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Some excerpts from Alan N. Shapiro's forthcoming book TVís "Lost": The Crash Out of Globalization into the World:
In my media studies writing on Lost, I continue my project of inventing the literary genre of theory-fiction that I began in my book Star Trek: Technologies of Disappearance...writ[ing] first-person phenomenological narratives of what each of the 14 major characters of Lost is feeling, perceiving, thinking, and experiencing from moment to moment. [...]

All of the[m] - male and female - are my sexual identity avatars. They are virtual reality body-suits that I freely robe and disrobe. I inhabit their bodies and clothing as I choose. I exist inside their semiotic silhouettes. [...]

As the Pilot Episode begins, I wake up from oblivion as Alpha Male Jack Shephard, supine and homeless alone in the woods after a devastating aviation accident. It is my very first arrival in this particular virtual party-experience scene-space, a personal appearance financed by part of my Cable-TV subscription monthly fee, and enabled by the technological meat-machine interface of my image-saturated commodity mind. I exit the transient wormhole-like void of precision-instrumented passage between worlds quantum-leapt into an initiatory moment of surprising arousal. From now on, whatever Jack sees, feels, touches and hears, I see, feel, touch and hear. I am Jack. Jacked in.
Woven into Shapiro's cyber-fanfic sketches are autobiographical passages, a hilarious Marxist takedown of Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, and an aeronautic prequel channeling Charles Lindbergh's first Transatlantic voyage, all relating to Lost's themes of flight, trauma, and survival (having only read the wildly un-linear excerpt we trust that the author will pull all this together). The close reading of episodes and willingness to see beyond their TV trash status to bigger issues is what made the Star Trek book so successful--it's the viewpoint of a skeptical fan, perfectly situated to explain why these series have become contemporary mythology, for bad or good. On the "unexamined psycho-biographical wound" that Jack wakes up with after the crash:
Countless contemporary TV shows and Hollywood films portray America's exemplary heroes: emergency physicians, homicide detectives, attorneys for the defense, secret service agents, counter-terrorism specialists, life-risking firemen or beat cops. These daring occupations encompass weighty responsibilities and are undoubtedly among the noblest of vocations in today's society. But the omnipresent virtual realities of the media propagate an iconography of the trained practitioner who "does good" or "helps others" that half performs the commendable service of showcasing worthy role models and half does the disservice of manufacturing a manipulative mythology of the obligation to make excessive macho self-sacrifices for the public interest.

The small and big screens hook us seductively into the pervasive workaholism corresponding on the level of the individual to what the German philosopher Martin Heidegger - in his 1936 essay "The Age of the World Picture" - correctly diagnosed as being the plague of modern times: the characteristic bustle or constant "industrious activity of mere busyness" of our oppressive institutional existence. Permanently enchained by the everyday life ideology that constrains me to make my contribution to business, family, nation, or the accumulation and spending of money, I operate nonstop in a pumped-up feverish caffeine-assisted trance of work and consumerism in order not to face myself. I never have to ask the terrifying question of what I would do with my life if I were truly free. Especially as a man, I steer clear of contact with my own feelings and emotions, evade looking sincerely into my own psycho-biographical pain, and fail to develop real self-love...
The Crash Out of Globalization, then, is, among other things, landing on the island and confronting this compulsive workaholism of a life that no longer exists. One's only fear is the series may be overwriting the writer as it morphs in Seasons 2 and 3 from a post-technological survivalist narrative to a Lost in Space-like scenario teeming with abandoned spooky gear, spacetime abnormalities, and a steady stream of weird visitors that manage to heat the rat race right back up. Shapiro's challenge is to make his narrative so powerful that people will only think of the bucolic, pre-Dharma episodes when they envision the series.

Related, more solipsistic Lost thread--one man's lonely vigil.

- tom moody 3-12-2007 6:57 am [link] [2 comments]