Consciousness and Lost.
Written 16th February
Thought i’d write a little theory as I sit here enviously aware that those in the US are enjoying the latest episode of Lost! As I stated before, I was previously particularly interested in ‘consciousness’ and how it relates to Lost and wrote several posts on the old Lost Theories site. I thought I’d mull it over again and see how it applies now.
First a little precis of what I wrote previously. With regard to consciousness, one can consider that there is a conscious and an unconscious mind. Our conscious mind tends to exist within the present because we receive so much sensory information that needs dealing with (sight, touch, smell) and also our brains are most comfortable dealing with linear time. However, since our subconscious memory stores our previous experiences in terms of memory, including all previous sensory information, it is theoretically possible to exist within the subconscious and effectively relive the past. This is what happens to Desmond — his mind retreats into his subconscious and he relives the past. It is incredibly difficult to change that past because his brain is already programmed to accept what has happened in the past. Now if we briefly consider conscious thought. Apply some basic principles of physics, and if it takes energy to create a thought and this energy isn’t dissipated in some way, then in theory all thought exists forever. There could be a sort of interconnected subconscious that we can all tap into if we wish. Also, since we often have a very good idea of what we are doing in the future e.g. going to work tomorrow, going out on Friday night, then it is possible that this interconnected subconscious allows us to predict the future. With Lost, Flocke states that it always ends the same, so this has all happened before, so those subconscious thoughts already exist. This is what allows Desmond to forsee Charlie’s death. However, for most individuals e.g. Charlotte, Minkowski, even Desmond to a degree, we cannot make sense of what is happening if we exist within our subconscious. Our brains cannot find a ‘constant’ and they shut down. Also, in terms of Desmond and the others, they are definitely within their subconscious when they travel to the past since their bodies remained in the present.
OK, so how does this apply to our losties, specifically those touched by Jacob. For those on the Ajira flight, there is the strange situation where most of them transport back to 1977. It is not their subconscious that has moved back to 1977, but their whole being. And they have not jumped back to a previous memory, but to a whole different place and time. Maybe this is the gift that our ‘variables’ possess. Their consciousness is not tethered to present day linear time. So what happens when the bomb goes off? Their consciousness effectively splits in two — this has been shown to be possible via the experiments at the Orchid station. Their logical conscious mind would take them back to the place where they last existed — on the Island with the same timeline of the other Ajira survivors. But would their subconscious take them to a place where they ‘wanted’ to exist. All of them on Oceanic 816. Jack — no longer a drunkard, Hurley — no longer cursed, Sawyer — in a world where Juliet is alive, Sayid — to a place where Nadia is still alive, Kate — to a place where she can find Clair/hasn’t killed her father? and collectively a place where the Island cannot affect them.
I vaguely remember Carlton Cuse stating that the ending of Lost is bitter sweet. Do events on the Island unfold as they always have, with Flocke victorious in the end? But do we also have an alternative timeline where the redemptive aspects of our major characters storylines finally come full circle.