Name dropping historic figures in LOST

This blog is part of a series on Networks and LOST that I will be adding to the blog over the next week.


     LOST is a television show that has been held up as innovative and engaging for viewers.  It was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 greatest television shows of all time[1] and it included and inspired countless networks of influence and interaction.
For anyone with a university education, a knowledge of science or classical philosophy, watching LOST is often a name-dropping bingo game.  Some references are obvious:  John Locke is one of the main characters.  The character is a man of faith, profoundly influenced by beliefs and learning through experience, much like the 17th century English philosopher he is named after.  Hidden in the mysterious jungle of the island a woman named Rousseau has become a dangerous wildcard who avoids the civilization of the island survivors.  A solitary creature but not a savage.  She calls to mind the famous Jean-Jacques Rousseau and his similar beliefs.  Other Island inhabitants include Hume, Faraday, Hawking, Sayid (Said), Bakunin, Bentham, C.S. Lewis and quite a few others whose ties to real life thinkers and philosophers are less obvious.  While I don’t believe this quite fits into the idea of plagiarism that we discussed in class, it does seem to tie into Lethem’s ideas of influence.  Each of the characters whose name ties back to a real life person in some way embodies the philosophies or beliefs of said person.  This intersection between the influence on character behavior and interaction, and the character’s influence on the narrative of the show creates a deeper later of interest for the viewer in the know.  In a way, the name dropping of famous philosophers and scientists pushes the viewer to look at a deeper layer of meaning than the surface level of island mystery and character interaction.   Those who do not catch the subtleties do not lose out on the experience or enjoyment of the show, but for those who are ‘playing along at home’ as it were, these insights and interactions make the show just a bit more intriguing.



[1] Pearson, Roberta. “Chain of Events: Regimes of Evaluation and Lost’s Construction of the Televisual Character” pg 144



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