Top positive review
13 people found this helpful
Exactly As Advertised
on May 28, 2012
LOST was arguably the most compelling hour on television over the course of its six seasons. It captivated its audience with an excellent, variegated cast (saying nothing of the writing for said actors) and enthralled everyone with its mythology, generating far more questions than answers during its run. Part of the fun of watching the show was discussing it with fellow friends and fans after each episode. In my experience, though, I've found that the LOST fan base can be broken up into four factions: the quitters (those who complained that it became too complicated and bowed out well before the sixth season finale), the coasters (those who watched but never took any real interest in the depth that the show offered), the die-hards (those who watched regularly, researched and discussed various aspects of the show, and explored things on a deeper level), and the fan-boys/fan-girls (those who viewed LOST as gospel and who obsessively sought answers to everything the show initiated).
To me, Ultimate Lost and Philosophy: Think Together, Die Alone will appeal most to the third category (of which I include myself in) and only partially to the fourth. The problem is that many of the fans who identified most strongly with the show cannot reconcile the fact that things were left intentionally nebulous by the writers and that that was, in part, the point of the show: the search for answers is as, if not more, important than what is found, and each person's individual, subjective result is an equally valid truth. Too many fans want "the" answers of which there are relatively few. As such, they turn to books like this (instead of the LOST Encyclopedia, where they would be better served) for those elusive insights into what the writers meant by one thing or another.
For the more reasonable fan of the show, this book (Ultimate Lost and Philosophy) serves as a great way to explore LOST's philosophical influences on a slightly-deeper-than-surface-level. The writing is varied in terms of its quality but nothing really stands out as being egregious in its voice, style, or content (except for one essay, which I will bring up later in this review). Each essay tends to focus on one or two philosophical issues or topics and uses LOST as a vehicle for exploring said issues/topics; this is, in my opinion, precisely what a book like this SHOULD do. If you're expecting a deep, enlightening philosophical tome, you won't find it here and you'd be better off going straight to the source(s) of whatever philosophical thinker you're after; if you're looking for a road map filled with all of the answers of LOST's unanswered questions, you definitely won't find that here either (and you're likely missing the point of the show). Instead, you'll find something that serves as the happy medium between the two.
The ONLY issue that I have with the book is an essay written by Peter S. Fosl. I feel that books like this--ones that explore something from pop culture through a scientific lens of sorts--are meant to be fun at their core. As such, essays like Mr. Fosl's have no place in such a compendium. Instead of exploring LOST or philosophy as his primary aim, Fosl subversively chooses to take pot-shots at the United States, devoting far too much of his essay to deriding the country, its citizens, its political beliefs/practices, to list but a few gripes. He spends two full paragraphs listing various enemies that the United States currently has or has had in the past and the various "us vs. them" types of dichotomies that said nation identifies itself as being a part of. It's quite clear from the essay that Fosl holds the United States in a less-than-admirable light but, sadly, such a collection of essays is not the place to spew his disdain. Basically, he uses the essay as a vehicle for disseminating his vitriolic views, tossing in the odd LOST reference in an attempt to connect everything loosely together. I'm genuinely shocked that Sharon Kaye and William Irwin would include such a divisive piece of writing in something meant to be light-hearted and entertaining.
In conclusion, if you're looking for something that serves as an introduction to philosophy using LOST as a lens, then this is the book for you. If you're hoping to be enlightened from a philosophical standpoint, then you should consider exploring some more scholarly texts. And, perhaps most importantly, if you're looking for answers to the myriad mysteries that the writers of LOST have created, you're barking up the wrong tree simply by searching for anything concrete in the first place.