Saturday, May 3, 2008

Lost and the Postmodern Hero?













As I've been studying the hero's journey (see link in post below, think Star Wars or Lord of the Rings: a single character rises to the challenge of a quest set before him/her and goes through many trials in order to acheive that quest), I've been trying to think about how this relates to postmodern story telling (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post_modern_literature). Pre-postmodern literature often sees a quest for meaning in a chaotic world, where the postmodern rejects or parodies this singular quest. So my question is what does the post modern hero's journey look like?

This question came about while watching Lost this week. All of the characters seem to be on their own "journey"--mentally, as well as the obvious physical one. However, there doesn't seem to be one clear "hero" (despite the hero complexes that many of the characters portray). Each of the survivors on the island are facing individual "roads of trial," emphasized by the flashbacks and flash-forwards.

The modernist side of my brain wants to make it all linear: that there is one "answer" for what is going on and that all of the characters stories weave together in a single, satisfying narrative strand. But as the episodes of this season progress, I find myself being frustrated at my inability to connect everything together. The postmodern side of my brain is loving the complexity of the empathy I feel for Ben and the vastness of Juliet's motives. It is grappling with letting go of the desire to have one, clear answer that explains everything that has happened on the island.

It appears that there are multiple levels of "quests" that are happening and have happened on the island--they include high stakes conspiracies as well as individual odysseys. Do I need to let go of the dream that they are all intimately connected? Do I need to embrace this portrayal of the potential post modern hero? (Would all characters qualify as such?)

Well, after that potentially inarticulate rant, at the very least, Lost serves as a distraction to the things I actually need to accomplish today. Sigh.

2 comments:

Amanda said...

i do hope for one underlying, interconnected storyline and don't feel like the producers can end lost without one...it would be against our natural longings and i feel wouldn't sit right...but perhaps we will be surprised...

Liz said...

I get very frustrated by the complexity of it! I often find it hard to even wrap my mind around what is going on. But, I like your post modern thoughts on it...maybe the complexity isn't so bad. :)