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Upon Losing That Heavenly Glory: An Ode (and a Requiem) to Lost

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Part I : The Ode (posted 5 hours before the final episode)

Six years ago, a single frightened eye opened upon a world that grew wider and wider in progressive concentric circles until it blossomed from a small bamboo patch a few yards away from a white sandy beach to encompass a universe that is nothing short of the source of all things. Along the way, season by season, the island upon which we found ourselves peeled itself away, revealing ever deeper layers of its intrinsic nature. First we found it was neither deserted, nor simply an island. We found it had mysterious properties, and that warring factions wanted to claim those properties. We found it was very difficult to leave, and even more difficult to stay away from. We found it was bound to neither time, nor space, and that it was both unpredictable and unstable. Until finally, when the layers of the onion were almost fully torn off, we found, at its source, a mysterious light.

This simple progression, perhaps, is the ultimate revelation of LOST -- the idea that the profound complexity of where we are, the "island" upon which we find ourselves at any given moment, is deeper, stranger, weirder, and more profound than it initially seems. And that, at its core, this moment -- this island -- is in fact the source of all things.

Of all the questions remaining to be answered on LOST tonight, the most basic question is "What is the Island?"

Isn't this in fact the eternal question? It is no accident that the island on which our beloved characters go through their circular melodrama of incarnation, life, love, and death is peppered equally with scientific stations and cult dwellings and religious temples. Humanity has used many methods to get at the light that dwells at the heart of all things. And at its heart, LOST asks us -- what is this thing we are chasing? What is this thing that leads us to create armies, and bomb each other, and create cults, and perform scientific experiments? And how is it that the exact same thing inspires myths, and legends, and the building of temples? What is this light?

We will never entirely know what it is. Every myth hints at it, every physics experiment points at it. Every religion seeks to claim it. But what is it? Whatever it is, it is free from time and space. It is free from our limited ascriptions. But it is our nature to label it, to chase it, to harness it, and to exploit it, even if it is not fundamentally within our grasp.

We can understand what "the Island" is no more than we can pin down an electron. We know it is there. We know what it suggests and implies. We can even harness its power. But we can't pin it down.

Since the fundamental question that LOST poses is unanswerable, I have a distinct feeling that the producers will leave it so. I hazard a guess that whatever answers are given to us in a few short hours, they will fall well short of what we want or expect from it.

But imagine for a minute, that the long epic history of humanity's quest for illumination -- both scientific and religious -- was told in the form of a story, both spiritual and scientific. And the story went a little like this:

A long time ago, a small pocket of exotic energy or dark matter crashed into the earth. As dark matter, it was only accessible in certain conditions to certain people and it was free from the bonds of time and space. Therefore it was immensely powerful, beautifully bright, and very very hard to find. What transpired since that initial crash, as the "island" skipped through time, is an embodied encapsulation of what happens when human beings encounter "light." Some thirst after it, some war over it, some pray to it, some dig and dig to find out what is at its core. Throughout history, wave upon wave of people crash upon its shores -- some, with special qualities either "spiritual" or electromagnetic in nature -- are brought in to serve the island. Others die trying to leave. Along the way, it inspires religions, baffles scientists, and incites wars. Some call it Atlantis, or Lemuria. Others call it Eden. Stories escape with the few who have survived it, and they return to their civilizations and speak of a mysterious all-powerful light, inhabited by warring brothers -- Romulus, Remus, Lucifer, Gabriel. Myths are born. Religions are created.

But what if, contrary to what the religious side would have us believe, the light at the heart of this island is neither eternal nor stable? What if it is subject to the laws of physics just as everything else is, and when it discharges this dark energy, either through naturally occurring incidents or through Faraday-induced explosions -- splits occur in the fabric of the universe? What if dark matter were to escape the island -- in the form, perhaps, of a charged column of smoke? Well, then the catastrophic chain reaction of anti-matter meeting matter -- or Lucifer meeting Gabriel in the final war -- would be unleashed and the very universe would be destroyed.

Or not. We'll see what happens.

Personally, I would love for Cuse and Lindelof to answer every single question I've ever had about LOST; I would love to know why Locke's legs stopped working when Boone climbed up to the smuggler's plane or why Walt could talk to animals or who's dead and who's not and where the hell Jack's dad is anyway... but I know full well that they aren't going to answer every single one of those questions.

Bruce Lee once sagely said: "It's like a finger, pointing at the moon. Concentrate too much on the finger, and you lose all that heavenly glory."

The finger is all the little details that have accumulated along the way. The moon, the celestial light that is sitting right in front of our eyes, is that we are all, right now, on an island, and it is in fact, the source of all things. And in the end, if all they leave us with is the one question, the great question, "What is this island we find ourselves upon?" it will have been a great six years.

Part II: The Requiem (coming soon)