Lost: A Post-Modern Ending

Sunday night wrapped up six T.V. seasons of storytelling for the makers and viewers of Lost.

Actually, the show had very few viewers. You either participated in Lost or you stopped watching at an earlier point in the adventure. I’ll confess I gave up mid-way through the journey only to return in the last couple years and catch up. The finale or ending on Sunday night will leave fans polarized. I think the reaction to the final episode will reveal just where you are on the transition from modernity to post(where is this all going)modernity.

Modernity wants answers. First, modernity assumes there are answers. Then modernity wants them and every little clue you dropped, every story line you introduced, every element from the beginning must now come to a neatly wrapped conclusion.

Postmodernity has questions. First, postmodernity suspects any answers you give. Then postmodernity deconstructs the elements to play hide and seek with answers the way the younger version of Jacob would pop in and out of the Island jungle this past season.

In the end, all that mattered were relationships, not answers. The final scene – spoiler alert – in the church played out the theme as numerous symbols of spirituality crowded into the background – faith, not reason is where we are going. The point of the story, turns out, wasn’t solving the mystery of the Island, it was discovering each other and embracing and celebrating the life, the inspiration and the peace we can only find in connecting. To those who ever believed the story was plotted out from the beginning, that everything meant something, that every cause must surely have an effect and every effect a cause, this was heresy. It was hell.

As a teacher I’ve lately come to realize that I spend a great deal of time, arguably too much time, trying to convince people of things that they readily accept through relationship. This kicks the teacher in me right in the, um, tender bits. But the simple truth is that when you enter into relationship, authentic relationship, you just accept or reject certain things as true or meaningful. My children haven’t asked me for proof about a lot of things. Neither has my wife. Seldom do I tell my family something I believe is true, or good friends for that matter, who then ask me to back that up with Scripture or some proofs.

So, back to Lost.

I’m not sure it can stand alone, story-wise, to illustrate the difference between where we’ve been (modernity) and where we mostly are (postmodernity) but taken as an entire story I do believe this finale is a clear signpost of our culture. Questions: we’ll have many. Answers: we’ll have few. Truth is flashback, flashforward, flashsideways, flexible – which is very different from saying there is no truth. Now we will be searching for meaning through relationship – rather than reason, through faith – rather than dogma. And the funny thing is, I think this is where we started.

About brianmpei

Stumbling towards what comes next.
This entry was posted in Christianity, Church, emerging church, God, Lost, Meaning, postmodern, Reflective, religion, truth, tv. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Lost: A Post-Modern Ending

  1. Phil says:

    Now your making me want to go out and rent the seasons of lost…

  2. realfake says:

    Okay so this response is longer than I intended… I’m going to port most of it over to my blog and flesh the thought out a bit more. But I’ll leave what I wrote in case anyone is interested.

    So I stopped watching Lost after the first few seasons, but I always waited to see if my theory on how the writers would wrap it up was right. Basically, the show wraps up every loose end and tie by explaining these things can happen because they are occurring in the context of fiction… essentially a revelation that is a cross between The Truman Show & Breakfast of Champions as well as pretty much any post-modern work you can name. I’d be happy as hell if this is exactly what happened– if at the end of the show, all of the writers and producers came out and told the characters that they are on “America’s newest reality television show, and there’s a twist: we didn’t only plan this show and film your lives without your knowledge, but the entirety of your existence is owed solely to the fact that we created you, and you are truly nothing more than fictional constructs created for the pleasantry of the audience, and we the authors, your creators, were allowed to make all of these magical things work around you because it exists within the canon of the fiction we have written for you.”

    I don’t know how the show turned out in the long run, and I’m sure most fans will tell me that what I just described is exactly what did not happen, but what I do know about the show gives me more than enough evidence to believe that Lost has roots that are so fundamentally post-modern that ultimately, any of its plot details can be understood without the need for explanation by anyone who is familiar with the major themes of post-modernity.
    …so how ever it turned out, I have a feeling I was close– Lost was television’s first truly fictional reality show.

    • brianmpei says:

      real – or is it fake? – anywho, what you described is exactly how it ended if you change a detail. Instead of the characters being told what you suggest, the writers/producers have done what you’ve described to us the viewers/followers. This season included clear “winks” at the myriad of theories about exactly what was going on in this series. Characters literally said what fan message boards and bloggers have been speculating. We became part of the show. Our thoughts became the characters dialogue. So, good guess!

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