Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Publication of Literary Lost

Posted in Uncategorized on January 14, 2011 by SCS

Announcing the official publication of Literary Lost: Viewing Television through the Lens of Literature by Sarah Clarke Stuart.

To purchase the book click here

The Publication Party

Please join us for a celebration and book signing.

When: 7:00pm, Wednesday, February 2, 2011

(part of downtown Jacksonville’s Artwalk)

Where: Chamblin’s Uptown, 215 N. Laura Street, Jacksonville, Florida

 

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Reviews for Literary Lost

Posted in Uncategorized on September 7, 2010 by SCS

I’m so pleased to share these positive reviews for my upcoming book, Literary Lost. To pre-order the book, see the link to Amazon below.

“I did not need to be convinced that the recently completed Lost was a series of great complexity and depth, one of the most narratively rich in the history of the medium, but I was not prepared to discover the Lost Sarah Clarke Stuart discovers in this important and insightful book. By diving deeper than any critic has to-date into Lost’s intertextuality, by asking questions nobody so far had thought to ask, Stuart not only takes our understanding of a small-screen masterwork to a whole new level; she also builds ready-to-be crossed bridges between one-time adversaries: literature and television.”

– David Lavery, co-author of Lost’s Buried Treasures

“I’ve been arguing for decades that not only is television not inimical to literacy, it is a great ally of reading.  Sarah Clarke Stuart’s Literary Lost provides a brilliant, meticulous, soaring and satisfying proof of that proposition.  Her tour-de-force analysis examines the roles of nearly a hundred books in Lost, ranging from the Holy Qu’run to the Wizard of Oz. The television series had highs and lows of narrative; Stuart’s work has only highs, and is destined to become a classic in television studies.”

– Paul Levinson, author of New New Media, and The Plot to Save Socrates

Pre-order Literary Lost at Amazon

A “Lost-themed” Book Recommendation

Posted in Uncategorized on July 7, 2010 by SCS

I have spent the last month or so completely immersed in finishing my book manuscript for Literary Lost. Now that I’m done I can post here on a regular basis again, returning with book recommendations and the occasional commentary on the final season.

A Recommendation: The Island of Dr. Moreau

Though I don’t cover it much in my book, this brief H.G. Wells novel is a new favorite of mine. For “Lost readers” wading waist-high in book titles, I would recommend this one as a priority read. With its central plot revolving around a mad scientist and his frankensteinian drive to create  life, it doesn’t readily lend itself to a comparison to the show (besides the fact that it is set on a strange, uncharted island). But one passage that strikes me as relevant reflects a broader theme of the human condition in the confines of civilization and social life. The following line recalls the frequent description of Lost‘s island as a “microcosm of life”:

“A strange persuasion came upon me that…I had here before me the whole balance of human nature in miniature form, the whole interplay of instinct, reason and fate in its simplest form” (149).

The creatures that Dr. Moreau “humanizes” are destined for a crueler fate than brute animal life; they are bound to an existence in which they must “stumble in the shackles of humanity.” Moreau is the god of these creatures, but even he is subject to the limitations of animal life. As the castaway narrator eventually concludes, “A blind fate, a vast pitiless mechanism, seemed to cut and shape the fabric of existence” (150).

In a way, this is also Lost‘s conclusion. Though the central characters are redeemed in a spiritual sense, most of them suffer greatly as a result of their own physical fragility and the calculated forces of other human beings. They face brutal deaths as they are hunted down not only by the Smoke Monster, but by one another. Naomi, Sayid, Daniel,Jack, Charles Widmore, Dogen, Charlie–these characters “stumbling in the shackles of humanity” find their doom in the “pitiless mechanism” of both the violence of the wilderness and the cruelty of human nature.

Pre-finale Sentiments: A Note on “The End” and the Purpose of Lost (NOT a spoiler)

Posted in Uncategorized on May 23, 2010 by SCS

As the global tribe of Lostians gathers around the flickering light of broadcast television tonight, the anticipation is high. Unlike some fans, I am eager for it to be over, not because I’ve grown tired of the series, but because I can’t wait to work with a complete narrative, to discuss the text in its entirety.

So what do we want from the finale? Well, it’s just a television show, just like any story is “just a story.” What can we expect from fiction? What is the purpose of spinning yarns in the first place? Because anyone who has ever been captivated by a tall tale knows that there is a purpose.

Like all good storytellers, the creative forces behind Lost are expected to enchant us while providing meaning within the narrative, and any good resolution should bring some sort of order to the fictional cosmos that has been established. An ending does not require a list of answers, but it should demonstrate that the central conflicts transpired for a reason. Like Jacob’s fire, the story will soon be extinguished, but its spirit will be preserved through those who choose to protect it, if it is worthy of being protected.

So here’s hoping that the final hours of Lost will simply do what a story is meant to do: delight, entertain and, just maybe, reveal a profound message or two. Happy watching!

Reminder: “Get Lost for the Night” at the University of North Florida

Posted in Uncategorized on May 22, 2010 by SCS

Free and open to the public. Please see RSVP information at the bottom of the page.

Get “LOST” For the Night: Scratch Your Head with the Rest of Us with a Series Finale and a Serious Discussion

The series finale of the television series LOST has garnered much attention in the media, and for good reason. For years the show has been hailed as groundbreaking, criticized for redundancy and trite storytelling, and dismissed as too complicated in its plot. Not surprisingly, for seven years LOST has been a centerpiece for “watercooler” talk .

With the series “finale” at hand, we invite you to attend a discussion of the cultural and literary impact of LOST.  We also invite interested parties to present their readings of the significance of the show, with particular attention paid to the potential “reverberations” the show will have.

The “conversations” will take place on the UNF campus on Wednesday, May 26, from 5:00 – 10:00 pm. The order of events:

5:30 – 6:00, scholarship panel

6:00 – 7:00 discussion and refreshment

7:00 – 9:00, the series finale

9:00 – 10:00, a group discussion

Help us as we say farewell to a show and greet a field of inquiry in popular culture studies.

Please RSVP to englishdept@unf.edu by Wednesday, May 19, if you plan to attend.

Please forward panel/presentation proposals to lhowell@unf.edu by Friday, May 14.

Get ‘Lost’ for the Night

Posted in Uncategorized on April 29, 2010 by SCS

A university-sponsored event, free and open to the public

Series Finale Re-watch and Discussion on May 26th

The series finale of the television series LOST has garnered much attention in the media, and for good reason. For years the show has been hailed as groundbreaking, criticized for redundancy and trite storytelling, and dismissed as too complicated in its plot. Not surprisingly, for seven years LOST has been a centerpiece for “watercooler” talk .

With the series “finale” at hand, we invite you to attend a discussion of the cultural and literary impact of LOST.  We also invite interested parties to present their readings of the significance of the show, with particular attention paid to the potential “reverberations” the show will have.

The “conversations” will take place on the University of North Florida campus in Jacksonville, FL on Wednesday, May 26, from 5:00 – 10:00 pm.

The order of events:

5:30 – 6:30, scholarship panel

6:30 – 7:00, refreshment break

7:00 – 9:00, the series finale

9:00 – 10:00, a group discussion

Help us as we say farewell to a show and greet a field of inquiry in popular culture studies.

Please RSVP to englishdept@unf.edu by Wednesday, May 19, if you plan to attend.

Please forward panel/presentation proposals to lhowell@unf.edu by Friday, May 14.

Put a Cork In It: Job, Dante, and the Ninth Circle of Hell

Posted in Sacred Narratives and Lost, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2010 by SCS

The only thing more interesting than a story set in hell is a story that might be set in hell. “Ab Aeterno” features not only a timeless narrative theme–the nature of evil–but also a classic literary device–ambiguity. Let’s face it: the writers of Lost intentionally leave things open to  interpretation and I doubt that even “The End” (the series finale) is going to change that.  However, I don’t think that Jacob and the Man in Black are supposed to be morally ambiguous figures; if there must be a devil, it’s pretty clear who plays the role of “El Diablo” here. But the most interesting part of this episode is the uncertainty that Richard raises about the nature of the island.

The island as cork (courtesy of abc/Disney)

The following passages will consider the nature of evil, and various notions of hell, in literary and mythological terms.

The Book of Job

The biblical book of Job chronicles the test of the human spirit, illustrated by one man, an exemplary figure in God’s eyes. The story is structured around a debate about human nature between God and Satan. Satan challenges God, claiming that Job is only a good man because he is wealthy, secure and surrounded by friends and family. If he were challenged by poverty or illness, Satan argues, Job would curse God and turn away from him. In essence, Satan believes humans to be selfish beyond all hope. There is no use redeeming man.

I’m not the first to acknowledge the similarities between this biblical text and the discussion between Jacob and the Man in Black. I have compared many Lost scenes to other religious stories, but this one seems to fit these two characters best. In this book, both Satan and God resemble the gods of ancient Greek and Roman mythology who are not necessarily all-powerful. Jacob and the Man in Black do have their own special powers, but they are both limited in what they can do. Jacob tells Richard that he can’t step in and make people do the right thing. They have to figure it out for themselves. In the same way, both God and Satan seem to agree that if people know they are going to be rewarded for worshiping God, their motive is a selfish one, making them unworthy of redemption.

According to Robert Sutherland, author of Putting God on Trial: The Biblical Book of Job, “The implicit restriction that Satan places on God is that God is prohibited from explicitly giving Job the reason for suffering. The concern is that any disclosure of a reason behind suffering might give Job a selfish motive to worship God and ultimately to manipulate him. If Job is truly the man God believes him to be, then Job will worship God regardless of what God might do for him. And so, Satan leaves the presence of God in heaven to create Hell on earth.” The idea that God’s people can’t know the reason for their suffering seems to resonate with the experience of being lost and the the experience of watching Lost. Viewers don’t understand their reasons for suffering much more than the characters do, but those who develop faith in themselves, and in the right leaders, seem to do okay. (Think Hurley).

Also notable in the book of Job is the man himself, in comparison to Richard Alpert. Like Job, Richard suffered the loss of his home and family (Isabella), an unjust punishment, and physical torture. At his darkest moment of despair, the Man in Black comes to him and unchains him. This recalls God’s command that Satan may do whatever he wants to Job except kill him or “lay a hand on his person.” Perhaps, Richard was on the brink of death when the Man in Black came to him. He wasn’t allowed to let Richard die and go to hell, but he could tempt him and lie to him as much as he wanted.  “It’s good to see you out of those chains” is code for “welcome to the playground of good versus evil. Game on!” It’s also interesting that Job lived for 140 years after the end of his trial and Richard, too, has lived for 140 more years.  This can’t be a coincidence. Looks like somebody’s been reading the bible…

Lucifer's fall to earth created an island

Lucifer’s Fall and the Making of an Island

According to Christian lore, Lucifer (Latin for “light-bearer” or “light bringer”) was a fallen angel, cast down from heaven. He has also been referred to as “the Morning Star” and it seems appropriate here to recall the creepy rendition of “Catch a Falling Star” from the post-massacre scene at the end of “Sundown.” In Dante’s Inferno, Lucifer’s expulsion from heaven and fall to earth displaced a large chunk of earth which was thrust up to the surface, forming an island called Purgatory. Despite the writers’ denial of the Lost island as Purgatory, it’s always interesting to consider it as a metaphorical Purgatory, where the tension between good and evil is revealed. With this image of displaced earth forming Dante’s “Purgatorio,” should we envision it as a place that keeps Satan and all of his evil suppressed, (or corked)? Does Purgatory maintain balance in the universe? Does it act as a threshold between earth and hell? More important, will everyone fall into hell if the evil is unleashed, as Hurley suggests?

Dante’s Inferno

“Midway on our life’s journey, I found myself/ In dark woods, the right road lost

Such begins Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, section I, Inferno, an allegorical journey exploring the nature of evil. Inferno describes a descent into the nine circles of hell where Virgil, the classical Roman poet, serves as tour guide. Similar to Dante,  Jack Shephard finds himself in the “woods,” “midway on life’s journey,” a life that seems to be humming along just fine (on a superficial level, at least) until the plane crash.

“Abandon all hope, you who enter here”

These words, familiar to even modern readers, are inscribed on the gates to hell in Dante’s Inferno. There is no escape from this city and those who enter might as well leave any shred of hope at the door. Richard conveys a similar message to the other characters in the opening scene of “Ab Aeterno,” as his faith quickly disintegrates upon the death of Jacob. So when he says “we are in hell” he is speaking the truth, in the sense that hell is a state of mind devoid of all hope.

The third circle of hell

Though it’s been acknowledged many times before, I feel the need to include the Cerberus bit once again for anyone who missed it. Cerberus, a monster originating in Greek mythology, is also a resident of Dante’s Inferno. It is described as a “three-headed dog-like beast who guards the gluttons.” Recall that in Lost the vents from which the Smoke Monster escapes are called “cerberus vents” and that the Smoke Monster has been referred to as a “security system” or guardian of the island.

Episode 9

In this depiction of the afterlife, Lucifer is a prisoner and forever fixed in the ground of the ninth circle of hell. This is the final and lowest level of hell, and stands in stark contrast to the next scene when Dante ascends to the surface of the earth saying, “To get back up to the shining world from there/ My guide and I went into that hidden tunnel…/Where we came forth, and once more saw the stars.” Richard also ascends out of his hell, after his faith is restored by Hurley and Isabella. Note that we are in the “ninth circle” of Lost as well–that is, the ninth episode into the season. Will we ascend into the clear light of day…with more and more answered questions?

Lucifer held prisoner in the ninth circle of hell

Thanks for reading. There is so much more to say about this episode but it will have to wait for the book.