Thursday, May 25, 2006

Getting _Lost_

Isn't the interest of the central but oh-so-familiar device in the addictive TV-show Lost--the suspense-building countdown that needs to be reset every 108 minutes via the manual entry of "codes"--that it gives a kind of recursive (and hence false) teleological structure to something that by virtue of it being an ongoing series has no defineable or clear-cut endpoint, whose hook is that it continually promises a resolution which it can postpone or complicate for episode upon episode, season upon season, until we get fed up or bored or move on? And yet I tune in each week, enter the tele-visual codes, submit myself to a hyper-manipulative waiting game without any real hope of an end; I keep watching even though I know the whole thing is probably a hoax and whatever resolution, whichever answers to my questions I eventually receive--some variation on "it was all a dream"--will fail, must fail, to satisfy. Those poor cast-members in the hatch, entering the codes every 108 minutes, doing something they aren't even sure has any meaning--that's me! And what do I learn is the result of failing to enter the codes? A toxic and dangerous accumulation of electromagnetic energy (otherwise known as suspense!) which rebooting the system (tune in next week!) disperses. 108 minutes: probably close to the average length of a feature film.

1 comment:

Joseph said...

Interesting comment in that respect by one of the writers of the show about Charles Dickens:

"He was writing chapter by chapter for newspapers," Mr. Cuse said. "We often think: 'How much did Dickens know when he was writing his stories? How much of it was planned out, and how much was flying by the seat of his pants because he had to get another chapter in?' " He paused, then said with a laugh, "We can respect what he went through."