April 22, 2010 Notes From The Underground
“Leave us to ourselves, without our books, and at once, we get in a muddle and lose our way—we don’t know whose side we are on or where to give our allegiance, what to love and what to hate, what to respect and what to despise. We even find it difficult to be human beings without any flesh and blood of our own….” A quote from Notes from the Underground by Dostoyevsky. This quote seemed fitting for both Lost and my life. Notes from the Underground appeared in last week’s episode, “Everybody Loves Hugo.”
The new season’s allegiances are confusing. We are still unsure of so much despite answers being sprinkled in the episodes now and again. It is appears as if the Man in Black has the upper hand. Hugo led Jack right to him at the advice of a ghostly Michael. Although Hugo genuinely seems to be able to speak to dead people, Michael seems to be just another form of the Man in Black. Despite tragic conflicts ahead, everyone’s fate is not sealed. Dostoyevsky believes in the power of free will. Even if that free will leads us to act on the temptations before us or if we refused those temptations, it is still our choice. It is a need to have independent volition—to exert our unique identities. We are not ruled by the society that we live in. Each person has to have faith in what they feel is right for themselves.
In any case, the unnamed narrator of Notes from the Underground is bitter and misanthropic, but intelligent and well-read. He treasures his underground space as a place where he can truly be unique and true to himself. The narrator is a writer who feels rejected from society. The debate is rather the narrator is just maladjusted or down right insane. He is certainly eccentric. Perhaps he is just misunderstood….
Maybe the writers of Lost want the audience to see the Man in Black as the unnamed narrator. Maybe, in the end, our devil is merely the sum of his poor choices. The Man in Black may represent Sartre’s idea that there is no good and evil. There is no fate. There is only the destiny that we choose for ourselves. Good and bad are subjective labels. What we choose is not reflective of anything cosmic—if you believe existentialism anyway.
I think the writers of Lost feel torn between a deep-seated sense of spirituality and the intellectual issues they keep coming up against. Fate very much hinges on faith and free will very much on rational, scientific thought. That philosophical debate or tension is as much yin and yang as the concepts of good and evil—two opposing forces, forever a part of on another. You can’t really separate them. There is always a balance between the two. The eternal struggle—the cosmic dance. Ab Aeterno.