lesser known Lewis' book, The Great Divorce.

Here's the link, followed by the corresponding text, followed by some more of my wonderfully insightful commentary. Go and visit his site if you're interested in reading more of what DocArtz has to say (his blog might not be as good as the one we run over here, but only hearing one voice on a particular subject is never a good idea *even when that voice is as inerrant as mine*).

The season premiere’s most intriguing bit of dialogue is the exchange between Ben and MonsterLocke, following Jacob’s murder and the slaughter of Ilana’s team. The absurdity of the setting (inside of the four-toed statue) and the somber tone of the discussion create a mood of fantasy and postmodernist dissonance—Waiting for Godot meets Alice in Wonderland. Locke the Smoke Monster tells Ben about the pathetic nature of John Locke’s life and death. His heartbreaking comment about John’s confusion in his final moments makes it seem that this man-monster has nothing but contempt for the “irreparably broken” man. But then he defends Locke: “He was the only one of them that didn’t want to leave. The only one, who realized how pitiful the life he’d left behind actually was.” Now we are in C.S. Lewis /Flannery O’Connor territory. The Smoke Monster’s depiction of the island’s significance illustrates the Christian ideal of the afterlife and man’s reluctance to leave behind worldly attachments. John embraces the mystical, spiritual life and rejects the comforts of his life back home. He readily engages in the work of the soul when others refuse to “let go” as Rose instructs Jack to do on the plane in the alternate universe/flash sideways world.

This Post is courtesy SCS over at

In particular, this conversation recalls Lewis’s The Great Divorce, a slim fable-like novella published in 1945. The term “divorce” refers to the great chasm that exists between heaven and hell according to many Christian theologians. In the preface, Lewis claims that “if we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell” (8). But it is not so much the dualism of monotheism that makes this story comparable to the recent musings found in Lost. Though we know that the island is not purgatory or any kind of afterlife, the tone of the dialogue between the residents of heaven and those of hell/purgatory is identical to not only the Smoke Monster’s monologue, but also to Jacob and “Esau’s” discussion in “The Incident.” Consider a conversation from The Great Divorce between a “spirit” of heaven and an unsuspecting resident of Hell. The spirit is trying to explain to this man where he has been dwelling for so long. “Where do you imagine you’ve been?” asks Dick, the heavenly spirit. “Ah I see,” replies the ghost, “You mean that the grey town…with its field for indefinite progress, is, in a sense, Heaven, if only we have eyes to see it?” The spirit replies, in no uncertain terms, that it is, in fact, Hell, “though if you don’t go back you may call it Purgatory” (36). Maybe the Smoke Monster will be equally revealing about the island’s identity (and that of his own) in forthcoming episodes.

More of this author’s work can be found at and

I've never been convinced (and I'm still not) that Smoky is in fact the evil force in this story (after all, in Genesis, Biblical Jacob did steal his brother Esau's birth-right and deceive his father *who, by the way, was Isaac, the almost sacrificed son of Abraham, the story of which is the focus of Soren Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling, which was the book that Hurley found on the dead Frenchman in the premiere; see it's all coming together now!*), though I admit that the evidence is not in his favor at the moment (but we know that, much like Henry Gale, LOST is a show that does not hesitate to deceive the viewer intentionally, "he will lie. For a very long time he will lie. But he IS one of them." - Danielle Rousseau; only providing the true clues to those who are willing to dig up the grave and check for ID). I don't know if the Smoke Monster is the evil force that the majority seem to view him as or if perhaps there is something more going on, but either way I'm always very interested to hear the opinions of people who venture off the beaten path.

All that being said, I haven't actually read the book (The Great Divorce not The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which I've read 10 to 15 times) and so I would be interested to hear Smamse's take on this, given that he in fact has. Others feel free to chime in if you'd like (I'd particularly like to hear from Dr. McGrath, him being a Biblical scholar of some repute). Even those out there who haven't read The Chronicles of Narnia probably still have some idea of what they're about from the recently released Disney movies - or check out the wikipedia page, I'm sure it will fill you in nicely - so jump right in. Find more information on The Great Divorce here if you're interested. If anybody noticed/notices any further C. S. Lewis allusions in the show please make mention in the comments.

I love me some Lewis and I love me some LOST.

No comments: