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LOST: Reduction vs. Mysticism and the Numbers Explained

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We live in the Information Age.

Information is king in this age. Science, which can be loosely defined as the quest to gain new information about the world we live in, is a driving force in our culture.

Much of the way we think in the present day is thanks to our old friend René Descartes. He led us to abandon all so-called truth beyond what we could prove empirically. He was the true skeptic, believing that the only truth he could know for sure in the beginning was I think, therefore I am. And, as Rodin's statue implies, how could anyone be a true thinker in this age without applying the same level of skepticism?

Galileo Galilei (one of my favorite human beings of all time), a contemporary of Descartes, added fuel to the still-burning fire of skepticism when he disproved many of the age-old tenets of the Church-at-large using a simple telescope. Why believe what anyone tells you when you can develop a tool to prove the truth empirically?

The kingship of science and information has led us all to wear a standard set of lenses for the eyeware we use to understand the world around us called Reductionism. Reductionism breaks things down into their component parts so that we can understand them. Water is two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. Hydrogen is an element with a single proton and single electron, rendering it electrically neutral. A proton is - you get the point.

I love science, and it plays a huge role in my life. I use its principles every day and I benefit from inventions and medicines and comforts that other men and women have used science to create for me.

However, science is not the primary eyeware I use to live in this the world. Information is not the king of my attempt to exist in this world, even though the word information is in my job title. Science and information are merely some of the tools that I use to get to where I really want to be in life: experience.

I have seen many great debates on the blogs and forums that would pit science against faith - as if they are polarized in their approaches to understanding the world. In my opinion, if you ask the wrong question, you will never find an answer. If you ask, "Which is correct - science or faith?" - for me you might as well be asking, "What will be on the dinner plate tonight - an entree or a dessert?" I want both! Science is an approach to understanding the world. For me, faith is not and never has been. Faith is one of many avenues provided for us to experience the world, people, and God.

Despite my love and use of science, I consider myself primarily a mystic - one who seeks to experience the world, people, and God. This is a very different plane of existence than seeking to understand the world. So, it isn't science vs. mysticism or science vs. faith. From where I stand, each is a different animal altogether. You can be both a scientist and a mystic as much as you can have both an entree and a dessert with supper. They don't oppose each other - they are both available for our consumption.

We are so immersed, though, in the Information Age that we often apply scientific principles to things that really don't apply. We attempt to apply reductionist principles to something that, if reduced, spoils it entirely. It spoils it because it doesn't work. It has no place in the real goal: experience.

For example, if my young daughter brings me a Father's Day card made with yellow construction paper and three different kinds of crayon and words of affection that only she can create, I am suddenly immersed in an experience that reaches the inner core of my being. Tears come to my eyes. I relish the experience and stare into the eyes of my daughter with wonder and appreciation.

In that moment, how the paper was created from tree pulp and dyes, what company made the crayons and by what process, and what teachers taught my daughter to help her reach this level of writing skill - none of these things matter. They don't even exist. These questions don't even arise in my mind. What matters to me, in that moment, is the experience that I have with my little girl. This is the type of memory I will carry with me until the final moments of my life.

The card that my daughter creates becomes a symbol - a fascinating object that was delivered to me in a moment of high emotion. It forever recreates that moment and instills me with the same feelings. So I keep the card and pull it out and stare at it when I want to remember. If, while staring at that card, some other fellow comes along and begins to ask questions about the origins and purpose of paper and crayon, my experience is diminished - perhaps even lost.

LOST, for me, was an immersion into the mystical. It was an experience that I and most of you reading these words will never forget. I lived Charlie's death, Jack's mirror-smashing rage in the lighthouse, Hurley's tears as Jack prepared to sacrifice himself, Sayid's choice to die to save others, etc.

Now, before I continue, don't get me wrong. I loved the role of science in LOST. The magnetic energy, the ability to manipulate time, the Island's curing of Locke and Rose, the unknown pattern to the numbers, etc. All of these things and more played a vital role in helping me experience what I did. But they were just the paper and the crayons.

In the end I am left astounded that a television show could tell a story in such a way that I truly relished every moment. I am left with an experience I will never forget. In a word, I am happy. Happy over this experience.

What remains, besides the ability to watch every episode again, are the lingering symbols in LOST that remind me of the experience. Like my daughter's Father's Day card, I pull them out in my memory to feel that electric charge of experience I felt when I first watched. Christian's empty coffin, Claire's music box, Isabella's cross, Eko's "Jesus stick," Locke's wheelchair, Jacob's lighthouse, Charlie drowning, Jin remaining with Sun until the end, Ilana's words to Ben - "I'll have you" - all of these will forever roam through the recesses of my mind and remind me of the experience I had that has left me happy.

Reductionist principles don't apply much to LOST for me. Reliving the moments is what I want to do now that it is over.

However, for those of you for whom mysticism simply cannot replace the joys of discovering information, here is my take on the patter of the numbers - an obsession I admit to having since they were first introduced. 4,8,15,16,23,42 - until this show began, hearing or seeing these six numbers together meant nothing. These numbers have no seeming mathematical pattern or decryption key to display a hidden message (at least not as of this writing). However, if you let go of reductionist principles and apply the mystical, I think you find the answer.

John Locke, Hurley Reyes, James Ford, Sayid Jarrah, Jack Shephard, and Jin & Sun Kwon were six sets of people who knew nothing of each other before they boarded Oceanic 815. They were random strangers on a plane in the same way these numbers were random prior to this television show. But now, after the crash, these six people became inextricably tied to each other. They struggled together and learned to depend on each other and overcome evil together and, in the end, save the Island and the world from evil. And now, because of their plane crash together, seeing these seven people together means something. It is a symbol for the time they spent together in LOST, and the time we spent with them experiencing their story.

So now, I know the pattern to the numbers. The numbers are a symbol that will forever remind me of LOST. They will forever remind me that relationships and experiences with people and my God matter far more than the mathematical equation and scientific principles I might use to explain them. Until I draw my last breath, seeing these numbers will remind me of the magnificent experience I had in the TV show LOST.

Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened. - Anonymous proverb.

L O S T

--Mystimus 19:54, May 29, 2010 (UTC)

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