Friday, May 30, 2008

LOST -- the Rise and Fall of Jeremy Bentham

Yes, I'm a big LOST fan! I've followed its twists and turns, wondering where it will all lead. This past year has been fascinating for clearing up some of the confusion of past years. We have learned more about the island and its purpose. In the past we were treated to flashbacks, but this year the writers introduced flash forwards -- and in doing so, we have learned that the founders of the island have learned to control the space/time continuum. Ah, yes, we learned much about this in Star Trek -- and I'm a big Trek fan as well.
Last night's 2 hour conclusion was brilliant, both for drawing to a close a significant part of the story and setting us on course for the final 2 years. In the end two things have been revealed. Six members of the Oceanic flight make it off the island -- Jack, Kate, Sun, Hugo, Said, and Aaron. Desmond and Frank also make it off, but they weren't on the flight, so their story goes in a different direction. We learn why Sawyer doesn't make it -- he has to jump out of the chopper and swim back to the island so Kate can get off (there's a fuel leak).
The freighter blows up and Jin and Michael both die as a result -- to Sun's horror. The chopper goes down after running out of gas after taking off from the freighter just before it blows. Unfortunately they can't return to the island because it disappears (more about that in a minute). They go down and are rescued by Penny -- and the story is concocted.
The island disappears after Ben moves it -- interesting to see that!
The island may have moved -- and I expect we'll see where it reappears next time.
Now, for Jeremy Bentham. As the final episode wound its way through all of the story lines, pulling close some and opening up others, the name Jeremy Bentham kept cropping up. We kept hearing that Jeremy Bentham had visited different members of the Oceanic 6. Finally we learn that Bentham has killed himself -- but why and who is this person?
The identity of that person is revealed at the very end -- but first some back ground.
One of the key characters in the show is John Locke. Locke's namesake is, of course the 17th century English philosopher who is perhaps best known for his theory of human identity -- tabula rasa or blank slate. That is, when we are born our lives are not predetermined by our ancestry in other words, no original sin. We are a blank slate upon which experience will write itself. Locke is also known for his defense of religious toleration (within certain limits) and social contract theory. Locke was one of the key figures in the early English Enlightenment, whose theories contributed greatly to the formation of the United States as well as my own denomination.
Jeremy Bentham was another English political philosopher, but he dates to the end of the 18th century, running into the early 19th century. He was a founder of the philosophical school of Utilitarianism, a perspective that was refined by John Stuart Mill. Bentham was a radical social reformer who rejected the principle of natural rights, urging a more assertive defense of the general welfare of humanity. Although not published until the 20th century he wrote an essay calling for the decriminalisation of homosexuality and supported equal rights for women. He also advanced the rights of animals. The principle of utilitarianism, as Bentham laid it out, suggests that the happiness of the greatest number of persons is the foundation of morality and social policy. To give you a sense of where his ideas were going, among the followers of Bentham was Robert Owen, the founder of modern socialism.
So, the question now is two fold -- who is Jeremy Bentham on Lost and what does this mean?
The first question is answered last night. In the last moments of the show, Jack breaks into a morgue. He opens a casket, but as he does Ben appears. They converse about Bentham and the need for Jack and the other 5 to return to the island, for Bentham had told them that things had gone horribly wrong after they left and that the only way to restore things is for them to return. Prior to this Claire appears to Kate and tells her not to return, and Sun goes to Charles Widmore and seeks an alliance -- she is angry at Jin's fate. So, getting all six to the island will be difficult. So, who is Bentham? As the show closes, Jack opens the lid, looks in and to our surprise there lies John Locke. Now, how does John Locke become Jeremy Bentham, and what does this mean? That, it would seem, is the question that future seasons will answer!
Now, I expect that James McGrath will explore all of this in greater depth, but this is my summation and my ponderings about future revelations!

1 comment:

AnneDroid said...

I am astonished to discover this post and James McGrath's tonight. (My first visit to your blogs). Only in the last week did I first hear about Bentham and his panopticon prisons (of great interest to me because I am a prison chaplain) and in fact I blogged about that on 23rd and 24th May. But I'm a real Lost fan too and I'm amazed to find that the two things are coming together - I haven't yet seen the end of this series. Can't wait for tomorrow night now!