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J. Wood’s Otherville Book Club – 5.01 and 5.02

By J. Wood,

  Filed under: J. Wood's Otherville Book Club, Lost
  Comments: 15

Doc’s Intro: Soon a new J. Wood post will grace Powell’s to liquefy your brain with intellectual cross examination of LOST’s time-hopping testimony.  As often as possible, J will be publishing “J.Wood’s Otherville Book Club” exclusively here at DocArzt & Friend’s LOST Blog.  “J.Wood’s Otherville Book Club” is a bibliography of sorts, running through the books, films, and country music songs – as appropriate – mentioned in his Powell’s posts (the latest of which can be read here) with an enlightening passage on what each entry has to say that might be of interest to those trying to wrap their brains around LOST’s narrative trickery.  And now, I pass the mic to J. Wood.

twelve_monkeys_ver2Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys

  • A film that gets straight into the stresses and possible paradoxes of time travel

A brief recap of time in Lost:

Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time

Kip Thorne, Black Holes & Time Warps

Madeleine L’engle, A Wrinkle in Time

  • Briefly referenced in regard to previous posts; all three texts deal with the nature of time and how to alter it.

Paul Ricoeur, Time and Narrative

  • Philosopher and literary critic who wrote three volumes about how a narrative was the best model we have for how we experience time as a phenomenon

Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

  • Jekyll Island beer?  It doesn’t exist.  So why focus on the bottle?  Might have something to do with Hurley’s wanting to be a Hyde, but can’t help being Jekyll.

Mario Puzo & Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather

  • Briefly mentioned by Hurley; can’t take Sayid to the hospital because that’s the first place they’ll be found.

Orson Welles, Citizen Kane

  • Another film that, structurally and in the way it plays with shot composition, is a precursor to techniques seen in Lost.

200px-valis1stedPhilip K. Dick, Valis

  • One of the notorious symbols is seen in the background of Hurley’s house, in the doorway.  When the door opens, the symbol turns into a vesica piscis, the Jesus fish symbol.  This is a key symbol that triggered Philip K. Dick’s mental divergence while in extreme pain, which he writes about in his essay “How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later.”  That and his journal, which he called his Exegesis, explored the symbol, and he used that material to write Valis, the book Locke gives Ben to read when Locke held Ben prisoner.  Ben says he already read it, and Locke tells him he might catch something he missed last time. Sounds like tip.

Gerald Massey, The Historical Jesus and the Mythical Christ

  • Gets into the history of the vesica piscis and how it was related to a number of ancient world gods before it became the Jesus fish.  It’s also related to the Greek mathematician and Hermetic mystic Pythagoras, who predated Jesus by nearly 500 years.  Pythagoras believed fish were sacred, and the vesica piscis itself was derived from the mirroring of the monad, or a symbol of god (a circle with a center point).  The vesica piscis is filled with sacred numbers, including a length-to-width ratio of 265:153.   That number 153 is important in a number of ways; the ratio is the square root of 3, and was used by Archimedes in determining the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, or ?.

Kenneth Sylvan Guthrie, The Pythagorean Sourcebook and Library

  • Tells a story about Pythagoras guessing the number of fish some fisherman have hauled in that is strikingly similar to a story of Jesus in the Gospel of John.  In the John story, the number of fish is 153—known as the measure of the fish.

Archimedes, The Works of Archimedes

  • Possibly the ancient world’s most brilliant mathematician, he developed the notion of ? among a host of other breakthroughs.  Without ?, Leon Foucault cannot develop his pendulum that proves the rotation of the earth.

Sir Thomas Little Heath, A History of Greek Mathematics

  • Shows the steps Archimedes too get get from 265/153 < ?3 < 1351/750 to  ?.

pendulum1Amir D. Aczel, Pendulum: Leon Foucault and the Triumph of Science

  • History of Leon Foucault’s proof of the rotation of the earth with a simple pendulum.

Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum

  • An intense dive into conspiracy theory, Hermetic mysteries, and narrative meltdowns.  The book follows three friends who decide to make a fake book of esoteric knowledge that reveals the Universal Plot to take over the world.  They base their book on a story heard from an old colonel about the Knights Templar and their access to an incredible source of power located at the Umbilicus Telluris, or the earth’s navel.  The more they work on their book, the more they find outside evidence confirming their fake ideas, and the boundaries between fiction and reality become very shaky.  The Plan revolves around using a Foucault pendulum and a map to discover the Umbilicus Telluris—which recalls what Ms. Hawking is doing in her secret lair.

Umberto Eco, Interpretation and Overinterpretation

  • A book of essays by Eco about the limits of interpretation and the logic of similarity and overinterpretation.

J. Wood in his own words: I’m working on my PhD in English at the University of Virginia (I’m ABD), directed the UVA Writing Center for two years, did an M.Phil in Anglo-Irish Literature at Trinity College – Dublin, and with respect to John Hodgman, my posts generally have more information that the audience requires. My first book on Lost, Living Lost was published in 2007 by the Garrett County Press, and is probably still relevant up to the third season.

  • professorstotch

    12 Monkeys is awesome.

  • philo13

    Ive always heard about Umberto Eco but im going to pick up one of those books next time i’m in the library….j. i hope you are doing well, i always enjoy every insight you provide to this show.

  • clueless1der

    I commented on Facebook, but I wanted to shout out here, too. I love the idea of this type of wrap-up. Finding all those literary and pop culture allusions makes me think I didn’t waste my English degree. 😀

  • Heh — I feel the same way about my degree, clueless1der.

  • MoniquE

    J. Wood, how deliberate do you think these references are? Cuse & Lindelof just don’t seem scholarly enough to plant all these. Do you think they have someone on staff who just sticks these cool things in there, someone like yourself, with a PhD? Or do you think it’s just possible some of these things are just fortunate accidents?

    Good call on the Jekyll beer. I don’t think I’ve seen that anywhere.

    • docarzt

      Not speaking for J. Wood here, but imho at least some of what J is presenting is to enhance the less deliberate nods in the show. For instance, the Jekyll beer. I picked up on this with this post and found out that the beer is something that was created by a prop company, not specifically for the show. Whether the prop was chosen by design or not, it’s cool how you can retrofit themes and concepts onto simple props, let alone the larger happenings of the show. It’s part of the larger experience of appreciating LOST. Whether we are correct or not in our pursuits is sort of secondary to the fact that this show gives you the opportunity to do this sort of deconstructing. Try that with an episode of Bones.

  • Christian Shephard’s Third Glass of Bourbon

    I prefer Sawyer’s name, New Otherton, over Otherville. Just sayin’.

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