One dead mouse does not a paradox make.

Right, so I was putting this theory – if you want to call it that – together before bit the dirt. Unfortunately I never got a chance to post it, and so I bring it to you here, for your enjoyment. I will say, before we start, that this is not a groundbreaking theory or a prediction of how things will turn out. It should however clear up the paradox involving Faraday’s rat Eloise – or at least, I hope so. If you’re a comic book fan, think of it as ret-conning.

First, my justification for this endeavour. I’m not good with loose ends. They pick at me, get under my skin, and niggle away at me until I can’t take it any more. There is one thing worse than a loose end though, and that’s an incredibly convenient excuse. Eloise’s paradox has both of these, and frankly I will not stand for it. I also love the time travel aspect of the show, and the delicate way it is handled. I couldn’t bear for there to be some kind of flaw with it.

Firstly, I’ll outline the paradox itself. Eloise is zapped by Faraday’s machine, and her consciousness is unstuck in time. Unlike Desmond, her future consciousness – which knows the maze – comes back in time. Faraday claims he was going to teach Eloise the maze in an hour’s time, but 75 minutes later when Desmond wakes up from passing out, Eloise is in the big lab in the sky. In addition to the fact that teaching a rat to run a new maze takes a lot longer than 75 minutes, it’s also pretty difficult to teach a rat something it already knows. Paradox alert.

Some folk have attempted to explain the paradox by saying that Eloise’s present consciousness, which didn’t know the maze, snapped back into place just in time for Faraday to teach it the maze – leaving the fact that it takes much longer than that to teach rats to run mazes down to creative license, or a production error.

This is both incredibly convenient (too convenient, if y’ask me), and incredibly wrong, as I shall attempt to prove to you now. All it takes is a little thought: the consciousness of Eloise that didn’t know the maze was never seen again after Faraday zapped her. Think about Desmond – when he was jumping back and forth through time, his 2004 consciousness was nowhere to be seen. When his 1996 consciousness was in 1996, he was catatonic in 2004, and vice versa. This happened with Eloise too – witness her freezing after Faraday unleashes his purple light. It’s the time period that changes, not the consciousness, which is how Des could remember those numbers for Faraday’s machine. The consciousness that took priority in Eloise could run the maze, and you can’t teach someone something if they already know it.

“Bloody hell CoolBeans, you fantastically handsome fool!” I hear you cry. “Why surely that means that the situation is a paradox?! Lawks a mussy boy, you’ve tied yourself in knots!”

Not so, my friends. Although this is where it can get a little tricky. As Jennifer Aniston would say: “Here comes the science..”.

There isn’t a paradox in this situation at all. It merely looks as though there is to us, because we look at time as a linear thing, seen from one point of view. It’s not though. Time is like colour – a construct of the mind created to allow us to organise the chaos that is reality into something that our brains can handle. We all have our own timelines, but since we don’t come across many black holes, rarely encounter faster than light travel, and tend to stay well away from giant imploding electromagnetic anomalies, ours tend to be fairly congruent. Not always – for example, most people seem happy to sit through Edward Scissorhands, and would estimate its time at about an hour and a half, while I find that it seems to go on for at least twice that time.

So the way to look at the events in Lost is to look at everyone’s differing points of view, and not the overall timeline, because on everyone’s timelines different things happened. On Faraday’s timeline he was planning to teach Eloise the maze, when Desmond arrived. He put the numbers into the computer, watched Eloise run the maze, put Desmond in a chair while he was catatonic, did some maths, and saw Eloise die without ever teaching her the maze. From Eloise’s point of view, Desmond wasn’t around that morning. Faraday taught her to run the maze, then all of a sudden she was back in the past, at the start of the maze. She ran it, kept jumping through time, had a nosebleed, and then died. Both of these timelines happened, but only from each character’s perspective. Faraday taught Eloise the maze, but only from her point of view. No paradox in that, it’s called relativity (or at least it’s in that field).

Please feel free to direct any queries, arguments, or grovelling praise my way (well, I can hope), and I’ll do my best to iron out any creases you may find.

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38 thoughts on “One dead mouse does not a paradox make.

  1. its so nice to see time travel not only acknowledged, but dicussed with an understanding that does not include the words “McFly or Doc brown”. I appreciate what you say and fully agree. I think the beautifully messed up part about the time travel aspect of Lost is that there are not paradoxs when these types of things happen. That the butterfly effect theory can be crumled up and thrown out sometimes. And that there can be time travel without the world ending or for that matter the guy next to you not even knowing. +…oh yeah nevermind…. :]

  2. Cool Beans,
    Nice to see you here after the other site vanished in time and space. As always, kudos on a well crafted theory; especially in reference to the way we perceive time. I have a question about something you said in this theory.

    You said, “Think about Desmond – when he was jumping back and forth through time, his 2004 consciousness was nowhere to be seen. When his 1996 consciousness was in 1996, he was catatonic in 2004, and vice versa.”

    Question- WAS Desmond catatonic in 2004 when his consciousness shifted back to 1996? It appears to me that this happens nearly instantaneously in 2004, and he experiences it in a split second. Think of when Keamy is wrestling the phone from Desmond. If he was catatonic for a stint of time, would he still be struggling with the phone when he “jumped back?”

    It appears that he is only catatonic in ’96 for periods of time. The problem seems to be that Minkowski DOES seem catatonic when he jumps back in time to the ferris wheel.

    So, what’s up with that? Any help would be appreciated.

  3. You’re right, he didn’t seem catatonic for long, although we didn’t really see much of it from that point of view. Whether he was catatonic for a while or it happened in an instant though, the point remains the same – Desmond’s 2004 consciousness was nowhere to be seen.

    As for Minkowski, he recalls events before he started jumping (such as the calls from Penelope Widmore), and so 2004 is where his consciousness is “supposed to be”. My guess, for example, is that if your 1998 consciousness jumped to 2010, you would be catatonic in 1998, and flashing in and out in 2010.

    Thanks for commenting, it’s nice to get some healthy debate going again!

  4. You are correct. It doesn’t truly seem to matter about how long he was out for. The point is, whatever happened, he was not aware of anything going on with him in 2004 (The island, Sayid, etc).

    Good call on Minkowski! That is very interesting. His “shifting” seems to have been opposite from Desmonds. As Faraday said, the effects are random, which I always took to mean the number of years in the past/future but could be extended to incorporate which time you are “supposed to be in.” Thanks CoolBeans. Let’s tie up some loose ends!

  5. You brought up some very valid points about Eloise learning the maze. I don’t think Daniel would have had enough time to teach her the maze, with Desmond there and all. I also found it interesting that Minkowski was very aware of who he was and what was going on around him. He seemed to be on a little bit of a joy ride when his conciousness was jumping back and forth. When Desmond began time shifting on the helicopter, he had no recall of Sayid or the island or what he had been doing, but remembered Penny and other things that 1996 Desmond knew. It is strange how Minkowski and Desmond were affected differently. Good post!!

  6. not sure if this helps or not, but doesnt Faraday make a comment to Desmond regarding how long he was out or something along those lines when Des wakes up?

  7. that makes a little more sense then…if you can make sense out of it…so heres the question, why,when in older body, does younger des sleep then, on the freighter young des is there in older body not knowing what happened…wait possible revelation…

  8. i think the minkowski thing is because he was in the final stages before overwhemment…thats not even a word..either way, minkowski makes a comment about it being harder to come back. What if when he dies in his present state his mind would go to one of the places he is travelling

  9. thats actually kind of what i think happened to jacob. He was catatonic while time travelling, his body was killed in the past, breaking the rules of time traveling by changing the past, and his concience got pushed back to future or his present day with nowhere to go because he doesnt exist anymore because he died. That idea doesnt usually go over well though.

  10. I’ve always tried to make sense of how Eloise could’ve run the maze if she died before Faraday could teach it to her – and this is probably the most sensible way to explain it. I hope this season focuses more on the time travel aspect to explain it better 🙂

  11. theoretically, i would think that would not cause eloise to die, because to her being a mere rat, probably wouldnt even notice a difference, so the constant would be irrelavent. I figure the actual dying to be caused by the radiation

  12. AES-does then the bloody nose is caused by radition? DOes that hold true for the humans who suffer the same fate? We (humans) need a constant to complete the equation, but the rat, because he’s simple minded doesn’t? I guess I’d expect there to be more similiarities between the event considering the show made a point out of showing the the rat had a blody nose. Surely he would have some ability to avoid the nose bleeding death?

    Or maybe not…

  13. i was kind of wondering for a while now about this. I thought maybe the jumping was primarily being caused by the flashes of light and maybe there was something deeper with the electromagnetic radiation.

  14. 1st time i saw the constant i was wondering if it was maybe a scaled down variation of what was happening on island. Now im wondering if since the island “moved” if we will see some kind of effect like this on the losties left on island.

  15. Very nice theory CoolBeans!

    I felt the exercise with Eloise, depicted a fairly accurate example of how retro-causality is suppose to work. Eg: If you were leaving your home for the train station, you would actually arrive at the train station before you ever left your home. Or something along those lines. Wikipedia explains it brilliantly!

    AES, I think you make a good point about the losties left on ‘the island’, when it moved. I think the time-shift may also cause their nosebleeds.

    My understanding of the nosebleeds, is they occur due to a brain aneurysm making it possible for Eloise to suffer the same malady as a human under similar circumstances.

  16. and dont think i havent been thinking about radiation effects and bens surgery either, ironic that on an island where health miracles happen that the most powerful (next to jacob) person on the island gets a tumor on his spine. Could it be a result of time traveling? Myself and a drawer full of passports leans towards yes.

  17. I think that Eloise’s death was the same as Desmonds, down to the lack of a constant. The reason I think this is the case is because Faraday said so, and he seems to know the mechanics behind all of this. For a mouse however, finding a constant would be near impossible, as it doesn’t have the self-awareness to know what’s going on. Desmond however can be told that he needs a constant that he cares about, can work out what (or who) that might be, and can take steps to find it in both times.

  18. i just dont understand why in the world a rat would need a constant, it wouldnt even understand that something had happened. I feel des needed one because nothing seemed ‘real’, eloise wouldnt even notice a different beat and if she did,wouldnt it make sense that her owner or master faraday was it?

  19. AES, I can’t speak for Eloise requiring a ‘constant’, however it does illustrate to the viewers why a human might need one.

    In the case of Desmond, having a ‘constant’ (Penny) from the present/past/future, would keep him grounded in ‘the now’, and protect him from the madness and certain death we saw ala Minkowski, et el.

  20. I dont get it, at the point where farady is explaining eloise, he didnt even have the right setting yet. I get the constant for Des, i just will never understand what a constant to a rat is. Its not that i think its poor writing or anything (no matter how it turns out) i just think there is more to it. I dont think this is the end of the constant/timetravel/death/radiation thing.

  21. A.E.S. – Imagine it from Eloise’s point of view. She’s flashing back and forth between two points in time. Unless she happens to be in exactly the same place, it’s going to be confusing. Then it starts happening faster and faster, you don’t know what’s happening, where you are, why any of this is happening.

    Then your brain blows up.

    Seems perfectly reasonable to me. Poor little bugger was probably praying for death.

  22. You’d think the constant , if necessary, would be cheese 🙂

    It seemed to me the paradox was Eloise knew how to run the maze when she shouldn’t have known how.
    Her death was the guarantee that Daniel taught her in the future.

  23. its a rat, it doesnt have human understanding and capability. It, as i think coolbeans was trying to get across, wouldnt even notice a missed beat, even if it concience traveled. Its a rat, i dont know what else to say, what freakin constant could it possibly have that wasnt right there the entire time. Did it flashback and remember ma and pa mouse, did it leave the same surroundings it is already in, no and no.

  24. No A.E.S., that’s the opposite of what I’m saying. You don’t have to be aware of much to be thrown by this. Even flashing to a slightly different location would throw you off. I’m saying that a rat wouldn’t be able to find a constant, because it wouldn’t be able to find something it “really cares” about, or even know that it had to. Therefore Eloise was definitely going to die, whereas Desmond had a chance if he could just find Penny.

  25. so you feel the actual movement is irrelevant, and the constant is the problem…i get it i agree for the most part, but i just think there is something else to it

  26. It may not be able to identify what was happening as time travel, but at the very least it would involve knowing that you kept suddenly changing location. I think for a rat, that might be enough.

  27. i think charolette may be our rat in a cage right now and were just waiting to see what reason this is happening to only her and how daniel intends to fix it. It should solve our little debate here and dare i say, answer a mystery on lost.

  28. Thanks for the warning A.E.S., almost stumbled into that one. I’m in the UK, so can’t watch it when it’s released in America. Thank God for utorrent, I say. I’m not sure what’s going on with Charlotte, but I dare say our answers will come sooner rather than later.

  29. im not kidding when i say, i absolutly loved the premiere….but oddly…i wasnt suprised at very much.dont get me wrong, fantastic premiere..but nothing REALLY got me. Still 10 /10 and coolbeans and whoever else, careful steps, dont want revelation before its time.

  30. Thank you smokey. It was indeed on the burner – hours from being posted in fact. Then the premiere came and blew it out of the water. Oh well, back to the drawing board..

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