2009-01-26

Upcoming Previously on LOST

I say this a lot to people who know me, and will likely say it again in these virtual pages if i actually manage to keep writing this thing:

I rarely, if ever, remember my dreams. We’re talking maybe twice a year. I don’t know why this is, but it’s been true for me since the end of high school (before which i remembered my dreams pretty much every night). I know that i dream, as everyone does, because i do occasionally awake with the sense of having dreamt. I just don’t ever wake remembering what i’ve dreamt. I’ve tried to change that, but to no avail. I’ve done all the exercises ever recommended to me, from the “I will remember my dreams” mantra while falling asleep, to trying to force myself to count my fingers during my dreams so i can get all lucid and shit, and all the rest. Nothing works.

Thus, when i do remember my dreams, i’m often struck by a feeling akin to having just read an extremely unusual and memorable book. Because on the face of it, the memorable books i read are going to significantly outnumber the dreams i remember by the time i stop reading and dreaming. Thus, i’m compelled to share that it was kind of odd and interesting that from last night, i remember not one but two dreams about LOST.

I’ve been a fan of LOST since i rented disc one of season one at the video store midway through season two, with a vague sense of “Haven’t i heard that this is supposed to be pretty good?” (I don’t have any sort of broadcast, cable, or satellite TV coming into my house, though i have TV in the sense that i have a large device on which video images can be seen. However, that’s probably one digression too many.) I would have easily said that i loved the show through the first three seasons, with a particularly passionate attachment to the season three finale (“Through the Looking Glass”), except for that really freaking annoying bit where they somehow forgot that Charlie can’t swim. However, since then, the “Charlie can’t swim” moments have been coming fast and furiously, and my hope for a stunning finish to the series is getting seriously dampened.

What the hell was i talking about? Oh, yeah. From last night, i remember not one but two dreams about LOST.

In the first dream, i was watching what seemed to be the series finale. Which is to say, i dreamed the series finale; i wasn’t dreaming that i was watching TV. The big long-awaited reveal was that the island was actually a lost Disney theme park that had developed some sort of sentient consciousness. I remember Jack and Kate standing in this ruined South American-looking temple complex (perhaps the temple that Ben sent everyone to), whose central courtyard featured immense Easter Island-scale stone busts of Mickey Mouse and various other Disney characters. These statues were talking to Jack and explaining everything, and i remember thinking (in the dream) that this was all a horrible cross-marketing exercise by Disney-owned ABC.

Here’s the weird part, though. (Or the weirder part, i guess, because the above is pretty weird.) In the dream, i remember thinking at some point “This is the stupidest thing i’ve ever seen in my life.” And so in response, i dreamed another dream in which i was watching this season’s premiere, along with some sort of making-of documentary. I remember Evangeline Lily being interviewed on what it was like working in the jungle on an extended location shoot, which i guess was meant to lock down the authenticity of the concept, i don’t know.

Here’s what my subconscious precognitive sense told me the next season will be about. (Spoiler alert! In the event that i’m actually psychic.) There was a huge semiunderground temple complex (again, presumably the temple Ben sent the Others to) that looked an awful lot like the rebel base at the end of Star Wars. The castaways and the Others were all there, living in relative harmony but hiding out from yet another group that had infiltrated the island and were now trying to kill them all. (This was the group who the mysterious black guy and Naomi were working for.)

In the backstory, it was revealed that the Others were the semi-immortal descendants of the slaver crew of the Black Rock, to whom the island gave unnaturally long life. They had lived a kind of Robinson Crusoe existence on the island until the Dharma people showed up, whereupon they quickly copped the Dharmas’ modern culture before killing them.

It was then revealed that it was the new people who had actually first discovered the Island (even before the Dharma people), but their initial exploration crew all went mad and started killing each other. There was a flashback scene in which a crazy pilot starts throwing passengers out of a plane. In the forestory, the new bad guys had lots of planes. There was a constant motif of the island being buzzed by low-flying planes as the characters went about doing whatever they were doing and trying desperately not to be seen.

This season had better be at least that interesting.

2009-01-17

First Dibs on the Alaska Panhandle

My creativity is lost in fiction. I should have gone into political science where all the really weird ideas hang out.

So, still two years to get the kids to Disneyland, i guess.

Here’s the thing, though. The implicit tone of the piece, down to its reference to “much laughter” in the unofficial White House response, is that this guy is an idiot. However, it occurs to me that if he was writing fiction (in particular, speculative fiction), his ideas would seem edgy and groundbreaking — even more so by virtue of the fact that he’s an academic, in the same way that much of the best hard-SF resonates with the edge of science and psychology and sociology that its greatest minds are so well versed in.

I’m inclined to ridicule a lack of thinking whenever humanly possible (as my lack of invitations to religious symposia would attest). But as far as i’m concerned, if your research is solid and your intent is honest, there are no bad ideas.

2009-01-15

Denial

I’d happily all but forgotten about Ted Haggard until reading this week that he was making the rounds of the talk shows and reconfirming that he’d been “miraculously cured” of his wanting to strip down and get naked with other men. Praise the lord and pass the body lotion.

I remember back when it happened, i found the whole Ted Haggard thing funny for all the usual reasons that i won’t bother getting into because The Daily Show does it better than i ever will. However, the thing that strikes me in the kind of ironic aftermath of the whole thing isn’t the reaction from either socio-political wing to Haggard’s crash-and-burn or the incredible extents of his stupidity. It’s the surprise factor. Haggard’s supporters on the right were all so surprised that a guy who built a career on clean living and gay-bashing could secretly have a dependency on crystal meth and sodomy. Haggard’s detractors on the left were all so surprised that Haggard’s supporters on the right were surprised, which in turn makes the supporters on the right talk about how surprised they are that the atheist left hates the religious right so much, et al, et al. It’s just like this little orgy (probably a bad metaphor; sorry) of denial all around.

It strikes me that rampant denial is probably at the root of most surprise. (“He seemed like such a nice, quiet man.”) In and of itself, that’s understandable. As has been said in different ways by smarter people than me, the last Neanderthals probably looked at the first Cromagnons and said to themselves “Why worry?”

However, the framework of religious dogma and hypocrisy in this particular case underlines a more subtle and important point. Most religious faith is based on denial at its most basic, root level. Everything we’re naturally afraid of as human beings, religion allows us to deny in order to make those things safe. We’re afraid to die; religion lets us believe we won’t. We’re afraid of our own inconsequence; religion tells us that all creation exists for our pleasure and stewardship. We’re afraid of the future; religion tells us the future is set according to a master plan. We’re afraid to acknowledge our urges to get it on all animal-style with people we’re not supposed to get it on with. Religion tells us thou shalt not do that sort of thing.

Denial is the natural state of human affairs and always has been, because the antithesis of denial is reason, and we don’t like to think too much. But simply remembering that denial and fear are flip sides of the same psychological coin is the key to undermining the hold that fear has over us — and the key to remembering how to think again. It’s easy to look at ourselves and acknowledge the things we deny. Once done so, we have the opportunity to acknowledge that we’re afraid of those things — and to ask ourselves why we’re afraid.

2009-01-05

Time To Complain

I have, of late, been spending a fair bit of time watching the third season of Heroes, which i don’t like as much as i liked the first and second seasons of Heroes, and which has prompted me to state for the record that the reason i don’t like it so much is that i absolutely fucking hate time travel as a story device in film and television, because no one who works in film or television apparently has any freaking idea how to write time travel. Like, just as a for instance, if Future Peter came back in episode one to kill Nathan, then anyone else who can time travel (like, for instance, Past Peter, or Hiro, or maybe Sylar, or one of the other half-dozen characters who am sure will turn out to be time travelers in the end, or the guy from Quantum Leap for crying out loud) can simply show up ten seconds earlier to stop him. I’m just saying.

Having watched as much of this season as i have, i was inspired earlier this week to time travel back to last year, replace Tim Kring, and rewrite this season without any time traveling. But then of course, when i watched this season without any time traveling, i wasn't inspired to rewrite the season, which meant i never went back in time, so this season had time traveling, so i was inspired  to time travel back to last year, replace Tim Kring, and rewrite this season without any time traveling. But then of course, when i watched this season without any time traveling, i wasn't inspired to rewrite the season, which meant i never went back in time, so this season had time traveling, so i was inspired  to time travel back to last year, replace Tim Kring, and rewrite this season without any time traveling, so that i wasn't inspired to rewrite the season, which meant i never went back in time, so this season had time traveling, so i was inspired  to time travel back to last year, replace Tim Kring, and rewrite this season without any time traveling, so that i wasn't inspired to rewrite the season, which meant i never went back in time, so this season had time traveling, so i was inspired  to time travel back to last year, replace Tim Kring, and rewrite this season without any time traveling, so that i wasn't inspired to rewrite the season, which meant i never went back in time, so this season had time traveling, so i was inspired…

2009-01-02

Yeah, yeah...

“Having omitted to carry on my diary for two or three days, I lost heart to make it up, and left it unfilld for many a month and day. During this period nothing has happend worth particular notice. The same occupations, the same amusements, the same occasional alterations of spirits, gay or depressd, the same absence of all sensible or rational cause for the one or the other. I half grieve to take up my pen, and doubt if it is worth while to record such an infinite quantity of nothing. But hang it! I hate to be beat so here goes for better behavior.”

— Sir Walter Scott,
January 1, 1829