Saturday, June 16, 2007

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

I actually read this one as the first one, but it was prior to our blogging so I thought I would Catch everybody up. The majority of this information can be found on, butmostly because I added it, so I will do some copy and pasting as I do believe it is copyrighted to me :)
Catch-22 is probably the most entertaining story of all the books we have read in the club, in fact it may be one of the more entertaining books I have read in a long time. It chronicles the story of an Army pilot by the name of Yossarian, who is tired of flying missions and wants to simply go home. It is a humorous satire on the military, government and all around leadership. The very idea of a Catch-22 has to do with being in a "damned if you do-damned if you don't" situation, which is a very obvious in LOST even prior to the episode actually titled "Catch-22". In this episode, Naomi, is found crashed on the island from a parachute and in her backpack a copy of the book Ardil-22 (Catch-22 in Portuguese) is found. There are many similarities to the episode as well as to the narrative. Here are a few we found:

  • Like in Lost, one of the main themes deals with the characters wanting to escape from an island and go back home. Though not literally trapped on the island, as in Lost, the island Pianosa in the book is the squadron's base of operations, and the characters are just as inescapably tied to it. Another similarity is the non-linear structure and the flashbacks within flashbacks and the no clear distinction of "real-time events." Also, with each flashback, the viewer gains greater detail into the plot of Lost.
  • The very name of the book catch 22 comes from an idea in the book that the characters are in a "damned if you do damned if you don't" situation. The soldiers, Yossarian and company, are only able to stop flying missions if they are deemed insane, however they have to be insane to continue to fly the missions in the first place. Therefore if they are found insane, they are found fit to fly, and if they are not insane, they are naturally fit to fly. The same can be said in many episodes and situations in the show. For example, Sun has to speak English to Michael in order to save her husband in House of the Rising Sun, which jeopardizes her marriage. Jack must choose between saving Boone or Joanna in White Rabbit. Even more obviously in the episode "Catch 22", Desmond knows Charlie is going to die and has to choose between saving him or possibly, in his mind, allowing Penny to come to the island.
  • Another Catch-22 situation is found in the episode D.O.C.. Sun is confronted with two possibilities. One, that her unborn child is fathered by Jae Lee before coming to the island, which would in turn ensure that she live through the pregnancy. Two, that the father is Jin, who she has grown to love all over again, yet the baby would have been conceived on the island causing the death of the baby and herself. Both situations have very damning consequences as well as silver linings, thus a Catch-22.
  • In the book Catch-22, the main character Yossarian is given a choice in the end to either go home, off of the island they are stationed, and essentially send his squadron off to fly more suicidal missions, or to stay and fight along side them and reveal the truth about the Generals who were keeping them on the island. This very same decision is placed in front of two characters in Lost. Michael is given the decision in ? to free Henry Gale, AKA Benjamin Linus and shoot Ana Lucia and Libby to get him and son off the island. He takes it. More similar to Yossarian, Jack is given the same decision to save Ben through surgery and get off the island or save his friends. Jack, like Yossarian, opts to take door number 3. Yossarian runs away to Sweden while Jack opts to slice Ben during surgery and demand his friend's freedom.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Langoliers by Stephen King

The next book we chose to read was the Langoliers by Stephen King. This has been the book that most resembles the plot of LOST especially if you take into consideration the possibility that the LOST-ies flight 815 flew through to another dimension. In this story, a group of supposed strangers fly on a flight from LA to Boston and pass through a rip in the space time continuum arriving in a new time and dimension. The following list is what we found as correlations between the entire arc series of LOST, seeing as it was not featured in a specific episode yet has been sighted as a major influence by both producers Damon Lindleoff and Carlton Cuse.
  • There is a Character in the book named Nick, who has a british accent and worked in special ops in the military as an interrogator. This character's background as well as overall personality and moral compass is very similar to Sayid.
  • There is a strong debate throughout about fate and destiny. In the book it is debated whether it is coincidence that a jet pilot, who was merely a passenger on the plane, survives a crazy incident in the air to be able to land the plane. The same debate is discussed by Ben when he finds that a spinal surgeon, Jack, comes to the island right as Ben discovers that he needs spinal surgery.
  • All the passengers that survive passing through the time rip, on the book, were asleep when it happens. Jack, claims to have blacked out prior to the crashing of the plane. Also every episode of a new character begins with an opening of their eyes as if awaking from a sleep. It may not be confirmed whether or not all the survivors had their eye's closed during the crash, however upon watching the pilot episode again, both Jack and Locke definitely were closing their eyes while Locke was asleep.
  • The antagonist in the book, Craig Toomey, was tortured all his life by a rough childhood and crazy parenting, including a mother who was a drunk and exhibited insane traits. John Locke's mother Emily was in and out of an insane asylum and was addicted to drugs.
  • Craig Toomey constantly has vision's of things that aren't really there including of his family. John Locke is constantly seeing visions (more of Boone, who he seemed to take under his wing almost as a son).
  • A more obvious connection would be that the story begins on a plane which touches down with only a small percentage of the passengers surviving in a strange land.
  • The new land in the book exhibits different traits, such as no weather patterns and muffled sounds, colors and tastes. The new land on LOST seems to exhibit healing traits.
  • All the character's in the book appear to be strangers but upon deeper review of their lives, they are all somehow connected. Similar in LOST, upon deeper analysis of each individual's life, we find many connections.
  • A round mysterious figure seems to be chasing after the survivors in the new land. In fact, the first noise heard on the new found land was that of a chewing sound. The first scare on the island in LOST is that of either the Polar Bear or the Black smoky cloud. The smoky cloud seems to resemble the mysterious object known as the Langolier.
  • Oddly enough as it is, both of the flights, 29 in Langoliers and 815 in Lost, seem to have LAX in their itinerary. Also Both Flights have number significances. Obviously the LOST numbers come into play, however 29 is an important number in the Langoliers.
  • All of the character's in the Langoliers have things in their past that seem to haunt them as do those of LOST.
  • The main character Robert is flying on flight 29 to identify/claim the dead body of his ex-wife. Jack is on the exact same mission to Australia, to pick-up his father's body.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

The first book we chose to read was The Fountianhead by Ayn Rand, a novel describing the philosophical theory of objectivism through a story of an architect and the different personalities surrounding him. This book was seen in Season 3 episode 12 ("Par Avion") being read by Sawyer. A little side-note, this is a very long book (694 pages to be exact). I realize Sawyer has nothing but time on the island, however he must be a pretty fast reader to finish such an intense, lengthy book in such a short amount of time.
Wikipedia Links
The Fountainhead
Correlations to the Episode Featured
  • One of the most obvious correlations is found not in this episode, but in episode 13, "The Man From Tallahassee" In this episode, Locke blows up the submarine that could potentially provide access to leave the island. This is very similar to the way that the main character Howard Roark blows up a building that he has designed, after others have changed it from his original design, he cannot stand to see something that erected that disagrees with the way he intended it to be. In this same fashion, Locke blows up the submarine because it does not fit in with his personal plan of how he feels things should be. He so desperately knows that he must stay on the island that he is willing to go to any lengths to prevent the 'losties' from being rescued.
  • Ellsworth Toohey, in one of his famous speeches to Peter Keating, discusses the idea that if a free thinking individual is born into a society they must either join the collective way of thinking or go crazy trying to live their life as an individual. At the end of the episode Jack is seen playing catch with Tom and it appears as though he may have joined their group's way of life and thinking.

Correlations to LOST in General
  • The existence of selflessness vs. selfishness in a society is a very prevalent theme in both.
  • There is a group of people in the book who, through coercion, are able to dictate the thinking of the collective society. As in LOST, the idea that a group or foundation can force people to press a button every 108 seconds among other things is a reoccurring theme.
  • A book in The Fountainhead is written called the Gallant Gallstone, which discussed the existence, or lack thereof, of free-will. That is also reoccurring theme, free-will vs. destiny.
  • Gail Wynand, the owner of the Banner, has groups of people at his disposal to find out any amount of information about any individual to be used against them. Ben appears to have the same network at his finger tips.
  • Ellsworth Toohey, a writer for the Banner and an all-around ruthless guy, says at one point in the book that the way to destroy someone these days is not to murder them but to destroy their soul by taking away what is most important to them. Ben displays this same philosophy as he tends to go for the "losties" self respect as opposed to their lives. Another parallel between Toohey and Ben is that they are both masters at manipulation. They do not need to use force to get someone to do what he wants. They are both crafty enough to make the person believe that it was their idea all along.
  • Howard in the end blows up a housing development because it wasn't part of his design. Locke also blows up both a building and a submarine because they don't fit in with his plan, or his design, to stay on the island.
  • A huge theme throughout the book is dependence on other people and whether it is ethical or smart to depend on others or to rely solely on oneself. The theme of live together die alone is also part of LOST.
  • Ellsworth Toohey is a proponent of a very socialistic ideal which entails that nobody in a society should be so good at their trade that they become irreplaceable, and that anybody and everybody should be able to do the job of another person. If ever, according to Toohey, someone becomes so good at their trade that they become irreplaceable, then it would mess up the balance in life. It appears that the 'others' are part of a quasi-socialistic society that may encompass the same ideals.
  • A very big reoccurring theme in the latter stages of the book is that of sacrifice. The idea of objectivsim has a little bit to do with how sacrifice is an idea put up by leaders of groups to gain control over the actions of a collective. It is also stated where sacrifices are given, there must be someone receiving offerings, so it is adviced to avoid those people who ask one to sacrifice things. Locke on multiple occaisions claims that the island demands sacrifices of both people and things as well as habits. It also discusses the true reason for not having vices or habits as a selfish one which does not make it a true sacrifice. Charlie sacrificed his addiction to heroine but it really was selfish motive. Objectivism states that through selfish motives, all positive things are done.

The LOST Book Club

There have been a few blogs that have attempted to extract meaning from the books that have been mentioned so far on LOST. Most of these have contained some very insightful, as well as a few incomplete explanations on the books. We have decided to make it our goal, not only to read the books, but shed some light as to why the producers of the show felt it necessary to place them there, as it is obviously no accident. One of the reasons we love watching LOST, and possibly one of the reasons it has become so popular, is the fact that there are always mysteries to unravel. It's always nice when a question is answered, but if the show ceased to ask questions, what would be the fun?
Another exciting aspect of LOST and its literary references is that it gives its viewers an opportunity to be involved with the mysteries and complexities of the show, while the show is taking its inevitable seasonal break. Since there will not be any new episodes till February of '08, we feel that this is a perfect opportunity to take the time to read and discuss the themes and allusions contained in the books referenced in LOST. We haven't started in any particular order, but we encourage comments and want to further discussion of ideas! Besides what's the fun of seeking answers, if you can't share those answers with others? So please, feel free to add your insights! This is not intended as just a blog, but a start of a discussion.