The Pursuit of Mystery - a Fool's Errand?

Mystimus January 7, 2012 User blog:Mystimus
Wired - May 2009

Some painstaking work went into this incredibly cool issue. (There are things occurring within these pages that are not apparent at first or second glance. That's the only hint I will give you.) I urge you to dig. Give in to the unknown for a while and ponder the mystery. It's worth it. - J.J. Abrams

So begins the lead story in Wired Magazine's May, 2009 issue. If you follow Abrams' advice and dig, your search will not be fruitless...

Below the surface of the May issue lurk 15 puzzles, all of which combine into a giant metapuzzle, created for Wired by Lone Shark Games....The metapuzzle was designed to be completely invisible to the casual reader.

This issue of Wired is a mini-version of LOST. Our favorite television show, too, is a metapuzzle - designed to be completely invisible to the casual viewer. Okay, so I may not be telling you anything you don't already know. However, maybe I am about to...

One of the articles in this issue of Wired is a tantalizing LOST clue for understanding Season Two's episode S.O.S. If you want to discover it for yourself, then stop reading and go immerse yourself in Wired and rewatch S.O.S. Spoiler ahead...

S.O.S. is a centric to Rose and Bernard. In the flashbacks we see how these two met. We discover that Rose has cancer, but Bernard proposes to and marries her anyway. On the island, Locke is discouraged with his progress in reconstructing the blast door map. He leaves the hatch, dejected, deciding there is no point to the map or pushing the button any longer.

Bernard is fed up with trying to survive on the island, so he formulates a plan to build a giant sign on the beach - S.O.S. spelled so big that planes and even satellites will see it, guaranteeing their rescue. He has trouble getting others to join him, and the few that do begin to lose interest. Rose is adamantly opposed to the idea for reasons Bernard cannot understand. As Bernard loses his last assistant (Jin), Locke wanders onto the beach and sits down next to Rose...

LOCKE: I saw your husband walking through the jungle hauling rocks.
ROSE: He's building a big sign in the sand so the satellites will see it. That man doesn't know the difference between an errand and a fool's errand.
LOCKE: Well, Rose, most of us don't.

Rose tells us that Bernard cannot tell the difference between an errand and a fool's errand.

In the May, 2009 issue of Wired, there is an article discussing the 1987 Mac video game The Fool's Errand and its long-awaited sequel. J.J. Abrams is an admitted enthusiast of the game.

The video game The Fool's Errand is a microcosm of LOST. It centers around one main character (the fool) and how his quest for worldly treasures eventually becomes a journey of self-discovery and enlightenment. It is a metapuzzle, filled with hundreds of single puzzles - some simple, some complex. As each puzzle is solved, the larger metapuzzle begins to take shape on a map that the fool carries (the Sun map). Many of the puzzles involve 3-letter clues that have a deeper meaning than their face value (like AIH, ROI, and MYR).

This telltale clue from Rose in S.O.S. about the fool's errand tells us to look deeper at the meaning behind the three-letter episode title and its self-referencing sign that Bernard wants to build on the beach.

The letters SOS evolved from a simple way to send a distress call in morse code. The mnemonic save our ship soon followed as an easy way to remember it. We typically think of SOS as Bernard did initially in the episode - as a sign that we wanted to be rescued from our state of distress. As Bernard attempts to recruit others in his mission, he approaches Eko, who says he is too busy building a church to assist with the sign...

BERNARD: Everybody on this island is building something. I'm trying to get us saved.
EKO: People are saved in different ways, Bernard.

Saved in different ways. S.O.S. does not mean save our ship. It means save our souls.

This is the message of LOST - and S.O.S. is one of the many signs that points us to it in the over-arching metapuzzle.

The LOST episode S.O.S. ends exactly the same way that the video game The Fool's Errand ends - with a couple seated together in a loving embrace.

In The Fool's Errand, the fool unexpectedly stumbles onto the couple and, seeing their love, experiences his moment of enlightenment. He suddenly realizes that the meaning of life is not found in his original quest to gather treasures for himself. Instead, he realizes that his purpose is to give to others in this strange land that he has discovered. The game ends as the fool pronounces his realization: I am the one who will save the land.

As Rose and Bernard embrace on the beach, John Locke returns to the hatch, encouraged by his conversation with Rose. This time he finds that his mind is clear and he can easily reconstruct the blast door map - the map with the question mark in the center.

John Locke is the fool, discovering the meaning to life without even realizing it. In Season Five’s Because You Left, a time-shifting and wounded John Locke is leaning against the Beechcraft wreckage (which sits atop the Question Mark - the center of his map) when Richard Alpert explains to John that to save the island and his friends, “You’re going to have to die, John.” John's mission is then clear - to become a sacrifice to save the land.

S.O.S. means save our souls. This is the meaning of the sign. This is the meaning of LOST. For some, a quest to discover and save your soul may be a fool's errand. If so, then I am a fool - and I couldn't be happier.

You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body. -- C.S. Lewis


--Mystimus 07:13, January 7, 2012 (UTC) G+

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