'Lost': The heir (un)apparent
When it comes to "Lost," there's no shortage of opinions and theories. And that's why blogging about the show can be both a blessing and a curse. The gerund "blogging" often comes with a derogatory connotation, perceived as some inherently inferior version of the almighty "writing." I'm not here to start some turf war over the issue, but I will say that should the day ever come when I'm tasked with writing the Great American Novel (or, more likely, something about teenage girls and vampires), I will be worse for wear without my readers constantly commenting on my output.
Earlier this week, I dropped a two-part theory that suggested Richard Alpert's overarching motivation is to find the Island heir so he can finally die. I didn't try and pretend that this is the only motivation for his actions, but the thought intrigued me and so I shared it. As I am wont to do around here. Problem was, I spent so much time focusing on Richard that I unwittingly forgot to dote upon the heir. So, through no intentional fault of my own, I may have miscolored both Richard's work and Jacob's intentions.
I didn't know I'd done this until a few commenters chimed in, understandably confused by my entry's implications. Had I been writing a chapter in a book about Richard Alpert, I might have missed this. Luckily, I wrote a blog entry about it, and so I get the chance to amend my earlier entry. And essentially, that's all I ever do here on the blog: amend earlier entries. That's the beauty of having the chance to write about this show for four to five times a week: I get to engage in a constantly evolving understanding about the show through my own explorations and your engagement to those explorations. That, and the money I get from Zap2it bought me that sweet BMW. And by "sweet BMW" I mean "a combo platter at Chili's."
The confusion comes from misinterpreting "Island heir" as the next "Island ruler." It's an assumption I've made for quite some time, and it's a crucial mistake in terms of understanding the ultimate end-goal of both Jacob and the show as a whole. It also helps explain why it's so damn hard to find a true heir for the Island. No one in the show seems to understand what Jacob knows all too well: the function of the heir is not to rule but to dissolve.
I'd also say the word "ruler" (or something similar, like "king") is misleading when talking about the person Richard is looking for, which is why I opted for the word "heir." The heir inherits the Island, but isn't necessarily intended to rule it. In fact, that might be the ultimate purpose of the heir, and the ultimate sign of the progress Jacob wants: moving away from possessive, selfish instincts of which The Man in Black speaks towards a higher notion of what both The Island means and humanity itself can achieve.
In other words, let's posit the following: what if The Island is intimately tied into the state of humanity, and the heir breaks this limiting, symbiotic tie in order to push human beings to the next level? People such as Charles Widmore and Benjamin Linus are unworthy heirs because they are too possessive of both the Island and the status that comes with being the leader of The Others. But the true heir doesn't consolidate power; he or she distributes/disperses it.
Because The Man in Black does not understand this, he is doomed to fail. In the famous book, "The Art of War," Sun Tzu writes, "Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." Seasons 4 and 5 were full of sound and fury, but in the seemingly final moments of his life, Jacob showed them to signify nothing. The Man in Black is ALL tactics: he bobs, weaves, maneuvers, cajoles, contorts, and generally focuses on the minutiae in order to defeat Jacob. On the other hand, Jacob is all strategy, patiently letting things play out while keeping his eye on the largest prize. And since The Man in Black misunderstands Jacob's ultimate end-game, his tactics are in some ways pointless.
Jacob's strategy throughout the millennia has been to find the singular individual who would recognize the Island as a litmus test for man's capacity to evolve beyond what he is. If you love an Island, then set it free. I'm pretty sure that's what Sting once sung about. Setting the Island free in turn sets humanity free to take the next step. Replace Stanley Kubrick's black monolith with Darlton's donkey wheel and you get a decent approximation of a fundamentally inexplicable entity that taps into something deep within the well of humanity potential to propel them onwards in an evolutionary sense. Living forever was never Jacob's goal: living long enough was. Dying for him doesn't mean defeat. Getting people to the proper place before his death ensured eventual victory.
Given all this, it's no wonder why readers such as Barry suggest Hurley is the true Island heir. That boy gives away everything. Huge Red Hot Chili Peppers fan, that Hurley. After returning to the real world as a member of the Oceanic 6, he proceeds to give away his entire lottery winnings rather than horde it. In "Everyone Hates Hugo," he solves the problem of food rationing by giving away the store in one big blow-out. In a show full of navel-gazers, Hurley constantly is looking out for others. Hell, his empathy extends beyond this plane of existence into the realm of the dead. Plus, the dude throws a mean Hot Pocket shuriken. Always comes in handy when facing down smoke monsters.
I'll have more to say on the Island heir, but I think I'll turn it over to your thoughts on the matter now. After all, it's the only way this discussion is going to evolve, right?
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