Water, Ash = Life, Death
At this point in the show, I think some of the revelations we seek will be found in the imagery and use of objects and symbols more than straight out verbal answers. I think we’ll have plenty of those, but in my continued appreciation for the writers/producers attention to details that go beyond the verbal clues, here is what I have been thinking about. No straight out theories, just general observations…
I was reading a newspaper the other day and an article about Ash Wednesday caught me eye. Not because I grew up Catholic, but because of the word “Ash” and how that is a modern mystery in my Lost-obsessed mind. Have we talked about this here yet?
From my recollection of the importance and use of ash in the Catholic church, ash was used as a symbolic marking on the foreheads of believers who celebrate Lent, the season preceding Easter Sunday. Believers would wear the ash as a symbol of their guilt, sins and ultimately, their repentance. I can get back to the Lent/Easter thing later, but I keep coming back to the purpose (and source) of ash. In another post of mine I talked about how I think that the vial that Richard showed young Locke (“Cabin Fever”) is ash and I am pondering how/why ash keeps a Smoke Monster away, especially considering that Ash and Smoke are both by-products of fire. So far we have seen ash serve as protection. How do protection and repentance connect? Both of those things represent LIFE. If you follow the meaning of repentance in the Catholic church’s use of ash, repentance is connected with life, i.e., you repent from your sins and you gain renewed life. “The wages of sin are death…”-type of life. The protection from Smokey with the ash has obviously been that your physical life is preserved (albeit momentarily for many at this point.)
There are many other images or meanings behind ash – “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” prayer at funerals, the cremation process, even ash trees. Just throwing that stuff into the mix for consideration because ultimately, my mind keeps going to images of life and death. My thought is that ash is something that has dual meanings – sometimes life, sometimes death.
After “What Kate Does” I made a few comments here and there that the water was bugging me. Yes, the healing fountain thing was murky, but we kept seeing plenty of other images of water. (Examples: filling up canteens, Sawyer threw the engagement ring into the water, Jack’s reflection in the water.) I was intrigued. My first thought was that Sayid’s ‘infection’ came via the water that was meant to give life. I didn’t have any logical clue as to how a Smoke Monster creation can also travel via the water, but all the intentional images of water seemed important. Still, to see how the life-giving/life-saving water has now changed to something else is obviously something we’ve noticed.
After thinking more about the ash and realizing it is an image of duality, we now have also seen water as an image of duality. Sometimes life giving, sometimes life taking. (Charlie. Sayid. Dogen…)
The connection of water and death/life that I am realizing to be most important at this point is the actual water that makes the island an island. I am convinced that we will eventually learn about what the island is. But first, we have to recognize that the water has been what has kept EVERYONE trapped for the duration of this show. For Jack, the ocean that kept him isolated on that island for Seasons 1-4 was like a kind of hell for him. To go really obvious here, didn’t Flocke/”Evil Incarnate” tell Sawyer he was trapped and just wanted “to get the hell off this island” and never look back. (Funny how much that sound like Jack.)
Anyway, my point is this…
We have seen ash used as a ring of protection around the cabin. A ring of ash was apparently surrounding the Temple keeping Locke out. But the ultimate “ring” we have seen keeping people “trapped” is the water surrounding the island. Not to forget that the fact that it is an island, a land mass surrounded by water, has made it inaccessible (or protected) for Widmore or others hoping to find it. We can’t miss the fact that the water surrounding it is what contributes to its powers in one way or another.
So the duality of these images of ash and water and their connections to life and death reminds me of one of the main themes of duality on the show. Chief has a great post worth reading on “what defines good/evil?” Seriously, there is good stuff there. Read it. That post had me thinking again on how we really can’t define who represents what exactly.
Perhaps the battle isn’t necessarily between “Good” and “Evil” at this point. Perhaps the struggle is between “Life” and “Death”… Jacob represents life and MIB death. Neither is good, neither is bad. Both are necessary. It fits into the theme of reincarnation, it fits with themes of redemption. From a quick recollection of actions/behaviors, it fits with Jacob’s attributed “healings” and Smokey’s killing rampages. It fits what Sayid has become (always has been) and it fits the conversation on the beach from MIB, “Do you have any idea how badly I wanna kill you?” line. I know it could seem overly simple. I’m not proposing it to be an ultimate answer of any kind. But it does put a new spin on the unanswerable “good” vs. “bad” dilemma.
The best thing it fits in with though is the possibility of “resurrection” entering the picture. (Keeping in mind that the belief in Christ’s resurrection power is directly tied into the ashes used on Ash Wednesday.) For some of us who think that we haven’t seen the end of the old and very dead John Locke, it could be one of the ultimate final acts in this struggle.