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LOST Theories So you think you know some secrets of the island? Maybe you can explain everything. If it's original and you can back it up, we'd love to hear it.

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Old 12-14-07, 09:37 PM   #1
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+ Ghost Story : Lost Shines

BEN: These are my people. The DHARMA Initiative.
They came here seeking harmony, but they couldn't
even coexist with the Island's original inhabitants.



What happened to the Natives?

Lost is a story about the murder of a race - and the consequences of that murder.
A story a lot like Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.
A ghost story.

My theory is not that Lost is a re-imaging of The Shining - however the similarities that I will point out are pretty impressive. And while I've never been one for blanket theories and admittedly pieced a lot of this together with assumptions, using The Shining was a fun method of bringing these ideas to light.

I don't think that Lost is based wholesale on any other work or a pastiche of works. Its paranormal stew - seeing the past, remembering the future, dreams, visions, premonitions, ESP, and haunting memories - combined with a supernatural location, place it firmly in the Fantasy genre as a ghost story and one very much in the vein of Kubrik's film adaptation.

In addition to the ghost story structure, both works share a strong bond to special children with psychic powers, the sins of the father, spirituality, duality, fate vs. free will, and cleverly use the guise of madness to get viewers to suspend disbelief and be more accepting of the supernatural subject matter.

In both stories, the protagonists are not people. The Overlook Hotel and The Island have a history of violence, causing each location to be haunted by the memories of the past. These memories are not for everyone to see; only special people. Dick Halloran, the Overlook's chef describes it this way:
Quote:
Well, you know Doc, when something happens it can leave a trace of itself behind... say like if someone burns toast.Well, maybe things that happened...leave other kinds of traces behind. Not things that anyone can notice, but things that people who shine can see. Just like they can see things that haven't happened yet. Well, sometimes they can see things that happened a long time ago...
The defining events of each tale happen generations prior to what is presented to the viewer.
In The Shining, Mr. Ullman shares some of the hotel's history with Jack and Wendy Torrance:



Quote:
The site is supposed to be located on an Indian burial ground. I believe they actually had to repel a few Indian attacks as they were building it.
The old indian burial ground is a common method of creating a "haunted house" scenario. The slaying of Native Americans, and our tendency to "overlook" that genocide is what's beneath all of the Strangeness at The Overlook.

What could be behind all of the Strangeness on the Island?



Genocide.
Native people and an ancient civilization destroyed - that's what the statue represents.
A violent time in the Island's history.
Now, those haunting memories live on right up to the present day.

Who was responsible?



Those who came to mine the Island and enslave its people.



Many years later, Others arrived and erased Nature in the name of Progress.



The Overlook Hotel - built on an Indian Burial Ground.



Otherville, one of many locations built on Sacred Ground.

All of this Progress was predicated on Murder.
There will come a time when the cycle of violence will be broken.
First, a special boy arrives.



Who sees ghosts in blue dresses.



The stories differ here because young Ben Linus is not the only special boy in Lost. The problem with Ben was that he grew up - both literally and figuratively, to be a murderer. A man who puts his selfish needs before those of the Island. Years later, another special little boy and a special grown man arrive to the Island. They are strangers, but share a special connection.





At one point during The Shining, Danny calls on Mr. Halloran telepathically:



Locke and Walt are also reunited through paranormal means:



Danny receives future warnings, which come back to the present in backwards speak.



Walt provides warnings of the future in backwards speak.



But the non-human protagonist of both stories also exerts its will. The Hotel and The Island have an agenda.
They are aware of what is going on and they call on ghosts from the past to do their bidding.



Quote:
GRADY: Did you know, Mr. Torrance, that your son... is attempting to bring an outside party into this situation?Did you know that? Your son has a very great talent.I don't think you are aware how great it is, but he is attempting to use that very talent against your will. Perhaps they need a good talking to, if you don't mind my saying so. Perhaps a bit more.
The Island does the same.


Quote:
YEMI [shushing Eko]: The work being done in this place is important, Eko. It is more important than anything. And it is in danger. You must help John. He has lost his way. You must make him take you to the question mark.
The Hotel and The Island both send warnings:




And premonitions of death.



There are, of course, major differences between the two but the core story is the same - What happens when special people are in a special place. A special place with a bloody past that left behind traces of violence. Both the Hotel and The Island contain markings of past events and personalities which special people can evoke. These places can exert pressure on the special people and entice them to do their bidding. If the general idea of a "ghost" is that of a spirit trapped "between places", then what better way to represent it than as memories and markings left behind? Kubrik said it best:
Quote:
Realism is probably the best way to dramatize argument and ideas. Fantasy may deal best with themes which lie primarily in the unconscious. I think the unconscious appeal of a ghost story, for instance, lies in its promise of immortality. If you can be frightened by a ghost story, then you must accept the possibility that supernatural beings exist. If they do, then there is more than just oblivion waiting beyond the grave."
Lost is a ghost story.
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Old 12-15-07, 05:59 PM   #2
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Re: + Ghost Story: Lost & The Shining

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Lost is a ghost story.


I Agree.




____

eta.


"we're the good guys"


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The Faddeev-Popov ghosts are sometimes referred to as "good ghosts". The "bad ghosts" represent another, more general meaning of the word "ghost" in theoretical physics: states of negative norm—or fields with the wrong sign of the kinetic term, such as Pauli-Villars ghosts—whose existence allows the probabilities to be negative.
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Old 12-15-07, 06:16 PM   #3
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Re: + Ghost Story: Lost & The Shining

Rather than trying to coopt and pervert this thread, yung, why not go back to one of yours, indicate that THIS thread got you to thinking about something relative to your own line of thought, and take off from there?

N.

ETA - apologies to you, Bob, for detracting from a wonderful piece.
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Old 12-15-07, 09:50 PM   #4
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Re: + Ghost Story: Lost & The Shining

that was all I was going to say about it in this thread. The whole Ghost subject is a new one to me, and I saw a similarity, big deal. Bobs wonderful collection of images does not get distracted from because of my post.
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Old 12-15-07, 10:11 PM   #5
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Re: + Ghost Story: Lost & The Shining

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Originally Posted by Bob Sacamano View Post
however the similarities that I will point out are pretty impressive.
Pretty impressive indeed!

The correlations and the way you put the actual photos together was awesome. Seen "The Shining" many times but have never read the Stephen King original (since I've seen it so many times). I actually just got a couple of books as an early Christmas gift from a friend, and "The Shining" is one of them. I wonder if I will find any more parralels to Lost as I read it. I sure know now I will be looking!
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Old 12-15-07, 10:21 PM   #6
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Re: + Ghost Story: Lost & The Shining

Quote:
I don't think that Lost is based wholesale on any other work or a pastiche of works. Its paranormal blend - seeing the past, remembering the future, dreams, visions, premonitions, ESP, and haunting memories - combined with a supernatural location, place it firmly in the Fantasy genre as a ghost story and one very much in the vein of Kubrik's film adaptation.
It's an interesting take, Bob. Where does Watership Down fit in with this? You know, the bunny story which appeared as the first literary reference in the show? That book appeared in 4 straight episodes early in Season 1, and in each episode it connects to the action in some way. I'd be happy to delineate the huge number of parallels if you wish, but I'd like your take first. Please tell me where Watership Down fits in with your notions!

I'm also curious where Hawking fits in. His book has appeared twice, and there's even a character named after him, and 3 times is no coincidence. Many of the characters are named after famous scientists, so I'm not quite buying your version of Lost as Ghost Story as "the one true way". In fact, I'd go so far as to say that any "one true reading" of Lost is likely incorrect - if anything, the show seems to strike at any notions of "canonicity".

Lost is a ghost story, but it's also science fiction, philosophical exploration, religious exploration, scientific exploration, mythological exploration, and on and on. I'm not saying Lost is not a ghost story, but rather that more perspectives and interpretations apply.

There are so many different references and allusions in Lost, I think it's a mistake to conflate it to a single piece of work, such as The Shining. Nor, for that matter, would I agree that The Shining has one single meaning in it, either. It's part horror story entertainment, part commentary on the colonization of America, and part exploration into themes and experiences beyond "scientific objectivism" or "literalist" interpretations from any number of religions. The use of POV in the Shining suggests we aren't seeing the whole picture there, either, and that more than one interpretation for it exists beyond the filmmaker's intent, as is the case with every piece of art.

Funnily enough, if the characters in The Shining had put on "multiple lenses" or several perspectives to understand the events unfolding there, if they engaged in more honest and heartfelt communication, they might have resolved their situation differently than it turned out. As such, The Shining itself is a lesson in the limitations of a single point of view, of "canonicity".

In both Science Fiction and Fantasy genres, the limits of "intellectual knowledge" may be exposed, especially the fanciful idea that a single scientific or religious "Theory Of Everything" can account for all the experiences in our lives. One might say this describes not just The Shining, but all of Kubrick's major works, many of which find also allusion in Lost, from Clockwork Orange to 2001 ASO.

Quote:
Obviously, science-fiction and the supernatural bring you very quickly to the limits of knowledge and rational explanation. But from a dramatic point of view, you must ask yourself: 'If all of this were unquestionably true, how would it really happen?' You can't go much further than that. I like the regions of fantasy where reason is used primarily to undermine incredulity. Reason can take you to the border of these areas, but from there on you can be guided only by your imagination. I think we strain at the limits of reason and enjoy the temporary sense of freedom which we gain by such exercises of our imagination. - Stanley Kubrick
I think from Kubrick's perspective, science-fiction and fantasy are two sides of the same coin.

-----------------------------------

The thing is, despite my objections, I do think you've found something really quite extraordinary here, something really important. Both Lost and The Shining explore the same things, the limits of Rationality and the limits of Religiosity - the tension between Objectivity and Subjectivity. I would argue that a great deal (if not all) of the other references in Lost in fact share that same exploration, from many different "points of view", from many perspectives. Kubrick and The Shining are but points in a long line of this journey, as are Watership Down and Lost for that matter.

"Pastiche" is probably not the best word to describe what we see in Lost, especially with its connotations of "hodge-podge" or "imitation". Rather, I think what we are seeing here is more of a mosaic which draws connections from a wide body of cultural works and thoughts from around the world, from science and religion to art, cinema and literature.

In all these cases, the stories describe our efforts to make meaning out of our lives, to build more accurate "maps" of the world around us, and how to promote happiness while reducing suffering. The big question is whether Lost can promote a change in consciousness, or if it simply reflects what we already see in the world.

Quote:
People can misinterpret almost anything so that it coincides with views they already hold. They take from art what they already believe, and I wonder how many people have ever had their views about anything important changed by a work of art? - Stanley Kubrick
yours,
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Old 12-16-07, 04:21 AM   #7
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Re: + Ghost Story: Lost & The Shining

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tambourine Man View Post
I actually just got a couple of books as an early Christmas gift from a friend, and "The Shining" is one of them. I wonder if I will find any more parralels to Lost as I read it.
Welcome Tambourine Man...King's book explains that when Danny shines and manifests "Tony", what he is doing is communicating with a future version of himself - Anthony is the boy's middle man. I'm pretty sure that in the book "Tony" is actually Danny in high school - who is living with memories of what happened at the Overlook.

The same kind of psychic phenomena applies to Lost and was cleverly used to address the problem of Malcolm David Kelley's growth spurt.

An older Walt comes to Locke in the corpse pit because that version of Walt came from the future.

This is Walt when he left the Island:


This is a much older Walt about 60 days later.


Quote:
Please tell me where Watership Down fits in with your notions!
Hi Jane, No where - and please let's not get into it here. WD was one of the books that Sawyer read on the beach. It's themes have obvious parallels to the 815s in early S1. This thread is not about any of the books used in the show.
Quote:
I think it's a mistake to conflate it to a single piece of work, such as The Shining.
You must have missed the part in the beginning when I wrote:
Quote:
My theory is not that Lost is a re-imaging of The Shining
and
Quote:
I don't think that Lost is based wholesale on any other work or a pastiche of works
I used
The Shining to illuminate the ghost story elements in Lost and explain the motivation behind all of the supernatural happenings. The many similarities speak for themselves. And the history of what happened to the Island Natives is a watershed event in the mythology of Lost. It's important to the show - and the answer will have more meaning than any collection of references used as props in the show. The Island History is the mystery.
Quote:
Lost is a ghost story, but it's also science fiction, philosophical exploration, religious exploration, scientific exploration, mythological exploration, and on and on.
I'm saying that a ghost story is all of those things wrapped in one. It's not a potpourri or Rorscharch test, it's a ghost story and all of that other stuff fits neatly beneath that arc. The genocide of the Natives drives the Island Strangeness, and all of the phenomena are ghost story elements like we've seen in paranormal ghost stories like The Shining. Aren't Christian and Yemi ghosts - Emily Linus - guilty memories haunting their loved ones? Aren't the Dreams messages from the Island, premonitions and warnings, things that only folks who are Special can see. Of course.


Right down to the blue dresses and backwardspeak.

----------------------
Quote:
ETA - apologies to you, Bob, for detracting from a wonderful piece.
ETA - Thanks N. I appreciate that. You too, yung.
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Old 12-16-07, 03:21 PM   #8
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Re: + Ghost Story: Lost & The Shining

Quote:
Realism is probably the best way to dramatize argument and ideas. Fantasy may deal best with themes which lie primarily in the unconscious. I think the unconscious appeal of a ghost story, for instance, lies in its promise of immortality. If you can be frightened by a ghost story, then you must accept the possibility that supernatural beings exist. If they do, then there is more than just oblivion waiting beyond the grave. - Stanley Kubrick
I'm sorry for jumping down your throat, Bob. The way your theory came across to me, it sounded like you were saying that Lost is *just* a ghost story, and I don't think that's your intention. At least, I hope not. And, like, The Shining really scared me, so I think also reacted out of fear. I apologize. Oh that movie gave me the creeps!

Today, I'd like to take your premise that Lost is a Ghost Story and run with it, to explore the entailments of your premise.

I've put up the Kubrick quote you used, because I think that's key. What's the point of a Ghost Story? I think Kubrick says it quite well, it's a way for us to imagine that which is beyond our immediate senses. It's the promise of immortality, of more than oblivion beyond the grave. This is, in fact, the bedrock of most if not all religions. It's a way for us to shake the fear of death, hopefully to become better people (though obviously and sadly that's not always the case.)

Ghost Stories at their best are stories about spirit - The Human Spirit.

The use of realism and "pseudoscience" in Lost (including the science fiction elements and all the other things I described) allows Lost to present a Ghost Story while simultaneously breaking down the barriers of disbelief. To put your theory in another metaphor, the Ghost Story is "The Man Behind The Curtain", and all the other stuff I'm saying is relevant is "The Curtain".

I think exploring the Curtain will help reveal the Ghost Story. The Ghost Story is reinforced by all the other elements in Lost. They all fit together neatly, as you point out. (Although, I think we can say exactly the same things about Lost in casting it as a Science Fiction story. It's two different angles converging on the same point. I think Kubrick would agree.)

Bob, I think every single reference in Lost points to some element of a Ghost Story. They are part of a whole package, and you've uncovered the diamond in the rough. Bravo.

Quote:
Quote:
Please tell me where Watership Down fits in with your notions!
Hi Jane, No where - and please let's not get into it here. WD was one of the books that Sawyer read on the beach. It's themes have obvious parallels to the 815s in early S1. This thread is not about any of the books used in the show.
Oh my goodness, have you read Watership Down lately? Because Watership Down completely supports your thesis! In its own way, WD is a Ghost Story as well as Lost. It's totally supernatural. I mean, come on, talking bunnies who have gods and spirits and ghosts of their own? There are parallels in the book that resonate up to the Freighties, not to mention Smoky - who's still prowling around like a great big black dog. Heck, Season 3 corresponds quite well to Part III in the book, if you'd like to hear, or maybe you'd like an exploration of how the style of WD informs the style of Lost, from beginning to end?

Well, I won't bore you with such details. Instead, here's a piece of WD which wholly supports your Ghost Story.


The Story of El-ahrairah and the Black Rabbit of Inle

This is a condensed version of Chapter 31 from Watership Down.

King Darzin has had enough of El-ahrairah (a supernatural mythological hero among rabbits) and makes to spite the crafty rabbit. Darzin’s troops guard all the rabbit holes of El’s people, a siege under which they begin to starve. El-ahrairah, who has run out of tricks, seeks the help of The Black Rabbit of Inle, who is fear and everlasting darkness as much as he is a rabbit.

El-ahrairah proposes to give his life for the safety of his people, but the Black Rabbit refuses. Instead they wager on a game of bob-stones, but El-ahrairah loses, and with that loss loses his whiskers and tail, which he can only replace with clematis and ragwort. The next evening the same wager is made over a game of storytelling, but El-ahrairah loses, and with that loss loses his ears, which he can only replace with two good, big dock leaves. The next evening he tries to catch the deadly White Blindness from a sick rabbit under the auspices of the Black Rabbit, that he might infect King Darzin’s troops, but again he is foiled, for that disease is passed on by fleas jumping from rabbit-ear to rabbit-ear, and El-ahrairah has only leaves with which to hear.

The Black Rabbit of Inle finally takes pity on El-ahrairah and proceeds to drive El-ahrairah’s enemies to madness. But when El-ahrairah returns after much wandering to the warren, generations have passed and no one remembers a thing from such ancient history. As El-ahrairah ponders his strange fate, Lord Frith (a sort of sun god) approached.

“Are you angry, El-ahrairah?” asked Lord Frith.

“No, my lord,” replied El-ahrairah, “I am not angry. But I have learned that with creatures one loves, suffering is not the only thing for which one may pity them. A rabbit who does not know when a gift has made him safe is poorer than a slug, even though he may think otherwise himself.”

And Lord Frith gave El-ahrairah a new tail, whiskers and ears, made of starlight.


Quote:
And the history of what happened to the Island Natives is a watershed event in the mythology of Lost. It's important to the show - and the answer will have more meaning than any collection of references used as props in the show. The Island History is the mystery.
I'm sure what happened to the Four Toe Natives is hugely important, as you say, but that doesn't mean we can presume at this stage in the game that their history is the "cause" of the "effects" we're seeing on the Island. It is just as likely that that Island may be the "cause" of the "effect" of the downfall of that previous civilization. I'm thinking the Four Toes fell because they abused the Island and its gifts, that they didn't understand what was going on.

That is to say, the Island itself is the supernatural element of the show, not the genocide! There's nothing supernatural about genocide; such horrors are too well known in the world today. What the next three seasons of Lost will show is whether history repeats itself.


Quote:
It's not a potpourri or Rorscharch test, it's a ghost story and all of that other stuff fits neatly beneath that arc.
Quote:
I don't think that Lost is based wholesale on any other work or a pastiche of works.
Quote:
the answer will have more meaning than any collection of references used as props in the show.
If you're going to claim that Lost is not potpourri, not pastiche, that it's unique unto itself, and that everything fits neatly beneath a Ghost Story arc, I think it's a bit inconsistent to refer to all the other elements as Props. To me it comes across as trivializing all the other elements in the show, elements which you claim "fit neatly", a claim I wholeheartedly support.

They fit neatly because they are tightly interwoven into the story. Because they all show different facets of the same theme, the "point" of Ghost Stories and religious stories, not to mention the point of the scientific endeavor.

Everything in Lost is there for a Reason. It was Designed.

much love for your shining brilliance,
jane

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Old 12-17-07, 04:11 PM   #9
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Re: + Ghost Story: Lost & The Shining

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Originally Posted by jane_eris View Post
I'm thinking the Four Toes fell because they abused the Island and its gifts, that they didn't understand what was going on.
jane, I agree this is a strong possibility. Part of me believes that The Island doesn't want any human life there - and there has been enough subtext in the show to fuel that fire. I'm taking another approach with this theory and marking the end of native civilization as the seminal event in the Island's mythology.
Quote:
That is to say, the Island itself is the supernatural element of the show, not the genocide!
Well, of course. The genocide creates the foundation - you can't have a good ghost story without the dead. It's even better when the dead live on a supernatural Island and that they likely exhibit some characteristics of the special place. That's where the connection to The Shining exists - not in books read on the show, or spoken in one of Sawyer's pop culture references. The subtext in Lost is driven by time lost, guilt, memory, religion, regret, death, destiny, choice, murder, betrayal, etc. - and I think those themes are perfect for a ghost story.
Quote:
If you're going to claim that Lost is not potpourri, not pastiche, that it's unique unto itself, and that everything fits neatly beneath a Ghost Story arc, I think it's a bit inconsistent to refer to all the other elements as Props. To me it comes across as trivializing all the other elements in the show, elements which you claim "fit neatly", a claim I wholeheartedly support.
I think there's a difference to looking at events on the show that are forward-facing plot points and that drive action, vs. background elements. That's just my approach, but I readily admit that the list of stuff in the background is hard to ignore.

jane, thanks as always for your great replys.

What say the rest of you?
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Old 12-17-07, 06:04 PM   #10
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Re: + Ghost Story: Lost & The Shining

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Originally Posted by Bob Sacamano View Post
jane, I agree this is a strong possibility. Part of me believes that The Island doesn't want any human life there - and there has been enough subtext in the show to fuel that fire. I'm taking another approach with this theory and marking the end of native civilization as the seminal event in the Island's mythology.
Well, the Island sure does seem like it doesn't want *some* people there, but it seems fine with other people (on the other hand!) Just to add fuel to the fire, to add another scary element, what if the Island is also schizophrenic? What if the Island has gone mad, has a "split" personality? It's "bi-polar"? Kinda ties into your observations that apparitions tend to bode poorly, but visions tend to bode well, doesn't it?

I think a schizophrenic Island God/dess just ramps up the supernatural scariness, don't you?


Quote:
The genocide creates the foundation - you can't have a good ghost story without the dead. It's even better when the dead live on a supernatural Island and that they likely exhibit some characteristics of the special place.
It doesn't even have to be a genocide, it could be a mass suicide, or some other self-generated destruction. It's sadly an apt metaphor for the possible futures before us on our own plane of existence. Maybe that "extinction" is what drove the Island mad? Or perhaps that's what prompted the Island to create Smoky?

It'll be interesting to see (if it's ever shown) if the first civilization on the Island helped co-create its "sentience", before it was wiped out.


Quote:
The subtext in Lost is driven by time lost, guilt, memory, religion, regret, death, destiny, choice, murder, betrayal, etc. - and I think those themes are perfect for a ghost story. I think there's a difference to looking at events on the show that are forward-facing plot points and that drive action, vs. background elements. That's just my approach, but I readily admit that the list of stuff in the background is hard to ignore.
There's also the subtexts of Faith and Love, of Hope and Rebirth and Heroism and Reason and Science, which make for nice antidotes to fear. The Island seems to exhibit a peculiar sort of balance.

You are fun, Bob.
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