Wednesday, July 25, 2007

LOST (Horizon?)

So after months of Capcom's urging, I finally got around to reading
James Hilton's Lost Horizon. There is an entire blog,
Lost in Shangri-La created by a friend of Capcom's discussing
connections between LOST and the book. That blog has a lot of
information and discussion of those connections. This post is
just about a few things I noticed. I'm sorry Tommy if I duplicate
something you said earlier.

First, the story is largely narrated by Rutherford. No not

this Rutherford. Still it's a nice name tie in.

How Do You Build A Society To Repopulate The Earth?

Through the course of Lost Horizon we learn that the leader of the monks at Shangri-La anticipates the destruction of the Earth's population, but believes that Shangri-La and its inhabitants and culture will survive this return to the Dark Ages. To that end, Shangri-La has "recruited" new inhabitants mainly from people lost in the mountain passes. The 4 (one of Hurley's numbers) castaways this time are flown in by a resident of Shangri-La, but much like the survivors of Flight 815 they are merely the four people who happen to be on this certain plane. They were not chosen for who they were or what they could contribute to Shangri-La.

There were two passages in Lost Horizon that struck me in regards to this notion of how you build a post-apocolypse society and whether or not something like this is happening on the LOST Island. When first arriving at Shangri-La Mallinson, the young "castaway" who most wants to get home tells his host, Chang he expects Chang to help them facilitate their departure at a fair price to which Chang replies:

I can only assure you, Mr. Mallinson, that you will be honorably treated and
that ultimately you will have no regrets.

Ultimately? Mallinson exclaimed . . . And so did I.

It seems to be Ben's/Jacob's/the Others' position that ultimately the people chosen to be on the Island will have no regrets even if in the short run they need the submarine to maintain the illusion that they can leave. Mrs. Klugh at least was willing to make an ultimate sacrifice to protect whatever it is the Others are up to. Most of Ben's statements and Michael Emerson's as well seem to imply that ultimately the LOSTies (and the audience) will approve of the Others end, if not means.

Which leads to the other thing that stands out to me in this interchange, the fact that the LH castaways are indeed treated honorably. In other words, people aren't sent into their camp as spies, castaways aren't dragged into the jungle by people in costumes, pregnant girls aren't stolen and rock stars hung with vines, kids aren't stolen off beaches or rafts. You see where I'm going with this.

The way the Others choose to interact with those stranded on the Island still baffles me. If all outsiders are enemies, then why not kill them all? Why not view all people trapped on the Island as potential new members of your community? You have Room 23 at your disposal to deal with the tough cases after all. Kidnapping just doesn't seem like an ideal way to add to your community, but maybe I'm old-fashioned in that respect.

This idea of how you build a society designed for weathering the end of the rest of the world is further explored by the High Lama. Conway, leader of the LH castaways, observes that there are doubtless many people in the world who would be glad enough to be in Shangri-La. The Lama replies:

Too many, my dear Conway. We are a single lifeboat riding the seas in a gale; we can take a few chance survivors, but if all the shipwrecked were to reach us and clamber aboard we should go down ourselves.

Back before we saw what Ben and the Hostiles did to the Dharma Initiative I might have guessed that Dharma was culling the Flight 815 survivors to fit in with their Valenzetti project in the same manner Shangri-La took on prospective apocolypse survivors. But having no real understanding of what Ben's Merry Band of Others are up to, I still don't understand their approach to the chance survivors of Flight 815. At a minimum, you would think they'd have taken all the women for Juliet's distracting fertility project, but in the tail section alone, they left more women of child-bearing age than they took. The vague references to Jacob's list and to being good obviously all play into this, but vague is all we've really got at this point. Can Jacob please have the first flashback?

More on Lost Horizon next post, and check out my Bonus Post below.


capcom said...

Great post Memphish! I hope that you liked LH. It was pretty short and almost too easy of a read, but I liked it and it added to my total LOST experience, for sure. Thanks to Tommy, for introducing us to checking it out!

Do you really think that the four LH "castaways" were not chosen specifically somehow, even reading between the lines? The Conway choice was obvious of course. But the others seem like good choices a well. Miss Brinklow was a good recruit for having the drive to study the lamasery libraries, for the ultimate purpose of using her as their historian perhaps. Her religious inclinations could also have been utilized in preserving that aspect of the city, i.e., keeping future generations on the spiritual road. Bernard was a good choice, in his having no rush to get back to society where he could possibly be arrested, and he had his own special business skills and talents that would help the city prosper. And perhaps Mallinson was chosen merely to help Lo-Tsen populate the city with little lama babies. :-) And to keep Lo-Tsen happy there as well? And to me, "ultimately" was to mean to Mallinson that after 30 or 40 years of living happily ever after with Lo-Tsen and their kiddies, he would indeed eventually be happy that he stayed there. But an antsy guy like Mallinson would never have taken the time to understand that. Chang should have slipped Mallinson some opium poppy juice into his tea to calm him down. :o)

cool_freeze said...

WOW! This book may tie in quite well with my recent post. (Beware, it is all everywhere!)haha

I have never read the book. I want to now though.


pgtbeauregard said...

Good one Memphish!

You make me want to read the book also.

Is it too soon to start the countdown to Season 4?

memphish said...

Capcom, I do think that the LH castaways were merely serendipitous. The key was that airplane which was the only one in India that could fly at high altitudes. The fact that it was a "royal" airplane would also tend to insure you had VIP types on it, but I don't think that they would have ever chosen Mallinson if they'd been able to pick.

I also think the Shangri-La(dians?) need to be careful of the other two castaways as well. Miss Brinklow might come around to a the mish mash religion of Shangri-La like the good Father did, but it's going to take a while, and if she makes "progress" with the natives, she's sure to want to report it to her superiors. As for Bernard, I could see him causing trouble too as he tries to speed up the process of converting the gold production to a more modern operation. I think if they'd stayed longer, it might have been one of them and not Mallinson who arranged to leave.

For all his "wisdom" the High Lama clearly misread Lo-Tsen and her feelings with respect to Shangri-La as well as the pecuniary nature of the porters who agreed to accompany Mallinson, et. al.

Cool Freeze - I'll check out your post. Lost Horizon is only about 200 pages. I read it in a day, well a dedicated day, but still a day.

PGTB - we can't start the countdown clock until we get a start date. Hopefully one will be announced tomorrow at Comic Con. It was NOT announced by ABC at the TCA today (at least not yet.)

capcom said...

Shangri-Ladians....I love that! :-)

capcom said...

BTW, while we're on the subject, if anyone likes Shangri-La and also art, check out this site:

Roerich was a Russian artist who dedicated his life to (among many other things) painting Tibet, Asia, the Himalayas, etc., with a primitive but very ethereal style. I have a Cliff Notes type blurb on him on my blog with a couple of examples also.