**Note 2- most of this was thought up after watching Lost last night, therefore my brain was in a bit more mush state. Also, there was a large bottle of wine involved. If that helps explain anything then so be it.
So, I've decided that I have solved Lost. Yep. After years of pulling out my hair and engaging in ridiculous conversation that leaves non-Losties utterly fearful for the state my mental health, I have reached an overarching conclusion regarding the great mystery: WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?
Sitting down? Ready for a good laugh? Pour yourself a glass of wine (I'll wait......Back now? Ok.) and dive in!
What Lost seeks to do is present mankind's search for the meaning of Life (capital 'L' intended) on a small scale. It's often been wondered if the show is about redemption, family, the world as a global village, etc. To that I say, it is. And it isn't.
I WILL get to my point. It just may take while to get there.
Harken back to the conversation between Jacob and Mystery Man (henceforth known as Loopy, trademark Marie Lemay hehe) in the season finale of Season 5.
Loopy: You brought them here. Still trying to prove me wrong, aren't you?
Jacob: You are wrong.
Loopy: Am I? They come. They fight. The destroy. They corrupt. It always ends the same.
Jacob: It only ends once. Anything before that is progress.
I remember watching that and thinking "whew, I know this is likely important, but I'm too busy brain mushing to sort out the relevance". Now, given some time, here's what I think.
Jacob and Loopy have been toying with humans for a long long time. See: the Spanish promo for Lost. Youtube it, super easy to find. Ooh, the Losties are like pieces in a heavenly game of chess. Fitting, I'd say. Loopy is on the side that humans are iredeemable. We're crude, violent, unworthy of salvation. Black pieces. Jacob believes we are inherently good and deserve the chance to be proven worthy. Whtie pieces. Over however long they've been playing at it, Jacob & Loopy have manipulated the destinies of many people to bring them to the Island, which will serve as the test site of their struggle to be proven worthy. The Island is where they come up against great difficulties, torment, successess and failures, and Jacob & Loopy are sitting on the sidelines to see how humans 'perform'. If we 'win', humans may continue to live. 'Lose', and we perish.
So, as RuPaul would say, "Don't fuck it up!".
When Jacob says "it only ends once. Anything before that is progress", he means literally that humanity IS destined to be wiped out, just not anytime soon. In the time we are given we are to surmount the challenges that we are presented and learn from them to become better people. Fail at that, and buh-bye you miserable S.O.B.s!
When we ask "what is the meaning of Life?", we're asking a whole multitude of questions. What is my purpose on Earth? Why does God let bad things happen? Where do we go when we die? If we all end up dying, what's the point? And what does Lost do but encourage us, the viewers, to ask a lot of these questions, just in relevance to the characters. In a way, Lost answers this (for the sake of it's own show, not our own lives) by saying that it's all in the service of God(s) deciding the fate of humankind.
So Lost is about humankind and whether we even deserve to exist or not. Yes? No? I can actually hear eyes rolling...
Something that occurred to me, that I found interesting, is that when people look at Lost and try to suss out it's religious or cultural relevances, they're always presented with a whole host of comparisons, spanning multitudes of sources.
Religion: Egyptian has become the most prominent, but Christianity plays a big part, as does Muslim too. And after some thought, there are a lot of ways you can apply Norse mythology to the nature of the Island, Smokey, the Losties plight. I'm sure there are many more religious tie-ins that can be made. I'm just not that smart. Summed up by Locke, Mr. I Do What A Higher Power Commands Me To Do. Man of faith.
Philosophy: John Locke. Desmond Hume. Dogen. I know there are more, but there is no way that it's just a coincidence that these characters share names with great philosophical minds of the past.
Literature: the number of books referenced or shown is just ludicrous. This show wears it's library card out and proud.
Science: Hey Jack, what up?
I thought about all that for a bit. Wondered why there are SO many associations with these and other things. Then it kinda tied back to the whole "The Lost Island is a micro-universe of the world as a whole", and it made sense. It's part of our own journey, thus it makes sense that it'd get all squashed together into theirs. And it kinda hit me, that all of these are things that shape how people act with one another, why they believe what they do, why they do what they do. Religion, Science, Philosophy, Literature, they are some of the tools that mankind can use to either better itself or destroy itself.
Ignore the characters, pretend they're not on the Island. If you look at it now, the Island represents how religion, science, philosophy, literature (and other stuff) plays a role in our lives. Locke is the Man of Faith, and look where that got him? Dead and evil. Jack believed solely in science, but that's left him hollow and uncertain. My take on it is that the Island tries to show the Losties that they need to open themselves up to many ways of thought, to many ways of living, and only then can they achieve any sense of enlightenment.
And through enlightenment, humanity proves it worth to the Gods. Yes? No? Carrying on...
I realize now that I've even managed to confuse myself in writing this. Have I even formed any coherent arguments?! Meh. You're the one who chose to read this. Suckaaa! Wait, come back!
So yes, humans live on earth. They fight, they destroy, they corrupt. Have done so for millenia. But they learn, they grow, they choose to become better people when given the proper tools (religion, science, yadda yadda). For example, Sawyer came to the Island a con man, a murderer, a cad. Sure, he's not exactly a saint, but he's learned to love, he's atoned for his sins, he's made the choice to live as a better human. You can trace the growth and development of all the major characters along a similar route- come to Island kinda shitty or messed up, go through a lot of crap on Island, come out the other end better for it.
DIGRESSION, sorta: in Norse mythology, here on Earth was pretty much considered the testing grounds for humanity. Only by proving their worth through great trial and suffering did a human become worthy to ascend to Valhalla, the heavenly kingdom. See also, Ymir, Midgard, Jormungandr (again, thanks to Marie for the further info). In Hinduism (and here is where I am calling upon my grade 11 religion knowledge, so expect it to be shoddy and malinformed, at best) all life on earth is a cycle of birth, suffering, death and rebirth. However, once enlightentment is reached, one becomes freed from that cycle and ascends to their heavenly resting place. OH! And in Judaism, it is believed that the true name of God is a number, and by understanding that number does one attain enlightenment. 4 8 15 16 23 42? *nods* It's been revealed that the Numbers were said to hold to the key to humanity's continuance or demise. *brain flops out*
This final season will be about enlightentment, redemption, damnation, and the final decision about humanity's worth. Characters will either prove their mettle and satisfy Jacob's standpoint, or they will fail and prove Loopy right. The Lost Island will be the final chessboard between these two Godly figures.
Yah...I'm fairly sure I didn't prove my point at all.
MEANING OF LIFE!!! *waggles hands*