The Lost Island & the 5th Dimension

This started as a review of “He’s Our You” but quickly drowned in a vat of crazy sauce.  Enjoy!

Tonight marked a definitive return to the classic Lost formula, and with that great cliffhanger, the show dropped the central issue of Season 5 directly into the plot: the impossibility of a time paradox in a deterministic universe.

Now I’m with Jeff Jensen on this one– I think next week a critically wounded Ben comes rolling into DHARMAtown on Jin’s VW bus, and maybe Jack ends up performing a life-saving (and timeline-saving) operation on Ben, just like he did in early Season 3.  But the only way Jack could get to this position is if the Timewarp Gang’s lies unravel to the point where Jack openly uses or is forced to admit to his medical training.

Even if the unraveling of the Timewarp Gang’s lies and whatever consequences ensue are all part of established history, the Gang themselves have no way of knowing whether or not they are causing a paradox.  Before, Sawyer and his posse basically accepted Faraday’s Prime Directive as a way to avoid this; now Sayid has, in theory, asserted the primacy of his free will over the laws of casuality.

I say “in theory” not just because Ben getting shot could easily be part of the already-established timeline, but because the flashbacks raise the question of whether Sayid is really exercising his free will at all. If killing is Sayid’s nature, is succumbing to his nature actually an exercise in free will, or is Sayid actually abdicating his will (in this case, his will to overcome his nature) and accepting his  fate as “a bad man”? For the world at large, ‘killing’ Ben would be an act of will overriding fate; but for the individual, Sayid, it is his fate over-riding his willful desire to change that leads to this action.

Note also that this is really the first time Sayid has ever considered himself as having some purpose or reason for being on the Island, and we also have reason to believe that Desmond is the only person who can effectively override fate by use of his will, further supporting the idea that Sayid’s adopting a fatal role is his fated role.

The specifics of this question as it applies to Sayid may soon be swallowed up in the bigger time paradox regarding free will and determinism.  Even if Ben survives, the DHARMA folks are on the verge of discovering the time-travellers in their midst, and though that too could all be part of established history, somehow I suspect the integrity of four-dimensional spacetime is about to be, or already is, severeley disrupted. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Sayid did disrupt causality by shooting Ben, but that for Sayid, this was NOT an exercise in free will, because it was in fact his destiny to tear open the spacetime continuum. Follow me:

Assuming this season is all building to The Incident (and I do), what if The Incident isn’t just a spacetime disruption, but an attempt to RESOLVE a spacetime disruption?  This resolution is imperfect and temporary — it creates the need to push the Button every 108 minutes, a stopgap measure that is only ended when Desmond destroys the Button, which unsticks him in time and gives his will the freedom to change fate. Once Desmond ends the temporary holding measure, the Widmores are once again able to find the Island.

So the Incident somehow quarantines the dangerous, paradoxical spacetime anomaly in a self-contained dimension (THE ISLAND), with a specific location in space (THE ISLAND) and a specific location in time that can’t be mapped on a timeline, but exists somewhere on an extradimensional timeplane (THE ISLAND).

WHAT THE ISLAND IS. The Island exists in a five-dimensional timeplane. This is why, from our four-dimensional perspective, it appears as a blip on the map in different times and different places (as explained by Ms. Hawking), instead of as a consistent feature of reality.

In one-dimensional space (length), the only forms are a point and a line, just like how in one-dimensional time, we experience time as a line composed of moments/points. A square, which has two dimensions, cannot be contained in one-dimensional space. Imagine a square adjacent to a line, rotating so that its corners and sides intersect the line at various angles at different times.  From the one-dimensional perspective of the line, the square appears as a number of moving and flickering points and line segments, blipping in and out of existence, the same way an object existing in multi-dimensional time, the Island, would appear to a being that exists in only one dimension of time, i.e. you and me.

WHAT BEN & WIDMORE ARE DOING. My theory here is that the strategy behind Ben’s and Widmore’s chess moves (using the other characters as pawns) is a five-dimensional strategy. Ben moving the Island, and the Timewarp Gang causing the Incident, together serve as the bookends to a closed loop time paradox, like how Alpert gave Locke a watch that Locke then gives to Alpert in the past. The watch is a self-contained paradox that doesn’t threaten causality beyond the borders of its own existence.  If you imagine time as a 2-D map instead of a 1-D line, the closed loop paradox is like a circle on the map.  So let’s say it is Sayid’s fate to shoot/kill Ben, because this creates an anomalous rift in causality that leads to the Incident, which successfully quarantines the 4-D anomaly by surrounding it in the 5th dimension with a closed-loop paradox.  Inside this quarantined 5-D space is the only place where the “battle” between Ben and Widmore can happen, and this is why they have to manipulate everybody in 4-D all the time, so they can get their 3-D physical bodies (back?) to that specific part of 5-D spacetime.

So everybody is being told what their destiny is because these 5-D players need the 4-D pawns in certain positions to properly quarantine a non-deterministic paradox in the deterministic 4th dimension by capturing it inside a deterministic paradox in the non-deterministic 5th dimension, which prevents it from intersecting the unbroken line that we recognize as a deterministic 4-D universe.  Got that? Good.

Now, if the three dimensions of space are length, width, and depth, let’s call the first dimension of time destiny, because it is causal and deterministic, and the second dimension of time free will, because you can move in altogether new directions in it.  Furthermore, let’s assume that people in general are moving in the fifth dimension all the time, but we can’t perceive it. The fifth dimension, in this construction, is sort of like a map of karma.

As such, Lost‘s 4-D characters are being told they have to fulfill certain destinies so that they exercise their will in certain ways, which is synonymous with manipulating their position in the fifth dimension (in S3, for example, Ben wanted Jack to want to operate on him). In some cases, characters are receiving good advice that positions them well in 5-D space; in other cases, they are being led very bad places. Because they cannot sense it directly, they don’t know who to trust.

Once the 4-D characters have been properly manipulated to cause the Incident, the quarantine area in the 5th dimension is successfully built, and it is presumably occupied by at least some of the 4-D characters, as well as the ones already familiar with 5-D.  When the 4-D characters arrive here, it is like Revelation and Judgment, because they can now see clearly how their movements in the 5th dimension, AKA their free will AKA their life choices, have positioned them on the 5-D map for good or ill.

FLIGHT 316 IS ALREADY IN THE QUARANTINED SPACE. Let’s assume that the  quarantined area of 5-D actually occupies the same part of 3-D space as the Island, but the coordinates of its time dimensions remove it completely from the 4-D timeline we know and love. In essence, this is an alternate universe: the Bizarro version of the Island. But in 3-D, it’s all the same Island, so let’s call this place Shadow Island.

Because Shadow Island occupies the same physical space as Light Island, but should occupy a 5-D position that does not intersect with our universe, we know that causality has been ruptured because Flight 316 (I’m speculating) has landed on Shadow Island. If the fifth-dimensional orientation of the three-dimensional space called the Island is an existential barometer for our 4-D universe, then having Shadow Island and its history of time paradoxes exist in our 4-D timeline destroys causality, voiding existence and causing our universe to crumple in on itself with a nihilistic whimper.

THE FINAL STAKES, REVEALED. This is why our characters’ existential journeys are key to the universe’s survival. The personal flaws and karmic ruts that keep tripping them up in their personal growth MUST be overcome for the characters to exercise their will freely, which is to say, for them to move knowingly in 5-D space and align themselves in the proper position to move the Island into it’s non-Shadow 5-D orientation, and so heal the rift in the fourth dimension.

AND THAT’S THE MEANING OF LOST.

But here I’ve gone off the speculation deep-end and have barely touched on the episode itself.  Real quick: I thought it was solid; glad the love square was mostly sidelined. Juliet continues to be the most mature about it, which only makes me angrier that she is probably going to get fucked over somehow; Jack continues his introspective personal growth, which I’m all for, and Kate will no doubt ruin everything with her bullshit drama as soon as her flashbacks start.  Sawyer’s too pre-occupied with maintaining his house of cards to get involved, and while I was disappointed at first when he visited Kate, I liked that it was because he wanted an answer to a very important question that hadn’t occured to him while he was focused on extending his con. I have a lot of reservations about where the love square is going, but so far I’ve been pleased with their characterizations.

Anyway the highlight of the episode was the great Sayid truth serum sequence, not just because the awesome William Sanderson played Oldham, but also because Naveen Andrews’ performance as tripping Sayid was pitch-perfect, and of course, the general thrill of hearing him spill everything, especially his knowledge of the DHARMA stations and their future.

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