The Compass

It occurred to me that the compass which John and Richard pass back and forth has no real origin. I wasn’t sure if I had just missed something so I checked it out on Lostpedia and they seem to have the same conclusion. A friend of mine suggested that it was the compass Locke had when he came to the island but as I recall he gave that compass to Sayid.

So the series of events for the compass would be: Alpert gives the compass to Locke in the future, John jumps back in time and gives the compass back to Alpert who holds onto it until he sees John during his flashes and gives it back to him… ad infinitum. The fact that an object can exist without any real origins and continue to loop through time suggest that the same could be true of characters and events.

Faraday is a good example of this. If we start chronologically, Faraday first encounters his mother in the 1950s during “Jughead.” They have a brief interaction and then he jumps, apparently vanishing before her eyes. The next time they meet is in the 70s when Ellie shoots her time traveling son. Before he dies, he tells her that he is her son, and that she knew he was going to die when she sent him back. Ellie takes his notebook which she uses to help the Losties in their scheme to detonate Jughead. Then we see young Daniel playing piano and his mother urging him to spend his time and energy on his studies, because she knows that he must become a scientist.

In effect, the entire childhood of Daniel (and even into his adult years) is forged by his mother, because she read his notebook which he brought back in time. So in a sense, the man that Faraday becomes, determines the man that he will become. LOST yet? This is just one example of how we can apply the paradox of the compass to the characters and timeline.

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11 thoughts on “The Compass

  1. it makes me think (the whole daniel thing) that if he hadn’t got shot, or even, if he hadn’t managed to tell eloise who he was, then maybe he wouldn’t have turned out the way he did, and not gone to the island, and not got shot…
    it is crazy to get my head around where the origins of both the compass and daniel’s mind started.

  2. These are the rules that Lost has decided to go by. To me, it is a paradox. Darlton refers to it as a mobiuos(spelling) loop. It applies to the compass as well as the time travelers.

  3. my last count was actually 3 compasses on the island. #1:the one Locke gave to Sayid was the one Locke had packed for his walk-about in Australia. It was new and looked to be about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch in thickness; it had an arrow painted on the face instead of a letter “N” to indicate the direction of ‘north’. #2: Then there is the compass which Richard brings to young Locke-much older and slimmer. This compass has ‘N’,’S’, ‘E’, and ‘W’ indicated plainly on the face. #3 And then you have another compass shown in the palm of Locke’s hand-and there is no “W” on it for the direction of ‘west’…instead there is an ‘O’- “Ouest”…this particular spelling for the direction of ‘west’ is used in french, spanish, portugese, and italian.

  4. DHARMADropout, im really starting to like your theories. finally someone who is poking holes in the damn time travel thing.

    angelaparker, which episode is it that Locke holds the compass with O? id like to see it again.

  5. you can actually see these 3 compasses at…then select ‘essentials’ at the top of page; scroll down midway and select: 5×01 ‘Richard’s Compass’…this will give you a look at all three…you can also click on these and bring them up full screen size. I have checked on and they have now removed season 5 from the free episodes: probably to increase interest in the dvd sales for this winter.

  6. Well, one thing’s for sure – we will find out. Darlton commented the issue of the “Compass-loop” and states there is a specific purpose for the compass, we will find out how it all hangs together.

  7. Locke gives Sayid his compass in Season 1, episode 13, “Hearts and Minds.” But, then in Episode 19, “Deus Ex Machina”, when Locke and Boone are walking in the jungle on the way to find the beechcraft, Locke is shown looking at a compass.

    So, either the compass that Locke gives to Sayid isn’t the only compass that he had in his posession. Or, someone gave Locke another compass at some point after he gives his away to Sayid and before he is shown to have another one just a few episodes later.

  8. dear dharma dropout

    the key to solving the puzzle of the compass lies in where it goes and to whom.

    in season five, we see the compass going to and fro, and we also see locke with richard and ben, looking at locke and richard in a difrernt time line.

    the answer is thayt locke in fact gave it to himself at some time!



  9. My point wasn’t focused on how many compasses we’ve seen, I was mainly trying to point out the implications of the specific compass that seems to be looping. If Locke acquired the compass by other means before Alpert gave it to him during the flashes, there would be two identical compasses. Theoretically that would be possible given what we know about time travel. After all, Miles existed as a child and adult during the same time period. But so far we haven’t seen two instances of the looping compass together.

    One of my favorite philosophical techniques is microcosm/macrocosm. Take what we know to be true about a specific object and apply it to others, or to the entire universe. Or take what we know to be universally true and see what we can learn about other areas applying this knowledge.

    If it is true that the compass can exist in a perpetual loop, with no apparent origins then the same can be true of characters, events and the entire history of the Island. If it is not true that the compass can exist as an enigma, then the looping “whatever happened, happened” theory would seem implausible as well. However, the empirical data suggests that the compass is in fact traveling through time in an infinite loop.

    losts-columbo: even if Locke gave the compass to himself… where did he get it to give to himself? That would in essence add another ring to the loop, but the net outcome would not change.

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