I recently watched the entire first season of Lost while trapped in a hotel room for four days. I like that the show’s name is just one letter away from an anagram of “plot,” because it seems to me a great example of how plot can be manipulated in such a way that the reader is always yearning for coherence and conclusiveness without ever being, well, lost. The program’s narrative line works very much like one of those morphine drips they give to hospital patients in pain: The first time you push the button you get a rush of thick, sturdy narrative, but over time the coherence begins to crack and fissure. You start mashing at the button for another hit, but nothing comes, until just when you’re about to holler for the nurse (or switch in disgust to a rerun of The Office), WHOOSH, here comes another wave of totalization. The effect reminds me of Lyotard’s idea that knowledge isn’t a condition but a phenomenon: local, ephemeral, transitory. However, like many a “postmodern novel,” the show’s cleverness resides solely in its system, not in its effects, by which I mean that once you figure out how the plotting works, there’s not much more fun to be had, by which I mean I don’t think I’ll continue on to season two. Unless the temperature stays in the teens, in which case I might want to see me some more Hawaii.
UPDATE 01/28/10. Just a week and a half since I wrote this smarmy post, and I think I’ve watched something like 275 more episodes. I’m somewhere in season 43 or thereabouts. I am losing sleep, not sorry, pathetic, etc.