Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard is not an easy read, but an interesting one. I picked up The Essential Kierkegaard after Hurley noticed a French copy by a dead body in the episode “LAX” last week. The philosophical piece focuses on the subject of the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac. If you will remember, one other Monks at the Monastery mentioned the same story to Desmond. Obviously the themes of faith, sacrifice and ethics are important ones. Kierkegaard tries to explain his take on this puzzling story that is essential to Christianity.
Honestly, out of all the stories out of the bible, this is the one that has given me the most problems. I was deeply trouble by such a God that would demand a parent kill his or her own child. It seemed like a way for the wrathful tyrant to prove his control over his people and nothing more. But perhaps I was wrong. Certainly Kierkegaard thinks so.
Kierkegaard’s argument is that Abraham knew that was unethical to kill his own son. However, he also believed it was his duty to God to do so. This very conflict is the point of the story. Abraham needed to doubt his faith in order to truly see what he believed. Only in this crisis could he be stripped of his ability to reason so that he might follow his heart instead. If Abraham truly believed his God was a God that would make him kill his son, then it would not have been a test of faith. Abraham would have blindly followed orders and never realized where his faith truly laid. He had faith in a loving and compassionate God—a just God.
Faith means there is a possibility could be proven wrong. Abraham could not have been fully assured his son would be spared. Instead, he was required to take a leap of faith in feeling as is his son Isaac would not die even if he believed that he must kill him. A paradox if there ever was one.
Kierkegaard argues that ethical systems are created to protect the masses. One person may be sacrificed for the greater good. However, sometimes these ethics may end up doing more harm than good. As we cannot foresee the future, we cannot accurately predict the consequences of our decisions or actions. What appears to be an ethical choice may not be what is best in the long run.
Does this mean that Jack leading everyone off the island was a test of faith? That it wasn’t what was best in the long run? Was Desmond’s test of faith turning the fail safe key? Mrs. Hawking tells Desmond that the island wasn’t done with him yet. Does that mean he needs to guide Jack along the way?
The other book seen in the Season 6 premier was Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie. This novel reminded me of Borges and Calvino in its post-modernism. It also explored some of the same themes as The Neverending Story. Stories and fantasies are important to us. Instead of “the nothing,” Rushdie gives us the Black Ship, which is full of shadows. It is the source of the Anti-Story. The name of the villain means finished. The tragedy is in the ending. If the story is neverending, then it is a happy ending paradoxically. Even if one chapter of a story or an entire book ends, it still lives on in our imagination. As Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz and The Lord of the Rings influenced Rushdie, Rushdie influenced other works such as Lost. Intertexuality is immortality!
Not only do we see relevant or parallel themes to Lost in Haroun and The Sea of Stories, we see clues about the Black Rock Ship and its role as the antithesis in Lost. If the Black Rock began the sequence of events in the story of Lost, then it must end with it. The writers want us to know that even after the last minute of Lost has aired, Lost lives on in its influences and references.
This week in “What Kate Does” we learned very little, but at the end of the episode we see Claire at long last. She has been infected by whatever it is at the Heart of the Darkness of the Island. She is wild and unkempt like Rousseau was. Alive, yet not entirely herself. Rousseau killed her team because they were infected. Was Rousseau also infected? Is Christian infected and somehow a darker version of himself? Sayid is turning. Was Ben turned? Is the darkness a sort of purging? The others die and move onward, while these people are cursed to live between places? We soon shall see!