Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Lost in The Waste Lands, Part 1

I want to go back and that is the truth.
I have to go back and that is the truth.
I'll go crazy if I don't go back and that is the truth.

-----Essay by Jake Chambers in The Waste Lands by Stephen King

So after two months I finally finished part 3 of Stephen King's Dark Tower Series, The Waste Lands, and this next series of posts will reveal how it answers every question on LOST. Just kidding, but there are some interesting items to dicuss. Spoilers for The Waste Lands as well as The Gunslinger and The Drawing of the Three will follow. Spoilers for Season 4 of LOST are not included because I don't know any and would like to keep it that way.

In book one of the Dark Tower series, The Gunslinger, Roland, the title character meets a boy, Jake, who has appeared in Roland's world from our world. Jake was killed in New York City in the 1970s by being pushed in front of a car and arrived in Roland's world. Roland and Jake travel for a time together, but by the end of Book 1, they are no longer together.

In book two, The Drawing of the Three Roland enters our world by going through three magic doors which he finds on the shore of a sea in his world. The third door takes him into New York in the 1970s into the head of the man who is going to push Jake in front of the car BEFORE he has actually pushes him. While Roland is inhabiting his body, he causes the man to be killed. Roland then goes back to his world.

As The Waste Lands opens, Roland is going insane. The reason for this insanity is that his mind knows that there are two competing truths in his memory. In the first truth, as played out in The Gunslinger he meets Jake in his world. In the second truth, he didn't meet Jake in his world because Jake never died because the man who was going to kill Jake died before he could kill him. In other words, Roland travelled in time and changed his past. But his brain still remembers the unchanged past.

Similarly, Jake knows something is wrong. In fact he lives the moments leading up to his death knowing that it is coming. He "remembers forward" each step in this trek before it occurs. But then it doesn't happen because the pusher is no longer there. This causes Jake to feel as if he has split and become two boys.

So how does this relate to LOST? When I was first reading this it made me think of despondent Future Jack on the bridge and later with Kate desperate to get back to the Island. In some sense the way our LOSTies got to the Island, to this alternate world of the Island, is that they died. As far as the rest of the world is concerned, everyone on Flight 815 is dead. This is similar to Jake arriving in Roland's world. He died in ours and arrived in Roland's. In fact I was expecting Jake to try to kill himself to return to Roland's world, since that was his portal the first time, and I thought perhaps that was what Jack was trying to accomplish on the bridge as well. But a portal that works one time won't necessarily work again as Jack's flying over the Pacific repeatedly should have demonstrated to him by now.

I think when Jack leaves the Island, by whatever means, he's going to find that his mind has split and he will be unable to reconcile the one past with the other. From that last scene with Kate it sounds like Jack's been lying about what happened to the two of them when they were missing, so at a minimum there's the reality of what did occur and the reality of what he has said occurred. Like in Roland and Jake's case, this is literally tearing Future Jack to pieces. I'm also guessing it is going to take Jack's second removal from our world and return to the Island world to mend that spilt.

In fact Jack needs to reach an internal place like the one Eddie and Susannah reach in The Waste Lands. They too have come from our world to Roland's, but they reach the place where they no longer want to go back to their world. Instead they want to move forward, even through this crazy, dangerous world. Jack, and arguably the rest of our LOSTies, all seem to need to reach a similar conclusion that they are ready to go forward with their lives, even if that means staying on the Island, rather than going back to where they came from metaphorically, if not physically.

Tomorrow--I know what Smokey is.


Lost 2010 said...

The Wastelands and The Wolves of Calla are my favorite two books in that series. The last book (of which I can't remember the name) I'm still on the fence about because I didn't like what the tower turned out to be. I hope that doesn't mean I'm not going to like what the island turns out to be. . . .

I started watching Lost right after I read the last of that series so I was seeing similarities at every turn that first season.

I'm interested to see your comparisons.

Lost 2010 said...

Oh, and one other thing. Didn't Roland and Jake hear whispers?

memphish said...

This is one of the things I've loved most about LOST. It's introduced me to books I would never have read on my own. I was always scared of reading Stephen King because I don't like horro movies, but these books as well as The Stand and Hearts in Atlantis both of which I've read in the last couple of years aren't gory scary like I was afraid they would be.

I can't remember about Jake and Roland hearing whispers. I remember Jake being esentially co-opted by something because of the split, a something which produced that essay outside of Jake's own consciousness. I'll have a little on the whispers tomorrow. Be sure to check back.

capcom said...

Well! That quote surely sounds like it could have been said by Jack in the FF!

About the fact that Jack is tired of lying in the FF, it might be that whomever gets off the island are held up as heroes after they are rescued (considering the Golden Tickets they are given also) and maybe Jack just can't live with that, depending on what exactly happens during the face-off, etc. And we all know how Jack hates to be labelled The Hero, even though he secretly wants to be the hero and save everyone. So now he wants to go back and "fix" the Island. :-)

I fell in love with reading King when I read the four short stories in one book that included the one that the "Stand By Me" story is in. I haven't read too much after that, but I really liked The Stand as well.

Paula Abdul Alhazred said...

Oh boy, if there is one thing I can do, it's talk about THE DARK TOWER. And if there's one thing I can do more than that, it's talk about THE DARK TOWER and LOST at the same time!

I too have noticed the similarities and they're pretty fun to pick out. You're completely on-the-nose about Jake's desire to return to Roland's world being like Jack's desire to go back to the island. In fact, have you noticed some of the other similarities between their characters? For instance, Jake's interactions with his dad completely remind me of Jack and his father. Dad is always disapproving, severe, overworked, has drug/alcohol problems, can't connect with his son. When I first saw Jack's flashback as a boy in "White Rabbit," I remember thinking, Wait a sec, this reminds me of something . . .

Roland and Jake's temporal issues also remind me of Desmond. When Des came unstuck in time, it's like he was living various versions of reality at once. And when Roland and Des had the chance to revisit the past, they both made changes that altered the bigger picture. (There are more similarities and more about time in THE DARK TOWER, but you gotta read the other books first!). It also makes sense that Jack might be going kind of crazy because he (and whoever else was rescued) is in a reality where he's technically dead. If the Bali crash was real, then he's now in a world where he's both alive and well and a corpse rotting at the bottom of the ocean. Just one more reason why they shouldn't have left the island.

As for your post on the monster tomorrow, I don't know for sure what you're gonna write. But if you're thinking Shardik, I will buy you a drink!

maven said...

Memphish: I'm so intrigued by your analysis, I'm going to have to go and read this series! Thanks.

hatchling23 said...

Same here, I had never really read any of these Dark Tower series of books, but now I certainly will check them out.

I can't wait to read your theory on Smokey and the whispers.

Melissa_Lossa said...

Hey, memphish - I like your comparisons to Jake and Jack. I never thought of it that way. I had always equated Jake's experience with Desmond's in Flashes Before Your Eyes. The way that Des woke up in the apartment, but still remembered everything about the island, reminded me of Jake in The Waste Lands.

I think it's important too, to remember Jake's parting words in The Gunslinger: "Go Then. There are other worlds than these." I always loved how Jake knew that his death in the chasm was not the end. It reminds me though, of Desmond's favorite sign-off: "See you in another life, Brotha."

As the series goes on, there are several references to Jake being particularly strong in "The Touch," which is kind of a combination of future visions and strong intuition. Although I don't believe that the books ever say that this is due to his experience here, that was always my impression of it. And that of course also reminds me of Des.

memphish said...

Jake definitely reminded me of Desmond as well. His "seeing forward" especially reminded me of his encounter with street performer Charlie. But I still don't understand what happened and is happening with Desmond enough to make a full-blown Desmond/Jake analysis at this point in either LOST or The Dark Tower. Additionally, Desmond seems much less in touch with his abilities and his participation in multiple realities than any of the Dark Tower characters at least through S3 and Book 3.