CC2K

The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

Lost and Philosophy: The Island has its Reasons…We Hope

Written by: Beth Woodward, CC2K Books Editor


ImageNot long ago, a friend of mine recommended the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture book series, which takes various movies, television shows, and books and dissects the philosophical influences within them, using examples within the movie/show/book itself to illustrate points.  It struck me as an intriguing concept.  And, with the premiere of the final season of Lost just around the corner, there was only one option for my first voyage into the world of pop culture philosophy—Lost and Philosophy: The Island has its Reasons.

Of all the shows on television now—and perhaps maybe ever—I can’t think of one that’s a better candidate for a philosophical analysis than Lost.  From the overarching themes of good and evil, faith and science, black and white; the overarching mythology of the show with roots in Judeo-Christian ethics, ancient Egyptian culture, and Enlightenment thinking, among other things; and the way that everything—even the names of the characters—seems to have purpose within the grand scheme of the series, Lost is the only show I can think of wherein the philosophical underpinnings are so clearly intentional.

(And if anyone is concerned, don’t worry—there are no spoilers included in this article.  Hell, even if I were tempted to include them, I don’t know any!)

The book is divided into 21 essays by different authors, each exploring various philosophical aspects of the situations, characters, and the island itself.   These essays are divided into sections by theme: L for Love, O for Origin, S for Survival, and T for Transformation.  

Obviously, since there are so many different authors exploring so many different aspects of the show, some of the essays are more compelling—and convincing—than others.  For me, the final section of the book—which deals with some of the larger questions of the series—was the most interesting.  On the other hand, some of the earlier essays, which focus more on character-specific dilemmas, just didn’t captivate me as much—and some were just downright silly.  (One argues that we shouldn’t condemn Michael for bringing about Jack, Sawyer, and Kate’s imprisonment to save Walt from the others.  Maybe not, but this logic ignores the fact that, in the process of trying to save Walt, Michael also killed Ana Lucia and Libby.  Not really a fair trade, if you ask me.)  In addition, from what I can tell, the essays were written between the third and fourth seasons, so a lot of the questions about space and time that the fourth and fifth seasons considered aren’t addressed here.   That’s really a shame, because there were definitely some very interesting questions to be considered here.

But to me, that’s not the biggest weakness of the book.  With 21 separate essays covering different aspects of Lost’s philosophy, the book lacked the cohesiveness I would have liked.  What makes Lost so unique among television programs is that it does have that overarching mythology and the philosophy included in the series is intentional.  And however the series ends, this mythology will be a big part of it.  Yet the way this book is put together doesn’t reflect that.  Instead, in its disjointedness, it seems to see the trees but miss the forest.  For a series, movie, or book that wasn’t so intentional in its philosophical references, the multi-essay format might be the most comprehensive to examine a wide variety of multi-faceted issues.  But with Lost, I wanted to see something tying it all together, and this book lacked that.

Of course, maybe that’s a book that will be better written after the series finale.  Only four months to go.  I, for one, can’t wait.

Selected Book Releases, February 1-7

February 1

Worst Case by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

Vanity Fair’s Presidential Profiles, edited by Graydon Carter, foreword by Todd S. Purdum, illus. by Mark Summers
 
Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard

February 2

Winter Garden
by Kristin Hannah

Flirt by Laurell K. Hamilton

Conspirata
by Robert Harris

Brava, Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

Payback Time: Eight Steps to Outsmarting the System That Failed You and Getting Your Investments Back on Track by Phil Town

Secrets of Eden: A Novel by Chris Bohjalian

Shadow Tag
by Louise Erdrich

Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran

Manufacturing Depression: The Secret History of a Modern Disease by Gary Greenberg

House of Versace: The Untold Story of Genius, Murder, and Survival
by Deborah Ball

Spirited
by Rebecca Rosen

The Mystery of Lewis Carroll by Jenny Woolf

I’m Staying with My Boys: The Heroic Life of Sgt. John Basilone, USMC
by Jim Proser with Jerry Cutter

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
by Rebecca Skloot

The Quants: How a New Breed of Math Whizzes Conquered Wall Street and Nearly Destroyed It by Scott Patterson

Eight White Nights
by André Aciman
 
Born Under a Million Shadows
by Andrea Busfield

Chasing Miracles: The Crowley Family Journey of Strength, Hope, and Joy
by John F. Crowley

 

White House Doctor: Behind the Scenes with the Clinton and Bush Families by Dr. Connie Mariano, foreword by former President William J. Clinton

February 3

The Autobiography of an Execution
by David R. Dow

February 4

Yalta: The Price of Peace
by S.M. Plokhy

 

Selected Book Releases, February 1-7

February 1

Worst Case by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

Vanity Fair’s Presidential Profiles, edited by Graydon Carter, foreword by Todd S. Purdum, illus. by Mark Summers
 
Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard

February 2

Winter Garden
by Kristin Hannah

Flirt by Laurell K. Hamilton

Conspirata
by Robert Harris

Brava, Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

Payback Time: Eight Steps to Outsmarting the System That Failed You and Getting Your Investments Back on Track by Phil Town

Secrets of Eden: A Novel by Chris Bohjalian

Shadow Tag
by Louise Erdrich

Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran

Manufacturing Depression: The Secret History of a Modern Disease by Gary Greenberg

House of Versace: The Untold Story of Genius, Murder, and Survival
by Deborah Ball

Spirited
by Rebecca Rosen

The Mystery of Lewis Carroll by Jenny Woolf

I’m Staying with My Boys: The Heroic Life of Sgt. John Basilone, USMC
by Jim Proser with Jerry Cutter

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
by Rebecca Skloot

The Quants: How a New Breed of Math Whizzes Conquered Wall Street and Nearly Destroyed It by Scott Patterson

Eight White Nights
by André Aciman
 
Born Under a Million Shadows
by Andrea Busfield

Chasing Miracles: The Crowley Family Journey of Strength, Hope, and Joy
by John F. Crowley

White House Doctor: Behind the Scenes with the Clinton and Bush Families
by Dr. Connie Mariano, foreword by former President William J. Clinton

February 3

The Autobiography of an Execution
by David R. Dow

February 4

Yalta: The Price of Peace
by S.M. Plokhy

 

Author: Beth Woodward, CC2K Books Editor

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