Thursday, April 01, 2010

LOST: Compasses!

VL pointed me to this delicious unbelievableness as a kind of real world piece of the LOST puzzle—Check it out! Scientists discover moral compass in the brain which can be controlled by magnets. And it *is* dated March 30, not April 1 =)

The notion of personal morality being tunable via powerful magnetic fields certainly seems like an uncanny "solution" to some tasty slices of LOST, eh? And beside that, I gotta say, the article did spark a few fun LOST associations and reflections. I'm gonna crib from email with VL here and explain.

I actually haven't thought about the compass as a metaphorical element in LOST in a serious thematic way, but it's come up a few times that I remember, and in connection, and AS connection, between characters. Looking back, they resonate pretty strongly.

Way back when, maybe season 1, even, Sayid attempts to make a compass by inducing magnetism in a needle. But once he succeeds, he discovers that compasses cannot be trusted on the Island. Locke, who seems to get around the Island so easily so quickly without any disorientation, gives Sayid his own compass to use. The Encyclopedia Browny assumption would be that Locke's compass works fine, right? But Sayid discovers that it is broken, or just as malfunctioning as the one he created. When Locke first offers to give it up, Sayid asks if he's really okay giving it up, and I'm pretty sure Locke tells Sayid, "I don't need it anymore."

In light of what's become of Sayid and Locke (in death and doppelganger) this season, compass as moral compass is difficult NOT to see. Sayid and Locke's experience with and exchange of compasses seems like a map of their futures, describing ideas of being lost in a moral sense, being above Good and Evil, and maybe even Infection.

I wonder how often the word comes up in banter when our Losties are doing their cross-Island trekking, eh? I'll bet that four out of five times it's means more than a dial with a magnetized needle.

And, of course, there's my *favoritest* LOST compass ever—the temporal paradox, the compass that Locke gives to Richard so that Richard can give it to Locke. A compass that is never made and never destroyed. Feel free to assign to it all significance that you can think of that pertains to Richard, Locke, and Esau, and the balance and influence of Good and Evil within and between them.

And try not to think about how soon we'll be hearing that the U.S. military has been sewing magnets into the helmets of their soldiers for decades. Heck, they don't even have to conceal them anymore. All they need to do is not-so-well-shield their comms, right?

Keep on keepin on~


design femme said...

I'm trying to remember... was there any involvement of a compass when Sawyer, Michael, Walt, and Jin when were on the boat?

cabinboy said...

All that I can remember in the way of course plotting from the raft was Michael telling Walt to hold the rudder so that they were pointing towards a cloud on the horizon. I think the only guiding device they had was a radar that Professor Sayid put together for them. That provided the ALIEN-motion-detectory pinging that signified the approach of Captain Tom in his boat.

There have been a number of situations involving following (Faraday and Lapidus) or sharing (Ben with Michael when he lets him leave with Walt) the "golden bearing" that let's people enter and exit the snowglobe. But I'm not sure that there's actually been a physical compass in any of them, except maybe as part of the instruments of the boat or helicopter, y'know?

I think that the paradox compass must have been one of the items that Richard offers to young Locke as part of his Dalai Lama litmus testy trial. Sadly, I cannot remember if he actually picks it. If he doesn't, Richard's storming off would make sense, because the adult Locke actually carried that compass around for a while on the Island.

Frack. Stupid imperfect recall. : P