Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Wrinkle in Time

"Do you think things always have an explanation?"
"Yes. I believe that they do. But I think that with out human limitations we're not always able to understand the explanations. But you see, Meg, just because we don't understand doesn't mean that the explanation doesn't exist." (p. 47)

Admittedly this book was not as cut and dry a comparison structurally to what the groups or events on the island look like (like Watership Down was). You can't read this book and have an "Oh yeah" moment where you relate the group behavior to the others or the Losties, but the theories and ideas in this little book certainly do apply to some of the things that we have been shown on Lost. In an attempt to keep this from becoming a rambling mess of paragraphs I am going to forgo a summary (but you can read one here at Wikipedia if you like). I'm going to look at three specific parts of this book; The character of Charles Wallace, a tesseract, and finally, The Black Thing.

Charles Wallace:
  • He is a precocious and alarmingly brilliant little boy. As we read the story we learn that he can sort of read minds and he can understand an inner language that they use "inadvertently" (p. 34). In the same way he is able to know when things aren't right, and also sense things about people that he hasn't been told. For example, he knows that the three random women that he encounters in the woods are meant to find him and mean him no harm. He knows that Calvin, although an unlikely candidate, is meant to be part of the adventure he and Meg are about to embark on. He also knows that on Camazotz there is an unseen presence sort of running the show (p. 115).
  • Although these little strange bits are reminiscent of a few people we know from Lost island (Walt, Des, Locke, Ben, even Charlie on some level) the thing I find the most interesting about Charles Wallace is that he felt that in order to save his father and be successful in what he was destined to do, he had to give himself completely over to this force that was running things. He had to literally look into it's eyes ("...and focused his clear blue eyes on the red ones of the man in the chair.") and let it take him over. Sound familiar, "But I've looked into the eye of this island. And what I saw was beautiful." John Locke had his looking into the eye moment, and I believe it was at that point that he completely gave himself over to whatever force he thinks is running things and is allowing it to lead him to what he thinks he is supposed to be doing.

The Tesseract:
"Well, the fifth dimension's a tesseract. You add that to the other four dimensions and you can travel through space without having to go the long way around. In other words, to put it into Euclid, or old-fashioned plane geometry, a straight line is not the shortest distance between two points." (p. 75)
  • In the book a tesseract (or tessering) is the ability to travel by folding time and space on to itself. Meg and Charles Wallace's father has mysteriously disappeared and we come to find out that he has been working on a way to travel using a tesseract. However his experimentation has gotten him trapped on the planet Camazotz which is currently within an evil black cloud.
  • While I don't think that the Losties have "tessered" or traveled to another planet, I do find the theory interesting and see many ways it can apply. This season we have seem some odd happenings with time, things that might be time loops, glimpses of the future, and the seemingly ageless Mr. Alpert. What if somehow the Others or DHARMA have found a way to harness/fold time, or travel through time in some way (even Memphish, in her blog explores this with the similarities of genetic time travel from The Time Traveler's Wife)? What if flight 815, or even the submarine that they use to get to the island had to travel through a tesseract of some kind to get to the island?

The Black Thing:
"It was a shadow, nothing but a shadow. It was not even as tangible as a cloud. Was it cast by something? Or was it a Thing in itself?" (p. 69)

Yes, it is literally a black thing. A cloud of pure evil that has taken over the planet of Camazotz and has even begun to cast a shadow over Earth. What we learn is that this cloud is being actively battled by the stars in the universe, as well as some of the great thinkers on Earth.

There are two things that I find interesting about The Black Thing:
  • The first being the glaringly obvious comparison to Smokey on the island. Smoky being literally, a black thing, or black cloud too. Although at this point I am not perfectly clear on the purpose of Smokey (See Fenris's ideas on Smokey here) or if, in fact, it is an evil presence or just security and data collection run amok.
  • The second is that the stars (Mrs. Whatsit being one of them) are sacrificing themselves to battle this thing. Also, Charles Wallace gave himself over to IT in order to save his father, Meg, and Calvin. On the island we are not really seeing anyone sacrificing themselves to Smokey, but we have certainly seen self sacrifice. Charlie most recently, willing to drown himself in order to complete the prophecy that he will turn off the communication blockers. Mr. Eko also, I feel sacrificed himself in a way by confronting Smokey and also his demons. While this didn't seem to accomplish anything other than his death, the fact is that he gave himself to the black thing. Locke also is a perfect example of this. He sacrificed his father, Boone, his alliance with the Losties...for what? To see what he thinks is in the heart of the island, to get some sort of power, to keep his ability to walk? Even he doesn't know what he is giving himself over to, much like Charles Wallace or even the people of Camazotz, who blindly do what they are told by IT in order to keep order and peace.
Final Bullets:
  • The complete mission of the children in this book is to save their father and bring him back home. Father issues are always an underlying theme in Lost.
  • IT or The Black Thing, is seated in a chair having taken on the form of a man with red eyes. It is this man that Charles Wallace gives himself over to. Much like Jacob in his chair waiting in the cabin for Ben and Locke.
  • Charles Wallace at one point tells Meg, "You're not ready for IT yet." (p. 127) That screamed Ben and Locke to me the moment I read it.
  • Towards the end of the book Meg is forced to confront IT, where she encounters a light that was, "...pulsing with a light that seems to Meg to be insane. Again she could feel the light, neither warm nor cold, but reaching out to touch her, pulling her toward IT." (p. 185). That passage very much put me in the mind of Room 23, and Karl with his pulsing light glasses and images on the wall. Perhaps Room 23 is a way to open your mind to some sort of tesseract ability or even just allowing your mind to be given over to the inner force of the island.
As always, I am pretty certain that the writers of Lost have not gone through the book A Wrinkle in Time and plucked thing from it to include on the island. The fact is though, that they did include it in the show, and I feel that we are meant to look at it in reference to some of the ideas that we are presented with. Regardless, I'm always happy to have an excuse to read this book again.

Next Month: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (Hooray, my favorite short story of all time!)


Amused2bHere said...

Very insightful. I also did not find this book as easily compared to Lost as Watership Down was. I'm glad you found so much to point out.

I wonder if we'll see a tesseract in the final explanation of the Island (hoping we actually get a final explanation...

Ange said...

I LOVE your animated tesseract, mine just stays still :D.

Thanks for your comment, I get a little carried away sometimes with things related to this book!

Also, if Lost has a Sopranos ending, I may need to climb into a tesseract myself!

memphish said...

Good job Ange.

I do think there is some sort of genetic something going on with the characters on LOST that can "commune" with the Island such as Ben, Locke and Walt much like Charles Wallace can "commune" with the stars and with his family; that we're getting some sort of "different" if not "higher" being who can "see" dimensions most of us can't. There's definitely a whole higher consciousness vibe to the Others be it room 23, Klugh's willingness to die or their freaky funeral procedures.

maven said...

Very insightful, Ange! Agreed this was not an easy book superficially to relate to LOST, but there are deeper issues that our Losties are going through.

Ange said...

Thanks everyone for taking the time! I look forward to the discussion on the Podcast even if it is not "live" for me. You guys are great!

Sayid'sgirl said...

Great analysis of the book. I wish I'd read this sooner because I just deleted my notes on the book today and I can't remember anything I wrote down and I don't own the book. I would have liked to share them with you. I like the first quote that you put down. I had written that down in my notes when I read the book. It fit perfectly with the theme of Lost.
Again Great job.

capcom said...

Thanks for your synopsis Ange. I did not get to read the book, but I feel that I have some more insight to LOST, after reading your comparisons.

James said...

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and find something like this, reminds me of that ''How to make a dinner for a romantic...'' by Elsa Thomas,
you're a wonderful writer let me tell you!!! ñ_ñ

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