Sunday, May 05, 2013
Not In Portland
In season 3 episode 7 "Not In Portland" of Lost, Jack and Kate are trying to get off the island. A mysterious woman offers her boat, but not before they rescue her boyfriend. They discover him in a kind of re-education chamber, with the message "Everything changes" and "we are the cause of our own suffering" and other messages that are quasi Buddhist, or maybe Buddhist cliches flashing on the screen. The name of the company running the experiments on the island is called Dharma Initiative.
So is brainwashing someone with Buddhist cliches and calling the malevolent company Dharma Initiative anti-Buddhist?
I don't think that just because "bad guys" use Buddhist words, that doesn't make the show over all anti-Buddhism. It's not clear, so we'll have to see how things end. But there was a moment where I thought the "bad" people were a kind of Buddhist cult gone wrong. I'm not more than half way done with the show.
There's certainly a lot of Buddhist symbolism. 108 is the number of minutes before it resets. With the obscurity of Buddhism in America, it's a tribute to just include some ideas in a popular show.
I wonder what I would feel if there was a show that was anti-Buddhist. I suppose I wouldn't like it. Usually negative comments about buddhism are oblique like when Brit Hume thought Tiger Woods should convert to Buddhism because of redemption.
One writer things Lost supports Buddhist insights. Here is another. You can google for further examples. Lost certainly has a bunch of commentary.
Lost has a whiff of Kalfka, you never quite know what is going on. What is that black blob? Why does everyone see hallucinations? What is really going on? Pressing the button seems like a odd commentary on the meaninglessness of current society work, it's so abstracted from meaning. But just when you think you've nailed something down, it switches. Twists and turns are the hallmark of a good drama and this was a wildly popular show. I'm just getting around to it on Netflix.
You clearly see people jumping to wrong conclusions. They act out of reactive tribal minds, seeing the others as all bad. It shows how deluded we can be.
I enjoy the survivalism, I like sort of back to nature narratives, without technology. I like ensamble shows, with large casts and lots of character development. And I like the Dharmic themes and references.