On the recommendation of a friend, I started watching Lost. I had heard of it many times on and off here and there, but never watched it because well, I don’t watch TV. That, and according to Wikipedia, this show aired from when I was in seventh grade to when I graduated high school. I had no faith in anything any of my peers said about culture, their best song was “tell me when to go” and everything they did was sloppy. But now we have the internet and apparently it wasn’t just a fad, LOST “has been described by many critics as one of the greatest television serials of all time.” So I decided to give it a go. I’ll write a review or something on it later, whenever I finish or drop it. It’s nowhere near the greatest thing I’ve ever seen. (This post contains no important spoilers.)
The pilot episode was pretty good though. The screenwriter / director of photography showed their skills here, and illustrated the reason why their professions exist. It started with an eye opening, moving in confused directions, camera flip, leaf cover far above him. Camera flip, back to the eye, now a man’s face, part of a head and body lying on the grass ground. An odd mechanical sound in the background, camera isn’t too solid and the man takes up most of the screen. Some people disoriented here. Some people disoriented there. People doing weird things on what looks like a beach. Camera pans out… aaah, and now we know what’s going on. A plane crash.
This style of revealing information continues (though in a lesser degree because pilot episodes are generally higher in production value), but I disagree with how most people describe it – “realistic”.
What the style is good at is hyping up emotion. It is good at heightening tension. In a manner that is realistic? Maybe, for those who like to feel stressed out just for fun. I recognize there are some liberties that must be taken for imitation of disorientation, but an imitation is all it is. A good imitation is still an imitation. The camera was focused on the main character’s face most of the time because they had to guide the viewer’s attention in a reliable manner. If they had just shown the plane the moment the protagonist walked out and had a clear line of sight, I probably would’ve felt bored in comparison to how it was actually built up. I don’t have a problem with the director limiting my field of vision in such a manner – I fully support it, if he is capable. And the director of Lost is capable. It is important to note though that the information style is good. It is not realistic. One is a judgement of result, the other is an evaluation of form.
People say it is “realistic” because it accurately captures the median audience members’ reactions. Why am I in a jungle? What’s this dog doing here? What is going on? Why are there people running around over there? Why is it so chaotic? What’s this big steel thing? Oh, it’s a plane. Oh, this is a plane crash site. It’s not perfect for everyone, but it’s very close to the average after accounting for imitation errors and artistic choice. In addition, the main character also serves as a self-insert during the opening minutes (or maybe the whole episode, I forget). He went around and pulled people out of wreckage, resuscitated people, and the average audience member likes to think of themselves as a hero. There’s somebody that needs help! I’ll do it! And so on and so on.
I am not very close to the median, so I simply saw the whole thing as good direction. I would have noticed the plane crash first and all the people later. I would have surveyed the site first, tried to remember what happened, note my top two or three priorities and top two or three dangers, then started acting accordingly. Ah, but people say, that’s only what you think you would see. You aren’t actually there. You weren’t drunk, you didn’t hit your head, you didn’t wake up in a jungle. Yes, and neither did you, so how do you know how what’s portrayed is realistic and on what grounds are you arguing my reactions are just a figment of my imagination? Figment of imagination it may be, but accurate it also is.
We can see how the claim that “Lost is realistic” is full of holes simply by imagining a different main character. Johnny Gat was screaming a woman’s name. He wasn’t dealing with any of the burning steel or any of the predominantly white people laying around hurt. Just running here and there, screaming a name. This puts a slightly different spin on it, doesn’t it? Perhaps it could be described as realistic, but that’s not the main word we’d use anymore. We might say he’s a solid and well written character. Maybe racist, unless we’re also Asian and also feel no general attachment to strangers, much less strangers who are of different genetic background. If we’re truly in love and would do anything for our “significant other”, we might guess that Johnny Gat is looking for his, and then maybe it’s realistic. But generally speaking, that’s not the word we would use for the show if he was the main character. If Baldy was where we started and Baldy was the main character, it’d be REALLY un-“realistic”. Look at feet, see socks. Look for shoes. Put on shoes. Get up. PRAAAAISE THE LOOOOORD. That’s not “realistic”, it’s “nuts”. Again, these are simply judgements of results.
What is reality is that a number of different things could happen, and a number of things could be focused on. “Realism” for the average person (read: “American”) in such a situation would be focusing on helping whoever needed help the most, no matter what race or gender. Later, after the plane crash, Lost maintains its “realism” via the same general method – the camera focuses on what the viewer would most likely focus on, given that he/she were also subject to the circumstances. Focus, of course, has zero things to do with reality as reality. It is only used to paint reality as a story, a “narrative”, as the intellectuals like to call it. To paint it, from a canvas of nothing. A blank space, to be outlined first with shapes, then filled with colors and hues to indicate direction and form.
Reality, however, is not a blank space.
It is the exact opposite.
It is filled with more things than we can possibly imagine. A jungle is a pretty good place to illustrate this idea, but that is only because most of us do not know anything about ecology and how “nature” works. Pulling an amazon tribe out of Brazil and planting them in Los Angeles, or hell even in Kansas, produces the exact same effect. You actually don’t even have to move from your seat to see this, you just have to focus on what you don’t normally focus on. Your computer has a bajillion functions you don’t know, and works in ways that unless you have a masters in compsci you can’t comprehend. If you printed this out, you probably don’t know how ink works and how paper was made. This can be multiplied and replicated infinitely, but becomes easier to see the more you change your surroundings (driving a car is something savants can’t do because there’s too much information). Name any number of things you don’t focus on, and even if you do know how it works you don’t focus on it. I have a general understanding that all physical contact is just electromagnetic repulsion and nothing “really” “touches”, but I don’t give a crap. You don’t give a crap about all those other things your computer could do, you just click on the icon of whatever browser you use and type in URLs and that’s all you need to know. But just because you don’t need to know doesn’t mean it isn’t there, and with the trend society is moving in, we are not only ignoring reality’s existence, but how our relation to reality actually works.
We spend eighteen years of our life (twelve in mandatory, plus the average six in college) of our lives learning by having our minds painted over. We know nothing, we simply get taught things. It doesn’t matter how much this is skewed so that there are “mutual discussions” or “helping each child achieve their potential”, because in the end it is in an environment which is not an environment, and because the agenda at hand, must, by the definition of agenda, prevent many things from happening. Again, this can be good or bad, but either way it is unrealistic. We spend most of our spare time on computers, who organize and present information to us in ways that are not how we would find naturally. Oh, just put this and that in this folder here in a directory in another directory. Type in what you want and you will get what you want. Calculators: plug it in, get what you want. Possibly the biggest problem we have these days is getting google to get us what we want because we’re not typing in the right word or because we need to look through a couple of pages or iterations of things.
We talk about these and other things as “logistics”, things which are annoyances. I have to defrag my computer? Why can’t it just work all the time? I didn’t give it a virus, I didn’t go to any porn sites, I shouldn’t have to deal with this. This attitude is so pervasive it’s literally everywhere. We list absolutely everything in contracts these days. We plan for exactly how much money our children will get after we die. We have mini calendars to plan out every last thing of every hour for the next three months. Everything is locked up tight, and this is good because we are human beings and the only thing that separates us from the lesser animals is that we have the sense of time and are able to see into the future. We leave little things open here and there for margin of error, but everything else is set. We expect things, anything, to just work without a hitch.
As if error only happens on accidents. Or on big and important things.
If you think taking a class or having some theory plus some confidence makes you correct on something, you have never done anything meaningful in your life.
You had a great dream last night. Maybe it was scary. Or epic. Or there was this great orgy. It doesn’t really matter. You remember this part and that part, and you tell it to your mother in the morning. Sufficient detail, done. But now you want to write a blog post on it. Oh, now you have to go back and search your memory a bit more don’t you. You have to describe more of how this looked, or how far it was away from you. What color was it? Was something vaguely off about it? All these things which were not particularly relevant to the main point of your dream now need to be described, otherwise it’s not… well, there’s not enough “space” for the others, the readers, to “live” in. Great, got that down too. Now you want to make a skit about it. Oh, well, now the spatial orientations really need to be down. You’ll need to figure out the tones of the voices, the looks of the characters and the types of clothing they had. You’ll need to figure out how people walk and what kind of body language they show. Wow, it’s really getting hard now. Now, you’re going to direct a movie about it. How much more detail and more importantly, what kinds of detail, do you need to deal with? A lot, but not too much. I guess we could avoid lots of things by simply not showing them, by not letting the camera see it and by not letting the characters talk about it. Now you want to make an open-world videogame about it. How much detail and what kinds, now?
If you thought “I don’t know, and more things than I can deal with”, you are correct. Because that is reality.
Is that what Lost is? Is that what any vicarious experience of reality is? Do we think of a story as realistic if it gives us more things than we can deal with?
On the contrary, we think of it as realistic if it is familiar to what we’ve seen before. Fact or fiction, [it] is “realistic” if it is what we expected.
The culture today spends so much time sucking the dicks of and eating the shit of the greats that it doesn’t realize these actions were not the ones the masters took. They think that, as long as they learn as they are taught, do as they are told, and hold up high the theory of whatever by whomever as the one great truth and follow everything to the letter, everything should be great. Maybe a few deviations and accidents, but that’s statistics! Oh, how did the masters find them? I don’t really know. I mean, they probably did something with logic and thinking, but… they’re geniuses! God’s gift to mankind. They found it, it’s right, and now we follow it. Sure, perhaps it’s not the absolute truth. That’s science for you, it’s certainly not religion! It’s not trying to trick you into some dogma! If someone comes along with a better idea, and it is shown through peer review and a sufficient amount of experiments and maths, then we shall adopt that! Dude, stop worrying about how people actually come up with things. Worry about what comes after. React. Don’t act.
And this is how things are. Everywhere.
Because “everywhere” is not in reality.
There’s this funny part in Lost where one of the survivors decides to leave the group for a while because of something he did. A woman goes, “there’s nowhere to go”. Even though the survivors only occupy a small portion of the beach and some cave, and there’s the whole wide jungle or even the rest of the shoreline around the island that is unoccupied.
Same thing in every realm of life back here. Teenage girl looks in her closet, nothing to wear. Fatass middle level manager looks in his refrigerator, nothing to eat. Player, nobody to have sex with. It is claimed by anti-globalists and anti-capitalists that the problem is oversaturation, and this is true in one sense. However, I think the subjects of the problems themselves are correct in their evaluation. The problem is undersaturation. It is that there is not enough. Day in day out they are directed in everything they do. They are taught to only look and move where it is “safe”, where other people have or at least claim to have control, and do only what other people have done before.
Michelle Phan, a makeup artist, said that some airport she was ins somewhere had a room for everything, even a “forest room“. Imagine that. Forest, in a room. I guess it’s not too hard, now that a large number of people drive to a building and get on a stationary bike to watch TV for physical activity.
We think of “play” as simply time off from “work”, as time to be “ourselves” and unproductive, or time to charge up for the next day of doing the same data entry bullshit. And then we wonder how some people change the world with an idea they got from fucking around with a toy for kids. He was just messing around! Well, I don’t remember the last time you or anyone got a bright idea by following orders to the letter. Even soldiers don’t do great things by following military regulation. They do great things when they creatively interpret it, or ignore it, or outright stand against it. They do great things by acting, then responding to reality correctly.
If you deny reality it will automatically work against you.
All humans live by hurting someone else… there’s no such thing as a human who can live without hurting anyone. There’s just differences in how you hurt them or how badly, and humans who don’t realize that are called idiots. Lately there have been a lot of things you can do without directly interacting with anyone, so the idiots are increasing. People are foolish creatures who can’t figure that out until they get deeply hurt themselves.
– Yuuko Kouzuki, Muv-Luv Alternative
The reason why there is so much fear and sadness and depression these days is because we have now mistaken the paintings of our fathers as reality. Life itself in “civilization” is now vicarious; we are pretending, just to live. Instead of an infinitely vast and endlessly discoverable world, we think we live in a way where everything has a correct way of doing things. We are in the world of the iPhone, where “There’s an app for that”, “There’s an app for that too”. No matter where we go and what happens whether it is planned or not, there is a correct set of actions we take. Your mother dies. You cannot be happy. It doesn’t matter if she was the cruelest bitch in the world, you are not allowed. It’s not a matter of whether or not you would be seen as disrespectful or lacking in grace, it is that such actions simply do not exist. If you do them, you cease to exist. There’s a set of rules just like this one for everything. In this situation, do this. In that situation, do that. This is why people say the main character’s actions are “realistic” but not Johnny Gat’s, and would say outright that Baldy’s is unrealistic. Everything has a plan, and you must do everything as the plan says otherwise you are devil spawn. There is no, “in other situations, please consider X Y and Z as the most important things and use your own judgement.”
Because there are no “other situations”.
There are no other people who do these other things.
Everything is taken care of. The world has been mapped. There are no new frontiers. There’s space, but we all know those guys are kooks. Satellites can see every inch of the planet. The internet can transfer any vast amount of information anywhere in a split second. Roads go wherever there is to go. Everything you could possibly want is now for sale in one place. There’s a million, or at least a thousand, different choices for any kind of item. You can walk, bike, ride, sail, or fly everywhere. Scientists are exploring and documenting everything. Engineers are building and designing everything. Politicians are looking over and directing everything. There is nothing to worry about. We are at the end of the road, the finality of all development. This is what mankind was meant to be. God’s In His Heaven, And All’s Right With The World. (This is why some call human society today a “fiction”; everything is designed and everything that’s not is simply designed to be empty.)
Until it isn’t; then people just claim bad apples and says it’s “just” an error. Good intentions bad execution, as the mantra goes.
Ah, but they don’t question “the system” when things are marvelously successful either. Even though we’re all supposed to be the same and we all went through the same experiences and act according to some one system of etiquette, somehow, some guy made the biggest social media site of all time. Some other guy is making rockets for costs two and a half level of magnitudes lower than before he came around. Oh, stop being such a rain cloud, they say. They got it done and now we have the good life! What’s to worry about? Someone else is going to come along eventually and make it even better, sure, but for now, it’s still good, right? Come on, let’s go to the bar. I’ll buy you a drink.
It is the height of arrogance.
Not that arrogance is bad, it’s great. The higher you go the higher you fall, and only in mistakes do we learn. But arrogance is something that is reserved for those who conquer reality. Those who are able to react to and plan, to engineer something which is resilient to change and chaos of all the things he doesn’t understand and yet allows him to consistently and effectively get him what he wants. It should be something reserved for those who are able to do that again and again, better than each previous iteration and better than everyone else. Somebody somewhere said success is 1% inspiration 99% perspiration. I have a more general model, bringing something into reality is 1% idea aand 99% logistics, but the general concept is the same. The perspiration IS the success. The logistics IS the realization. What we have in our heads is often, as they say, “just our opinion”, and there are a countless number of things we did not account for, nor could account for even if we spent an infinite amount of time thinking about it before we executed it. Reality works in ways we don’t understand with variables we don’t know of, and often even the things we do think we know are actually just approximate models that fail hard somewhere else. We must do, before we understand. And by the time we finish, many of us do not need arrogance anymore. Fortuna is always just around the corner, waiting for the opportune moment to strike – and it is easiest to strike when someone is focused on how great they are, rather than being and becoming greater.
Arrogance is not for those who dream sloppily onto a petri dish in a clean room with all variables controlled for and think it’s how the entirety of the universe should work.
If you have a strong disgust for poetry or abstract art, this is probably why. If you don’t want to be a manager or a politician, this is probably why. It is the reason why meetings and conferences all the time don’t make sense, why mass marketing feels like and is a scam, why exercising indoors is stupid, why no one respects internet nerds who simply argue epeens all day, nor protestors who talk about – now that I think about it – any issue at all. All these people think that, because they want to, shit will happpen. I haz a theeri gaiz, we simply follow this 315 step plan and we are done! Hurr durr look at me I’m the UNITED NATIONS THE GREATEST AND MOST MORAL AUTHORITY IN THE WORLD, and I state that these are human rights!
The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.
– F.A. Hayek
This is the difference between fiction and fact.
In fiction, you can just leave all the other details blank and the audience of your ideas (including you) can simply fill it in with niceties and stuff which doesn’t disturb the main plan. You don’t even need to fill it in with the same thing as the next guy. All you need to do is outline a shape, point vaguely in a certain direction, and suddenly everything is done and there are ponies and flowers and rainbows everywhere. Or, if you prefer, 72 virgins. Or whales. Or trees. Or soldiers out of Iraq. It doesn’t matter. Even if you’re depressed and all you think is how you’re a horrible person and everyone hates you and does bad things to you, that’s a way of making yourself important and you want things to work out just the way you thought it would. You’re still arrogant.