Thursday, July 26, 2007

More LOST (Horizon?) Musings

Leading Two Lives



















Another interesting aspect of Lost Horizon is the dual nature
of the hero, Conway. Conway is an interesting combination of
LOST's Jack and Locke. Physically he resembles Jack, not yet 40,
in good health. And like Jack he's had an outwardly golden life,
school success, solid war record, respected in his work, in fact
viewed by his co-worker Mallinson as an outright hero. But
Conway has a much more Locke-like connection to Shangri-La.
He is the first of his group to meet the High Lama (a Jacob of sorts),
to have certain secrets revealed to him and to be told that his
group will not be permitted to leave. This is revealed to Conway
because his spirit connects with the place Shangri-La.

Conway must then lie, at least by omission, to his compatriots
about this fact. He muses:

He [Conway] needed equanimity, if only to accommodate himself
to the double life he was compelled to lead. Thenceforward, with
his fellow exiles, he lived in a world conditioned by the arrival of
porters and a return to India; at all other times the horizon lifted
like a curtain; time expanded and space contracted, and the name
Blue Moon [the mountain framing Shangri-La] took on a symbolic
meaning, as if the future, so delicately plausible, were of a kind
that might happen once in a blue moon only. Sometimes he
wondered which of his two lives were the more real, but the
problem was not pressing; and again he was reminded of the War,
for during heavy bombardments he had had the same
comforting sensation that he had many lives, only one of which
could be claimed by death.

Several things stand out in that passage. First there is the idea
that Conway must hide special knowledge he has been given.
Could Locke have received similar information during his first
"monster" encounter? We still don't know what he saw and how
he survived that, but only a few days later he destroyed the
transceiver and there's his explosion tour to account for as well.
Locke definitely doesn't share everything he knows or thinks
he knows with the rest of the LOSTies, nor does Ben, even with
his own people.

The next thing that hit me was the reference to the shifting of
time and space. I guess Conway is losing his foolishness as he
contemplates his Shangri-La life. Time is definitely extended in
Shangri-La. It seems that both in Shangri-La and on the Island the
inhabitants may no longer be enslaved to time, but what about
space? None of them can leave relatively small spaces. Conway got
it right when he said space contracted in Shangri-La. Is that true
of the Island as well?

Then there is the idea of having more than one life. Clearly the
castaways in both stories have pre- and post-crash lives, and
satisfaction with those lives is a theme that plays out in both stories.

Which leads to my final point. In the end as Conway is poised to
turn his back on his empty life in the "real world," no wife, no kids,
an indifferent career, and to inherit the fullness of life Shangri-La
has opened to him, but he rejects Shangra-La for a woman he loves.
And not only that, the woman has already chosen another man,
not Conway.

No, it is not this woman.















But, Conway shut off that part of his brain and emotions that heard
and understood what Shangri-La had to offer him and "was doomed,
like millions, to flee from wisdom and be a hero." At this point the
Jack in Conway clearly dominates, and as our vision of Future Jack
and Kate shows us the Jack in Jack dominated too.

And what happened to the true believers, the Lockes, the Bens?
Like at the end of Season 3, we don't know in Lost Horizon either.
But maybe Future Jack's desire to return to the Island which matches
Conway's will allow us to find out on the Island, if not in Shangri-La.

4 comments:

capcom said...

I thought that it was interesting how there seemed to be two inner Conways at odds with each other. And it was a real shame that he chose to leave. He clearly felt that there wasn't much in the world to go back to, just, more of the same old world that they "left" before they were hijacked. But like Tommy and I were thinking, perhaps Conway, like Jack, has this inner insecurity that needs to be fed by being the big savior, and that's why he left. He needed to be needed and looked up to, in this case by Mallinson. And perhaps also by Lo-Tsen who he cared about too. He just could not resist the urge to save the day.

Mattastic said...

I always realized the parallels between Lost Horizon and Lost, probably because my 8th grade advanced reading teacher made us read this book. At the time I thought it was just a cool story about finding Shangri-La. Funny thing is I reread the book just months before Lost came on the scene. Thanks for reminding me of all the similarities. I've always thought Jack was Conway. Wasn't Conway supposed to take over as leader of Shangri-La, but bolted for the girl? Maybe we will see Jack/Conway turn down Jacob the same way...

memphish said...

Mattastic, Conway was supposed to take over Shangri-La, but that seems more like Locke than Jack. After all Jack isn't on Jacob's list at all, and if Henry Gale was telling the truth, and that's a big if, Locke was. When reading LH I never thought that Conway's young co-worker could be Jack, but maybe he could. Jack's number 1 priority in S3 was getting off the Island. That's the same for Mallinson and he fell for the girl as well.

Future Jack has a definite Conway feel though.

Mattastic said...

I've never been convinced that the island and/or Jacob had big things in store for Locke, just that Locke had the most apparent spiritual connection. Locke just isn't the leader-type. IMO the island is helping Locke on his own spiritual journey. Like you said though, perhaps the best way to compare it is that Jack/Locke is the ying/yang versions of Conway.

I'm very curious to see what transpires after we see Jack talking to the ship on the iPhone to later when he realizes he wants to get back. I'm guessing it'll be Conway-esque.