A rather nasty whomp on the head has of necessity kept things low key for me the past couple of weeks, but in my ongoing effort to get back to normal I did make it down to Tribeca for a few hours tonight to watch Lost at the showing sponsored by Slate. A most interesting event on several levels, not least of all for the way it exemplified the social theme pervasive in the show itself.
As for the already notorious last episode of Lost, I could not help but compare it with the recently aired series finale of Ashes to Ashes, the sequel to the classic UK sci-fi drama Life on Mars. Both Lost and its UK cousins use mysteries connected to time travel to explore notions of purgatory, redemption, fate, freedom, self-awareness and personal meaning.
Lost appears to differ from the UK series in that it seems to make the physical world--real time before death--the realm of time travel and mysticism, but even that could be a swerve. It's equally arguable that the silent wreckage montage at the end of Lost is a not so subtle hint that even the main timeline was a collective fiction--everyone died, then came to self-realization through a shared mythic adventure as well as a more mundane form of purgatory. Think of it as Dante Wii with ascending levels and a side of suburbia.
Either way, what particulalry stands out for me is the subtle yet significant shift that both Lost and the UK series make in regard to personal meaning. Theirs is a distinctly social vision of salvation--we not only find meaning in overcoming our faults, believing in God, etc. etc., but in creating a communal reality with others.
Holographic realities and the social soul are themes that resound throughout human religion, philosophy and art--sure, Egyptians did this through pyramids and Christians, cathedrals, but even though we're pouring our millions into TV and movies at the core it's all the same thing. The individualistic turn of the past few centuries was a bit of swerve; shows such as Lost and Ashes to Ashes indicate that, as McLuhan predicted, the age of hyper-connectivity is retrieving a more tribal vision of the self.