The TV series Lost is almost over. I’m going to miss my weekly ontological fix, but all things must pass, as George Harrison used to say. I’m also going to expect that its conclusion, coming on May 23rd, will not be very conclusive; if you are also watching the show and are expecting all your questions to be answered, I would start getting used to disappointment, as the Dread Pirate Roberts used to say. Lost has consistently been about never giving its viewers any real answers, and having those viewers come back for more shoddy treatment in the form of more questions. I can’t think of a single Lost episode in the last six years where my net knowledge of what was going on, after subtracting all the outstanding questions, ever increased. Imagine yourself  going to the grocery store with a list, getting 50 items on your list in the cart, and then noticing that 55 more items have suddenly appeared on the list; you will never, ever get out of the store, but that’s ok, because you like eating, and you’re allowed to munch on what you have as you continue to try and complete the list.

Susan Sontag wrote a book or two on the very human nature of collecting things, though she wrote before computer and console gaming perfected collecting and made it insidious. Diablo, World of Warcraft, Pokemon, all shrines to the addictive psychology of collection. Lost has been very good at it, too, though its Ponzi scheme is almost about to end, and millions of viewers will learn that their grocery list will never, ever, be completed.

So, yes, I’m almost positive my most abiding questions about the show’s mythology will not be answered at all. I’m ok with that. I enjoy debating them and watching others debate them more than actually finding anything out. I will probably never know, for example:

  • The nature of Jacob’s powers, especially how he gets on and off the island with such precision
  • Why and how the island is linked to Tunisia
  • Exactly what Widmore has been trying to do since Season 3
  • Why and how Desmond is ‘special’
  • Why and how Walt was ‘special’
  • Even more important, why and how Locke was even more ‘special’
  • Why Jacob chose the people that he did, why the plane as the delivery method, and why the high death count
  • How much Ben really knows about the island – sometimes he knows tons, other times he knows squat
  • Which appearances by the dead were Smokey and which were not
  • Just what Smokey is, anyway – not who, that’s fairly well known, but what (though the who and the what are a bit confused at this point, I’ll admit)
  • What DHARMA was really up to, beyond the obvious electromagnetic meddling
  • Why Kate never quite manages to die even though she’s not a candidate
  • Why Hurley can see dead people but no one else can

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